Welcome back duelists, to the next article in our Yu-Gi-Oh! Anime Review Series! This time around, we’re taking an in-depth look at the Yu-Gi-Oh Pyramid of Light Movie. The movie introduces a new character, Anubis, and introduces some new Millennium Item lore. Let’s dive straight in.
Pyramid Of Light Introduction
Pyramid of Light kicks off with Yugi solving the Millennium Puzzle and awakening the Duel Monsters. From there, we jump to a mob watching footage of Yugi at Battle City. Yugi’s win and his Egyptian God cards have taken the dueling world by storm, and everyone wants to challenge the now world-famous duelist. Joey and Tristan try to distract the incoming mob of challenges while Téa and Yugi run off and hide in the Domino Museum. While inside, they stumble upon a new Millennium item – the Pyramid of Light.
Meanwhile, Kaiba is up to his usual tricks and desperately trying to devise a plan to defeat Yugi. He plays a round of a simulated game against an AI Yugi, but the simulation crashes. After Kaiba chews out a few KaibaCorp employees, he travels to Pegasus’s mansion. Kaiba figures that if Pegasus created the Egyptian God cards, he must have some sort of failsafe card that can defeat them. Pegasus admits that he does have such a card, so Kaiba challenges him to a duel with a hefty wager: if Pegasus wins, he gets all three of Kaiba’s Blue-Eyes White Dragon cards, but if Kaiba wins, Pegasus has to give Kaiba the card that can defeat the Egyptian God cards.
Pegasus Vs Kaiba
This duel is a real hoot to watch – Pegasus and Kaiba are both sassy and pompous, so much of the running time consists of them hurling insults at one another. Pegasus doles out his usual condescending “Kaiba boy” comments, and Kaiba quips zingers like, “this place is an outdated joke, but then again, so are you.” Pegasus challenges Kaiba with his Toon World enhanced cards, but Kaiba defeats him, delivering the incredible line, “that’s all, folks” after destroying his last Toon card.
Back at the museum, Yugi’s grandpa investigates the Pyramid of Light and explains that it’s connected to the mysterious Anubis. This causes Yugi to suddenly have a vision about Kaiba, and when Yugi snaps back to reality, he finds that the Pyramid of Light has been stolen! From here, Yugi rushes to KaibaCorp, changing into Yami Yugi along the way.
When he arrives, Kaiba initiates a duel with Yugi and busts out his brand new trap card, Pyramid of Light. Yami Yugi tries to warn Kaiba that something horrible is about to happen, but of course, Kaiba doesn’t care – he just wants to beat Yugi! Yugi summons Slifer the Sky Dragon, and surprisingly, Kaiba uses “Obligatory Summon” to force Yugi to summon the other God cards, Obelisk the Tormentor and The Winged Dragon of Ra. That’s when Kaiba uses the Pyramid of Light to remove the Egyptian Gods from play.
Anubis Reveals Himself
Things get really wild from here. At first, the duel seems like your average Kaiba vs Yugi battle, until that Pyramid of Light card is activated. The card ends up pulling Yugi, Téa, Joey, and Tristan’s souls into the Millenium Puzzle, and they can’t get out until the battle is over! As Joey puts it, “Tristan, I don’t think we’re in Kansas any more…” On top of that, the Pyramid of Light card activated a special field that makes it so neither Kaiba nor Yugi can leave the battle, AND their actual life force is being drained from the game! As if all that wasn’t wild enough, Anubis himself ends up taking over the duel! From here, it’s an hour-long dueling extravaganza, filled with plenty of dramatic twists and turns.
This movie is kind of an interesting one – it’s not considered canon, and takes place after the Battle City arc. (Check out our review of Battle City here) If you really want to dig deep into the supposed timeline, this would be somewhere in between episodes 144 and 145. The film introduces the character Anubis and establishes that he was important to Pharaoh Atem, but then the rest of the anime series (and manga series) makes little to no mention of him. This throws the continuity off a bit.
