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"In a Shadow Game, your heart's weakness is what ultimately causes you to lose!"
— Dark Yugi
The original basis for the anime series, the Yu-Gi-Oh! manga by Kazuki Takahashi tells the story of Yugi Mutou, who is pulled into the world of high-stakes gaming after completing the Millennium Puzzle and awakening the Pharaoh within, gaining a darker personality known as "Dark Yugi," note often referred to as "The Other Me" or "The Other Yugi" by Yugi and his friends. The title of this manga means "Game King" in Japanese and rightfully so, as it contains a number of games — all of which happen to have at least one thing that's being wagered. These games are usually played as "Shadow Games" note 闇のゲーム, Game of Darkness, games in which the loser receives a dark punishment called a "Penalty Game" note 罰ゲーム, Batsu Game, which may or may not result in death. There is also a strong theme of friendship and unity that the author always manages to stress between the main character and his circle of friends — and also the meeting of hearts through the medium of games.The first seven volumes or so have the most variety in games; from then on, the most common game that appeared was Duel Monsters (Magic & Wizards in Japanese), which is better known as the Yu-Gi-Oh! card game, although it still acknowledged that Duel Monsters isn't the only game in existence — a stark contrast to its anime successors. Different games still appear during the "Dragons, Dice, & Dungeons" and "Millennium World" arcs of the manga (and once during Duelist Kingdom), and gaming in general is still often referred to; the modern Duel Monsters card game being a recent fad in Japan imported from the United States within the original story, rather than the only game anyone ever plays since the dawn of time.Unlike the Toei anime and second series anime, the manga begins with Yugi solving the Millennium Puzzle and ends with the Pharaoh uncovering his memories, covering a complete story with no distractions. The major arcs in the Yu-Gi-Oh! manga are as follows:
Trial of the Mind (Main Antagonist: Shadi)
Death-T (Main Antagonist: Seto Kaiba)
Monster World (Main Antagonist: Dark Bakura and Dark Master Zorc)
Duelist Kingdom (Main Antagonist: Pegasus J. Crawford)
Dragons, Dice, & Dungeons (Main Antagonist: Ryuji Otogi and his father, Mr.Clown)
Battle City (Main Antagonist: Marik/Dark Marik and his Mooks, the Ghouls)
Millennium World (split between the Shadow RPG and Ceremonial Battle sub arcs, Main Antagonist: Dark Bakura, Akhenaden, and Zorc Necrophades)
The early episodic stories found in much of the early volumes are collectively referred to as the Highschool Chapters (Gakuen Hen) by the Japanese Other Wiki.In Viz Media's edition of the manga, the stories up to Monster World are simply called Yu-Gi-Oh!, Duelist Kingdom to Battle City are called Yu-Gi-Oh! Duelist, and the rest is called Yu-Gi-Oh! Millennium World.We have a recap page for the chapters in the manga. There's also a character sheet.Naturally, the basis for the Toei anime and NAS Duel Monsters anime, both of which are very loose adaptations that vary in faithfulness. Unbeknownst to many, the manga and first anime even had their owncard game, more than◊ one◊ even. It spawned a heap of early video games by Konami that included promotional manga-faithful cards. Eventually, Konami rose to the top with their finalized version of the card game we know now, which changed things from the manga version of the card game and introduces its own cards. This also resulted in other manga games being adapted to real-life counterparts; for example, a Dungeon Dice Monsters board game and a Capsule Monster game (by Mattel), both being relatively short-lived.See also the manga adaptations of the three spin-off sequels to the Duel Monsters anime: Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds and Yu Gi Oh ZEXAL.
Seto's stepfather. One flashback panel of the manga shows him with a dog collar as a little kid while being forced into tons of strict educational regimens for the gifted under his father's strict eye - which was a regular day during his childhood. Gozaburo really did create his worst enemy.
Jonouchi's father is an alcoholic and apparently owes a lot of money in gambling debts.
Adaptation Dye-Job: In-universe example; from Ka spirits to Magic & Wizards cards. For example, as seen within the Shadow Role-Playing Game, the actual Black Magician Girl Ka spirit had brown skin. Pegasus J. Crawford painted her skin light for the Magic & Wizards monster card. He also replaced her Eye of Anubis with a pentagram.
Alternate Continuity: Despite the original Duel Monsters anime not technically diverging from the manga, many consider this to be the case with the manga and its adaptations, due to many different details and events clashing with each other that they should be treated as their own canon, such as certain characters being dead in the manga while they are alive in the anime.
Also, the original manga's universe is a little more down-to-Earth and provides a clear Suspension of Disbelief, with a few loonies obsessed with particular games, while the anime and its spinoffs' universe is truly a Duel Monsters-centric universe. The anime universe has a card game ACADEMY and a whole city ruled by card games on motorcycles, for example, and even going as far as claiming that Duel Monsters was the origin of the world by introducing a "Duel Monsters Spirit World" (and contradicting the manga's Egyptian background story at the same time). So yeah, creationism centered around a card game. Also, the anime has multiple instances of CARD GAME CULTS, in both the anime's filler and spin-offs. The treatment of Otogi's Dungeon Dice Monsters in the anime was basically "Wow! This game MIGHT be as good as Duel Monsters!" while it's just treated as just another game Yugi plays in the manga.
Tetsu Ushio (Trudge) somehow appearing completely sane in the spin-off 5Ds also clashes with what happens to him in the first chapter of the manga
Amulet of Concentrated Awesome: Yugi's Millennium Puzzle given that it has the soul of a 3,000 year old Pharaoh in it and tends to be generally badass when it takes over Yugi's body to play games. Actually, most of the Millennium Items in general fit this trope.
An Adventurer Is You: The character classes that the gang chooses for their party characters during the Monster World RPG have very archetypical gameplay roles, naturally from being based on Dungeons & Dragons
The Petmaster: Beast Tamer Yugi is able to use his magic to change an enemy creature's alignment and turn them into one of his True Companions - as long as he rolls a high enough check.
The Meat Shield: Jonouchi's Warrior character (named Joeyin the Viz translation), like his player, was in charge of the brawn and physical damage output for the party. He also had the highest HP out of all the party members.
The Nuker: Magician Anzu. Her character description as follows: Although she is still an apprentice magician, sometimes the magic she inherited from her elders is more powerful than expected. Two words: Big Bang.
The Archer: Magic Gunman Hiroto. As the name implies, he deals ranged damage with magic bullets.
Arc Words: "Something that you can see, but something that can't be seen" gets repeated quite a lot, at least early on. Originally it referred to the Sennen Puzzle, but it's used to refer to many different things since then, by slightly altering the way the line is interpreted.
Art Evolution: Check out the changes between Volume 1 and Volume 5. Jonouchi's hairstyle changes from a Leonardo DiCaprio-esque style to the signature Jonouchi style, and the general appearance of the characters changes. The Other Yugi appears increasingly less deranged and psychotic-looking. Originally Yugi was often drawn without a nose.
Their bodies also had really odd proportions at the start - so Yugi not only had no nose, but he also had HUGE HANDS and a smile that literally looked like a banana. Mocked relentlessly in LittleKuriboh's review of the first chapter.
The Kaiba brothers were also drawn rather differently at first. Kaiba was kind of short-ish in his first appearance and went on to become one of the tallest characters in the series. Mokuba was borderline Gonk.
Kazuki Takahashi was going for a Gekiga art-style in the very early chapters.
Compare Bakura's appearance in his first chapter to his appearance seven chapters later.
Take a look at the art towards the end of the story, and then look at artwork on the covers of the bunkoban edition of the manga. Kazuki Takahashi's art had visibly improved.
It actually looks similar to the artwork from the early series, but more refined. Obviously not having to draw on a manga-ka schedule has allowed Kazuki Takahashi to maintain his intended style.
Technically, with 4 items to 3, there are more benign or beneficial cases - the necklace, the key, the scales and the puzzle against the eye, the ring and the rod.
Ascended Extra: Famously, Seto Kaiba. He was originally supposed to be a one-off villain, but got promoted to main antagonist of his own arc when Kazuki Takahashi decided to have Duel Monsters make a reappearance. This role was ultimately what made him become the manga's Ensemble Darkhorse, and ultimately what makes him get another promotion as a badass recurring character during the Duel Monster-centric arcs. The two anime adaptations extends his role to Spotlight-Stealing Squad, making him even more popular by extending his significance in filler arcs and rewriting a chunk of the last arc (which is already very different from the manga's version) to include him.
Inverted with the normal Ryou Bakura in a manga-to-anime example. He has "main group" status in the manga, appearing with the main characters and interacting with them much more than he does in the anime, and as a result, appears in a lot of manga group shots than he does in anime group shots. In fact, he appears way more frequently than Honda does in Battle City. In the anime, his screentime is drastically shortened. Most of the time when he does appear in the anime, it's usually his evil alter ego pretending to be him and his speaking roles are usually taken up by other characters. And they just ignore him completely in the anime's fillers. Hm, the anime staff seem to have some dislike towards him.
Asshole Victim: Every bully who Dark Yugi fights is this. Special points go to Prisoner 777, whom Dark Yugi sets on fire.
Bandit Keith gets his hand turned into a gun by Pegasus and is forced to shoot himself.
Marik's father gets his back scrapped off by the dagger in the Millennium Rod by Dark Marik.
Astonishingly Appropriate Appearance: Goes from mild (Dinosaur Ryuzaki and Insector Haga have dinosaur and insect themed Duel Monsters decks, respectively) to the truly tasteless ("Ghost" Kotsuzuka, who looks like a zombie, has an all zombie deck).
Attempted Rape: What Kokurano clearly planned to do to Anzu after drugging her before Dark Yugi shows up and challenges him to a Shadow Game.
Author Appeal: Did you know Kazuki Takahashi likes games? Because it says so in every volume of the manga. Like we couldn't tell...
Kazuki Takashi calls himself "Studio Dice." Man, this man loves games.
Badass Adorable: Yugi. Especially during the Dungeon Dice Monsters saga, where he manages to turn a game around without the Puzzle's help.
Badass Grandpa: Through background stories, we learn that Sugoroku Mutou (Yugi's grandpa) was a master gambler and game expert back in the day, not unlike his grandson (and his gambling other half). We see shades of this in the prologue to the Millennium World arc, where in a hat and tuxedo, he conquers the deadly Shadow Games in the tombs which housed the Millennium Puzzle. And supposedly, some time after that, he was challenged to a Shadow Game by Ryuji Otogi's father in which he BET YEARS OF HIS LIFE and WON.
Badass Longcoat: Dark Bakura's black trenchcoat during the Millennium World arc.
Seto Kaiba's trenchcoats after he wakes up from his coma after Death-T.
Berserk Button: If you don't want to see a very angry Kaiba, don't try to steal his company. Or kidnap his brother. The guy just has anger issues coupled with the fact that everyone takes cheap shots at him.
And if you don't want to anger Jonouchi, don't insult him in any way or harm any of his friends.
The same goes for Yugi. He is nice and weak, until his psychotic side wakes up.
Big Bad: Dark Bakura serves as this for the whole series, working out an evil plan to resurrect Zorc Necrophades. While other characters may serve as Big Bad in their story arcs (see Arc Villain above), Dark Bakura's scheme goes on throughout.
Bigger Bad: Zorc Necrophades, the being that the Pharaoh originally destroyed 3000 thousand years ago. He is the dark intelligence described by Pegasus that is in the Millennium Items, and Dark Bakura is trying to release him.
Kaiba in his first appearance — Kaiba pretends to befriend Yugi and has Yugi's grandfather's Blue Eyes White Dragon switched with a copy. When Yugi figures this out and calls out Kaiba on the switch, Kaiba loses the facade and whacks Yugi in the face with a briefcase.
Kaiba does it a second time during Death-T. He pretends that he has forgiven Yugi and simply wants to let him and Jonouchi have a good time; once Yugi discovers that his grandfather is in the battle arena, Kaiba drops the pretense of being nice.
Nezumi — Yugi and Jonouchi meet Nezumi at school. Nezumi claims that a gang of bullies attacked him and that he needed help in dealing with them. In fact Nezumi was ordered by Hirutani, Jonouchi's old middle school friend and now enemy, to have Jonouchi and Yugi lured to the abandoned warehouse so that Jonouchi could be forced to re-join Hirutani's gang
Dark Bakura: he doesn't show any ambitions to kidnap Mokuba, he just helps Honda, making him wonder whether the spirit was now on their side. Sure, Yugi and the others were still a bit wary of him, but by the time the whole Dungeon Dice Monsters/Putting the puzzle together in the fire scenario was going down, they seemed to almost consider him a (not so trust-worthy, admittedly) part of the gang.
The real Marik in his disguise as the meek and friendly "Namu". It's funny when you realize that the other two characters with split personalities genuinely are meek and friendly. When he personally meets up with Yugi's friends for the first time, he pretends to just having found Bakura injured. He actually does this to gain their trust. He introduces himself to them as "Namu", acting as a humble beginner who participates in Battle City Tournament. Right afterwards Marik's minions attack and Anzu and Jounouchi get kidnapped, then brainwashed. He keeps up the innocent act later too, claiming to having gotten into finals only because of dumb luck, even as Jounouchi grows suspicious of him. Now, Marik's past and his dark side business considered, he still showed rather malicious personality on his own. He didn't seem to have any regrets of his actions either, except for getting Rishid hospitalized and over the fact that he had blamed pharaoh for the death of his father. Rather, he's just confused why would Yugi want to help him after he tried to kill them all. So it might be that he's still Bitch in sheep's clothing when we see him again later in the series, just maybe not to the same extent as before.
Ms. Chono. To the teachers and staff, she's an incredibly nice and beautiful teacher who does incredibly well in getting her students to behave, and the only flaw she has is her poor track record for arranged dates and marriages always being called off. To the students, however, she is the "wicked witch of expel" who expels students for even the slightest twitch and has taken delight in starting dates with men just to tug at their heart strings and then shatter them to pieces.
Black Cloak: Marik Ishtar and the other Ghouls are garbed like this when we are first introduced to them.
Black Magician Girl: Trope Namer due to the "Dark Magician Girl" Magic & Wizards card and Monster Ka, which is actually named "Black Magician Girl" in the Japanese version.
"Blind Idiot" Translation: The Viz translation of the manga is very inconsistent with naming. A notable example are the times where they make Mokuba call his big brother "Kaiba" (he called him "nii-sama" in the original Japanese text). Who the hell refers to their older brother by their last name?
Board Games: Capsule Monster Chess, the Devil's Board Game, and Dungeon Dice Monsters.
Bonus Material: In the early manga volumes, Kazuki Takahashi would have a small paragraph explaining either how he got started on the story itself (he wanted a shounen hero who never hits anyone, hence games), how a certain character was conceived (Kaiba started from him overhearing about an arrogant card player and Marik from a fear of having a cellphone, which meant his publishers would annoy him in his free time), or random observations as the story progressed (noting his Art Evolution from the first manga).
And for at least the first two dozen of volumes up until the Battle City arc, Kazuki Takahashi would occasionally include bonus games he made himself for the readers to try out, usually requiring readers to photocopy the pages for use.
Book Ends: For Dark Bakura's involvement in the overall story, anyways. Both the first and last games the Pharaoh plays against him are Role Playing Games with the souls of his friends at risk.
Boss Battle: Dark Master Zorc (Monster World RPG), Gate Guardian (Meikyuu Brothers' maze duel), God Orgoth (Dungeon Dice Monsters), and Zorc Necrophades (Shadow RPG).
Bowdlerise: Though clearly not at the same level of bowderization as the English dubbed anime, starting around volume nine or so, Viz started censoring certain bits of the English manga, like Jonouchi sticking a middle finger to Bandit Keith Howard. They also went back to the early volumes to censor bits of dialogue like Ms. Chono's reference to condoms. Despite the pointless censors, the plot manages to stay intact as well as the rest of the disturbing scenes.
The Viz translation also initially used Marik's dub reason for wanting to defeat Yugi rather than his reason in the original before fixing it in subsequent volumes, turning it into a bizarre and unintentional case of Characterization Marches On.
Toei's anime is heavily toned done compared to the manga, with much of the death-related Penalty Games being turned into illusions and chapters being either skipped or altered because the content in them was too violent/disturbing (the knife game with Ushio was changed to a game of drawing playing cards). The most notable altered storyline being Death-T, which replaces the chainsaw-wielding Chopman with the more kid-friendly "Game Masters." Kaiba's butler dying from electrocution is also removed, as well as Honda's breast-grabbing perverted baby nephew.
The second anime adaptation (Duel Monsters) tones things down just as much: skipping approximately the first seven volumes of Dark Yugi challenging bullies/criminals to Shadow Games and inflicting Penalty Games (a flashback replaces Dark Yugi's infamous "One Finger Battle" game with "Draw the strongest Duel Monsters card"), disregarding Kaiba's death-themed amusement park, changing the few of Dark Yugi's Penalty Games that they're willing to show into kid-friendly "Mind Crushes," etc. — among other things. Duelist Kingdom, DDD, and Millennium World gets most of this treatment, while Battle City gets less of it (most of it comes from Dark Marik).
Brainwashed: The main power of the Millennium Rod, and can control multiple people at once. Marik uses it to brainwash Anzu, Jounouchi, the normal Bakura, and pretty much his whole organization of thieves. (Though Jonouchi is the only one that does anything about it).
Breakout Character: The Black Magician Girl, being the Ms. Fanservice and Badass Adorable of the franchise, is far more popular than any other M&W monster from the original series save for the iconic Blue-Eyes White Dragon and Black Magician. She's even playable in some of the video games.
Breakout Villain: Kaiba and the card game were meant to be seen twice... plans changed.
Call Back: The finals of Duelist Kingdom make several references to Shadi, and to Death-T. These are all cut out of the anime, for obvious reasons.
This may be only in the English translation, but the Chapter 9 of the manga, where Kaiba and Duel Monsters first appear, is titled "The Cards with Teeth". Six volumes later, the chapter where Kaiba recovers from his Mind Crush-induced coma and gets the first shades of Character Development is titled "The Cards Bare Their Teeth".
During Dark Bakura's battle against Dark Yugi on Kaiba's Battle Ship, Yugi comments that he "never expected to play a game of CARDS with DarkBakura." Dark Bakura replies with, "Heh, I had fun playing tabletop role-playing games with you!" referencing their battle in the Monster World arc. During the Millennium World arc, Dark Bakura reveals that the Monster World R.P.G. was a warm-up game for the Shadow R.P.G.
Call Forward: The first chapter of Millennium World is set before the first chapter of the series. Sugoroku Muto (Yugi's grandpa) is a skilled gamer that says that if he ever loses a game, he'll trade his suit and fedora for a pair of overalls and a bandanna, and will open a game store. Apparently he lost.
Calling Your Attacks: When Marik uses Lava Golem (summoning it to Jonouchi's side of the field), he tells Jonouchi that its attack is called "Golem Volcano". Jonouchi insists that since it's on his side of the field, he'll name the attacks, and hits Marik with a "JONOUCHI FIRE" instead.
All the games that involve monster battles uses this trope.
Calvin Ball: Duel Monsters seem to be this in Duelist Kingdom, since rules that would be nonexistent happen frequently, such as Kazejin blowing away an attack yet it still affecting the other monsters, Normal Monsters having effects, and Yugi activating a non-Quick-Play Spell from his hand during an opponent's turn. In general, the field system that Pegasus set up for Duelist Kingdom seems to draw heavily on Dungeons & Dragonsrole-play logic.
Came Back Strong: During the Memory World Shadow RPG, Priest Mahado is killed by Thief King Bakura and comes back later as a Monster Spirit, fusing with the Magus of Illusions (becoming the precursor to Black Magician), an even stronger sorcerer in order to serve his king once more in the battle against Zorc.
Captain Ersatz: An assassin hired by Kaiba during the Death-T arc looks remarkably like Duke Togo of Golgo13.
Zombire, a fairly transparent takeoff on Spawn, and the favorite superhero of a minor character.
Card Games: Duel Monsters and Dragon Cards. Duel Monsters in particular plays a large role in all arcs concerning Kaiba, and eventually became the main focus of the anime adaptation.
Carnival of Killers: Seto Kaiba creates an almost literal carnival of killers with "Death T", the "Theme Park of Death" he made specifically for Yugi.
Cast from Hit Points: During the Monster World RPG, White Mage Bakura converted his hit points to magic points in order to cast a barrier spell to protect his friends from Zorc's attack.
And in the Memory World RPG (the Shadow RPG), the Ba Gauge served as both hit points and magic points for the character cards, since the real life versions of these characters used their life energy (Ba) to summon and power-up their Monster Spirits (Ka).
Within Duel Monsters a few spells, traps, and monster abilities require the player to sacrifice some of his/her life points.
Catchphrase: Dark Yugi's "Game Start!" would count as one, though it's said a few times by Dark Bakura as well.
"I'll show you god." — Seto Kaiba
Every time he seals part of his soul into an object, Dark Bakura says "Seal completed!"
Cheaters Never Prosper: The whole nature of Shadow Games. Cheat during one of Dark Yugi's Shadow Games, and you'll be subject to horrible Mind Rape. Just ask Ushio. Also, very early on, Kaiba tries to sneak Grandpa's stolen Blue-Eyes White Dragon that was in his pocket into his hand during the duel, only for it to disobey him and cost him the game... and half-a-year's worth of sleep.
The fact that the Millennium Item wielders (who are usually the ones that conjure up a Shadow Game to begin with) have powers that can sidestep the cheating rule (Dark Bakura and Pegasus) really defeats the purpose. Especially in Dark Bakura's case, since he regularly penalized players for cheating in the Monster World RPG, when he was the one using his Mind Parasite magic to rig the dice rolls.
Chekhov's Gun: In one of the early chapters, Yugi's Puzzle psychically located Jonouchi's whereabouts when he was captured by his old gang. It seemed like a one-off power never to be mentioned again, until he uses it to track down Jonouchi yet again, about ten volumes later during Duelist Kingdom.
Dark Bakura's avatar in the Monster World RPG is Dark Master Zorc. The main antagonist of the final arc turns out to be an ancient demon that Dark Bakura is trying to revive, also named Zorc.
The final Story Arc, Pharaoh's Memory, is foreshadowed in volume two.
Although the fact that we rarely see the characters' entire Magic & Wizards decks allows players to bring out a previously unseen card to turn the game around, pay close attention when a character specifically singles out or is shown acquiring a new card before a duel. It's bound to be important in the upcoming match.
Played straight in the Duelist Kingdom Arc, where Jonouchi is seen trading for Sword and Shield, which he later uses against Ghost Kotsuzuka to pull off a win. At the same time he got Kunai Whipchain and Salamandra, which he used to defeat two troublesome monsters in the team duel with the Meikyu Brothers, as well as Baby Dragon, which combined with the Time Wizard given to him by Yugi ended up finishing off Mai in his first duel with her.
Kuriboh made a blink-and-you'll-miss-it appearance in Yugi's duel with Haga to diffuse one of Haga's traps, before Yugi brought it back in in his third duel with Kaiba to hold off Kaiba's Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon.
Cherry Tapping: In Jonouchi's duel with Esper Roba, Jonouchi wins by having Baby Dragon attack Roba directly. It's not the weakest monster by a longshot, but it's still pretty embarrassing.
Yugi seems to have a thing for using weak monsters to deliver a disproportionate bitch slap to his opponent. Yugi once managed to stall off Kaiba's Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon with Kuriboh, labeled as the weakest monster in the game.
Whenever he played Capsule Monsters, the game was rigged so that Yugi's monsters were all weaker than his opponent's, yet he destroyed them anyway.
Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Tomoya Hanasaki, Yugi's friend from the early chapters who had an obsession with the American superhero, Zombire. Despite having a whole character development chapter for himself and being close enough to the main group that he offered to look after Yugi's grandpa in the hospital during the Death-T saga, he's never mentioned or seen again after that, save for a name cameo in the GX anime, which is not canon to the manga.
Cold-Blooded Torture: Dark Marik prefers to make his enemies suffer as much possible before their deaths, and of course rub it in while he's doing so. His Penalty Games also reflect this, trapping Mai in a illusion where she's trapped in an hourglass full of scarabs that slowly devoured her skin.
Combat Sadomasochist: Dark Marik is pretty much characterized by this trope. Not only do the conditions of his Shadow Games satisfy his sadism, but the conditions also satisfy his lust for pain — working in his favor. While the good guys have their stamina destroyed due to the pain of feeling their monsters' limbs being chopped off, Marik wallows in the pleasure.
Continuity Nod: When Jonouchi uses Kaiba's Duel Disk in Duelist Kingdom, he compares it to using a yo-yo, stating that he's good at using yo-yos, referencing the yo-yo battle in chapters 48 and 49, which weren't totally significant to the story aside from concluding one of Jonouchi's character subplots. Naturally, major arcs and events are referenced throughout the entirety of the manga.
Continuity Porn: Duelist Kingdom is this to Death-T. Millennium World is this to Trial of the Mind and Monster World. Unfortunately, many of this was lost when it was adapted into an anime, for obvious reasons.
Cool and Unusual Punishment: The price for losing or cheating one of the Pharaoh's Shadow Games was to receive a "Penalty Game" that would deliver Laser-Guided Karma for the rest of your life. This ranged from forever seeing nothing but hallucinations of money, to having your vision mosaic censored. This makes perfect sense, considering that these games were not games in the classic sense but rather an occult judgement of the player's soul where they were forced to reveal their true selves. Thus, those found guilty would always have the punishment fit the crime, such as the school bully who decided to just forget the game and murder Dark Yugi to keep the stack of money... only to be found the next day rolling in dead leaves, thinking them to be cash. The most notable would be Kaiba's which led to a whole arc and a merchandise phenomenon.
Cosmic Role-Playing Game: What Dark Yugi and Dark Bakura are revealed to be playing in the Millennium World arc. It isn't actually Ancient Egypt we were seeing — it was a recreation done as a tabletop game.
Covert Pervert: Yugi has completely NOT leapfrogged adolescence. In the first manga arc, right after he's made friends with Jonouchi, they're seen talking about some porn videos they've been exchanging. Talking about 'squinting at the pixels' really leaves little else it can be.
In the manga, he is shown imagining someone's panties after hearing what Anzu has to say about boys peeking up girls' skirts while playing basketball. Even in the Millennium World Arc, Yugi and Jonouchi are still exchanging videos...
Critical Failure: In the Monster World RPG arc, Ryou Bakura plays a tabletop game with Yugi and his friends, wherein they use percentile dice (two 10-sided die — one for the tens and one for the ones) — for every roll. When Dark Bakura takes over, rolling a 99 (a fumble, low numbers are good, so 00 is the opposite—a Critical Hit) carries the penalty of having your soul trapped in your figurine.
Crossover: Dark Yugi apparently lives in Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo's afro. And in Issue 2 of the American Shonen Jump, Kazuki Takahashi drew Hellboy (he's a big fan), and Mike Mignola drew Hellboy in a Dark Yugi shirt in response.
Otogi to Yugi during their game of Dungeon Dice Monsters/DDD, until Dark Bakura intervenes and gives Otogi a Hannibal Lecture.
The first battle between Dark Yugi/Kaiba VS two of Marik's Ghouls. Kaiba summoned Lord of Dragons AND special-summoned all three Blue Eyes and a spare dragon in just the first move, then summoned Obelisk on Round Two (sacrificing his Blue-Eyes to do so) AND sacrificed his other remaining monsters to activate Obelisk's Total Party Kill special ability to defeat both opposing players (Dark Yugi, for what it's worth, only had enough time to play Kuriboh while all of this was going on except Kaiba wanted to flaunt power).
The Sun Dragon of Ra versus basically anything. Except for Mai's Critical Failure attempt at using it.
Final Bosses Dark Master Zorc and his precursor Zorc Necrophades in both the Monster World RPG and the Shadow RPG of the Millennium World arc pretty much beat down the parties with little effort and would have totally did a Total Party Kill in both instances had it not been for unexpected surprise inferences.
Darker and Edgier: When compared to its two anime adaptations, which tone certain things down, including the atmosphere. Most of Dark Yugi's Penalty Games in Toei's anime are turned into illusions, while they are turned into Mind Crushes in the Duel Monsters anime. More characters are also Killed Off for Real in the manga. Particularly, Pegasus and Bandit Keith (if you don't count R as canon).
Even more so when compared to the second anime's English dub.
Ryuji Otogi's background story is completely different than in the anime, which no longer involves butthurt and Pegasus, but involves domestic abuse and a father who aged rapidly due to losing a rather satanic Shadow Game with Yugi's grandpa.
The manga is definitely darker compared to the succeeding spin-offs of the Duel Monsters anime.
The Dark Side: Many characters in Yu-Gi-Oh! fall into some Dark Side's trap, usually by trying to use an Artifact of Doom (e.g., Marik, Bakura, Pegasus, Aknadin). Dark Yugi was even part of it at first before softening up. Pegasus explicitly says that there is an evil influence inside all of the Millennium Items, and the Millennium World arc reveals that the evil influence is Zorc Necrophades.
Dead All Along: It's heavily implied that Shadi has been dead long before the start of the first chapter.
Death by Irony: Most of Dark Yugi's Penalty Games, though not all of the victims necessarily die and they get less extreme as the series goes on. One particularly disturbing example that doesn't involve death is his Penalty Game towards a crooked director. Earlier in the chapter, the director mentions using a mosaic to filter out the beaten Yugi's face. When he suffers his Penalty Game, he is forever blinded with a mosaic over his eyes.
Another good example would be during the Duelist Kingdom arc, where the Player Killer of Darkness threatens to kill Yugi with a noose if he lost and throughout the whole game, tries to seek safety within the darkness. He ends up being hanged by a noose at the end of the game, surrounded by nothing but darkness. This would be Dark Yugi's final Penalty Game before he decides to stop using them.
Death Trap: Kaiba's sadistic "amusement park," "Death-T," is basically a long series of increasingly difficult death traps designed to defeat and kill Yugi.
Ryuji Otogi in the Dragons, Dice, & Dungeons arc. Though in the manga's case, it was more of "Kind-Hearted Worthy Opponent Means Friendship". Defeating him at his own game and saving his father from the fire (despite his father being a major Jerkass to him and Yugi) only cemented the friendship.
Marik Ishtar later on, though it was more of "Split Personality's Defeat Means Friendship".
Kaiba is a male example. He becomes more amiable and less openly insulting towards the others.
Determined Expression: A staple of Kaiba, to the point where many a fanfic has waxed eloquent over his "icy death glare". Dark Yugi usually prefers speech-making, but has been known to utilize this effectively as well. Jonouchi doesn't do this as frequently as Kaiba, but when he does, a crowning moment of awesome will ensue.
Did Do The Research: Though occasionally the exact details are fuddled, the mythological concepts explored throughout the franchise show that someone obviously did their homework.
Disc One Final Boss: Seto Kaiba. Death-T might trick some readers unfamilar with the series as a whole into thinking it's the last arc, with its somewhat perfect closure to the episodic stories before it, along with its substantial character development and build-up. At that point, Dark Yugi isn't suggested to be anything more than a split personality, and Millenium Items other than the Puzzle had been revealed before this point, but not how many there are or any hint that Yugi must eventually acquire them all, so-... But then they find out there's about 30 or so manga volumes after that.
During the Millennium World arc, Thief King Bakura serves as one for Zorc Necrophades in Dark Bakura's Shadow R.P.G.
Disproportionate Retribution: In the early manga. For example, the leader of a gang that broke Yugi's class' stand and injured him was blown up by Dark Yugi.
If you go by GX, the guy lived... unfortunately, his luck apparently didn't improve, as the reason we know he lived is that we're informed his soul was devoured by Trueman.
It is to be noted that the the anime universe doesn't share the same universe as the manga, and what happened to that guy in the Duel Monsters anime was never actually seen (or even how Ushio's jerkassery was dealt with either despite the brief "flashback" to what appeared to be the first chapter).
Dark Yugi does this all the time. He punched through a kid's soul for being a thieving coward, and made a shop owner poison himself for running crooked... there are a lot of examples.
Also, the Kaiba brothers. After Dark Yugi beats Kaiba in Magic and Wizards and puts him through a (temporary and nonlethal) Penalty Game which was supposed to make him change his ways, he spends the next year or so putting together a ridiculously elaborate series of death traps to kill Yugi and all his friends. Not to mention Mokuba, who challenged Yugi to a game of Capsule Monsters at gunpoint to get revenge for Kaiba's first loss, and then later played a very unorthodox rigged version of Russian Roulette with Yugi and Jonouchi for his first loss.
Driven to Suicide: In contrast to his anime counterpart, who puts his mind into the virtual world, this is what happens to Gozaburo Kaiba in the manga, after Seto takes over Kaiba Corporation in a flashback. Apparently, the Kaiba philosophy in the manga was "to lose a game means to die".
While we never see the outcome, Marik uses his Millennium Rod's magic to scan Pandora's mind for any past suicidal thoughts/feelings and brings them onto the surface tenfold after Pandora lost to Yugi. Marik is sure that his former minion will definitely commit suicide once he regains consciousness.
Dub Name Change: The manga-exclusive characters received English names for the Dungeon Dice Monsters video game.
For whatever reason the Viz translation uses the dub name Maximillion J. Pegasus instead of Pegasus J. Crawford (possibly because Pegasus is an American himself).
Duels Decide Everything: Dark Yugi would always play a game to resolve a conflict. Eventually, Duel Monsters was the most common game.
Dysfunction Junction: Several characters experienced a tragic and/or depressing event in their life, especially the villains.
Early Installment Weirdness: Kaiba originally had no special bond with the Blue Eyes White Dragon. In his first appearance, the card refused to obey him because he stole it; in the second, he acquired his three copies through extortion and destroys the fourth. Not exactly the sort of behavior conducive to a Reincarnation Romance.
The Dragon Cards are dangerous artifacts that grant the wielder the same abilities as the Millennium Items, despite being completely unrelated to them. (Note that the later anime series, which also do this, are not canon to the manga.)
Oddly enough, The Devil's Board Game in the Dungeon Dice arc (which takes place later in the manga) shares this exact same characteristic. Sugoroku Mutou, who was not a Millennium Item wielder, was able to play a Shadow Game and give Otogi's father a Penalty Game by playing the Devil's Board Game. Unlike the Dragon Cards though, this game was said to have come from Egypt (which is where most of the "Shadow Game"-magic in this series originates from), as opposed to... China.
Until the cards and Duel Monsters anime were introduced, the Yu-Gi-Oh! world doesn't entirely revolve around the children's card game, it's initally about friendship and gaming in general, as seen in this manga - seen as an entirely different world altogether. The rest of the franchise still stresses friendship to a relative degree, but the general gaming part? Not so much.
