Yami Yugi Introduction
Also known as: Dark Yugi, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Nameless Pharaoh, Atem
Age: 5000+ years old (or 3000+ years old, depending on the dub you’re watching)
Blood Type: A (but Yugi’s blood type is AB?)
Favorite Food: Falafel
Voice Actor: Dan Green (4Kids); Megumi Ogata and Shunsuke Kazama (Japanese dub)
Yu-Gi-Oh! is great because you get two stellar protagonists for the price of one – there’s little Yugi Muto, our short duelist king, and Yami Yugi, his taller and more serious looking alter ego. Yami Yugi exists within Yugi Muto, and is the spirit of the Pharaoh Atem. In today’s article, we’re taking an in-depth look at the legendary King Of Games in our Yami Yugi Character Profile.
Series creator Kazuki Takahashi created Yami Yugi as a foil character for Yugi Muto. While little Yugi finds strength in friendship and in the cards, he’s bullied at school often and can be a bit shy. Yami Yugi, on the other hand, is stronger and more confident. Takahashi explains, “As far as the manga story goes, I think all kids dream of henshin — the ability to turn into something, or someone, else.” Yami Yugi symbolizes the strength within you that’s just waiting to be unleashed!
You may be asking yourself, where the heck did Yami Yugi even come from? It’s a reasonable question, considering the fact that the Yu-Gi-Oh! anime drops you right into the action and suddenly has its young protagonist growing a couple of inches tall and sporting a deeper voice after starting a duel.
First thing you need to know is that Yami Yugi is actually the spirit of the Egyptian Pharaoh Atem. Waaaaaay before Yugi and his friends were even born, the young Atem had a face-off with a big bad by the name of Zorc the Dark One. In order to defeat Zorc, Atem sealed both Zorc and his own soul into the Millenium Puzzle. As a result, Atem lost his physical form and became bound with the Millenium Puzzle.
Jump forward in time a few thousand years, when Solomon Muto (aka Grandpa) discovers the Millenium Puzzle. He brings the Puzzle back home with him but can’t seem to figure it out. So, he hands it off to his grandson, Yugi, who solves it. This unlocks Atem’s spirit, which immediately jumped into Yugi and melds with his body and spirit. At first, he has no idea that he’s even Atem – he just becomes “the other Yugi.”
There’s way more to Atem’s backstory than that’s covered in the manga – his entire Egyptian history gets covered in there – but that’s a little too deep to dig into right now. Plus, a lot of what’s discussed in the manga ends up getting changed in the 4Kids dub that we know and love. Yu-Gi-Oh! canon gets a little messy for this reason. Basically, what you need to know is just: Egyptian teen gets trapped in a puzzle, then later hops into the body of a Japanese teen.
Notably, Yami Yugi seems much more mature than Yugi. He almost seems like the “strong” version of young Yugi. He’s incredibly wise and knows all the ins and outs of Duel Monsters. Like Yugi, he believes in the heart of the cards and the power of friendship. At first, he would only appear when Yugi was in danger and needed help, but as time goes on, Yugi starts to willingly give Yami Yugi control. The two get along great – you’d think Atem might have been a little salty about having to live inside a modern teen boy – and the two often converse with one another in their head.
Interestingly enough, Yami Yugi (aka Dark Yugi) is much more intense in the manga and the Japanese version of the anime. Keep in mind that in the non-4kids universe, people don’t get sent to the Shadow Realm, they get straight up murdered. Yami Yugi was a fan of murder via card games. He was ruthless and would take over Yugi’s body to deal righteous justice and defend him and his friends. This version of him has a bigger ego, too, and he would frequently push himself to the limits because he refused to lose a game. All that being said, he’s still definitely heroic and selfless – he never used his powers for his own personal gain like other Pharaohs. He goes through a great deal of character development over the course of the series.
Since these two put the Yugi in Yu-Gi-Oh!, both Yugi Muto and Yami Yugi are in every episode of the original series. No surprise there. He becomes King of the Games along with Yugi after dominating the Duelist Kingdom, Battle City, and the Grand Championship. Basically, dude sweeps the floor with other duelists for a solid 236 episodes.
Yami Yugi also appears in Yu-Gi-Oh! GX and meets that series’ protagonist, Jaden, during a second round of Battle City duels. It’s a really great battle that gets saved for the series finale and features Yami busting out the finishing blow of the battle with Slifer the Sky Dragon.
There are a few video games in the Yu-Gi-Oh! series, too, and Yami is usually a playable character in these. In fact, one PlayStation game called Yu-Gi-Oh! Forbidden Memories primarily focuses on Yami’s past in Egypt, when he was known simply as Atem. Though you run around in the present day for a brief part of the game as Yugi, it’s mostly Atem’s story.
Yugi – Considering the fact that they share a mind, body, and soul, Yami and Yugi are naturally pretty tight. As mentioned before, Yami and Yugi weren’t always completely in sync since Yami would only appear in emergencies. Over time, though, they work together and develop a strong brotherly bond.
There’s a really great duel in the Waking the Dragons arc where Yugi and Yami actually duel each other. Yugi becomes overcome with self-doubt, and Yami challenges him in order to dispel any darkness within him. It climaxes in a dramatic moment between the two where Yugi proclaims that he will always be by Yami’s side, even if they’re physically separated. Awww.
Joey – Believe it or not, Joey is just as good friends with Yami as he is Yugi. Even when the two had to duel each other in the Duelist Kingdom, Yami encouraged him and gave him pep talks. And, of course, there’s the classic Battle City battle that features a ton of intense music and dramatic professions of friendship.
