The first antagonist of the Yu-Gi-Oh! anime is a duelist named Seto Kaiba. He is a teenage millionaire who runs a massive entertainment company when he isn't attending high school.
Yugi Muto manages to defeat him in the first episode of the show by drawing all five pieces of Exodia. This causes Kaiba to rethink his evil ways and become more of a rival to the main cast than a straight up villain. Kaiba is one of the greatest duelists in the world, who seeks only to keep his brother Mokuba safe, and to finally defeat Yugi Muto in a fair duel.
Seto Kaiba quickly became one of the most popular characters in all of Yu-Gi-Oh!. The fans loved his maniacal obsession with card games and dragons, as well as his ruthless nature, which was occasionally broken by genuine moments of affection for his family. The fans could either love Kaiba or hate him, but they all had to respect him.
We are here today to look at the history of one of the greatest Yu-Gi-Oh! characters of all time. From his real life inspiration to the question of his ultimate fate, here are the 15 Things You Didn't Know About Seto Kaiba.
15 He's Based On A Real Person
When Seto Kaiba first appeared in the Yu-Gi-Oh! manga, he wasn't planned to be a recurring antagonist. Manga artist Kazuki Takahashi had planned on Kaiba being a one-off villain with limited scenes, which would include the card game that he and Yugi played.
Takahashi was soon inundated with fan letters asking for more information about Kaiba and the card game, however, which resulted in both of them taking over the story of his manga.
Seto Kaiba was inspired by a person that Kazuki Takahashi met in real life as a youth. One day, he went to a game store in order to learn more about a card game that he was interested in. Takahashi asked one of the patrons to teach him how to play the game.
The person told him to come back when he had collected ten thousand cards. Takahashi was pissed off, but he became inspired and decided to turn the jerk into a character when he finally had a published manga.
14 The Official Enemy Controller Meme
When Kaiba duels Yugi in the semifinals of the Battle City Tournament, he uses a spell card called Enemy Controller. This card allows you to either change the battle position of one of your opponent's monsters or take control of it until the end of the turn.
The card is pretty straight forward, but the anime decided to make it more complicated. Whenever someone uses Enemy Controller, they have to shout out button commands, as if they are trying to tell someone how to perform a cheat code.
Kaiba yelling button commands became a meme in Japan, where people would remix his words to the beats of songs. The funny thing is: the meme actually became canon. There is a popular series of Yu-Gi-Oh! arcade games, called Duel Terminal. These introduced an Enemy Controller minigame, where you have to press the buttons in time with Kaiba's commands, with many of his phrases being the same as the ones used in the meme videos.
13 He Was Basically The Villain From Saw
When Seto Kaiba first dueled Yugi in the Yu-Gi-Oh! anime and manga, it ended with the Pharaoh using his powers to punish him. In the manga, this meant that Kaiba was banished to the realm of monsters, where he would experience death at their hands.
He finally awoke from this illusion and decided to get revenge. Did he challenge Yugi to another duel? No, he created a theme park and staffed it with hitmen, serial killers, and professional torturers.
Kaiba was determined to make Yugi suffer the same experience he did, so he created the Death-T theme park. This was a death trap that was made with the express purpose of making Yugi and his friends suffer. One floor was a laser tag game, where being shot would hit you with real electricity, while another involved Joey being changed into a pillar in a room with a man wielding a chainsaw.
The Death-T arc ended with a duel between Yugi and Kaiba. This was the point when Yugi summoned Exodia in the manga.
12 The Ghost Of Him Was Totally Different In The Manga
When Yugi was competing in the Duelist Kingdom tournament, he battled against a player who claimed to be Kaiba's dark side given flesh. Yugi had banished Kaiba's evil nature at the end of their first duel.
The so-called ghost version of Kaiba claimed that Pegasus used his powers to give him a solid form. This was an invention of the English dub, as he was presented as a skilled impersonator in the original version of the episode.
Ghost Kaiba was created for the anime. He replaced a character from the manga called the Ventriloquist of the Dead. This was a duelist who played with a puppet of Kaiba, which he claimed carried his discarded soul.
Yugi won the duel, as the Blue-Eyes White Dragons refused to serve the false Kaiba. The dual concluded with Yugi performing a Penalty Game on the Ventriloquist of the Dead, which made him think that he was being attacked by a puppet version of himself.
11 He Should Have Defeated Yugi In Pyramid Of Light
Kaiba wants nothing more than to defeat Yugi Muto in a fair duel. He lost their first match due to the fact that Yugi drew the five pieces of Exodia. Kaiba would win their next match, but only because he threatened to kill himself if Yugi didn't give in. Yugi would win their next match in the semifinals of the Battle City Tournament, however.
Seto Kaiba should have technically won their match in the Pyramid of Light movie, but the writers screwed up. During their duel, Kaiba summons the Blue-Eyes Shining Dragon, which gains 300 ATK points for every Dragon-type monster in the graveyard.
