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The first Yu-Gi-Oh! anime series (also known as "Season 0") was created by Toei Animation and based on the first 7 volumes of the Yu-Gi-Oh! manga. It tells the story from a time before the card game had any importance, and a little bit afterwards.

It was eventually replaced by the second anime series, which decided to skip all the parts that the first anime had already covered in favor of focusing only on the card game arcs. Nevertheless, the second series does make some nods to this one which can only be fully understood if you've watched it.

The second anime series explains very little of this series' plots, with a good reason: before Duel Monsters entered in, this series was completely different, bordering more on a G-rated Saw than Yu-Gi-Oh!. For this reason, both series can complement quite well without feeling you are watching the same thing twice (at least, until it gets to the card games).

It's also worth noticing that many things created by this series were later used as inspiration for later chapters, like the more common presence of Seto Kaiba as a villain. It's also worth noticing that this incarnation of Seto Kaiba is what inspired Noa(h), the Big Bad from the third series of the second anime.

It spawned a 30 minute-long OVA, a few video games and a card game created by Bandai, (which would later be replaced as well by the newer card game).

Little Kuriboh is doing an Abridged Series of this series as well.


Tropes used in Yu-Gi-Oh! include:
  • Abandoned Warehouse: The setting for confrontations with the yo-yo gang, Warashibe and Haiyama.
  • Abusive Parents: Jounouchi's alcoholic father is implied to beat him.
  • Aborted Arc: Because this adaptation was cancelled before it got to the Duelist Kingdom arc, among other things, we never get to see Toei's version of Kaiba put together the last pieces of his shattered heart and become a nicer person.
  • Adapted Out: Several manga characters such as Hanazaki, Goro and Johji don't appear in this anime.
  • Adaptation Dye Job:
    • Kaiba is depicted with bright green hair and gold eyes, in contrast to his dark brown hair and blue eyes in the manga. It's subverted in the movie where he has brown hair and light blue eyes, which is closer to his usual appearance.
    • The school uniforms for the girls are orange instead of pink, with green bows and skirts instead of blue.
    • Bakura's hair is pale blue and he has green eyes (purple when Yami Bakura takes over), as opposed to his white hair and blue/purple eyes in the manga.
    • Shadi's eyes are amber as opposed to the dull blue in the manga.
    • Yugi's purple eyes change to red whenever he becomes Yami Yugi. While the colored manga covers and pages aren't consistent with their eye colors, Yugi and Yami Yugi's eyes stayed the same regardless.
    • Shizuka's hair color was brown or blonde in the manga. In the anime, she has lavender hair.
    • Averted with the Blue-Eyes White Dragon, as it is true to its description (being white with blue eyes), whereas the second anime gave it a bluish tint most of the time.
  • Adaptation Expansion:
    • The tenth episode with Ms. Chono. In the manga, her story takes place entirely within the classroom and solely involves her solving the puzzle Honda left for Miho. In the anime, the puzzle aspect leads to Anzu formally protesting against Chono's draconian rules and starting a petition, which Chono then sabotages by using some older students to steal it for her. The Shadow Game aspect turns into Yami Yugi challenging her to a jigsaw puzzle contest involving mirrors and blindfolds.
    • Seto Kaiba also makes more appearances than he does in the manga with an ongoing subplot to defeat Yugi through his Game Masters; it's only when they all fail that he decides to build Death-T and fight Yugi himself.
    • The rules of Duel Monsters have been expanded, resembling those used in the Duelist Kingdom arc of the manga.
  • Adaptation-Induced Plothole:
    • Instead of bullying Yugi like his manga/second series counterpart, Honda was trying to help Yugi get his puzzle box back. For some reason, Ushio beats him up along with Jonouchi.
    • In the manga, Yami Yugi's first duel with Kaiba ends with the latter losing and being subjected to the "Experience of Death" Penalty Game. In the anime, it's a draw and Kaiba doesn't get a Penalty Game, making it a mystery as to how he came up with the idea for Death-T (in the manga, Yami Yugi inspired him to recreate it as a form of revenge).
    • Nothing of what Gozaburo put Kaiba through from the manga is shown aside from "losing equals death" being the former's catchphrase, and he's even shown having fun as a child after being adopted. The only conclusion is that Kaiba changed on his own rather than from suffering abuse.
    • In the Monster World arc, Jonouchi's first attack under the control of Yami Yugi chops away a piece of Demon King Zorc's body, which then spawns a dragon and a Beholder-like flying eye monster. The Zorc piece was changed in the anime from his entire left arm from the elbow down to a chunk of flesh from the arm, but the flying eye monster is still shaped as if it was Zorc's hand transformed.
    • In the manga version of the Monster World arc, Bakura is clearly shown doing the spinning dice roll before Yugi does it too and reveals that it's a cheat to make critical rolls come out more easily. In the anime, the whole sequence of everyone's souls being transferred into their miniatures was changed so that Bakura rolls only once[1] and it's clearly shown making the dice fall down instead of making them spin, so Yugi's claim that Bakura did the cheat roll multiple times during the game comes out of nowhere.
