Okay having concluded The Book of The Sith, I was fighting to see what among my favorite things I could geek out on next for my readers. I have selected Yu-Gi-Oh! In this particular entry I am going to be covering the nature of the rivalry between Yugi and Seto Kaiba. For those who are unfamiliar with the Yu-Gi-Oh! story, it centers around seven relics called the Millennium Items, that was used by the Pharaoh and his six priests in ancient Egypt. These Items were used to judge people and hold power over monsters from the shadow realm. War breaks out between the Pharaoh and his priests especially after he learns of the origin of the items, Their creation required the sacrifice of an entire village and years later the sole survivor of that village who returned home to find his people slaughtered gets taken over by a dark force and comes looking for revenge. To end the war the Pharaoh locked away the secrets of the Millennium Items and traps his own soul and memories within one of them to keep the secrets. Thousands of years later a boy puts the pieces of this item together and in so doing becomes a vessel for the spirit of this Pharaoh who must now find a way to remember his past in order to save the world from the shadow realm through a card game that mimics the ancient battles from his time. The boy and the Pharaoh share a bond of fate with one another and in a way the boys heart teaches the spirit to balance his strength with kindness, while the spirits strength teaches the boy how to find his own. That be the story of Yugi Mutou.
In the story Yugi’s fate is intertwined with the fate of many, but none so profoundly as it is with Seto Kaiba. In ancient times Seto was a priest under the Pharaoh, and they were friends, but Seto’s father had been one of the creators of the Millennium Items and he had designs for his son to become Pharaoh instead. A young girl with a powerful spirit monster attracts the attention of the priests particularly Seto’s father who wants to kill the girl to bind his son with this powerful monster. Seto comes to care for the girl, and stops at nothing to protect her, sparking a feud between he and his father about the same time as the Pharaoh is learning of the origin of the Millenium Items. Things go wrong……. But modern day Seto Kaiba doesn’t give a shit. All he knows is the burning need to be the best, protecting his little brother and an uncanny obsession with his favorite monster card The Blue Eyes White Dragon. The past, recent or historic means little to him. Faith means little to him as all he has known from a young age was how to fight for everything he and his little brother had after being orphaned. Friendship means little to him, because he doesn’t like depending on anyone else but himself, and doesn’t need the “Dead weight” of anyone but his little brother having to depend on him if they can’t stand on their own two feet like he has had to his whole life. An evil stepfather, a blind and driven ambition These make up the story of the most honorable if not biggest dick in the whole show.
Yugi is out to discover the secrets of his past in order to save the future, Kaiba doesn’t give a shit about Yugi’s fairy tale, he just wants to be the best and so sets the stage of a bitter but very interesting rivalry between the two. Because Seto Kaiba is not a villain exactly but a rival, his loss to Yugi was never a gurantee. They dueled all of 4 times in the run of the series and while Yugi took him twice, Kaiba did beat him in one of the duels and had it been a straight duel in the movie and his strategy been allowed to go through without interference, he would have beat Yugi a second time as Yugi had not yet drawn the card that allowed him to use the one Kaiba already played to beat Anubis.
So we have covered the basics of the story and a win, loss count, now lets stack these two characters up. The thing that seems to make any good rivalry is the polar opposite nature of the two groups or characters. In this case we have little Yugi Mutou and The Pharaoh. Now Yugi grew up in a very nurturing environment, His love for games and puzzles, as well as his moral center came from being cared for by his grandpa. He does not understand the darkness of the world but knows in his heart that it is something to stand against, he just has a hard time doing that until he is left with no choice, that is until he meets the spirit inside of the Millennium Puzzle and embarks on a quest to help him save the world from the Shadow Realm. He is fiercely loyal and loving and while he is a highly intelligent thinker, in many ways little Yugi has the heart of a child, you can hear it in his constant lines. ” I BELIEVE in my deck, I BELIEVE in the Heart of The Cards, I BELIEVE in my friends.” Yugi and the Pharaoh both rely on Faith to carry them through their quest to solve a 5000 year old mystery for the future of humanity. Enter the rival Seto Kaiba. Orphaned at a young age and shuffled around, his only family a little brother to look out for, Kaiba never actually had a childhood, he was in many ways forced to be the parental figure for his little brother after they lost their parents. While Yugi has his grandpa and all of his friends, Kaiba keeps his loyalties only to his little brother. Thrust into a situation where he had to be the one to build a life for himself and his brother, Kaiba fears the disappointment or the idea that he could fail his little brother if he has to put his trust in anyone else for their needs only to be let down.
