Early Developments of Yu-Gi-Oh! Game of Shadows

A Tribute to Kazuki Takahashi

2 min

July 15, 2023

Yu-Gi-Oh! Game of Shadows

I've been working on a short tribute short film in honor of the late Kazuki Takahashi and his incredibly influential IP: Yu-Gi-Oh!

The tribute film is called Yu-Gi-Oh! Game of Shadows.
And it covers an atmospheric journey throughout ancient Egypt and Domino City as we explore the rise of power between the past, present and future of the Shadow Realm.

Yu-Gi-Oh! Game of Shadows is truly a passion project.
It is non-profit and it's purely an expression of the love for the franchise while exploring a cinematic language I've always wanted to impose on Yu-Gi-Oh!

A set of realistic manga inspired Yu-Gi-Oh! cards. There is a Blue-Eyes White Dragon, Dark Magician and Red-Eyes Black Dragon.
Blue-Eyes White Dragon, Red-Eyes Black Dragon and Dark Magician.
Custom Designed cards for Yu-Gi-Oh! Game of Shadows.

To me the world of Yu-Gi-Oh! evokes feelings similar to that of Transcendental Cinema.
I keep drawing comparisons between the work of Kazuki Takahashi and that of filmmaker Yasujiro Ozu.

Even though these artists lived decades apart, their phenomenal ability for conveying every day life through characters makes them minds cut from the same cloth.

A lot of it comes down their eye for detail and naturalism in each of their characters. But also in their ability of telling a story through vignettes.
Each providing a little bit more context to the world. And by the end of it, you feel like you know every character inside out.

A Manga panel from Yu-Gi-Oh! by Kazuki Takahashi with Yugi Muto, Anzu, Jonouchi, Honda, Bakura and the rest.
The friends in the Yu-Gi-Oh! universe by Kazuki Takahashi.

A still from Tokyo Story by Yasujiro Ozu with the entire family sitting together.
The family in Tokyo Story (1953) by Yasujiro Ozu.

Bringing the characters of Yu-Gi-Oh! to life with all their intricate details and nuances will be a long-term project.
We are tackling this as any other project at Blauw Films. We will cover every technical challenge one by one.

For the characters this means defining their fashion and creating robust systems for recreating their outfits in 3D.

For the environments this means building out a library of modular assets for a retro-futuristic Japanese city.
Domino City will be a custom built environment. And the same goes for recreating ancient Egypt.

However, as we are talking about Yu-Gi-Oh! we cannot start without figuring out the cards.

Three Blue-Eyes White Dragon cards with a photorealistic holographic shader made in Cinema 4D and Chaos Corona. The three Yu-Gi-Oh! cards are custom and look like they are from the manga by Kazuki Takahashi.

The example render above feature the three Blue-Eyes White Dragon cards owned by Seto Kaiba.
These cards look quite different in the official Konami® Trading Card Game.

However, this look of a white card with pink stars is directly inspired on the look of the cards in the manga.

I decided on creating this custom look for the cards as an element of world-building.
If every asset in your 3D-film looks custom, the viewer will much more likely feel invested and keep paying attention.

If you want to learn about how I approached the holorgraphic foil on the cards, have a look at this blog about Holography in CGI.

But first, let's have a look at this set of early concept renders.
Each of these was rendered in Cinema 4D with Chaos Corona.
And their main intent was to explore the mood of the world of Yu-Gi-Oh!

A still from a fan tribute film Yu-Gi-Oh! Game of Shadows by Blauw Films. These are three Blue-Eyes White Dragon cards inside of the Kaiba Corp office.
Blue-Eyes White Dragon cards in the Kaiba Corp. office.

A still from the Yu-Gi-Oh! tribute film Yu-Gi-Oh! Game of Shadows by Blauw Films. This is a Dark Magician inside of the Kame Game Store.
Dark Magician inside the Kame Game Store.

A still from the Yu-Gi-Oh! tribute film. by Blauw Films Yu-Gi-Oh! Game of Shadows. This is a Red-Eyes Black Dragon 3D render set inside the apartment room of Joey Wheeler.
Red-Eyes Black Dragon in the bedroom of Katsuya Jonouchi.



As mentioned before, I took heavy inspiration from the work of Yasujiro Ozu.
Yu-Gi-Oh! Game of Shadows is inspired on the cinematographic language of Ozu films. This means that every shot will be shot and framed with a 50mm lens.

This also means that there will be graphic designed signs and details all throughout the world.
And as you can see below, I've experimented with title cards similar to those in Ozu movies.

A title card from a Yasujiro Ozu movie. This is the classic tatami mat background with Japanese typography on top.


I replaced the iconic tatami mat background for canvas filling backgrounds representing each of the three main characters from the show.

Golden hieroglyphs in an Egyptian pyramid for the Pharaoh, a hieroglyphic stone tablet behind glass in KaibaCorp. for Seto Kaiba and finally a brick wall with hieroglyphs painted on them for Katsuya Jonouchi (Joey Wheeler).

A still from the tribute film Yu-Gi-Oh! Game of Shadows of a wall of golden hieroglyphs with the Japanese Yu-Gi-Oh! logo on top.

A still from the tribute film Yu-Gi-Oh! Game of Shadows of a wall of stone with hieroglyphs with the Japanese Yu-Gi-Oh! logo on top.

A still from the tribute film Yu-Gi-Oh! Game of Shadows of a wall of brick with painted hieroglyphs with the Japanese Yu-Gi-Oh! logo on top.

And that's it for now. The next step is continuing our Research and Development on all other technical challenges to make this short film possible.
Over the next few months (or maybe even years) we will continue sharing developments on this fan film.

Would love to hear your thoughts! 

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