  • Adaptation Name Change: While not the focus of the show, the card game is referred to as Duel Monsters rather than its early manga title of Magic and Wizards.
  • Adaptational Badass:
    • Mokuba got all the high scores in every arcade game, while Kaiba did in the manga.
    • Honda beats Kujirada's digital pet instead of Yugi.
    • In the manga, Jonouchi and Honda defeat Kaiba's three assassins, while in the anime, the assassins take them down and only end up losing after Miho panics and hits them all with wild shots.
  • Adaptational Heroism:
    • Mokuba is more tame in comparison to his manga counterpart. He doesn't poison Jonouchi or duel Yugi in Capsule Monsters with the threat of cutting off his fingers beforehand, and carries no grudge against Yugi or his friends.
    • In the water park chapter of the manga, Anzu pretends to be in danger all day to no avail, hears about the bomber's warning and goes on the ferris wheel deliberately to make Yami Yugi come out. In the anime, she pretends to be in danger to no avail, goes to the ferris wheel before the warning's put out to sulk over not seeing Yami Yugi, and is targeted by happenstance.
    • At the start of the Death-T arc in the anime, Yugi's friends get together and promise to help him face the challenges as a team. In the manga, only Jonouchi accompanied Yugi to face Death-T; Honda (plus his baby nephew, who wasn't adapted into the anime) and Anzu happened to be at Kaibaland by coincidence and decided to help Yugi at the last minute.
    • In the manga, Kujirada became a bully entirely of his own volition, while in the anime, he turned into one after Haiyama repeatedly abused him.
    • In the manga, Imori was a devious student who sought to usurp the power of the Millenium Puzzle using the Soul Jar, but in the anime, he's portrayed as a nice guy who was corrupted by the Dragon Block's power. In the manga, his soul ends up being taken by the jar as punishment, effectively killing him, whereas the anime has the Dragon Block extracting the evil from within his heart, thus bringing him back to normal.
    • Kaiba's butler (called "Daimon" here) is portrayed as a sympathetic Cool Old Guy who's only following Kaiba's orders in the hopes that he'll eventually become good again, rather than being a master torturer like he was in the manga.
  • Adaptational Villainy:
    • In the manga, Ms. Chono was only interested in humiliation, but in the Toei series, she's a sadistic Control Freak who's willing to go to extreme lengths to break Anzu's spirit just for questioning her authority.
    • In the manga, Mr. Karita picks on Bakura as he's heard about his troublesome reputation. In the anime, he picks on Bakura as well as Yugi and his friends just because he enjoys bullying students.
    • Seto Kaiba here is even worse than his manga counterpart. After tying a game with Yugi and not suffering a Penalty Game, he sends his Game Masters to kill/defeat Yugi and goes on to build Death-T for the sole purpose of killing Yugi and his friends. The flashbacks in episode 20 of him as a child further this, as nothing of what Gozaburo put him through from the manga is shown. While Daimon's tutelage in games could be taken as Kaiba going to the logical extreme to surpass everybody, it implies that Kaiba changed on his own rather than from suffering abuse.
  • Adaptational Wimp:
    • Honda went from a tough guy in the manga to a rules-posturing student council member.
    • In the manga, Jonouchi did very well in fights and was instrumental in helping Yugi and his friends win Death-T. In this anime, he was the only one injured during Death-T 1 and Miho saved the day, was beaten up by Kaiba's guards, Ryuichi Fuwa, Aileen Rao and the Kageyama Sisters, and rolled a 99 in Monster World out of fear that he'd be turned into a figurine.
    • Yugi is worse at gaming here than in the manga, only beating Miho in Duel Monsters in episode 8, losing to a puppet of the school nurse and being mocked for his lack of strategy, and even Yami Yugi says that the one move he played in his duel with Count Sheldon was dumb. He's also on the losing end of a duel against the Kageyama Sisters in episode 15, though there he was sick and separated from the Millenium Puzzle. He also loses to Daimon in episode 20 and, though the consequences aren't as drastic, is chided for playing too straightforwardly.
    • In the manga's Monster World arc, to stop the spiked ceiling trap, Yami Yugi's last roll was 33, the correct number. In the Toei anime, he rolls 66 on his last turn when the correct number was 99, which would have resulted in Yami Bakura killing everyone if Miho's fairy merchant powers hadn't changed it to the right number at the last second.
  • Admiring the Abomination: During Kaiba's first duel with Yami Yugi, the latter turns the match into a Shadow Game where the monsters appear to be real and the losing cards are completely destroyed. Rather than be intimidated like most of Yugi's foes, Kaiba instead becomes more excited than ever, stating that it's the ultimate game he'd been searching for.
  • Adult Fear: Episode 11 has Miho deal with a creepy stalker who wants to imprison her inside a giant Capumon capsule. Miho is about 15 and her stalker is at least 18.
  • Agent Scully: In the fortune-telling episode, Yugi's skepticism from the manga at Kokurano's predictions is given to Anzu, but she eventually gives in after thinking she can meet Yami Yugi.
