12 March 2002 – 27 August 2002
The Virtual World arc is a story arc in the Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters anime series. The arc does not appear in the original manga. It is often times referred to as "The Noah Arc," or "Noah's Arc" by fans and by 4kids Entertainment. It is also this arc, along with the Battle City Finals, that is subtitled "Enter the Shadow Realm" in the dub.
As the series relies heavily on the knowledge of the Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game, a basic knowledge of the game and its rules will be needed to understand the contents of this article.
(Note: Because this story arc never occurred in the manga, this guide is written with the dub names as opposed to the original Japanese names)
Originally created in order to allow for more distance between the anime and the manga, the arc bisects the Battle City story arc and serves as a side adventure for the protagonists. Many of the characters introduced in the Battle City arc, however, appear only in a minimal role.
The large majority of the story arc revolves around a new gameplay element, which is created specifically for this story arc, known as the "Deck Master". In these duels, each player would select a Deck Master, which begins the game outside of the playing field. Each Deck Master has a unique special ability, which can be used at any point in the duel as many times as desired. It is to be noted that even Deck Masters which otherwise have no special abilities (such as Normal Monsters) have a special Deck Master ability. As well, it appears that some Deck Masters retain their normal special abilities in addition to their Deck Master abilities i.e Jinzo's ability to negate all Trap cards.
The Deck Master can also be specially summoned to the field, without any prerequisite such as tributes, fusions (for Fusion Monsters) or rituals (for Ritual Monsters). However if the Deck Master is lost, so is the duel. If the Deck Master is itself tributed or otherwise replaced, the new monster would become the new Deck Master, and the old Deck Master's abilities were lost (in theory, the old Deck Master could be returned by normal means - but without the Deck Master abilities, although this point is not elaborated upon in the story arc). It is not explained how a monster that cannot be specially summoned, or a monster that can only be summoned in a special manner (such as "Fusion only") can be designated as a Deck Master, as no such monster was used as a Deck Master in the story arc.
It is also not known whether a Deck Master card counts as against a duelist's main (or Fusion, if the Deck Master is a Fusion monster) decks, as this concept is not elaborated upon in the anime.
When a member of Yugi's group duels in this Virtual World, he/she is given a Duel Disk with a completely new deck by their opponent.
Main article: The Big Five
|Japanese Anime||English Anime||Deck Master|
|Konosuke Oshita||Gansley||"Deepsea Warrior"|
|Shuzo Otaki||Crump||"Nightmare Penguin"|
|Chikuzen Oka||Johnson||"Judge Man"|
|Soichiro Ota||Nezbitt||"Robotic Knight"|
Note: Since the Virtual World story arc does not appear in the original manga, the Big Five have no names in that context.
Aboard Seto Kaiba's airship, the eight Battle City Finals duelists prepare to head for Alcatraz (KaibaCorp Island in the English version), the site of the semifinal and final rounds of the Battle City (Yu-Gi-Oh!) tournament. However, the trip takes a mysterious wrong turn, and finds itself landing in an undersea fortress - apparently, a mysterious force is set on revenge against Kaiba. Forcing many of its passengers off the ship, the mysterious force leads them into another room, where they reveal themselves to be the Big 5, five former board members of KaibaCorp, who were assumed to be fired by Kaiba sometime before Battle City tournament for attempting to take his company from underneath him.
The Big 5 seek revenge against Kaiba for firing them, as well as Yugi Muto ("Yugi Mutou" in the English manga) for foiling their plans to take over the company on two different occasions (by defeating Maximillion Pegasus-Pegasus J. Crawford in the Japanese versions in Duelist Kingdom and the Big 5's Five God Dragon in Legendary Heroes). To do so, they force their participation in their own virtual Duel Monsters tournament, in a similar vein to Kaiba's Legendary Heroes games. There was also an added stipulation: if one of our protagonists were to lose, the Big 5 also threatened to take their bodies for themselves and escape into the real world.
It is also noted by the Big 5 that the virtual tournament would require virtual cards, and thus neither Slifer the Sky Dragon nor Obelisk the Tormentor could be used by Yugi or Kaiba, although players could freely choose their decks before every duel.
