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Friday, August 13, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.
By Tom Keogh
Perhaps, like me, you can't escape a convenience store or comic-book shop these days without spending money on a "Yu-Gi-Oh!" booster pack of collectible cards for the little anime fan in your life.
Perhaps, like me, you've tried to sit through breakneck episodes of the "Yu-Gi-Oh!" animated show on Cartoon Network a series that involves sundry characters who constantly duel using powerful cards and found the experience so overwhelming and arcane in its rules and logic that it's best left to children.
Now, the evil genius behind "Yu-Gi-Oh!" has found another way to infiltrate our unguarded lives. "Yu-Gi-Oh! The Movie" is inevitably here, and it has an infectious, breathless urgency on the big screen even if its static, cheesy TV-anime style remains.
The story broadens and clarifies the show's basic premise. A card game, "Duel Monsters," is a phenomenon among the young, and a small, retiring boy, Yugi (voiced in English by Dan Green), is its greatest champion. No wonder: "Duel Monsters" incorporates ancient mystical forces. Whenever Yugi plays, he transforms into the bigger, steelier Yu-Gi-Oh, possessed by a powerful Egyptian pharaoh who mastered those forces and defeated an evil rival, Anubis, many millennia ago.
Now Anubis is back, manipulating a ferocious rivalry between Yugi and the villainous Kaiba (Eric Stuart), another "Duel Monsters" master. While Kaiba seeks Yugi's crown, their battle (unknown to Kaiba) is actually opening a way for Anubis to destroy all life on Earth.
Oh, yeah: the cards. Each one invokes either a mythic power or a loophole in the rules of "Duel Monsters." Players constantly trump each other with dragons, elves and assorted gods, though there are plenty of convoluted attack stratagems that always sound to my perplexed ears like, "Aha! My Reverse Triple Obfuscator reinstates the Wicker Monkey you sacrificed to destroy my Toothy Gamine! Polarities have exceeded portal integrity!"
Kids will eat "Yu-Gi-Oh! The Movie" up. The rest of us will have to wait for the translation.
Tom Keogh: email@example.com
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