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(First review, I knew I had to do this one eventually)
Yu-Gi-Oh Abridged! It's hard to explain how this show would rank compared to other web shows, but I think it's easier to just say it's among the best.
First off, a quick summary: Some british guy decides to make fun of an anime by changing the dialogue and other things, resulting in a whooooole lot of funny. As of writing, 83 episodes have been published excluding side videos.
It's almost ridiculous how much can be packed into a single episode, so always prepare yourself to be ready for a barrage of humor. It's almost impossible to succeed if you're trying not to laugh, unless you've watched the episode so many times that you already know what's coming.
Despite all this, there's still a (somewhat) understandable plot throughout the whole thing. It's definitely a good idea to start from the very beginning if you wanna get everything that's going on, especially for running gags. I don't plan on spoiling any of these points here, especially because there's one thing I need to say to those who haven't seen it: you need to watch it. That is all.
It had some funny moments, I suppose. And I could feel that Little Kuriboh put a good amount of effort into it. But the voices feel like he isn't even trying with them, there's little to no background music, or sound effects. Those things may seem like minor things, but they're pretty important in a series. I got bored of the series by around episode 6, or 7. It probably got better as time went on, but I think that season 1 is overrated. I give it a C-.
Thus far, this is probably my favorite episode in the series (though "Seto Kaiba versus the World" does give it a serious run for its money), and I'm probably not exaggerating when I say that this is by far the most tightly-paced episode in the series. In retrospect, that might be why I like it so much - one of the most annoying flaws of YGOTAS is Littlekuriboh's tendency to wander away into a bunch of random jokes and references, only to hit a dead end realize several minutes later and realize that he's stumbled way off course. Cue the inevitably clumsy scramble back into the episode's main plot (for a particularly egregious example, see the last couple minutes of "So Long, and Thanks for All the Card Games", which is otherwise actually another one of my faves).
There's none of that in this episode. The plot structure of the Clip Show, as generations of writers before knew, is nigh-impossible to screw up. Thus, no jokes overstay their welcome, and no Running Gag is stretched too long - the rapid-fire flashbacks are perfectly timed, often consisting of no more than two or three lines. It's the sort of humor that does require a bit of effort to keep up with, but it's highly rewarding for those who can do so.
As Littlekuriboh put it: "Did I just abridge my own series?". Yes, yes you did. And in doing so, you reminded us of why we were so attracted to the concept of The Abridged Series in the first place.
Also, no characters acting excessively Jerkass-ish for the sake of unoriginal sadist humor. Points for that.
If I had to nitpick, I would like to mention that the episode dropped the pacing ball a bit around the Flashback to Episode 3. Thankfully, it picked it right back up again and never dropped it again with the immortal words, "I'm the Goddamn Kaibaman".
Yu-Gi-Oh The Abridged Series is a very interesting (not to mention funny) piece of metafiction. It breaks the fourth wall, leans on it, and most importantly, it has it around. Unlike a lot of other Abridged Serieses, Yu-Gi-Oh The Abridged Series is unique in that it has fairly good continuity and actually takes on the job of introducing, explaining, (and of course, Lampshade Hanging) plot elements and characters, without assuming the audience knows it.
Indeed, Yu-Gi-Oh The Abridged Series upholds its title as an abridging of Yu-Gi-Oh, not only by being the maintainer of plot, but of characters. Sure, the characters are exaggerated, but I view it as more of a concentration of the characterizations of the characters in the original series in order to get across what you would feel about the personality of the characters in a longer amount of time. Indeed, note that this Abridged Series rarely straight-out derails characters, or at least, rarely derails them completely (Sure, Zorc might have the personality of a small child, but is still focused on destroying the world, and has a vague relationship with the (one of the) dark Bakura(e).) Indeed, as with Zorc, or Rebecca's teddy bear, when there was no personality to begin with, he injects personalities of his own crafting, which in some ways makes it an improvement over the original series' characterization.
The Fourth Wall Ping Pong is also indeed an important factor in the Willing Suspension Of Disbelief. When the plot and characters pretty much make sense, there is a fourth wall. When the plot is wonky and the characters have odd motivation or are acting OOC, there is no fourth wall for the series' plot, and the characters (who are still real) find it as weird as you do. The characters are more believable because they act like real people interacting with the odd plot. This cleverly makes it so that the work's believability is always maintained by, ironically, breaking the fourth wall.
Yu-Gi-Oh The Abridged Series is the pioneer of this sort of metafiction (Fourth Wall Ping Pong playing serieses) along with the shows on That Guy With The Glasses, the Protectors Of The Plot Continuum, and of course, TV Tropes. Regardless of what type of metafiction this is, I love it a lot. It takes my favorite childhood show and makes it okay to love again using humour. How can you not like that?
This episode was pretty good. There were a lot of funny gags and Little Kuriboh was as good as ever. My only complaint? Tristan's gag at the end of the episode. When Yugi collapses during he and Pegasus's Shadow Game, Tristan says "I'm hungry!" when he feels Yugi go down. After Tea, Joey, and Tristan join hands, he asks Yugi if he could bring him something to eat. Then, when Pegasus tries to read Yami's mind and is blocked by all three, Tristan says "I'm just here for the food!" This nearly ruins the episode, because it's a horrible gag that goes into the "old" territory of Overly Long Gag. It wen't a very good gag to start with and it went on for far too long.
This episode rocked. To all those who stopped watching thinking the series was decaying, think again.
After a brief section involving the gang at Mai's bedside(with Duke's inevitable playboyish quip),ladies and gentlemen, we proceed to the meat of the episode:the duel of Kaiba vs Ishizu.
And the fun Little Kuriboh must have had making this episode is clearly on display from that point on. Not to spoil anything, but those who have witnessed the duel on the actual TV series know that things didn't exactly go well for Kaiba (in the beginning at least). However the way LK uses this to comedic effect is just plain awesome. After some 4th wall breaking revelations by Ishizu, Kaiba starts the duel. The way it plays out and his reaction to it is just priceless. Basically the boasts and scre overs in his turn and Ishizu's combined take barely 50 seconds, which make their impact all that more felt.
Then we are greeted to something LK hasn't done in a long time:editing in the scenes themselves. In order to explain how Kaiba defies destiny in his next turn, LK uses a move so random and unexpected that I prefer to leave the surprise to you.(hint:it involves a chicken... kinda...and some really random references) But what's interesting is that it still manages to cram in plot from the actual series itself while doing so.
Needless to say Kaiba steals the spotlight in this episode, his abridged version character has got all his best parts on proud display, making for a very fun 8 minutes. A reference to CSI Miami at the end of the episode is sure to leave most viewers cracking a smile at the end of this extremely enjoyable episode. This is by no means LK's best, but it is certain not to disappoint.
Top notch voice acting, fun dialogue from the characters we have grown to love, and more make this episode shine, but all this is present in larger quantities in the the next episode, which concerns Marik's past. Not to mention the 'conclusion' of the 4kids story arc in episode 46, so no, this show is not dying anytime soon.
The main reason I'm writing this review is because I didn't want a randomly passing tvtropes user to view 1 review on the site as a final verdict that the show is going downhill. I hope I'm not the only one who feels this is not so. Give the ongoing episodes a shot! They're worth it!
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