As the group enter the virtual world, however, they find themselves separated: Yugi in a forest, Téa Gardner (Anzu Mazaki in the manga and the Japanese versions) in a canyon, Tristan Taylor (Hiroto Honda), Serenity Wheeler (Shizuka Kawai), and Duke Devlin (Ryuji Otogi) in and around a castle, Joey Wheeler (Katsuya Jonouchi) in a mansion, and Seto and younger brother Mokuba elsewhere. Each of the separated groups, as it would turn out, will face a different member of the Big 5.
Fall of the Big 5
|Big Five||Opponent||Opp. Deck Master||Defeated by|
|Gansley||Yugi Muto||Kuriboh||Swift Gaia the Fierce Knight|
|Crump||Téa Gardner||Dark Magician Girl||Dark Magician Girl|
|Johnson||Joey Wheeler||Flame Swordsman||Flame Swordsman|
|Nezbitt|| Serenity Wheeler|
| Goddess with the Third Eye|
|Leichter||Seto Kaiba||Lord of D.||Blue-Eyes White Dragon|
|The Big Five|| Yugi Muto|
| Dark Magician|
|Dark Magician Knight|
As it turns out, the Big 5 are controlled by Noah Kaiba, the legitimate son of Gozaburo Kaiba, and stepbrother to Seto and Mokuba. Noah had died (or, in the English version, had his body "rendered useless") in a traffic accident when he was young, but his mind was preserved in the virtual world. He believes that, as Gozaburo's legitimiate son, he is the true legitimate heir to KaibaCorp, and that he, and not Seto, should be the one running the family business.
How Noah enlists the help of the Big 5 is unclear, but it was implied that, as a result of the earlier encounter between them and the main characters, the minds of the Big 5 were similarly preserved in the virtual world (In the English dub, the Big 5 reveal that when the Mythic Dragon—the monster at the end of the "Legendary Heroes" arc—was destroyed, so were their bodies, but not their minds). In the virtual world, each member of the Big 5 would use a different monster as their Deckmaster and their avatar.
Gansley, a businessman with a penchant of quoting famous philosophers (in the original) or business knowhow (in the English version) would be the first to duel, against arguably the strongest of any of the main characters - Yugi. Despite wanting to choose his trusted Dark Magician, Kuriboh chooses itself as Yugi's Deckmaster. Forced with this choice, Yugi proceeds to duel. Gansley's strategy to defeat Yugi was simple - by using a supposedly invincible sacrifice and revival combination, he could force Yugi's monsters to attack Yugi directly, without fear of being harmed. Yet, Yugi is persistent, and eventually has the last laugh - by combining Kuriboh (who Gansley thought was weak) and Rainbow Blessing, Yugi could set up a play which could allow a monster, to bypass Gansley's monsters and attack Gansley directly, which he does to win the duel, using Swift Gaia the Fierce Knight.
As Yugi proceeds to find a way to reunite with his friends, Crump manages to trap Téa Gardner into a duel. Being a competent amateur player in her own right, she chooses a deck of all-female monsters, including Dark Magician Girl as her Deck Master, to which Crump scoffs off as an unwise decision, thinking that Dark Magician Girl would not be effective without her male counterpart (in the English version, this is replaced by remarks suggesting a perversion towards young girls). As an additional catch, whenever either duelist lost Life Points, part of their body would be frozen. Despite being at a disadvantage for most of the match, Dark Magician Girl would eventually help Téa by summoning herself to the field and using her own Deckmaster ability, allowing Téa to draw the Sage's Stone card. With the card, Téa would summon Yugi's Dark Magician (thus helping Yugi find Téa) and win the duel.
With Yugi and Téa reunited, the focus shifts to Johnson, who is slated to face Joey Wheeler. Believing he finally escaped the virtual world, and eager to get his hands on Marik Ishtar for what he did to Mai Valentine (Mai Kujaku), Joey discovers that this was an elaborate trap set by Johnson, who proceeds to duel him. Johnson manages to get the upper hand in the duel through a combination of his Deckmaster ability (which could, at the cost of life points, clear the field of all cards) and the ability of controlling the outcome of Joey's luck-based moves. Yet, just as it seems that Joey's luck is about to run out, Noah appears and insists that Johnson forfeit for cheating. Joey, in the spirit of a True Duelist, convinces Noah to let the match continue (knowing Johnson could not cheat again), and eventually wins by outwitting Johnson at one of the mind games he claimed to be an expert at.
