Seto Kaiba (海馬 瀬人 Kaiba Seto?) is a fictional character and the anti-heroic tritagonist in the manga and anime series Yu-Gi-Oh!. As the majority shareholder and CEO of his own multi-national company, KaibaCorp, Kaiba (as he is most frequently referred to by the other characters) aims to become the world's greatest player of the Duel Monsters card game. To accomplish this goal, he must defeat his arch-rival, the main protagonist of the series, Yugi Mutou, who has defeated him on several occasions.
Kaiba's childhood is discussed throughout the anime and manga, although Seasons One and Three of the anime take a deeper focus on it. Seto's mother died after the birth of Mokuba, and their father died in an accident when he was eight years old. Orphaned, their relatives used up their inheritance and left them at the orphanage – their original surname is unknown in all mediums. When Seto was ten (twelve, in the English language version of the series), the-head of KaibaCorp, Gozaburo Kaiba, arrived at the orphanage to perform a publicity stunt, Kaiba saw the chance to challenge him to a game of chess, with Gozaburo forced to adopt Seto and Mokuba should he win. Seto successfully bested him (in the manga, he cheated, whereas in the anime, he simply studied his methods) and the brothers were adopted, but Gozaburo forced Seto into a rigorous accelerated school program, making him study several subjects, including economics, social studies, foreign languages, and game theory. Six years later, however, these studies had given Kaiba the skills and knowledge to acquire less than Gozaburo's half of the company shares, but Mokuba gave Seto his percent, giving Seto KaibaCorp's shares, seizing control of the company and ousting his foster father. Immediately after this, Gozaburo committed suicide by throwing himself out a window. In the American version, he uploaded his mind to a type of KaibaCorp software where he temporarily lived in cyberspace. These events take place six months before the events of the manga.
Kaiba is arrogant and self-centered, with little time for anyone beyond himself and his younger brother Mokuba, making him a typical anti-hero. He is dismissive in his manner of speech, represented in the original Japanese version of the series by his omission of honorifics, and his use of the boastful word ore to mean "I" instead of the usual boku.
Although magical powers and items are often employed in the series, as a rational man, Kaiba does not believe in such things, and, when necessary, convinces himself that it is all tricks and illusion. Although this trend had a tendency to be exaggerated in the English version of the series, it is present in both language versions of the anime and manga. Eventually he grudgingly comes to accept that there is little other explanation for the bizarre, fantastical events he witnesses throughout the series. In a similar vein, Kaiba is shown to have an affinity for machines and as such manufactures several holographic devices for Duel Monsters, and as suggested by Tea Gardner in the English dubbed anime, this may be the cause of his misanthropy.
Kaiba changes in personality from the second season of the second series anime onwards. In the first season, Kaiba acknowledges Pegasus' ability to read minds, as well as the "Heart of the Cards". Although he does not like Yugi and Joey, he does not act outright hostile towards them, except during the first episode. However, in the second season, his acceptance of faith and magic vanishes and, in the English anime, he adopts the habit of saying that it's "hocus-pocus nonsense". His desire to defeat Yugi also grows from a grudge to an obsession, and Kaiba shows an outright disregard for the safety of Yugi and his friends. Despite this, he still often helps them with defeating the villains they face, usually claiming that Yugi or one of his friends helped him and he thus owes them, or that the villain's desires are in direct conflict with his own interests. Of Yugi and his friends, Kaiba seems to hold the most respect for Yugi and least respect for Joey.
In the Memory World arc Kaiba's past self, Priest Seto, is introduced. Priest Seto is depicted as being less antagonistic than modern-day Kaiba, and is portrayed as being very loyal with a strong sense of justice.
