So why, for the love of little fishes, do I like Yu-Gi-Oh so darn much?
Obviously, because I am weak. I haven't actually seen a single episode of Yu-Gi-Oh!, mainly because I do not watch dubs, and I particularly do not watch 4Kids dubs with their extra special brand of spindling and mutilation, even before they dared trespass on those pirates most precious to me. However, for the last year or so I've been getting the translated manga as Viz puts it out, currently up to volume 12.
X-parrot reads the Yu-Gi-Oh manga:
Hee, Yugi is so adorable! *pats*
Aww, they're such good friends, joking with each other! *coo*
Ah, they're playing cards. *yawn*
Oh, they're still playing cards. Do I need to know the rules? Likely not. *skims*
Eh, they're still playing cards. It's a good thing you're cute, Yami Yugi, or this book would so be dropped by now. Though that's a endearing little furry card monster. *flips page*
Urgh, the cards, they are still being played. *flips faster*
Umm, Kaiba, when the hell did you get to be so HOT? Even if you are playing cards. Forget the cards. Go hug your little brother. Please? *meep*
Annnd, we are back to the cards. 'Bwaha, I have sixty-six billion more points than you and you cannot beat me in a million years, unless you draw your super extra rare kill-everything card! --What's that? You just drew it! Drat!' *sigh*
You know, I should probably just read this in Borders, since I'm really not that into i--WHAT THE HELL DO YOU MEAN IT ENDS THERE? WHY IS THE NEXT VOLUME NOT OUT YET? GIVE ME THE NEXT VOLUME NOW!!!
Yeah. That's been the story pretty much every volume.
I like the art well enough, once it settles into itself, nothing spectacularly unique, but it's coolly stylized and appealing. In the usual shounen way, once my brain/hormones have adjusted to the art, the chars sure are pretty. And they've got the usual array of interesting backstories and noble values and absurd ambitions.
In terms of the story itself, when it's not boring me to tears with the cards (I preferred the first few volumes for that, actually; the various not-card games were ridiculous but clever) - it's best described as obvious. From the very first chapter, with Yugi's single desperate wish to have friends he can believe in, who can believe in him, and how he makes that wish come true simply by doing it, it's incredibly cheesy. One Piece has relationships so solid, their foundations so clearly established, that they're rarely if ever stated aloud. In Yu-Gi-Oh they go about declaring their love and friendship and willingness to do anything for each other practically every chapter. It's horribly, tackily, overtly manipulative. Honestly, now, would I fall for such cheap emotional ploys?
Every single damn time.
In fact I go and reread that incredibly cheesy beginning. Because--yeah, it's as artistically subtle as a two-ton mallet. But even in shounen manga there are few stories so completely upfront about doling out the smarm. Jounouchi's absolute loyalty to his friend and to the ideal of friendship, the joy he takes in just being Yugi's friend, in having someone count on him like that--it's irresistible. There's a healthy yaoi following for the series, and I can see where it's coming from, moreso as it goes along, but really I'm not especially interested. The friendships are enough. --Also, while I don't adore any of the female chars as much as others, I don't dislike them, either, and am not opposed to the suggested het pairings. I very much enjoy how Anzu is fully part of the gang. The bit in Death-T when she draws the smiley-face on their hands made me squeal. And as a romantic interest, the little scene on the dueling island where Anzu's talking to Yugi, and he says she really wants Yami and goes to bring him out, and she gets upset - so sweet.
Yugi is such an incredible sweetie all around, I'm terrible fond of him. He's a slight change from the usual shounen hero by being, not actually stupid, but such a total pushover. And his relationship with Yami intrigues; the split personality is a manga staple, but I like how, as with Daisuke and Dark, he's becoming friends with his "other me". Yami calling him "aibou" like I've seen in later chapters, that's just too cute.
Then there's Kaiba Seto. Ahhh, Kaiba. Yeah, I know he's fangirl bait, the obligatory tall dark sonuvabitch. I can't help it. I am a fangirl, and he's too damn cool. With the kicking butt and taking names and not flinching from guns pointed in his face by his backstabbing bodyguards. And he's hot--how the heck did that work? Ugly card-obsessed billionaire loses a game, loses his mind, goes into a coma, wakes up a super bishie with bizarrely sexy fashion sense. Um, okay. Shadow Game penalty game makeover: The next best thing to Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. But who am I to argue!
And he loves his little brother--is learning to love him again, after losing his soul for his sake. AWWWW. Kill me by inches, why don't you. The Kaiba brothers are fast sneaking up on my favorite relationship list. This video is unbelievably cute, and this hug? This is one of the cutest hugs ever. If anyone can tell me what episode I need to frantically track down to see it, I would be much obliged. (and where's this one from? Eek! So. Much. Cute.) Mokuba was such a hideous little toad his first appearances, too; when'd he get so downright adorable? (I know, I know, right about the time he put a matching locket around his brother's neck and said, 'I'll wait for you. Forever.' Seriously. KILLING ME.)
The worst part is? I'm starting to give in to the card games. I mean, they're no substitute for fight shounen pseudoscience, with the swords and superspeed and wrestling and all that. But the Black Magician is, umm, remarkably attractive for a holographically embodied playing card. And the Blue Eyes White Dragons are cool. And the shadow games are often mortal fights with lives on the line, so they don't lack in intensity.
Of course, I had to go looking for fic, and ran into the same problems as always--there's oodles of YGO fic out there, and it's all pairings, het or yaoi. Sigh. Through trial and error, Kaiba/Yami is coming out to interest me the most, but really, as usual, what I most crave is the virtually non-existent genfic. Preferably a hurt/comfort epic with the usual Jounouchi-worrying-about-Yugi and Yami-being-protective-of-everybody-espec
I have found a few good stories:
"White Chicken" - Kaiba-sib smarm, it is to squee. Too too cute.
Need to check more of this author out, it's Kaiba/Yami, but there looks to be enough (not dead) Mokuba to make me happy.
"Kite" - this one's simply clever; one hardly needs to know the fandom to get it, just a general familiarity with cliche.
Anyone got more recs? Feed me~~!