Yu-Gi-Oh! Animator Junichi Hayama at Youmacon 2017

November 9, 2017 at 3:00 pm | Posted in Duel Monsters, Japanese, The Dark Side of Dimensions, Yu-Gi-Oh! | Leave a comment
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Junichi Hayama at a live-drawing panel at Youmacon on November 4, 2017

Junichi Hayama, one of the most popular Yu-Gi-Oh! animators and animation directors among fans, was a special guest at Youmacon in Detroit, Michigan, this past weekend. Not only is Hayama a veteran of the Japanese anime industry with over 30 years of experience, he is also a gifted artist in his own right and has published some famous books cataloging his acclaimed brush illustrations.

Junichi Hayama served as the animation director for Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters episodes 94, 124, 161, 167, 173, and 179. He also worked as one of the key animators in Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions. Outside of Yu-Gi-Oh!, Hayama is probably best known for the 13-episode JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure OVA from 1993, where he served as the series’ character designer and one of its animation directors.

At Youmacon, Hayama shared the stage with Mamoru Yokota, a younger animator who has worked on series like Death Note, Naruto, and Gatchaman Crowds. Together, the pair held one Q&A panel and two live-drawing panels where they offered a rare look at their creation process and fielded numerous questions about their careers and the anime industry.

This post compiles all of the Yu-Gi-Oh!-related questions that the audience asked Hayama during his panels and highlights some of his more interesting opinions and responses about his background.

Katsuya Jonouchi, by Junichi Hayama, dated October 4, 2013
By @hayama11 (October 4, 2013)

Meet Junichi Hayama

How did you get started in your career as an animator?

I used to draw a lot of manga and show them to many producers to try to see if I could get them sold. But reading my own manga, I felt like they weren’t interesting or funny enough. So, I felt that I couldn’t become a manga artist myself, that I wasn’t good enough for it. When I graduated high school, I wanted to do something similar so I went into the anime industry instead.

Did you go to school for animation?

No, I went directly to an animation company.

How much freelance work did you do before you entered the animation industry?

I’m still classified as a freelancer, even now. I’m not tethered to any one company.

What was your first job?

Gu-Gu Ganmo.

What has been your most cherished and favorite thing you’ve worked on thus far?

Fist of the North Star. It’s not the project that I like the most but rather is the one that has left the strongest impression on me. This was where I learned a lot of the basics and standard kinds of jobs. It was kind of my stepping stone in a sense.

Is there a person who has been a major inspiration for you?

Masami Suda, from Fist of the North Star, when I first started working in the industry. Suda was an animator who worked on the characters in that project. He was a great animator and had a very cool way of drawing that was very inspirational for me and that led me to where I am today. His work is the standard on which I base my own work today.

Are there any anime or manga that you enjoyed when you were young that inspires your work today?

On the anime side, something that I felt was kind of cool and awesome was Combattler V. The character designs by Yoshikazu Yasuhiko still inspire me today. A lot of my drawings are very much related to his. On the manga side, there’s Chojin Rokku. It’s one of the manga that I used to read. Yuki Hijiri, who worked on that, is someone who’s still inspirational today.

What has been the most challenging project that you’ve worked on so far?

Shonan Bakusozoku. I worked on one of the OVA episodes. This series features a lot of motorcycles and bikes, and there are a lot of fight scenes and gangs in the episodes. In particular, I didn’t know how the structure of motorcycles worked. I never rode one myself and I never really understood how they worked. I spent about two weeks all like, “I don’t know how to draw this. I don’t understand this.” I spent a very long time scratching my head over this. I decided one day I was going to buy a classic model motorcycle to understand the structure. So I bought two plastic models from my part-time job. One of them was a full-fairing version and another one was a very popular version at the time. So, from building these, I was able to finally understand the structure and felt like I was able to fulfill that job. But while I was struggling with that job, I felt like I was never going to finish it and felt a little bit hopeless at the time.

What’s the hardest thing for you to draw?

Things that look like Pretty Cure.

What’s your favorite thing to draw?

The design process of the characters. Drawing them from different angles. That’s the most fun to draw.

When you were a young animator, did you ever think about becoming an animation director?

Yes, I definitely wanted to try it.

How did you feel the first time you worked as an animation director?

