Scholastic’s Yu-Gi-Oh! Official Handbook: An OverviewAugust 30, 2016 at 10:00 am | Posted in Duel Monsters, English dubbed, Konami, Yu-Gi-Oh! | 7 Comments
Yu-Gi-Oh! makes its big return to the children’s book market today with Scholastic’s Yu-Gi-Oh! Official Handbook, the first Yu-Gi-Oh! title to come from the publisher in nearly ten years. The 144-page paperback is lauded by 4K Media as the “definitive resource for young, English-speaking Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters fans.”
This post will provide a brief overview of this new book while touching on some of Scholastic’s history with the Yu-Gi-Oh! brand.
A Brief History of Scholastic and Yu-Gi-Oh!
Scholastic Inc., the biggest publisher and distributor of children’s books in the world, has a long history with Yu-Gi-Oh! books dating back to the mid-2000s. During the heyday of Yu-Gi-Oh!, the company partnered with VIZ Media to release Scholastic versions of Yu-Gi-Oh! manga and with 4Kids Entertainment to publish Yu-Gi-Oh!-themed activity books filled with puzzles and mazes, chapter books with stories inspired by the anime, sticker books, and more.
But perhaps Scholastic’s most popular Yu-Gi-Oh! titles were its trivia and data books. The company published over a dozen of these books between 2005 and 2007. Some titles serve as guide books touching upon all aspects of the Yu-Gi-Oh! anime, like Yu-Gi-Oh! Monster Duel Official Handbook and Yu-Gi-Oh! Dueling Legends Official Handbook. Others titles focus on one specific character and his role in the Yu-Gi-Oh! story, like Yugi Muto and Marik Ishtar. Still others, like Ancient Egypt and Duelists Unite, center around a particular story line or group of characters. Each book is authored or co-authored by Arthur “Sam” Murakami, a longtime Yu-Gi-Oh! producer at 4Kids and 4K Media.
Murakami’s books are filled with plot summaries and monster listings, as expected of data books. However, they were especially well-liked for including a wealth of Yu-Gi-Oh! trivia that was, at the time, hard to come by on the internet. Scattered throughout the books are details like the characters’ ages, birthdays, astrological signs, and favorite foods, which are translated directly from Shueisha’s Japanese data book Yu-Gi-Oh! Character Guidebook: The Gospel of Truth. The specifics of many monsters’ first appearances in the anime and their attack names are neatly cataloged in various tables. And all kinds of funny character quotes and arcane minutiae abound. Young Yu-Gi-Oh! fans had plenty of factoids to absorb and lots of titles to choose from and collect. The books were cherished by a generation of readers, then went out of print and were forgotten.
Now, almost ten years after its last Yu-Gi-Oh! publication, Scholastic has returned with Yu-Gi-Oh! Official Handbook to excite a new generation of children.
What is Inside?
Yu-Gi-Oh! Official Handbook is a 144-page full-color softcover book with a gloss laminate cover. It can be divided roughly into three sections.
The first section provides an overview of the world of Yu-Gi-Oh! and the history of Duel Monsters, from its origins as a game played by ancient Egyptian pharaohs and sorcerers, to Maximillion Pegasus’ revival of the game for modern times. A bullet-point timeline lists the major events of the Duel Monsters universe, beginning with the emergence of Zorc and Aknadin’s creation of the Millennium Items, then highlights Yugi Muto’s adventures throughout the anime, from the Duelist Kingdom tournament to his and Atem’s final duel. Finally, the seven Millennium Items are listed.
The second section describes the series’ major characters. Short biographies detail the characters’ lives and personalities, experience with Duel Monsters, and relationships and friendships. Their “big moments” — significant events in the series that shape their lives and the story — receive headlines in their own sub-section. And many of their monsters receive special attention with an image and one-line description. As expected, Yugi and his monsters are featured most prominently. The other characters that are given the most attention are Joey, Bakura, Kaiba, Mai, Pegasus, Marik, Noah, and Dartz.
The third section, “More Duelists A-Z,” features many of Yugi’s other friends and opponents that he encounters throughout the series. Included are Ishizu, Shadi, the businessmen of the Big Five, the six Guardians of the Pharoah, and more. Even one-off duelists like Gurimo, Johnny Steps, and Jean Claude Magnum aren’t forgotten. The duelists each have a few sentences included about their role in the story and their major monsters.
The last page of the book teases that Yugi and his friends will be embarking on new adventure and notes that they will battle in new duels and take on a new threat to the world.
Yu-Gi-Oh! Official Handbook is heavily illustrated and includes both familiar artwork of characters and monsters as well as various screenshots from the anime. Character quotes make occasional appearances and are sprinkled throughout the book. The character biography pages have an Egyptian hieroglyphic motif, while the monster pages are lit up by a background with blue and white energy beams. In the vast majority of the book, the text is large, well-spaced, and easy to read, ideal for intermediate independent readers. However, in a few instances, the book uses the font Handel Gothic for prose, for which it is not very suitable and somewhat of an eyesore.
How Does It Measure Up?
Since Scholastic has such a notable history with the Yu-Gi-Oh! brand, it’s hard not to compare this newest title with its previous releases. Yu-Gi-Oh! Official Handbook is a compendious work similar in scope to Scholastic’s old Yu-Gi-Oh! Monster Duel Official Handbook and Yu-Gi-Oh! Dueling Legends Official Handbook. However, it devotes more pages to describing the story and significant plot events than either of these two titles. It also has significantly more screenshots than any of Scholastic’s other Yu-Gi-Oh! books (other than Yu-Gi-Oh! Ultimate Episode Guide).
But with only 144 pages, Yu-Gi-Oh! Official Handbook doesn’t have enough room for everything. There is no tabular data in this book, so some of the information organized this way in Murakami’s books, like the character profiles from The Gospel of Truth and monster attack names, don’t make the cut. There also isn’t as much Yu-Gi-Oh! trivia laid out in Q&A format as there are in the old books; though in all fairness, much of the trivia can simply be inferred by reading the prose. (You won’t find any of the more wacky factoids though, like the name of Téa’s fake missing cat or what attractions are present at Kaiba Land.) There also aren’t as many character quotes included.
Naturally, there will always be debates about what kinds of information belong in guide books like this one. Yu-Gi-Oh! anime fans will always want to see their favorite facts validated. 4K Media has the Herculean task of compiling the information, all while making sure everything stays official and accessible to its audience.
About the Author
Yu-Gi-Oh! Official Handbook is written by Tracey West, who is best known for her numerous chapter books for children based on big-name properties like Naruto, Pokemon, Star Wars, and WWE. West is the author of the official Yu-Gi-Oh! Ultimate Episode Guide and several Yu-Gi-Oh! GX chapter books, which were all published in the mid-2000s by Scholastic.
Title: Yu-Gi-Oh! Official Handbook
Author: Tracey West
Street Date: August 30, 2016
Publisher: Scholastic Inc.
Dimensions: 6″ x 9″
Age Range: 8-12 years