TV review by
Betsy Wallace, Common Sense Media
Yu-Gi-Oh! TV Poster Image
Card game-turned-TV show for gradeschoolers.

Parents say

age 8+
Based on 20 reviews

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 51 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

Characters value playing the game fairly and with heart and strongly support their friends and family. Some have Asian names (but don't necessarily look Asian).


Duels involve ferocious-looking creatures and attacks, but without pain or blood. Rather than die, characters lose "life points." Weapons are fanciful rather than realistic, e.g., "millennium shields" and "swords of revealing light."


Minor name-calling, such as "card-swiping freak."


The series promotes the card came and vice versa.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that although kids in the show play "Duel Monsters," the monsters don't engage in much hand-to-hand combat, fighting instead in a virtual, video game style with fire and laser effects. Some of the creatures shown could frighten viewers 5 and under. The series' universe is surreal -- even adults collect cards and "duel."

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bynduns November 6, 2018

An entertaining show if you can at least buy the premise.

Now, there are some things I do kinda wanna point out. While the show technically came out after the card game, the manga it's based on came out prior to... Continue reading
Parent of a 3-year-old Written byjojovonjo July 16, 2011

Research before reviewing

This show is quite good. It came out long before the card game and i wish that the people who write reviews on this site would have their facts strait before po... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written byshady_atem April 9, 2008

japanese and English versions very different

The rating I gave on YuGiOh is based on the real Japanese version so I put BIG ISSUE on most of the pole. YuGiOh was created by Kazuki Takahashi and it became a... Continue reading
Kid, 10 years old November 27, 2016

This anime is really good and does NOT deserve only two stars!

This anime is really good. It's about a teenager who puts together an ancient Egyptian puzzle (which looks like the Illuminati symbol) which lets him turn... Continue reading

What's the story?

The Pokémon genre gets a millennium-style update in YU-GI-OH! The card-hunting kids in this popular WB cartoon are clean-living urban youths with attitude and hip hairdos. Yu-Gi-Oh! is also a superhero story of sorts: The main character, Yugi, was just a puny high school freshman until he solved the millennium puzzle his grandfather gave him and bonded with the spirit inside. Now he can be Yami Yugi -- confident, brave, and a master card player.

Is it any good?

When they play Duel Monsters, characters spend much time explaining the rationale of every move and the function of every card. The narrative becomes even more complicated as characters' thoughts are revealed in voice over. Constant -- and often simplistic and repetitive -- dialogue transitioning to internal commentary pushes the limits of how much exposition a show can handle and how many layers kids can follow. But as the point-of-view shifts around revealing each character's uncertainties, fears, and motives, the show taps into teenage self-consciousness. Young viewers can relate to the struggles that go on inside as they grow up and try to act bravely in the world.

And in Yu-Gi-Oh!, we're talking fantasy world. Few parental figures are present; instead, close friendships and sibling relationships take center stage. Evil forces sometimes threaten the lives kids' lives. But many episodes emphasize loyalty and honorable behavior, partly offsetting the violence at the core of the show.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how this show is connected to its companion card game. Do you think there would be a show without the game, and vice versa? Do you have to know how to play the game to enjoy the show?

  • Parents may also want to point out that the series' take on Egyptian history is total make-believe.

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love animation

Themes & Topics

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