I was really nervous. It’s a lot of responsibility because there isn’t anybody else who is checking things over or fixing them for you. You’re the final word, so I was nervous. I was looking forward to it and it was fun, but still nerve-wracking.

Yami Yugi, by Junichi Hayama, dated October 17, 2014
By @hayama11 (October 17, 2014)

Junichi Hayama Talks Yu-Gi-Oh!

Are you enjoying Youmacon so far?

Yes, it’s very interesting. [Hayama points at a couple cosplaying Kaiba and Mokuba sitting in the audience.] They’re one of the interesting parts.

How did you first get to work for Studio Gallop?

I kind of happened to be in between jobs. I got a hold of my friend’s company and kind of asked, “Do you have any jobs or anything that I can work on?” And he’s like, “Well, we have this Yu-Gi-Oh! TV series that we are working on. So why don’t you work as an animation director for it?” And that’s how I got involved with it.

What was your favorite character or scene to draw for Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions?

I actually haven’t seen the finished project. I really liked the first half of the movie when Kaiba and Yugi duel each other. Process-wise, I was kind of only involved in the first stage or so, so I wasn’t able to complete the project with them. It’s a little bit of a sensitive subject.

In Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions, did you get to draw Aigami?

Who’s Aigami?

[Hayama is taking requests during a live-drawing session.] Can you draw Marik?

[Hayama puts his face in his hands then pretends to cry. He won’t do it. It’s too difficult.]

[Hayama is still taking requests during a live-drawing session.] Can you draw Dark Magician Girl?

Ehh?! No, I can’t!

Who is your favorite Yu-Gi-Oh! character to draw?

Hmm, it’s tough to say.

Seto Kaiba, by Junichi Hayama, dated October 17, 2014
By @hayama11 (October 17, 2014)

Junichi Hayama Talks Art and the Anime Industry

What art supplies do you currently use?

Mechanical pencils. Pentel Art Brush pens. I think there are around 16 colors.

How do you decide which colors to use to accent your art?

I don’t use too many colors. Using just a few colors has more impact.

Do you ever do any digital work? Have you felt any differences with the shift to doing more digital work in the industry?

Yes, I’ve used it. About ten years ago, there was a remake of Gaiking and I had to use digital back then too. So I’ve been using it for quite a while now. [Hayama searches for video of the first Gaiking ending to show some of the digital art he did there.]

What do you think of artists who only know how to draw digitally?

They can do as they want. I don’t have a strong opinion about that.

Is it possible for Americans to work in the Japanese animation industry?

Yes, it’s possible, but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it because the work-life balance isn’t great and you don’t really have any free time.

Some of the productions you have worked on are based on manga. How often do you interact with the creator?

It’s not impossible to get to meet with creators and manga artists. There are a few occasions. But the majority of the time, I’m usually working with the director. So working with the director and having meetings and such where we can talk together.

What tips would you give to artists who are just starting off?

Just draw what you like. When you’re doing it as a job, you can’t just draw whatever you want so it becomes a little bit more difficult. So when you’re a beginner, just enjoy it.

Are there any changes you would like to see in the anime industry?

The animation industry is known for its very, very long hours and its poor life balance without a lot of free time. I wish that everybody could have an easier time with a more balanced life and enjoy themselves more.

Katsuya Jonouchi, by Junichi Hayama, dated October 17, 2014
By @hayama11 (October 17, 2014)

Junichi Hayama’s Likes

How much do you know about Western animation?

My knowledge isn’t super extensive, but I do like some American animation, in particular The Simpsons.

Are there any current shows that you like?

The American shows Arrow and The Flash. [Hayama searches for illustrations of Green Arrow and the Flash on his phone that he previously made and shows the audience.]

What’s your favorite anime, in general?

Ashita no Joe 2.

What’s your favorite food and drink?

My favorite food is tofu. My favorite drink is Wild Turkey.

What’s your favorite sake?

Wild Turkey.

What kind of hobbies do you have?


What’s your favorite genre?


What’s your favorite color?


What’s your favorite movie?

Back to the Future.

