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Yu-Gi-Oh! Bonds Beyond Time (2010)
Director: Kenichi Takeshita

review by Sarah Ash

"It's time to duel!" The three central characters of the Yu-Gi-Oh! series are brought together here through a timeslip when a mysterious gamer called Paradox (Sean Schemmel/ Atsushi Tamura) steals their most powerful cards. His plan is to travel back through time and destroy Pegasus, the entrepreneur who creates the game of 'Duel Monsters', and so alter the course of history. Yugi Muto (Dan Green/ Shunsuke Kazama), Judai/ Jaden Yuki (Matthew Charles/ Kenn), and Yusei Fudo (Frank Frankson/ Yuya Miyashita) must work together and use their skills to stop him - and as their own worlds begin to disintegrate, the desperate duel to end all duels begins.

Yu-Gi-Oh! Bonds Beyond Time - and its spin-off series Yu-Gi-Oh GX and Yu-Gi-Oh 5Ds - is a series where the main action is rooted in gaming. Like Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh! has given rise to a whole industry of spin-offery: trading card packs, console, PC, and online games, so that it's difficult now to remember that before the merchandise arrived, the story originated as a manga by Kazuki Takahashi in Weekly Shonen Jump way back in 1996. Since then, an enthusiastic following among younger readers and viewers has been created, fuelled by collector's cards and merchandising - but if you're not familiar with the characters, let alone the complicated (incomprehensible?) gaming system, will you derive any kind of enjoyment from watching this film?

Probably not... At barely an hour in length, Bonds Beyond Time comes across as more of a double TV episode than a fully-developed film. A large part of that hour is taken up with the three duels that Paradox fights with Yugi, Judai/ Jaden, and Yusei, so if you're not into the gaming system, I suspect that you won't be won over.

However, I have to confess here that I have a soft spot for the Yu-Gi-Oh! TV series, even though I still find the duel sequences almost impossible to follow. So it was nostalgic to re-visit (albeit briefly) the main characters from all three series in this film which was created to celebrate the anime's 10th anniversary last year. And it was fascinating to find the original Japanese version tucked away in the disc extras with the original Japanese musical score as a bonus. Nevertheless, anyone who's grown up watching the 4Kids version, will recognise and appreciate the familiar musical themes written for the 4Kids version, the original US voice actors, and - of course - the main characters' catch phrases. This is a film for Yu-Gi-Oh! fans to enjoy; I believe that in the DVD box, a Malefic Red Eyes Black Dragon collector's card is included (although my review disc didn't include one, natch).

DVD extras include the US opening recap sequence which introduces newcomers to the characters, the original Japanese movie, and the trailer for the film release in 3D.

Yu-Gi-Oh! Bonds Beyond Time



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