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The original basis for the anime series, the Yu-Gi-Oh! manga by Kazuki Takahashi tells the story of Yugi Moto, who is pulled into the world of high-stakes gaming after completing the Millennium Puzzle and awakening the Pharaoh within.

The first seven volumes or so are about games in general; from then on, the story shifts to focus on Duel Monsters, which is better known as the Yu-Gi-Oh! card game. Unlike the anime, the manga only has the three big story arcs: Duelist Kingdom (just titled Yu-Gi-Oh!), Battle City (Yu-Gi-Oh! Duelist), and Millennium World. We have a recap page for the chapters in the manga.

Unbeknownst to many, the manga and first anime even had their own card game.

Tropes used in Yu-Gi-Oh! (manga) include:
  • Abandoned Warehouse: The manga has a warehouse in the two yoyo gang stories and the Mokuba Kaiba capmon game.
  • Abusive Parents: Ryuji Otogi/Duke Devlin's father
  • 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 evil. 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.
  • Author Appeal: Did you know Kazuki Takahashi likes games? Because it says so in every volume of the manga. Like we couldn't tell...
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing:
    • 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
    • The spirit of the Millennium Ring: 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.
  • 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.
  • Captain Ersatz: An assassin hired by Kaiba during the Death-T arc looks remarkably like Duke Togo of Golgo 13.
  • Cherry Tapping: In Joey's duel with Espa Roba, Joey wins by having Baby Dragon attack Roba directly. It's not the weakest monster by a longshot, but it's still pretty embarrassing.
  • The Chessmaster: Kaiba in the Death-T arc. He even has the chessboard.
  • 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 Poetic Justice 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 Yami 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.
  • 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.
  • Dead Little Sister: Ryou Bakura writes his dead little sister a letter.
  • Death by Childbirth: Mokuba explains that his mother died shortly after his birth. Whether this was by childbirth or not is not specified, but the result stays the same.
  • Death by Irony: Most of Yami 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.
  • Defictionalization: The card game was originally just a plot device thrown into the manga, intended to be the topic of a single 2-part plot arc with no real world equivalent -- the manga was supposed to switch to a different game with every issue, and originally, the card game didn't even have any real rules, which is obvious in the early parts. Now it is the highest-selling trading card game in the world.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: In the early manga. For example, the leader of gang that broke Yugi's class' stand and injured him was blown up by Yami.
    • 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.
    • Yami 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 Yami 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.
  • Homage: The card game was originally intended as a homage to Magic: The Gathering, of which Takahashi is a fan.
  • 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 Land" 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!
  • Killer Yoyo: Hirutani's gang
  • Let's Fight Like Gentlemen: Played to a much creepier effect in the early volumes of the manga and Season Zero, 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).
  • Morality Chain: Mokuba. As the Season Zero/manga version of Kaiba shows exactly what happens to his personality without Mokuba holding him back. The manga is pretty explicit in stating that Mokuba is the last and final piece of his rebuilt heart.
  • The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Presented by Yami 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.
  • Orgasmically Delicious: Bakura's steak.
  • Pokémon-Speak: In Volumes 6-7, the Monster World characters Pau and Pokii speak using their own names.
  • Sadist Teacher: Ms. Chono.
  • Soul Jar: A literal one
  • Swallow the Key: One character does this as part of his hereditary Human Vault job.
  • Uncatty Resemblance: Everyone's, but especially Yugi's, virtual pet in the manga.
    • Also for their game pieces in Bakura's Monster World. Again, emphasis on Yugi's perfectly matching hair.
  • Wager Slave: In the manga, this was basically the entire point.
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