In the late 1990s and early 2000s, we had countless trading card games, or TCGs, competing for our attention. Some games were able to use what may have been the most elaborate marketing plan: children’s television shows.
While this isn’t unique to card games (see also Strawberry Shortcake or the various iterations of My Pretty Pony/My Little Pony), this fantastic method of marketing resulted in many of us thinking fondly on the series. A lot of us remember the years of bringing home movies like Pokémon: The Movie 2000 from the library or Blockbuster and watching it over and over again before forgetting to rewind the tape when you returned it.
Moving on to newer years, we can see that Yu-Gi-Oh and Pokémon didn’t end with their original versions. The shows continue into the current day and have ushered forth in very different ways and have polarized the fanbases significantly!
Yu-Gi-Oh has given us new protagonists, different settings, and even an obscure version of the classic card game played while riding motorcycles. On the other hand, Pokémon has given us the same protagonist with a seemingly ever-changing cast of side characters and a bestiary that has grown to frankly monstrous proportions. I will say, though, while Pokémon typically opts to ride Pokémon rather than vehicles, at least they wore helmets in Yu-Gi-Oh.
25 Waiting For Yu-Gi-Oh Go!
Millions of people have fallen in love with Pokémon Go, but if you’ve managed to go the past two years without hearing about it, here’s the gist of it. Pokémon Go is a game developed by Niantic (the makers of Ingress and the much more recent Harry Potter: Wizards Unite) that puts users in the role of a Pokémon trainer using their real-world location and a little bit of augmented reality to track down the Pokémon we’ve all grown to love over the years.
Unfortunately for Yu-Gi-Oh fans, no one developed such a killer app for their game of choice. I suppose that the possibility is still there, but unlike this guy, I’m not holding my breath for Niantic’s Yu-Gi-Oh-themed battery killer.
24 Maybe Leave The Bike At Home
I briefly mentioned earlier that someone decided that what a card game about wielding the power of ancient Egyptian deities needed to spice things up was motorcycles. While Pokémon Go won’t even let you use the app if you’re driving, Yu-Gi-Oh decided to have an entire series about riding a motorcycle at Mach speeds while summoning the ancient prisoner, Exodia the Forbidden One.
That is, of course, if you can manage to draw all five cards and play them before running a red light or missing your exit.
To demonstrate just how ridiculous this idea is, this meme shows us how doing the same thing with Pokémon would look. Despite the advantage of not having to worry about the wind blowing away your cards, it still seems like you may want to leave the bike at home.
23 Immortality Is Overrated
I’ll admit that the fact that Pokémon’s Ash should by all rights be a bit older than he looks hasn’t gone unnoticed by fans. In fact, some fantastic theories have been spawned trying to explain just why Ash hasn’t aged. You have to admit that it is a bit odd, especially considering his ever-changing cast of sidekicks. Do they get replaced after they notice the oddity of the show? It may bring to mind when Bobby from An Extremely Goofy Movie mentioned that it was weird that they all always wear gloves. Anyone familiar with the movie may know that he stopped appearing in films after that social faux pas. Yu-Gi-Oh avoids this problem entirely by seemingly never even referring to their previous protagonists. In many ways, I feel like that is the proper way to write a spin-off.
22 Pikachu Flinched!
I won’t be the first, and I won’t be the last to point out that Pokémon goes for a much cuter, cartoony vibe than Yu-Gi-Oh. As a result, seeing the creatures of the different properties next to each other can be a bit jarring, to say the least. The lead of Pokémon journeys the various regions of the world with his adorable electric rat. Pikachu is wonderful for marketing and merchandising.
But it certainly looks silly when next to the various dragons and literal gods of the Yu-Gi-Oh universe.
While I’m not saying that Pikachu would lose this fight, there is a size advantage here! I don’t think that Yugi will have to put much of anything in defense position. Let’s just hope that it’s remarkably weak against electric-type.
21 Rayquaza Didn't
Okay. In all honesty, maybe pitting the main character’s literal starting Pokémon against such a beast. In short, Pikachu isn’t exactly the toughest Pokémon (when it comes to looks, anyway.) It didn’t have to be since it was only one out of 150 or 151 (depending on which Pokédex you use). In the ever-growing list of Pokémon, we are getting more and more cute rodents, ice cream cones, and piles of refuse.
Don’t let that fool you into thinking that we aren’t also getting massive biblical beasts capable of destroying and creating entire worlds. I’d be a lot more interested to see this matchup, but where Ash swaps out Pikachu for Rayquaza. If Yugi has a problem with that, at least he can take solace in knowing that Rayquaza is a dragon type, which is weak against other dragons.
