Kazuki Takahashi at MAGIC 2019, Part 3: Interview

April 10, 2019 at 2:00 pm | Posted in Duel Monsters, Japanese, Konami, Series 1, Yu-Gi-Oh! | 2 Comments
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Sahé Cibot and Kazuki Takahashi at MAGIC 2019 at Takahashi's Q&A panel

Kazuki Takahashi did more than judge a manga contest and sign autographs at MAGIC 2019. He also participated in a question-and-answer session where, for 25 minutes, he entertained the audience with candid insights about himself and his creations. Takahashi spoke about his start as an artist, the importance of creating dramatic cards and moments, the origin of the Blue-Eyes White Dragon, and even about a game he invented that failed to take off.

At MAGIC, all panels were conducted on stage in French. For attendees who only speak English, this wasn’t a problem if the guests were also English speakers. But for a panel like Takahashi’s, which was conducted in French and Japanese, the convention’s technology came to the rescue. Attendees could rent a pair of earphones and a receiver that allowed them to listen to an English interpretation of all the French dialogue spoken on stage.

Takahashi’s panel was the last one of the day, scheduled for 6:00 p.m. Sadly, it started very late and the auditorium, which could seat 400 people, was only about a quarter full. Nevertheless, the true fans in the room were all very enthusiastic. They made sure Takahashi could hear their cheers when he arrived on stage, even as the French Yu-Gi-Oh! theme song thundered from the loudspeakers as he entered.

Takahashi was accompanied on stage by his interpreter, Sahé Cibot, the general manager of Shibuya International and one of the manga contest’s judges. They were joined by Naoki Kawashima, deputy editor in chief of Shueisha’s Weekly Shonen Jump and fellow manga contest judge, although Kawashima did not speak during the panel. The moderator was Matthieu Pinon, a journalist and author who specializes in manga and anime topics.

This post contains a full transcript of Kazuki Takahashi’s Q&A panel.

Matthieu Pinon, Sahé Cibot, Kazuki Takahashi, and Naoki Kawashima at Takahashi's Q&A panel at MAGIC 2019
Left to right: Matthieu Pinon, Sahé Cibot, Kazuki Takahashi, and Naoki Kawashima

Matthieu Pinon: Good evening, everyone. Thank you for waiting for this grand moment, this extraordinary meeting with Mr. Takahashi, the author of the manga Yu-Gi-Oh!, whom you all know because you are all passionate about manga and Japanese pop culture. To begin this conference, we will first ask Mr. Takahashi, what manga did you read when you were a child? What manga did you like to read?

Kazuki Takakashi: Honestly, I liked to watch Japanese tokusatsu [special effects] TV shows where kaiju appear, like the Ultraman series and Kamen Rider. These are what led me to want to draw.

Pinon: So drawing is all well and good as a hobby, but at some point you decided to become a professional. What motivated you to move in this direction?

Takahashi: Since I loved to draw, I wanted to make it my career. Before I was a manga author, I was an illustrator and also worked on video games. Then I started developing manga.

Pinon: You just talked about video games. At the time Yu-Gi-Oh! launched, video games had exploded in popularity in Japan. Then you came along with Yu-Gi-Oh!, which was a table-top game, something that might seem a bit old-fashioned compared to the current trend. Was your editor surprised when you presented this project?

Takahashi: No, not at all. Back when I was working at a game company, it was an era of martial arts video games where players could take control of characters and make them fight. So, it was less interesting to create a manga about martial arts. It was more special, more different to make a manga about table-top games, which are analog and more traditional.

Pinon: There are many table-top games in the world. And when Yu-Gi-Oh! first debuted, the manga included several categories of games. When you launched the card game, that’s when the manga became a success. This success is thanks to you [the audience] and the editors. How did public interest in the Yu-Gi-Oh! card game manifest itself?

Takahashi: When the manga began, the original concept was to show various ways of battling using games each week. At first, I wasn’t even thinking about a card game. Cards were just one of those games. After drawing them for two weeks, there was such an overwhelming reaction from the readers that I decided to make the manga into a series about cards as a response to their request.

Kazuki Takahashi speaking at his Q&A panel at MAGIC 2019, with Sahé Cibot and Naoki Kawashima

Pinon: To first explain how readers can express their interest, we have to remember that the magazines contain a small postcard in that back that readers can mail to the publication to specify which series they prefer. And it was right at the moment that the card games appeared in Yu-Gi-Oh! that the manga climbed further and further into the top 10. Speaking of cards, you didn’t just make these cards by happenchance; you actually developed rules for the game. Could you explain to us your process of creating a card? How did you determine its characteristics while taking into account the increase in the number of cards as the game progresses?

Takahashi: First, I created the story and decided how a character would play an active role in that story. Then I asked myself, what card would be the most dramatic when used by the protagonist while fighting against an opponent? Are fan-favorite characters playing an active role? From there I created each card.

Pinon: Could you tell us, briefly, how many cards you created for the game? Do you remember?

Takahashi: I’ve… Never counted before. Quite a lot, I guess. Like… A thousand.

Pinon: Around a thousand! I think that deserves a round of applause because a thousand cards is so–

[The audience applauds, drowning out Pinon.]

Pinon: And among these one thousand cards, the most famous is the Blue-Eyes White Dragon. But why a white dragon with blue eyes? Why not, say, a black phoenix with red eyes? Why did you choose this animal with this color and specifically this eye color?