In the early manga, Seto discovers that the grandfather of his classmate, Yugi Mutou, owns the rare Blue-Eyes White Dragon card. Kaiba steals the card from Yugi by switching it with a fake copy. Yugi recognizes the card for a fake and duels Kaiba to get it back. Yugi, Honda Hiroto and Katsuya Jonouchi were beaten up by Kaiba's guards until the spirit of the Pharaoh Yami from within Yugi's Millennium Puzzle – beats up the guards and challenges Kaiba to a game of Duel Monsters with the card as a prize. Although Kaiba nearly wins, the magical nature of the game prevents him from attacking with the stolen Blue-Eyes, and Kaiba is defeated, suffering a penalty game.
Bitter over the loss, Kaiba plots an elaborate revenge. He successfully acquires the other three Blue-Eyes White Dragon cards in existence and builds "Death T," a "theme park" made up of many deadly games and challenges designed to end the lives of Yugi and his friends. After being subjected to the hazards, Yugi and his friends witness a Duel Monsters match between Seto and Yugi's grandfather, who was forced to participate when Kaiba threatens Yugi's life. Kaiba wins and tears up Sugoroku's Blue-Eyes White Dragon. Kaiba then challenges Yugi to an immediate rematch. Although Kaiba proves formidable with the three Blue-Eyes in his deck, Yugi ultimately wins by forming Exodia. Yugi then uses the power of his Millennium Puzzle to subject Kaiba to a Mind Crush, shattering his mind to pieces and leaving Kaiba in a coma. Kaiba eventually regains consciousness later in the manga during the Duelist Kingdom arc.
In the second series anime and its adaptation of the manga, Kaiba instead kidnaps Sugoroku and duels him to win the card. Kaiba already owns the other Blue-Eyes at this point, and acquires the fourth card to destroy it so nobody could use it against him. To avenge his grandfather, Yugi duels Kaiba and defeats him with Exodia, then uses his powers to purge the darkness that has clouded Kaiba's mind. Kaiba subsequently loses interest in dueling and his company and leaves on a trip to find himself. In both the anime and manga, with Kaiba gone, Duel Monsters creator Maximillion Pegasus schemes to take control of Kaiba Corp from Seto by conspiring with its board of directors, the Big Five, and abducting Mokuba. Part of his plan involves hosting a Duel Monsters tournament on his private island, Duelist Kingdom, which Yugi participates in.
Second Series Anime and Later Manga
After Kaiba gets wind of Pegasus' plans, he travels to Duelist Kingdom with a new, portable version of his holographic technology, the Duel Disk. Meeting up with Yugi and his friends, Kaiba regains his deck and proceeds to Pegasus's castle. Here, Kaiba is offered a deal – defeat Yugi in a duel in exchange for the right to duel Pegasus and save his sibling and company. Kaiba and Yugi subsequently duel atop the castle parapets, with Kaiba unleashing the fused form of his three Blue-Eyes White Dragons, the Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon. Even with this, Kaiba is once again on the cusp of defeat, until he places his own life on danger by balancing on the edge of the turret, forcing Yugi to forfeit the duel for fear of killing his opponent. Kaiba goes on to duel Pegasus, but is overcome by the power of his Millennium Eye and is defeated. Pegasus captures Kaiba's soul, but when Yugi ultimately beats him in the final round of the tournament, the Kaiba brothers are both freed.
In season two of the anime, Kaiba is summoned to the Domino City museum by Egyptologist Ishizu Ishtar, Kaiba is shown the ancient stone tablet that depicts the duel between his past self and the Pharaoh. Although Kaiba does not believe into Ishizu's warning that history was sure to repeat itself, he is greatly interested by her tale of the Egyptian God Cards – three massively powerful one-of-a-kind Duel Monsters cards that Pegasus has entrusted to her. Two, however, were already stolen by her brother Marik, and she gives the third – Obelisk the Tormentor – to Kaiba, encouraging him to hold a tournament of his own to draw in Marik and his organization, the Rare Hunters. Seeking to obtain the remaining two God Cards for himself, Kaiba agrees, and begins his "Battle City" tournament, which Yugi and Joey Wheeler become participants in. During the tournament, Kaiba easily defeats his opponents using Obelisk the Tormentor while Yugi wins his own God card, Slifer the Sky Dragon.. Eventually, Kaiba reluctantly teams up with Yugi to rescue Mokuba and Yugi's friends from Marik. Afterwards, Yugi, Kaiba and Joey enter the finals, unaware that Marik has made a deal with Yami Bakura, and he, along with Marik and Marik's stepbrother Odion, are registered as well. During his duel in the finals, Kaiba duels Ishizu herself. After receiving a vision or a robot from the future from Marik's Millennium Rod, the same Millennium Item his past self owned, Kaiba forgoes his originally desired strategy of using Obelisk the Tormentor to defeat her and sacrifices it to summon the Blue-Eyes White Dragon, which was his past-life's monster in the duel against the Pharaoh. With the White Dragon, Kaiba manages to trump Ishizu's prophecy of defeat and claim victory.