Mai Kujaku, by Junichi Hayama, dated October 17, 2014
By @hayama11 (October 17, 2014)

Junichi Hayama Draws Live

Junichi Hayama draws with brush pens. These pens have a reservoir that holds ink, like a fountain pen, but have a tip that emulates the look of traditional Japanese brushes. Hayama’s artwork is so well known that he has published some books focusing solely on his brush techniques and illustrations. At Youmacon, he showed off artwork from two such books: Brush Work and Animation and Design Techniques for Anime Characters.

There are said to be two different types of artists in Japan: method drawers and talent drawers. Method drawers are artists who can consistently draw the same thing over and over again for everyone. If they practice their method, they can draw very fast. Hayama is a talent drawer. He has an image in his mind, which he translates directly to pen and paper.

This talent of Hayama’s was on full display throughout the live-drawing panels. Not once did Hayama ever sketch out his drawings with a pencil first. Instead, he drew completely freehand. He began each piece by waving his pen over his paper, creating an invisible outline of the image he has visualized in his mind, then immediately started inking. This process makes his illustrations all the more incredible.

Hayama created seven illustrations during his two live-drawing panels. Only one was a Yu-Gi-Oh! piece, but it was a particularly outstanding one featuring Yami Yugi and Seto Kaiba:

Illustration of Yami Yugi and Seto Kaiba, drawn live by Junichi Hayama at Youmacon on November 3, 2017

Close-up of Seto Kaiba in an illustration drawn live by Junichi Hayama at Youmacon on November 3, 2017

Close-up of Yami Yugi in an illustration drawn live by Junichi Hayama at Youmacon on November 3, 2017

Fellow animator Mamoru Yokota, who has not worked on Yu-Gi-Oh! before, showed that he has the skills to be hired for the next Yu-Gi-Oh! project by offering his own take on Yami Yugi:

Illustration of Yami Yugi, drawn live by Mamoru Yokota at Youmacon on November 4, 2017

In Japan, animators normally only sell their works in books. But at Youmacon’s Artists’ Alley, Hayama offered attendees something that Japanese fans never get: the chance to commission a piece of art. Not only that, he was willing to draw anything, not just characters from series that he has worked on. Asking animators to draw for them is considered a faux pas in Japan. There aren’t really events like the ones he participated in at Youmacon, said Hayama.

Yami Yugi and Yugi Muto, by Junichi Hayama, dated May 31, 2015
By @hayama11 (May 31, 2015)

Follow Junichi Hayama on Twitter, @hayama11.

And follow Mamoru Yokota on Twitter, @yokotamamoru.

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

Yu-Gi-Oh! Manga Editor Yoshihisa Heishi at NYCC 2017

October 12, 2017 at 11:00 pm | Posted in Duel Monsters, Japanese, Series 1, Yu-Gi-Oh! | Leave a comment
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Yoshihisa Heishi at the Weekly Shonen Jump panel at NYCC 2017

In Japan, manga editors are more than just people who know the nuts and bolts of the publishing industry. Editors work intimately with manga creators, exchanging story ideas and guiding the creators to success, and even look after the creators’ health and well-being. When Kazuki Takahashi’s Yu-Gi-Oh! manga was first serialized in Shueisha’s Weekly Shonen Jump magazine in Japan, its founding editor was Yoshihisa Heishi. Heishi eventually rose through the ranks to become the magazine’s editor in chief, and today still works at Shueisha’s shonen manga department as its director.

This past weekend, Heishi attended New York Comic Con where he was a guest at VIZ Media’s Weekly Shonen Jump panel. He offered some tidbits about Yu-Gi-Oh! and Takahashi during a brief Q&A.

“How did Egypt become such an important theme in the story?” asked Urian Brown, an editor at VIZ and the panel’s moderator.

“Before the manga started, Takahashi-sensei was really interested in Egypt and Egyptian culture,” explained Heishi through his translator, English WSJ Editor in Chief Andy Nakatani. “The Millennium Puzzle was originally not supposed to be used. It was going to be a different item. But since he ended up using the Millennium Puzzle, Egypt became a more important part of the story.”

“What was it supposed to be originally?” asked Brown.

“I can’t say,” Heishi laughed.

“What was it like working with Takahashi-sensei?” Brown continued. “Can you give us any details about his creative process?”

“When Takahashi-sensei was making the manga, I didn’t really see him having trouble or questioning himself when he was creating the manga,” replied Heishi. “He would go through the struggle unseen, not out in the forefront. Every week, they’d be playing card games and video games and things. He would play every week with his assistants. […] The ideas came from that.”

