The first thing that someone should know when watching Season 5 of Yu-Gi-Oh is that the DVD includes a spin-off show that originally aired years after the season concluded, which has been inserted in the middle of the season. When you combine this with the fact that Season 5 already consisted of two very different story arcs, it becomes harder to evaluate the whole series in a succinct manner. The real meat of the season starts on Disc 4 and what is true of the first three discs isn't necessarily true of the latter four. Episodes 1 – 14 focus on a card game tournament, the next twelve episodes are more akin to what would happen if Yu-Gi-Oh met Digimon, and the rest depict the journey of the main characters to uncover the mysteries that lay at the heart of the series.
Luckily this is mitigated somewhat by the core group of characters maintaining a sense of cohesion over the series. The first fourteen episodes of the series was literally made to pad out the show, so it is important that we like the characters. Sadly, Yu-Gi-Oh doesn't always bother to properly explain what is going on in terms of the plot. The final battle between the heroes and the main villain is described as a great game, but we are never really clued in on what the rules of that game are. Again, it is the characters and their motivations that are the real strength of the show, especially at times like this.
In the years since it started, Yu-Gi-Oh has become most famous for the card game that it inspired and which went from having a small appearance within the manga to taking it over almost entirely. In contrast to earlier seasons, Season 5 contains relatively little of the card game. Out of the three sections, only Grand Championship features it with any prominence. Dawn of the Duel (the final section of the season) only features three duels and the Capsule Monsters spin-off forgoes them entirely. Instead, characters spend most of their time in this boxset calling on monsters to defend them in the other worlds that they visit.
Yu-Gi-Oh Season 5 might feel a little disjointed at times, but despite its flaws it is a good send-off to the characters that fans grew up with as the show progressed. The different nature of the arcs within this season allow for everything from adventure to quieter, more reflective moments. Fans of the show are advised to check it out.
YU-GI-OH SEASON 5 / CERT: PG / DIRECTOR: HIROYUKI KAKUDOU / SCREENPLAY: VARIOUS / STARRING: DAN GREEN, WAYNE GRAYSON, AMY STUART, AMY BIRNBAUM / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW