Disclaimer: Yu-Gi-Oh is the intellectual property of Kazuki Takahashi and Konami, and is being used in this fanfiction for fan purposes only. No infringement or disrespect is intended by this fanfiction.
Yes, yes, laugh all you want. It was my first anime fandom, and I wrote for it on and off (mostly off) from 2002 until 2013.
When high school student Yugi puts together a pyramid-shaped puzzle necklace given to him by his grandfather (who runs a game shop), he awakens the spirit of the King of Games, who amiably possesses Yugi in order to beat school bullies and neighborhood evildoers though defeating them at card games and then exacting a psychic "game penalty." After cleaning up the high school and the neighborhood, Yugi and his other self and their friends save the world by playing card games.
A 38 volume manga that led to two anime series and four spin-offs, Yuugiou (often abbreviated YGO) also grew into a merchandising phenomenon. The first series (27 episodes) was based on the first 7 volumes of the manga. The second series, animated by a different studio with different seiyuu, is the one that was shown in the US: sometimes referred to as "YGO Duel Monsters" it more or less picked up at volume 8 and ran for 224 episodes (a good many of those in filler arcs, as the manga was still running at the time).
How I wound up writing for it
My spawn were small and by request I was taping Pokemon for them. I was then asked to tape a new show called Yu-gi-oh!.
As I had done with Pokemon, I went on-line in search of an episode guide so that I could label the tapes accurately. In watching the episodes I was somewhat surprised at their content ( much more "adult" in theme and characterization compared to Pokemon). I went online to learn more, and by the time I found my way to pojo, The Shadow Realm, and the Kyoku Geemu board, my curiosity had definitely deepened. I then turned to ebay and bought "subtitled discs" of the series (completely unaware of the horrid subtitles these gray market discs would have) and completely fell under the spell of the voice (Kenjiro Tsuda) that my favorite character (Kaiba Seto) had. This, combined with a dream that conflated one of the other main characters of the show with David Bowie's Aladdin Sane, amused me, and I began journaling about why a kid's show was hooking me, journaling that led to my first creative writing in twenty years. After that I discovered fanfiction.net and, encouraged by my new-found friends in the fandom, decided to post this story. ~ In order to get a feel for what rating I ought to give that first story, I read random fanfictions, and came across a rapefic involving my two favorite characters that caused me to erupt in a second story as a sort of response ... and after that the stories kept coming.
Why I love it (yes, really!)
Once you get past how ridiculously seriously everyone is treating "a children's card game" and its outcomes – they're like legally binding contracts – the series has some unexpectedly non-juvenile stories about identity, courage, obsession, forgiveness, and redemption. (Which may be a result of the original manga being a shonen, rather then a children's, title.)
YGO and its world and characters also have that element that's so very conducive for fanfiction – a large cast with complex interactions, each character a mostly-blank canvas with just enough details of personality and backstory sketched in to make them intriguing. ~ Then too, while there are few canon relationships, there's subtext all over.
Why people knock it
Well, let's see. The fact that it spawned a ton of merchandising, and the whole "children's card game" aspect generally are enough for it to be dismissed. ~ Others see its superficial similarity to Hikaru no Go (which is seen as being superior in both art and storyline).
And honestly, those are all valid criticisms. The merchandising doesn't bother me, I laugh just as hard as anyone else at the Abridged Series, and I think HikoGa is indeed much better overall ... but even with all that, for me YGO is a lot like Saint Seiya: while I fully admit that it's cheesy, at times badly drawn, and silly, there's also something about it that can still grab me.
Characters I wrote about
Seto Kaiba, an ultra-rich teenage CEO genius who is used to getting his way and winning at everything, appears as the series' first antagonist. He wants Yugi's grandfather to sell him a certain very rare card: only 4 exist, and Kaiba has 3. The old man refuses, so Kaiba comes back later that night, bullies the old man into a duel with the card as ante, and when he wins tears the card up. Grandpa has a heart attack just as Yugi and his friends arrive, and Yugi – now taken over by the angry Game King – challenges Kaiba to another duel. Kaiba, who's never been defeated, agrees—and loses. The repercussions of this loss drive many of the storylines that follow.
Arrogant and highly unlikeable at first glance, Kaiba (he is usually referred to by his family name) develops a largely one-sided rivalry with Yugi – or more precisely, with the Game King, Yugi's "dark half." (It's reasonable to compare him to Akira Toya.). As the anime progresses Kaiba does shade gradually from villainous rival to anti-hero (he doesn't change as much in the manga), but never quite accepts the friendship that Yugi and friends extend. (He'd rather stand on the sidelines and scoff.)
Kaiba trusts no one but his little brother Mokuba, of whom he is fiercely protective. The two were orphaned at an early age, but fortunately Seto's talents as a chess prodigy caught the attention of Gozaburo Kaiba, a wealthy widowed industrialist who saw in Seto the raw material suitable for shaping an heir to inherit the Kaiba fortune and business. Seto grew up in a cold, unloving environment, relentlessly pushed to excel at everything – which he did, so much so that he usurped his adoptive father at the age of 16 and took over the company. Kaiba shifted the company's emphasis from military products to holographic gaming systems (which he invented), and became the top duelist in the world – until Yugi came along.
Canon Kaiba comes across as too asexual and aromantic to be shipped with anyone seriously – even friendship seems a difficult, almost alien concept for one as guarded of his inner life as he is. Having said that, the central works in my YGO output were a series (collectively called "Temenos") that grew out of KP Duty (that "reaction" story I mentioned above) set in an AR in which Kaiba was assaulted while soulless at Duelist Kingdom. ~ Having done this to Kaiba, however, I wanted to show as much as possible his journey up out of this crushing hell and perhaps even to a place where he could finally begin to connect to others. ~ It was the occasional letter about this journey out of hell that brought me back to writing YGO fanfiction six years after I thought I'd give it up for good.
In lighter works Kaiba's humorlessness and rigidity and flared-nostril disdain are a great target for characters that stymie and tease and aggravate him (which for me has been either Pegasus or Jounouchi).
Anyhow. Kaiba is the YGO character I've written the most, and I'm usually commended for keeping him IC (in both serious and comic pieces). He's appeared in KP Duty, Dark Fortress, Coming Clean, Carwash with Extra Wax, Tossed Off, Snowblind, Spectator Sport, Egg Hunt, Beholden, A Perfect Monster, Shampoo Boy, Face Voice Hands, Impressions, House of Three, World's Worst, and The Cerulean Spell.
Pegasus, a somewhat reclusive artist and amateur Egyptologist who was the inventor of the Duel Monsters card game (which was based on ancient tablets he discovered in Egypt), has a golden artifact – the Millennium Eye – in place of his own left eye. The Millennium Eye allows him to read minds, which makes him unbeatable when he does engage in the rare duel.
The first major villain of the series, Pegasus wants to take advantage of the public's loss in confidence in Kaiba after his defeat by Yugi to try to take over Kaiba's company. He is assured by Kaiba's board of directors that they will back him completely and oust Kaiba – if and only if Pegasus can defeat Yugi. To this end Pegasus – who also has plans to retain Seto as his pet genius – holds a tournament called Duelist Kingdom on his private island. To force Yugi to attend he tricks him into a duel and then takes Yugi's grandfather's soul as his "winnings," (a motif – along with mind control – that will occur often in the series). Pegasus also kidnaps Mokuba, who has been entrusted by Seto with a special card that contains the Kaiba Corporation encryption codes, and takes his soul in order to force Kaiba into a rematch with Yugi (which Kaiba wins by threatening suicide). Kaiba is then defeated by (and his soul taken by) Pegasus, and remains a soulless husk until Yugi defeats Pegasus at the end of Duelist Kingdom (at which time the 3 stolen souls are returned to the bodies of Kaiba, Mokuba, and Yugi's grandfather.)
After Duelist Kingdom, Pegasus' eye is taken from him by the series' overaching supervillain. In the manga, this causes his death: in the anime, Pegasus repents and subsequently appears now and then as an ally of Yugi and his friends.
Pegasus as seen and heard in the anime was the first character to catch my eye. He's presented as androgynous, a dandifued fop, with a lilting, almost stereotypically effeminate voice, and addresses most of the show's protagonists – Kaiba especially – in a way that seems intended to put them on edge. (Early on much of the fandom saw him coded as gay, and some even saw a sexual predator vibe, though was likely due to the voicework that Darren Dunstan did and unintended connotations in the English dub dialogue. In canon, Pegasus was one of the few characters who had had an established heterosexual relationship – with Cyndia, the woman who had been his soul mate and muse until she died.). ~ At any rate, Pegasus' customary frothiness makes the contrast when he becomes angry or threatening quite chilling.Pegasus appears in KP Duty, Coming Clean, Impressions, Beholden (those four stories being part of the Temenos series), Rosetta, From Page 41, World's Worst, and The Cerulean Spell.
Katsuya Jounouchi is an ex-gang member who is one of Yugi's best friends. Exuberant, impulsive, loyal, and doggedly stubborn, he's the shonen archetype of the regular guy who keeps fighting no matter how many times he gets knocked down. Living on the edge of poverty with an alcoholic father, he "lost" his younger sister Shizuka when his parents divorced. He works hard to enter Duelist Kingdom, hoping to win enough prize money to pay for an eye operation that would cure his sister's blindness, and over the course of the series rises from mediocre to one of the top eight in the world.
Jounouchi is brash enough to get in Kaiba's face and tell him off when Kaiba is being a jerk – an occurrence to which Kaiba usually reacts with cool disdain and insulting epithets. ~ So of course some of us saw this as subtext.
Pairing Jounouchi with Kaiba is done a lot – but usually one or both are so OOC that the ship has come to be reviled. ~ Very often, Jounouchi is made weak, girly, and/or masochistic ( which imo is no fun at all). ~ Personally I prefer to see Jou as the one who'd be more assertive sexually (as he's far more open emotionally). Not necessarily talking top/bottom here, but more "who would put energy into pursuit." I think Jou has the persistence and energy to get through to Kaiba's defenses (either as a friend or a lover), and that's how I cast their relationship in most of the stories. (In portmanteau, I see it as JouKai rather than KaiJou).
Jounouchi appears in Coming Clean, Face Voice Hands, Beholden, Carwash, Tossed Off, Snowblind, Egg Hunt, A Perfect Monster, Shampoo Boy, Out of the Blue, and The Cerulean Spell.
[Honda, Anzu, Ryou, Mai, Ishizu, Rishid, Croquet, Saruwatari]
Where to get it
The manga is published by VIZ. The first 7 volumes are what became the first series anime, with green-haired Kaiba and Death-T. The next 27 volumes, which have the subtitle "Duelist" begint he number ing at 1 again — as does the last arc, the 7-volume Millennium World (sometimes called the Ancient Egypt arc or Memory World).
Dubbed anime episodes of the first season of Duel Monsters have been available for a while. Season 2 is due to be released in November of 2013.
Written February 2011; Edited 6 September 2013