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Name: Yu-Gi-Oh! (遊☆戯☆王 Yuu*Gi*Ou, lit. "Game King"), Yuugiou
Abbreviation(s): YGO
Creator: Kazuki TAKAHASHI (高橋 和希) ♂
Date(s): Manga: 1996-2004
Duel Monsters Anime: 2000-2004
Medium: Manga, Anime, TCG
Country of Origin: Japan
External Links: Duel Monsters official site (J)
Anime official site (E)
Manga official site (E)
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

Yu-Gi-Oh! is a manga and anime shounen series, mostly intended for a child audience but with an older fan following that tends toward a certain degree of self-mockery, amidst the shipping and canon debates.

Canon Overview

Yu-Gi-Oh began in 1996 as a Japanese manga by Kazuki Takahashi, published in Weekly Shounen Jump, ending in 2004 with 38 volumes. In 1998 the first 7 volumes were adapted into a single-season 27-episode anime by Toei Animation (sometimes referred to as "Season Zero"—erroneously so, as the show is a separate series from the later Duel Monsters anime). In 2000 the manga, starting with volume 8, was adapted by TV Tokyo into Yu-Gi-Oh: Duel Monsters, which ended in 2004 with 224 episodes. The anime in particular was created as a marketing ploy to sell the Yu-Gi-Oh card game.

In 2001, 4Kids Entertainment began releasing an edited English dub of Duel Monsters under the name "Yu-Gi-Oh!"; this version aired on Kids WB in the United States, and is the version most familiar to American fans. VIZ Media published a mostly unedited version of the manga, several chapters at a time, in the US version of Shounen Jump; the series was also collected into tankoubon equivalent to the Japanese volumes.

Though the main Yu-Gi-Oh series has ended, there are multiple ongoing spin-offs, including the manga Yu-Gi-Oh! R, the anime and manga Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds, Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal, Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V, Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS and Yu-Gi-Oh! Sevens. There are also multiple video games and movies, and of course the extensive trading card game franchise that the Duel Monsters anime series is based on.

Duel Monsters Synopsis

Yu-Gi-Oh Duel Monsters is the story of a teenage boy, Yuugi Mutou (Yugi Moto in the English dub), who solves the ancient Egyptian Millennium Puzzle and releases the spirit of an ancient pharaoh imprisoned in the puzzle. The spirit (nameless at first, but dubbed Yami ['darkness'] by fandom) joins with Yuugi, sometimes possessing his body, to challenge and teach lessons to wrong-doers in the form of 'punishment games'. The first few volumes of the manga are darker in tone and feature a wide variety of games and punishments, some fairly twisted. The later volumes focus on the Duel Monsters card game and follow the basic format of most shounen fighting/tournament series, with Yuugi and his circle of allies facing various super-powered foes and defeating them, but with semi-magic card games in place of physical battles.

GX Synopsis

Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, short for Generation Next, is the first of the spin-offs and takes place in a direct continuity of its predecessor about ten years after the ending of Duel Monsters. The series stars Judai Yuki and his adventures as a Slifer Red student at Duel Academy. The series begins as a Duel of the Week format wherein Judai gets into various shenanigans in the school setting of the series but takes on a space opera-feel as the story unfolds and various supernatural elements are introduced. The series prominently features Fusion Summoning.

5D's Synopsis

Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's introduces Synchro Summoning and is themed around motorcycle racing. The story itself is set in New Domino City after an incident called the Zero Reverse which caused a great class divide between those of the mainland and those of Satellite. Hailing from Satellite is the protagonist, Yusei Fudo, a talented mechanic who built his own D-Wheel with the intention of riding it into the heart of New Domino City so he can track down his lost Stardust Dragon card, which was stolen from him by his friend and rival, Jack Atlas, the current King of Games who is hiding his status as a former denizen of Satellite. Their duel ends abruptly when the birthmarks on their arms begin to glow and the Crimson Dragon makes its first appearance.

