There’s been more than one heated discussion about Yu-Gi-Oh! manga here at SJ headquarters. In fact, we’ve discussed the many series and their differences at length. And while most of us like the original series the best, Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal is winning us over, especially me.
I really like this series. I find it to be a refreshing change from 5D’s. Not that I’m dissing 5D’s, but I felt like that series got a little too serious for my taste and focused too much on duels. While there are plenty of duels in Zexal, there’s also an intriguing backstory, some fun characters and really nice art.
The story focuses on a plucky little dueler name Yuma. Yuma is the classic SJ manga “I’ll never give up!” hero to the nth degree. He’s prone to taking on impossible challenges, failing, and then trying again. His catch phrase, “I’m gonna jet!” and its innumerable variations “I’m jetting so hard!” “I can’t jet at all.” etc., is absurd, but somehow endearing. Naturally, he wants to be the king of the duelists, but he totally sucks at the game.
Enter Astral, a spectral being from the future that only Yuma can see. Astral is an expert duelist and gives Yuma much-needed advice to win duels. Astral is missing most of his memories, and needs special "Numbers" cards to unlock them.
So, Yuma, Astral and a wacky group of duelist kids set out to collect Numbers cards, but they’re not the only ones! The evil “Dr. Faker,” who has one of the best names for a bad guy ever, is also very interested in the Numbers cards and has sent out some less than savory duelists to get them.
In this volume, Yuma and Astral find out the hard way that there are some really tough duelists out there, much tougher than they thought. And in the second half of the book, the gang heads to the exciting Heartland fantasy theme park to follow up on strange rumors about Numbers cards. There, on Captain Corn’s Nature Crooz ride, Yuma faces off against the diabolical Captain Corn!
The backstory of Captain Corn is so amazing, I have to tell you about it. But! If you want to find out by reading the manga, feel free to skip this paragraph. Captain Corn used to be corn, like an actual ear of corn. The feared pirate Captain Roberts was eating the corn, when a kernel fell in his compass. There it stayed for years! I’m guessing Captain Roberts was a bit of a slob, if he left a dried kernel of corn on his compass for that long. But anyway, Dr. Faker eventually got the compass hundreds of years later and created Captain Corn from the kernel! Tada!
The duel between Yuma and Captain Corn is a blast. It’s filled with wacky corn-based monsters like the giant “Kra-Corn,” a corncob/octopuss mash-up, and the feared Number 50: Blackship of Corn, which is also the card that comes with the print version of the graphic novel. The captain makes a lot of “corny” puns during the duel like, “I’ve got you, corn-founded rascal!” or “The truly a-maize-ing part of the duel begins now!” It’s really silly, but also very funny. The wordplay, crazy corn creatures and Captain Corn himself make this duel a lot of fun to read.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the excellent art in this manga. According to volume one, this is Mangaka Naohito Miyoshi’s first Jump comic, and he goes all out! His clean lines and great use of textures give the world a sense of depth. It also gives the monsters a sense of weight, making them look like they’re right there with the characters. I also really like the design of the futuristic cityscapes the world takes place in. And the dynamic panel layouts add a lot of energy to the dueling scenes. Characters, sound effects, word bursts, and monsters spill into other panels creating an eye-popping energetic effect. In not so many words, homie can draw.
All of these many things add up to a Yu-Gi-Oh! manga that is a lot of fun to read, even if you’re not a fan of the card game. If you’re an aspiring mangaka, you should buy this manga and study the art. If you like wacky adventure (and who doesn't!), I recommend it. And if you like the card game, well, duh.
If you subscribe to the great amazing wondrous digital manga magazine Shonen Jump Alpha, you can read Zexal every month! And you can also get free Yu-Gi-Oh! cards!
This manga jets!
by Urian Brown