In the United States, Yu-Gi-Oh! is a Japanese television series created for children but enjoyed by many adults as well. It is dubbed into English and edited for United States viewers. It is based on a manga series created by Kazuki Takahashi in 1996. Manga is a traditional style of comic, created in Japan in the nineteenth century. As well as the television show, the popular series has given birth to spin-offs including trading card games, online games, movies and video games.
The main character, Yugi Mutou, is a clever young boy who has often been bullied. When he solves an ancient brainteaser called the Millennium Puzzle, his body becomes host to a powerful and mysterious spirit. After that, whenever Yugi or his friends are under attack the spirit helps them. It challenges their opponents to mysterious Shadow Games that reveal their true nature and defeat them.
As the series continues, the children learn that the dark spirit that possesses Yugi is an ancient Egyptian Pharaoh. The pharaoh has somehow lost his memories, but not his mystic powers. In the original series, Yugi and his friends try to help the spirit recover his past.
In the process the children enjoy a variety of exciting adventures. Other Millennium artifacts appear, often wielded by bad characters.
A fictional card game called Duel Monsters is used as a plot device in the story. In 1999, a real world and online game called the Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game appeared. It is currently played in more than 20 countries, and is the most popular trading card game in the world.
Actual cards that represent monsters or spells and traps that can harm monsters are held by two players. Using the cards, each attempts to reduce the other's life points to zero, by killing one another's monsters. Game shops often host tournaments, and card producers have also hosted well-attended contests. Games are also played online, sometimes against international opponents.
The show and the game cards attempt to teach good values and fair play. However, some of the game cards originally portrayed characters from Japanese mythology. To avoid controversy, the actual meaning of some of these cards was distorted when they were edited for foreign markets. For example, the word death has been changed to Des, the word black is changed to dark, demons were changed to archfiends and a word that could have been translated as Hades is altered to nightmare. Some parents also find the world of Yu-Gi-Oh! too violent and dark.
Some children truly enjoy Yu-Gi-Oh! and all its spin-offs. The series was written around the idea that a strong part of a person's being will appear to help him or her when trouble comes. The card game encourages planning and strategy during good-natured games among friends.