February 4, 1999. A few years after the creation of ‘Yu-Gi-Oh!’ as a franchise by the sadly deceased Kazuki Takahashi, the collectible card game Yu-Gi-Oh! was born. And to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the game, Konami has spared no expense and has released a short anime film which is quite a journey through nostalgia. Konami Animation, a newly created animation studio by the Japanese company, is responsible for this little audiovisual wonder.
This is the anime short to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the card game Yu-Gi-Oh!
The video in question was released on February 3, 2024, the eve of the quarter-century anniversary, on the official Yu-Gi-Oh! OCG YouTube channel.
This video is a compilation of small shorts in which we can see mythical monsters from the game in action, which have existed practically since the origins of the manga and the card game like Dark Magician, Dark Magician Girl and the Blue Eyes White Dragon. Apart from these very recognizable characters, as the video progresses we can see families and archetypes that came to the collectible card game over time such as the Spirit Charmers, Melffy, Divine Arsenal AA-ZEUS – Sky Thunder, Six Samurai, Dogmatik and Albaz among several others.
Yu-Gi-Oh! cards tell different “stories” both in their descriptions and in their art. And Konami Animation has picked up a lot of this lore not so evident when making these shorts. Although it is a collection of anime shorts, the images shown are related to the card game itself and not to the anime/manga ‘Yu-Gi-Oh!’.
The origins of the Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game
Yu-Gi-Oh! didn’t start as a collectible card game, but as the manga ‘Yu-Gi-Oh!’, which in Japanese literally means “king of games.” The plot tells us how a young high school student named Yugi Muto completes the “Millennium Puzzle”, a three-dimensional puzzle that houses the soul of an ancient Egyptian pharaoh. This pharaoh lives with Yugi inside his mind and can sometimes “take control” of him to resolve difficult situations in which there are games of all kinds involved.
One of these “games” was a fictional card game called “Duel Monsters” (called in the manga “Magic & Wizards” in reference to the card game Magic: The Gathering), in which two players face each other using different cards that represent creatures, spells, and various actions. Since it was first shown, this game has achieved a lot of popularity., and Kazuki Takahashi, the author of ‘Yu-Gi-Oh!’, began to receive many letters from fans, eager to know more about this intriguing card game.
The enormous popularity of this fictional card game caused it to eclipse the rest of the games, and eventually the name “Yu-Gi-Oh!” became equivalent to this card game. This led to the first creation of the card game Yu-Gi-Oh! by Bandaim which never left Japan. The following year, in 1999, Konami acquired the rights to Yu-Gi-Oh! and created a new card game with the brand, and it is the latter that has survived to this day throughout the world.
The Yu-Gi-Oh! card game was appointed in 2009 as the “best selling card game” by the organization of the Guinness World Records. As of January 2021, it is estimated that more than 35 billion individual Yu-Gi-Oh! cards have been sold. Yu-Gi-Oh! as a franchise, including all its products such as the card game, the video games, the manga and anime themselves, and all types of various merchandising would have generated the not inconsiderable figure of 5.25 billion dollars since its conception in 1996. Since 1999, Konami has owned the distribution rights to the card game and video games of the brand, while the heirs of Kazuki Takahashi and Shueisha control the publication of the manga and its successive spin-offs.
Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Master is one of the most recent video games in the saga. It is free to play, and allows us to get into the ins and outs of this extremely complex and technical card game.