Early arcs used completely different rules for playing Duel Monsters (if there even were any, with the series often functioning with New Rules as the Plot Demands) than Battle City, playing more like an RPG than a trading card game. There are too many to list, but examples include Yugi being able to "beach" Ryota Kajiki's sea creatures, being able to target separate parts of monsters, attacks being able to "miss," etc.
Easily Forgiven: Subverted with Jonouchi towards Kaiba and Shadi. He always brings up Death-T in regards to Kaiba and brings up Shadi's Trial of the Mind when Bobasa, supposedly Shadi's underling, shows up. It's understandable since he's almost killed in both.
Played straight with Yugi though. After all the hell Kaiba has put him through, Kaiba ends up receiving the least fatal Penalty Game Dark Yugi has ever given anyone, one that actually makes him a better person.
Also, everyone forgives Marik despite the fact he put them through a living hell, even when his Split Personality wasn't at surface.
Egyptian Mythology: Used quite extensively, usually when it comes to names. Used even more extensively during the Millennium World arc. A more early example would be the demon Ammit, which the Millennium Scale has the ability to summon in its Shadow Games and when it's used to judge a person's soul.
Enemy Within: Dark Marik and Dark Bakura to their good halves, though Marik was initially bad to begin with.
Priest Seto after High Priest of Darkness Akhenaden merges his soul with his in order influence Seto to overthrow Pharaoh Atem. Seto manages to overcome it with the help of Kisara's spirit, though.
Evil Counterpart: The Millennium Ring/Dark Bakura serves this role to the Millennium Puzzle/Dark Yugi. Especially in his first appearance, where Dark Bakura appeared and inflicted a Penalty Game on a teacher who was picking on Ryou, much like how Dark Yugi appeared and inflicted Penalty Games on bullies who tried to do harm to Yugi and his friends. The difference? Dark Bakura uses his host to serve his own ends, twisting his wish of playing games with his friends by trapping their souls into game figurines for all eternity, and not giving impaling body parts to silence his host a second thought. Contrast to Dark Yugi, who only sincerely wants to protect Yugi and his friends and genuinely cares for Yugi's well-being.
Extremely Short Time Span: Though the series itself lasts more than a year in-universe time, no individual arc takes longer than three days. In fact, there is the strange situation in which Battle City (the longest arc by number of chapters) is actually one day shorter than Duelist Kingdom (the longest arc in-universe).
Eye Scream: The manga seems to love this trope. Pegasus and Akhenaden (as the owners of the Millennium Eye) have pretty gruesome moments. Then there's Jonouchi stabbing Zorc in the eye during the Monster World arc in the manga.
Failure Is the Only Option: Even though they're playing a game, of which the consequence of losing would normally only be a hit to the loser's ego (if that), the main characters are frequently involved in "shadow games" where the gist is losing = death, making Failure Is the Only Option (for the villains)/Boring Invincible Hero played straight
Field Power Effect: Duel Monsters/Magic & Wizards has various boosting and nerfing cards, as well as terrain.
Fighting Series: Using various games instead of punches, though Jonouchi and Honda could land a good smack down when the situation calls for them to let loose.
Amusingly, Chapter 25 has Yugi conquering a Fighting Game at the arcade, which ends with him getting beaten up by a Bruce Lee fanatic (and getting his Puzzle stolen), leading to Jonouchi playing a more physical fighting game with the perpetrator outside.
Five-Bad Band: You could make a case for Pegasus and his Player Killers if you wanted.
Sixth Ranger: Ryuji Otogi. Also, Seto Kaiba... sort of. In retrospect, Ryou fills this role rather nicely during the Monster World arc.
And as a temporary role, Honda's little nephew Johji acts as the Tagalong Kid during Death-T.
Freudian Excuse: The whole reason Thief King Bakura tries to summon the Great God of Evil Zorc in the first place is because he saw the Kul Elna genocide firsthand and was its only survivor, trying to enact revenge on the previous Pharaoh, his son, and his royal court by killing everyone using the very Items they created.
Friendship Moment: They're frequent in this manga, since friendship is the main message. And they're all really heartwarming.
Fun-Hating Confiscating Adult: A teacher not only confiscates a toy from Yugi, but threatens him, Jonouchi and Honda with expulsion if they can't find where he hid it within a time limit. Other Yugi triggers the toy's beeping, which reveals that the vain teacher hid it under his wig. And reveals to everyone that the teacher is actually bald.
The Game Come to Life: During the Monster World arc, Yugi and his friends become the pieces of the tabletop roleplaying game they were playing with Dark Bakura. Also, the Shadow Game versions of Duel Monsters feature the monsters coming to life via Millennium Item shadow magic. In general, the very nature of Shadow Games have the potential to produce this with any game.
Game Master: Dark Bakura appears as this. Of the evil variety. Talk about taking the fun out of Tabletops.
The normal Bakura may be a better version of this, but we never actually get to see him DM-ing a game. He's definitely an avid DM, though, as Anzu and Jonouchi had to drag him out of bed during the first day of Battle City since he stayed up all night writing a scenario for a TRPG.
Game Within a Game: In-Universe example... kind of. Yugi plays a Shadow Game of Magic & Wizards/Duel Monsters with Dark Bakura (Mind Parasite) while he was an NPC in Dark Bakura's Shadow R.P.G... a Shadow Game within a Shadow Game. So while Dark Yugi was duking it out with Dark Bakura's main body at the tabletop, Yugi was playing cards (which were mind-conjured) with Parasite Bakura within the Memory World role-play. Though, considering that was their only way of replicating the Persona-esque "battle system" that the Egyptian characters were using within the game (which the card game was based on anyway, not to mention their Life Points acted as their Ba Gauge), whether or not this qualifies is up to you.
Genre Savvy: During the Millennium World story arc, there's a moment where Yugi disappears while the other characters are still discussing what to do to look for clues to find the other Yugi and/or his true name. When Anzu asks where he went, Honda said Yugi went to the tavern to collect information, since a tavern is the place to collect information in role-playing games. Jonouchi calls him an idiot and gets pissed because they're not in a game. Even though they actually are in a role-playing game.
Geo Effects: Duelist Kingdom's version of Duel Monsters/Magic & Wizards has "Field Power Bonus", but dies out to only Field Spell Cards by the finals.
A God Am I: Ms. Chono refers to herself as the goddess of the classroom at one point.
Gratuitous English: In the Japanese manga, Pegasus J. Crawford spouts random English from time to time, being a foreigner. Also, in Japanese, the Millennium Items are referred to as the "Sennen Items" (Sennen Puzzle, Sennen Ring, etc.), "Sennen" meaning "Millennium" in Japanese. Japanese Pegasus still calls his the "Millennium Eye."
Greed: The first chapter of the manga presents this with the hall monitor, Tetsu Ushio. He tries to become Yugi's bodyguard to extort money from him. Dark Yugi challenges him to a Shadow Game in which the players use a knife to stab as many bills of money from their hands as they can, without stabbing their hands. When Ushio's greed got out of control, he couldn't control the force of his hand and tries to stab Yugi instead. For cheating, he receives a Penalty Game instead, in which he is made to think piles of leaves and garbage is money, making him look like a lunatic in public.
Because of his greed, Professor Kanekura failed Shadi's "Weighing of the Heart" Shadow Game using the Millennium Scale and his soul is eaten by the Egyptian demon, Ammit.
In chapter 8, Yugi plays a Shadow Game against the shoe store owner, who hired street punks to steal back sneakers he had sold to Jonouchi. The game involved getting the most coins out of the sneaker without getting stung by the pet scorpion in it. For each coin he got, the larger the sum of the money the store owner would receive if he won the game. The store owner's greed causes him to hastily grab all the coins inside the sneaker, and gets stung by his pet scorpion which he tried to stab seconds before.
An important plot device of the entire series, the concept of "Penalty Games" (the Japanese term being "Batsu Game), is inspired by the real life Penalty Games used in Japanese owarai stage comedy and variety shows, which involved losers of certain challenges and bets to experience rather unpleasant things. They're not lethal or horrifying like they are in Yu-Gi-Oh! - they're actually pretty funny because of the reactions - but are humiliating to the recieiving end of the punishment nonetheless.
Healthcare Motivation: Jonouchi's reason for tagging along with Yugi on his trip to Duelist Kingdom: To save his sister's eyesight.
Heel-Face Turn: Ryuji Otogi, Seto and Mokuba Kaiba, and Marik's good half. During the Monster World RPG, Pokii and Pao are monsters that were brainwashed using Yugi's abilities to turn good.
Heel-Face Revolving Door: Dark Bakura to Yugi. It's never genuine and is all part of his plans. Yugi becomes weary after the Marik incident, but has no choice but to except the Millennium Items offered to him.