In season three, Kaiba faces Yugi in the semifinals, and the two unleash their Egyptian God cards against the other. When the two finally attack each other, they each receive a vision of their past selves dueling. Encouraged by the vision, Yugi manages to defeat Kaiba and go on to the final battle against Marik. Although initially disgusted over his loss and determined to blow up the island the duel is being held on, Kaiba is convinced by Ishizu to stay and watch the battle between Yugi and Marik. Kaiba gives Yugi the card Fiend Sanctuary prior to the duel, and with it, Yugi is able to hold off the attacks of Marik's Winged Dragon of Ra and defeat him. The entire group narrowly escapes the island before it explodes afterwards.
Additional anime story arcs
Kaiba departed the original manga storyline at the conclusion of the Battle City story arc and was not seen again. However, the anime added several additional story arcs featuring the character (including one specifically centered around him), and incorporated him into the events of the manga's final storyline, "Memory World," which he played no role in originally. During the Duelist Kingdom arc, a subplot is introduced in which KaibaCorp's Board of Directors (later referred to as the "Big Five") plot to overthrow Kaiba with the help of Pegasus and take control of the company. In the manga, Kaiba simply fired the five men – the second series anime, however, greatly expanded on the story to create an additional arc that formed the first half of the show's third season.
Shortly after his return from the Duelist Kingdom, the Big Five attempt to placate an outraged Kaiba by revealing that they have finalized his virtual reality game software, and invite him to test it out for himself. However, this was merely another attempt to do away with Kaiba, but Yugi and his friends manage to rescue him. The Big Five log into the virtual world in an attempt to stop them from escaping, but they are defeated in a duel, and their own minds became trapped in the virtual reality program. Some time later, in the midst of the Battle City tournament, the Big Five's digital consciousnesses are discovered stranded in cyberspace by a mysterious boy named Noah, who recruits them for a revenge campaign against Kaiba. The craft taking the Battle City duelists to KaibaCorp Island for the finals is hijacked by Noah, who then traps Kaiba, Yugi and several of Yugi's friends in his own rendering of the virtual world, forcing them to duel the Big Five.
As Yugi and his friends defeat the Big Five, Kaiba's past is revealed (see above), and Noah ultimately admits to being Gozaburo Kaiba's biological son, and claims his mind exists as a computer program after he was fatally wounded as a child and subsequently digitized. Although Kaiba ignores Noah's claims and duels him, Mokuba is more sympathetic as Noah's blighting by Gozaburo, who began to neglect Noah and breed Kaiba as his new heir. After Noah is defeated, Gozaburo reveals himself as alive and inside the virtual world, and sets a series of orbital missiles to launch and destroy the world. While Kaiba stops Gozaburo, a reformed Noah reprograms on of the satellites to attack the main computer database and helps Yugi and his friends escape. Afterwards, the anime continues on to the Battle City finals.
