After years, I finally got my hands on a halfway decent English translation of the Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters: The Movie – Pyramid of Light novelization, written by Junki Takegami and translated by Tatsunoboshi Horoko. I had heard rumors of this novelization, which tied the 4Kids-produced, made-for-the-dub-audiences movie into the original Japanese Duel Monsters canon, but I’d never been able to get my hands on a copy, and I certainly didn’t trust myself to somehow find it and try translating it myself. I speak Japanese, but my kanji-reading abilities leave a lot to be desired.
The book was never released in any official form by the English licensee, Viz Media, though they did release an “Animanga” which followed the plot of the movie, complete with the dub lines inserted into comic book-style speech bubbles stuck onto sequential clips from the movie.
This novelization, released in 2004, is now out of print, though copies of it are still available for purchase online, mostly through Japanese retailers.
One of the most interesting things in the novelization is a special section at the end reserved for what’s called “Character Strength Analyses,” examining the decks of the characters that appear in the movie and how they’ve evolved. Each deck has three “checks” that are applied:
- What kind of deck is the character using? The full decks, including cards not seen in the movie, are listed here. The novelization says, “Building with cards that are plausible [sensible] and cards that are unexpected will prove quite useful in construction of an actual deck,” for folks considering taking the deck lists used and creating character-inspired, playable decks for the OCG or TCG.
- Specify the main combos! Main combos are “also…an essential to deck construction,” the novelization adds. What kind of combinations do the characters use for building their decks?
- Search for hidden combos! If a combo wasn’t shown in the movie, does it not exist? Certainly not! The novelization makes the compelling argument that the decks each contain “hidden combos,” some of which might even be more powerful than the characters’ chosen main combos….
Each of the characters is given a ranking in:
- Attack: the overall attack power of the monsters in the deck
- Defense: the overall defense power of the monsters in the deck
- Speed: the speed at which they engage they (the novelization isn’t clear: the monsters or the players/duelists?) duel at
- Combo: the destructive power of the combos built into the decks
Each of the ranks goes from C to S. If you’re unfamiliar with this system, think of it like a school grade system with no chance for D or F, and an extra chance for a super-high grade: C is average (which, for a top duelist, is “abysmal”), B is decent, A is excellent, and S is superior.
In addition, the novel points out that just because a character didn’t win a duel in the movie, doesn’t mean their deck doesn’t possess abilities that the duelist didn’t have a chance to demonstrate.
Without further ado, the character strength analyses!