Tristan Taylor, Duke Devlin, and Serenity Wheeler manage to find each other, yet they find themselves faced off against Nezbitt, who wants to take Serenity's body for his own. With Tristan and Duke willing to protect Serenity from harm, they try to convince Nezbitt that they should take her place, but he settles on a three-on-one duel. Serenity, despite having never played the game herself, and knowing little about the rules, is relieved that Tristan and Duke would help her along, but miscommunication between Tristan and Duke would ultimately cost Tristan his Deckmaster. Crestfallen over Tristan's sacrifice, Duke manages to use his dice tricks and his signature monster, Orgoth the Relentless, to buy some time. Convinced by her older brother (who had managed to find her) that she, too, must fight in the spirit of a True Duelist, Serenity vows to continue playing. Serenity would ultimately deal the final blow in the match, thanks to her Deckmaster, Goddess with the Third Eye, whose ability allows her to Fusion Summon monsters without Polymerization, along with the remnants of Tristan's playing field.
With Nezbitt having won Tristan's body, Nezbitt uses it to kidnap Mokuba, while Yugi and friends seek to restore Tristan, who now resides in the body of a robot monkey (which is actually a brown version of "Acrobat Monkey"). Kaiba, in pursuit of Nezbitt, encounters Leichter (Daimon), the last member of the Big 5. Eager to put Leichter aside, Kaiba tries to use his Crush Card Virus (Deck Destruction Virus of Death in the Japanese version) strategy against him, only to fail as he realizes that Leichter's Deck Master was Jinzo (Android Psychic Shocker), which destroys Trap Cards. Combined with Imperial Order, a card that rendered magic cards useless, this left Kaiba with only monster cards. Furthermore, Leichter would use Satellite Cannon, a monster that could only be destroyed by eight-star monsters or above, and whose power increased the longer it is in play (but only while attacking), in an attempt to ensure his victory. However, Kaiba manages to summon Blue Eyes White Dragon, an eight-star monster, in time, and uses it to destroy Satellite Cannon and win the duel.
Through the duel, the viewers learn of how Seto took over KaibaCorp: In the Japanese version, on Seto's birthday, he and Mokuba were given 2% shares in KaibaCorp. In the English anime, Seto was given ten million dollars, while how Mokuba acquired 2% of KaibaCorp is unclear. In the Japanese version, Seto had to return one hundred times the investment within one year, while in the English anime, he merely had to return ten times the investment. Seto had shown his cruel business tactics when he accomplished his feat in just one day, and with that task completed, he managed to get the Big 5 into transferring their shares of KaibaCorp to Seto, so that both Seto and Gozaburo had 49% of the company. However, Seto had blamed Mokuba for leaking the information out to Gozaburo (when in fact it was Seto himself), making Seto's attempt fruitless. When it seemd that Gozaburo had won, Mokuba then threw a bombshell of his own: he'd never turn his back on his brother, and combined with Seto's 49%, his 2% would be enough to oust Gozaburo from power. It is not completely clear what happened to Gozaburo after this; in both the Japanese and English versions he 'disappears,' while in the manga he commits suicide.
Noah manages to capitalize on Seto blaming Mokuba, and convinces Mokuba through brainwashing that Noah is his true big brother, and that Seto was a nobody. This is part of his plan to slowly take everything Seto has of value from him, and the Big 5 was simply a tool for his means - by making a false promise of bodies, he could manipulate the Big 5 as he wished.
