When Anime Characters Made It into the Card Game


Characters from the Yu-Gi-Oh! anime are a fundamental part of the franchise. We know that any card we see them use in the show will eventually make an appearance in the actual game. However, sometimes the characters themselves show up in cards' artworks. This article is about these cards.

yu-jo friendship

Before we begin, I want to clarify a couple of things. First of all, in cases where characters appear on cards multiple times, I will be putting them all together in one entry. Second, I'm trying to include most cards that fit into the category described in the title. Obviously, with so many cards in the game, I might miss some.

Duel Monsters Characters

The protagonists of the first anime have made a plethora of appearances in the card game. Let's start with the less obvious ones. Yami Yugi's hand is featured in Draw of Fate, performing his signature destiny draw. Alongside him, three of his most famous monsters, Dark Magician, Exodia the Forbidden One, and Black Luster Soldier, make an appearance in the artwork. Moreover, Atem also appears on The True Name, an iconic image from the anime. Yugi Muto could not be left out of this. He is featured in Card of the Soul.

Moving on to the rest of the cards. The first one is Symbol of Friendship, showing one of the most memorable moments from the DM era. Yugi, Joey, Tea, and Tristan join their hands together as a symbol of their friendship. The artwork also features Tea's drawing on their hands. Unity depicts the same moment, but from a different angle. Interestingly, Duke Devlin also appears in this card's artwork, although he was not present in the anime back then.

The final two cards for this section of the list are Yu-Jo Friendship and Judgment of the Pharaoh. The latter features Atem in his full pharaoh clothing. It is worth noting that this card's effect is connected with both Unity, which I mentioned before, and Yu-Jo Friendship. All three cards were released as promos in the Shonen Jump magazine at the same time.

Finally, Yu-Jo Friendship features both Yami Yugi and Joey performing a hand wrestler type of handshake. The card's effect is really unique and is the only one with an activation condition of its kind.

Yu-Jo Friendship Unity Judgment of the Pharaoh
Name a more iconic trio of cards

Crystal Bond

The next entry on the list features one of the cutest artworks in the game. Crystal Bond shows Jesse Anderson petting Crystal Beast Ruby Carbuncle. We might not see his face, but it is pretty obvious from the figure's clothing that Jesse is in fact in this card's artwork. This card also supports Crystal Beast monsters, the archetype Jesse played in the anime.

Crystal Bond
Aww, look at how cute this artwork is

Cards of Consonance, Limit Overdrive

Yusei is trading you two cards for The White Stone of Legend. It looks like a good deal. The first of the two is Cards of Consonance. Although we cannot see the entire body of Yusei Fudo, it is certainly his glove handing over those two cards in exchange. It is also nice to notice how the card's artwork matches its effect, trading a dragon tuner monster for two new cards.

The second card featuring 5D's protagonist is Limit Overdrive. It portrays the biggest climax of the third anime. The artwork depicts Yusei turning into a full gold figure. His duel runner is also gold, just like in the anime, riding on Crimson Dragon's wings. But that is not all. Yusei is in the state of "over top clear mind," during which he is capable of limit-over-accel synchro summoning Shooting Quasar Dragon. I also want to point out that this spell card is actually able to special summon Quasar.

Cards of Consonance Limit Overdrive
Limit-over-accel synchro! The light of evolution, Shooting Quasar Dragon

Yuma's Appearances

ZEXAL's main character, Yuma Tsukumo, appears in a few artworks as well. The first is Hi-Five the Sky, referencing the anime. Additionally, the card's name is also a reference to one of Yuma's catchphrases.

Another card featuring Yuma is Number S0: Utopic ZEXAL. However, this time, Yuma is not alone. This manga-exclusive card bears a lot of similarities to ZEXAL II, the evolution of Yuma and Astral's morph. In the artwork, both the character and the monster have orange-like hair and very similar body armors.

Moreover, Shining Draw featuring Yuma perform his own version of a destiny draw. Halfway to Forever also features Yuma, alongside Astral and the emperor's key.

Hi-Five the Sky Shining Draw Number 50: Utopic Zexal
Feeling the flow!

