Table of Contents
Skillful and calm are few words to describe Yu-Gi-Oh 5D’s anime protoganist, and my personal favourite character – Fudo Yusei. him. In today’s Character Spotlight, we will be looking at his brief history and character analysis.
Junk Synchron is the first (and last) tuner monster summoned in the Yu-gi-oh 5D’s series and is Yusei’s main tuner monster. It commonly interacts with Speed Warrior for its revival effect, although the initial episodes featuring Junk Synchron’s summon neglected to utilize this effect. A possible explanation would be that Yusei already had in place other revival methods such as Graceful Rebirth, although a more literal take would be the writer’s decision to slowly introduce Junk Synchron to the viewers.
Intitally with Junk Warrior as his ace Synchro Monster, Yusei eventually regained Stardust Dragon, which would also be his Signer Dragon. Through countless battles, Stardust Dragon would gain evolutionary forms, growing to become Shooting Star Dragon and eventually Shooting Quasar Dragon.
In a universe where Z-ONE never interfered, a name written in passing when Z-ONE’s backstory was explored indicated Yusei’s final evolution – Cosmic Blazer Dragon. Cosmic Blazer Dragon would later be released in the OCG, although never on-screen, as a WIND Synchro monster. In the anime, it was also depicted in writing, as a Delta Accel Synchro monster. Having met Antinomy, Yusei transcended that ability and went a step beyond, achieving Over Accel Synchro Summon via Over Top Clear Mind.
Yusei, along with teammates Jack, Crow and Kalin were members of Team Enforcers when they grew up in Satelite.
Yusei also founded Team 5D’s, naming it after the birthmark that allowed him to cross paths with his comrades.
Defeating Jack during the Fortune Cup, Yusei earned the title of King. Along with Team 5D’s, Yusei won the WRGP, making him the champion of the event.
Previously with the Crimson Dragon’s Tail birthmark, and eventually the Head birthmark, Yusei is a proud member and presumed leader of the Signers.
He also has a Criminal Mark across his left cheek to showcase his past criminal actions, although the implications of a criminal history fades as the series progresses and Neo Domino City advances. Crow’s occupation as a Highway Patrol Officer and Yusei as Chief Scientist are indicators that society in the anime universe is not that concerned with such labels as before.
Skills and Abilities
Despite presumably having a lack of access to education, Yusei managed to gain an extraordinary level of understanding for mechanics and computer systems. Plenty of allusion were made throughtout the series to Yusei’s ability in this field. He first showcased this ability by jamming the signal of Security’s Criminal Mark tracking system in the first episode of the series. During the following episode, he mentioned that he had hacked into the Security’s defense system. The conversation with his friends implied that it wasn’t his first successful attempt. You mean you hacked them again?
He later managed to reduce the weight and bulkiness of Leo and Luna’s duel disks, without comprimising its primary function. This modification was perfected overnight. Much later, he constructed a Duel Board for the underaged Leo in under a day.
Perhaps the greatest insight to his intellect lies in his career as a scientist in the conclusion of the anime. Yusei carried in his father’s footsteps, entering the scientific industry and earning the title of Chief. Lazar even remarked that Yusei was close to surpassing the late Dr Fudo.
Yusei is shown to be skillful in hand-to-hand combat when he quickly incapacitated and defeated two bodyguards during the Fortune Cup arc.
He had at least created two Duel Runners from scratch, using scrap parts or anything usable in a scrap land. The first was stolen by an ambitious Jack Atlas who was determined to leave the city, whereas the second is his current model – Yusei Go. Yusei Go also consist of a sufficiently complex system to perform as a ‘hybrid’, making it easier for Yusei to transit between Riding Duels and Ground Duels as the Duel Disk could be detached remotely. This function was demonstrated in the second episode, where Yusei had his first on-screen Ground Duel. His abilities were revisited later in the series, such as when he got absorbed deep in-conversation with Bruno. In another episode, he displayed his prowess by helping Team Taiyo to modify their Duel Runner.
Yusei has a keen eye and sharp observation skills. During his duel with Clark Smith, he was able to notice that his opponent was cheating.