Téa – These two are friends, but Téa actually likes Yami a little more than friends. While Yami definitely trusts and values their friendship, he doesn’t seem to return the feelings. In fact, there are a couple of times where Yami tried to egg Yugi on to ask Téa out. Friend zoned by a Pharoah again!
Tristan – Tristan and Yami don’t get all the mushy moments that Yami and Joey get, but the two are close friends. Tristan can often be seen cheering Yami on in battle from the side lines, and Yami would do anything to help Tristan.
Kaiba – Their relationship is…complicated. Yami and Kaiba have had to team up on more than one occasion, and are willing to put their trust in one another. Still, Kaiba considers Yugi and Yami to be his rivals, so there are a LOT of times where Kaiba causes trouble for Yugi and Yami has to swoop in to save the day.
Yami Yugi Decks
Since our boy here is the hero, he uses a TON of cards. It’d take way too long to try and list every single card he’s used, but there are a few signature cards that are worth highlighting.
Dark Magician is THE card that comes to mind when I think of Yami. It almost feels like sacrilege when a character like Dimitri or Arkana uses the card in the series. Dark Magician pops up in just about every major Yu-Gi-Oh! arc. In fact, it’s used in the very first episode when Yugi and Kaiba battle for Grandpa’s honour.
Trivia: Dark Magical Circle appears in this card’s artwork. Dark Magician himself appears in the artwork of twenty different cards and is specifically mentioned in fifteen different cards’ effects.
Exodia the Forbidden One
This is another iconic monster from the series. Technically this is actually made up of five cards – “Left Leg,” “Left Arm,” “Exodia,” “Right Arm,” and “Right Leg.” The monster is interesting in that it doesn’t really need ATK or DEF points to rely on – if Yami manages to draw all five cards during a battle, that’s it. Game over. He won. This only happens once, though – in the very first episode against Kaiba. Tragically, Weevil Underwood throws all of the Exodia cards overboard before Duelist Kingdom. Yami and Yugi only ever got two cards back…
In case you ever wondered, the chances of actually drawing all 5 pieces of Exodia in the first five cards of a 40 card deck is 1/658008.
This cute little card might only have ATK/300 and DEF/200, but he’s still a staple in Yami’s deck. The card’s effect is pretty awesome – you can discard the card during any turn and choose to take zero damage from an attacking monster.
Trivia: Kuriboh translates to “chestnut person” in Japanese! This is also one of Kazuki Takahasi’s favorite cards.
Slifer the Sky Dragon
Really, all the Egyptian God cards are signature Yami cards, but Slifer the Sky Dragon is an especially iconic one. Slifer the Sky Dragon is pretty prominent in the Ancient Egypt arcs, where Atem uses Slifer to protect civilians during a battle against Diabound. In the Pharaoh of Memories arc, this event from Atem’s past is reenacted.
It first enters Yami’s deck in Battle City, when Yugi is gathering the Egyptian God cards for the first time. From here, it winds up being the trump card in multiple Yami battles, most notably the battle against Kaiba in the Battle City Finals.
Dark Magician Girl
It’s Dark Magician, but a girl! Her first appearance in the series is much later on in the series than Dark Magician. Yami uses her for the first time in episode 62 against Arkana, and she delivers the final blow. This card has an interesting effect that allows it to gain 300 ATK for every Dark Magician or Magician of Black Chaos in either player’s Graveyard. Since Yami always has Dark Magician in his deck, he gets a lot of usage out of that effect!
Eye of Timaeus
Another relatively late entry into Yami’s deck is Eye of Timaeus. It doesn’t show up until the Waking the Dragons arc, but it’s an important one. Yami and Yugi actually unlock this card in the Duel Monsters spirit world after Kuriboh opens up the dimension for them. They have to unseal the “Nameless Dragons,” one of which is Timaeus. From here, the Eye of Timaeus card appears throughout pretty much the rest of the arc, but it ends up fading away at the end, along with the Claw of Hermos and Fang of Critias cards.
Giant Soldier of Stone
Giant Soldier of Stone makes its first appearance in the battle between Yami and Mako Tsunami back in Duelist Kingdom. Though it’s not quite as iconic as the likes of Dark Magician or Exodia, it still ends up being used by Yami quite a few times over the course of the series. In fact, it’s even used during the Grand Championship during the duel against Leon von Schroeder. It plays a big role in the Yami vs Yugi duel in the Waking the Dragons arc, as well.
Trivia: When this card was released, it was one of the most powerful Level 3 monsters.
Pot of Greed
Truth be told, a ton of Yu-Gi-Oh! characters use this card – it’s not exactly unique to Yami. HOWEVER, I think it deserves a mention here since Yami’s had some pretty fantastic moments with this card. Notably, in the Battle City Finals, Yami sets this card during his duel with Kaiba. Since Pot of Greed allows the player to draw two cards, Yami is able to activate his face-down Pot of Greed to draw Slifer the Sky Dragon and really start laying on the hurt.
So this just about covers our Yami Yugi character profile. Stay tuned for our next one! What are your thoughts on Yami Yugi as a character? I think it’s safe to say, Yami is one of the most iconic Yu-Gi-Oh! Characters in the franchise who had many great moments. Will we see him on the big screen again, I wonder? Who knows! But I think we will see the Pharaoh make a return at some point in the Yu-Gi-Oh! Franchise. And that’s a day I quite look forward to.