Yu-Gi-Oh! Season 1 is in fact the second series to be made, the first one being loosely based on the Manga and unreleased outside Japan. This series is known in Japan as Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters and is the basis for the incredibly popular real world version of the card game featured in the anime.
The first series consists of 49 episodes and includes the Duelist Kingdom arc, the Legendary Heroes arc and the Dungeon Dice Monsters arc.
Our hero Yugi is a high-school student who manages to solve the ancient Egyptian Artifact, the Millennium puzzle. This allows a spirit to enter his body, an ancient Pharaoh who played the dangerous Shadow Games. These games were of great power, but when they threatened to spill over and destroy the world, a powerful Pharaoh locked the magic away, within the Millennium artifacts. Yugi has now inherited that power and it is his job to defend the world against the return of the Shadow Games.
When champion card player Seto Kaiba learns that the deck owned by Yugi’s grandfather contains within it the powerful Blue-Eyes White Dragon card, he kidnaps him in order to force him into a battle, so that he might win the card and destroy it so it cannot be used against him.
In the nick of time, Yugi realizes that his grandfathers deck also contains the Exodia, the most powerful card combination there is.
After defeating Kaiba, he turns to teaching his friends Tea and Joey to play. In order to help them to improve they go to watch the finals of a tournament, between Weevil Underwood and Rex Raptor. At the end of the tournament he receives a package inviting him to an on the spot duel with Maximillion Pegasus, the holder of a new tournament, held in Duelist Kingdom. Pegasus also has another of the Millennium artifacts, and would very much like to take Yugi’s too.
Yugi soon realizes that this is an actual Shadow Game, meaning that the monsters are real and thus dangerous to him and is forced to use his alter ego. When he loses due to a time limit imposed by Pegasus, his grandfather’s soul is taken from his body as punishment, and Pegasus tells him that he must compete in and win the tournament to win him back.
Yugi and Joey and embark on a perilous journey to try and win enough stars to get to the final of the tournament, rescue Yugi’s grandfather and prevent Pegasus from getting the artifact.
Yu-Gi-Oh! is of course an enormous franchise and it was an inspired idea indeed to create a real world card game, thus generating infinitely more cash from an existing concept.
As a fan of collectible card games (although not this one) I can see how the anime works wonders towards making the game more appealing, especially the way the battles are depicted, so that you can actually see your monsters there fighting each other and you as well.
I can’t imagine this appealing much to more adult audiences, unless you watched it on TV as a kid, as it is all pretty childish and quite repetitive at times. However, kids will absolutely love this and you will need to be careful that you don’t suddenly find yourself spending all you hard earned money on game cards!
Yu-Gi-Oh! Season 1 is available to buy now on DVD