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.)

* * *

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

Previously:
Kazuki Takahashi at MAGIC 2019, Part 2: Autographs

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
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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…

Thoughts

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
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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!

Previously:
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

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

March 15, 2019 at 5:00 pm | Posted in Other Stuff, Yu-Gi-Oh! | 2 Comments
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Kazuki Takahashi and Tanatach Chokcharoensup at MAGIC 2019

Imagine being a young comics artist, having your work praised by Kazuki Takahashi, and getting to see it published in Shonen Jump. This happened last Saturday, March 9, at the MAGIC 2019 event in Monaco.

MAGIC — short for Monaco Anime Game International Conferences — is a one-day convention held in the city-state of Monaco, southeast of France. MAGIC has some similarities with other events of its kind, like panels about anime, video games, and comics; a roster of big-name celebrity guests; an elaborate cosplay competition; and autograph sessions.

MAGIC 2019 advertisement poster at the Monaco-Monte-Carlo train station
MAGIC 2019 advertisement at the Monaco-Monte-Carlo train station
Artwork by Leiji Matsumoto

But MAGIC isn’t an ordinary convention. Its organizer, Shibuya Productions, is the producer of two new Astro Boy series, an original animation based on Buichi Terasawa’s Cobra manga, and the upcoming Shenmue III video game.

Shibuya Productions also has a special relationship with Shueisha, the Japanese publisher of Shonen Jump and one of the owners of the Yu-Gi-Oh! property. Each year, Shibuya Productions and Shueisha sponsor the MAGIC International Manga Contest, giving budding manga creators from around the globe a once-in-a-lifetime chance to work with Shueisha. Winners of the contest have their work published in Shonen Jump+ for the entire world to read. Furthermore, they also receive a one-month trip to Japan to meet professional manga creators and to work with Shonen Jump editors to potentially ink a yearlong publishing deal.

As part of the evaluation process, MAGIC invites one high-profile Shonen Jump manga creator to serve as a contest judge. In previous years, Nobuhiro Watsuki (author of Rurouni Kenshin) and Tite Kubo (author of Bleach) served as judges. This year, the esteemed manga author who helped judge the contest was none other than Yu-Gi-Oh! creator Kazuki Takahashi.

Kazuki Takahashi speaking at the MAGIC 2019 opening ceremony
Kazuki Takahashi greets the audience at the MAGIC 2019 opening ceremony

Also joining Takahashi as judges were two important people from Shueisha and Shonen Jump.

First was Yoshihisa Heishi, who leads the third editorial section at Shueisha, bringing together the company’s Weekly Shonen Jump, Jump SQ, V Jump, and Shonen Jump+ publications. Heishi has the distinction of being the founding editor of Takahashi’s Yu-Gi-Oh! manga and previously served as Weekly Shonen Jump’s editor in chief.

Second was Naoki Kawashima, deputy editor in chief of Weekly Shonen Jump. Kawashima has worked on titles like Bleach, One Piece, and Sket Dance. While he served as the editor of One Piece, Kawashima was famously told by author Eiichiro Oda that he should be prepared to “die for One Piece.”

Both Heishi and Kawashima are also credited in Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions as “planning coordinators,” along with the Weekly Shonen Jump and V Jump editorial departments.

Yoshihisa Heishi and Naoki Kawashima at the MAGIC 2019 opening ceremony
Yoshihisa Heishi (left) and Naoki Kawashima at the MAGIC 2019 opening ceremony

The manga contest’s panel of judges was rounded out by Sahé Cibot, general manager of Shibuya International; and Hervé Trouillet, artistic director of Shibuya Productions.

Prior to the convention, the MAGIC International Manga Contest’s entries were whittled down to just ten works. These ten were submitted to Takahashi, Heishi, and Kawashima in Japanese for them to read. Then, the pool of ten was further narrowed down to five finalists. At MAGIC 2019, these finalists each presented their works in a 30-minute slide deck presentation to the five judges.

Ultimately, the first place winner of the 2019 MAGIC International Manga Contest was Tanatach Chokcharoensup from Thailand, who wowed the judges with her story, Mara – The Lawyer of the Parallel Universe.

Tanatach Chokcharoensup at the MAGIC 2019 manga contest awards ceremony
Tanatach Chokcharoensup at the 2019 MAGIC International Manga Contest awards ceremony

Mara takes place in Pandemonium, a land populated by demons. Naga, a clan of immigrants new to this land, is accused of ravaging and burning a village. Now on trial, the leader of the Naga clan, in an act of desperation, summons the wily mythical demon Mara to defend them in the Demon Tribunal. Unfortunately for the Naga clan, the so-called demon Mara turns out to be a mere mortal lawyer — a twelve-year-old human child!