Regardless of whether or not it’s officially part of the main story, it’s still a really entertaining movie. Since it takes place after Battle City, Yugi has all the Egyptian God cards, which always spices up a duel. Plus, the movie digs deep into the Millenium Puzzle and the overall Millenium item mythology. Any Yu-Gi-Oh! storyline that has this much Egypt backstory content is a winner in my book!
Kaiba is also phenomenally good in this movie. His ego is completely off the charts, and he delivers some incredible one-liners. I mean, Kaiba is always a bit of a scene-stealer with his over-the-top attitude, but this movie has him sticking his nose up and saying things like, “Let me get this straight – you’re going to defeat me with a creampuff and an elf?” and, “IF I WERE YOU, I’D START POSTULATING A NEW JOB!”
Joey Channels Marlon Brando
Kaiba’s not the only person getting killer dialogue, either. The movie really leans heavily into pop culture references this time around, and it especially has fun with Joey and his ridiculous Brooklyn accent. Pyramid of Light has him busting out a ton of Marlon Brando references. At one point, he lays it on thick and says, “I’m the Godfather of Games, capisce?” Another scene has him getting trampled and saying, “I coulda been a contender,” which is a shout-out to the classic Marlon Brando line from On the Waterfront.
It’s silly stuff like that that makes the Yu-Gi-Oh! series so fun. Admittedly, the actual plot of this movie is a bit convoluted, but there are so many great character moments that it’s easily forgivable. Even random side characters have some really hilarious quotes. For example, when an angry mob starts chanting, “We want the King of Games, not the King of Lame! The Duel Monsters champ, not chump! The Master of the Gods, not the Master of the Clods!” You already know that I’m adding the phrase “Master of the Clods” to my vocabulary from this point forward.
As I’m sure you know, the English dub of Yu-Gi-Oh! changes a lot around from the original series – like, for example, Joey Wheeler is named Katsuya Jonouchi, Tea is actually named Anzu, and 4Kids Entertainment made a ton of tonal changes to the series to make it more kid-friendly. This movie’s U.S. release made some…interesting additional choices, to say the least.
The first big thing that sticks out is that the 4Kids release of Pyramid of Light features a totally new soundtrack and even original sound effects. The soundtrack is an interesting mix of pop rock and rap. There are some delightfully cheesy songs like “One Card Short,” which has corny lyrics like, “Life’s just a duel, that’s how the world is made/But are we really players, or are we being played?”
A personal favorite is the song, “Power Within,” which apparently was written by people who had never actually seen the movie. The inspirational sounding chorus sings, “The power within can make the Pyramid of Light shine forever,” but uh – the Pyramid of Light shining is a bad thing, guys! And, of course, there’s the Black Eyed Peas song “For the People,” which mentions Eazy-E and Justin Timberlake in the lyrics and doesn’t actually connect with Yu-Gi-Oh! at all.
Peten The Dark Clown Attacks Yugi
Strangely enough, this movie is also way more violent than the other 4Kids anime releases. 4Kids is infamous for unnecessarily censoring its shows – one good example is when Bandit Keith is edited to hold up finger guns to Pegasus instead of a real gun. For some reason, though, they didn’t seem to bother editing out the more violent parts of this movie. You actually see mummies getting torn apart, Peten the Dark Clown seems more explicitly violent, and Anubis delivers some genuinely frightening lines. “Soon, worms will feast on your flesh just as they did on mine” is NOT something that would usually make it past the 4Kids editing room.
All that being said, the movie isn’t exactly R rated or anything like that. The theatrical release was still rated PG. It’s just surprising to see an actual stabbing in a show that usually goes out of its way to do things like edit Nerf guns over the Barrel Dragon card.
The movie is also notable for introducing a ton of new cards to the screen for the first time. Let’s take a look at a few of the cards that make their first appearances in Pyramid of Light.
