With Playmaker’s tragic final duel against the dark ignus Ai, Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS finished its third and final season back in September 2019. It was an epic and satisfying conclusion to the series, but it left fans wondering: what’s next for Yu-Gi-Oh? The finale was nice enough to tease fans with a title card at the end, celebrating the series’ 20th anniversary and announcing an unnamed seventh Yu-Gi-Oh series. At the Jump Fiesta ‘20 in December however, Konami announced that the series is called Yu-Gi-Oh! Sevens and will be released in Japan on April 4th, 2020.
Sevens is set in the not-so distant future and tells the story of Yuga Odo (voiced by Hiiro Ishibashi): a fifth-grade student at Goha Seventh Elementary. Yuga and his friends live in Goha City which is largely controlled by the mysterious and stifling “Goha Corp,” a megacorporation that controls employment, food, housing, schooling, dueling and everything in between. From the trailer we can tell that Yuga is a smart and energetic young boy, with his love for dueling matched only by his talent for invention. Yuga believes that the adult world is too cramped for him and his friends, and finds the adult style of dueling stuffy and uptight. As an individualist, Yuga feels like he needs to “follow his own road” and creates an invention that he calls “Road”. Based on the trailer it appears to be related to a new, smaller type of duel disk that unfolds into the number “7,” and Yuga plans on using this Road to introduce a new format of Duel Monsters (called Rush Duel) designed for kids like him.
As it happens, Yuga’s inventions draw the attention of one such kid: Goha Seventh Elementary’s self-proclaimed #1 Duelist Luke (voiced by Taku Yashiro). Luke informs Yuga of a rumor, calling all worthy duelists to seek the title of King of Duels. He eventually joins Yuga’s quest to popularize Rush Duels, along with their student council president Gakuto Sugetsu (voiced by Natsuki Hanae) and Yuga’s classmate Romin Kirishima (voiced by Tomori Kusunoki).
This new format called Rush Duel allows players to go all-out on their opponents from the very start of a battle. Furthermore, a new line of Rush Duel Yu-Gi-Oh TCG products will be released in Japan alongside Sevens. Konami has announced no plans to release Rush Duel products outside of Japan, but that could change depending on the popularity of this series. While we do not see enough rush duel footage in the trailer to draw any conclusions, I can speculate on what the new rules will be (in the anime) based on the rules announced for the new TCG format. First of all, players may Normal Summon/Set as many monsters as they want in a single turn. In addition if a player has less than five cards in their hand at the beginning of their draw step, they can continue to draw until they have five cards in hand. Based on these new rules (and its name), it’s safe to assume Rush Duels will have a faster pace than the Dungeon Monsters duels you’re used to.
Needless to say, many fans are hyped to see what new monsters and cards Sevens has in store for them. With the announcement at Jump Fiesta, a few important card images were released to the public. The signature card in Yuga’s deck is Seventh Road Magician, a fiery trickster mage with a cheeky grin and a trail of golden hoops. This is clearly a callback to Dark Magician, Yugi Moto’s signature card from the original series.
Luke’s main monster is named Rengeyku Dragias, and its light-typing all but confirms it as a callback to Blue-Eyes White Dragon. However, unlike Dark Magician we actually catch a glimpse of it in the Sevens trailer. Towards the end we see a man in a futuristic helmet summon Blue-Eyes White Dragon from his disk, and some have even speculated the mystery man could be Seto Kaiba himself.
Nobuhiro Kondo (Sgt. Frog) will be directing the series, with scripts overseen by Toshimitsu Takeuchi (elDlLIVE, Saint Seiya: Soul of Gold). Kazuko Tadano and Hiromi Matsushita, who both worked together on the original Sailor Moon are in charge of character design, and their strong work can already be seen in the trailer and promotional images. Hiroshi Yamamoto is the series’ sound director, and Masahiro Hikokubo will return to continue his role overseeing the duel layout.
Even before the first episode airs, we can see that Konami is making some bold decisions with the production of Sevens. In their announcement the company stated “the history of the Yu-Gi-Oh! Anime series will change!” which indicates that they intend to take the series in a new direction, likely in honor of its 20th anniversary. Notably, Konami has decided to go with Studio Bridge over Gallop, the studio that produced every previous Yu-Gi-Oh! series. Yuga is also the show’s first elementary school protagonist, and I think his character is indicative of what Konami plans to do with Sevens. His name (Yuga Oto) is a callback to Yugi Moto, as is his signature monster. However where Yugi was a timid boy, Yuga is outgoing and brash. Between this and the foreseen conflict between the young duelists and the adults of their corporate world, it seems Konami wants Sevens to be the entry point into the series for a generation of young new fans. A kind of re-start, a reimagining of what dueling can be.With VRAINS and Arc-V before it, Yu-Gi-Oh! Anime has been getting increasingly complicated, dealing with serious questions of morality and consciousness. Strange road technology aside, Sevens seems like a return to form for Yu-Gi-Oh! Anime. World-ending stakes will be put aside for the moment, and the space will be open for genuinely heartwarming and fun tales of childhood friendship, competition, and the quest to become King of Duels.