Niall is not only a good singer, he’s also an amazing musician and songwriter. He’s such a talented artist, and he deserves all the praise and recognition for his work. I’m so so so proud of him and I’m excited to see him conquering the world with his music and his charm
Is Yu-Gi-Oh! a story about a bunch of teenage kids who happen to play a card game? Or is it a story told through its card games? One thing I love about Yu-Gi-Oh! Is the way the duels do their fair share of carrying the story.
I think this is especially true for Kaiba. He communicates through his cards. From Death-T onwards, Kaiba frames the duels he participates in and observes as a test of competing philosophies. He uses duels to help him understand what he needs to do to move forward and to gauge whether he’s on the right track to reach his goals. Yami no Yugi matches him in this belief – and that turns their duel at Alcatraz into an increasingly urgent conversation and debate about all the things Kaiba is struggling with in his life in his drive to reach the future he wants.
Kaiba is very clear about the stakes in this duel.
One of the things that makes Kaiba so heartbreaking is that he recognizes that something is wrong… he knows that as much as he desperately wants a future that’s different from his past, something inside himself keeps preventing him from grasping it. To his enormous credit, Kaiba doesn’t shy away from or dismiss this realization. Instead he embraces it with a sincerity that’s obvious no matter how wrong headed (and at times jaw-droppingly inappropriate) each extravagant plan becomes.
Unlike most of the characters – and much of the fandom – Yami never suggests that there is anything maladaptive (not to mention flat-out ridiculous) about the deadly earnestness with which Kaiba approaches his duels or the deep emotional stakes he places on them. If anything, Yami more than matches him in this regard, and it is this shared belief in their duels and their cards that makes their matches so charged.
Alcatraz is Kaiba’s duel, the duel that he has pursued with increasing desperation throughout Battle City and Yami allows Kaiba to define its meaning.
At one point in his life, Kaiba needed every single destructive quality – his anger, his hatred, his refusal to trust anyone or consider any point of view but his own – to survive… only to have those same qualities end up being the very things preventing him from reaching the future he wants. And it becomes painfully obvious he’s trying to use the weapons he honed under Gozaburo to escape his adoptive father’s influence, because that’s all he knows.
This can’t work. And some part of Kaiba knows this. He’s said or thought at least twice when with Yami that winning only provides temporary relief. He even acknowledges that scoring a direct victory over Gozaburo didn’t help bring the changes he’d hoped for.
But because aggression, competition and winning is all he knows, Kaiba keeps chasing after another, purer victory, one that will finally work. Yami recognizes the futility of what Kaiba is doing, and tries, with increasing urgency, to knock Kaiba off a path that is never going to lead to the destination he wants.
There’s a reason that this duel is titled “As a Friend.” Yami is acting as a friend here, trying to help Kaiba reach his own goals. And you can feel Yami’s frustration at Kaiba’s single-minded insistence in following a course that Yami can see is going nowhere – as well as his determination to prove to Kaiba he needs to find a better way in a confrontation that has turned painful for them both.
But words aren’t going to do it and Yami knows that. Kaiba is someone who has been lied to and manipulated throughout his entire life, someone who has been abandoned, betrayed or abused by every single person that he should have been able to expect help from. He’s never going to believe in mere words. But Kaiba does put his faith in duels and their outcomes. So Yami speaks to Kaiba in the language that Kaiba himself has chosen for this conversation; he speaks to Kaiba through his cards.
A lot of attention, and rightly so, has been placed on the importance of Jounouchi’s Red Eyes Black Dragon card and the way it gives Yami the victory, but the one that gets to me is the Spell card that sets up that win. Yami has spent the entire duel trying to tell Kaiba that his own anger and hatred are strangling his future before it can be born. And then Yami underscores this message in the only way he can, the only way that has a chance of getting Kaiba to listen.
Kaiba has build his dragons into an unstoppable force; they are the expression of his rage and hatred. Yami cries out passionately, trying to get through to Kaiba that he’s trapping himself within his own hatred in his search for freedom, that instead of deliberately feeding his anger until it swallows everything else, Kaiba must, for his own sake, find a way to defuse it instead.
And then… this is the card Yami plays against Kaiba’s ultimate dragon, the ultimate expression of Kaiba’s anger.
He plays a card that’s literally named De-fusion.
It’s not often a duel has a mic drop moment, but for me, this is it.
And as much as Kaiba lashes out at Yami, he also returns again and again throughout the rest of Alcatraz to consider the meaning of both this duel and Yami’s subsequent one against Malik – and ultimately Kaiba comes to accept their message.
I think it’s significant that Kaiba’s reflection on his duel with Yami ends with a rare, genuine smile.
i doodled this while listening to “beauty school dropout” on repeat b/c frankie avalon’s voice is orgasmic(but thats besides the point, huh………)
i’ll probs go with football lance ultimately b/c i want to (lol) but i felt like it was necessary to draw him in the og sandy cheer uniform at LEAST once,,
anyway this au is going to kill me and im going to fucking let it