After debuting within Weekly Shonen Jump, Kazuki Takahashi’s original Yu-Gi-Oh! manga would quickly receive Konami-developed videogames. The games in question areYu-Gi-Oh! Monster Capsule: Breed and Battle for the original PlayStation and Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters for the original Game Boy in 1998, only two years after the manga’s 1996 start. It seems fitting that a manga so focused on games would lend itself to videogames, especially during the early parts of the Yu-Gi-Oh! manga where children’s toys were often platforms for dangerous Shadow Games. The US would not see a Yu-Gi-Oh! game until the 2002 Game Boy Color release of Yu-Gi-Oh! Dark Duel Stories (the far less interesting title of the original Japanese second game in the Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters series, instead of using the metal-as-hell Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters III: Tri-Holy God Advent title). While that was a continuation of Yu-Gi-Oh’s long tradition of video games based off the card game, a more interesting game arrived in 2003. Yu-Gi-Oh! Dungeon Dice Monsters, based off a mini-arc, showcased heroes, school friends, and villains from an almost-secret segment of Yu-Gi-Oh!, and those villains in particular deserve some attention.
Having started reading Viz’s English magazine of Shonen Jump by the time Yu-Gi-Oh! Dungeon Dice Monsters was released, I was already familiar and surprised with the manga’s schoolyard violence. Ha ha, no, I was actually more surprised by how horny manga Joey (Jonouchi) and Triston (Honda) were (potentially throwbacks to Tooru Fujisawa’s Great Teacher Onizuka’s prequel Shonan Junai Gumi manga and its delinquent leads Eikichi Onizuka and Ryuji Danma), and how no one would stop harassing Téa (Mazaki). This era of the manga is often known for Yami Yugi’s (Atem/ Dark Yugi) screwed up Shadow Games and penalties. From getting a high school hall monitor to stab himself in the hand or blowing up an okonomiyaki chief with an ice hockey puck containing an explosive chemical, Yu-Gi-Oh! was more Kakegurui or As The God’s Will than children’s card game.
Creepy no nose Yami Yugi aside, at its core, early Yu-Gi-Oh! was about Yugi Muto playing awesome games that you, eight-year-old kid reading Weekly Shonen Jump, could possibly buy and play. I personally enjoy tabletop board games, so I would love to play real versions of Yu-Gi-Oh!’s tabletop roleplaying game Monster World, Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots-clone Monster Fighter, and Capsule Monster Chess (which did receive a few videogames and a cartoonishly expensive miniatures game). Dungeon Dice Monsters is probably the most recognizable.
I have always had a soft spot for Dungeon Dice Monster’s charming goth creator Duke Devlin (Ryuji Otogi). He shows up right after Maximillian Pegasus’ Duelist Kingdom arc to introduce this game HE LITERALLY DESIGNED, and then gets beaten by Yami Yugi after one fight. Dungeon Dice Monsters combines frequent dice rolls, like in Yahtzee or King of Tokyo, with strategic tile placement like Blokus, into a rather slow but potentially deep game. The goal involves making a pathway of rolled summoned monsters to reach and successfully attack your opponent’s Monster Lord three times. A common tabletop complaint is the potential for randomness; for example Dungeon Dice Monsters’ reliance on dice rolls over flat strategy. Tournament finals can be easily lost because the dice would just not roll in the player’s favor. Speaking of tournaments, as alluded to earlier, Dungeon Dice Monsters’ tournaments are a real rogue’s gallery.
Outside of the Viz Media release of the manga, most of these characters were only present in the Toei animated first season of the show, nicknamed ‘Season Zero’. The Nihon Ad Systems animated second series being the one people recognized as Yu-Gi-Oh!. Easy slot fillers go first, like Yugi’s high school classmates, bullies, and teachers. Many of these kids got into Shadow Games with Yami Yugi, resulting in them being punished with crippling psychological breakdowns or nightmares. Next are the Duelist Kingdom and Battle City regulars like Mai Valentine, Rex Raptor, and Weevil Underwood, as well as Marik’s Rare Hunters. To pad space, Dungeon Dice Monsters even included made-up characters, who are probably just the game’s staff. My favorite is the game-playing dog Jill. Then there are the recognizable main characters and rivals up through the halfway point of Battle City. Finally, there are the really scary ones, which are the main point of this article.
