I got 11 volumes of Yu-Gi-Oh subs yesterday and spent... oh, about 10 hours skimming through about 112 episodes. @_@
A few thoughts on Yu-Gi-Oh after watching the subs....
(1) Why do the English subtitles often use the US dub names?
(2) Kaiba is even yummier in the sub! He's still the intense, hyper-competitive, arrogant person we all know and love, but in the subs, he's significantly less abrasive and grating. And his Japanese voice is wonderful. ::purrrr::
(3) Kaiba is obsessed with Yami. No question about it, with Kaiba calling Yami his "one true rival" and admiring Yami's dueling prowess during the Battle City elimination rounds (I can't remember which one).
(4) Kaiba is a man seriously in denial about his past, and I'm not talking about his childhood (although goodness knows he has issues with that, too). Even when he's experienced various supernatural events first-hand, Kaiba still doggedly tries to deny the existance of things mystical... ESPECIALLY the possibility of reincarnation and a certain ancient Egyptian High Priest. Poor baby. ::cautiously patting a grumpy Kaiba:: Maybe that dogged denial makes the times when Kaiba freaks out over flashbacks to Ancient Egypt and his past life even more entertaining. I particularly liked the pivotal moment when he stops in mid-attack during his duel with Isis (Malik's sister) when he decides to use the Blue Eyes White Dragon instead of the Obelisk God Card and the little scene when Kaiba has the terrifying realization that he can actually read the ancient script on the Ra God Card. ^_^
(4) Malik's Japanese voice is ssssoooo much nicer than his US dub voice, which makes nails on a chalkboard sound good. Bleah!
(5) Why do US dubbers seem to feel so uncomfortable with the concept of the "honorable rival"? What's so difficult to understand about the idea of two people being fierce opponents, yet capable of respecting, even admiring, the other's abilities? But nooo, the dubbers seem to feel obliged to bastardize the main character's opponent to make it perfectly clear to us poor feeble-minded viewers that the opponent is --BAD--. That's what happened to poor Kougaiji in the first US volume of Saiyuki. ::death glare:: In Yu-Gi-Oh, the changes are not so blatant, but once I saw the subs, I could see how the dubbers subtlely (and not so subtlely) skewed things. ::fume::
(6) Yes, I know that friendship and teamwork are important themes in Yu-Gi-Oh, but there's no reason to keep beating the viewers over the head with them! And at the same time, the themes of the "heart of the true duelist" (Yu-Gi-Oh's variant of 'the way of the warrior') gets badly downplayed or deemphasized. ::sigh::
(7) I'm developing a distinct appreciation for Yami Bakura, especially in that episode when he goes hunting for enough locator/map cards to get to the Battle City finals. I especially loved the scene when he's looking for someone to duel and some punk talks back to him. Major mistake! ::cackle:: The way that Y-Bakura grabs the guy's shirt and glares at him -- pure intimidation! I haven't fully watched all the episodes, but my general impression that while Yami Bakura and Ryou don't have the sort of close friendship/partnership that Yami and Yugi have, Yami Bakura doesn't seem outrageously abusive toward Ryou. Ruthless, when necessary, yes. But I don't see any evidence that he hurts Ryou strictly for his own amusement. Others, maybe, but not Ryou. Hmmmm....