Hands down my favorite shounen anime/manga. I agree that it should be viewed in the original Japanese version since it definitely has a darker, more intense tone. The BGM is also fantastic. Though I do find the dub to have it’s own charm. If anyone wants to truly get into the series, I would recommend reading the manga. The series originally started off with Yugi and his friends playing various games that weren’t the card game against opponents who would use underhanded tactics. Yugi was just a shy, conflict avoiding kid who liked to play games and just wanted some friends. Yami Yugi/Atem was rather prideful and slightly arrogant who was not afraid to apply trickery when going up against his opponents. He would even mentally punish his opponents whenever he won. The card game (known as Magic and Wizards) came in a little later and still contained lots of cheating and trickery. Honestly, the world of Duel Monsters/M&W was very cutthroat and competitive that could drive people to do desperate and downright immoral things. As ridiculous as this sounds it’s pretty neat. The consequence of death was also frequently present. Plus the monster designs were downright boss as hell.
I am rather fond of GX and 5D’s. GX, while definitely lighter in tone, did have its dark spots (looking at you 3rd season) and also had a pretty good supporting cast. Though I do think that there was an over-saturation of deck archetypes. I thought 5D’s started to go back to the roots of the series with its darker tone and more street-wise characters. Yusei was a stoic badass with a strong sense of justice. Jack Atlas served as a great rival of whom I saw as a more pompous but less cynical version of Kaiba. The concept of “hurr durr card games on motorcycles” did seem initially ludicrous, but was pretty neat when put into motion (no pun intended). As for ZEXAL…definitely a step down from the previous series but I don’t find it as bad as other fans do. Like GX, it is more lighthearted but has its own charm. I also like how it draws some homages to the original series.
On another note, has anyone checked out the Duel Art book? It contains a collection of both new and old drawings done by creator Kazuki Takahashi. You can really see the change in his art style. This guy can draw. His new stuff creates a nice balance between realism and stylized manga. His redesigns for the Egyptian gods are simultaneously gorgeous and powerful.
I think I’m done with my rant now.