The dynamics of their duels and how each character had profound impact on the life of the other is evident in the changes they would undergo as the story progressed. When we first meet Kaiba in the show, He is a world champion who has never been defeated, the anger in him which we do not learn the cause of until later when the story of his stepfather unfolds coupled with his loner attitude and the over inflated ego of an undefeated champion caused a darkness to build up in Seto. It was when Yugi handed him his first loss and the Pharaoh sent that darkness to the Shadow Realm, that Kaiba started opening his mind a little more and though still very much a dick, he did become more lighter natured. In the second duel between these two, it was Kaiba who returned the favor by beating Yugi. Kaiba on the verge of defeat, made one desperate attempt to take the match from his opponent, by risking his own life. Yugi could win, but he might have actually killed Kaiba in the process. It was viewed by all as a cowards move, until Yugi and his group discovered that like Yugi who was in Duelist Kingdom to save his grandfather, Kaiba was in fact there to save his little brother and so his willingness to risk it all was not unlike their own. The spirit of the Pharaoh was about to win the match, but little Yugi could not allow it. Now this loss had an equal impact on Yugi that his victory had on Kaiba. Until this point, Little Yugi was only aware that something changed when the spirit of the Pharaoh came out and took him over. A barrier had existed between the two that Kaiba’s gamble caused to break down. This would not only begin shaping the relationship between the Pharaoh and Yugi, it in fact allowed them to use the mind switch tactic that was the key to getting past the main villain Pegasus and the power of his Millennium Eye that let him see into the mind of his opponent and know what move they were about to make. The third duel would not take place until the finals of The Battle City Tournament. and by this time more was being revealed of the ancient past and how the two were connected to one another even in that time. When both played their respective Egyptian God cards, it further opened their minds to the secrets of their past, This would see Kaiba accepting his loss, but also his willingness to stand behind Yugi and even give him the card that could counter the Egyptian God card held by the evil Marik. Marik used the Millennium item that was once used by Kaiba’s past self Priest Seto and at one point it even called to Kaiba and allowed his willpower to alter the outcome of how one of his other duels was foreseen to go. Their final battle would be the Movie Pyramid of Light, and though Kaiba neither won nor lost, the Duel itself brought to an end the power of Anubis. In the end, it was both Kaiba and Yugi who were responsible for the victory over the ancient evil spirit.
By the story’s completion the two characters had changed so drastically, Kaiba grudgingly felt the drive to get his own answers from the past, The understanding allowed him to reconcile with many of his present day issues. The pharaoh learned what he needed to, to finally bring an end to the Shadow Realm’s threat and little Yugi learned how to find his inner strength. None of this had been possible without the rivalry between the two pushing them to become the better versions of themselves. Yugi, saved the world, Kaiba played the part of a friend aiding him in that quest without even meaning to. It was truly an example of friendship through rivalry and both actually won in the end.
Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions
Once more in a new movie released earlier this year the creator of the franchise went back to tell a new story with the original characters. This story takes place 6 months after the final duel between Yugi and the Pharaoh Atem. There are (Spoilers) ahead. The gang is graduating high school and talking about what their dreams of the future are. The only one that will possibly matter in terms of bringing everyone back for a new story is little Yugi who wants to stay and help his grandpa in his game shop and even develop his own game in the future. Little Yugi suffers from a bit of separation sickness, not really a physical ailment so much as a mental one, things had ended so suddenly when Atem had crossed over in his defeat. He and Yugi had literally been a part of each other for so long that Yugi constantly feels his absence and would have liked to have had one more chance to tell him what all he had done for him meant. Kaiba doesn’t really give a shit exactly what little Yugi’s reason is for wanting the pharaoh back, he has his own. Now a believer in fairy tales he recognizes that Yugi was never his rival, it was in fact the Pharaoh, only now he is faced with the fact that his rival is gone and he still feels this need to confront him one last time to decide once and for all who the best is. Kaiba sets out to dig up the pieces of the Millennium Puzzle in the hopes of being able to bring Atem back for one last duel. NOTE the main villain of this film is a character named Aigame and his own tale intertwines with the Millennium Items, his master Shin who we learn is Shadii the ghostly keeper of 2 of the items, created a device that could create a new dimension, one of peace and he gave the power of this device to orphaned children that he was teaching the way of peace to. His idea was that once the prophesy was fulfilled and the pharoah