Pyramid of Light
Okay, this one was kind of an obvious one. Of course, this card pops up in this movie, right? As mentioned, in the movie, this trap card prevents Yugi from summoning the Egyptian God cards. The actual card text is as follows: If this face-up card is removed from your side of the field, destroy “Andro Sphinx” and “Sphinx Teleia” on your side of the field and remove them from play.
Obligatory Summon is key to Kaiba’s plan to destroy Yugi. He uses it to force Yugi to special summon the Egyptian God cards just so he can show off the Pyramid of Light card. Typical Kaiba move. This spell card makes it so that the opponent must Special Summon as many monsters as they possibly can.
One of the most exciting elements of this movie is the cards that Anubis uses. In fact, every card that he busts out is new to the series! Andro Sphinx is the first card that Anubis special summons, and it’s a powerful one. This card is a level 10 Monster card that has a powerful effect – if it destroys a Defense Position monster, it deals damage to an opponent’s Life Points equal to half of the ATK of the destroyed monster.
This is the second monster card that Anubis special summons. Like Andro Sphinx, Sphinx Teleia is a level 10 Monster card. It has the inverse effect of Andro Sphinx – if this card destroys a Defense Position monster, it will inflict damage to an opponent’s Life Points that is equal to half the defense of the destroyed monster.
Theinen the Great Sphinx
After Andro Sphinx and Sphinx Teleia are destroyed by Yugi, Anubis reveals the effect of this card while it’s face down. This bad boy is another level 10 monster card, with a whopping 3500 ATK and 3000 DEF. Theinen the Great Sphinx can actually only be special summoned by paying 500 life points after Andro Sphinx and Sphinx Teleia are destroyed at the same time. This makes it a really neat card in the episode but also makes it a pretty difficult card to use in any actual duel…
Blue-Eyes Shining Dragon
We’ve seen Blue-Eyes White Dragon, we’ve seen Blue-Eyes Toon Dragon, now it’s time for Blue-Eyes Shining Dragon! Kaiba uses this card in his battle with Yugi. This card can only be summoned if you offer up a Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon as a Tribute. It’s totally worth it, though – you can increase the ATK of the card by 300 points for each Dragon-Type monster in your Graveyard. If you’re a Dragon hoarder like Kaiba, this can really help you out!
Peten the Dark Clown
Peten the Dark Clown gets a lot of screen time in this movie, believe it or not. Kaiba summons this Effect Monster THREE TIMES in a duel. Anyways, this card is only a Level 3 and is relatively weak – the ATK is 500 while the DEF is 1200. The card has an interesting effect, though. If the card gets sent to the Graveyard, you can banish it and then Special Summon another Peten the Dark Clown from your hand or deck.
Return From The Different Dimension
This trap card actually has some of my favorite artwork – the imagery is really interesting. Return From The Different Dimension lets you pay half your Life Points to special summon as many of your monsters that have been removed from play on your side. While the card is cool, it’s banned in OCG and TCG Advanced games. And, funnily enough, the way Kaiba uses it in this movie doesn’t even adhere to the actual rules of the card – he uses it to try and gain control of the Egyptian God cards, but technically, the card would only let him summon his own monsters.
Toon Gemini Elf
Finally, that toon battle with Pegasus towards the beginning of the movie is the first anime appearance of Toon Gemini Elf. Amusingly, this card directly kicks Kaiba in the head during that duel, prompting Pegasus to say, “cartoons are so violent these days, aren’t they?”
Pyramid Of Light Conclusion
All in all, this movie is wildly entertaining. It’s not very accessible to people who have never seen Yu-Gi-Oh! before, but there’s a lot to love in it for fans of the series. Plus, Anubis is a legitimately badass villain.
What are your thoughts on the Pyramid Of Light movie? Be sure to let us know in the comments down below! If you haven’t watched the movie or would simply like to see it again (we don’t blame you), you can watch it online on Amazon’s streaming service (Prime Video) here
With the events of this movie and the Battle City arc over, the next stop in our anime review series is the Waking the Dragons arc. Stay tuned!