Friday, April 10, 2020

Friday Creature Feature - Duel Monsters

Back when the blog first started as "Mormon Geeks" Joe did a series of blog posts about different creatures from different fandoms as kind of an educational piece. Since I've needed something to occupy my mind during all this time at home, I figured I'd revive the Friday Creature Feature.

I want to start out with the monsters from the Yu-Gi-Oh anime. The card game is a different story, I suppose, and even within the anime (especially with all the spin-offs over the years) the mythology of the monsters (often referred to as "duel monsters" in the show) is complex and ever changing. So for now, I'm just going to talk about the origin of the Duel Monsters card game as set forth in the original Yu-Gi-Oh anime. (Certain monsters have more specific origins, but I'll save that for another time)

Back in the day, in 3000 BC (1000 BC in the original Japanese), monsters and monster spirits are found and discovered and captured in Ancient Egypt. It's not the first time this kind of thing happened (see "Waking the Dragons" arc for more of that) but it's the basic backstory of Yu-Gi-Oh. At that time, Egyptian priests and royalty (and other magic users, like the Thief Bakura) engaged in battles for power and these fights threatened the destruction of the world (see "Dawn of the Duel" arc for that one). In the end, these monsters and the powers that released them are sealed away.

Fast forward to present day (probably more like early 2000's when the series came out), Maximilian Pegausus, a game designer, finds the stone carvings of these monsters and Shadow Games. The rest of the original Yu-Gi-Oh series follows this plotline. The "revival" of these monsters through the Duel Monsters card game and the rise of the Shadow Games intermittently means these monsters take physical form (not just holograms).

The monsters differ in their powers vastly. We get little fluffy creatures like Kuriboh that explode on contact. We also get mighty dragons and sorcerers like the Blue-Eyes White Dragon and Dark Magician. On the extreme end there are also monsters based off the Egyptian Gods with world-breaking power. Although, for the most part, without powers from the Shadow Realm, these monsters' powers are limited to holographic game play.

The largest exception to that rule is the occasional Duel Monster spirits. They were occasionally see in the original Yu-Gi-Oh series (like when Yugi and Raphael interacted with Kuriboh and Eatos respectively). The concept of these "Spirit Partners" is expanded on a lot more in the first spin-off, Yu-Gi-Oh GX. Multiple characters in GX have Spirit Partners (like Winged Kuriboh for Jaden, the Ojamas for Chazz, and the Crystal Beasts for Jesse) and it's not unusual to see other monsters spirits cross over into the human world to duel (like Jinzo). The concept of spirit monsters fades into the background a bit as other spin-offs happen (currently watching Zexal and I don't know that I've seen any), but it was a cool concept at the time.

Did you watch Yu-Gi-Oh growing up? What "creatures" do you want to get featured in future posts?

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