returned to lock the power of the shadow games away forever, these children would be free to come forth and create a new dimension of light and peace for the world, but should the Pharaoh return beyond that they would lose their power. Aigame witnessed his master get murdered by a young Bakura in the first time that he was taken possession of by the evil spirit inside the Millennium Ring. The even traumatized Aigame who is now using the power of this device to send what believes are bad people to other dimensions. NOte the device becomes another major point. Bakura has been free of the Millennium Ring since the end of the first series. Unfortunately, the ring is found at the same time as the puzzle and it takes possession of one of Aigame’s brothers. In a duel to stop Kaiba from bringing the pharaoh back Aigame takes possession of two of it’s pieces, giving one to his sister who in turn gives it to Yugi in hopes that he can save her wayward brother. Kaiba captures Aigame and sets up a tournament. He want’s to beat both Aigame and Yugi to get the puzzle pieces back. Yugi instead convinces Kaiba to let him face Aigame since he is still holding Bakura in another dimension. Yugi wins and not only free Bakura but gains both pieces of the Millennium Puzzle. NOw what happens next is actually to my knowledge a first. The first time Kaiba actually faces Yugi in a duel. The match is back and forth and in many ways just as good as the ones with the Pharaoh. Down to the wire Yugi decides to show Kaiba why this duel is pointless, he completes The Millennium Puzzle and nothing happens. Yugi tells Kaiba that Atem isn’t in the puzzle anymore that he moved on and Kaiba would have to let him go, they both had to. At this point Aigame becomes possessed by the spirit of The MIllennium Ring which is now amplified by the power of the dimensional cube device Aigame possesses. He comes back as some weird ass cube looking monster and begins sending everyone into a dimension of darkness. Kaiba as I said, now a believer in fairy tales Instantly joins forces with Yugi, another first. At one point Kaiba makes the ultimate sacrifice and before phasing out into the dark dimension he tells Yugi that he did it for the Pharaoh so that Yugi could bring him back. Yugi never giving up the fight, though he is certain that Atem is gone take a couple more massive hits almost draining him completely of his life points and just as Yugi passes out from the damage he has taken in this new shadow game the arena is blasted with lights and from the one where Yugi fell Atem steps forward and swiftly kicks cube monsters ass with one card. After the duel everyone is coming back to the world who went missing as Atem’s return lifted the power from the children Shadii had taught. He and Yugi face each other and without words say their last goodbye as Atem returns to the afterlife taking the Millennium Puzzle with him. Yugi tells his friends that he saw The Pharaoh and that he wished everyone well and Kaiba cuts in with I hate to say I told you so, but I told you so and Yugi agreed that Kaiba had been right. You have your bond with him and I have mine, he tells Yugi. The important thing to note here is that even though Kaiba had been dead set on battling Atem he actually treats Yugi like a friend or as close to one as Kaiba is willing to have. The final scene has Kaiba in some new shuttle like vehicle in his space station, we see that he had taken the dimensional device that Aigame had and was now testing this shuttle that we learn is a dimension traveling vehicle. He launches and disappears in ring of light, we then see him walking across the sands of ancient Egypt, entering the court of The Pharaoh, Kaiba stares him down and readies his duel disk. The Pharaoh stands up and looks at him and there the story ends. With what is likely the final duel between Kaiba and Atem being left to the viewers imagination. The point here is that Kaiba was so determined to duel Atem again that he found a way to break the dimensional barrier into the afterlife just to hunt him down. Now we have seen both Yugi and Kaiba in the GX storyline that takes place ten years later and what we know of Kaiba at that point is that while he has lost none of his confidence in all that time, he is no longer the prick that he had previously been in the original series, so whatever the outcome of this duel against Atem it is safe to say that SOMETHING has happened in those ten years to give him a sense of peace. Another sign of the change in Seto Kaiba and how the friendship develops with Yugi came in the form of a single illustration posted by the creator of Kaiba and Yugi sitting at a table in the space station playing some strange new game. It’s explained that the picture is of a time of four years after The Dark Side of Dimensions Film and it is a picture of Yugi and Kaiba testing the new game that Yugi designed. So not only could this lead into a possible new movie later it is evident that Kaiba is helping Yugi fulfill his dream of creating a new game, so much for the dick of the original series. The Duel win/Loss count remains the same depending who you are a fan of… Of course I am a Kaiba person So I think he tied it up….I mean come on what he did was the equivalent of telling someone that if they died he was going to kill himself just to find them on the other side and kick their ass, and then actually took the steps to make good on it, that has got to give him some sort of edge in that duel. Heh heh