In Season 4 of the anime, Kaiba, along with Joey and Yugi, is one of three duelists chosen to fight the Atlantean King Dartz. During the season, Kaiba meets Alister, an orphan whose brother and parents were killed by KaibaCorp owned military forces under Gozaburo Kaiba's command. Due to his love for his brother, Kaiba becomes sympathetic to Alister and carries his soul-less body to safety after their duel. Kaiba and Yugi eventually duel Dartz, and although Kaiba loses, Yugi defeats Dartz and Kaiba is restored and takes part in the battle against the Great Leviathan.
In the first half of Season 5, KaibaCorp's stock prices are at an all-time low as a result of a failed takeover by Dartz, and when Kaiba hosts a tournament to restore the company's reputation, Zigfried von Schroeder infiltrates it and hacks Kaiba's computer systems. Catching Zigfried, Kaiba quickly dispatches him a duel. However, Zigfried has his brother Leon duel Yugi in the finals. During the duel, Zigfried tricks Leon into activating Golden Castle of Stromberg, releasing a computer virus into Kaiba's system and forcing Leon to attack and thus forcing his hand. However, Yugi prevails while Kaiba, who anticipating such a plan, has already had his computer systems backed up.
In the Memory World arc of the manga and anime, Kaiba is revealed to be the reincarnation of the ancient Egyptian priest Seto (named for the Egyptian deity Set), holder of the Millenium Rod and cousin to the pharaoh Atem, whose spirit inhabits the body of Yugi Mutou in the present day. When the Pharaoh comes under threat from Thief King Bakura, Seto has many villagers gathered together so that he may identify those with powerful "Ka" – monsters created within an individual's soul – that may help defend the Pharaoh's rule. During his search Seto takes into custody a girl named Kisara, whose Ka is revealed to be the Blue-Eyes White Dragon. Seto develops strong feelings for the girl, which appear to be returned, as Kisara later sacrifices herself to save Seto from Akhenaden (in fact possessed by Zorc Necrophades). In the aftermath, Seto holds Kisara's body in front of the BEWD tablet and weeps – notably, this is the "vision" which appears to Kaiba during his duel in Battle City.
Priest Seto later assists Atem in the final battle against Zorc Necrophades. After Zorc is defeated, Atem says that his reign is over, and names Seto the new pharaoh. Priest Seto then creates the famous stone carving of the two of them as a tribute to their friendship.
Although Kaiba plays no direct part in the memory world in the manga, in the anime, Yami Bakura gives him the Millennium Eye, which begins to show Kaiba visions and convinces him to fly to Egypt to determine if they are real or not. During the final battle, Kaiba summons his Blue Eyes Ultimate Dragon, shown in the anime as a fusion between his own spirit, that of Kisara, and that of Priest Seto. He is able to hold his ground against Zorc, something that even the three gods were unable to do. (Zorc later explains that the Blue Eyes White Dragon is the "ultimate creature of light," and when pitted against Zorc – "the ultimate creature of darkness" – its power is greater than any other force on earth.) In the original Japanese anime, Kaiba eventually does acknowledge his past and the events that occurred in the Memory World, although he warns Jonouchi to keep his mouth shut about it.
Yu-Gi-Oh! The Movie: The Pyramid of Light
In the wake of his defeat at the Battle City Tournament, Kaiba began to postulate a means of defeating the three Egyptian God Cards that Yugi now holds, in order to defeat him and reclaim his title as world champion. His quest led him to Pegasus's island (which is not Duelist Kingdom, they are very visually distinct from one another), theorising that Pegasus would not have created the Egyptian God Cards without creating some means of destroying them. Wagering his three Blue-Eyes White Dragons against the lone mysterious card that Pegasus promised him, Kaiba succeeded in winning their duel, only to find two cards within Pegasus's deck that could accomplish what he sought – despite Pegasus's protestations that there should only have been one.