Takahashi: I wanted to design a mystical and cool monster for Yugi’s first rival, Seto Kaiba, when he appeared for their first battle. That monster became the Blue-Eyes White Dragon. In a black-and-white world [of manga], I wanted its name to evoke a feeling that would allow readers to conjure up its colors. Ultimately, the Blue-Eyes White Dragon turns out to be a woman — a woman with white hair, white skin, and blue eyes who is revealed in the story to be a spirit.

Pinon: Does anyone out there have the Blue-Eyes White Dragon card?

[Many people in the audience raise their hands.]

Takahashi: Ah. [Nods.]

Pinon: Congratulations, you can show off to others.

[The audience laughs.]

Pinon: And when you watch Game of Thrones, you will get to see your card.[1]

[A few more chuckles from the audience.]

Pinon: Quite often, a duel in Yu-Gi-Oh! is more than a simple face-to-face confrontation between two players. Through the strategy of the opponents, players get to know one another better. It’s almost as if they are communicating through the cards. Was this important to you in your manga?

Takahashi: Yes, that’s right. Because the protagonist, Yugi, is a character that readers are rooting for, I always thought about how to give him a dramatic victory. For example, his trump card gets destroyed and he needs a come-from-behind win. I always thought about how to make such dramatic developments possible in narrative terms.

Kazuki Takahashi speaking at his Q&A panel at MAGIC 2019, with Matthieu Pinon and Sahé Cibot

Pinon: As we all see, MAGIC invites not only famous manga authors but also authors of [non-Japanese] comics. We know that you are a particular fan of this medium. What comic series do you read? Which do you follow with great interest?

Takahashi: I really like Mike Mignola. When it comes to BD, I really like Moebius.[2]

Pinon: Those of you who have been to Japan before might know that production of Japan’s own homegrown comics is quite important, so much so that foreign comics, whether French or American, are not well represented. Where did you find them, and how did you enter the world of comics?

Takahashi: There actually are places in Japan that sell American comics and I occasionally visit them to shop. I’ve always been a fan of American comics, especially stories about superheroes. I love the impactfulness of the artwork, a style that can’t be found in Japanese manga.

Pinon: You mentioned Mike Mignola. You had the opportunity to meet him and exchange drawings. He drew Yugi and you drew Hellboy. Could you tell us a little about this meeting? Because, when we see the drawings, it must have been quite the interesting encounter.[3]

Takahashi: I actually haven’t met him. I was excited to meet him at a comic convention but it didn’t work out. But we did end up collaborating. I drew Mike Mignola’s Hellboy while he drew Yugi.

Pinon: [You exchanged your drawings] through your publishers?

Sahé Cibot: Right.[4]

Pinon: For those of you who don’t know how Yu-Gi-Oh! ends, we aren’t going to spoil it for you, but you really should read the manga to the end because it’s quite exciting. The conclusion of Yu-Gi-Oh! is particularly successful. There are many manga that will simply stop, with publishers stating that their popularity is declining and that this is where they would draw the line. But you took great care to make a well-prepared ending. How did you plan this with your editor? Without revealing the ending to the reader, could you tell us how you prepared this well-developed, thoughtful ending?

Takahashi: When serialization of Yu-Gi-Oh! began, I had already decided that Yugi would meet the other Yugi — that he would meet his, umm, double — and that the two would fight in the end. I decided from the very beginning that Yugi would win.

[Cibot translates Takahashi’s answer into French, but leaves out his last statement that Yugi would win.]

Cibot: This is a huge spoiler, isn’t it?

[The audience laughs.]

Pinon: The ending is from 2004 so those who got spoiled are 15 years behind. We won’t blame you.

Cibot: Well, I didn’t say who won.

Pinon: This is so– Anyway.[5] Why was it important to you that he meet his double?

Takahashi: Well, it’s kind of like a multiple personality. The idea is that when the protagonist finds himself in trouble, a stronger version of himself appears. As the story progresses, he learns more about that other self and realizes that he must defeat him in order to become independent. Eventually, he does defeat his other self, grow, and become independent. This is the theme of the story.

Pinon: Sometimes, our greatest adversary is none other than ourselves. Two years ago, I believe, Yu-Gi-Oh! was developed into a smartphone mobile app. There was a monstrous promotional campaign in Tokyo where you could see billboards all over the Yamanote [railway line], the likes of which is completely unimaginable over here.[6] How did it make you feel seeing the analog game that you had designed shift into a video game?

Takahashi: Sure enough, in the manga, there was a rule that the game should absolutely not be taken in a digital direction. But we’re talking about Konami Digital Entertainment here, so…

[Takahashi and Naoki Kawashima laugh.]

Kazuki Takahashi glancing to his left and laughing at his Q&A panel at MAGIC 2019

Pinon: Time has moved on of course and video games are now available on smartphones that everyone can have in their hands. So time passed and in 2004, you stopped the manga. And for ten years, you supervised everything that was developed after that. Then, in 2013, you returned with a one-shot called DRUMP. What motivated you to create this manga?

Takahashi: I had the opportunity to do a one-shot. I thought of making the theme about card games. The Yu-Gi-Oh! card game is incredibly extensible, with rare cards and powerful cards constantly being introduced–

Pinon: It’s quite the catalog. I think some people have one or more binders that are stuffed full of cards.