  • Ain't Too Proud to Beg: Even though he was cruel to him earlier, Mr. Karita begs Jonouchi for help after getting turned into a figurine by Yami Bakura.
  • Alpha Bitch: Kaoruko Himekoji is a spoiled beauty who tries to sabotage Anzu and Miho's efforts to win a popularity contest by sabotaging Anzu's acts and destroying Miho's clothes. When that doesn't work, she drugs Miho, tears up her clothing and leaves her unconscious in an alley.
  • Ambiguously Brown: Shotaro Akaboshi (the watch thief from episode 4)
  • Amusement Park of Doom: Death-T is a theme park solely designed to kill Yugi and his friends, though in this series, Kaiba presents it as more of a test to see if Yugi is truly worthy of dueling him rather than an outright deathtrap. Unlike in the manga, Kaiba gives Yugi a reasonable chance of winning each challenge and at no point does the team require underhanded tactics to win.
  • Animation Bump:
    • Shadi's episodes boast some of the best animation in the series, especially during his Shadow Games.
    • The movie boasts even better animation quality than the main series, particularly when Yugi and Kaiba duel.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: During the Death-T arc, Kaiba asks Mokuba why he's so determined to beat Yugi when he has no reason to hold a grudge against him. Mokuba ponders for a moment before insisting it's to earn his big brother's respect.
  • Artifact of Doom: Aside from the Millennium Items, there's the Dragon Block game which has powers similar to that of Yugi's puzzle. What's more is that when the Dragon Block game is played, natural disasters will affect the real-life locations represented on the game map.
  • Artifact Title:
    • The cards have "MW" on the back standing for "Magic and Wizards", the manga title of the game, even though the card game is consistently named "Duel Monsters" throughout the show.
    • Averted with the show title of Yu-Gi-Oh!, meaning "King of Games", as Yami Yugi is shown to be very skilled at a wide variety of games besides Duel Monsters.
  • Ascended Extra: Miho Nosaka was only used in one chapter in the manga as a love interest to Honda (who promptly shot him down when he asked to be her boyfriend). She became a main character in the anime to help fill out the girl quota, though at best, she's mostly a Satellite Character.
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! Abridged (when it focuses on "Season 0") hilariously lampshades this by hardly having her speak and when she does, it's in a very over-the-top voice that the other characters bluntly ignore.
  • Audience Surrogate: Shougo Aoyama serves this role in the movie, being a young Duel Monsters fan who's friends with Yugi.
  • Ax Crazy:
  • Badass Normal: Seto Kaiba is the only non-Millennium Item user that Yami Yugi considers a Worthy Opponent. To emphasize this point, Kaiba is the only character to tie with Yami Yugi in a Shadow Game, something Shadi and Yami Bakura never accomplished, and other worthy opponents such as Aileen Rao or Daimon were working for Kaiba.
  • Bait and Switch Credits: The opening animation shows Yugi playing the Dark Magician against Kaiba, but he never actually uses it in this series (with the exception of the OVA).
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: Daimon's immense loyalty to Kaiba stems from the fact that Kaiba was nice to him as a child. Even though he's immensely saddened by what Kaiba has become, he continues to serve him in the hopes that he will someday make a Heel Face Turn.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Bakura always wanted to be surrounded by friends, so Yami Bakura ensured that would always be the case by sealing the souls of his friends within figurines for his Monster World collection.
  • Believing Their Own Lies: Kokurano, a Phony Psychic, starts to believe that he actually has supernatural powers when having them would be the only way to win a Shadow Game.
  • Berserk Button:
  • Beware the Nice Ones:
    • Ryou Bakura is a very sweet, shy, quiet and polite guy... who has a Super-Powered Evil Side that he's only vaguely aware of.
    • The same goes for Yugi. He's kind, trusting and shy... until his dark side wakes up.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: This plot point is used a lot, even in manga-adapted episodes where it didn't happen originally.
    • Kaiba befriends Yugi over their common interest in Duel Monsters, but when Yugi's grandfather refuses to sell his Blue-Eyes White Dragon card to Kaiba, Kaiba tricks Yugi into switching it with a fake. When Yugi calls Kaiba out on the switch, Kaiba drops the facade and whacks Yugi in the face with a briefcase.
    • Haiyama acts timid and easily scared, but it's revealed he's an even worse bully than Kujirada and uses a whip to punish him for losing a virtual pet duel to Honda.
    • Ryuichi Fuwa acts personable around Yugi and his friends and uses his luck for their benefit initially, but he turns out to be a superstitious, cocky jerk who only cares about himself and winning.
    • Risa Kageyama pretends to befriend Yugi in order to get her hands on the rare Violet Hecate card he had.
    • Aileen Rao befriends Yugi and Anzu and invites them to her apartment, where she hypnotizes Anzu and threatens her with a tiger to force Yugi into playing a game with her.
  • Bowdlerise: Many of the death-related Penalty Games from the manga were turned into illusions, and several storylines were made less violent and disturbing. The most noticeably-altered storyline is the Death-T arc, which replaces the guillotine trap with a huge robot and excises the rest of Death-T 2 completely. Kaiba's butler getting fried by an electric chair trap is also removed, as is Honda's breast-grabbing perverted baby nephew.
