The first Yu-Gi-Oh!
anime series (also known as Season 0
) was a 27-episode (and highly condensed
) adaptation of the first seven volumes of the Yu-Gi-Oh! manga
, produced by Toei Animation
. It loosely covers the story of Yugi completing the Millennium Puzzle up to the Monster World RPG arc of the manga. However, it skips many chapters of the manga in favor of filler episodes and re-introduces a one-shot character from the manga as a main character. Many chapters were reworked to fit the length of an entire episode and a number of the original games were either imported or replaced entirely. It also borrows plot elements that aren't introduced until Duelist Kingdom, such as the early introduction of Shizuka, Jonouchi's sister. Because of its lack of success, this adaptation was cancelled before it got to Duelist Kingdom.
It was eventually replaced by the second anime series
, which preferred to skip all the first parts of the manga in favor of focusing only on the Duel Monster arcs and Duel Monster-related filler arcs
. Nevertheless, the second series does make some nods to this one which can only be fully understood if you've watched it
It's a common misconception that this series was "skipped over" by 4Kids Entertainment
's dub for being "too violent". Because the second series was done by a different studio (Studio Gallop
) and re-imagined some of the manga chapters that this anime also covered, Toei's Yu-Gi-Oh! is considered an alternate adaptation to it rather than a prequel. For this reason, fans just getting into the series that expect Toei's version to be a prequel to the second series anime will be highly confused by the time they get to Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters
(spotting the overlapping plot elements). It's also for this reason that this series was never dubbed
along with the second series anime, as it's a completely different license and is just as "violent" as the second series anime — minus the dub censors.
This version contains a different animation-style (utilizing high contrast colors
), different character designs (Kaiba has neon green hair
), a different soundtrack (dark electronic music, as opposed to the orchestral pieces of the second series anime), and contains a different Japanese voice cast.
It's worth noting that some of this series' manga-to-anime alteration practices were carried over by the second studio when producing the second series anime; for example, calling the "Magic & Wizards" card game, as it's known in the Japanese manga, "Duel Monsters". It's also worth noting that this series' incarnation of Seto Kaiba is what inspired the Big Bad
from a Filler Arc
of the second anime
, Noah — whose outfit was somewhat inspired by Kaiba's Death-T outfit from the manga and had green hair, which was a clear Shout-Out
to this Kaiba's green hair.
It spawned a 30 minutes movie, a few video games and a card game created by Bandai
, (which would later be replaced as well by the newer card game
is doing an Abridged Series
of this series as well.
This Series Provides Examples Of:
- Abandoned Warehouse: The Toei Yu-Gi-Oh! series gave a warehouse to the yoyo gang, the Capumon guy and the guy who plays with 'digital pets'.
- Abusive Parents: Jounouchi's alcoholic father.
- Aborted Arc: Because this adaptation was cancelled before it got to the Duelist Kingdom stuff, we never see Toei's version of Kaiba put together the last pieces of his shattered heart, contributing to his Heel-Face Turn in the manga, which turns him into a considerably less psychotic Kaiba like the one we see in the second series.
- Adaptation Dye-Job: Kaiba is depicted with bright green hair and yellow eyes, in contrast to his dark brown hair and blue eyes in the manga. It's subverted in the movie where he has near golden-brown hair and light blue eyes, which is closer to his real appearance.
- The school uniforms for the girls are more orange than pink (as they are in the manga), with green bows and skirts instead of blue (from the manga).
- Bakura's hair has a noticeable blue-ish tint to it, and he has green eyes (purple when Dark Bakura takes over), as opposed to his pure white hair and blue eyes (which carries over to Dark Bakura) in the manga.
- Anzu, who had brown hair and blue eyes in the manga and second anime series, has auburn hair and reddish-brown eyes here.
- Aside from the anime-only height difference (which is still less drastic compared to the second anime adaptation), Yugi/Dark Yugi's designs are largely the most manga-faithful designs in this anime. However, Yugi's eye color changes to red whenever he's taken over by Dark Yugi. While the colored manga covers and pages weren't exactly consist consistent with Yugi's eye color, Yugi and Dark Yugi's eyes were never depicted as being a different color from each other.
