Yu-Gi-Oh Duel Links 7th annivesary
Image via Konami

Going Through the Best of the Yu-Gi-Oh Anime 

Yu-Gi-Oh is a storied franchise that debuted in Weekly Shonen Jump in 1996. The late Kazuo Takahashi, writing under the pen name, Kazuki Takahashi, built the foundation. While the first run of Yu-Gi-Oh follows a young Yugi Muto as he plays a Magic: The Gathering sort of game, the series has gone on to tell the tales of others as well. However, some of these Yu-Gi-Oh anime adaptations are better than others. (And yes, many of them are streaming on services like Crunchyroll.)

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8. Yu-Gi-Oh! Sevens 

Yu-Gi-Oh Duel Links Sevens
Image via Konami

Airing from April 4, 2020 – March 27, 2022, Yu-Gi-Oh: Sevens serves as a 20th anniversary for the original anime. Elementary student, Yuga Ohdo invents Rush Duel because Master Duel (the original card game) is too complicated for kids. We follow Yuga as he battles under these new sets of rules for Duel Monsters while evading the controlling Goha Corp. 

Yu-Gi-Oh! Sevens is an underwhelming anniversary season meant to target a new audience for the long running franchise. However, under the new rules, the card game is still too intricate for younger audiences and alienates the existing one. 

7. Yu-Gi-Oh! Go Rush!!

Yu-Gi-Oh Go Rush Official Art
Image courtesy of Studio Dice/Shueisha, TV Tokyo, Konami

Serving as a prequel and sequel for Yu-Gi-Oh: Sevens, Yu-Gi-Oh: Go Rush goes galactic with season protagonist Yudias. Twin siblings Yuhi and Yuamu Ohda come into contact with this alien from the Velgear Star Cluster. The twins teach the alien the rules of Rush Duel. After being chased from his home, Yudias believes Rush Duel can be his salvation. 

Yu-Gi-Oh: Go Rush improves on what Yu-Gi-Oh: Sevens tries to do with introducing Rush Duels. Go-Rush doesn’t have the burden of introducing an alternate way of playing an existing game. Given that people are more familiar with rules of the game, the anime focuses on the story rather than explaining. 

6. Yu-Gi-Oh! Arc-V 

Yu-Gi-Oh Arc-V
Image via Konami

Yu-Gi-Oh: Arc-V is the fifth series of the anime that aired between April 6, 2014 and March 26, 2017. Yuya Sakaki, the protagonist of Arc-V, studies at You Show Duel School in order to become an entertainment Duelist. The premise of Arc-V involves travelling to different dimensions where various summoning mechanics like Fusion, Synchro, XYZ, Pendulum, and Ritual are the primary summoning technique. 

5. Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal 

Yu-Gi-Oh Yuma
Image via Konami

Yuma Tsukamu takes the lead in Yu-Gi-Oh: Zexal during its runtime from April 11, 2011 – March 23, 2014. Compared to other main protagonist in the series up to this installment, which is streaming on Crunchyroll, Yuma is the only one not naturally gifted at Duel Monsters. He loses constantly, but his love for the game makes him never give up. While dreaming, he comes into contact with a being from an alternate dimension, Astral. Astral and Yuma partner up to hunt down the Numbers which contain Astral’s lost memories. 

4. Yu-Gi-Oh! GX 

Yu-Gi-Oh Jaden Yuki
Image via Konami

As the first follow-up to Yu-Gi-Oh: Duel Monsters, Yu-Gi-Oh: GX is one of the strongest spin-offs on this list of best anime adaptations of the game and series. It follows Jaden Yuki (Judai Yuki in Japan) as he navigates dorm life at the Duel Academy. He places at the lowest rank of three dorms as a resident of Slifer Red. Each dormitory is named after the Egyptian God Cards: Slifer Red (Slifer the Sky Dragon), Ra Yellow (The Winged Dragon of Ra), and Obelisk Blue (Obelisk the Tormentor). Seeing as Seto Kaiba is the founder of Duel Academy, it makes sense as to why Slifer Red sits at the bottom. 

3. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS 

Yu-Gi-Oh Duel Links VRAINS
Image via Konami

Konami attempted to bring back the dark tone of Yu-Gi-Oh: Duel Monsters with Yu-Gi-Oh: VRAINS. The short-lived series sees Yusaku Fujiki battle in a virtual reality network called LINK VRAINS as he tries to figure out his past. 

The story of Yu-Gi-Oh: VRAINS definitely does what it sets out to do. The plot has themes of child abuse, loss, and other traumatic themes that are hard to find in children’s television. Though these themes are toned down to fit that young audience, the series manages to capture an older audience with characters people can relate to as well.  

2. Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D’s 

Yu-Gi-Oh Yusei
Image via Konami

Yu-Gi-Oh: 5D’s is number two on this based purely on the English theme song. Jokes aside, this Yu-Gi-Oh anime has one the best plots in the franchise. It is set several years after the events of Yu-Gi-Oh: Duel Monsters and Yu-Gi-Oh: GX. This anime follows Yusei Fudo as he and his ace card, Stardust Dragon, race in a new dueling style dubbed Turbo Duels. With their dueling motorcycles called Duel Runners, Duelist entertain the people of Domino City as they compete in Grand Prix. 

This iteration of Yu-Gi-Oh has themes of poverty and all the issues associated with it. The older protagonist ilets the animation studio explore relationships in a more dramatic way. While the English opening is amazing, the story, character designs, and premise make Yu-Gi-Oh: 5D’s a close second to the best Yu-Gi-Oh series. 

1. Yu-Gi-Oh!

Yu-Gi-Oh Yami Yugi
Image via Konami

Airing from April 18, 2000 – September 29, 2004, Yu-Gi-Oh: Duel Monsters still stands above all the others in the series. Giving us iconic cards such as Dark Magician and Blue-Eyes White Dragon, it is difficult to not see Yu-Gi-Oh: Duel Monsters as the pinnacle of the franchise. When most think of Yu-Gi-Oh, more often than not they are talking about Yu-Gi-Oh: Duel Monsters. 

Starring Yugi Muto, Yu-Gi-Oh: Duel Monsters follows this timid teenager as takes on life-threatening duels with the help of an unknown Pharaoh. This Pharaoh resides in the Millennium Puzzle that Yugi solved, as he loves games. The horror themes of souls receiving eternal punishment when they are sent to the Shadow Realm provides a risk other entries in the series haven’t replicated. Yugi’s story weaves ancient Egypt, the Shadow Realm, Gods, and the power of friendship into a coherent plot for audiences of all ages. 

Yu-Gi-Oh Duel Links Millennium Puzzle
Image via Konami

If you want to watch Yu-Gi-Oh, Crunchyroll has every season up to Yu-Gi-Oh: VRAINS. Viz Media handles the original manga outside Japan.

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TreMarcus Thomas
TreMarcus is a writer that has been gaming since the Nintendo GameCube's debut. When he is not writing about video games, you can find him trying to make them if it hasn't frustrated him enough in a day. TreMarcus's favorite genres are fighting games and JRPGs. Every once in a while, you can catch him playing action-adventure games.