Kaiba claims that he has five dragons in the graveyard (three Blue-Eyes White Dragons, Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon, and Rare Metal Dragon). This brings Blue-Eyes Shining Dragon's ATK up to 4500, which attacks Yugi and leaves him with 200 life points.
The error lies in the fact that Kaiba also had a Paladin of White Dragon in the graveyard, which is also a Dragon-type monster. This means that Blue-Eyes Shining Dragon should have had an ATK of 4800, which would have defeated Yugi when it attacked during that turn.
10 There Is A Card That Is Based On Him
There have been a few rare instances where the characters from the Yu-Gi-Oh! anime appeared in the physical card game. The most significant of these were Yu-Jo Friendship (where you had to shake hands with the other player) and Unity (which combined all of the DEF points on your side of the field and gave them to one monster). These cards both included images of the anime cast.
The Kaibaman card is another such example of a card clearly being based off of an anime character. Kaibaman looks exactly how Kaiba envisions himself in his mind. In fact, the anime claims Kaiba designed the card himself.
Jaden Yuki battles a spirit version of Kaibaman in Yu-Gi-Oh! GX. Kaiba's original voice actor, Eric Stuart, performed the voice of the character. Kaibaman used an upgraded version of Seto Kaiba's deck and was the second person in all of GX who actually defeated Jaden Yuki in a fair duel.
9 The Blue-Eyes April Fools' Joke
It was only a matter of time before a Yu-Gi-Oh! smartphone game was released. Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links was released worldwide in January 2017. Duel Links is a simplified version of the actual card game.
The changes include only having 4000 life points (the card game gives you 8000) and only have three zones for monster cards and spell/trap cards (compared to the five you are given in the card game). Duel Links is still being updated, so it may resemble the actual card game at some point in the future. As it stands, they are still introducing basic features to the game through updates.
Seto Kaiba became the source of an April Fools' joke in Duel Links. There was a period of time where dueling Kaiba on April Fools' day would cause a special animation to play. If Kaiba manages to summon a Blue-Eyes White Dragon when you duel him, then it will be wearing a KaibaCorp construction helmet during its entrance animation.
8 The Finger Censorship
Yu-Gi-Oh! was picked up by 4Kids Entertainment, who were eager to perform a dub of the show. They might not have realized what they were getting themselves into, as Yu-Gi-Oh! has a lot of violence.
This ranges from guns, people physically striking each other, and deadly contraptions that are straight out of Saw. There is also a lot of magical violence, including the fact that the Pharoah straight up destroys people's minds.
Seto Kaiba was one of the first victims of 4Kids' heavy handed censorship practices. In the Japanese version of episode 8, Kaiba is confronted by two of Pegasus' goons, who pull guns out and point them at him.
The guns were edited out of the 4Kids dub and replaced with the goons just pointing their fingers at Kaiba in a threatening manner. This happened again in a later episode, where Bandit Keith pulled a gun out and pointed it at Pegasus' head. The gun was changed into a sternly pointed finger in the 4Kids dub.
7 Noah's Design Was Based On The Original Kaiba From The Anime
The Yu-Gi-Oh! anime was based on the manga series that was still being created at the time. This meant that the anime quickly caught up to the manga and was forced to create filler episodes in order to give the author time to write more of the story. In Yu-Gi-Oh!'s case, it allowed the anime staff to include more of the cards from the actual card game.
By far the most intrusive filler storyline in Yu-Gi-Oh! was the Virtual World arc. The Battle City tournament is interrupted and the characters are thrown into a virtual world, which is possessed by the spirit of Gozaburo Kaiba's biological son, who had his personality programmed into a computer before his death.
The design of Noah was based on Kaiba's design from the Toei series of Yu-Gi-Oh!, which is often referred to as "Season Zero" by the fans. Seto Kaiba had bright green hair in the Toei series and often wore white clothes. This design was reused for Noah and may be a shoutout to how the original series ended before its time.
6 We Don't Know Seto or Mokuba's Original Surname
One of the enduring mysteries of Yu-Gi-Oh! is that we never learned Seto and Mokuba's original surname. The name Kaiba comes from Gozaburo Kaiba, who adopted the two brothers from an orphanage.
He was impressed when Seto managed to beat him in a game of Chess, which prompted him to adopt the two boys. Seto and Mokuba then took on his surname and kept it after Gozaburo's death.
We never discovered what their original surname was. Seto should surely know, as he lived with his mother until Mokuba was born. It was simply never brought up within the story. The most likely reason that they kept Gozaburo's name after his death was in order to cement their position as heirs to his company, which was called KaibaCorp.
It certainly wasn't out of any love or respect for the man, as Gozaburo treated Seto harshly throughout his upbringing, in order to make him capable enough to run the company.
5 He Cheats During Battle City
Kaiba was given one of the three Egyptian God Cards for safe keeping. He was granted the power of Obelisk the Tormentor, which he quickly added to his deck.