On the other hand, it seemed like Yugi really did try to have faith that Dark Bakura is able to have a change of heart and genuinely wanted to help his other self regain his memories. When Dark Bakura reveals who is ( A part of Zorc, not just the spirit of the Thief King) and why he helped Yugi gather the Millennium Items in the first place, Yugi visibly feels betrayed, "I trusted you!".
Hilarious In Flashback: In a flashback to his younger days, Sugoroku declares that if he ever loses a game, he will give up adventuring and will wear overalls for the rest of his life. He must have lost at some point.
Hive Mind: Dark Bakura's personality within the Millennium Ring is the Thief King's soul that has been consumed by the influence of Zorc, meaning he has become a part of Zorc. And by essentially infecting certain objects with portions of his soul like he did with the Millennium Puzzle and his role-playing dice, he further spreads Zorc's influence in a way. At the same time, when Akhenaden made the contract with Zorc to become the High Priest of Darkness, he also became a part of Zorc.
Hope Crusher: Ms. Chono lives to crush the hearts of men, and delights in expelling students on technicalities.
Hot Teacher: Ms. Chono, though the students note she wears too much makeup.
I Am Your Opponent: Frequently said by Dark Yugi whenever he emerges when Yugi's friends are in danger.
Idiot Ball: Despite all the weirdness Yugi & Co. have experienced (magic multiple personalities, shadow games, Kaiba Land, etc.) when Bakura tells them everyone who plays "Monster World" with him goes into a coma, they presume it's a coincidence and insist he play anyway. Even after the mean gym teacher suddenly goes into one!
During Death-T, in that room where the living Tetris blocks were falling down and Honda's jacket gets caught between the blocks, why couldn't he have just taken it off? Granted, that seems to be the case a few chapters later when you see him alive and well, but still...
The potential hazards of the Shadow Game with Dark Marik against Dark Yugi could have been avoided if Dark Yugi had started his own Shadow Game instead, within rational conditions. It wouldn't have contradicted the character development he received after his battle with Pegasus, as losers of Shadow Games don't always have to be subject to a Penalty Game (which Dark Yugi decided to stop doing). In fact, he could have done this from the outside to keep Mai and Jonouchi from getting hurt by Marik's Shadow Games in the first place, like when he secretly started a Shadow Game with Ms. Chono during class. Though there wouldn't be much of a plot or conflict otherwise.
I Got Bigger: By the end of the story, Yugi is noticeable taller than he was at the beginning (though he's still shorter than his friends).
I Know Your True Name: "Names are power." The key to winning Dark Bakura's ultimate Shadow RPG was learning Dark Yugi's true name, Atem.
Informed Ability: Despite claiming to be an expert at all games, we only ever see Kaiba play Duel Monsters and chess. The only thing that tells us of his prowess at gaming is his high scores on every arcade machine at the Domino Arcade.
It's mentioned in the manga that the arcade high scores are linked, so he has the highest score on all those games in all of Japan.
Innocuously Important Episode: Most events of the series can be traced back to Yugi's first defeat of Kaiba, which is rather low-key in the grand scheme of things (all Yugi wanted was to get his grandfather's Blue-Eyes White Dragon back) and at first appears no more important than the other games against Monsters of the Week, yet leads to the events of Death-T, and from there to Duelist Kingdom and then Battle City, which in turn provides Yugi with important information that he needs for the Pharaoh's Memory.
Jekyll & Hyde: The relationship between Yugi and Dark Yugi started out like this in the manga, as did the relationship between Bakura and Dark Bakura.
Gollum Made Me Do It: The Bakura/Dark Bakura relationship basically develops into this after Monster World.
Killer Game Master: To extreme levels with Dark Bakura in his first appearance as Monster World's GM, also acting as one in the final arc. He's usually a particularly evil one, purposefully screwing things up for the adventurers so he could kill them/trap their souls into their game pieces. Not to mention his scenarios always seem incredibly biased towards the players. Amusingly enough, he seems completely unwilling to actually create Unwinnable by Design scenarios, to the point that he informs Dark Yugi of a way to beat him (though he doesn't expect it to work) in the final arc because otherwise it "wouldn't be fair".
Let's Fight Like Gentlemen: Played to a much creepier effect in the early volumes of the manga, where the games were often improvised based on the environment around them, and nearly always ended in death, insanity, or grievous bodily harm (compared to the later over-reliance on Tournament Arcs).
What? This trope is played to a creepy effect throughout the manga. In those tournament arcs, people were hung, legs were threatened to be sawed off, duelists were threatened to drown, and people were threatened to be devoured by scarabs ...all through a card game. Typical of a high-stakes gambling manga.
Life Energy: Ba in Ancient Egyptian beliefs, which served as the life force used to summon and empower their Ka (Monster Spirits) in the Pharaoh's (Dark Yugi's) kingdom. In Dark Bakura's recreation of this kingdom (as a Tabletop roleplaying game, Memory World, the Shadow R.P.G.), Ba served as the characters' Hit Points and Magic Points (and probably represented their level as well). When Priest Akhenaden turns into the High Priest of Darkness, he levels up and receives two more bars to his Ba Gauge.
Luke, I Am Your Father: Towards the end of the Shadow RPG, High Priest of Darkness Akhenaden reveals to Priest Seto that he was his father all along and tries to make Priest Seto join him and become the King of Darkness.
Makeup Is Evil: Seen with Ms. Chono, who uses it so much it's like a mask.
Meaningful Name: Not only does Yugi's name mean "Game" in Japanese, if you combine the first character of Yugi's name with the first character of Jounouchi's name, you get "Yujyo", which means "Friendship."
The title, meaning "Game King," could also be taken as "King Yugi," referring to the main character who is the Game King. It also serves somewhat of a double-meaning later. ( Yugi's alterego, Dark Yugi, is the spirit of a gambler who was once the King of an Egyptian Dynasty named Pharaoh Atem.)
Sugoroku (Yugi's grandfather) is named after a Japanese board game similar to backgammon.
Mental World: Shadi's Millennium Key allows him to enter a person's mind, which projects rooms that reflect a person's personality — their ambitions, complexes, etc. He can also, um, arrange things. Yugi has two of these rooms (likewise for Bakura too, probably). His room reflects his innocence and love for gaming, while Dark Yugi's room is filled with mazes and traps, reflecting the complexity of his soul. And, as Shadi described, like a Pharaoh's Tomb.
Metagaming: As it applies to role-playing games. During the Shadow RPG of the final arc, while Dark Yugi's characters were subject to paralysis for several rounds (due to Dark Bakura's Time Stop ability), Zorc Necrophades was about to launch its Zorc Inferno. Priest Seto being one of the characters in question that was within the target range of Zorc's ultimate AOE damage spell, Dark Yugi tries to convince Dark Bakura as a role-player to have High Priest of Darkness stop Zorc from attacking, because he's Seto's father. In a horrifying break from his previously-characterized obsession with the concept of players "becoming their characters" in his Tabletop RPGs, he calls Dark Yugi a fool for thinking that would work and says that he is in control of Zorc, launching his attack anyway before being blocked by Hassan (an NPC controlled by Shadi).
Moral Dissonance: Dark Yugi chastises Pandora for sacrificing his monsters in order to win a game. Apparently all those tribute and ritual summons that Yugi's done don't count. Not to mention that his first Capsule Monster Chess game with Mokuba involved sacrificing all his monsters so that his trump card can instantly One-Hit Kill all of Mokuba's monsters.
There is a subtle difference there. Dark Yuugi honors the sacrifices of his monsters and even in one scene mentally apologizes to one of his Capsule Monsters for sacrificing it. In the anime-only Doma Arc where he's (possessed by the power of the Orachalchos) and forgets that, he (loses the duel and Yuugi as well).
Ms. Fanservice: Anzu, Ms. Chono, Mai, and Black Magician Girl. Anzu in particular had chapters where she wore a waitress outfit, outfits that accentuated her beautiful, long, shapely legs, and a skimpy, hot bikini while at a water park.
It should be noted that drawing cards and placing them down isn't as ridiculous as it is in the anime, judging by how calmly it's drawn in the manga. Dice rolling, however, is still taken to epic proportions in the manga.
"UNMEI NO DICE ROLL!" The dice roll of LIFE OR DEATH!
My Little Panzer: Capsule Monsters Chess, Digital Pets, Monster World, Duel Monsters, etc. are such a safe games for little kids, aren't they?
Subverted: By themselves, the games are perfectly safe; it's the gamers like the Ghouls that add in their own, more dangerous, rules or invoke the dark magic of the Millennium Items that make it so dangerous.
Mysterious Protector: Dark Yugi before the Death-T arc, where he takes over Yugi's body in order to solve Yugi's conflicts and his existence was relatively unknown to Yugi's friends.
Myth Arc: Shadow Games, the Millennium Items, and the identity of Dark Yugi/uncovering the Pharaoh's memories all play important parts in all of the StoryArcs in this manga.