Mara image by Tanatach Chokcharoensup

As Chokcharoensup explained in her presentation, in Buddhist lore, the demon Mara is an antagonist and a trickster that represents fear and desire. Mara tempted Prince Siddhartha, the Buddha, who was seeking the path to enlightenment.

At the awards ceremony at the end of MAGIC 2019, Chokcharoensup received a trophy and a Wacom Cintiq Pro tablet for her victory. She thanked the judges and posed for photos.

Participants in the MAGIC International Manga Contest at the awards ceremony at MAGIC 2019
Left to right: Naoki Kawashima, Kazuki Takahashi, Tanatach Chokcharoensup, Sahé Cibot, Hervé Trouillet, Charles Compain (third place winner), and Fabien Ronteix (runner-up) at the awards ceremony

Later, Chokcharoensup posted her own photos on Facebook of Takahashi and the other finalists and of her trophy and tablet.

Look for Mara – The Lawyer of the Parallel Universe in Shueisha’s Shonen Jump+ digital publication in the near future.

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Next:
Kazuki Takahashi at MAGIC 2019, Part 2: Autographs

Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V Manga Volume 5 Available Now

March 5, 2019 at 6:00 pm | Posted in ARC-V, Yu-Gi-Oh! | Leave a comment
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Cover of Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V, Volume 5, from VIZ Media, digital edition

The next graphic novel volume of Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V is out today from VIZ Media. Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V, Volume 5, “The Enemy’s Hideout!!” includes chapters 26 through 31 of the monthly series. It is available in paperback for $9.99 and in digital for $6.99.

As Reiji Akaba and Isaac’s duel surges onward, Isaac has set up a seemingly impenetrable defense with his Reflector combo. How will the young president take down Eve’s powerful and gifted colleague? Then, Yuya and the others make their way to Eve’s headquarters. His other personalities worry about what might be a deadly final confrontation and vow to protect Yuya with their lives. But waiting at Eve’s Antarctic hide-out is Sora Shiunin, who confesses to being a spy for Eve. Despite his ferocious personality, Shiunin reveals a more affectionate reason for pursuing G.O.D.’s power — to be with his sister forever. After their first encounter ended so violently, how will Yuya react to this revelation?

Illustrator Naohito Miyoshi presents more early design sketches and notes as bonus content in this volume. Included are D/D/D Destiny King Zero Laplace, D/D/D/D Superdimensional Sovereign Emperor Zero Paradox, Odd-Eyes Phantasma Dragon, and Starving Venemy Lethal Dose Dragon. The print edition of this book also includes an Ultra Rare Odd-Eyes Phantasma Dragon, first played by Yuya in chapter 18. Don’t miss this evolution of Yuya’s signature Odd-Eyes Phantom Dragon, available with the book’s first print run while supplies last.

Also in this volume, author Shin Yoshida asks readers for help in creating attractive new worlds for dueling, while duel writer Masahiro Hikokubo apologizes for making mistakes with some cards’ stats during the monthly serialization (I didn’t notice!).

Previously:
Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V Manga Volume 4 Available Now

Kazuki Takahashi’s Yu-Gi-Oh! 20th Anniversary V Jump Cover Illustration

February 21, 2019 at 9:00 am | Posted in Duel Monsters, Yu-Gi-Oh! | 4 Comments
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Close-up of Yugi's face from Kazuki Takahashi's Yu-Gi-Oh! OCG 20th anniversary illustration for V Jump

Hitting newsstands today in Japan is the April 2019 issue of Shueisha’s V Jump magazine, which features a new illustration by Kazuki Takahashi on the cover. Celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Yu-Gi-Oh! Official Card Game, Takahashi’s artwork showcases Yami Yugi (Atem) surrounded by his signature cards. He is holding Ankuriboh, a new Egyptian-themed Kuriboh card that is also drawn by Takahashi and included with the magazine.

As it does every month for its cover illustrations, V Jump is offering high-res downloads of this artwork as a desktop calendar and as a wallpaper for your cell phone. Check them out!

Back in January, Takahashi offered a work-in-progress preview of this illustration on Instagram. He noted that this was his first job of the year and that he’s drawing Atem for the first time in quite a while.

Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V, Scale 43: ‘Head-to-Head Cards!!’

February 20, 2019 at 10:00 pm | Posted in ARC-V, Yu-Gi-Oh! | Leave a comment
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Shingo Sawatari and Sora Shiunin criticize Yuya's card choice in Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V manga chapter 43

Yuya Sakaki successfully banishes all of the monsters on the field for three turns, including Reiji Akaba’s overwhelming Divine Go-D/D/D Zero King Zero God Reiji. Yuya reaches deep within his heart and remembers the power of Dueltaining that his father left him. He pushes forward, eager to soften up the austere Akaba.