These dastardly villains and killers are going to be discussed going from least to the absolute worst. Jackpot, referred to only as “Escaped Prisoner” in the manga, is actually an old internet reference often cited to show how messed up and brutal Yami Yugi could be in the manga. In this adventure, Yugi and Joey crash at Téa’s afterschool job at an American diner called Burger World. Goofy hijinks are interrupted by the man of great natural luck, Jackpot, wielding a pistol from the security guard he just killed, and holds Téa and the restaurant hostage. Yami Yugi saves the day with a game called One finger BATTLE!, where in Jackpot loses by setting himself on fire while covered in vodka. Vicious on paper but not really in execution, Jackpot sits at the bottom of this list.
Tick-Tock (Playing Card Bomber) arrives with more kills on his scorecard compared to Jackpot, having killed eight people in his last explosive outing. His next target is the stereotypical amusement park in the middle of a big city that far too many manga and anime feature. The ones with huge stadiums, sentai hero stages, and of course, the romantic but also easy to dramatically bomb Ferris Wheel. Téa is once again in trouble, as she happens to be on one of the Ferris Wheel seats. In a high tension script flip, it’s Yami Yugi who has to play Tick-Tock’s dangerous game of Clock Tower Solitaire, where each card flip mistake sets off another seat bomb.
One of the first big arcs in the Yu-Gi-Oh! manga is of Seto Kaiba’s revenge, enacted by his creepy butler towards Yugi and friends for beating him at Duel Monsters. Kaiba and his butler create the five levels of Death-T, a torture puzzle maze that Yugi and friends must survive in order to rematch Kaiba. This arc is so extensive that the rest of the villain rogue’s gallery are just people involved in the Death-T. I’ve written about a child serial killer in a property for kids before, but its still great that I can do it again with Chopman (Chopman). Imagine Leatherface and Jason Voorhees but with a sick sense of humor, Chopman has a kill record of mutilating ten Domino Lake campers in a single night. It’s tonally reminiscent of noted teen rapist and dog victimizer Anjuro “Angelo” Katagiri from the small town setting of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond Is Unbreakable. Chopman’s appearance is a refreshing Joey match, and their fight involves them handcuffed to each other in a dungeon pool of oil, with only cartoonish Grim Reaper scythes and chainsaws to defend themselves.
Snipes Crosshair (Unnamed Assassin) is probably a cheat on this list for the sole reason that it’s just dangerous manga and anime icon Golgo 13/ Duke Togo. Snipes Crosshair, if he really is the famed assassin found in Golgo 13: Professional or NES “classics” Golgo 13: Top Secret Episode and The Mafat Conspiracy, he’s killed possibly hundreds, if not thousands, of people. Unfortunately, Snipes Crosshair slums it during his Death-T laser tag of doom match with Yugi and friends. Even while teamed with former SWAT team leader Bob McGuire and former green beret Johnny Gayle, Sniper Crosshair is no match for a trio of high schoolers.
The final villain is easily the most detestable, most malicious, most conniving monster of them all. Cedric (Johji) is Triston’s infant nephew, who also gets dragged into Death-T. Why is Cedric the worst of the worst? He sexually harasses Tea under the cloak and deception of being an innocent child. His creepy inclusion in the manga, which is supposed to lend humor to the life-and-death tension of the Death-T maze, only cheapens the tone with unfunny gags. What, none of this fits the criteria of being a dangerous spree-killer like the rest? Oh wait, Cedric does kill Kaiba’s butler by crapping on his lap in the Electric Chair Ride, a game where Yugi and friends can’t scream or they will be electrocuted to death. Cedric is a sick freak. Go play Yu-Gi-Oh! Dungeon Dice Monsters with these villains!