Takahashi: On the other hand, I thought I could make an interesting game using playing cards, which are limited to 52 cards, so I created a manga based on that concept.[7]

Pinon: So in DRUMP, if you have a deck of 52 cards and a pencil, you can build and rebuild a [DRUMP] deck. You will only ever need 52 cards. Did this constraint help you create a crazy new concept? Or was it a barrier?

Takahashi: I did a lot of play-testing and found it to be a well-rounded game, so I created a story around it. I had fun drawing it and making the cards. It was interesting to play. I really wanted it to become popular, but compared to the power of Yu-Gi-Oh!, it paled in comparison. [Laughs.]

Pinon: As you may have noticed, we’re running a bit late so we’re going to have to cut this short. However, to finish, Mr. Takahashi, you don’t often have the opportunity to meet a Monacan or French audience. Perhaps you have something you would like to tell your fans, who have come and waited until the end of the day to see you. So if you have anything you would like to say, now is the time. Seize the moment.

Takahashi: More than 20 years have passed since Yu-Gi-Oh! began serialization. I am so grateful to be able to come to Monaco to interact with fans. I thank you all from the bottom of my heart for supporting Yu-Gi-Oh!.

Sahé Cibot and Kazuki Takahashi looking at the audience at MAGIC 2019 at Takahashi's Q&A panel

Interview Notes

1. ^ See Game of Thrones, season 7, episode 7.

2. ^ BD (bédé) is short for bande dessinée, a term describing comics of French or Belgian origin. Jean “Moebius” Giraud was a famous creator of BD.

3. ^ Takahashi’s and Mike Mignola’s illustrations were printed in VIZ Media’s September 2004 issue of Shonen Jump magazine.

Kazuki Takahashi's Hellboy artwork and Mike Mignola's Yugi artwork from VIZ Media's Shonen Jump, September 2004

As described in this issue, VIZ Media had asked Takahashi to draw his favorite American comic book character with Yu-Gi-Oh!-style hair, so he created the Hellboy drawing on the left. VIZ then contacted Mignola and he agreed to draw Hellboy clad in Yu-Gi-Oh! apparel. The two artists then exchanged these drawings.

4. ^ In this awkward exchange, the interpreter, Cibot, did not translate into Japanese the first part of Pinon’s statement about how Takahashi had exchanged drawings with Mignola. Instead, she asked if Takahashi had ever met Mike Mignola before. That’s why Takahashi repeated the same information in his response.

5. ^ Another awkward exchange. Nothing was lost in translation here though. Takahashi ignored the no-spoiler request, hahaha.

6. ^ The mobile app that Pinon mentions is of course Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links. The Yamanote Line is a circular railway loop that connects Tokyo’s major city centers. The Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links billboards described by Pinon appeared in March 2017 and were well documented on social media and in Konami’s own video ads.

7. ^ The game Takahashi created is called DRUMP and uses a standard deck of 52 playing cards. The manga, also called DRUMP, was published in 2013 in Shueisha’s 49th issue of Weekly Shonen Jump magazine. It was not published in English or French.

(Questions and answers have been edited for clarity and readability.)

* * *

– Kazuki Takahashi at MAGIC 2019, Part 4: Coming soon

Kazuki Takahashi at MAGIC 2019, Part 2: Autographs

Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS English Dub Debuts in Australia

April 6, 2019 at 7:00 am | Posted in English dubbed, Konami, VRAINS, Yu-Gi-Oh! | Leave a comment

Playmaker holding up two fingers as he and Ai launch an attack in Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 48

The English dub of Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS has found another home! The anime debuted today on Australia’s 9Go! under its Go! Kids brand. The channel will broadcast one episode of Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS every Saturday afternoon; check your local listings for the exact time.

Australian viewers who missed the broadcast can stream Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS on 9Now, where each episode is available for one month.

9Go!, formerly known as GO!, is owned by the Nine Network, one of the major free-to-air networks available throughout the country. 9Go! is the same channel where Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V debuted and is currently also airing reruns of Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters and Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V.

Australia is the second English-speaking market to receive Konami Cross Media NY’s production of Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS; the first was Canada, where the show debuted on Teletoon in September 2018.

4K Media Renamed to Konami Cross Media NY

April 1, 2019 at 6:00 am | Posted in Konami, Other Stuff | 4 Comments

Konami Cross Media NY homepage

Konami Digital Entertainment announced today that 4K Media, its New York subsidiary responsible for the licensing and management of the Yu-Gi-Oh! property outside Asia, has been renamed to Konami Cross Media NY as of March 31, 2019. The name change reflects the company’s expanded business endeavors with other Konami-owned properties, like Bomberman, Contra, and Frogger.

4K Media Inc. was originally known as 4K Acquisition Corporation and was founded in mid-2012 by Konami. As its name implies, the sole purpose of 4K Acquisition was to buy 4Kids Entertainment’s Yu-Gi-Oh! business, which 4Kids sought to sell following its court victory over Yu-Gi-Oh!’s Japanese licensors in a contract dispute. After completing the sale, Konami renamed 4K Acquisition to 4K Media later that same year.

(News from Konami)

First 4 Figures March Roundup: More Dark Magician Design Talk

March 31, 2019 at 12:00 pm | Posted in Duel Monsters, Yu-Gi-Oh! | Leave a comment
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Early render of Dark Magician's neutral face by First 4 Figures

As far as Yu-Gi-Oh! news goes, March was a slow month for high-end statue maker First 4 Figures, with CEO Alex Davis posting only one Yu-Gi-Oh!-related discussion the entire month. And even that didn’t last very long.

