These five Yu-Gi-Oh! the characters are minor duelists, but they stand out in memory nonetheless.
There are countless dueling characters in the world of Yu-Gi-Oh!. Most of them appear during a couple of battles against Yugi, Joey, or Kaiba and then disappear after being defeated. While some, like Mai Valentine and Weevil Underwood, become recurring characters on the series, others are a bit darker.
The next five characters are minor duelists who, however, stand out in memory. These cannon fodder duelists may not have had the most complicated and nuanced storylines, but they stand out as memorable, be it for their strategies, decks, designs, or personalities.
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It’s weird how someone who specializes in dinosaurs, some of the coolest creatures that ever lived, could be as little cool as Rex Raptor. Although initially introduced as a rival to Weevil Underwood, Rex always radiated “trash-goblin” energy from his partner. He was an accomplice to Mai, then cannon fodder to make Espa Roba look more dangerous, and eventually became Dartz’s exhausted tool. Throughout the final arc, Rex’s role can be summed up as “Yami Bakura and Zorc do something that ruins Rex’s day.”
Part of this is how the entire Rex deck is all bark and no bite. Sure, Rex’s cards look amazing, but his monsters are weak. Arguably his most memorable moment, aside from wasting all his time, is when Joey punched him and took away his Red-Eyes Black Dragon. There is something entertaining and endearing about how, despite being so terrible, it keeps coming back for ever more insignificant acts of revenge.
Espa Roba is a fake psychic with a memorably silly hairstyle and a gloriously absurd stunt. Espa claims to be a psychic who can read his opponent’s mind to determine what cards are in his hands. Naturally, this is all nonsense. Espa is actually the older brother of a large sprawling family, all of whom share Espa’s goofy hairstyle. His brothers spy on their opponents from a distance with binoculars and tell Espa what is in the hands of his opponents.
Espa’s duel with Joey is one of the best early duels in Battle City, in part due to Espa’s iconic monster, Jinzo. This letter eventually paralyzes Joey until he discovers a way to destroy Jinzo. While Espa vows to become a great duelist without cheating, he never appears after Battle City. It is incredibly disappointing that we never saw what became of Espa, beyond an epilogue in which he takes on Mako Tsunami. There is a lot in the history of Espa that lends itself well to a character arc. It’s weird that a character like Rebecca Hawkins had an entire season arc after her initial appearance, however Espa disappeared into the ether until a short epilogue, which ultimately doesn’t tell us what became of him.
Bonz is one of Bandit Keith’s henchmen during the Duelist Kingdom. Inherently, there isn’t much about Bonz’s personality that is particularly fascinating, but his creepy deck of cards and strange corpse-like appearance are highly memorable. Bonz’s ghoulish appearance suits his zombie-centric deck. It ends up being one of the toughest duels Joey engages in during the Duelist Kingdom. He is a key figure in taking Joey’s character to new heights, and a stepping stone that Bandit Keith uses to reach the finals.
Later, Bonz tries her entire creepy routine on Yami Bakura during Battle City. Unfortunately, Bonz didn’t anticipate that his ghost tricks wouldn’t work on a real vengeful spirit, so Bakura simply took his Location Cards, along with his friends’ letters, and sent them to the Shadow Realm.
Of all the rare hunters under the command of Marik and Odion during Battle City, Arkana stands out the most. This former theater magician was disfigured and after a trick went wrong, his lover Catherine left him. He desperately joins Marik’s rare hunters, promising that Marik will return Catherine to him.
Arkana wears a flamboyant mask to cover her disfigurement. He uses many magician-focused cards, making him in many ways a dark counterpart to Yugi himself. He even uses the Dark Wizard. However, unlike Yugi, he is a cheater. By trimming the edges of her cards in certain ways, Arkana can identify which card is which without looking at them.
Mako Tsunami is one of the most interesting cannon fodder duelists in Yu-Gi-Oh !, in part because he evolves with each appearance. In his initial appearance in the Duelist Realm, he is just a generic water-themed fighter. His duel with Joey during Battle City, however, reveals him as a much more complex and honorable figure.
Mako wants to be a fisherman like his father. His letter The Legendary Fisherman reminds Mako of his father. He sees it as a representation of his father’s great skill as a fisherman. While Mako eventually loses to Joey, he loses as the only character Joey faced in Battle City, aside from Seto Kaiba, who didn’t cheat. While he is a fierce duelist, he is also just a supportive guy who sincerely encourages people who beat him without ill will. The anime’s epilogue shows Mako achieving his dream of fishing, giving him a surprisingly satisfying character arc for such a minor character.
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