When the Battle City tournament started, Kaiba challenged a random duelist to a battle. He managed to summon Obelisk the Tormentor and commanded it to attack his opponent. The other duelist activated Mirror Force, which should have destroyed Obelisk straight away. However, for some unexplained reason, Obelisk was able to punch through the Mirror Force and win the duel.
This move shouldn't have worked. Egyptian God Cards are only immune to spell/trap cards that target a card. Mirror Force doesn't target a card, it simply destroys all of the opponent's monsters who are in attack mode. Obelisk should have been destroyed in this turn. The other duelist still would have probably lost the match in the end, but he should have at least been able to take out Obelisk.
4 The Kaiba Promo Cards From The Movie Were Useless For Two Years
Those who attended Yu-Gi-Oh! The Movie: Pyramid of Light in cinemas were given a free pack of promo cards. The Movie Pack contained cards that were used by the characters in the movie. One of these was the Blue-Eyes Shining Dragon, which Kaiba almost defeats Yugi with (or rather, he should have won with). Fans also received the Sorcerer of Dark Magic, Watapon, and Pyramid of Light cards.
The issue with Kaiba's card is that players couldn't actually use it for two years. In order to summon the Blue-Eyes Shining Dragon, you need to tribute a Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon that is on your side of the field.
The Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon card was already out in Japan, but not in the rest of the world. Pyramid of Light was released in 2004 and the Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon card was only released in 2006. This means that non-Japanese players couldn't actually play the Blue-Eyes Shining Dragon for two years.
3 He Might Be The Best Duelist In The Series (Because He Only Lost To Millennium Item Wielders)
There is a strong argument to be made for Seto Kaiba being the best duelist in the series. This is due to the fact that he never used a Millennium Item to win a duel, and was one of the few people to ever defeat an Item user without possessing one himself.
In the original Yu-Gi-Oh! manga, Kaiba only lost to two people: Yugi Muto and Maximilian Pegasus. These were two duelists who used Millennium Items to help them play the game, which is essentially the same as cheating.
Pegasus used his Millennium Eye to read the thoughts of his enemies and see the cards they had in their hand, while Yugi had the Millennium Puzzle, which allowed him to be possessed by the spirit of Atem.
This meant that the two of them worked in collusion with each other and could give advice on strategy, which would be against the rules in an actual official Yu-Gi-Oh! match. This also means that Kaiba is the best duelist in the series, as the only people who beat him were already cheating.
Though Kaiba additionally lost to Dartz and Noah in the filler arcs of the Yu-Gi-Oh! anime, these guys were also cheating.
2 He Killed One Of The Previous Owners Of The Blue-Eyes White Dragon
There are only four Blue-Eyes White Dragon cards in the world. This makes them extremely special, as they have the highest ATK score of all non-effect monsters. You can only use three of the same kind of cards in a deck, which means that you can't use all four Blue-Eyes White Dragons at once.
At the start of the Yu-Gi-Oh! anime, Kaiba has three of the Blue-Eyes White Dragons and Yugi's grandfather has the fourth. Kaiba destroys the fourth Blue-Eyes White Dragon in order to prevent it from ever being used against him.
The original Yu-Gi-Oh! manga explained how Kaiba acquired the other three Blue-Eyes White Dragon cards. He used all of his money and connections to track down their owners, though none of them would part with their cards willingly.
Kaiba admits that he drove one of the owners to bankruptcy, used the mafia to coerce the second, and convinced the third owner to commit suicide. He did all of this to acquire three pieces of cardboard. Still, 3000 ATK points is a lot...
1 The Question Of Kaiba's Ultimate Fate
There was another Yu-Gi-Oh! movie released in 2016. It was called Yu-Gi-Oh!: The Dark Side of Dimensions and it was set after the end of the original manga/anime series. The story follows Yugi and his friends as they are about to graduate high school. It seems that Kaiba can't let go of the fact that he never defeated Atem in a duel, so he concocts a plan to try and bring him back.
Dark Side of Dimensions ends with Kaiba creating a device that allows him to travel to the afterlife. The movie ends with him challenging Atem. The question is: what happened next?
Seto Kaiba is shown to be alive in Yu-Gi-Oh! GX and is still the head of KaibaCorp. Does this mean that he defeated Atem and returned to life? Kazuki Takahashi posted a drawing on Instagram which showed Yugi and Kaiba playing a new game.
This picture is supposed to be set four years after Dark Side of Dimensions, with Yugi being a game designer at KaibaCorp. Takahashi stressed that this picture is just one possible outcome, and stated that it isn't strictly canon.
So, what actually happened to Kaiba? Did he finally achieve his dream of beating Atem before returning to reality? Is the Yu-Gi-Oh! GX timeline correct? Is Kaiba trapped in the afterlife? It seems that the answer is up to you...
Can you think of any other interesting facts about Yu-Gi-Oh!'s Seto Kaiba? Tell us about them in the comment section!