Following his February announcement that he wanted to redesign and resubmit Dark Magician for approval, Davis asked the F4F Official Collectors Club on March 20 for input on part of its new design. Davis shared a rendering of Dark Magician with a neutral face, seen above.

“Working on face before expression — what do you guys think!?!” asked Davis.

The image generated a variety of opinions. Some fans thought Dark Magician’s facial features looked too soft and said that he should have a more prominent chin. Others asked for more texture in his hair. Still others thought he looked great just as he was.

Regardless, the discussion thread vanished a day later with no warning or explanation from Davis.

In F4F’s weekly Q&A live stream on March 22, one fan asked Davis if there was any Yu-Gi-Oh! news to share. “Working on some stuff. We did a Dark Magician post the other day,” he replied, acknowledging the discussion; he did not elaborate further. Another fan asked Davis what happened to the face discussion and if he had made any decision about how he’d proceed. “Yeah we got into a bit of a — heh heh, uhh, whoopsies!” Davis responded quizzically.

Whatever ended up happening, Dark Magician remains in the works, but without any more input from fans.

First 4 Figures February Roundup: Dark Magician Design Talk

Jump Force Teaser Reveals Seto Kaiba’s Fighting Abilities

March 29, 2019 at 10:00 pm | Posted in Duel Monsters, Yu-Gi-Oh! | 2 Comments

Close-up of Seto Kaiba in Jump Force

Seto Kaiba is absolutely wrecking Yugi in the newest Jump Force teaser, out today from publisher Bandai Namco. Kaiba is shown unleashing energy attacks using Blue-Eyes White Dragon, then summoning Obelisk the Tormentor to punch out a defenseless Yugi. He also has the Crush Card Virus at his disposal, along with another attack that uses chains — possibly Shadow Spell.

Look for Kaiba to arrive in Jump force some time this May as part of the Characters Pass, which retails for $29.99.

Seto Kaiba Joins Jump Force as DLC Character

Yu-Gi-Oh! Duelist and Monsters Memorial Disc Tops Japanese DVD Sales Chart

March 27, 2019 at 9:00 am | Posted in Japanese, Yu-Gi-Oh! | Leave a comment

Yu-Gi-Oh! Duelist and Monsters Memorial Disc DVD, Blu-ray, and Animate-exclusive postcard
Photo by @animatehonten

The Yu-Gi-Oh! Duelist and Monsters Memorial Disc — a new video product celebrating the Yu-Gi-Oh! Official Trading Card Game’s 20th anniversary — was released in Japan on March 20 and immediately soared to the top of Oricon’s sales charts.

Oricon’s animation DVD ranking for the week of March 18 to 24 names the Memorial Disc as the number 1 seller of the week with 8,480 copies sold.

The Blu-ray edition of the Memorial Disc also performed well with 5,693 copies sold, placing it second on Oricon’s animation Blu-ray ranking.

The Yu-Gi-Oh! Duelist and Monsters Memorial Disc was announced in November 2018 alongside the results of V Jump magazine’s poll of the best Yu-Gi-Oh! monsters. The Memorial Disc highlights the winners of this poll, playing back the monsters’ most memorable battle scenes with commentary from the series’ voice actors.

Also included is a music CD with a selection of popular songs played during battle scenes in each anime series. Additionally, first printings of the Memorial Disc include a Secret Rare Dark Magician Girl card and a booklet that lists the winners of the poll. Furthermore, purchases from certain retailers include exclusive bonus items. Animate offers a postcard (seen in the photo above), Amazon Japan offers a slipcover for the Blu-ray and DVD case, and Canime offers a clear file.

Check out an advertisement for the Memorial Disc from Marvelous, with narration by Kenjiro Tsuda, the voice of Seto Kaiba.

Kazuki Takahashi at MAGIC 2019, Part 2: Autographs

March 22, 2019 at 9:00 pm | Posted in Other Stuff, Yu-Gi-Oh! | 4 Comments

Close-up of Yugi's face on Kazuki Takahashi's MAGIC 2019 shikishi

Autographs from Kazuki Takahashi are always in high demand, even in the world’s second smallest country. But when the creator of Yu-Gi-Oh! came to Monaco to attend MAGIC 2019, few people could have predicted just how competitive the autographing scene was, not only for Takahashi but also for all of the other guests.

All autograph sessions at MAGIC were first-come, first-served. And even though MAGIC isn’t a large event — its sole panel room seats only 400 people, and the organizer caps attendance at 3,000 — there was no telling what the crowds would be like. There might also be a language barrier; most of the staff and attendees would certainly be French speakers.

So how did things go? This is my story…

I arrived at the convention center, the Grimaldi Forum, at 6:30 a.m. knowing full well that the doors wouldn’t open until around 9:00 a.m. and that Takahashi’s autograph session wasn’t until 4:00 p.m. There were already four people waiting at the entrance. Alongside them was a row of almost a dozen backpacks on the ground, each reserving a spot in line.

One person, a friendly gentleman from Paris in his late 30s or early 40s, greeted me. I was relieved that he spoke English. He had been queuing since 1:00 a.m., making him the…second person to arrive. He came to MAGIC to get the autograph of Leiji Matsumoto, the creator of Captain Harlock and Galaxy Express 999. He talked about how rare it was to see Matsumoto and how he didn’t want to miss this chance to attend his autograph session at noon.