Yuya plays the continuous trap Pendulum Match, which allows him to randomly summon a Pendulum monster from his extra deck, then allows Akaba to choose a monster with the same scale from his own deck and summon it as well. With both duelists still at 4000 life points and now fighting head-to-head battles, every summon is significant.

Yuya begins by calling Yugo’s Clearwing Fast Dragon. Akaba is unimpressed with Yuya’s antics, but plays along. He summons D/D/D Supersight King Zero Maxwell. Clearwing destroys Zero Maxwell, but Akaba is unharmed because of his monster’s effect. At the end of the battle, Pendulum Match destroys the remaining monsters.

During Akaba’s turn, Yuya uses Pendulum Match again, this time summoning Yuri’s Starving Venemy Dragon. Akaba chooses D/D/D Destiny King Zero Laplace, whose special ability lets it possess double the attack strength of its opponent monster. Zero Laplace crushes Starving Venemy, dropping Yuya down to 1500 life points. Yuya is knocked backward from the strength of the blow.

Yuya laughs it off, but vows to continue his entertainment. He places his two hands on the ground and crouches in a sprinter’s four-point stance. What is he doing?! As his turn begins, Yuya jets off, running straight off the edge of the Adam Factor tree duel field! He plunges toward the ground below. That’s where the next Action Card is, says Yuya, and he’s definitely going to nab it this time before Akaba does.

Akaba and the onlookers gasp as Yuya nosedives. But…there’s no Action Card down there!

In his mind, Yuya recalls a memory of his father. When dueling an opponent who is dead serious, who seems to have no space in his heart for entertainment, do something new and unexpected, Yusho Sakaki tells his son. That will catch everyone off guard.

In midair, Yuya grabs one of the tree’s long dangling roots, then uses his moment to swing upward toward the sky. That is where the Action Card is located.

Reiji Akaba smiling in Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V manga chapter 43

Reiji Akaba cracks a grin, apparently amused by Yuya’s shenanigans, if only for a moment. Looks like there’s hope for the stern LC president after all, thinks Yuya.

Yuya promises to continue his dueltaining…

Thoughts

It’s pretty clear what’s happening now with Pendulum Match. With one last hurrah, the two duelists’ signature Pendulum monsters get to take the stage again. As this duel heads toward its conclusion, maybe Yuya’s final move will involve the use of all of these monsters that he got to summon back. Wouldn’t that be quite the entertaining move?

It’s also quite the coincidence that their signature monsters’ Pendulum scales match up in this way. Oh, who am I kidding — this was planned from the very start, wasn’t it?

Within the gravity of the ARC-V story line, Dueltaining has sometimes appeared to take a back seat. But this chapter, it is front and center as Yuya remembers his roots in a flashback featuring his dad.

Yusho Sakaki describing his dueling philosophy in Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V manga chapter 43

This, I think, is the right way for this story to go. Ever since the first chapter, Yuya has always made it his mission to be a Dueltainer and to make others smile. Now, after the reader has gone on this long journey with Yuya and learned about how devastating his past is, it makes Yuya’s resolve all the more astounding and makes his character even more likable.

To begin and end Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V in this way retains the spirit of the story and the world that it has built.

* * *

Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V, Scale 43: “Head-to-Head Cards!!” 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 42: “Two G.O.D.s!!”

Next chapter:
Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V, Scale 44: “Action Battle!!”

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

VIZ Media’s Shonen Jump Removes Yu-Gi-Oh! Transcend Game Manga

February 8, 2019 at 6:00 pm | Posted in Duel Monsters, The Dark Side of Dimensions, Yu-Gi-Oh! | Leave a comment
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Seto Kaiba taking a hit from an enemy attack in Yu-Gi-Oh! Transcend Game manga

Yu-Gi-Oh! Transcend Game abruptly disappeared today from VIZ Media’s Shonen Jump platform. The two-part manga by Kazuki Takahashi bridges the gap between the conclusion of Yu-Gi-Oh! Millennium World and the events in Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions. All the other Yu-Gi-Oh! titles are still available to read.

I’ve reached out to VIZ Media to inquire about the removal and will post an update if I learn anything new.

VIZ Media originally published Yu-Gi-Oh! Transcend Game in two digital issues of Weekly Shonen Jump in late December 2016 and early January 2017. The title was also added to VIZ Media’s old free manga section, where it was available to read between January 16 and March 8, 2017. The first part of the manga received a print edition in Scholastic’s Weekly Shonen Jump Spring 2017 Jump Pack.