ZeXal Synopsis

Yu-Gi-Oh! ZeXal, pronounced zeck-SAL in the English dub and zay-al in the Japanese version, is set in the near future and Reality Augmented Dueling using D-Gazers has become the trend. This series introduced XYZ summoning and the protagonist of Yuma Tsukumo. Yuma is a subpar duelist with a lot of passion and a philosophy he calls "kattobingu", but his luck changes when he unlocks the sealed door from his dreams and brings the character Astral, an alien-like being, into his world. Astral, despite having no memories of his past, is a strong and talented duelist who attempts to help Yuma get better at dueling whilst observing humans and collecting the Numbers Cards, XYZ Monsters from another world that contain his lost memories.

Arc-V Synopsis

Yu-Gi-Oh! Arc-V follows the various performances, and Entertainment Dueling, of Yuya Sakaki whose seemingly normal life is turned upside down by his father's disappearance four years ago. Yuya aims to be his father's successor and bring smiles to everyone. To do this, Yuya draws out the power of the pendulum, creating Pendulum Summoning, but strange forces involving boys who look just like him, and girls who look just like his childhood friend Yuzu and their matching bracelets are at play.

This series is notable for bringing back legacy characters such as Crow Hogan, Jack Atlas, and Asuka Tenjoin for example.

VRAINS Synopsis

Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS follows teenage hacker Yusaku Fujiki as he tries to uncover the mysteries of his past and his involvement in the Lost Incident. As a child, he was kidnapped and experimented upon to create the successors of humanity, the Ignis. His very own partner being Ai, the Dark Ignis, who was born from how he dueled as part of the experiment. The series introduces Link summoning, the Link VRAINS and digital duels called Speed Duels which are the spiritual successor to Turbo Duels in that the player rides the Data Storms akin to surf-boarding.

Sevens Synopsis

Yu-Gi-Oh! Sevens is the series airing presently in the English dub but is finished in the original Japanese. It debuted as part of the Spring 2020 anime. Sevens introduced Rush Dueling and functions as baby steps for people interested into getting into Yu-Gi-Oh! but intimidated by the legacy and more complicated rules of the card game. The story follows Yuga Ohdo who is an inventor of creations that he calls Roads. His latest and greatest invention is Rush Dueling. A new game mechanic being quashed by the foreboding Goha Corporation which controls and oversees all Master Duels. The series follows Yuga and his friends getting into various hijinks whilst trying to popularise his new gaming format.

Spectre and Revolver in Cross Duel

Go Rush!! Synopsis

Yu-Gi-Oh! Go Rush!! is the series airing presently, debuting in the Spring 2022 anime season. The story takes place several decades after the events of SEVENS and follows twins Yuhi and Yuamu Ohdo as well as Yudias Velgear, an alien from the distant Velgear Star Cluster.

Cross Duel

A mobile game.

Fandom Overview

Western YGO fandom can be a little tricky to navigate. Like most animanga fandoms, it encompasses the contradictions of fans familiar with different canonical sources, though in YGO it's more confusing than most, because of the difference in sources. The Japanese anime is already a substantial deviation from the original manga (there are a couple season-long filler arcs as well as alterations in plot and character histories) and the English 4Kids dub censored more, as well as Americanizing the series. Many fans may have only had contact with one source, though English fanfic is written for all incarnations of the series.

YGO has a fairly active Japanese fandom as well, with webpages and doujinshi; like most Japanese fandoms, it doesn't intersect much with the English-speaking side, save for the occasional doujinshi scanlation or fanart site rec. As with many anime/manga fandoms, Japanese fanworks are appropriated for use as graphics in LiveJournal icons, site layouts, and other uses in English fandom, often without permission—this contentious practice is strongly frowned upon by some, but staunchly defended by others.