Friendly Parisian pointed at the row of bags on the ground. He explained that among autograph seekers in France, there are unwritten rules about the importance of respecting each other and the line queuing procedure. The reason for these rules, he said, is because there is often poor queuing etiquette in France. I didn’t really understand but I happily placed my bag in the line to hold my position. When I told Friendly Parisian that I was here to see Kazuki Takahashi, he warned me to be careful. There would be a lot of young people wanting to see him too, he said, and they might not be mindful of queuing etiquette.

Even before sunrise, more men and women gradually began to show up. Almost all of them were French speakers who seemed to know each other; I could tell because they all greeted each other by kissing. Friendly Parisian explained that most of the people who had arrived so early were members of a clique that specialized in collecting autographs. That’s why they were familiar with one another. Most of them had come to meet Matsumoto too. Soon, a woman from Japan showed up with a modest Captain Harlock ita-bag. Later, a boy, probably around 9 or 10 years old, lined up. He claimed to be a serious Yu-Gi-Oh! card collector. Drat. Competition.

Everyone was very friendly toward one another. There was an understanding that we all there for a common goal. Even though not everyone spoke English, I felt comfortable and upbeat among these like-minded people. I told myself that this would be a great event.

By the time the venue opened at 9:00 a.m., there were maybe two hundred people in line. After checking in, I hurried over to the autographing area, but that part of the convention center wasn’t open yet. Friendly Parisian and other autograph seekers were already queued up to enter. I evaluated the situation. The crowd wasn’t that big and most of the people there were interested in Leiji Matsumoto’s and other guests’ autographs anyway. No one seemed to be there for Kazuki Takahashi’s. I decided to leave and go to the opening ceremony instead.

MAGIC 2019 welcome message image shown on the big screen

Minutes later in the auditorium, Friendly Parisian took a seat near me. I was surprised to see him. What happened to the line? He explained that, rather than continuing to queue for hours on end, the autograph seekers decided to keep track of their positions in line by writing a number on the back of their hand.

Very smart. These attendees were resourceful and experienced. They understood how to deal with potentially stressful situations like autograph queues. What a relief. Once again, I felt comfortable, like I was in good company. I decided to stay in the auditorium past the opening ceremony to watch Leiji Matsumoto’s panel.

At 11:00 a.m., I headed over to the autographing area. I was mortified by what I saw.

Huge lines. Everywhere. Some weren’t even lines. They were just…clusters of people. There must have been close to two hundred people crammed into the very small waiting space. Lines were extending out of the autographing area and spilling into the adjacent exhibition area. Convention staff members were busy repositioning the lines so that they snaked around the perimeter of the area. There was a lot of yelling among attendees as people tried to jump the queues while they were being rearranged. A handful of intimidating suits kept a watchful eye on the area, ready to stomp on anyone misbehaving. All the while, guests were busy at their tables in the center of the autographing area. There were of course more lines in front of their tables.

I spotted Friendly Parisian at what appeared to be the front of a cluster. What happened to the organized numbering system? He didn’t know. It was chaos. Other attendees wouldn’t respect the numbering system. Staff wouldn’t recognize those as official lines anyway. Attendees didn’t know what was going on. Would Friendly Parisian still get to meet Leiji Matsumoto? He didn’t know. Everyone there was just standing around waiting for answers and hoping for the best.

I immediately felt a sense of urgency. I had become too complacent and forgotten why I had arrived early. Did I mess up? Was I too late? My pulse started to rise. I desperately tried to find someone who knew what was going on. Pardon, parlez-vous anglais? Parlez-vous anglais?

Finally, I found an English-speaking staff member. As luck would have it, she seemed to be in charge of the autographing area. I asked about Kazuki Takahashi. She said there was no line yet for his autograph session. It looked like there was no space to start a line for a session that wouldn’t even take place for another five hours, and the crowd only continued to grow in size. The staffer was very busy managing the area and bolted.

In a short period of time, I had become very tired and stressed. There were four guests signing in the next hour, including Leiji Matsumoto. At the moment, crowd control was obviously a problem. Maybe things would cool down later, I thought. Maybe the organizers would have a better queuing system in place later. There was nothing that I could accomplish anyway standing in this sea of madness. I made a critical decision. I decided to leave.

I’m glad I did because I instantly felt better. Some lunch should do me good too.

I returned to the autographing area at 1:00 p.m. and saw a some Yu-Gi-Oh! cosplayers queuing on a narrow ramp that led down to the autograph tables. The line looked short. I approached them and asked who they were waiting for, even though I already knew the answer. Kazuki Takahashi. At last. I counted the number of people in line. There were maybe 30 people ahead of me. I’m in a decent position, I thought. The line was filled with almost all teens and young adults, all very excited and taking out their Yu-Gi-Oh! goods to decide what to get signed.

It seemed like I arrived at just the right time because within five minutes, the length of the line had almost doubled. Things must have begun to get dicey because shortly after, a staffer showed up at the front of the line to address the attendees. It was the same woman who I had spoken to earlier.

She explained that Kazuki Takahashi had brought a shikishi — a Japanese autograph board — to give out at his autograph session. He would only sign the shikishi and nothing else. She said that she would hand out the shikishi right now and that only those who received one would be allowed to attend his autograph session. There were a very limited number of shikishi, she emphasized.

