UDON released a book called “Art of the Cards”, which features full TCG card artworks of every released card featured in the original Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters (including Capsule Monsters but excluding the Pyramid of Light film). I had the opportunity to look through it. After the jump are my general thoughts on it.
The book has six card artworks per page, listed in alphabetical order. The card’s Japanese name (excluding furigana) is given alongside its English name and a list of Duelists who used it. If the card had a different name in the dubbed anime, that name is given underneath as the card’s “animation name”. One such example is “Dark Paladin the Ultimate Magical Swordsman”, which helps solve something I’ve wondered for a long time – was that a descriptor or part of the name. Apparently it was the latter.
For Duelist listings, dub character names are used. A few can be a bit confusing. For example, the individual members of The Big Five are not listed with their given name and instead are referred to as “Big 1”, “Big 2”, etc. For the Duel when all five controlled Tristan, the listed Duelist is “The Big Five”, spelled out to distinguish them from Leichter, the Duelist listed as “Big 5”. The book makes a distinction between Lumis and Umbra (the masked Duelists in Battle City), but simply lists “The Paradox Brothers” for both Para and Dox.
The book is very comprehensive. It even had some “blink and you’ll miss it cards”, one example being Timeater, which did appear in the anime when Dartz used it from his hand as a Tribute for a Ritual Summon. My favorite though, was the inclusion of Kojikocy, which was Set in Defense Position when Joey Dueled Mai in Duelist Kingdom and may have been on-screen for roughly a fourth of a second when it was destroyed.
In contrast, it does not feature cards that were not played in any fashion (which to be clear I am not saying is a negative) such as the copies of Double Snare seen in Joey’s and Kaiba’s hands during the Virtual World.
Even cards that have not been released in the TCG but that appeared in Duel Monsters are included, such as Lord of Zemia, which was featured as a spirit in the Dawn of the Duel arc. On that note, Dungeon Dice Monsters pieces that are also real world cards are included, as are creatures that appeared in Capsule Monsters.
Its neat to be able to so closely examine card artworks like this. Its easier and clearer here than even the highest quality images you might find on the Yu-Gi-Oh! wiki. I noticed several things in various artworks I quite simply never noticed before, such as Elegant Egotist having faces in the kaleidoscope.
In the entire book, I found only a single error (impressive given the sheer amount of cards in the book). That error was the listed Duelist for Imperial Order being Pegasus. He never played that card – Big 5 and Rebecca did. The only other “errors” I found were some omissions in terms of duelists when the listings got bigger (for cards such as Polymerization for example) and that may have actually been due to lack of space than an error.
At the back of the book, some additional artworks are featured, marked “key art”. These are full-body models of iconic monsters such as Summoned Skull, Baby Dragon and Jinzo. Alongside is some art marked as “high resolution art”, featuring even larger versions of iconic monsters.
Personally, I would love to see other books like this for the other Yu-Gi-Oh! anime – or simply one for the card game in general.
Lastly, I’d like to give a big thanks to our friends over at UDON for providing us with a review copy of The Art of the Cards. If you are a fan of the Duel Monsters series, or just of Yu-Gi-Oh! card art, I recommend this book. Its surreal being able to view card arts this way. It seems a good “coffee table” kind of book – something you can flip through while waiting or just when bored.