Rivals Turned into Monsters

Coming up, there are four monster cards based on rivals from the anime. Kaibaman is the first one of those, making an appearance in the GX anime as a character himself. This monster is obviously based on Seto Kaiba himself, as its name, effect and posture clearly suggest. We have never seen Kaiba use this card, but in the GX series, it is mentioned that he had that card made after himself.

Next up, Absolute King Back Jack is a very similar card. It is obviously based on Jack Atlas from 5D's. Yusei's rival and friend was in fact the king of duelists in New Domino City. Accordingly, this card features his title in its name. It is also worth noting that the backpack the monster is wearing is based on Jack's duel runner. Jack also makes an appearance in the artwork of King's Synchro.

ZEXAL's rival, Kite Tenjo, could not be missing from this part of the list. He has a monster based on him in the form of Numeral Hunter. The reference is clear here, too. In the anime, Kite was a number hunter for quite a while. Additionally, the monster appears to be a combination between the character and his ace monster Galaxy-Eyes Photon Dragon. Kite also appears in Photon Change and Photon Hand.

Finally, ARC-V's rival Declan Akaba has a monster shaped after him as well. Go! - D/D/D Divine Zero King Rage bears some obvious resemblance to the character. Their hair is almost the same, they possess the same red scarf, and their torsos are both blue.

Kaibaman Absolute King Back Jack Numeral Hunter
I wonder why they didn't make more of these

The Bujin Archetype

For the last section of this list, I chose a less noticeable depiction of characters in cards, yet the coolest one in my opinion. With only one exception, the anthropomorphic monsters of the Bujin archetype are all based on the GX-era characters.

Specifically, the GX characters that have a Bujin counterpart are: Jaden Yuki as Yamato, Chazz Princeton as Mikazuchi, and Alexis Rhodes as Hirume. Additional characters from the second anime are turned into Bujins as Arasuda resembles Bastion Misawa and Hiruko Sartorius.

Also, despite being a monster himself, Elemental HERO Divine Neos has his own Bujin incarnation in Torifune. The only exception I mentioned earlier is Mahitotsu as it is made in honor of Maximillion Pegasus.

The Bujin archetype has a very interesting lore, too. The monsters are not only based on GX characters but also on Japanese folklore. I may explore this and other similar archetypes in a future article.

Honorable Mentions

Before reaching the conclusion for this article, I want to mention a few cards that did not make the cut for this list, the reason being that they are kind of special occasions.

First of all, I would like to mention all the special tokens featuring one or more anime characters. We did not always have them and it is pretty cool that we do now. Who doesn't like having his favorite character accompanying him in his every duel? Also, luckily, even if you missed the promo tokens of your favorite character, you can certainly find them here on Cardmarket.

Furthermore, Gravekeeper monsters have a lore that was thoroughly explored in the Duel Monsters era. One could also argue that Gravekeeper's Descendant is a depiction of Marik Ishtar. In a similar fashion, Gravekeeper's Recruiter looks a lot like Odion, Gravekeeper's Priestess like Ishizu, and Gravekeeper's Heretic like Thief King Bakura. However, they all just have a few similar characteristics, mostly their hair.

Coming to a close, Yubel did not make the list as despite being a character in the GX anime, it was a monster from the beginning.

Yugi Token Gravekeeper's Descendant Yubel


That's it for today's article. I hope you learned something new about our game. Are there any cards missing from the list? Do you have any personal favorites among those mentioned? Let us know in the comment section below.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, not of Cardmarket.


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Khyrion(19.05.2022 06:18)

Also, Millenium Seeker is Shadi from the first Arc! Even my kid recognised him, haha ;-)

werderflo(27.04.2022 14:48)

Damage = reptile

CardventureNC(27.04.2022 02:34)

Torifune is based on Elemental Hero Tempest, not Divine Neos. They share the exact same pose and the head of Torifune is shaped like the helmet of Tempest.

PeterSan17(27.04.2022 12:08)

CardventureNC Indeed Torifune is not based on Divine Neos. It is actually based on Elemental Hero Honest Neos. I mixed up the names.

Iliaster(27.04.2022 00:56)

Good article, one thing you could've mentioned is that they made Character-cards back in the late 90s (when Bandai still held the rights to the Card game).

vitg6(27.04.2022 00:07)

Sweet :v