  • But Not Too Foreign: Aileen Rao is Canadian-Indian, but she speaks perfect Japanese with no Gratuitous English.
  • The Cameo: Rex Raptor makes a brief cameo in the movie as one of the duelists Kaiba defeats.
  • Canon Foreigner: Three of Kaiba's Game Masters (Count Sheldon, Aileen Rao and Ryuichi Fuwa) were created exclusively for this version of the anime. Many other characters are also Toei-exclusive, such as the Kageyama sisters, Dr. Goyu and Kaoruko Himekoji.
  • Catch Phrase: Yami Yugi usually makes his presence known by stating "It's time to play a game".
    • Whenever he punishes the loser of a Shadow Game, he states "The door of darkness has opened...".
  • Card Games: Plays a large part in all arcs concerning Kaiba.
  • Character Development: Mostly for the two Yugis, but everyone else gets a decent amount at the very least.
  • Character Exaggeration: Since the anime was made before early character traits were downplayed, many of the characters' personalities are exaggerated compared to later on in the manga and the second anime series.
    • Jonouchi is much more focused on manly things and being a real man, which was only the case in early chapters.
    • Yugi's childishness is more overt, especially when it comes to games, leading to annoyance from Anzu at times.
    • Anzu in this series is a full-on Type B Tsundere. While Anzu in the manga could have quite a temper, it was never so frequent.
  • Chekhov's Gag: Miho's hidden talent for fighting games proves to be very important in the final stage of Death-T.
  • Cherry Tapping: Yami Yugi tends to win his Shadow Games this way, even making a hole-in-one with a stethoscope against Dr. Goyu in episode 16.
  • Clark Kenting: Aileen Rao is a world-famous model, but when she comes into the game store wearing sunglasses, nobody recognizes her until she takes them off.
  • Clock Punk: The Shadow Game between Yugi and Shotaro Akaboshi, a thief who steals rare watches, takes place around a huge clock pendulum.
  • Color Wash: Toei's anime has an incredibly supersaturated neon palette.
  • Compelling Voice: Aileen uses a hypnotic suggestion to freeze Anzu solid, and it's revealed that she also hypnotized anyone who lost to her to make them think they lost whatever's important to them.
  • Complexity Addiction: It's implied that Yami Yugi could easily use his powers to hurt antagonists directly (e.g. how Kaiba's guards end up beaten and unconscious in episode 3), but instead prefers to let fate decide by challenging them to Shadow Games.
  • Compressed Adaptation:
    • Only a handful of chapters from the first seven volumes of the manga were animated. In comparison, a lot more chapters from the manga were left out than there were animated, making the anime significantly shorter than the manga even if you don't count Volume 8 onwards.
    • The Death-T arc is shorter than in the manga, particularly Death-T 2, and Yugi and Kaiba's duel at the end is trimmed down slightly.
  • Conspicuous CGI: The first series has this a few times (such as in the opening, or in episode 16 with the hospital stairs) - and it's quite obvious.
  • Cruel to Be Kind: Hirutani blackmails Jonouchi into rejoining his gang by threatening to hurt Jonouchi's friends. For their own safety, Jonouchi acts coldly towards them in the hopes that they would stay away. When Hirutani goes back on his word, Jonouchi decides to settle things using Good Old Fisticuffs.
  • Cryptic Background Reference: Yami Bakura mentions how he and Demon King Zorc (his Monster World character) are the same being. The story behind Bandit King Bakura being fused with Zorc the Dark One to make the spirit of the ring is elaborated upon during the Millennium World arc of the manga, but this anime never got to that point so it's only seen as Bakura having synchronization with his game piece as the Game Master.
  • Darker and Edgier: While it's not as dark as the manga, it's darker than the second anime in terms of Yami Yugi's Penalty Games.
    • Ushio's Penalty Game is changed from him hallucinating leaves and trash as money to him being devoured by monsters.
    • The virtual pet chapter is also darker than in the manga, with the Villain of the Week role being taken over by Haiyama, who treats his classmates like slaves and whips them whenever they lose.
  • Death Trap: Kaiba's sadistic Amusement Park of Doom, Death-T, is basically a long series of increasingly difficult death traps designed to kill Yugi and his friends.
  • Decomposite Character: The anime split Prisoner #777 from the manga into two separate characters; Tetsuo "The Hedgehog" Sasaki (who has spiky hair and breaks out of prison) and Jiro the Yellow Spider (who takes Anzu hostage at gunpoint before being defeated by Yami Yugi in a Shadow Game).
  • Demoted to Extra:
    • The Dark Magician only appears in the opening, in episode 3 as a card that Kaiba steals but doesn't use, and briefly in the OVA.
    • In the OVA, aside from Jonouchi, none of Yugi's friends have a big role or do much of anything.
  • Designated Victim: Many villains will either beat Yugi up or put Anzu and/or Miho in danger, which brings out Yami Yugi.