As the bearer of the Crimson Dragon’s birthmark, Yusei can tap into the powers of the Crimson Dragon as a Signer. As a plot device for the Bonds Beyond Time movie, Yusei was able to time travel with the assistance of the divine being. Presumably due to his birthmark, he was able to interact with Duel Spirit Yubel and the soul of the deceased Professor Banner.
Yusei has also displayed extraordinary capacity in dueling. It could be attributed to how he always had to make do with the weaker cards he had. With Yanagi’s deck, he could pilot himself to victory by manipulating the cards and bringing out the deck’s potential. He had also succeeded in securing victory with a deck made of 40 cards from 40 different duelists, a feat which is understandably difficult.
During the battles against his opponents, Yusei has always managed to find an answer to a tough battle situation. For example, when faced with overwhelming odds against Team Taiyo, he managed to combine the cards of his teammates Jack and Crow, something which surprised even them. Yusei is also not against trying out new tactics, one such instance that this was proved was his Fusion Summoning attempt with Speed Spell – Fusion, summoning Dragon Knight Draco-Equiste. Countless other times, Yusei is shown to perform calmly even under stressful conditions, thinking ahead and maneuvering out of obstacles.
When tasked by Antimony to master Delta Accel Synchro, Yusei managed to exceed his teacher’s expectations and went on to perfect Over Limit Accel Synchro, showing mastering of his Signer and Clear Mind abilities.
As mentioned, he displayed a profound ability to keep his cool and maintain a level-head throughout moments of crisis. Faced with a time limit and obstacles during his Riding Duel with Trudge, Yusei remained calm and navigated the pipeline to exit Satelite. Even when the garbage was released, he confidently navigated his way while dodging the debris. Ultimately, he managed to make it just in time before the hatch closed. In addition to keeping his cool, he undoubtedly owed his success to his driving skills as well.
Yusei has changed plenty of people with his personality, as noted by Saiga. Bolt Tanner, Jack and Akiza were among the few whose lives were changed by Yusei.
Sentimental is another relevant term that can be used to describe Yusei. Despite just getting to know Yagani and Bolt Tanner for a few moments, he didn’t waver at the temptation to escape prison without them. If they duel me, they are my friends. If I were to leave my friends behind, I would never truly be free. No hesitation, no change of heart even when he was told that there was no honor among the people in the facility. Similarly, he placed great faith in Saiga’s instructions, even when the latter advised him to press on and ride into a door, undeterred by the fact that they only shared a mutual friend. This said event took place in the 11th episode, when Yusei was formulating his escape plan upon securing his Duel Rider and deck. Ultimately, his faith wasn’t misplaced; Saiga succeeded in assisting Yusei.
When Yusei was forced to choose between saving Rally and protecting his Stardust Dragon, Yusei displayed no regret in his choice, opting to choose his friend over his cards, showing how much he is willing to sacrifice in the name of friendship.
Yusei is also a fillial son, caring for his foster mother Martha and showing respect to seniority, politely addressing them. The respect is also reciprocated, it seems. When Akiza was faced with dillenma in choosing her future, her parents contacted Yusei which may imply that they held sufficient respect for the young man to ask for his suggestion.
Yusei sees potential is every card made available to him. One of the first few duels Yusei had would solidify this aspect of his personality. His modest background made him rely on inferior card substitutes, in a universe where powerful cards were commonly implied to be costly and as a luxury. Hence, it wasn’t a surprise when he stood up to Bolt Tanner for insulting weaker cards as trash. Although a small character, Tanner would gain humility upon that defeat and grow as a supporting character with Yagani. After that episode, Bolt Tanner redeemed himself, and such insults were never spoken by him again.
With a deck put together by 40 inmates after his deck was confiscated by officials, the duel served as a perfect plot device to sow the seeds of the series’ premise and motto – clustering bonds. Much like how Tuners interacted with Non-tuners for a synchro summon, plenty of the series plot arcs focused on unity, friendship and bonds. Yusei would proceed to adapt and cleverly manage his resources despite having tough synergy among 40 different cards. Counting his duel against Bolt Tanner with the Yagani’s deck, this would be the second time Yusei dueled and won with an unfamiliar deck.
