Directed by: Satoshi Kuwabara
Starring: Shunsuke Kazama, Kenjiro Tsuda and Kento Hayashi (Japanese Dub) or Dan Green, Eric Stuart and Daniel Edwards (English Dub).
Genre: Anime, Adventure, Fantasy
YuGiOh! The Dark Side of Dimensions is an enjoyable addition to the original anime series for long time fans.
Protagonist Yugi Muto is a schoolboy known globally as the King of Games due to his prowess in the game of Duel Monsters, a card game based on an ancient Egyptian form of battle. Yugi’s rise to fame in the original series was primarily due to the bond he shared with a pharaoh named Atem. The two protagonists shared Yugi’s body through an Egyptian artefact named the Millennium Puzzle. Together Yugi and Atem combined their Duel Monsters skills to win tournaments and overcome evil. At the conclusion of the original series Yugi and his friends manage to set Atem’s soul free from the Millennium Puzzle and he disappears. The Dark Side of Dimensions follows these events.
The film begins with anti-hero Seto Kaiba, Yugi and Atem’s long time rival, excavating the Pharaoh’s tomb to find the Millenium Puzzle in an attempt to return Atem to Earth. Kaiba is obsessed with proving his superiority in the game of Duel Monsters, and believes he must defeat Atem to do so. Meanwhile, a mysterious student at Yugi’s school named Diva living under the alias of Aigami attempts to prevent Kaiba from reviving Atem. Diva has magical powers, which stem from his Egyptian artefact the Millennium Cube. His powers will disappear if Atem returns. Simultaneously, Diva seeks revenge on Yugi’s friend Bakura, believing him responsible for killing his mentor Shadi, former guard of the Pharaoh’s tomb and Millennium Items. Diva does not realise that Bakura’s body had previously been host to the evil soul named Yami Bakura within the Millennium Ring, a recurring antagonist in the original series. The film culminates in typical Yu-Gi-Oh! fashion with a Duel Monsters tournament with the winner gaining access to all pieces of the Millennium Puzzle, and the return of Yami Bakura.
Kaiba is by far the best character in The Dark Side of Dimensions. He is arrogant, smug, amusing and always in control. Yugi and his friends provide nostalgia and a few smiles, but at times are cringe worthy due to the constant theme of friendship conquering evil. Having said this, it adheres to constant themes explored in the Yu-Gi-Oh! anime franchise. Unfortunately, Diva, the antagonist, is a boring character. For someone who seems to have extraordinary powers, he is never very threatening. Nothing about the character interested me other than his history with Shadi and experiences with the Millennium Ring, things that only long time fans would be interested in.
The new Duel Monsters cards used in the film are hit and miss. Yugi and Kaiba’s new cards show an attempt to introduce support and updates for cards that used to be popular and useful in the real life trading card game. Support and updates for the Blue Eyes White Dragon, Dark Magician and Dark Magician Girl are the highlights, whilst Diva’s Cubic cards are underwhelming. Visually, The Dark Side of Dimensions takes witnessing the game of Duel Monsters to another level. The original anime always had compelling visuals for the card holograms that made fans of the trading card game wish they could replicate them, but they are easily surpassed in this film. The visual highlights mainly come from Kaiba’s Blue Eyes monsters, which looked, fearsome and powerful on screen.
The Dark Side of Dimensions’ story fails to stay engaging due to a lack of a menacing antagonist. For the majority of the film I found myself wanting more of Yugi and Kaiba and caring less about Diva. A stronger antagonist who actually threatened to cause some trouble from the beginning of the film would be far more interesting. I would have also liked to see at least one duel involving Yugi’s friend Joey Wheeler, as he is a prominent character in the original anime.
The Dark Side of Dimensions heroes the original characters of the anime series and introduces a number of nostalgic and useful cards to the trading card game. However, due to the level of prior knowledge needed to enjoy this film, it is definitely one for long time fans of the anime and not for people new to the series. There are high points and low points in this film, and this was expected going into it. Overall, I enjoyed it but saw a lot of flaws that would have been amplified had I not been a long time fan of the anime.