  • Didn't Think This Through: When Miho confronts Warashibe about endangering her friends, he challenges her to settle things through a game of Capumon. Miho accepts with much bravado... only to realize once the game has begun that she doesn't actually know how to play, forcing Yami Yugi to step in and help her.
  • Disguised in Drag: In episode 19, Jonouchi puts on a Marilyn Monroe-esque costume so he can enter the school popularity contest that was aimed towards girls. It doesn't fool anyone.
  • Disproportionate Retribution:
    • Kaiba and Yugi's first duel is changed into a draw, so neither side wins and he doesn't get a penalty game. Kaiba becomes so furious at the duel ending in a draw that he sends his Game Masters to kill/defeat Yugi and his friends, stalks Yugi to see if anyone else is trying to beat him in a duel first, and builds Death-T for the purpose of killing Yugi and his friends.
    • In the OVA, Shougo is too scared to go to Kaiba's tournament and Yugi also refuses, so Kaiba's goons beat them up and steal the Red-Eyes Black Dragon card and the Millenium Puzzle.
    • Shotaro Akaboshi beats a guy unconscious just for bumping into him while stating that, if his watches had gotten damaged, he would've killed him right then and there.
  • The Ditz: Miho is very spacey most of the time and usually is the last to realize just how dangerous things have gotten.
  • Early Installment Weirdness:
    • The Blue-Eyes White Dragon is called the Blue-Eyes Dragon in its first appearance and, in the OVA, the Red-Eyes Black Dragon is similarly called the Red-Eyes Dragon.
    • Yami Yugi's eyes are purple and red in his first appearance when afterward they're usually just red.
    • This series uses the manga's early explanation of how the Millenium Puzzle was found by a team of British archaeologists who all died mysteriously before passing it on to Yugi's grandpa, rather than Yugi's grandpa himself conquering a series of Shadow Games to find it.
  • Electronic Music: Unlike the orchestrated tracks of the second adaptation, this anime used synthesized tracks for background music.
  • Evasive Fight Thread Episode: Yugi and Kaiba's first duel is reworked into a draw, so neither side wins.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Yami Yugi isn't a pure hero, but he's not evil either, only putting his foot down when something doesn't sit right with him.
    • Yami Yugi may have rigged Shadi's mind so that he wouldn't find his soul room, but he wasn't about to let the man die.
    • When Mokuba is put through Kaiba's penalty game, Yami Yugi pulls him out before the illusions take full effect on his fragile mind.
  • Evil Counterpart: Aileen Rao is one to both Anzu and Yami Yugi. Like Anzu, she's a dancer and achieved her dream of being an idol, and like Yami Yugi, she prefers reading her opponents and psyching them out over luck-based games.
  • Exact Words:
    • During his Shadow Game with Kaoruko, Yami Yugi states that whoever draws the last rose in Kaoruko's possession would lose the game. Just when Kaoruko thinks she's won with only one flower left in her bouquet, Yami Yugi plucks the rose that was embedded in her hair, as he never explicitly stated that they could only draw from the bouquet.
    • When Jonouchi confronts the "Impostor Dragon" man, the latter challenges him to a fight atop a steel pipe across a river where whoever falls first loses. When the man realizes Jonouchi is stronger than he thought, he pulls out a pair of nunchaku, stating that he never forbade the use of weapons. As such, Jonouchi defeats the guy by using a soda can as an Improvised Weapon.
  • Four Eyes, Zero Soul: Haiyama in episode 7.
    • Dr. Gyou from episode 16 is another example.
  • Game of Nim: Yami Yugi challenges Kaoruko to one, using flowers as substitutes for matchsticks.
  • Gotta Catch Them All: Subverted when Miho talks about collecting Capsule Monsters, but Yugi's Grandpa says that Capsule Monsters is not a collection game, but the epitome of a fighting game. Yami Yugi later echoes this when delivering a Penalty Game to the obsessive collector Warashibe.
  • Graceful Loser:
    • Aileen Rao takes her defeat against Yami Yugi surprisingly well, even releasing Anzu from her hypnosis like she'd previously promised.
    • In the movie, Kaiba calmly admits defeat to Yami Yugi - but states that the battle between them is not yet over.
  • Gratuitous English: Unguard Magic (the Toei equivalent of Stop Defense) is the only card written in English.
  • Hard Light: Kaiba's "Solid Vision" is truly solid here, as it can form solid boxes around opponents that vanish in an instant, project realistic monsters with attacks that damage the surroundings and also create mecha-suits.
  • Healing Factor: Played with. When Yugi transforms into Yami Yugi, any injuries he received disappear... but when he transforms back, the injuries are still there, and any injuries Yami Yugi suffers also remain.
  • Heel Face Revolving Door: Aileen seems to turn good after Yami Yugi defeats her, but come Death-T, she's working for Kaiba again and is even worse than before.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: During the Monster World arc, Bakura sacrifices himself in order to stop Yami Bakura from killing everyone. However, by working together against all odds, Yugi and friends are able to save him, defeat Yami Bakura and win the game.