Compassionate is the next adjective I would use to describe him. Plenty of times, Yusei Fudo gave his deck and cards credit for his victory. In an answer to an impressed Yagani, The cards answered back. All I did was relay the cards wishes were the only words Yusei replied with after he won. Yusei has given dueling plenty of credit too, going as far as to propose a duel with Jack in the finale of the series, believing that dueling will provide the answer to everyone’s problems. True enough, his duel against Jack inspired his fellow teammates to embrace the future without fear.
Yusei has shown, and is referenced to care deeply for his friends and the people he knows. He struck a quick friendship with Bolt Tanner after the former antagonist made amends. Despite Jack’s betrayal, Yusei referred to him as a friend (Episode 02) when he repeated the words that Jack quoted him. (Yusei also inferred that Jack was relating to a duelist’s soul, which I perceive to be a nice foreshadow and reference to Jack’s future ability – Burning Soul.)
Yusei Fudo also held the impeccable record of recording zero losses on screen. His duel with Kalin was ruled as an interrupted duel. Even so, Yusei had the least losses among all protagonists. His perfection would leave big shoes for the next anime main character to fill, a factor which could attribute to ZeXal’s initial poor success and ratings. It should be noted, however, Yusei has been implied to lose a couple of duels off-screen in flashbacks.
Yusei is by no means perfect. He has displayed rage and violence, such as when he kicked Bolt Tanner in the leg from behind to trip him in order to prevent him from stepping on a card.
Zero Reverse haunts Yusei greatly, and he managed to set his worries aside temporarily after he managed to, along with Jack and Crow, repair the relationship between Neo Domino City and Satelite. However, it is evident from the movie, Bonds Beyond Time, that Yusei still blamed himself for the global traumatic event. Zero Reverse distracted Yusei at times, such as when he failed his first attempt at Accel Synchro Summon.
As Antimony noted, Yusei’s greatest strength and weakness is his bonds towards his friends. His history with Antimony made Yusei an unwilling participant in the duel against his former friend. Previously, filled with guilt, he had trouble finding the resolve to battle Kalin until Jack managed to talk some sense into him.
In the final episode of the 5D’s series, a cleverly written duel between Jack and Yusei concluded the series. In this final Riding Duel of the anime, Yusei faced plenty of ups and downs and displayed his ability to maneuver out of a disadvantage such as he always did. Plenty of iconic cards by both duelist which were missing for plenty of episodes also made a reappearance in this duel. Ultimately, it was Junk Warrior which bested Red Dragon Archfiend, mirroring Yusei’s ability to gather the strength of his comrades from their bonds.
Tetsu Trudge conversed with Yusei after the duel. This exchange was considered to be symbolic by many fans, seeing how Trudge started out as an antagonist and wanted nothing more than have Yusei dead to rights and incarcerated, but would later grow into the comrade and friend that Yusei knows today. The following day, Yusei escorted his friends out of the city and remained in Neo Domino City himself, promising to await any of their return while providing them a reason to come back to Neo Domino City.
In the end, everyone in Team 5D’s future was shown, except for Yusei and the late Bruno. Some fans took it as a darker meaning and accepted that Yusei may have passed, although Jack’s statement regarding his rivalry with Yusei makes this theory seem unlikely. Adamant fans would argue that Jack is remaining at the top of the industry as a tribute to his fallen friend. I personally, do not agree with this theory.
I felt the finale provided a fitting farewell to the characters and storyline. It instilled several life values which I appreciated, about how friendship isn’t about being together forever, and even friends embark on different paths someday.
Yusei is an iconic protagonist that would leave a deep impression on players and fans for generations to come. His character’s popularity contributed to the smooth ushering of the Synchro Summon mechanics in the fan base.
While not a completely replica, his signature deck did live up to his own reputation in the competitive scene.
