If you are most familiar with the English versions of Yu-gi-oh! You might find it odd that I am describing Yami Yugi (The Pharaoh) and Hikari Yugi (The Boy with the Puzzle) together. However this is because one point of note in the original Japanese is that the two Yugis refer to each other as
“The Other Me”, because they together form one whole as two separate halves.
In Yu-gi-oh the personalities of their characters is generally reflected in their duel styles which I will be going over in conjunction with their personalities.
Yami Yugi is the Pharaoh and the “Dark” Half of Yugi. He is confident, assertive, competitive to the point of being willing to kill, judgmental, and full of natural Charisma. If you look at his cards, Yami Yugi uses cards that were powerhouses in the context of the original Series. 2500 ATK Black Magician and Summoned Skull. 2300 ATK Gaia the Fierce Knight. 2000 ATK Curse of Dragon as well as his special Ritual Monster the 3000 ATK Black Luster Soldier. The Dark Attribute assigned to him refers to his “Dark” nature…he uses deception like Magical Hats and Mirror Force to get the best of his opponents.
Hikari Yugi is the “Light” Half of Yugi. He is shy, sweet, sentimental, kind of a push-over and easily manipulated. However, his cards represent the potential within him. He has cards that aren’t particularly strong but are powerful when working together (like his 3 Magnet Warriors that fuse together to form the 3500 ATK Valkyrion) or cards that start weak but become stronger with time like Silent Swordsman and Silent Magician. The Light attribute assigned to him refers to his “Light” nature…he uses cards like Swords of Revealing Light and Eye of Truth to see the true nature of his opponents.
The Union of Yami Yugi and Hikaru Yugi allows them feed into each other and learn from each other, forming the separate halves of the human personality that are needed in the world, tying into the greater Egyptian Mythology themes of Ma’at (Balance), and the necessary balance of light and dark, life and death, order and chaos.
Yami Yugi begins the story unable to sympathize with anyone, seeing himself as the greatest and constantly competing to be the best. He judges many people in the first arc to painful penalty games because he views himself as a God, a supreme arbiter, just as an actual Pharaoh would. Yet he has difficulties with understanding the importance of smaller creatures. He initially didn’t even understand why Hikari Yugi’s Grandfather would put the pieces of Exodia in his deck, not understanding that though weak separate, together they formed the unbeatable monster. His development comes as he comes to realize the importance of all people from the lowliest to the highest working in unison. This comes up in the Final Duel against each villain of each arc.
Against Kaiba he had the problem with Exodia.
Against Pegasus, he found that his dark nature could not deceive Pegasus and so was utterly outmaneuvered, until Hikari Yugi suggested using both of their bodies and minds to duel and the climax of that duel is his mind being protected by Yugi’s connection with his friends, something Yami Yugi admits he doesn’t understand and proceeding to put all his trust in the last card Hikari Yugi played which wins him the duel. It is this duel we first see the development of his empathy as he offers to take the place of Hikari Yugi in the World of Darkness, seeing he could not handle it, but Hikari Yugi insisted on continuing their strategy. Seeing as he had never born the brunt of such power like that caused a newfound respect in Yami Yugi for someone to struggle so mightily.
Against Marik, having a much more closer relationship with Hikaru Yugi was what eventually won him the duel, as Yami Marik’s parasitic relationship with his host Hikari Marik ended up costing it when Hikari Marik took control again and surrendered.
Against Bakura, it was his again Yugi’s friends who finally returned to Yami Yugi his True Name which gave him the power to fuse the Egyptian Gods together to summon the Supreme God Horahkty which finally overcomes Zorc and save the world.
Conversely Hikari Yugi’s problems at the start of the series was his lack of confidence and his willingness to be pushed around. But after Kaiba manipulates him into losing by pretend he would kill himself if Yugi won, Yugi began developing a larger sense of confidence. In the duels against both Pegasus and Marik, the villain tries to win again Yami Yugi by doing damage against Hikari Yugi yet Hikari Yugi surprised both of them by taking the pain anyway and not crying for help or surrendering the will to fight. It is also shown again in the third arc when Jonouchi is possessed by Marik and Hikari Yugi asks Yami Yugi to duel Jonouchi instead, because he was confident that the bond of their friendship would release him of his brain control.
The climax of their character comes in the Ceremonial Duel at the end of the series, where Hikari Yugi and Yami Yugi duel each other. Yami Yugi has to play with all his heart but still lose in order to be set free and Hikari Yugi must defeat Yami Yugi in order to show his ability to become independent. And the way he does it is so brilliantly thematic.
Hikari Yugi uses Golden Sarcophagus, a magic card that lets you place one card in the sarcophagus and if your opponent plays it, it’s neutralized. The game is set to be win by anyone. Hikari Yugi has one last monster. Both have 200 life points. Yami Yugi uses Monster Reborn to summon Osiris the Sky Dragon, but Monster Reborn was the card in the sarcophagus. As the resurrection is ended, it is said by Ishizu that “The dead belong in the world beyond” talking about both Yami Yugi and the God representing him Osiris. Hikari Yugi beats Yami Yugi and the series ends on the note that though they are now separate, they will always be with each other in the change they have left on each other.
The Two Yugis represent the two necessary parts of the soul, the light half and the dark half and their development together.