    • Earlier, Poki tries to sacrifice himself so the gang can defeat Demon King Zorc, but Yugi rescues him using his magic.
  • Heroic Second Wind: During his mecha-suit battle with Aileen Rao, Jonouchi's life points are depleted, leaving him powerless until he sees a vision of his friends helping him stand up. Remembering that he isn't fighting alone, his life points magically restore themselves, giving him the strength he needs to defeat Aileen.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Yugi towards Kaiba. When Jonouchi and Honda confront Kaiba about stealing Yugi's card, he has his bodyguards beat them up. When Yugi arrives, Kaiba continues to bluff until Yugi reveals he knew that Kaiba stole the card, but was hoping he'd realize his mistake and return it. When Yugi begs him to give the card back, Kaiba finally shows his True Colors and whacks Yugi in the face with a briefcase.
  • Humans Are Bastards: Yugi can't even go to the arcade with his friends for a good time without being beaten up by some random asshole who rages over the fact that he lost a video game... and blames innocent bystander Yugi for the loss.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Anzu points out how Miho is critical of Kujirada's lazy approach to raising his pet when Miho herself got Honda to raise her pet for her.
  • I Know Mortal Kombat: Jonouchi plays a live-action fighting game during the Death-T arc using mecha-suits. Since the controls are like an arcade fighting game, Miho is able to execute a special attack from her previous experience with fighting games.
  • In Love with Your Carnage: Hirutani really enjoys watching Jonouchi go wild during a fight. To invoke this, Hirutani forces him to fight off a rival gang by himself and is seen smiling when Jonouchi manages to defeat them all. Later on, when Jonouchi threatens to kick his ass for his betrayal, Hirutani is only delighted to see that Jonouchi's rage hasn't vanished.
  • Ill Girl: Shizuka, but rather than going blind, she has a generic illness.
  • Innocuously Important Episode: While episode 19's main plot is unrelated to the overarching story, Bakura makes his first appearance, catching the attention of both Yugi and Miho. There's also a cameo by Mokuba at the end to signal the beginning of the Death-T arc.
  • In-Series Nickname: Yami Yugi is usually referred to as "the other Yugi".
  • Insistent Terminology: When Shadi refers to Yugi as a "kid", he is quick to assert that he is a high-schooler.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Mr. Karita warns Yugi and the others not to become friends with Bakura because all his previous friends had strangely fallen into comas. Even though Karita was just seizing the opportunity to be mean, he was right about it being no mere coincidence...
  • Just Toying with Them: When Kaiba duels the Kageyama Sisters, he allows them to add Yugi's Violet Hecate to their deck as a huge advantage, letting them deal damage to him before surprising them with a Blue-Eyes White Dragon. While their Gorgon is stronger than an individual Blue-Eyes, a pair of Blue-Eyes are able to overpower Gorgon with ease, winning him the duel.
  • Keet: According to Anzu, Yugi acts like a child whenever he gets excited about games.
  • Killer Game Master: Yami Bakura. Tabletop Role Playing Games are supposed to be adventurous, not life-threatening.
  • Let's Fight Like Gentlemen: Jonouchi detests the idea of using weapons in a fight, preferring to beat his enemies with his own fists.
  • Left Hanging:
    • The anime ends after the Monster World arc and never got around to doing any other chapters, so among other things, we never see Kaiba piecing his heart back together or the other Millennium Item users besides Yugi, Shadi and Bakura.
    • Individual episodes tend to end this way due to a rushed climax, such as the Kageyama sisters never getting punished since the episode ends right after Kaiba defeats them.
  • Leitmotif: Yami Yugi has one to signify his arrival. It's also the only music track featured in both the series and the OVA.
  • Leotard of Power: Aileen Rao strips down to one before donning her mecha-suit. Additionally, Aileen's mecha-suit leaves her midriff bare, while Jonouchi's doesn't.
  • Lighter and Softer: It's noticeably toned down compared to the manga. Any death-related Penalty Games that occurred in the manga are turned into mere illusions, and there's very little blood.
  • Luck-Based Mission: The format of Yami Yugi's Shadow Game against Ryuichi. Knowing that Ryuichi's supernatural luck would assure him victory, Yami Yugi tricks him into making a wrong move so that he could beat him in a single turn.
  • Mad Bomber: The villain of episode 14 is one of these.
  • The Man Behind the Man: In the virtual pets episode, it's revealed that Haiyama was actually manipulating Kujirada all along.
  • Manchild:
    • Warashibe does not handle setbacks well, throws a tantrum when Yugi is unsure about helping him and is also scared of the dark. To drive it home, his name means "child".
    • While not as bad as Warashibe, Shotaro's fairly immature and asks for a do-over during his Shadow Game. He doesn't take losing a second time well.
  • Mind Rape: Those who are defeated by Yami Yugi in a Shadow Game are subjected to this.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Hirutani and his gang's weaponry revolves exclusively around yo-yos.
  • Named by the Adaptation: The kung-fu champion is called "Dragon" in the anime, and Kaiba's butler is called "Daimon".