- Adaptation Expansion: Some of the battles from the manga get stretched out to fill a thirty minute time slot. Case in point, the tenth episode with Ms. Chono. In the manga her story takes place entirely in the classroom and solely involves her solving the puzzle Honda left for Miho. In the anime, the puzzle aspect leads to Anzu formally protesting Chono's extreme rules and starts a petition, which Chono then sabotages by using some older students to steal it for her. The shadow game aspect turns into Dark Yugi challenging her to a jigsaw puzzle contest involving mirrors and blindfolds. Chono cheats, and upon completeing the puzzle her true, haggish face is revealed. From that point she keeps it hidden with plenty of make-up, but any time she acts unneccesarily strict or mean her face cracks.
- Adaptation Personality Change: Hiroto Honda was a completely different character compared to his manga counterpart. In the manga he was a tough guy who was Vitriolic Best Buds with Jonouchi, while the original anime series portrayed him as a dorky hall monitor who was obsessed with playing by the rules.
- Alpha Bitch: A filler villain named Kaoruko tries to sabotage Anzu and Miho in a popularity contest by sabotaging Anzu's acts, destroying Miho's clothes, and when that doesn't work she drugs Miho, tears up her clothing, and leaves her in an alley.
- Amusement Park Of Doom: Death-T.
- Ascended Extra: Miho Nosaka.
- To elaborate, she was only used in one chapter in the manga as a love interest to Honda (who promptly shot him down when he asked to be her boyfriend). She was used more in the anime to help fill out the girl quota though at best she mostly a Satellite Character. Yu-Gi-Oh! Abridged (when it focuses on the Season 0 series) hilariously lampshades this by hardly having her speak and when she does it a very over the top voice that the other characters bluntly ignore.
- Ax-Crazy: Dark Yugi can become Axe Crazy if you get him mad enough.
- Believing Their Own Lies: An early Phony Psychic enemy of the week.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Ryou Bakura is a very sweet, shy, quiet, polite guy. With a Superpowered Evil Side that he's only vaguely aware exists.
- The same goes for Yugi. He is nice and weak, until his psychotic side wakes up.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Kaiba, he pretends to befriend Yugi and has Yugi's grandfather's Blue Eyes White Dragon switched with a copy. When Yugi figures this out and calls out Kaiba on the switch, Kaiba loses the facade and whacks Yugi in the face with a briefcase.
- Board Games: Capsule Monster Chess (Capmon). Unlike the manga, it isn't introduced as Mokuba's favorite game until Death-T, instead it's introduced with a filler character in a completely different plotline.
- Bowdlerization: Of the manga (first seven volumes... or at least, what they managed to adapt).
- Much of the death-related Penalty Games being turned into illusions and chapters being either skipped or altered because the content in them was too violent/disturbing (the knife game with Ushio was changed to a game of drawing playing cards). The most notable altered storyline being Death-T, which replaces the chainsaw-wielding Chopman with the more kid-friendly "Game Masters." Kaiba's butler dying from electrocution is also removed, as well as Honda's breast-grabbing perverted baby nephew.
- Card Games: Duel Monsters. Plays a large part in all arcs concerning Kaiba.
- Catchphrase: Yugi has a few.
"Come... it's Game Time!"
"The door to darkness has opened." (Whenever someone is about to get a Penalty Game)
"Game Start!" (A case of import from the manga)
- Character Development: Mostly for the two Yugis, but everyone gets a decent amount at the least.
- Clock Punk: The Shadow Game between Yugi and a collector/thief of rare watches.
- Color Wash: The first anime has an incredibly supersaturated neon palette.
- Conspicuous CGI: The first series had this a few times (such as in the opening, or in episode 6 with the stairs) and it was quite obvious.
- Compressed Adaptation: Only a handful of chapters from the first seven volumes of the manga were animated along with the anime-original content. In comparison, a lot more chapters from the manga were left out than there were animated, making this anime significantly shorter than the manga even if you don't count Volume 8 onwards.
- Cooking Duel: With games.
- The Corruption: Multiple instances with various characters.
- The Dark Side: Many characters in Yu-Gi-Oh! fall into some Dark Side's trap, usually by trying to use an Artifact of Doom (e.g., Marik, Bakura, Pegasus, Aknadin). Dark Yugi is not immune to this effect.
- Death Trap: Kaiba's sadistic "amusement park," "Death-T," is basically a long series of increasingly difficult death traps designed to defeat and kill Yugi.
- Demoted to Extra: Inverted. Unlike the second anime, Ryou Bakura is given more screentime even in episodes that correspond to the manga chapters before he was introduced. They don't show anything after Monster World, where he truly becomes part of the main cast, though. Sucks for him.
- The Ditz: Miho.
- Duels Decide Everything: If you have a conflict, play a game!