20 Something Seems Familiar
Growing up, if you were one of the kids that watched Yu-Gi-Oh, you either asked your parents for a Duel Disk every year or you already owned one. In the show, they enabled people to play the game without a dedicated arena by projecting holograms of building-sized monstrosities. In real life, however, they just spun a bit and eventually stopped snapping together in the middle.
But in Mattel’s defense, I’m not saying that this was subpar craftsmanship so much as I am saying that maybe we were a bit rough with toys.
Needless to say, seeing a Pokémon that looks like it’s wearing a KaibaCorp mas production disk (oops, I mean, “I have no idea which version”) seems a bit silly. Think of it as a precursor to the Pokémon/Yu-Gi-Oh crossover that we’ve all been waiting for!
19 One Appealing Monster
Remember when I mentioned that Yu-Gi-Oh and Pokémon had a bit of a difference in their art styles? This is a prime example. While Pokémon has a few designs that lean more humanoid like Mewtwo and Gardevoir, none take it to quite the extremes that Dark Magician and his female counterpart do.
While it’s easy to say that the look of a monster in a kids’ show is the most distressing thing about this, I would say that this isn't the weird part. I would say that it is that the characters force some very human characters into fights with dragons, deities, and a pot with a terrifying face on it. A lot of people have vocalized their thoughts on the rather unsettling concept of finding animals and battling them. However, I’ve never heard anyone debate the morality of Yu-Gi-Oh.
18 Feeling Left Out?
After a little bit of fawning over Dark Magician Girl, I think it’s fair that we throw a bit of shade at Yu-Gi-Oh. I suppose this may be a bit just because of the time since Yu-Gi-Oh hasn’t had an entry in the series since 2014 and Digimon just released a game in 2016, but there are some people that are surprisingly unaware of Yu-Gi-Oh in 2018.
Putting aside popularity based on nostalgia, both Digimon and Pokémon seem to be doing a lot more to stay relevant.
Heck, I already spent a paragraph talking about just how explosive Pokémon GO has been for fans of the series and lovers of mobile games alike. Yu-Gi-Oh just isn’t drawing the same attention these days.
17 Basic Arithmetic
This meme shows us that while Yu-Gi-Oh is falling behind in popularity, it will always hold a special place in the hearts of its fans. I’ve heard people refer to Magic: The Gathering as the replacement to Yu-Gi-Oh, which is ironic because Magic: The Gathering is actually over half a decade older.
Fans compare the three all the time, citing the heavily stylized character design of Pokémon and similar game mechanics to Magic: The Gathering. Unlike the previous meme, this one shows that the three can exist together with fans liking all of them. While I’m not trying to sound like a hippie, I will say that we often focus on what divides us in the fiction we enjoy, but it’s nice to see a meme that shows that the differences are much more minor.
16 Excuse You?
We like to talk about our fan bases being the biggest or the best. Sometimes, we have to admit that some people simply have no idea what we’re banging on about when we are riffing on about why our choice is obviously better because it just is.
While it may come as a bit of a shock after we tear ourselves away from the conventions, television screens, and card games, not everyone picks a fandom or two. I suppose that it’s their loss, though. On the bright side, you can give the sweet Mewtwo quote from Pokémon, The Movie: Mewtwo Strikes Back and claim that it was something you came up with on the spot. If you’re the humbler type, I suppose that you could also be honest and use it to convince them to check it out.
15 A Minor Commitment
I know that I said that you could use the quote to get someone interested in the properties, but keep in mind that some things may prove to be a harder sell. Shows and movies can have long-running and complex stories that can take seasons to get caught up or even interested in. On the other hand, games have come a long way and now have features that are adorable.
In newer generations of the games, people can feed, pet, and even ride Pokémon.
This can be a much easier sell than encouraging them to watch a half of a decade’s worth of a television show before it even gets entertaining. Though, it wouldn’t be fair to skip over the fact that a season of television can last an evening for some people with the advent and prevalence of Netflix in recent years.
14 Everyone Has A Preference
On the opposing side of people’s interest in the properties, some people are remarkably intense about their game of choice. There are some sites where you can’t go to the second page of the forums without rampant debates between various properties. On the other hand, this meme also demonstrates the comparison above between Yu-Gi-Oh’s Duel Monsters and Pokémon’s Pocket Monsters can use extremely selective samples to make it look either really balanced or unbalanced.
It’s honestly surprising that we don’t see the massive Pokémon variants in a lot of memes. After all, let’s just think about the sheer number of games in the series that task the player character with breaking up a fight between what are basically kaiju. Where's the Godzilla vs. Mothra and Pokémon crossover that we’ve all been demanding for an entire sentence?!
