Yu-Gi-Oh isn’t the most loved among the anime community. That’s not to say that it’s hated, but it’s a reasonable guess that most anime fans have only had experience with the abridged series post-childhood. It’s commonly seen as show without any substance, one of the many shows which were fun as kids but don’t hold up to any criticism. This may be true for Duel Monsters, but the newest series, Yu-Gi-Oh Arc-V is an incredibly enjoyable show which most people should try.
Arc-V is a kids anime, and this is most clear at the beginning. The first ten or so episodes are silly and lack any great points, but from there on it only gets better. From what I remember of the other Yu-Gi-Oh series, the seasons were often very disconnected, having separate antagonists and being separate narratives attached by a loose thread. Arc-V is one story, with one main antagonist who has been the antagonist almost the entire time. The show keeps going with time, making development seem lasting and meaningful.
The show’s duels are also much better. No longer do duels go on for 6 episodes, with every duel in Arc-V lasting two episodes at the most. Every character’s deck makes sense, even if it isn’t optimal, and the strategies used generally make sense for how people actually duel. The new Action Duel system isn’t perfect, but manages to seriously tone down the ridiculous top decking which formerly plagued the series.
The characters are what makes the show as fun as it is though. The protagonist, Yuya, has a likable personality and an interesting conflict, and in his attempts to entertain everyone through dueling while being forced to fight through them, he becomes an incredibly enjoyable character. The side characters are also incredibly fun, especially Yuzu, Yuya’s friend. Many more good characters exist, but revealing them would be large spoilers so I’ll stop for now.
The show isn’t perfect. It’s only alright visually, and many of the monsters are done in terrible CGI. A lot of the music is great, but some of the music which plays in the day-to-day scenes becomes annoying very fast. Despite this and some other issues such as pacing, it’s a very fun show which should be watched by anyone interested in an entertaining shounen anime.