- Early-Installment Weirdness: A dark series about a weak and pathethic boy whose darker side wakes up to brutally punish those who inflicted pain to him by using demonic magic (which requires a victory in an unspecific game to activate) ... it totally sounds like a series about a children's card game.
- To be fair, it's much more contiguous in the manga. Also note that the villains of the second series utilize Penalty Games, while Dark Yugi's magic is toned down to a family-friendly version of the Mind Crush, which is only used on Kaiba in the manga. Another thing to note is that it's never explained why Dark Yugi stops using them, while in the manga there's actually an explanation why he decides to stop using Penalty Games after Duelist Kingdom. The story was also never ABOUT a "children's card game" which gets lost to anime viewers, and even more-so the dub viewers.
- Within the context of this anime itself, Character Development still makes flipping back and forth between late and early episodes kind of whiplashy, due to Dark Yugi's...general development of morals.
- Evil Counterpart: The Millennium Ring/Dark Bakura to the Millennium Puzzle/Dark Yugi.
- Excited Title! Two-part Episode Name!: It's a good thing examples don't reference episode names because "Desperate Situation! Passionate Battle for Friendship" and its ilk are keyboard's mouthful. The format varies, but titles usually follow the Excited Exclamation! More Calm Description of Events format.
- Fighting Series: Using games. Though Jonouchi plays a live-action fighting game during Death-T using Power Suits.
- Five-Man Band: As it applies to Toei's version of the anime.
- The Hero: Yugi Mutou/Dark Yugi
- The Lancer: Katsuya Jonouchi, of the best friend variety
- The Smart Guy/The Big Guy: Hiroto Honda. Constantly switches between being faithful to his manga role and the geeky guy that Toei wants him to be — a custodian with no gang relations.
- The Chick: Mazaki Anzu
- Team Pet: Miho Nosaka. Mostly due to not originally being a main character in the manga.
- Sixth Ranger: Ryou Bakura
- Gecko Ending: This anime ended at the Monster World arc and never got around to doing any other chapters. Kind of had it coming for skipping tons and tons of episodic chapters that could have served as padding and an alternative for filler.
- Graceful Loser: Aileen Rao.
- Killer Game Master: Dark Bakura. Tabletop Role Playing Games are supposed to be adventurous, not scary!
- King Of Games: Trope Namer; it's the title the main protagonist has for his mastery of gaming.
- Lighter and Softer: Compared to the manga.
- Mind Rape: The Penalty Games. Moreso here than the manga because most of the manga's death Penalty Games were replaced with illusions.
- Mundane Made Awesome: Those yo-yos, man. Those yo-yos.
- Non-Serial Movie: Toei's 30 minute movie made after the cancellation of the anime. It features the same voice actors that appeared in this series and features the same songs, but the character designs are more accurate to the manga (Kaiba has brown hair, and his personality/wardrobe is similar to his mid-Duelist Kingdom manga appearance). Not to mention, the plot aspects of this movie are rather contradictory to its own anime. Bakura isn't present, Kaiba seems to be relatively "normal" and awake even though he's supposed to be suffering from the aftereffects of Mind Crush and in a coma, Yugi and Kaiba use the first version of the Duel Disks which aren't introduced at this point, etc. It could take place after this anime's equivalent of Duelist Kingdom that never aired, but Jonouchi doesn't recognize the Red-Eyes Black Dragon (it's treated as some legendary card) and Saruwatari still works for Kaiba, although Toei's adaptation of Yu-Gi-Oh! has always been rather weird, so who knows?
- Oh Crap: Default reaction to Dark Yugi's Shadow Game victims. Dark Bakura has an Oh Crap moment when he realizes the real Bakura regained control of his left hand.
- The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: To the point where Kaiba stalks Yugi for an entire episode because he suspects someone else is trying to defeat him in a duel.
- Reality Warper: A major difference between this and the manga/second series anime is that the Puzzle seems to give Dark Yugi reality-warping powers. In contrast to the manga where Dark Yugi challenges Ushio to a knife game on the spot, Dark Yugi in this anime transports Ushio (by surprise, who was walking home) to a tower, tied to a rope which appears out of nowhere. Dark Yugi also seems to make the playing cards stay in place on the wall. And in the "watch thief" episode, he transports the watch to a dimension of clock gears and in general can conjur up anything needed for his Shadow Games.
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: Dark Yugi has red eyes in this series and this is played straight for anyone who harms Yugi.
- Two Girls to a Team: Due to Miho being upgraded to a main character from her one-off status in the manga, she and Anzu are the main female characters.