Instantly, I felt someone breathing down my neck. A young man was behind me and I could feel him attempting to squeeze past my left side. Oh for goodness’ sake. Why, Friendly Parisian, did your prediction have to be so accurate?!

I positioned myself in the middle of the ramp and held my left arm straight out to my side.

“No. You are behind me,” I told him sternly in English.

“Oh,” he muttered. Did he speak English? I don’t know, but he backed off.

Immediately after that, another voice further behind me called out, demanding that people stop pushing. I turned my head to look. It was a man, probably in his 40s. A member of Friendly Parisian’s autographing clique, maybe? I felt a sense of relief. Like-minded people.

As I neared the front of the line, the staffer was still handing out shikishi and reminding everyone to return at 4:00 p.m. to take part in the autograph session. When I approached her, she handed me the shikishi. It was printed with a new illustration of Yugi by Kazuki Takahashi.

Success. Relief. Joy!

I looked at the box she was carrying that contained the shikishi. It had “50” written on it. I peered inside. It was almost empty. There were maybe three or four left at the bottom.

Are. You. Serious.

I did not stand around admiring the artwork. I immediately packed away the shikishi and left the area. I did not want to be there to see what would happen when the staffer announces that there were no more.

Kazuki Takahashi signing for fans at his autograph table at MAGIC 2019

I returned to the autograph area a few minutes before 4:00 p.m. I saw some familiar faces queuing in a line up against a wall. The Yu-Gi-Oh! cosplayers were there too, posing for passersby while waiting. I joined the end of the line.

While I waited, I spotted Friendly Parisian walking around. I waved and asked him if he was successful in his quest to get Leiji Matsumoto’s autograph. Yes, he was successful, he said. I felt so happy for him.

Kazuki Takahashi’s interpreter, Sahé Cibot, approached the queue and asked each of the attendees their name. She then transcribed their name into katakana — the Japanese writing system used for foreign words — on a small piece of paper and gave it to the attendee. Takahashi would be personalizing each shikishi, and writing the names in katakana would be quicker and easier for him than writing in English.

Kazuki Takakashi arrived shortly after 4:00 p.m. He was accompanied by Sahé Cibot, Shonen Jump deputy editor in chief Naoki Kawashima, and one other assistant. In small groups, attendees moved from the waiting area against the wall to the center of the room where his table was located.

From the queue, I watched him smile as he greeted each fan who approached his table. He was using a silver pen to sign the shikishi. The ink must have been very wet because he repeatedly wiped the pen on some scrap paper before and after each signature.

One attendee gifted Takahashi a Funko Pop! figure of Hellboy, an American comic book superhero by Mike Mignola that he loves.

Kazuki Takahashi receiving a Hellboy Funko Pop! figure from a fan at MAGIC 2019
Kazuki Takahashi smiles as he receives a Hellboy Funko Pop! from a fan

Soon, it was my turn. I handed his assistant a card that autograph-seeking attendees are required to carry. The card was used by the convention to stop people from lining up multiple times in one autograph session to score multiple autographs.

Not that it was possible to do this during Takahashi’s session anyway.

MAGIC 2019 visitor badge and autograph card
Despite what the card says, Kazuki Takahashi did not hold a morning autograph session

The assistant punched a hole my card and gave it back to me.

I greeted Kazuki Takahashi and handed him the shikishi with both hands and the paper with my name on it. He read my name aloud and dabbed his pen on the scrap paper again, wiping away the excess ink. He began to sign.

“Mr. Takahashi, thank you so much for coming to Monaco,” I said anxiously while I watched the quick and elegant strokes of his pen.

“Oh, thank you,” he replied, his voice deep and calm.

In my mind, I will always have more to say to him. About what a big part of my life Yu-Gi-Oh! has played. About how happy I was to see him doing so well. About what an honor it was just to be in his presence. But he was already done signing and there was no time for chitchat. I thanked him again for the signature and left.

Days after the event had ended, MAGIC announced on Facebook that, for the first time in its five-year history, all the attendees had arrived in the morning and stayed until the end of the event in evening. Presumably, that meant that in the past, there were larger numbers of attendees who came and went over the course of the day.

Such an increase in traffic might explain why the staffers had difficulty managing the crowds. Combined with the fact that MAGIC was hosting such high-profile guests like Kazuki Takahashi and Leiji Matsumoto, I sympathized with the organizer’s predicament. It was messy, and there were certainly many things that MAGIC could have done better, but I’m not oblivious to the the challenges of managing autographing events and meeting attendees’ expectations.

Anyway, I would happily welcome a first-come, first-served autographing experience like this any day over, say, having to be selected via a random lottery.

Kazuki Takahashi's MAGIC 2019 shikishi and signature

Close-up of Kazuki Takahashi's signature on his MAGIC 2019 shikishi

Yesterday on Instagram, Kazuki Takahashi posted his shikishi artwork and left a message for his followers: “I participated in a manga awards event held in Monaco. It was a lot of fun meeting foreign Yu-Gi-Oh! fans! Thank you!”

No, thank you, Mr. Takahashi.