Yu-Gi-Oh as a series came about at a time when English-speaking fandom was transitioning from dedicated websites, message boards and mailing lists to a consolidated presence on LiveJournal. Early English YGO fandom could be found on multiple off-LJ websites; from the earliest days of the fandom Fanfiction.net has been an important hub for fanfic activities. One of the most famous independent sites was Janime.net (now defunct), run by a Thai fan who provided summaries and translated series content into English long before the official versions were released. The site hosted fanart and fanfic and a popular forum. Another well-known site during this early period was Kyokou Geemu (also defunct), a dedicated YGO fanfic archive with a well-trafficked and lively community message board. KG started life as a hand-coded archive, but transitioned to use of the eFiction software later in the site's life as better technology became available. Kokoro no Naka, in its heyday a hugely extensive archive of series screenshots, multimedia, fanworks and general information, was another important site of the early era still extant today.

In the early 2000s, Cody Nelson published A Slasher's Guide to Yu-Gi-Oh!, a small booklet to help introduce new fans to the TV series.

"A Children's Card Game"

While the Yu-Gi-Oh manga, like most Shounen Jump series, was nominally aimed at boys but more generally appropriate for all audiences, the Duel Monsters anime was targeted specifically at children, toning down some of the darker elements of the manga's plot in favor of promoting the trading card game. Perhaps because of this obvious merchandising, as well as the low production values of the series, Yu-Gi-Oh has a poor reputation among most "serious" anime fans, who tend to consider it about on par with Pokémon, only not as cute, and it tends to be rated poorly on most anime review sites,[1] when it's reviewed at all.

While the series has its defenders, quite a few fans are aware that their show is somewhat less than fantastic. Some admit to liking YGO with embarrassment,[2][3] and rather than argue with detractors, many fans will cheerfully agree, and often be first in line to mock the show for its many flaws, even as they enjoy it for the weirdly addictive crack and characters.

Sub vs Dub

The original Japanese Duel Monsters anime and the American 4Kids dub are substantially different, mostly because the dub aired on network TV. Not only was the show "Americanized" to a certain extent, with changes to some character and card names, but some of what is considered child-appropriate in Japan is not allowed on American kids' cartoons, and thus the scripts and the animation were censored. In the fandom, as is often the case, there is friction on occasion between "purists" and dub-fans, though these debates are less contentious than in some anime fandoms because relatively few English-speaking fans have seen the original version. 4Kids only released a few sub DVDs, and few fan-sub groups picked up any of the series, so it was only available on Japanese DVDs (without subtitles) and on sets of cheap East Asian bootleg DVDs (with the usual uneven and occasionally inadvertently hysterical English translations.) Thus, many English-speaking fans have only seen the dub.

The Yu-Jyo YGO Episode Guide provides detailed episode summaries of both the Japanese and the 4Kids dub, painstakingly chronicling all the cuts, changes, and censoring made between the two versions, complete with screencaps.

The Viz translation of the manga, on the other hand, is generally faithful to the original, preserving the original names and art and accurately translating the dialogue.


As with most anime fandoms, the majority of YGO fanfic is ship-fic, het, yaoi, and some yuri.

While some fans use slashes or x's to denote pairings, a more recent (post-2003) and popular phenomenon in the fandom is the use of ship names. The ship list on Yuugioushipping has some 529 ship names (though some of these may include multiple names for the same ship, as there is not fandom-wide consensus.)

Shipnames may have arise from the name changes from sub to dub in which many characters have their original names changed to fit a more Western audience such as Manjōme Jun to Chazz Princeton and Izayoi Aki to Akiza Izinski. Using sub or dub names is a preference and not everyone has watched both sub and dub versions, but (English speaking) fans can still understand each other in terms of ships. This is a similar phenomenon in the Pokémon fandom.

There is no true or standardized naming system for ships. Shipname blogs take suggestions and archive them, and are used as a reference. Some ships may have more than one popular shipname, such as Jounouchi Katsuya | Joey Wheeler/Kaiba Seto with Puppyshipping and Violetshipping.

Character Names

Many of the characters in YGO have multiple identities, re-incarnations, and dub names, as well as some fanon names.

