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FUNimation Productions presents
Yu-Gi-Oh! #5: Evil Spirit of the Ring (1996)

"It's time to duel!"
- Theme Song

Review By: Joel Cunningham   
Published: April 24, 2003

Stars: Dan Green, Tara Jayne, Megan Hollingshead
Other Stars: Ted Lewis, Amy Birnbaum, Darren Dunstan, Wayne Grayson
Director: Various

Manufacturer: Newstyle
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (some cartoon violence)
Run Time: 01h:03m:48s
Release Date: January 14, 2003
UPC: 704400054921
Genre: television

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B- B-B+B- D+

DVD Review

Yu-Gi-Oh! is one of those insanely complicated cartoons that only pre-teens seem to fully grasp. In many ways, it is the new Pokemon, another show that deals with characters "dueling" by forcing small creatures to compete, but where Pokemon was cute and cheerful, Yu-Gi-Oh! is dark and intense. I personally don't find the show as entertaining (as it was the offbeat humor and sickeningly adorable characters that I found amusing in the former), but I can see why it has become so popular—it takes the same formulaic premise (every episode revolves around a climactic duel) and adds a more mature bent, turning the cute Pikachu into a scary monster, and the pre-adolescent lead character into a cool teen.

That teen is title character Yu-Gi-Oh, a master duelist. Dueling, it seems, involves playing special cards with the spirits of monsters trapped inside. During a duel, the creatures emerge and fight each other, with their strategic moves controlled by the player. It's basically an animated version of Magic: The Gathering. The rules seem to shift depending on the circumstances of the match, though I can't say I really made an effort to keep track of what was going on.

The battles themselves are pretty monotonous, but there is a lot of nifty monster animation, and the battles are no doubt exciting for kids who like to see the creatures in action. Yu-Gi's friends are fairly bland heroes, and they don't seem to do much aside from play the game, but the hero himself is appealing, cool, confident, and collected, and an entirely different role model than the bumbling Ash from Pokemon.

Though fairly episodic, there is some continuity from episode to episode. This disc includes three. In Evil Spirit of the Ring, Yu-Gi and pals find their spirits trapped in their favorite cards, forced to duel. In the two-parter Light at the End of the Tunnel and Winning through Intimidation, the heroes face off against Panik, a powerful, dangerous dueler.

The series is so overdramatic it isn't funny (sadly), and the characters are so very invested in their little card game, but I don't quite understand why it is such a big deal. Still, who am I to tell kids what they like? This is currently the most popular show around. At least the animation is good.

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: B-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: This low-budget children's series looks fairly good on DVD. Colors are rich and show no bleeding or blooming. Detail is fairly good, as is black level. The source material looks fairly clean, and I noticed no intrusive grain or artifacting.

Image Transfer Grade: B+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English, Spanishyes

Audio Transfer Review: Audio is serviceable but simplistic. Dialogue is always clear, and is, along with the music and effects, evenly mixed across the front soundstage. There is no directionality, and the surrounds are mute throughout, but this stereo mix gets the job done.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-


Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 18 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
9 Other Trailer(s) featuring Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Shonen Jump, Kid Buu, Ultimate Muscle, Ultraman Tiga, Cubix, Kirby: Right Back at Ya!, Yu-Gi-Oh! #6: The Scars of Defeat, Yu-Gi-Oh! #7: Double Trouble Duel
Packaging: generic plastic keepcase
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Monster Stats
  2. Panik Music Video
  3. Music to Duel By Song Sampler
Extras Review: Note that, aside from a few small differences, this is the same set of extras that appears on Volume 6.There are a few extras specific to Yu-Gi-Oh!, including a music video for the song Panik, a song sampler with a few minutes of music from the series, and a few pages of "monster stats" that I'm sure will be more meaningful to kids who know how to play the card game.

The bulk of the extra material, though, is an impressive array of promotional material advertising programming and toys from Fox and 4Kids! Home Video. There are clips for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Shonen Jump, Kid Buu, Ultimate Muscle, Ultraman Tiga, Cubix, Kirby: Right Back at Ya!, Yu-Gi-Oh! #6: The Scars of Defeat, and Yu-Gi-Oh! #7: Double Trouble Duel. A surprise was the "sneak preview" of the new Ninja Turtles show hidden within one of the commercials; the five-minute piece provides a nice look at the new series.

Extras Grade: D+


Final Comments

Yu-Gi-Oh! seems to be the new Pokemon, and while I can't say I enjoy it as much as that series (where are the cross-dressing villains?), I can easily see why kids love it. I'd be able to recommend a purchase of the DVDs more easily if they included more than a scant hour of programming.


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