Yu-Gi-Oh! has gotten more critical censorship than almost other anime that made its way overseas. Completely redirected and rebranded by 4Kids Entertainment as a kids' show about merchandisable trading cards, the watered-down content American television watchers were exposed to basically made Yu-Gi-Oh! an entirely different anime. With Yu-Gi-Oh! censored in America, like Sailor Moon before it, every ounce of mature content, gore, skin, and even entire seasons were deemed inappropriate.
Unfortunately, these compelling elements had to be abandoned to make the series a more wholesome experience for Western children. Poor Yugi and friends never stood a chance as soon as executives figured out that making trading cards is basically like printing money. Yu-Gi-Oh! eventually made it to the long list of anime censored in the US, leaving audiences with a Frankensteined hybrid of psychologically horrifying, occult Japanese anime and children's daytime TV.
Real Saw Blades Were Changed To "Dark Energy Disks"
This entire scene was initially really messed up, until 4Kids got their hands on it. The Shadow Realm that 4Kids made up in order to mask people's deaths did a lot of heavy lifting in the series. For example, in the original anime, the loser of a particular duel between Yugi and Arkana was to meet their end via deadly saw blade.
Instead, Arkana's deadly metal saw blades were transformed into "Dark Energy Disks." Whoever touched them first was to be sent to the Shadow Realm, instead of having their legs butchered at the shins by a rotating saw.
They Cleaned Up Pegasus's Brutal Eye Replacement
The backstory behind Maximillion Pegasus's Millennium Eye was tragic, especially for children. It was even more psychologically damaging, however, in the original Japanese version. In Episode 40, after Pegasus's presumed death, we see a flashback that details how he obtained the ancient treasure. Shadi actually shoves the golden Millennium Eye into ol' Peggy's open eye socket, leaving his face a bloody mess. In America, all the blood was edited out.
Dark Magician Girl's Pentacle Was RemovedVideo: YouTube
Since any hint at paganism would be simply too much for young American audiences to digest, the pentacle placed in the center of Dark Magician Girl's chest was completely removed. Instead, it was replaced with a subtle ruby, drawing no more attention to Dark Magician Girl's already reduced bust than necessary.
Scenes Of Marik Torturing Mai Were Completely Replaced
During a Battle City tournament, Mai Valentine and Marik Ishtar dueled it out in a heated battle of the decks. Marik's deck was mostly comprised of torture devices, and that terrifying fact had to be covered up when the anime made its way overseas. In the original series, Mai's mind was sealed away and trapped in an hourglass, living only to be tortured by Marik. Instead of mind-warping scenes featuring the top part of the hourglass getting filled with "brain insects" hungry for Mai's flesh, other elements were spliced so it seemed like Mai was just watching everyone forget who she was.