Unaware of this, the Big 5 continue to try and take more bodies so that they would not have to share Tristan's, and manage to convince Yugi and Joey into a duel with everyone's bodies on the line, winner-take-all. In the duel, the Big 5 (which started with 8000 Life Points) manage to summon their signature Five God Dragon by tributing their five Deckmasters, yet it is destroyed by Mirage Knight, a monster only summoned after the fusion combination of Dark Magician and Flame Swordsman (which, in turn, were Yugi's and Joey's Deckmasters), Dark Flare Knight destroyed itself by attacking the Five God Dragon and taking no battle damage due to its effect. The duel, however, did not end, thanks to a trap card known as A Deal with Dark Ruler, allowing the Big 5 to summon a new Deckmaster, Berserk Dragon - a monster that gradually weakened the longer it stays on the field. After surviving a round of attacks, Joey, who the Big 5 thought was the weaker link and was allowed to survive on 300 life points, would setup Dark Magician by transforming him to Dark Magician Knight by using the magic card, Knight's Title, allowing him to use his Deckmaster special ability (which he explains as only working on Warrior-type monsters) and transfer Flame Swordsman's attack strength, which was enough to destroy Berserk Dragon and win the duel.
Seven Turns of Heaven's Creation
With the Big 5 defeated, Noah banishes the five and takes matters into his own hands. He challenges Seto, fully intending to take his body in order escape the virtual world and claim the position that he believed he deserved. Noah tells Seto that he would win in seven turns, with each turn representing each of the seven days of creation (this detail, like all other religious references, was removed from the English version). Despite Noah's choice of Shinato's Ark (Miracle Ark) as his Deckmaster (from which "Noah's arc", the affectionate nickname for this story arc, is derived), Seto manages to get into a position in which one of his monsters could attack either of Noah's two monsters and win the duel. However, Mokuba suddenly appears to support Noah, effectively stopping Seto from attacking Noah's monsters for fear that Mokuba would be hurt.
Because of this, Seto had effectively played into Noah's hands: Noah was never in any danger of losing the duel, thanks to another of his Deckmaster's abilities that gave him life points based on the number of discarded monsters. Now with the upper hand, Noah begins to take control of the duel. Meanwhile, Seto attempts to get through to his brainwashed brother to no avail. With one last hope, Seto summons his Blue Eyes White Dragon, which manages to break Mokuba free of Noah's control. Yet, thanks to his Deckmaster, Noah's life points continue to rise. Desperate, Seto uses the Last Turn trap in order to force the duel into one final battle phase, winner-take-all. Seto chooses Blue Eyes to attack while Noah uses his Deckmaster. Although Blue Eyes wins, the destruction of the Miracle Ark allowed Noah to summon Shinato, King of a Higher Plane, a more powerful monster that destroys Blue Eyes, thus giving Noah the victory. As a token of his victory and his apparent worthiness of the title of head of KaibaCorp, Noah turns Seto and Mokuba to stone.
Yugi, however, is enraged over Noah's actions: had Seto not tributed Twilight Zone Dragon (Different Dimension Dragon), the duel would have been a draw since this dragon cannot be destroyed in battle (in the real game, it cannot be destroyed by monsters with 1900 ATK or less). Instead, Blue Eyes was summoned so that Seto would save Mokuba (in the English version, this detail was omitted - Yugi is enraged over how Seto had effectively blackmailed by Noah earlier when he had effectively used Mokuba as a human shield). He challenges Noah to continue the duel, with Yugi taking Seto's place. With the life points being 7400-400 in favor of Noah and no monsters on Seto's side of the field (and no cards in hand), Noah quickly accepts, intending to quickly win and turn Yugi and friends to stone. Should Yugi win, however, he demands that everyone be set free from the virtual world.
Having to duel against a different kind of duelist in Yugi, Noah uses his spirit monsters, a type of monster that is returned to the hand at the end of a turn (and cannot be Special Summoned), and the Spring of Rebirth magic card to attack Yugi and increase his own Life Points in the process. Although Yugi manages to use Cyber Jar to destroy all of Noah's monsters, including Shinato (which was forced onto the field as a result of choosing it in Last Turn), Noah uses another Deckmaster ability to pull Shinato back to the sidelines (but now Noah forfeits the ability to put Shinato back onto the field), and the duel continues. Because of his spirit monsters, Spring of Rebirth, and another Deckmaster effect, Noah's life points continue to accumulate to the point that Noah simply allowed Yugi to directly attack him every turn - an effort that turned largely fruitless as Noah would manage to gain even more life points.
