Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal – Vol. 1 by Shin Yoshida and Naohito Miyoshi (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

May 24, 2013 by  

“Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal” is a manga series with card battles that young fans and even older fans may enjoy.  Featuring likeable characters and a cool gaming card battle concept, if you are a fan of card gaming and also a “Yu-Gi-Oh!” fan, “Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal” is recommended!

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Image courtesy of © 2010 Kazuki Takahashi, Shin Yoshida, Naohito Miyoshi. All Rights Reserved.

MANGA TITLE: Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal – Vol. 1

STORY AND ART BY: Shin Yoshida and Naohito Miyoshi


PUBLISHED IN USA BY: VIZ Media, LLC/Shonen Jump Manga

RATED: T for Teen

RELEASE DATE: June 5, 2012

In a futuristic city, augmented reality Duels are all the rage. Duelists, using devices called D-Gazers, can interact with their environment and their opponents as never before. With more awesome monsters and unbelievable cards, the future of Yu-Gi-Oh! starts right here!


No one loves Dueling more than Yuma Tsukumo, but unfortunately for him, no one is worse at it either! This isn’t going to stop Yuma from trying, though. When Yuma calls on the memory of his parents during the Duel, a strange being called Astral appears, and the encounter is the start of Yuma’s amazing Duel journey!

In 1996, Kazuki Takahashi would create a manga series about card games known as “Yu-Gi-Oh!”. Wanting to create a battle manga that was unique and not about fighting and a fan of tabletop role-playing games, Takahashi did not imagine how popular the series would be among fans worldwide.

With the original manga serialized in Sept. 1996 through 2004, the games have been popular among anime, manga and of course, the card gaming fans in America and also around the world. The series would spawn off various series (featuring manga adaptations by other artists/writers) such as “Yu-Gi-Oh! GX” (2005-2011), “Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D’s” (2008-2011) and most recently with “Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal” (2011-2012).

And now “Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal” is now released in America courtesy of Viz Media.

What is “Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal”?

“Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal” continues the card battling theme that the original series was most popular for. First featured in 2010 and then later serialized on “V Jump” magazine in 2011, the fourth “Yu-Gi-Oh!” series has received an anime adaptation and is currently airing in America on the Cartoon Network’s Saturday morning cartoon block, Toonzai, Vortexx and now on Nicktoons.

The series is set in the near future in a place called “Heartland City” and features a teenager named Yuma Tsukumo who wants to become the next “Duel Monsters” champion, but he has a while to go as he is only an amateur.

In vol. 1, we learn that Yuma is being raised by his older sister who does not like him participating in duels.  His prized possession is this necklace that his parents gave him that resembles a key.  Yuma’s parents are adventurers and during a trip, they were never heard from again.

While Yuma has a good heart, he is not good in card battles, he’s not good when he tries to “Jet” but he is persistent and keeps on trying no matter what.

One day, his friend Tetsuo (who had beaten Yuma many times in card battles), lost his deck to a rival named Shark.  Upset that Shark took Tetsuo’s deck, Yuma challenges Shark to a match. But Shark knows that Yuma doesn’t have a great deck and when he said he would battle if he has something that he cherishes most and wants to put up for a bet, Yuma thinks about his necklace but in no way, would he ever lose that.  But Shark takes it and breaks the key.

Upset about what Shark has done, the battle between both Yuma and Shark is to happen, a mysterious spirit known as Astral appears before him (no one else can see him) and gives him advice on how to win.

Astral explains that he needs Yuma’s help as he has lost all his memories, which have been transformed into 99 XYZ Monster cards known as Numbers and have been scattered all around the globe. It’s imperative they find the Numbers as duelist who possess them can gain abilities to combine their forces using the power of Zexal (the ability to combine monsters to create a more powerful monster) which can be dangerous in the wrong hands but also, each card can help bring back Astral’s memories.

While Yuma does not like to listen to Astral, Astral tries to find ways for Yuma to listen to him in battle and learn how to use the XYZ cards and also how to battle effectively.  And both know they need each other for assistance, but it all comes down to if Yuma is willing to work with Astral.  Will he?

Find out in vol. 1 of “Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal”!

The characters of “Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal”:

  • Yuma Tsukumo – The main protagonist and a boy with a never give-up attitude. Unfortunately, he is also an underachiever when it comes to school and duels. He dreams of becoming the Dual Monsters champion and he is able to work with Astral, a unknown being that assists him during battles.
  • Astral – A mysterious spirit from another plane of existence who can be seen and heard by Yuma. He has lost his memories, which have been turned into Numbers cards and scattered around the world. He is unsure of his true purpose but by working with Yuma, he hopes he can help Yuma with his battles, while Yuma helps him by acquiring numbers to help regain his memory.
  • Kotori Mizuki – Yuma’s childhood friend and classmate. She doesn’t like to duel but she has a crush on Yuma. She is very smart with computers.
  • Tetsuo Takeda – Yuma’s friend and a skilled duelist who has beaten Yuta in dueling many times before.
  • Takashi Todoroki – The class president of Yuma’s class and a friend.
  • Tokunosuke Otomeura – A kid who has been bullied as young child, it has led to him playing dirty to win duels at times.
  • Cathy – A shy girl who looks like a cat and has a crush on Yuma.


The concept of “Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal” is one that will appeal not only to fans of the original series but those who are familiar with RPG video games such as “Shin Megami Tensei” (especially the “Persona” series), as the goal is to combine monsters and in this case, using monsters and creating an overlay network via Zexal and creating something new and powerful.

Volume 1 introduces us to Yuma and Astral as both must work together in beating opponents that use Number Cards, cards that are needed for Astral to regain his memories.

But as Astral knows he needs Yuma’s help to get access to those Number Cards, for Yuma, he’s still at a point where he feels he can do everything himself, but also learning that working with Astral, who is much more knowledgeable about the card battles can give him an edge against difficult opponents.

Vol. 1 features two major battles as Yuma must take on Shark who has access to a Number card, but also a boy named Tokunosuke who has been burned by people in the past who want to hang out with him because they have an agenda (by hanging out with him, they feel they can get free Zexal cards which Tokunosuke gave to people he thought were his friends) and now Tokunosuke doesn’t know if he can trust anyone.

The manga also comes with a bonus story with a glimpse into the future for both Yuma and Astral and how their partnership is destiny.

It’s important to note that with each volume purchased of “Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal”, an exclusive card is featured. In this case, an ultra rare Kachi Kochi card is included with volume 1.

Overall, “Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal” is a manga series with card battles that young fans and even older fans may enjoy. Personally, I enjoy the complexity of the battles and the strategy of combining monsters to make one powerful but also how certain monsters are strategically used, in the case of both Yuma and Astral, and how the writers are able to present something that seems so complex, but explained in a way that it’s fascinating and interesting.

If you are a fan of card gaming and also a “Yu-Gi-Oh!” fan, “Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal” is recommended!

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