Kaiba proceeded to challenge Yugi to yet another duel in his Duel Dome, and put the first of the two cards into play – the enigmatic "Pyramid of Light," which prevented the Egyptian God Cards from participating in the battle. As the duel proceeded, however, it was revealed that Kaiba had been used as a puppet for the ancient Egyptian sorcerer, Anubis, who had placed the Pyramid of Light card in Pegasus's deck. The Pyramid's powers were draining the lifeforces of Yugi and Kaiba as the duel progressed, eventually resurrecting Anubis, who dispatched Kaiba and took his place in the duel. With Kaiba's aid, however, Yugi put the second mighty card into play – the Blue-Eyes Shining Dragon, able to destroy any card in play. The Shining Dragon destroyed the Pyramid of Light, and subsequently wiped out Anubis.
Appearances in other media
Though not seen much in the Yu-Gi-Oh! GX series, Kaiba is referred as the one who owns and started Duel Academy (Duel Academia) and named the dormitories personally. He has made several appearances, the first being when he makes a bet on his ownership of the school. Bold and having full confidence in the duelist representing Duel Academy, Chazz Princeton, Kaiba agrees to an unfair set of stipulations that place Chazz at a great disadvantage. Chazz prevails despite such odds, and Kaiba is unsurprised due to Chazz being a student of the Academy. Another few times were in flashbacks, once where Jaden remembers a competition he entered that was held by the KaibaCorp and another when a reporter sneaks into Duel Academy. He is also briefly shown while Pegasus was telling Aster Phoenix who his favourite top 5 duelists are with Yugi first and Kaiba being the second. The Duel Spirit Kaibaman also appears, and has the same voice and deck as Kaiba, in addition to resembling him greatly and reportedly being designed by him, although Kaibaman's personality is more benevolent.
Kaiba's only appearance in person comes when Sartorius visits him to request the use of his Kaiba Land amusement park. Kaiba's character design in Yu-Gi-Oh! GX is nearly identical to his original appearance, although his facial structure is changed subtly. Due to the fact he is twenty-five years old, Sartorius makes an inside joke about his teenage appearance. Kaiba indicates he knows about the Society of Light, although such knowledge is not expanded upon. Kaiba has not made any other appearance since, though it has been shown that he is the only surviving citizen of Trueman's invasion in Domino City.
The Kaiba Dome is seen often in Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's. His company Kaiba Corp is responsible for turning Domino City into New Domino City.
Kaiba also appears in some of the Yu-Gi-Oh! video games as an opponent which the player can duel.
Kaiba's signature cards are his three Blue-Eyes White Dragons and the fusion monster formed from the three dragons, the Blue Eyes Ultimate Dragon. At multiple times, he has shown the ability to draw the beast whenever needed, and sometimes even draws all three at once. Summoning a Blue-Eyes for a final assault is Kaiba's trademark victory move. To this end, he also utilizes a wide variety of support cards to power up the Blue-Eyes and make it easier to summon. However, he does utilize other cards in his deck.
During Battle City, Kaiba uses a deck focusing more on Machines, especially Cyber Jar and the XYZ series. After Battle City, Kaiba's deck features more Dragon-type cards to compliment his Blue-Eyes, including Thunder Dragon and Spear Dragon. He eventually adapts to a Dimension strategy of removing his cards from play, then returning them with Dimension Fusion/Return From the Different Dimension for a final assault. However, his Blue-Eyes still serves as his trump card. He also has the Egyptian God Card, Obelisk the Tormentor, given to him by Ishizu Ishtar, but loses it to Yugi in the semi-finals of Battle City.
In Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, Kaibaman's deck, based on Kaiba's own, focuses on summoning and protecting the Blue-Eyes White Dragon. In particular, the card representing Kaibaman himself can be instantly sacrificed to summon a Blue Eyes from his hand.
- Yu-Gi-Oh! Bunkoban, Volume 20, Appendix
- Kazuki Takahashi (2002). Yu-Gi-Oh! Characters Guide Book – The Gospel of Truth (遊☆戯☆王キャラクターズガイドブック―真理の福音―). Shueisha. ISBN 4-08-873363-0
- Janime – Cards
|Yu-Gi-Oh! Main Villain||Succeeded by|
Maximillion Pegasus (manga, 2nd anime)
Dark Bakura (1st anime)