In Maiami City, Action Duels—highly competitive games using special playing cards—are all the rage. This is not surprising, given that the whole city is wired with Solid Vision, a virtual reality system with mass, meaning the monsters, traps, and spells on played cards actually appear for battle.

When you start an Action Duel, Solid Vision reshapes the world immediately around you into a special dueling field.  At the end of the duel, everything disappears.

Teen Yuzu Hiiragi helps her father run a failing Dueling School in Maiami City. She dreams of finding a star teacher who would attract new students. Enter Yuya Sakaki, a flamboyant young Entertainment Duelist. His dueling style is over-the-top, using the flair of a stage magician to turn each match into a spectacle. But there’s more to Yuya than meets the eye: he’s searching for a legendary card that could determine the fate of the world.

Yuzu, determined to recruit him as a Dueling teacher, promises to help him find it. Their search for the card is hampered by Yuya’s memory loss. To add confusion, this strange Entertainment Duelist can transform into four different people, each with a unique appearance, personality, and dueling style.

He’s also being hunted by the shadowy Leo Corporation, which runs the Solid Vision system in Maiami City. Yuzu thought Yuya was the key to saving their school, but now she and her father might be in more trouble than ever!

Considering that one of the lead characters is actually four people sharing one existence, these volumes aren’t as confusing as they could’ve been. For one thing, the overall number of characters isn’t too high. Also, characters who participate in Action Duels—which is much of the cast—tend to be especially distinct and memorable because their decks have themes that help illustrate their personalities. For instance, one young Leo Corporation Duelist plays with a deck full of cutesy toy-themed monsters that undergo creepy, twisted transformations as the game goes on.

The duels are frequent, long, and dramatic. As someone who doesn’t play the card game Yu-Gi-Oh in real life, I was still able to follow the action pretty well. The Solid Vision system can make the stakes a little confusing, however. Duels take place in elaborate themed dueling fields—specialized environments like a giant birdcage or a landscape made of candy—that appear around the players when their duel begins. Though the dueling fields, monsters, traps, and so on are all created by Solid Vision, they do seem to be able to affect people (e.g. it is implied that you can get hurt by falling off a ledge in a dueling field). In one case, by turning up the Solid Vision effects, a duelist is able to use a monster’s attack in the game to blow up the real-life building where the game is taking place. So it can be hard to know how serious the effects of a duel might be.

That said, the duels are visually interesting and fun. While Maiami City itself has a generically high-tech appearance, the monsters and dueling field environments bring a fantastical touch to the story’s visuals and give each duel a unique feel. Yu-Gi-Oh fans will likely be amused, though not surprised, to see a familiar trope: players dueling while riding high-speed motorcycles.

After two volumes, I don’t feel I know the characters very deeply. Beyond their basic motivations, little time is spent developing their personalities. The manga is more concerned with Action Duels.

Though the duels are full of battle action, they are completely bloodless. Defeated monsters simply disappear. There is no nudity, and the only sexual content is some brief joking about boobs, crushes, and “hotties.” This and the complexity of some of the duel setups may account for the manga’s Teen rating.

The most obvious demographic to recommend this series to is, of course, Yu-Gi-Oh fans. Otherwise, it may appeal to fans of other game-based manga, like Pokémon, or readers who like fantasy action where the stakes aren’t too high and scary.

Yu-Gi-Oh! Arc-V, vols. 1-2
by Shin Yoshida Kazuki Takahashi Masahiro Hikokubo
Art by Naohito Miyoshi Takahashi
vol 1 ISBN: 9781421587622
vol 2 ISBN: 9781421595207
VIZ Media, 2017
Publisher Age Rating: Teen

  • Nic

    | She/Her Youth Services Librarian, Wake County Public Libraries

    Reviewer

    The child of two artists, Nic grew up loving art, reading, and those oh-so-special books that combine the two. Nic got her MLS from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her thesis was on the best shelving scheme for graphic novels in public libraries; the proposal won an Elfreda Chatman Research Award. She spends her free time reading, drawing, blogging, and writing fiction. She is a Youth Services Librarian at the Wake County Public Libraries in Raleigh, NC.

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