“Did you try out any of the dangerous Shadow Games in the manga, like yo-yos on the roof or the nitroglycerin air hockey?” asked Brown.

“No! Kids, please don’t do this at home.”

* * *

Check out video of the full panel for discussions and insights about even more Shonen Jump titles, like Rurouni Kenshin and My Hero Academia.

Related posts:
‘Spotlight on Yu-Gi-Oh! & Creator Kazuki Takahashi’ Panel at SDCC 2015

Yu-Gi-Oh! GX Comes to Duel Links

September 28, 2017 at 8:00 am | Posted in English dubbed, GX, Japanese, Yu-Gi-Oh! | Leave a comment

Announcement of Duel World (GX) in Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links

Today, Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links received its biggest update yet with the addition of the Yu-Gi-Oh! GX world. Jaden Yuki and his friends and rivals are here, complete with all of the voices you remember and love. “The Eggwich is mine!”

To enter the GX Duel World, you must first unlock Jaden by reaching Stage level 8 and completing the Character Unlock Mission of summoning Warrior-Type monsters ten times. More GX duelists, like Chazz Princeton and Alexis Rhodes, will become available as you level up.

In Japan, to celebrate this release, @yugioh_anime announced that the Yu-Gi-Oh! GX anime will begin streaming on various Japanese video networks on October 1. Whew, it’s about time!

(News from Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links on Facebook)

Yu-Gi-Oh! GX logo and Duel World (GX) in Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links

Jaden Yuki and Elemental HERO Neos in Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links

Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links Adds Japanese Audio Option

September 11, 2017 at 9:00 am | Posted in Duel Monsters, Japanese, Yu-Gi-Oh! | Leave a comment

Announcement of the Japanese audio option on Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links

Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links’ latest update gives all duelists the option to play the game with Japanese audio, even if they aren’t based in Japan! To change the audio language, enter the “Settings” option and tap “Change Language.”

Note that even though the audio is in Japanese, the on-screen text still corresponds to the English dialog, which won’t always match up with the Japanese dialog.

Download Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links for iOS and Android today!

(News from Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links on Facebook)

Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions Replacement Discs Now Shipping

July 31, 2017 at 6:00 am | Posted in English dubbed, Japanese, Konami, The Dark Side of Dimensions, Yu-Gi-Oh! | 5 Comments

Aigami clapping after Anzu bowls a strike in Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions
*Polite applause*

Anchor Bay has begun mailing out Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions replacement discs. If you emailed Anchor Bay requesting a replacement, you will soon receive it in the mail, if you haven’t already. As promised, the new Blu-ray and DVD have fixed the dubtitles found on the old discs when playing the movie in Japanese, replacing them with accurate subtitles just like those on Manga Entertainment UK’s releases. The replacement discs have an identical label to the old discs.

As a reminder, Anchor Bay is not recalling the old discs. It is unlikely that those original printings have sold out, and there is no word on when these replacement discs will hit store shelves or if it will even be possible to differentiate between a package containing an old and a new disc. So, if you want to guarantee yourself a copy of the movie without dubtitles, you must buy a copy of the movie now and email Anchor Bay for a replacement. It’s not too late to do so.

Related posts:
Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions: An Overview of the English Blu-ray and DVD Products

Anchor Bay’s Blu-ray, DVD Replacement Program for Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions

July 11, 2017 at 9:00 pm | Posted in English dubbed, Japanese, Konami, The Dark Side of Dimensions, Yu-Gi-Oh! | 14 Comments

Photo of Anchor Bay Entertainment's Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions DVD and Blu-ray discs

If you purchased Anchor Bay Entertainment’s Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions Blu-ray and DVD, you are probably already aware of two problems afflicting these products, neither of which appear in the video products released in other territories.

The first issue emerges when playing the movie in its original Japanese language with English subtitles. The subtitles that are displayed are not actually translations of the Japanese dialogue. Rather, these subtitles match up line-by-line with what is spoken in the English-dubbed dialogue, and are also used for the subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing that appear when playing the movie in English. In other words, they are so-called dubtitles. The English version of the movie contains original writing and is not a direct translation of the Japanese dialogue.

