Yu-Gi-Oh is the most familiar anime/manga for millennial and z generations. Based on the manga by Kazuki Takahashi, this anime premiered in the United States in the early 2000s and was formative in developing a love for anime in the minds of young people at the time. The manga eventually spawned highly competitive trading card games as well as numerous spinoffs in the anime and manga realms. However, despite all the spin-offs and the ever-expanding complexity of the story, the essence of Yu-Gi-Oh remains the same: the card game.
Classic animation projects very often receive live-action adaptations. Netflix is slated to release live-action editions of One Piece and Avatar: The Last Airbender. And while there are certainly strongholds on both sides debating how good or healthy this practice is, there’s no denying the allure of seeing something that was previously exclusively two-dimensional now take on an extra dimension.
Even when the films were received negatively by critics and audiences alike, as was the case with Dragon Ball Evolution, there is a certain curiosity and obligation as a fan of the source material to see how the filmmakers handled the translation into live action. Among all the series harboring the overwhelming goodwill of fans, isn’t it Yu-Gi-Oh’s turn to cross the barrier into the live-action world?
This is why Yu-Gi-Oh deserves a live-action adaptation.
Yu-Gi-Oh’s Monsters Don’t Constantly Interact with the Environment
In movies like Detective Pikachu, how the Pokémon interact with the environment is a crucial part the world-building. A “Pokémon World” is one in which both humans and Pokémon coexist in harmony. So in designing locations, that must be taken into account. It isn’t enough to just add Pokémon to an existing as-we-know-it world. However, in the case of Yu-Gi-Oh, it’s different since the famous “Monsters” only exist virtually. And even on top of that, in the series, the Duel Monsters card game is only introduced relatively recently. It’s essentially a fad, not unlike Fortnite or Among Us now.
Except in cases where there is some magic or otherwise supernatural element at play, the damage done and the visuals seen when two characters duel is entirely virtual. This means that highways, buildings, and shops don’t have to account for this additional element of society. It is quite as simple as tacking on a Duel Disk to a character’s arm. With how advanced digital effects are becoming, as well as our growing ability to combine practical effects with CGI, a live-action Duel is not something that is outside the realm of plausibility.
Detective Pikachu Worked
Opinions on the actual quality of the movie aside, Detective Pikachu was a triumph in adapting an entirely two-dimensional world into live-action. This movie’s success demonstrated that the adaptation was possible and that it was economically plausible. While Pokémon absolutely eclipses Yu-Gi-Oh in terms of overall popularity, there is no doubt that the two of them pull in similar audiences. So while Pokémon may have a bigger stranglehold in the world of pop culture, the fact that Detective Pikachu had as big an audience as it did, means that a live-action Yu-Gi-Oh movie should certainly have enough of an audience to warrant its existence.
The fundamentals are the same: Characters resolve problems by using a “game” that has predetermined rules. Pokémon can only use four attacks and have types that make them strong or weak against other types. On the other hand, the Duel Monsters card game abides by an entire booklet full of rules. This is all to say that because the format of Detective Pikachu was successful, an adaptation of Yu-Gi-Oh can be as well.
Yu-Gi-Oh is Easily Incorporated Into the Real World
This is the chief advantage that a franchise like Yu-Gi-Oh has over Pokémon. Yu-Gi-Oh, the card game (also known as Duel Monsters in the series), already exists in our own world. The only real difference is the holographic technology and the magical abilities. So introducing said magic or technology in a film is not such a stretch of the imagination and allows for a simple premise.
Additionally, from a narrative standpoint, this works in Yu-Gi-Oh’s favor. Because the plot does revolve around an intricate card game, explaining the rules would be a seamless task. For example, if the movie were to revolve around a boy who gets more and more into Duel Monsters as the film goes on, the audience can learn right along with him. The reason this wouldn’t work out with Pokémon is that Pokémon are already a huge part of their own world. And they have been for time immemorial. Culture and society have already had plenty of evolution with their direct involvement. The card game in Yu-Gi-Oh is new and is the only difference between the real world and the world on screen.