13 A Quick Side-By-Side
I’ve mentioned before that the design of the various Pokémon can lean a bit silly (heck, Ditto, Grimer, and Muk are literal puddles of goo), but seeing them next to the larger-than-life monsters from the Digimon and Yu-Gi-Oh franchises can make them look absolutely ridiculous! Let’s look at this image as a whole, shall we? The most powerful looking Pokémon here is Feraligatr (sorry, Roserade fans).
But even it doesn’t look like much compared to the bottom-right monster, Beaver Warrior, which is exactly what it sounds like.
I understand that most Pokémon aren’t going to have swords and shields, but you can’t tell me that it’s because they don’t want weapons in the franchise. Honedge and its evolutions are Doublade and Aegislash, the latter of which is a sword with a shield of its own!
12 Something Seems Familiar
Sometimes, Pokémon and Yu-Gi-Oh get really creative with their monsters like the initial’s Deoxys and the latter’s Time Wizard. Other times, we get a snake that uses cobra or snake spelled backward for its name. It’s understandable that they would eventually have to revert to more simplistic designs, but come on! Ekans and Arbok were first generation.
If we are to make this fairer, a lot of Pokémon have designs that are very heavily based on animals, some of which don’t even throw an elemental twist into the mix like Pikachu and Charmander. I suppose you could argue that making it poison type is doing this, then making Rattata normal type is throwing an elemental twist on it. In their defense, I suppose that snakes in the real world are venomous rather than poisonous.
11 It's All About Perspective
As I’ve already mentioned, Pokémon tend to be animals with an elemental theme to them. As a result, the show tends to focus on children with rats that can conjure lightning storms and lizards that can breathe fire. While these are quite a bit more dangerous than our pet rats and lizards, they pale in comparison to the fearsome designs of some of the monsters in Yu-Gi-Oh.
The first Pokémon movie was the payoff of the build-up that the anime gave all of us.
After seeing increasingly massive monsters battling, we finally saw the dragon that we’d been hearing about. Yu-Gi-Oh, on the other hand, showed Yugi’s grandfather getting taken and even turned to stone so that the villain could steal the rare Blue Eyes White Dragon within the span of the very first episode.
10 Throwback Thursday
Have you ever been watching the original Yu-Gi-Oh and thought that the voices of Seto Kaiba and Brock sounded similar? Fans that dabbled in both shows may already know this, but both characters were voiced in the English dub by the American voice actor and musician Eric Stuart.
As a side note, more observant fans may be aware that he also voiced Team Rocket’s male half, James (I suppose he is only 33% if we count Meowth). It’s definitely odd the first time that you realize that a show is using a voice actor with which you are familiar. Personally, I noticed it first while watching 6Teen and Total Drama Island. The other thing that this meme points out is the remarkable difference in the characters. The contrast between the flirtatious Brock and the serious Kaiba only emphasizes Eric Stuart’s voice acting skills.
9 No Mega-Evolution?
Now, I’m not sure if you’ve noticed this yet or not, but the folks who decide on the next Yu-Gi-Oh designs sure seem to have a thing for dragons. The dragons in Pokémon vary from the sky serpent Rayquaza to the Dragon Tales-esque Dragonite and the absolutely famous Charizard.
Contrarily, the many, many Yu-Gi-Oh dragons seem to follow a very similar design and switch up the palette.
This hasn’t gone unnoticed by the users of Reddit, who pointed out that the dragons of Yu-Gi-Oh use a design that is pretty consistent with what we think of as a dragon without deviating too much from that formula. Most of the variations of dragons in Yu-Gi-Oh just change it to blank eyes blank dragon. To be fair, though, Yu-Gi-Oh occasionally uses designs that look significantly more like dinosaurs.
8 No Big Deal, I Suppose
Remember earlier when I mentioned that the very first episode of Yu-Gi-Oh got remarkably dramatic very quickly? The folks at Dorkly thought so as well with a meme demonstrating the idea that losing a card game might be a bit costlier than a few bucks and a long set of dialog boxes from Nurse Joy.
If you slowly find yourself hating Nurse Joy in inverse proportion to how much you love your emulator’s fast-forward feature, keep in mind that Yugi had things a bit rougher than that. A new viewer’s introduction to Yu-Gi-Oh is an abrupt shift from cute card game to battle of the gods over the soul of Yugi’s grandfather. While this may be a bit of a wall for first-time viewers, there are happier times coming down the road, but we’ll get back to that!
