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Artist Kazuki Takahashi probably never imagined that his Yu-Gi-Oh! manga would become such a cultural phenomenon when he began writing it for Shueisha’s Shonen Jump magazine in 1996. Now, twenty years later, the manga has spawned multiple anime adaptations, spinoff manga, and an entire card game with a large player base even today. Of course, unlike in the manga and anime’s story, these card games are not played with magical monsters and no one’s soul is on the line.

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To celebrate twenty years of the franchise, an exhibit was held in the Akihabara UDX event space to commemorate not only Takahashi’s original story of Yu-Gi-Oh!, but also all of the subsequent television anime series that were inspired by the universe that he created (logos seen above).

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The exhibit begins by recapping Takahashi’s original manga, letting even visitors not acquainted with the story get up to speed. Interestingly enough, the anime that fans in the west know only begins to adapt the manga at what is marked as arc four on the timeline: Duelist Kingdom.

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For each iteration of the Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise, the gallery prepared a corner introducing the characters on trading card-themed profiles, and also screened the anime’s many opening and ending sequences. One of the biggest draws of the exhibit, however, was the original key animation cells that were used in the anime–as well as the original character design sheets. This format was used for all the other anime series in the franchise, including Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D’s, Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal, and Yu-Gi-Oh! Arc-V.

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Panels on the wall recreate the greatest duels throughout the anime’s history through images and text. Throughout the exhibit, the recorded voices of characters like Seto Kaiba, Jūdai Yūki (Jaden Yuki), and Yusei Fudo give messages to visitors.

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The corner for the newest film in the franchise–Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions–features the script written by original creator Kazuki Takahashi (script seen in the case in the center of the photo above), as well as a message for him. In it, he says that the film serves as the conlcusion to the original Yu-Gi-Oh! storyline–although the characters still continue to live within his mind. He ends the message by thanking fans for cheering him on all this time. The section of the exhibit also featured an original art piece for the film by Takahashi, as well as key animation cells and storyboards.

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Although the majority of the exhibit was not available to take pictures, fans were given the chance to have their picture taken with KaibaCorp president Seto Kaiba.

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Some of the most prominent duelists from the franchise’s past were there to lead visitors to the exit of the exhibit where a goods shop awaited them.

The exhibit was open in Tokyo’s Akihabara district from August 13 to 17, and will move to Osaka for fans to go see it from August 26 to 30.

Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions opened in Japanese theaters on April 23, and is planned to premiere in North America in 2017. The most recent Yu-Gi-Oh! anime–Yu-Gi-Oh! Arc-V–began airing in English in Canada last year and in the United States earlier this year.

©高橋和希 スタジオ・ダイス/集英社・テレビ東京・NAS
©高橋和希 スタジオ・ダイス/2016 劇場版「遊☆戯☆王」製作委員会

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