The second issue is that the movie is presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio rather than its original 1.85:1 letterboxed aspect ratio. A 1.78:1 picture completely fills the screen of a standard widescreen display, but comes with a loss of some of the left and right sides of the picture.

I reached out to Anchor Bay for comment about these issues and the company has replied with details about how it is handling this movie going forward.

Regarding the subtitles, “Replacement discs are in the works to fix the ‘dubtitle’ issue,” explained an Anchor Bay rep. The company is currently “[w]orking with [4K Media] to confirm everything is accurate with the Japanese subtitles prior to manufacturing new discs.”

As for the aspect ratio, the cropping of the video was intentional and will not be changed, as “this is [an] original framed presentation without the 1.85 matte added in,” said Anchor Bay.

Anchor Bay was unable to comment on whether the replacement discs will eventually be available for sale in retail stores, and if they are, whether there will be a way to visually examine the packaging to determine if it contains an old disc or a replacement disc.

What Should You Do Now?

Anchor Bay Entertainment will be replacing its Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions Blu-ray and DVD for anyone who is not satisfied with the products. To request a replacement, please send an email to:

\textrm{\textbf{lionsgateshop}\ [at-sign]\ \textbf{orderassistance}\ [dot]\ \textbf{com}}

(This is the correct email address to contact. Lionsgate is the parent company of Anchor Bay.)

You will be asked to provide your contact information, location and date of purchase, and photographs of your receipt, packaging, and discs.

“Discs will be shipped as soon as possible to the core fans who reach out to this customer service email,” stated Anchor Bay.

If you have not purchased Yu-Gi-Oh! DSoD and want to ensure that you receive a copy that has the corrected subtitles, the easiest thing to do is to purchase the copy currently available on store shelves, then email Anchor Bay to guarantee yourself a corrected version once it becomes available.

Note that Anchor Bay is not recalling any products — the BD and DVD with the defective subtitles will continue to be sold in stores. Since Anchor Bay is unable to confirm when or if the corrected BD and DVD will eventually be available in stores, and whether it will even be possible to distinguish between the old and corrected products, there is no point in waiting for the corrected products to become available before making a purchase. If you wait, you may still end up buying an old product and having to contact Anchor Bay for a replacement anyway. So you might as well buy now, email Anchor Bay, and be among the first to get a replacement.

Also note that Anchor Bay has not yet manufactured the replacement discs. Since the discs still need to be reauthored, reprinted, and shipped — not to mentioned checked for errors all along the way — the replacement process could take months, not days or weeks.

Anchor Bay’s replacement program is only intended for the United States. Even though its region A/1 products are playable on equipment used in other markets and are available for sale in other markets, Anchor Bay itself is only the distributor for the U.S. and is thus unable to provide support to anyone in other territories who purchased its products.

Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions: An Overview of the English Blu-ray and DVD Products

Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions: An Overview of the English Blu-ray and DVD Products

June 28, 2017 at 12:00 am | Posted in English dubbed, Japanese, Konami, The Dark Side of Dimensions, Yu-Gi-Oh! | 18 Comments
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Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions Blu-ray and DVD cover mock-ups from Anchor Bay Entertainment

Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions has arrived on Blu-ray and DVD from Anchor Bay
Entertainment! The United States and Canada are the last of the major English-speaking markets to receive this movie on home video. Yu-Gi-Oh! fans in the United Kingdom received their own copy from Manga Entertainment UK on May 29, while Australia and New Zealand received it shortly after that on June 7 from Madman Entertainment.

Surprisingly, each of the companies offers different content and extras with their home video releases. Some of them even contain unwanted content, like cropped videos, incorrect aspect ratios, and dubtitles. Argh! Which version should the discerning Yu-Gi-Oh! fan buy?

This post offers an overview and comparison of the Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions Blu-ray and DVD products from Anchor Bay, Manga UK, and Madman. It also takes a brief look at the BD and DVD products from Marvelous in Japan. Screenshots captured from all of the discussed products are at the end of this post.

Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions from Anchor Bay Entertainment

Anchor Bay’s region A Blu-ray and region 1 DVD (pictured above) include both the English and Japanese audio tracks of the movie. Both languages have a 5.1 surround sound mix. The English version of the movie includes subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing (SDH) that can be toggled on and off. The Japanese version includes subtitles that are automatically turned on, though they fortunately aren’t burned into the video (“hard subbed”). More on these subtitles in a moment.