Duelist Kingdom is this writ large. Some make at least a bit of sense, like flying monsters having an advantage over land-based monsters, or machine monsters rusting due to a mist over the field. Others just plain have no basis in fact at all (at least as a regular card game), most prominently the infamous Catapult Turtle move Yugi uses to defeat the Player Killer of Darkness. However, Duelist Kingdom is stated to use custom rules specific to the tournament.
Once the rules were written and pinned down in Battle City as the "Expert Rules", this turned into "New Cards As the Plot Demands," with duelists producing cards never before seen at just the right time. Many of these cards exist for Rule of Cool, as there are other pre-existing cards that do the same thing as the new card but don't fit the theme of the duelist's deck. And lapses of the random new rules still occurred: Jinzo is supposedly immune to Time Wizard's effect due to being made of special metal, for example, and Flute of Summoning Dragon lets both players summon Dragons from their hand if they want.
Non-Human Undead: In the first tournament, Yugi defeats Seo Kaiba's Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon by fusing his Mammoth Graveyard into it... which, because both are incompatible types, slowly weakens the resulting fusion and will cause it's eventual death. After this, the rule is never referenced again.
Another example are Ghost Kozuka's monsters brought back from the grave.
Non-Lethal Warfare: Subverted with the Shooting Stardust game during Death-T. Yugi and his friends think it's a harmless laser tag game at first — and it certainly is for them with the toy guns they're given — but the people Kaiba hired to play against them were professor killers, and the guns they used shot out electrical currents, which were amplified to lethal levels when they hit the sensors.
Not a Date: Anzu goes on one of these with Dark Yugi (who originally thought it was going to be a straight-up date with his partner, normal Yugi) after the Dragons, Dice & Dungeons arc. Even earlier than that, she goes on one of these with the regular Yugi at an amusement park.
Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Yugi vs. Jonouchi immediately after Battle City, even if we know Jonouchi won (well, according to Kazuki Takahashi... In the anime canon, Jonouchi is shown to have regained possession of his Red-Eyes Black Dragon during the filler arcs meaning he won, but in the manga, he is only shown using it in the Shadow RPG, where the intruding non-player characters were allowed to recreate their decks as per their memories to replicate the Millennium Item Ka battles) Both mediums skip this.
Oh, Crap: Characters are guaranteed to have this reaction whenever Yugi manages to turn the odds around in a game. Perfect example would be the escaped convict who held Anzu hostage, realizing that he was going to burn to death.
Dark Bakura has an Oh, Crap moment when he realizes that the real Bakura regained control of his left hand during the Monster World RPG. Also, when the real Bakura's soul breaks his dice.
Older Than They Look: Yugi. One chapter has a amusment park employee give him a hard time because she thought he was an elementary schooler.
The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Presented by Dark Bakura in the original manga (volume ten of Yu-Gi-Oh! Duelist), when he interrupts the match of DDM between Yugi and Ryuuji Otogi to prevent the former from losing the Millennium Puzzle.
Seto Kaiba also treats Yugi as such.
Only the Chosen May Wield: The Millennium Items are very unforgiving to those who plan on wielding them, but are not the ones that are "chosen." For example, Shadi forced a thief to wear the Millennium Ring to see if he was the one destined to wear it. He clearly wasn't, as the ring punctured his chest and set the insides of his body on fire. Likewise, Shadi had gauged Pegasus's eye out with a knife to test if he was worthy of wielding the Millennium Eye. Had Pegasus not been the chosen one, he would have most likely have been left for dead with an empty eye-socket.
The Millennium Puzzle itself is a little friendlier to its attempted wielders, at least before it was put together by Yugi. They would merely find the puzzle too challenging to complete, and even before that, get killed by the Shadow Games in the tomb it was hidden in rather than by the Puzzle itself. However, after Yugi had completed the Millennium Puzzle, those who attempted steal it/put it back together through force/cheating would incur the wrath of the Millennium Puzzle. An example would be Otogi's father, who had attempted to put together the pieces of the broken Millennium Puzzle, only to find himself trapped in a maze of illusions— though even that lasts for only a few seconds.
Player Killing: Pegasus's "star chip assassins" that are hired to eliminate players in the Duelist Kingdom game are called Player Killers. Because of their dirty methods and being just as screwed in the head as Pegasus, two of them have the unfortunate honor of being the final victims of Dark Yugi's Shadow Games and receiving his final Penalty Games.
Plot Device: The various games and gambles used to further the plot and character development. Most notably Duel Monsters in the tournament arcs.
Plot Tumor: The Duel Monsters card game after volume eight. After Duelist Kingdom (the first big card tournament saga), Ryuji Otogi is introduced and the plot tricks you into thinking it's going back to its formula of switching games for several chapters, introducing Bar Bet games and Dragons, Dice, & Dungeons. But, after DDD is over and done with, the card game sneaks back in as the major plot device during Battle City (the next big card tournament saga). And then the card gaming dies down yet again in favor of young Grandpa Mutou playing Shadow Games in a tomb, Ancient Egyptian monster battling (with HP gauges). and the Dark RPG. But lo and behold, they decide to hold the Ceremonial Battle as a game of Duel Monsters.
During his "date" with Anzu, Dark Yugi is absolutely fascinated by all the games in the arcade, including the "Dance Battle game" (Super Dancer). While in the anime, he has a perpetually bored look on his face. Awwww, no Duel Monsters! Not only that, but instead of appropriately challenging Johnny Steps to a game of Super Dancer like his manga counterpart probably would have, he challenges him to Duel Monsters.
One can argue that it was Battle City where Kazuki Takahashi pushed the card game element too far. Duelist Kingdom was a relatively fast story arc, and several chapters after that had nothing to do with Duel Monsters (focusing on other games like the first seven volumes). Reportedly, the length of Battle City caused so many readers to lose interest in the manga that the Millennium World arc suffered because of the editors told him to hurry it up.
Pokémon Speak: In Volumes 6-7, the Monster World characters Pau and Pokii speak using their own names.
Pride: Dark Yugi, to a fault. Starting off as a fearless gamer that everyone should supposedly look up to, his pride starts to become crippling during the Duelist Kingdom arc, where his refusal to play defensively caused his grandfather be the subject of his Penalty Game by Pegasus, repeatedly gambles his life on his own accord during the tournament, and his refusal to lose almost kills Seto Kaiba until his other self stopped him. When the normal Yugi almost refuses to take Mai's star chips because it's not "what his other self would want", Jonouchi calls Dark Yugi out on this, which leads to his character development, where he's still confident and a tad cocky, but loses his "lose or die" attitude.
Psychotic Smirk: Kazuki Takahashi is pretty good at drawing these. Dark Yugi has it perfected, and he isn't even a villain.
Anzu, of all people, turns out to be surprisingly good at these, although she doesn't give them often. She gives one to Kaiba at Duelist Kingdom, although it's more of a "the reason Yugi is better than you" speech.
Reincarnation: Many characters introduced during the course of the series are (or implied to be) reincarnations of the ancient Egyptian characters introduced in the Millennium World arc. It is heavily implied that Yugi is the other half of Atem that didn't get sealed into the puzzle and just sort of floated around until it was born again. Common Epileptic Trees is that Ryou is something similar in regards to the ancient Big Bad Thief King Bakura. Seto (with Set) and Ishizu (with Isis) are straighter examples.
Retcon: Shadi mentions "bringing the Millennium Puzzle home to his family" once during his first appearance. It is never brought up again.
In the first chapter, Sugoroku Mutou tells Yugi and Anzu that the Millennium Puzzle was found by a team of British archaelogoists, who died after uncovering the puzzle, with their last words being "The Shadow Games." In the first chapter of the Millennium World saga, it is revealed that this British team of archaeologists died WHILE trying to get the Millennium Puzzle (their last words still being "The Shadow Games") and Sugoroku was the one that ended up finding the Puzzle after conquering the tomb's Shadow Games. This may possibly end up being Fridge Brilliance, however.
Revisiting the Roots: Since the DDD arc, after a really, really long arc of just playing one game in Battle City (guess what the game is!), the manga once again finally switches games during the final Millennium World arc.
Riddle Me This: All of Shadi's Shadow Games involve riddles or puzzles (fitting, as his very existence is a riddle). The Labyrinth Coin game that Dark Yugi and Dark Bakura played against the Meikyuu Brothers during Duelist Kingdom was a way to destroy their Unwinnable by Design riddle.
Right Behind Me: In the manga, when a game shop opened in front of the shop owned by Yugi's Grandfather, Yugi went there to buy the new game and Yugi asked his friends not to tell his grandfather. Yugi even complained about Grandfather being old-fashioned and it being the reason his shop had no business. Then he learned his Grandfather was behind him.
Used semi-frequently in the manga, and even after the card game becomes the main plot device, somehow.