* * *

Kazuki Takahashi at MAGIC 2019, Part 3: Interview

Kazuki Takahashi at MAGIC 2019, Part 1: Manga Contest Judge

Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of the Duelist: Link Evolution Coming Summer 2019 to Nintendo Switch

March 21, 2019 at 2:00 pm | Posted in Konami, Yu-Gi-Oh! | Leave a comment

Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of the Duelist: Link Evolution logo

Yu-Gi-Oh! is getting a brand-new video game exclusively for the Nintendo Switch this summer! Today, Konami unveiled the English version of Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of the Duelist: Link Evolution, which includes over 9,000 cards and the use of the latest rules featuring Link monsters. The game allows players to relive the stories from the Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters, GX, 5D’s, ZEXAL, and ARC-V eras, as well as the newest VRAINS series. Players can also challenge other duelists with local-play or Nintendo Switch Online. All of the content in the original Legacy of the Duelist game is included too.

Konami states on Legacy of the Duelist’s Japanese website that it will debut in Japan slightly earlier, on April 25, 2019. The website also notes that the game will include a total of 145 duelists from the anime series, including new entries like Roman, Don Thousand, and Chojiro.

The original Legacy of the Duelist game launched in July 2015 for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One and expanded in December 2016 to Steam with additional content.

Yugi challenging Kaiba in the Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of the Duelist: Link Evolution story mode

Yuya meeting Sylvio in the Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of the Duelist: Link Evolution story mode

Playmaker playing Link Spider against a Knight of Hanoi in Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of the Duelist: Link Evolution

Dark Magician getting summoned in Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of the Duelist: Link Evolution

Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V, Scale 44: ‘Action Battle!!’

March 19, 2019 at 9:00 pm | Posted in ARC-V, Yu-Gi-Oh! | Leave a comment

Yuya Sakaki appearing in a puff of smoke in front of Reiji Akaba in Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V manga chapter 44

Yuya Sakaki promises to break Reiji Akaba’s ice-cold demeanor with his entertainment dueling. Yuya uses the effect of Pendulum Match to call forth Dark Anthelion Dragon. But Akaba counters by summoning D/D/D/D Superdimensional Sovereign Emperor Zero Paradox. Uh oh! Zero Paradox’s ability destroys the other cards on the field, leaving Yuya with nothing to battle with.

“Yuya. This ends your farce,” proclaims Akaba. “You have no moves left to make!”

Yuya is worried. He senses that Akaba’s heart had started to open up, but now, no longer. He looks at his hand for options, then smiles.

“I still have entertainment duels!” Yuya exclaims.

Yuya plays the Action Spell The Show Must Go On, which lets Yuya steal two of his opponent’s Action Cards. Yuya disappears in a puff of smoke and reappears inches from Akaba’s face. He snickers and snatches the cards right out of Akaba’s hand, then whooshes back to his side of the field.

Yuya then plays another Action Spell, Big Dominoes. Suddenly, a row of towering stone slabs fall from the sky, lining up neatly between the two duelists. They look like thick, enormous cards. When these Big Dominoes topple over onto Akaba, he’ll lose 500 life points for each card they have!

But Akaba won’t be squashed that easily. He plays his own Action Spell, Reverse Dominoes, forcing the giant slabs to fall in the opposite direction toward Yuya. Now, Yuya will receive all damage from the effect of Big Dominoes.

Yuya counters with the Action Spell Swingmelon. Coming in like a wrecking ball, a giant rope-tied melon crashes into the neat row of Big Dominoes, knocking them away from Yuya and sending them flying toward Akaba. If they hit him, Akaba will receive double the damage!

Akaba extends his arm outward and holds his palm forward. He responds with the Action Spell Stop, which negates all damage that he would receive from an Action Card. The young president doesn’t even wince as Yuya’s gigantic melon pauses in front of his face.

Yuya is ready again with his own Action Spell counter. He plays Splash Seeds, causing the colossal melon to morph into an equally large jack-o’-lantern. It explodes, scattering its fist-sized seeds everywhere. Yuya uses an umbrella to shield himself and laughs at the outcome. Akaba protects his face with his sentient scarf, but the explosive seeds set the scarf ablaze, completely reducing it to ashes.

Reiji Akaba is furious.

Reiji Akaba lamenting the destruction of his scarf in Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V manga chapter 44

Splash Seeds causes Akaba to take damage equal to 500 times the number of Action Cards played that turn. His life points fall to 1500, the same as Yuya’s.

Three turns have passed since Yuya banished his and Akaba’s G.O.D. cards. Now, Divine Go-D/D/D Zero King Zero G.O.D. Reiji returns with a vengeance, but G.O.D.-Eyes Phantom Dragon is ready to defend. If Akaba’s monster successfully attacks, Yuya’s life points will drop to zero!

Knowing that Zero G.O.D.’s effect only works if Akaba tributes a monster, Yuya activates the trap card Trick Explanation, which prevents tributes from being performed with monster effects.

But Akaba has a backup plan. He uses the effect of D/D Destiny Surveyor to turn itself into an Equip card for Zero G.O.D., which makes the god invincible and indestructible. Akaba’s doppelganger monster charges toward Yuya’s dragon, its fist ready to connect.

Yuya activates Trick Explanation’s other effect, which allows him to destroy one spell or trap card. He targets D/D Destiny Surveyor.

Zero G.O.D., a godly monster with zero attack points, looks painfully mortal as it throws a punch at G.O.D.-Eyes. No longer protected by the Equip card, Akaba’s monster falls to G.O.D.-Eyes and its 3000 attack strength. The duel’s onlookers gasp and cheer.

