The Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise takes another leap ahead in time to the undefined year 20XX, where Duel Monsters is played on vehicles called Duel Runners, in what are called Turbo Duels. With riding now just as important as the deck, a new hero is needed to step to become the King of Games, and that hero is Yusei Fudo.
Story by Masahiro Hikokubo; art by Masashi Sato
Viz Media; July 2011. ISBN: 978-1-4215-3963-8
207 pgs., $9.99
Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D’s returns the franchise to its teen roots with an older protagonist and rivals, as well as a story that is taken out of the school environment and onto the race track. It differs a lot from the previous two series as it breaks away from the magical, Egyptian influences and embraces the futuristic instead.
The story jumps right into the action with Yusei dueling Sect, his friend and wannabe rival. After easily beating Sect, Yusei is forced into another duel with the Skeleton Knight, an urban legend among Satellite duelists. Yusei wins again, but while taking Sect to the hospital, he is challenged by the “King of Turbo Duels,” Jack Atlas, and this time he doesn’t fare as well. Another duel with Akiza Izinski, the “Queen of Queens” at Queen’s Duel Academy, teaches Yusei he still has a lot to learn about turbo dueling.
Yusei Fudo is unlike the other protagonists we’ve seen in the franchise so far. He values friendship highly as did Yugi and Jaden, and will go to any lengths for his friends. But he doesn’t need a spirit to bolster his confidence as Yugi did, and is much more serious than Jaden. While he isn’t interested in the money or honor he could get as a professional Turbo Duelist, he does have his pride, and losing to Jack Atlas like he did stung it pretty hard. He wants to regain that. He also relishes the challenge that Jack and Akiza have presented to him. He is already the best Turbo Duelist on Satellite. He needed the kick from these two to get him to push himself harder. I really liked this aspect of Yusei: He doesn’t feel sorry for himself and think of giving up; he sees the challenge before him, and grabs it with both hands.
While the supernatural doesn’t play as integral a part in this series as it does in Yu-Gi-Oh! and GX, it does make an appearance in the form of the Skeleton Knight. An urban legend among duelists on Satellite, his appearance feels more like a setup. Their duel is a chance for Yusei to show what he can do, but the most telling scene is at the end, when he essentially calls Yusei a warrior for this age, seemingly implying that he is the next in line for the title of Yu-Gi-Oh, King of Games. I don’t know that I would call “sense,” an ability that turbo duelists use, as supernatural. It’s more an extension of the skills of the game and racing, since riding faster can increase it. It’s more of an intimidation factor than anything else. A strong sense can send another rider off balance and cause him to lose concentration on the game.
Some might think Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D’s is silly to have players riding motorcycles, but the added conditions it brings to the play keeps the series from getting dull. Watching two players standing on a field can get monotonous after a while. The racing adds more excitement and danger, making the duels all that more fun to read. There is minimal violence, limited only to the turbo duel games. Teens who enjoyed the original Yu-Gi-Oh! will also enjoy this series, though older tweens, 11-12, will probably also want to sneak a peek as well.