Anchor Bay’s BD and DVD have the distinction of being the only releases that contain two video tracks. One is the English-language video with translated cards, signs, and credits. The other is the original Japanese-language video with Japanese credits. However, the song “To Believe In Something,” which plays during the credits in Marvelous’ BD and DVD, does not play here during the Japanese credits. Instead, viewers hear a longer version of “Yu-Gi-Oh! Theme: The Dark Side of Dimensions” as the credits roll. (This was also the case when Eleven Arts screened the Japanese version of the movie in theaters. Looks like music licensing issues rear their ugly heads yet again.)

Furthermore, only Anchor Bay’s BD and DVD have the English dub that includes the winners of 4K Media’s voice-over contest. The English dub released in other territories have the winners’ lines read by the movie’s other cast members.

Anchor Bay’s releases include four special features. In “Favorite Moments with the Cast,” the voice actors of the main characters reminisce about performing in the original anime. “Q&A with Dan Green” and “Q&A with Eric Stuart” feature the two leading men chatting about their history and memories with the show and what they think of the characters they play. And last but not least, “Show Us Your Cards!” immortalizes the biggest Yu-Gi-Oh! fans and their favorite cards on a massive wall of selfies.

Anchor Bay’s products suffer from two glaring problems. The first is its subtitle track for the Japanese version of the movie. These subtitles aren’t actually a translation of the Japanese dialogue. Instead, the lines are taken directly from the English SDH — in other words, they are dubtitles. Sadly, this is not the first time that an Anchor Bay anime has been plagued by dubtitles. Most recently, the company’s Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex BD released earlier this year suffered from dubtitles and bizarre audio errors. The company further drew the ire of anime fans when it tried to brush this problem under the rug.

The second problem is the aspect ratio of the picture. As seen in the screenshots below, DSoD is presented here in 1.78:1, which completely fills the screen of a standard widescreen display. However, the correct aspect ratio is supposed to be 1.85:1 letterboxed. In order to maintain the 1.78:1 ratio, some of the left and right sides of the picture have been cropped out. Anchor Bay is the only distributor of this movie to hack up the video in this way.

I’ve reached out to Anchor Bay about these issues and will post an update if I receive a response. Update (July 11): Anchor Bay has responded and outlined a replacement program for its products.

Anchor Bay’s Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions BD and DVD sell for a suggested retail price of $24.99 and $19.98 respectively. Each includes a Gold Rare Obelisk the Tormentor card, while supplies last.

Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions from Manga Entertainment UK

Manga UK’s region B Blu-ray and region 2 DVD (pictured below) also include both the English and Japanese audio of the movie. Both languages have a 2.0 stereo and 5.1 surround sound mix. However, only the English-language video with translated cards and signs is present; the Japanese-language video is not. But since there are no cuts to the movie, both the English and Japanese audio align with the visuals without any problems.

Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions Blu-ray and DVD cover mock-ups from Manga UK

Manga UK includes one set of subtitles with its videos: an accurate translation of the Japanese dialogue. These subtitles are, as far as I can tell, the same subtitles that appeared in Eleven Arts’ theatrical screenings.

Manga UK’s DVD is the only one out of all the DVDs discussed here that uses the PAL encoding system. Madman Entertainment’s DVD does not, even though Oceania has traditionally used this format. Playing at 25 frames per second instead of 23.97, videos converted into PAL characteristically have slightly higher-pitched audio and poorer video quality.

Oddly enough, while Manga UK’s videos do utilize letterboxing to maintain a wider picture than Anchor Bay’s videos, they are not quite at the 1.85:1 ratio; they are more like 1.89:1 or so. What’s the reasoning behind this?

Manga UK’s releases do not include any video extras. Both the BD and DVD include a Gold Rare Obelisk card, while supplies last.

Yu-Gi-Oh! Movie Pack Blu-ray and DVD cover mock-ups from Manga UK

DSoD is also being offered in Manga UK’s Yu-Gi-Oh! Movie Pack (pictured above), a two-disc set that includes this movie and Bonds Beyond Time. The Movie Pack is available in both BD and DVD formats. The BBT discs are identical to the ones Manga UK sold in 2011, so there’s probably no reason to buy this pack if you already own BBT. These products do not include any cards.

Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions from Madman Entertainment

Madman’s region 4 DVD (pictured below left) contains only the English version of the movie. The audio is available in a 2.0 stereo and 5.1 surround sound mix. The company did not put out a Blu-ray counterpart. On the plus side, the picture on the DVD is properly letterboxed, and the DVD contains two theatrical trailers as extras.

Cover mock-ups of Madman's Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions DVD and the JB Hi-Fi exclusive version

Australian and New Zealand retailer JB Hi-Fi sells an exclusive version of DSoD on DVD (pictured above right), which includes a unique slipcase and a Gold Rare Obelisk card. (Special thanks to Armaan Swaich for the tip!) Regular versions of the DVD don’t include a slipcase or card. Aside from these two extras, JB Hi-Fi’s product is otherwise the same as the regular DVD.

Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions from Marvelous

Marvelous, a Tokyo-based developer and producer of games, software, and audio-visual content — and the producer of all Yu-Gi-Oh! home videos in Japan — released DSoD on region A Blu-ray and region 2 DVD.

Marvelous’ BD is considered a premium product and contains a 2.0 stereo and 5.1 surround sound mix, as well as a DTS Headphone:X mix. It also includes a commentary track featuring the voice actors for Yugi, Kaiba, Jonouchi, and Mokuba. The BD is available in a standard edition and a limited edition with additional goods.

Both the BD and DVD have optional Japanese subtitles and include three trailers as extras. The DVD lacks the DTS Headphone:X track and commentary track.

Marvelous’ BD is the only BD out of this bunch whose picture correctly has a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Its DVD, on the other hand, is a hot mess. Not only is the picture’s aspect ratio wrong (it’s something around 1.83:1), the letterboxing is completely uneven. The bottom matte is significantly thicker than the top one. Furthermore, the video suffers from the same sort of artifacting that has been present in all of the Japanese Yu-Gi-Oh! DVDs ever since 5D’s.

Video Screenshot Comparison

So ultimately, which release looks the best? As usual, I’ll let the screenshots do the talking.

All links open in a new window. Warning: Uncropped, full-size PNG images!


Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions screenshot 1 thumbnail - Kaiba Corporation space station

Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions screenshot 2 thumbnail - Yugi Muto

Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions screenshot 3 thumbnail - Seto Kaiba

Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions screenshot 4 thumbnail - Aigami's cube

Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions screenshot 5 thumbnail - Joey Wheeler

Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions screenshot 6 thumbnail - ATK

Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions screenshot 7 thumbnail - Dark Horizon

[A] Anchor Bay BD (Eng)








[B] Anchor Bay BD (Jpn)








[c] Manga UK BD








[D] Marvelous BD








[E] Anchor Bay DVD (Eng)








[F] Anchor Bay DVD (Jpn)








[G] Manga UK DVD








[H] Madman DVD








[I] Marvelous DVD








For whatever reason, out of the three Blu-ray products discussed here, only Marvelous’ release has a picture that shows the correct 1.85:1 letterboxing. Likewise, out of the four DVD products, only Madman’s picture has this correct aspect ratio.

Other video product overviews:
Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V Season 1 Vol. 1 DVD & Blu-ray
Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D’s Season 1 DVD Box Set
Yu-Gi-Oh! GX Season 1 DVD Box Set
Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL Season 1, Volume 1 DVD
Yu-Gi-Oh! Bonds Beyond Time DVD and Blu-ray
Yu-Gi-Oh! The Official First Season DVD box set

Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS Simulcast Begins: Everything You Need to Know

June 7, 2017 at 8:00 am | Posted in Japanese, Konami, VRAINS, Yu-Gi-Oh! | 10 Comments
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Close-up of Playmaker in Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 5

The first-ever Yu-Gi-Oh! simulcast is here! 4K Media and Crunchyroll’s Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS simulcast kicked off today with episode 5. Whether you are new to simulcasts, to Crunchyroll, or even to anime in general, here is everything that you need to know about this new streaming initiative.

New episodes of Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS premiere on Crunchyroll every Wednesday at 6:55 am ET/3:55 am PT. That’s exactly one hour after the broadcast of the new episode in Japan on TV Tokyo. Crunchyroll’s other simulcasts follow this same release time frame.

Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS is uncut and unedited, in Japanese with English subtitles. You are watching the same video that Japanese viewers watched. This really should go without saying, but 4K Media isn’t editing the video before it goes live on Crunchyroll. There’s no time for that anyway!

Yu-Gi-Oh! viewers in the West who watch their episodes on TV and home video are probably used to seeing a polished final product. But in Japan, TV anime are produced under tight deadlines; new episodes are sometimes completed and delivered to broadcasters mere hours before they air. In the rush to meet their deadlines, sometimes the production staff don’t have the time to do everything that they want to do. Animated sequences might be incomplete. Designs might look a little off model. Mistakes might slip through. What viewers see on TV and in a simulcast often isn’t the final version of the episode. So don’t fret if things don’t look as good as you expect. The animators will clean up the episodes for their reruns and home video releases.

Speaking of incompleteness, Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS has the distinction of having some rather special subtitles. Because of how far ahead of the Western Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG market this show is airing, there are cards present that don’t yet have official English names when the episodes are first picked up. The subtitles mark such cards by italicizing their translated (but unofficial) names. One example is Go Onizuka’s monster Gouki Headbutt (Gouki Heddobatto in Japanese), which saw its name in italics when it first appears in episode 4. By the time episode 5 came around, its official English name is revealed to be Gouki Headbatt. Look for these new cards and their official English names beginning this summer when they roll out in the West.

The newest episode is available exclusively to Crunchyroll premium members for one week. This is true not only for Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS, but for the vast majority of CR’s simulcasts. Non-premium members can still watch simulcast episodes after the exclusivity period for free with ads. If you’re not a premium member, why not consider joining? For the price of a cup of coffee and a dessert, you get to watch simulcasts the day they premiere in HD, indulge in CR’s library of manga and simulpubs, and enjoy discounts on anime goods in CR’s store. The anime and manga industries and their content creators thank you for your support!

Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS is available worldwide, except to viewers in Australia, Canada, France, Italy, San Marino, Vatican City, and most of Asia. 4K Media’s Yu-Gi-Oh! license doesn’t include Asia, so that’s to be expected. As for the other countries, many astute fans have noted that these are also the countries where Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V has or had a television presence. Perhaps a licensing deal is already in the works with broadcasters in these countries that would nix a stream on Crunchyroll. Ah, the joys of international licensing.

That’s all for now! I hope you support and enjoy 4K Media and Crunchyroll’s Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS simulcast.

Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS Simulcast on Crunchyroll

June 1, 2017 at 6:30 pm | Posted in Japanese, Konami, VRAINS, Yu-Gi-Oh! | 10 Comments
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4K Media's Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS promo image on Crunchyroll

Into the VRAINS we go! Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS is getting a simulcast on Crunchyroll in Japanese with English subtitles! Episodes 1 through 3 of this newest Yu-Gi-Oh! anime are available now to everyone for free. Episode 4 is available exclusively to premium subscribers until next Wednesday. New episodes will be uploaded every Wednesday. The series is available worldwide except for Australia, Canada, France, Italy, San Marino, Vatican City, and most of Asia.

Congratulations to 4K Media (Konami) and Crunchyroll for making Yu-Gi-Oh! history once again!

Coincidentally or not, the official Japanese Yu-Gi-Oh! anime Twitter @yugioh_anime has also announced that fans in Japan will be getting their own VRAINS stream beginning June 6.

(News from Crunchyroll, h/t Yu-Gi-Oh! Fan Page)

Anchor Bay Entertainment Announces Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions Blu-ray, DVD

April 26, 2017 at 5:30 pm | Posted in English dubbed, Japanese, Konami, The Dark Side of Dimensions, Yu-Gi-Oh! | 16 Comments

Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions Blu-ray cover mock-up from Anchor Bay Entertainment

Anchor Bay Entertainment announced today that it will release Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions on home video this summer. First up is a digital HD version of the movie slated for June 13. Then, the Blu-ray and DVD versions will hit store shelves on June 27. Both the English and Japanese versions of the movie are included. The home release is also packed with four special features: an interview with Dan Green and Eric Stuart, a look at the cast’s favorite moments, and 4K Media’s “Show Us Your Cards” campaign.

Update (June 5): 4K Media has confirmed that Gold Rare Obelisk the Tormentor will be included with the Blu-ray and DVD.

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