‘MANGA Plus by SHUEISHA’ Service Offers Free Manga Globally

January 28, 2019 at 12:00 am | Posted in ARC-V, Other Stuff, Yu-Gi-Oh! | Leave a comment
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Advertisement for MANGA Plus by Shueisha

Shueisha, the Japanese publisher of Weekly Shonen Jump and one of the owners of the Yu-Gi-Oh! property, has entered the direct global manga distribution scene with MANGA Plus, a new manga website and Android and iOS app.

MANGA Plus by SHUEISHA offers free English-language simulpubs of numerous series from Shueisha’s Weekly Shonen Jump, Jump SQ, V Jump, and Shonen Jump+ publications, including Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V. Many of the available titles have never been released in English before! At launch, MANGA Plus offers over 30 simulpubs. Readers will also be able to buy graphic novel volumes of certain titles.

Unlike VIZ Media’s new Shonen Jump initiative, Shueisha’s MANGA Plus platform does not include a back catalog. However, Shueisha plans to serialize completed series, one chapter at a time, through MANGA Plus. There is no word yet whether Yu-Gi-Oh! or its many spin-offs will be included in this line-up.

But the biggest difference is in its availability. MANGA Plus is accessible in every country in the world, except Japan, China, and South Korea. This differs from VIZ Media’s Shonen Jump, which only serves English-speaking markets. For now, MANGA Plus is available just in English, but a Spanish version is forthcoming.

There is truly no better time to be a manga fan than today!

(News from ANN 1, 2)

Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V, Scale 42: ‘Two G.O.D.s!!’

January 20, 2019 at 10:00 pm | Posted in ARC-V, Yu-Gi-Oh! | Leave a comment
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Divine Go-D/D/D Zero King Zero God Reiji's attack name in Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V manga chapter 42
Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V: the most godly card effects, monster names, and attack names

It’s God-Eyes versus Go-D/D/D with the fate of G.O.D. on the line! Making good on his promise to become a god, Reiji Akaba summons Divine Go-D/D/D Zero King Zero God Reiji. He uses its special ability, which renders all of Yuya’s monsters on his field, his spells and traps, and the cards in his hand and graveyard as nonexistent. Worse yet, after Zero God attacks, Yuya’s life points will immediately drop to zero! Yuya’s friends look on helplessly as the monster hurls its fist at Yuya.

As Yuya braces for the impact, he tributes ClassiKuriboh from his Pendulum zone to negate the attack. Zero God’s fist pauses an inch away from Yuya’s face. Yuya is safe for now, but Akaba boasts about his monster’s strength and proclaims that he will still win the duel and inherit the power of G.O.D. that his father left him. Yuya wonders if they are dealing with too much power here. Nevertheless, Akaba’s dueltaining gets him all fired up to continue.

A new Action Card appears overhead and the young president is already in flight to snag it. Yuya uses his Solid Vision skills to craft a cannon and launches himself toward the card, passing Akaba and snagging it with his teeth. But his unwieldy speed causes him to crash face first into a rock wall and knock himself out.

Lying on his back and facing the sky, Yuya slowly comes to. He sees the G.O.D. card floating high above the field. He reminisces about his father and why he stopped his work as a Solid Vision researcher to pursue Dueltaining instead. It was all to make another person smile — the brilliant but far-too-serious father of Reiji Akaba.

Just as Reiji Akaba’s father left something for Reiji, Yuya’s father entrusted something to Yuya. Yuya now understands that he must inherit this power. With his father and brothers’ support, Yuya knows he is able to keep moving forward.

Yuya stands up. With renewed energy in his eyes, he knows what he must do in this duel…

Thoughts

Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V is truly pushing the boundaries for what is considered a reasonable ability within the game. I guess that’s to be expected when the entire story is about “gods.” But just when you think card effects can’t get any more outrageous, they do.

This chapter is all about Reiji Akaba’s monster. And this was pretty much my reaction the whole time seeing it in play:

Yuya Sakaki's you-gotta-be-kidding-me face in Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V manga chapter 42

There is a point where a situation changes from being suspenseful to being downright unfair and I do think Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V frequently pushes this boundary, perhaps in more intense ways than any other previous series.

With that in mind, the ending of this chapter — with Yuya deciding to make the duel about himself and Reiji and not about the gods — feels like the right way to go. Let’s see what these two can do when they aren’t being overshadowed by larger-than-life monsters. Let’s bring back the emotions that shape these characters and fuel their motivations.

Speaking of which, I enjoyed seeing Yugo, Yuto, and Yuri again this chapter. This served as a nice breather amid the harsh dueling.

* * *

Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V, Scale 42: “Two G.O.D.s!!” is available now for free in VIZ Media’s Shonen Jump. You can read it on the web or using the Shonen Jump Android or iOS app.

Previous chapter:
Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V, Scale 41: “Reiji’s Power!!”

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

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

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