Today (Saturday 7th May) I had the pleasure of attending the UK premiere of the new ‘Yu Gi Oh – Bonds Beyond Time’ movie. The event was held by Manga Entertainment in preparation for their release of the movie on both DVD and Blu-Ray in July. This is a very unique title especially come the release of the Blu-Ray version, because it is the first Anime to be created for viewing in 3D. The concept of 3D viewing as a whole is still very early into its life cycle and with Anime now venturing into this field it could well be a make a break film with a view to future developments in this field.
For those who are perhaps less familiar with the franchise as a whole, ‘Yu Gi Oh’ is a Manga and Anime series that has a primary focus of a card game named Dual Monsters. (The game has similarities to the Pokemon Trading Card Game and Top Trumps.) During the three incarnations of the anime series (‘Yu Gu Oh’, ‘Yu Gi Oh – GX’ and ‘Yu Gi Oh – 5D’s’) the core premise of the card game remains while being unique at the same time, so as to not literally give a retelling of the same story but just in a different setting.
The opening of the film itself was actually very helpful to establish this fact. One of the big selling points of the movie is that it features the three main protagonists Yugi (from ‘Yu Gi Oh), Jaden (from ‘Yu Gi Oh – GX’) and Yusei (from ‘Yu Gi Oh – 5D’s) at some point coming together to battle side by side (and I can assure, this does indeed happen). The start of the film was actually a ten to fifteen minute short film highlighting each universe of the franchise and what some of the key character elements were, which (according to a representative of Manga UK) was created specifically for the western version of the film as there was nothing of the sort included in the original Japanese version.
Admittedly I’ve only ever seen the original series featuring Yugi as the protagonist, but I was aware the franchise had expanded following the conclusion of ‘Yu Gi Oh’. The ten minute feature did a great job of providing a novice to the latter incarnations (like me) enough insight to comfortably watch the main feature without having feeling lost or out of my depth. I’d assume that for all parents in attendance, that a small film like that was also a great aid for them to gain basic knowledge of what they could expect.
The film itself has a strong focus on Yusei from “5D’s” which I found to be an interesting approach given this film was to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the franchise as a whole. So I was expecting that Yugi would come back into prominence and be the lead, but given the way the plot develops (without trying to give too much away,) it does makes sense that Yusei be the protagonist that drives the story because of his beliefs that are established both during the ten minute introduction and at the start of the main feature. Ultimately the film made for very enjoyable viewing. With it being so long since I last properly indulged in the original series, it was great to see characters I gained a certain attachment to once again and see them still be at the same status or higher than I last remembered. Speaking of characters it’s interesting to note that while we are introduced to the main cast of “5D’s” and “GX”, there was a considerable lack of cameos from many of the original cast members. Although any appearance by them would have been short lived given how the story progresses by the time Yugi becomes involved, it would have been nice to have seen the original cast back together but this time on the big screen.
Now onto the information that I’m sure many are interested to know the most, how does the 3D look?
From my perspective, overall it looked very good. The use of 3D didn’t feel forced, in the sense that something came across as being or looking 3D for the sake of it and it blended very well throughout the main feature. There were odd moments where some very fast moving action sequences made it hard for my eyes to track exactly what was happening (and in one instance which monster was on screen) but that could well have been my eyes alone that had this issue. Watching Anime on the big screen in 3D is something that I’ve wanted to experience since the 3D boom began in this country. The fact the first franchise to have been given the 3D treatment was one based on a card game was perhaps one of the best decisions that could have been made. Yes the film was commissioned to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the ‘Yu Gi Oh’ brand as oppose to being made for 3D viewing, but the fact that the main core element of the franchise is a card game that features monsters battling each other already provides more than enough logical reasons to render this world in a 3D environment. The character designs were very good and blended into 3D well. The voice acting was well directed and included moments of dialogue that appealed to both younger and older fans. Overall this film gave a very good representation of what the franchise is about and in my opinion could act as a perfect starting place for any person not already familiar with it. Yes there will be quite a few references that will pass them by, but as a standalone story it works very as a way to sample to all three incarnations. As previously mentioned, I’d never seen any of “GX” and “5D’s” prior to today, and intend to find out more about each franchise and how they both developed.
I would also like to make note of the attendees of this screening. It was great to see so many families who came along to the premiere and have a great time with their children who at the same time were not doubt enjoying popcorn while watching some of their favourite characters battling on the big screen. Hopefully this could be a sign of things to come in the future. I’m sure more events like this would become very popular and kicking things off with ‘Yu Gi Oh’ was a great idea!
This film is being screened in Picture House cinemas across the country over the next few weeks. If you get an opportunity to see the film, I strongly suggest you do. The running time total was about an hour (including the ten minute introduction). The DVD and Blu-Ray (the latter of which will include the 3D version of the film) are then set for release on July 25th.