At long last we reached my favourite episodes from the Fortune Cup Arc!

Coming into this tournament, Yusei wasn’t planning on using Stardust Dragon at all because he wanted to save it for his match again Jack. However after realizing Aki is someone who is in so much pain and is being exploited by those who wants to take advantage of their power (be it Illaster or Arcadia), he didn’t go into this match just to win, but with the intention to learn more about who Aki really is, and find a way to help her. And he did so by confronting her without judgement, and understood there was still more to it.

But the part where Yusei made her face with the fact she enjoys her powers and the destruction it causes probably caught a lot of us off guard. I know I was certainly one of them when I watched this for the first time back in 2008.

And this is exactly why I adore Aki’s character so much. I love how much depth there is to her pain. She hates her powers because she has developed this twisted pleasure from the pain and destruction she inflicts onto others. Aki was so disgusted by that, she felt she shouldn’t be allowed to live. However the stronger these feelings became, the more it transformed into impulses for destruction. That is why she decided to create another version of herself she could hide behind a mask: The Black Rose Witch, who didn’t care if she enjoyed the destruction and laughed at pain.

And because of all of that, she hates herself, which is why she has settled for Divine’s so-called “guidance” and “love”. And that hurts, a lot since we know how much of a manipulative bastard that guy is, especially after seeing how he works his way to further break her trust in others, and certainly doesn’t want her to make contact with outsiders either. It is all about keeping her under their control. (Speaking of which, I scoffed when Divine goes on about wanting Aki to show the world her “true powers” and he promises that the jeers would turn to cheers. Pray to tell, how does inflicting fear onto others lead to cheers? Basically what he is really saying is that he wants to instill fear into society to the point they are too afraid to speak ill of them.)

So when Yusei comes along and tells her there is hope to start over, and that he knows there is a version of her who doesn’t approve her joy of inflicting pain and terror onto others, it is such a stark contrast to everything she has been experiencing up until this point. He is like this light, or in this case, her “Star” who is there to help guide her home again. He is the one who is actively encouraging her to face herself, think for herself so she can finally come to love herself.

Even though Aki was a tough nut to crack, Yusei was able to succeed of reaching her heart to the extent of getting to know the vulnerable side of her she has kept locked away all this time. The fact she cried and even uttered the words, “help me”, is a huge feat in itself. Had Divine not swooped in to escort her off stage and to minimize further contact between the two of them, I have no doubt Yusei would have rushed over to her. (Whether she would have allowed him to get close to her immediately afterwards can be left to debate).

But man, after having a two days break from pain, Yusei was put through the ringer once again with Aki’s psychic onslaught. It kind of made me wonder which is worse, Rose Tentacles or the detention center’s Electric Chains? It’s basically pick your poison, but I suppose apart from being stabbed by thorns and thrown into ground, one would probably better off with wounding up with broken bones than being electrocuted to death. However apart from that, I would say Yusei got off a lot better than Aki’s previous opponents (especially Kodo who I would argue was wounded the most throughout the match).

Nevertheless, Yusei knew what he was in store for, but he didn’t waver. In fact, rather he straight up told her to throw everything at him so she could send out all of her sadness, and proceeds to use Victim Sanctuary.

It doesn’t matter how many times I watch this scene, the moment when Stardust Dragon embraces not just Black Rose Dragon, but the pain makes me teary eyed ever time. It’s such a raw, powerful and symbolic moment, because this whole duel was never about defeating Aki for the sake of it. It was Yusei reaching out to save her, to let her know she is not alone and he is willing to help her find her way back again.

This is exactly why, even to this day, these two episodes remain among some of my all-time favourites duels I have watched among the Yu-Gi-Oh! series. What always get to me is the stunning execution of the intention and its symbolic use of Stardust Dragon and Black Rose Dragon. Even though there is strategy involved, even the actions of their engagement carried so much meaning. The stubbornness from both sides, Aki having Black Rose Dragon retreat to come back with the intention to deliver an even stronger punch, only to be denied once more, and sure enough, what happens? The pain from the mark that has plagued her all this time begins to fade. Talk about a poetic conclusion to their duel.

While the interaction between Yusei and Aki was the naturally main focus, it is really important not to forget Luca’s role in this as well. Unlike her brother, she isn’t about to run her mouth and most of all she recognizes like Yusei, she sensed Aki’s pain. In fact you could say Luca was the one who helped Yusei connect the dots and understand just how the Signer Marks intimately binds them together. But what he also recognized was another common distinction. They are all victims of being they are being used, either by Illaster (Godwin, who went on to say he intended to use Aki as one of his own assassins to draw out Yusei’s potential as a Signer) and Arcadia who seek to take advantage of their power.

In fact, now that Arcadia has been thrown into the mix, we actually got to see things from their perspective. Divine claims the Crimson Dragon is the symbol of evil that force the world to kneel before it. But considering they are a dodgy organization I am not taking anything they say for granted. Godwin is obviously a shady motherfucker, so I naturally I take everything he has saying with a grain of salt too. After-all, it would be foolish to believe whatever he plans to do is purely out of the goodness of his heart to protect the world from evil.

Last but not last, the audience for this particular match was quite disturbing. They were ruthless, and that pan shot of their expression of their hatred was so eerie, it gave me the shivers. It highlighted the ugly side where one minute they scorn Yusei for being a resident from Satellite, and the next they cheer for him because they hate the Black Rose Witch even more. However while the crowd continued to sneer at Aki, a lot of the folks on Yusei’s side of the stadium finally wised up and evacuated the area. While Yusei did his best to minimizing the impact to the audience, there was only so much he could do.

Next time, it’s time for the “official” match against Jack and Yusei! It’s gonna be an explosive one alright!


Blogging Anime since Summer 2009, & Founder of AngryAnimeBitches Anime Blog ...I may or may not be addicted to writing

This Post Has One Comment

  1. DMaster

    Gods, what will you think of their rematch…or the other named characters Divine has wronged…

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