Being confident of himself, Noah offers Yugi a chance to forfeit the duel, but for every turn that Yugi continues to play in which Noah is not defeated, one of Yugi's friends would turn into stone. With time running out, Yugi would wind up in a situation where he has 100 life points to Noah's 10,000, facing off against Noah's most powerful spirit monster (which stayed on the field due to a trap), with nothing on the field and no cards in hand. Worse is that all of his friends have been turned to stone. It seemed all but lost for Yugi, when he is reminded that even though all of his friends (Seto and Mokuba included) are turned to stone, they are still there in spirit to cheer him on. With a new found confidence, Yugi draws the Card of Sanctity, allowing Yugi to draw six cards. With these six cards, he revives Kaiba's Blue-Eyes White Dragon and fuses them with the two Blue Eyes he has drawn to form Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon, and uses his fifth card, Quick Attack, to allow Blue Eyes Ultimate Dragon to attack Noah's monster immediately. He then uses his final card, De-Fusion, to split Blue Eyes Ultimate Dragon back to three Blue Eyes White Dragons, and attacks directly, winning the duel.
Escape from the Virtual World
With the duel won, Yugi demands that Noah free everyone from the virtual world. However, Noah reveals to everyone that, in the process of entering the virtual world, they were all knocked out and placed in virtual reality pods (not unlike those used by Seto in the Legendary Heroes arc). Everyone is later shocked to find that it was Gozaburo, or a digitized copy thereof, who had attempted to trap everyone in a complicated plan to take over the world by trapping everyone in the virtual world (In the original version, Gozaburo was going to use missiles positioned in space to manipulate the world to his will). Desperate to tell the world of Gozaburo's impending atrocity, they are determined more than ever to escape the virtual world. With Noah willing to help Yugi and company despite his duplicity, they follow him to a large door that was said to be a secret backdoor that Gozaburo had not discovered and closed. However, Noah's true colors are revealed as they trap Yugi and friends within their own recent memories, although all would eventually free themselves from the trap.
Meanwhile, Noah and Mokuba discover a virtual replica of Domino, in which Noah tricks Mokuba in order to escape the virtual world in Mokuba's body. Noah (as Mokuba) then aims a missile-armed satellite in order to destroy the undersea fortress (and thus the virtual world), and proceeds to leave on a helicopter alone. However, once there, he experiences a change of heart due to Mokuba's willingness to forgive Noah (and even help convince Seto to find a way to create a new, if somewhat artificial, body for Noah), and proceeds back into the fortress, only to find the satellite controls having been destroyed by Marik. With only 60 minutes until the fortress is destroyed, Noah begins working on a way to save everyone.
Meanwhile, Seto, being way too smart to fall for their trap, proceeds to the virtual KaibaCorp headquarters, where Gozaburo awaited. Gozaburo challenges Seto to a duel to see who is more worthy of running KaibaCorp (similar to how Seto had played chess with him as a child). Gozaburo quickly finds a way to discard the five pieces of Exodia in order to summon Exodia Necross, a monster which, as long as its five parts were kept in the graveyard, it is immune to virtually every card (The Left Leg, Right Leg, and Left Arm granted Necross immunities to magic cards, trap cards, and monster effects, respectively) and grow more powerful with every battle it was involved in (Exodia's Head prevented it from being destroyed from a monster attack while the Right Arm ensured that its ATK increased by 1000 points whenever it engaged in battle).
Although Exodia Necross seemed unstoppable, Seto realizes that, like himself with Blue Eyes White Dragon so long ago - ironically before his defeat at the hands of Exodia, Gozaburo is using the power of only one monster, believing that it alone would win the battle for him. By using the "Soul Demolition" trap card, Seto manages to remove the five parts of Exodia from play, weakening it so that Blue Eyes White Dragon could destroy it and win the duel.
As the countdown to impact reaches eight minutes, Joey, Tristan, Téa, Duke, and Serenity manage to escape the virtual world thanks to Noah's help, but Noah asks Yugi to stay behind to help save Seto. With everyone safely out, Noah then proceeds to put himself back in the Virtual Reality pod in order to save Mokuba and trap Gozaburo in the virtual world. Yugi and company make it back to the airship, which escapes just in time to avoid being destroyed by the missile.
The airship proceeds towards the Battle City Finals, completing the originally-planned trip. Meanwhile, Mokuba mourns for the stepbrother that he only briefly knew.