  • New Rules as the Plot Demands: In regards to Duel Monsters. Many cards and their effects were made for the anime, including a doll-themed dueling field, the Hecate Sisters and Gorgon, and the "Evil Chains" card from the movie.
  • Nightmare Fetishist:
    • At the museum, Miho finds the mummy on display cute - much to the others' confusion.
    • Yugi interprets the writing on the Millenium Puzzle's box to mean that he's going to get a wish granted even when explicitly told that it says the one who solves the puzzle will inherit dark knowledge and power. His reaction to finding out the team that found the puzzle all died isn't exactly normal, and he says the idea of "Shadow Games" sounds cool.
  • Non-Serial Movie: Toei made a 30-minute OVA that came out sometime after the anime ended. It features the same voice actors that appeared in this series and features the same songs, but some of the character designs are more accurate to the manga. The plot is contradictory to the Toei anime as well. Bakura and Mokuba aren't present, Kaiba only seems to remember Yugi tying him when he lost to him at Death-T and got Mind Crushed, Yugi and Kaiba use the first version of the Duel Disks, etc. It could take place before this anime's equivalent of Duelist Kingdom that never aired, because Jonouchi doesn't recognize the Red-Eyes Black Dragon (but is aware of Yami Yugi's presence) and Saruwatari is still working for Kaiba.
  • Not His Sled: Some stories are given twists that weren't in the manga.
    • In the Burger World episode, the villain turns out to not be the robber, but the manager of the store instead.
    • In the virtual pets episode, the villain isn't Kujirada, but rather an inconspicuous classmate named Haiyama who likes to turn people into his slaves, complete with whipping as a punishment.
  • Not Using the Z Word: Subverted. While Daimon lies unconscious in a hospital bed, a doctor remarks to Yugi how Daimon should technically have died years ago, yet somehow he still manages to cling on to life with his artificial organs. Daimon wakes up and indifferently admits "So I'm a zombie, then?".
  • OOC Is Serious Business: Jonouchi being absent from school immediately alerts Honda that something is wrong, given his perfect attendance.
  • Offscreen Inertia: Since the show was cancelled before making it to the Duelist Kingdom arc, if you don't count the 30-minute movie, Seto Kaiba has been in a coma since 1998.
  • Oh Crap: The default reaction of Yami Yugi's victims when they realize they've lost a Shadow Game.
    • Yami Bakura freaks out when he realizes that the real Bakura has regained control of his left hand.
  • One-Winged Angel: During the Monster World game, after White Mage Bakura escapes from his body, Demon King Zorc transforms into a more powerful form as a last resort. While this form is powerful, it's also when Zorc is at his most vulnerable.
  • The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Kaiba stalks Yugi for an entire episode because he suspects someone else is trying to defeat him in a duel and refers to his rival as "bound by the red string of fate".
  • Ordered to Cheat: Kaiba secretly gives Daimon the ability to see his opponent's card hand during his duel with Yugi... but Daimon refuses to use it, stating that he would rather beat Yugi fair and square.
  • Out of Focus: Bakura, despite appearing in the opening, doesn't really do much until the final few episodes.
  • Outside Context Villain: Ryuichi is the only antagonist whose "supernatural" powers aren't the result of a magical item. He's just really lucky.
  • Pet the Dog: Yami Yugi is normally brutal to his foes, but he takes the time to compliment Daimon's skill as a duelist and comforts him after Kaiba abandons him. He also compliments Aileen Rao on her strength.
  • Plot Hole: In episode 13, Anzu notices that Yugi has the same burn mark on his hand as her rescuer, but from the angle Yami Yugi was carrying her, it should have been impossible for her to see it.
  • Police Are Useless: The police get involved in episodes 2 and 14 to deal with the villains of the week, but they prove to be ineffective.
  • Potty Emergency: In episode 4, after waiting in line all morning for a rare watch, Honda asks Yugi to fill in for him because he needs to pee.
  • The Power of Friendship: A major recurring theme in the anime. As Yugi explains to Shadi: "True strength does not come from oneself, but from believing in one's friends".
  • Pride Before a Fall: Yami Yugi's opponents are typically so confident that they'll win the Shadow Game that their hubris proves to be their undoing.
  • The Punishment: Yami Yugi subjects those who lose or cheat during a Shadow Game to a fitting punishment.
  • The Real Remington Steele: In episode 8, Count Sheldon impersonates the school nurse using a life-size puppet. In episode 11, the nurse appears for real when treating Yugi's friends.
  • Reality Warper: A major difference between this and the manga/second series anime is that the Millenium Puzzle seems to give Yami Yugi reality-warping powers. In contrast to the manga, where Yami Yugi challenges Ushio to a knife game on the spot, Yami Yugi in this anime transports Ushio to a tower, tied to a rope which appears out of nowhere. Yami Yugi also seems to make the playing cards stay in place on the wall. In the watch thief episode, he transports them to a dimension full of clocks and in general can conjure up anything needed for his Shadow Games.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Yami Yugi has red eyes in this series, and this is played straight for anyone who angers Yugi.