The spell card Monster Reborn is called Raise Dead in the Japanese versions, which is a common name for revival spells in Japanese RPGs.
Rousseau Was Right: Numerous bad guys including Marik Ishtar, Pegasus etc all seem hopelessly callous and evil only to eventually prove to be good at heart, whether by exorcism of an evil side or simple persuasion, usually by Yugi or Pharaoh. Seto Kaiba is also routinely obnoxious and cold yet occasionally proves to have a compassionate side, which is usually related to his love for his little brother Mokuba.
Russian Roulette: Yugi, Jonouchi, and Mokuba play a variation of this... with poison food instead of a revolver.
"Bandit" Keith Howard plays this during his depression after losing to Pegasus. His Penalty game also involved his hand turning into a gun and being forced to play Russian Roulette, killing him.
Sadist Teacher: Ms. Chono delights in expelling students on technicalities and tormenting them by revealing their secrets.
School Uniforms are the New Black: Yugi. One chapter even lampshades this by having Jonouchi ask Yugi why he's wearing his school uniform during the weekend. His response? "I don't see why not," or something along those lines.
Screw the Rules, I Make Them!: Pegasus, however, even makes special cards that never go into circulation just so that it gives him an advantage as the creator of the Duel Monsters card game.
Sealed Evil In A Six Pack: An in-universe fictional example is Exodia, a monster so powerful it takes multiple cards to contain him. The individual pieces are worthless, but a player who reassembles Exodia by getting all five parts in play wins immediately.
And The Pharaoh was trapped in the Millennium Pendant, which was then broken up into pieces. They were all kept in one place, but putting it back together was a complicated process (which is why it was then renamed the Millennium Puzzle).
Self-Made Orphan: Already being orphans when their parents died, Seto and Mokuba become orphans again after the former drives their abusive stepfather to suicide. And Marik's Split Personality killed his father when he tried to kill his adopted brother, Rishid.
Shout-Out: In the very first chapter, Yugi makes a reference to Dragon Ball when he talks about the Millennium Puzzle granting one wish.
And one to Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo aswell. Twice in the 3rd volume of the final arc someone is seen with a Nu hankercheif.
Chapter 41 "Let's Find Love" has the same plot as one episode of YuYu Hakusho (hero will be expelled if he doesn't find an item that a teacher hid somewhere in the school- and actually hid on his own person).
Slasher Smile: Dark Marik is so murderous that he has this face on 90% of the time. Dark Bakura pulls off a few pretty good ones, himself.
Smug Smiler: Kaiba and Dark Yugi (probably the reason why most of his opponents start losing their temper whenever Yugi starts talking down to them).
Soul Jar: A literal one in volume six, in the chapters about Imori and the Dragon Cards.
Dark Bakura's Penalty Games involve the losers being trapped in lead R.P.G. figurines. Likewise, Pegasus's Penalty Games involve trapping souls/minds into inanimate objects, i.e. a miniature TV screen for Yugi's grandfather and cards for the Kaiba brothers.
Dark Bakura's Millennium Ring allows him to create Soul Jars by transferring parts of his soul into any object. Yugi's puzzle piece is one example.
For both Dark Yugi and Dark Bakura, the normal Yugi and Bakura are their living Soul Jars. If they allow their host's bodies to die, they'll die as well.
Spell My Name with an "S": Yugi or Yuugi? Jonouchi or Jyonouchi? Isis or Ishizu? Marik or Malik? Ughhhhh. The Viz English manga goes for the former translations, except for Isis/Ishizu, where Viz went with "Ishizu" for her reincarnation" and "Isis" for her past life.
Another example: In official English translations, Marik's surname is usually spelled "Ishtar," while in the Bunkoban manga Kazuki Takahashi spells the name in English as "Ishutarl."
Split Personality: Dark Yugi and Dark Bakura are kind of like this to the regular ones, especially Dark Yugi during the earlier chapters since he shares Yugi's memories. Dark Marik is more of a traditional example. It is implied that the Millennium Items may have the ability to induce this naturally by using the darkness in your heart.
Split-Personality Makeover: Yugi's face changes from cute to sinister when Dark Yugi takes over. Same thing with Bakura and Dark Bakura. Though normal Marik also looks sinister, but less sinister than Dark Marik. The makeovers include, among other things, their hair getting wackier (with Dark Marik's almost doubling in size) and a tendency towards slasher smiles
Stepford Smiler: Ryou Bakura tries to look happy all of the time, but that's hard when you have a malicious spirit possess you and try to kill your friends.
Story Arc: Trial of the Mind, Death-T, Monster World RPG, Duelist Kingdom, Dragons Dice & Dungeons, Battle City, and Millennium World RPG, with a Myth Arc spanning all of these arcs (and everything's much more contiguous here than the story arcs presented in the anime).
Swallow the Key: One character does this as part of his hereditary Human Vault job.
Earlier, Mokuba does this. The people that are after the key regularly check his feces. Imagine it, and Hilarity Ensues.
Table Top RPG: Appears twice in the manga, with the adventures being long enough to be their own arcs; Monster World and Millennium World.
This appears to be the author's favorite genre of gaming. Kind of explains why it's the main game of the last arc instead of Duel Monsters, though most of the "Monster Spirits" within the RPG indeed served as the origin for some Duel Monsters, such as the Black Magician and Black Magician Girl, and of course the Blue-Eyes White Dragon.... naturally, as the RPG is a recreation of a kingdom in Ancient Egypt that played a life force-centric game in which Duel Monsters was based on.
Talking to Themself: Starting from the conclusion of the Duelist Kingdom arc, Yugi frequently has bro-talks with the other personality residing within the Puzzle, Dark Yugi, to the point where his mother starts to worry. Dark Yugi even gives some hilarious fashion advice to Yugi at the beginning of the Dragons, Dice, & Dungeons saga.
The same goes to Bakura, somewhat. He only ever directly communicates with Dark Bakura during the Monster World RPG and the middle of Duelist Kingdom when the spirit convinces Bakura to put the Ring back on. After that, direct communication between the two is no longer shown on-panel.
Too Dumb to Live: Seems like Bakura's only The Smart Guy when it comes to games. That, or he really believes that his other self has turned over a new leaf and is now benevolent like Yuugi's. When the gang was looking for Kaiba and Mokuba before the Alcatraz Duel Tower blew up, he came across the Millennium Ring in Yuugi's room... and puts it back on in excitement. Granted, it could be an example of Poor Communication Kills, since Dark Yugi could have just simply told him that Dark Bakura was STILL AN EVIL PSYCHOTIC MANIAC, instead of lying to him about not having the ring. Granted, the injuries on his arm and the fact that he woke up in a bunch of rumble outside the tower should have tipped him off.... It's a cute scene for the fangirls, though◊.
Training from Hell: Mahado is implied to have gone through this in the afterlife, coming back as a Monster Spirit, fusing with Magus of Illusions (becoming the precursor to Black Magician), stronger than ever before, in order to serve his king once more in the battle against Zorc.
Kaiba's Back Story. In order to make him a suitable heir to Kaibacorp, his adoptive father Gozaburo put him through a brutally intense period of schooling from age 10 onward. Judging from what is shown in the manga, it involved leashing him to a desk and the occasional beating with a switch. This leads him on his descent to madness until receiving the Mind Crush Penalty Game from Dark Yugi.
True Companions: The reason why the main characters never give up, because no matter what, their companions have their back. The group's bond is so deep and powerful, that Jonouchi, Honda, Anzu, and Bakura were able to block Pegasus's Mind Scan magic (which lets him read his opponent's heart) with it, helping Dark Yugi in defeating him.
Also for their game pieces in Bakura's Monster World. Again, emphasis on Yugi's perfectly matching hair.
Unsound Effect: At least in Polish version there are effects like "SIT!" or "STARE!". This is probably because they didn't know how to translate Japanese onomatopoeias into Polish, so they just wrote actions those sounds described.
The Worf Effect: Mai Kujaku. No, seriously. Top-notch duelist who gets seeded off against the most dangerous opponents, and ends up being Mind Raped by Dark Marik. Despite being a very skilled duelist, she keeps going up against super-powerful opponents to show the viewers how hard it'll be for the other heroes to win.
"Games mean conflict - a combat between two enemies. It’s the same for all of them! Cards, chess, the blood-soaked wars of the human race… All these are different kinds of games. Do you know what god gave to people so they could play games in this world? A single chip called life!"
—Seto Kaiba, Chapter 106 (Duelist Kingdom), in response to Yugi's unwillingness to send him off to his death.
Zerg Rush: At one point during the Duelist Kingdom arc, Yugi uses Multiply, which causes Kuriboh to multiply each turn, in conjunction with Kuriboh's special ability allows it to nullify the damage done by one enemy monster. Due to there being no limit on how many monsters can be summoned with one magic card in the manga and anime's version of the game, this allows him to create a virtually impenetrable barrier of the little guys.