The character of the Thief King is called "Akefia" in a number of fanfics, to the point of the name being assumed to be canonical by some fans, although "Akefia" isn't a real name or word. The name originated in English language fandom, initially appearing in fanfic in early 2005, and may have been a misunderstanding of a line in the dub, "I'm a thief, a stealer of souls", according to one fan's analysis of the phenomenon.[4]

One other name that is purely fandom-made is Heba, which was made to create a version of Yuugi Mutou that would exist in the Ancient Egypt, to mirror how Atem was Yami Yuugi's 'alternate self' in those time. It cannot be traced precisely where the name originated from, but it was posed that it was created for a role-playing game that slowly spread in the fandom.[5]

Fan Communities

Mailing Lists

  • Yami Yugi Yaoi (archive link) "This groups has been created for Yami and Yugi Yaoi/Slash. You can post Fanfiction, Fanart, Pics anything that is related to Y/Y. So if that's your cup of tea then join us!! One more thing... Please don't join this group just to Flame us. Be aware that you'll get some flames back if you do!" (created June 19, 2002)
  • A Dragons Lair (archive link) "Welcome to A Dragons Lair. This is a fan group dedicated to the Dragon Master Seto Kaiba and his golden lover, Joey Wheeler. If you are captivated by the idea of Seto and Joey as a couple then A Dragons Lair is the place to be. Post quality stories and chat about our devastating, blue eyed CEO and his faithful (or not) golden lover, Joey Wheeler. Come on in and add some heat to keep the Dragons warm at night. This list is a slash (yaoi) list for life forms that are judged legal adults in the corner of whatever Universe they inhabit. Please note that the group is focused on the fan fiction, the written word. We also welcome discussions on the show, manga, conventions and dueling as it relates to our Dragon Master and his golden lover." (created August 2003)
  • Kaiba's Santuary (Archive Link), a Yu-Gi-oh! fanlisting archive


Live Journal

The majority of (female, English-speaking) Yu-Gi-Oh fans left mailing lists and moved over to LiveJournal.

  • Play the Damn Card, Already! (Archive Link) The biggest and most active YGO community on LJ is "Play the Damn Card, Already." It was founded at the beginning of 2004 for fans who "love Yu-Gi-Oh, but are sick of being wise and sensible and relevant on all the normal communities" (User info, accessed January 2009). The posts include almost any sort of fandom participation, not limited to fanfic, icons and macros, essays, translations, and crack. While there is serious discussion on occasion, the general tone is good-natured mocking of the series and sometimes the fandom.

Example Fanworks

Yu-Gi-Oh: The Abridged Series

In July 2006 Little Kuriboh posted to Play the Damn Card the first episode of Yu-Gi-Oh: The Abridged Series, a parody fandub of the first episode of Yu-Gi-Oh: Duel Monsters voiced entirely by LittleKuriboh imitating the English dub actors. Within a few episodes, YGO! Abridged exploded into a minor internet phenomenon, inspiring a host of Abridged versions of other shows and leading to constant troubles with YouTube for copyright violations.




ship_manifesto essays:


A more comprehensive list with more links and details can be found on Yu-Gi-Oh! Zines



  1. ^ "A 224 episode long commercial for a card game. Do you really have the time and patience to sit through all that?" --Tim Jones review on T.H.E.M (accessed 1/2009)
  2. ^ "I can't believe I sat through a whole hour of Yu-Gi-Oh (out of a lack of anything better to do with my life)." immicolia: Saturday morning cartoons.... haven't done this in a while... posted May 21st, 2005 (accessed 1/2009)
  3. ^ "immicolia has been getting into YGO, too. Does this sudden influx of respectable authors mean that I can quit feeling ashamed of my gargantuan folder full of fics and fanart?" --keelieinblack in comments to xparrot: Oh! Dear, posted Jun. 28th, 2005 (accessed 1/2009)
  4. ^ Whilst there are as many Akefia theories, as there are people to make them up, this was the only one that held any significant pedigree, or logic. It seems reasonable to me that Akefia truly is a mishear of the English Dub. In short, Akefia is a fandom mistake." "The Hot Mess That Is Akefia" by ariasune, last accessed 15 June 2015
  5. ^ Little records remain of how Heba originally came to be, but it seems that he was created for an online YuGiOh role playing game.[1]