As the smoke from the attack clears, Reiji Akaba is still standing with his life points intact. He activated D/D Destiny Surveyor ability from the graveyard, he explains, which reduced his damage to zero. Furthermore, the monster that it battled is also destroyed and half its attack points are dealt as damage to his opponent.

G.O.D.-Eyes glows as it is destroyed. A beam of energy shoots out of its body and curves toward Yuya, ready to unleash 1500 points of damage and wipe out Yuya’s life points.

Yuya plays one more Action Spell, Double Burst, which forces both duelists to take the effect damage.

Akaba won’t settle for a tie. He sends D/D Destiny Surveyor from his hand to the graveyard to reduce the damage and leave him with 100 life points.

Neck and neck, Yuya Sakaki and Reiji Akaba’s life points both drop to 100 as they enter the climax of their battle…


Great moves! This chapter is super fun to read — one of the most fun in a long time. Even though the duel has a lot of card playing with little banter between the duelists, it’s all wonderfully entertaining, just like Yuya intended. I was fully engrossed in all of the plays made by both duelists.

All of their Action Cards and the way they are visually brought to life in the illustrations are fantastic. Great card names too.

The slabs of Big Dominoes remind me of the ancient Egyptian stone tablets seen in the original Yu-Gi-Oh! story.

Yuya playing the Big Dominoes card in Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V manga chapter 44

Can Yuya perform a Spirit Bomb attack? Maybe a Kamehameha?

Yuya preparing to launch a spirit attack in Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V manga chapter 44

No, it’s just a trick, hahaha.

Missed opportunity for Yuya to say “How do you like them melons?” when he plays the Swingmelon Action Card.

Yuya Sakaki playing the Swingmelon card in Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V manga chapter 44

There is now a card called Stop. Stop. I love it. I want to see this card used in real life and in the anime, with its effect expanded to apply to more situations. Are your opponents getting too cocky with their plays? Stop. Are you about to be on the receiving end of a bad combo? Stop. Are your opponents about to unleash a time-wasting diatribe? Stop. Just… Stop.

RIP Reiji Akaba’s scarf. Your loss will be greatly felt. I’m so proud of Shin Yoshida and Naohito Miyoshi for embracing the ridiculous wonder that is Reiji Akaba’s scarf as the story progressed. I’m sure they heard the fans’ cries for the scarf to play a bigger role in the story. These final few chapters with the scarf have been a tremendous blessing.

With only 100 life points left, this duel is clearly about to conclude. I love that Yuya and Reiji’s life points are kept so close all throughout. Who will be victorious? I think we all know the answer, but I’m waiting on the edge of my seat to see how it plays out.

* * *

Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V, Scale 44: “Action Battle!!” is available now for free in VIZ Media’s Shonen Jump (web, Android, iOS) and in MANGA Plus by SHUEISHA (web, Android, iOS).

Previous chapter:
Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V, Scale 43: “Head-to-Head Cards!!”

Next chapter:
Coming soon

Also available now:
– Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V: Volume 1, Volume 2, Volume 3, Volume 4, Volume 5

Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V in VIZ’s Spring 2019 WSJ Jump Pack

March 18, 2019 at 7:00 am | Posted in ARC-V, Yu-Gi-Oh! | Leave a comment
Tags: ,

Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V manga panel in the Weekly Shonen Jump Spring 2019 Jump Pack and Elemental HERO Stratos promo card

VIZ Media’s digital Weekly Shonen Jump magazine might be discontinued, but the print WSJ Jump Pack program is still going strong with Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V as its mainstay title. The newest issue — Spring 2019 — is available now at your local Scholastic book fair, held in thousands of schools throughout the United States.

The WSJ Jump Pack is a preview of some of the hottest Jump manga series from VIZ Media, released twice per year and printed in a 7-by-10-inch high-quality magazine. This issue includes the following titles:

  • Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V, chapter 6
  • My Hero Academia, chapter 7
  • Dragon Ball Super, chapter 4
  • Astra Lost in Space, chapter 1 (part 2)

For readers new to the Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game, this issue also features a two-page write-up discussing what types of programs are available at Official Tournament Stores (OTS) and how to get involved to start dueling.

And as always, the Jump Pack includes some extras for new players, Yu-Gi-Oh! collectors, and manga readers:

  • An Ultra Rare Elemental HERO Stratos Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG card (JMPS-EN008). This card was originally released as a promo for VIZ’s April 2007 Shonen Jump magazine.
  • A Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG fold-out paper game mat with beginner’s guide.
  • A 20-card Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG demo deck that accompanies the guide.
  • A coupon for one free Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG Starter Deck, redeemable at your local OTS.
  • A promo code for a free two-month membership for VIZ’s Shonen Jump, which houses 10,000+ chapters of manga.

Swing by your local Scholastic book fair to pick up this Jump Pack for just $10.99. Everyone is welcome to shop at these fairs, not only students and teachers. A portion of all sales are used to financially support the school, so feel free to grab something else while you’re there!

Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V in VIZ’s Fall 2018 WSJ Jump Pack

Cover of VIZ Media's Weekly Shonen Jump Spring 2019 Jump Pack

Table of Contents of the Weekly Shonen Jump Spring 2019 Jump Pack

Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG cards and extras included with the Weekly Shonen Jump Spring 2019 Jump Pack

Close-up of the Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG Elemental HERO Stratos promo card included with the Weekly Shonen Jump Spring 2019 Jump Pack

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