  • Satellite Character: Miho doesn't get a lot to do in manga-adapted arcs, usually only doing things in original episodes. When she does do things, it's usually at the expense of someone else who did what she does in the manga events.
  • School Uniforms Are the New Black: Besides Yugi and Jonouchi constantly wearing their uniforms, Kaiba also does this, and his outfit during the Death-T arc is very similar to it.
  • Schmuck Bait: During the Monster World game, Yugi and his friends find a painfully obvious trap inside a tower. When Yami Yugi realizes that it's a trap, he tells them to get out immediately... and finds that they're already inside the tower.
  • Set Piece Puzzle: The door to Imori's basement contains one of these as a lock. Naturally, Yugi has no trouble solving it.
  • Shadow Archetype:
    • Imori represents how Yugi would have turned out had he not made any friends and used the dark powers of the Millenium Puzzle for his own personal gain.
    • Bakura, like Yugi, also possessed a Millennium Item and wished to make friends. Unfortunately, the Spirit of the Millennium Ring granted Bakura's wish in the worst way possible...
  • Shout-Out: The Kageyama sisters and the Hecate cards they are attempting to gather are a rather blatant reference to Macbeth, which gets lampshaded by Kaiba.
  • Smug Smiler: This incarnation of Seto Kaiba is seen smiling quite often, even moreso than his manga counterpart.
  • Snap Back: Aileen Rao, despite parting on good terms with Yugi and admitting that he's a better gamer than Kaiba, returns to battle Jonouchi in the finale of the Death-T arc, saying that she hopes Kaiba ends up defeating Yugi.
  • Spared by the Adaptation:
  • Stalker with a Crush: Warashibe is this for Miho. His obsession with Capumon and her merge and he becomes a Yandere, determined to claim her by any means necessary.
  • Stalker Without a Crush: Kaiba is so determined to beat Yugi that he follows him around town, waiting to jump him.
  • Straw Hypocrite: Kaiba, in regards to the Kageyama sisters. Kaiba criticizes the sisters for obtaining rare cards by any means necessary, which includes deception or flat-out stealing. Yet at the same time, Kaiba employs the exact same approach to obtain rare cards, as shown in his debut episode.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: In the movie, the card "Evil Chains" allows for the creation of Blue-Eyes White Dragon's 3-Body Connection, which is highly reminiscent of the Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon. The most likely reason for not featuring the latter was to put emphasis on Yugi defeating Kaiba through fusion summoning.
  • Tiny Guy, Huge Girl: Jonouchi lampshades this dynamic between Anzu and Yugi when they visit the amusement park.
  • Third Person Person: Miho occasionally refers to herself in the third-person.
  • Two Girls to a Team: Due to Miho being upgraded to a main character from her one-off status in the manga, she and Anzu are the main female characters.
  • Unwinnable by Design: Averted with Death-T 1. Unlike the manga, Kaiba does not rig the game so that Yugi's team are given ineffective weaponry, though he still has them face opponents who are professionals.
  • Villainous Rescue: In episode 15, Yugi has had the Millenium Puzzle stolen so he can't transform, has a cold, and is on the losing end of a duel with three witch sisters. Kaiba intervenes and defeats them so that he can beat Yugi later down the road.
  • Weirdness Magnet: Yugi can't even walk down the street eating ice cream without getting threatened. He gets beaten up almost Once an Episode.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: Mokuba's obsession with defeating Yugi in Death-T stems from his belief that doing so will finally earn him his big brother's respect.
  • Where Are They Now? Epilogue: During the credits of the movie, Shougo is shown having fun playing Duel Monsters with Yugi and his friends, so much so that he even challenges the three guys that bullied him earlier to a friendly duel.
  • Widget Series: Even by Yu-Gi-Oh! standards, this series can get bizarre at times, including episodes about an Evil Brit who collects dolls as a hobby, can change his voice and controls life-size puppets, a trio of witch sisters who play Duel Monsters and wield whips, and a supermodel with hypnotic powers and a pet tiger.
  • The Worf Effect:
    • Jonouchi is generally a tough fighter, so antagonists - usually in anime-original episodes - will beat him up to show how dangerous they are.
    • Yugi loses or almost loses duels more often in this anime, with Yami Yugi (and Kaiba in one instance) defeating his opponent later.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Kaiba, towards his own brother, no less. Mokuba was genuinely horrified to learn he would be subjected to a Penalty Game for losing against Yugi, as per the rules of Death-T.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Kaiba leaves Daimon for dead after he loses to Yugi, particularly because Daimon refused to cheat during their duel. He also subjects Mokuba to a Penalty Game after he loses to Yugi.

Notes

  1. Manga version: Bakura rolls a super-critical and takes out Anzu, Jonouchi rushes in and is punished for not waiting his turn, Honda fails to attack because he fails the courage roll against Zorc's fear aura and Bakura crits against him, then Yugi asks to be transferred into his miniature; in the anime, Bakura's super-critical takes out Miho, Honda is the one who rushes in, Jonouchi takes himself out by rolling a 99 and then both Yugi and Anzu ask to have their souls transferred
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