Junk Doppel, a deck consisting of Junk Warrior and Doppelwarrior was one of the best deck in the format. Debris Dandy, a reform of the deck after it was incapacitated by the ban list, was also named after its namesake card – Debris Dragon, yet another card of Yusei Fudo. Quickdraw Dandy, an innovative idea which catapulted into the top tier deck during another Synchro era format was one of the many examples that Yusei’s influence extended beyond the anime. Years later, Level Eater would be the star (pun intended) of another deck that swarms with multiple synchro summoning – DARK Synchro.
Yusei was also considered an ‘anomaly’ by fans, as he strayed from plenty of norms that were supposedly set in stone by the protagonist of other Yu-Gi-Oh! Anime Series. Unlike the rest, Yusei did not possess a ‘Kuriboh’ monster variant. The ‘Kuriboh’ of the 5D’s series, was instead held by Luna, as Kuribon.
Among the fan base, Yusei has invoked plenty of mixed reviews. Critics blamed the character’s flawless design as a plot barrier, disallowing Yusei to evolve further in character and hence, shrunk in the character development department. His nobility was also chided as unrealistic as it portrays Yusei as someone born riding a high horse. His lack of facial expression and limited emotions was another factor that some did not particularly enjoy.
Others, however, enjoyed the competency and remarkable dueling capabilities of Yusei for a change, as opposed to previous players such as Judai’s luck and Pharoh’s claim for king of the game. The calmness of Yusei is perhaps most renowned when he turns the table of a match calmly. Being always calm and collected, it only added depth when Yusei broke tranquillity by breaking down during his battle with Antimony, whom he previously knew as Bruno. Before the match, Yusei struggled to digest the truth, troubled by the betrayal. After securing victory and having Bruno sacrifice his own life to save Yusei’s, our usual clear-headed character broke down and cried. This drastic change and capture of emotions, I felt, was a symbolic scene neglected by critics. Other fans took a deeper meaning to Yusei’s emotional silence, opting to justify it with his rough childhood. Growing up in the wasteland known as Satelite as an orphan couldn’t have been easy.
His personality was very likely a dramatic foreshadow to the ability which he would come to gain, fittingly named CLEAR MIND.
In the anime universe, years into the future, Yusei’s popularity and achievements were profound enough to spark the popularity of Synchro Summoning. He was also referred to as a Legendary Duelist in multiple occasions. The fact that Z-ONE chose to impersonate him to inspire humanity speaks volume of Yusei’s legacy as well.
With just a mere article, it is impossible to tell the story of the legendary Signer. A man who doesn’t give up on friends, even when they gave up upon themselves, Yusei went as far as Crash Town to save Kalin from his guilt. Yusei would embark on plenty of adventures and duel tough opponents, such as Team Unicorn, Hallador of Team Ragnorak, Aporia and eventually Z-ONE. However, I hope to have sparked your interest in the character, and perhaps the series.
It was a struggle for me, to decide between narrating the entire history of Yusei, or leaving some form of mystery for fans to be interested in. Ultimately, I felt that an analysis of the character should interest some readers while leaving a reason for them to watch the anime series.
5D’s was regarded as one of the most successful series of the franchise, but it has its fair share of mixed reviews too. Plenty of characters, specifically Crow and Jack Atlas gained popularity, more than any other deuteragonists did. It was rumored that Crow was originally planned to turn into the series’s main antagonist of Season 1, yet the creators had different plans eventually upon witnessing the character’s popularity.
Nevertheless, 5D’s deserves my strongest recommendations, and fans of the franchise who have yet to give it a try should definitely do so, and make the judgment about the series by yourself.
From a duelist from Satelite, to a criminal, then the next King, followed by a Signer and competitor in the WRGP and eventually world saver and scientist, it is almost impossible to comprehensively cover all aspects of Yusei. So, what did I missed out, that you noticed? Feel free to comment below. As a fan of the series, I look forward to some discussion on it!
Along with a group of friends, I founded the blog [Dueling "C"]. I am from Singapore, and have been playing competitively in the OCG since 2012, although I started playing the game casually since 2007.
Fav decks: Junk Doppel, Chaos Dragons.
Fav archetype: Yosenjus
Fav card artwork: Destiny Draw