Top 10 Duels in Yu-Gi-Oh Arc-V
Take it from a longtime fan: if you're going to watch any Yu-Gi-Oh anime, watch Arc-V. It utilizes an overarching story, interesting characters, throwbacks to past shows, fallible protagonists, a surprisingly impressive soundtrack, and introduces Pendulum monsters. I highly recommend the English subbed (not dubbed) version unless you absolutely cannot stand subtitles.
As impressed as I am with Arc-V, it does gimmick some of its duels with "Action Magic" cards that characters can physically run around to collect and use, and it feels cheaply plot-convenient when one character prevails simply because they acquired more. Luckily, not every duel involves them, and most that do are still scripted well enough to forgive the intrusion. To see what I mean, let's take a look at the ten best duels of Arc-V!
10. Yuya vs. Reiji
Any of Yuya's matches against the imposing (yet actually a good guy) Akaba Reiji are a joy to watch. I particularly like their second bout, where neither one is "good" and the other "evil". They have a difference of opinions and settle things with an exciting duel filled with several twists.
Reiji's victory also proved that Yuya (who had been winning all his matches since fusing with alter-ego Yuto and gaining his signature Dark Rebellion card) wasn't invincible, introducing room for our hero to grow.
9. Yuya/Yuto vs. Ruri and Serena
This isn't a 2-on-2 battle; Yuya (fused with Yuto) faces brainwashed allies Ruri and Serena at once. After a long period of serving only as inner-advice, Yuto is actually able to gain control of Yuya's body (Yuya agrees to it) and handle some of the duel himself.
Although those pesky Action Magics are employed, it's still fun watching our heroes combat two competent opponents at once, seeing Yuto in the flesh again, and witnessing the summoning of arguably the strongest Odd-Eyes monster yet: Odd-Eyes Raging Dragon.
8. Yuya vs. Yuri
In a dramatic battle, the four alter-egos of legendary duelist Zarc finally meet: Yuya (fused with Yuto) against the nefarious Yuri (fused with Yugo). If you like theatrical duels, this is the bout for you, with the sake of the world on the line, loads of drama, and a close match that had me unable to tell who would emerge victorious.
No Action Magics to worry about either (they're attempted but negated with other Action Magic), and finally seeing all four signature dragons on the same field was awesome. Plus, Yuya had to battle his inner demon while battling Yuri, culminating in a bittersweet victory where Yuya wins, but at the cost of his inner darkness gaining control.
7. Yuri vs. Five "You Show" Students
Sometimes it's fun to sit back and watch the bad guys wipe the floor with their opponents, especially when we actually get to witness the full match, not just the conclusion (as the series is often apt to do). Yuri, ever the psychotic tween, faces five students at once and prevails—no Action Magic involved!
The students were admittedly using older decks that had trouble facing Yuri's modern build, but it was a nice homage to days of dueling past, and facing five decks (even aged ones) simultaneously is still impressive.
If you enjoy contests like these, be sure to also check out Kurosaki vs. Hokuto, Masumi, and Yaiba in Episode 24.
6. Yugo vs. Sawatari
Tournaments are often where Yu-Gi-Oh animes excel: simply watching duelists face other duelists with no melodramatic narrative bogging matters down.
This was a refreshing match where we encounter Sawatari's new and competitive deck. Although story isn't a huge element of the clash, Yuya is seen experiencing Yugo's emotions, adding an interesting layer to the fight. Finally, while Yugo triumphs, he uses an Action Card and his opponent doesn't, allowing Sawatari fans to believe he "deserved" the win.
Despite the Action Magic gimmick, I appreciate the gray area because it allows fans of both characters to feel validated.
5. Dennis vs. Kurosaki
An element of Arc-V I enjoy is its acceptance of using both old and young characters as villains, averting the standard elder nemeses trope. Additionally, some villains (like Dennis) are introduced as kind characters, and it genuinely hurts to learn of their betrayal.
In Dennis and Kurosaki's second match (the first had no conclusion), things seem bleak for Kurosaki when Dennis summons one heck of a monster (Chaos Ancient Gear Giant, who is immune to Spells and Traps), yet Kurosaki pulls one of the best comebacks in the series.
While Action Cards were employed, Dennis used more than Kurosaki, making the anti-hero's win all the more impressive.
4. Reiji vs. Roger
After a long absence from duels (at least those witnessed in their entirety), Reiji takes on Roger, main antagonist of the Synchro arc, in a no-nonsense (aka no Action Magic) duel.
Since Roger is the main antagonist for this part of the show, and main antagonists tend to lose only to the protagonist, I couldn't immediately determine the victor (a good thing). However, not only does Reiji win, he wins despite Roger cheating with an infinite-revival (Roger rejoins the fight whenever his Life Points reach zero). Reiji pulls this off by setting a combo that infinitely instakills Roger upon each re-entry, causing Roger to flee the match.
Who else but Reiji could defeat an eternally-resurrecting opponent?
3. Yuto vs. Yugo
Another superb bout with neither party being "evil" (both are fighting due to a misunderstanding). We see Yuya watch confused as two strangers sharing his face clash in a non-gimmicked and exciting duel.
Well, at least not gimmicked by Action Magic. Yugo eventually wins, but you could argue Yuto would have had Yuya not interfered and convinced Yuto to stop one of his monsters' attacks. Again, a match where fans of both Yugo and Yuto can argue that their favorite won.
Additionally, Yuto's defeat results in his fusion with Yuya, reminiscent of Yugi and the Pharoah's relation way back in the original series, and a great powerup for our tomato-haired hero.
2. Sora vs. Kurosaki
A fan favorite, and for good reason. Get past the Action Cards (both parties use them, to be fair) and you have one heck of a duel. This fight threw us for a curve; we the audience thought Sora was the "good guy" and Kurosaki the "bad", but this match introduced revelations that Yuya's innocent-looking friend was anything but.
A duel that shaded moralities, utilized multiple comebacks, and introduced a long rivalry between two prominent characters, Sora vs. Kurosaki thrilled fans and set a darker tone than you'd expect from a silly show about a card game.
1. Yuto vs. Sawatari
This match had everything for me. It's concise, uses no Action Cards, and includes arguably the best comeback in the show. Masked Yuto confronts then-bully Sawatari for Yuzu because her face reminds him of his lost comrade Ruri, although this information was only hinted at this early on.
Because of how "cool" Yuto appeared, and his wordless confidence during the fight, I initially expected him to win. However, when Sawatari gains a healthy field against Yuto's empty field and empty hand, I had no idea how this strange masked figure could possibly rebound. Yet he calmly does, not even using the card he draws on his last turn, and the duel stuck with me as my favorite of the franchise.
As if the match weren't exciting enough, the episode ends with Yuto's face revealed and introduces the series-long Yuya-clone mystery.
Which duel do you prefer?
Although Arc-V has since concluded, and the game itself has evolved with the advent of Link Summoning, Arc-V remains a testament to the peaks the franchise can reach when handled efficiently. While the series has its share of flukes and interrupted duels, I struggled with narrowing the list to just ten matches because the show hits far more than it misses.
No series is perfect, but if any Yu-Gi-Oh duels will engage you, it's these impressive matches. Feel free to vote for your favorite, and I'll see you at our next Yu-Gi-Oh countdown!
© 2017 Jeremy Gill