7 It's In The Details
I think it’s important to point out that there are two major statements that this meme is making. The first and more obvious one is the fact that the legendary Pokémon of the games Pokémon Black and Pokémon White share some rather big similarities with two of the most famous Duel Monsters.
The other point that this demonstrates is that Pokémon was able to do something that we don’t see Yu-Gi-Oh do very often.
This meme shows us that you can keep the key factors of the design without making it look like just another shiny snake with legs. I want to reiterate that it isn’t that we never see more creative dragon design choices than “make it shinier,” or “give it more limbs,” just that we normally get variants like what we saw in the Charizard meme up above.
6 A Fair Matchup
Are you tired of me saying that the designs we find in Pokémon look pretty silly next to the ones found in Yu-Gi-Oh? Well, I’m going to say it at least one more time. I know that this meme demonstrates a pretty similar point to an earlier meme on the list, but that was before I talked about the first episode of Yu-Gi-Oh.
I know that it seems unfair to compare Osiris to a Pokémon that was a starter in the games and the anime series. But while Ash was handling the training wheels of Pokémon, Yugi was destroying what basically equated to kaiju. Imagine if the very first episode of Pokémon showed Ash catching the three legendary birds. Each show has a unique personality that allows people to experience both without feeling as if they're retreading too much ground.
5 A Lack Of Originality
Mega-Evolutions are a pretty new mechanic of the Pokémon games, allowing them temporary access to a form what was previously considered to be their final form. We’ve compared Charizard’s character design to various Duel Monsters, but come on!
It would be one thing if Charizard was already black with red eyes, but they changed the entire palette for this one.
Seemingly every other mega-evolution changes very little, only adding an extra flower to Venosaur’s head or combining the cannons on Blastoise’s back. While I’m not throwing any accusations or even saying that there was some heavy inspiration, but it is pretty funny that the color scheme is exactly the same as the one for the Duel Monster Red-Eyes Black Dragon. In Charizard’s defense, however, Red-Eyes Black Dragon doesn’t breathe blue fire.
4 A Simple Spark
Does anyone else remember when Marvel fans were shocked in 2016 when they went to the theaters to see that the primary conflict between Captain America and Iron Man in Captain America: Civil War was their preference in card games?
Maybe that isn’t exactly true, but as fans of the two franchises will know, preferences between the two properties can cause rather strong divides! Basically, all I’m saying is that I want to see who would win in a battle royale that consisted of the Avengers, at least one generation of Pokémon, and a few Duel Monsters for good measure. Some ridiculous crossovers have occurred with Marvel before, so I don’t believe it is that unlikely. If Archie can get a crossover with The Punisher, why can’t Yu-Gi-Oh and Pokémon?
3 A Difference In Complexity
While this would come as no shock for anyone who has played a game of Yu-Gi-Oh and a Pokémon game, Pokémon focuses pretty heavily on making a simple user experience that focuses on RPG elements rather than complex card strategy.
I’m not directly claiming that Pokémon is inherently easier.
But it certainly is a less daunting task to learn how to use four attacks or to decide to run or use an item. A round of Yu-Gi-Oh consists of several unique stages where you must decide to draw, whether you should place them face up or face down, and whether they should be placed in attack or defense positions. Having so many little nuances to the game doesn’t mean that it is harder, but it certainly means that it may take a bit longer to be able to understand the strategies.
2 Did It For The Vine
You can’t tell me that this exact conversation hasn’t happened at board meeting deciding the next generation of Pokémon. Expanding beyond Pokémon and Yu-Gi-Oh, you’ve got to imagine that people in management positions in the entertainment industry have to deal with people pointing out the similarities with similar properties pretty frequently. I’d be amazed if you told me that during the production of Pixar’s Coco, not a single soul made comments about the similar themes between it and Reel FX Creative Studio’s The Book of Life.
A lot of people have been very vocal about Coco using similar subject matter despite the fact that the movies had different stories, messages, and even art styles. Does that comparison sound like any other properties you’ve heard of before? Perhaps two that I’ve been talking about for almost 4,000 words?
1 Some Different Algebra
If there is one thing to take away from this list, it’s that we might not be all that different. It’s fun to say that the competitors to the shows we watch and the games we play are cheap knock-offs of the ones that we hold dear. Can both sides be right?
Why do we keep watching shows with similar themes and concepts?
What is drawing us to keep watching palette swaps of the same things over and over? It’s because they work. Shows do what they do because we watch them. We watch them because we like what they do. It’s a cycle that demonstrates that our interests can overlap. If that’s too positive of a note to end on, take solace in the fact that the people who don’t like your game are just some nerds that don’t get it!