The Shadow Riders, known as the Seven Stars Assassins (セブンスターズ刺客 Sebunsutāzu Shikaku?) in the original Japanese language version, are a fictional group of villains in the Yu-Gi-Oh! GX anime series, appearing between episodes 29-49.
Composed of seven duelists and their leader of varying origins and backgrounds who each have their own agendas, the Shadow Riders serve as the main antagonists of the series' first season, intent on resurrecting the Sacred Beasts.
However, one of them returns in the fourth and final season as the true mastermind behind the mysterious attacks that take place in Duel Academy and Domino City.
The Shadow Riders' character designs were overseen by Kenichi Hara. An example of one of these concepts can be seen in Nightshroud, who wears a tight-fitting overcoat with raised shoulders and waistline and gold and green trimmings. His dark dragon mask, similar to that worn by his signature monster Red-Eyes Darkness Dragon, is completely black with the exception of blue eye-pieces and a red stone in the center of the forehead. In this incarnation, the bangs closest to his face are positioned in front of the mask. He carries and Academy-issued Duel Disk on his left hand.
Another example can be seen in Amnael, who wears a hooded tunic with a flowing red scarf, boots, and a mask with yellow eye-pieces. On his right hand is a glove made of heavier material, and he carries a black model of the Academy-issued Duel Disk on his left despite the second Japanese opening sequence featuring his alter ego with the standard Disk given to all students and staff before his official debut as Amnael. In this incarnation, he has white hair, and the sides of his face are covered in pronounced veins and cracks.
In the timeline of the Yu-Gi-Oh! GX anime, enlisted by the elderly Kagemaru in his quest to retrieve his lost youth, the Shadow Riders are a collection of elite duelists who work towards the goal of reviving the Sacred Beast Cards. Each of the members that Jaden Yuki and company face possess a "Shadow Charm," similar to the Millennium Items in terms of supernatural power, but of unknown origin. These relics bestow upon their owners different abilities depending on the Shadow Rider in question.
In the past, Kagemaru was forced to seal the Sacred Beasts away behind the Spirit Gate underneath Duel Academy due to their inability to grant his wish at that time. In order to access their true abilities, he bestows upon Chancellor Sheppard the seven Spirit Keys capable of unlocking the gate, and pits his subordinates against the school's finest to create the strong dueling presence needed to unleash the Sacred Beasts.
Kagemaru (影丸?) is the leader of the Shadow Riders and former superintendent of Duel Academy. The "Kage" portion of his name is derived from the Japanese word "kage" (影), meaning "shadow". In the English version, Kagemaru is voiced by David Wills (older) and Marc Thompson (younger), while Mugihito (older) and Nobutoshi Canna (younger) take the role in the Japanese version.
In horrible health, Kagemaru hoped to attain eternal youth by sacrificing Duel Monster spirits to the Sacred Beasts. During his Duel with Jaden, his youth gradually returned. After being defeated, however, he returned to his aged state. He then asked forgiveness and promised to renounce his former ways, carried off to the hospital by helicopter. He appears again as his younger self in episode 84.
Kagemaru plays a Sacred Beast deck. He carries a basic Fiend deck to support Raviel, and plenty of Spell and Trap Cards to support Uria and Hamon.
Nightshroud, known as Darkness (ダークネス Dākunesu?) in the original Japanese language version, is the first Shadow Rider. But in reality, Nightshroud is an entity of unknown origin tied to the darkness itself and the final antagonist in the series. He entered the body of Atticus Rhodes and took control. Nightshroud is voiced by Hozumi Gōda in the Japanese version. While possessing Atticus' body, Nightshroud is voiced by Jason Anthony Griffith in the English version, while Kouji Yusa takes the role in the Japanese version.
Being the owner of the other half of the Shadow Charm pendant in Jaden's possession, Nightshroud sets a Shadow Game for both of them where the loser has his soul sealed in a card. When defeated, Nightshroud's soul (represented by his mask) is sealed away, and Atticus is freed.
During the GX Tournament, Atticus uses Nightshroud's deck in hopes of convincing his friend, Zane Truesdale, that the dark path taken by a duelist is a terrible course. As a result, Nightshroud's influence (that laid dormant within his cards) is once again able to take control of Atticus, only to be banished following his defeat.
In the fourth season, Atticus again uses Nightshroud's deck to duel Jaden, revealing he still has nightmares about his alter-ego. During the duel, Atticus remembers that one of the missing students at the academy, Yusuke Fujiwara, was the original host of Nightshroud and before he vanished, he made Atticus into a temporary host for Nightshroud to inhabit. But Nightshroud eventually returns in the body of Fujiwara, and though he loses to Atticus in a one-on-one duel, he cheats reversing time and preventing Atticus from playing Red-Eyes Burn. But after losing to Jaden when he and Jesse double teamed Fujiwara, Nightshroud left his vessel and duels Jaden in a match with the world at stake. Jaden reverses all of Nightshroud's evil doings and finally destroys him. Though beaten, Nightshroud boasts that as long there's darkness in humans, he would return, but Jaden counters by claiming that as long as there are bonds between humans, Nightshroud won't return. In his final duel, Nightshroud is portrayed as megalomaniac or simply insane, once he claims he is God and the Savior.
Nightshroud, while possessing Atticus, plays a Red-Eyes Darkness Dragon deck, which focuses on quickly summoning the eponymous card and strengthening it by placing a large number of Dragon-type monsters in his Graveyard. Once within the body of Fujiwara, Nightshroud uses a Clear deck which shuts down the opponent's strategies based on the attributes of the monsters they summon. Once without a host, Nightshroud uses his personal Darkness deck, which controls the field through its "Darkness" field spell card.
Camula (カミューラ Kamyūra?) is the second Shadow Rider. Her name is derived from the title of Joseph Sheridan le Fanu's novel, Carmilla. In the English version, Camula is voiced by Bella Hudson, while Kanako Irie takes the role in the Japanese version.
A vampire, Camula is very serious when it comes to dueling, as she hopes to revive her race from its destruction by the people of Medieval Times. She had been asleep within her coffin until Kagemaru uncovered it and invited her to join the Shadow Riders. She captures the souls of her opponents following their losses within dolls to fuel her cause, and uses the Shadow Charm strangler around her neck to bet the souls of others in conjunction with the Shadow Game-exclusive Illusion Gate to ensure victory. She manages to obtain the keys of Crowler and Zane, but during her Duel with Jaden, her Shadow Charm's power is negated by the completed item that Jaden possesses. Out of self-confidence, Camula places her own soul on the line, and it is dragged into the gate after she loses, leaving her body empty and turning it to dust.
Camula plays a Vampire deck. Several of her monsters (such as Zombie Werewolf and Vampire Bat) can feint revival by either summoning or discarding additional copies of themselves when destroyed through battle. Camula is also able to combine the recursion ability of Vampire Genesis with Genesis Crisis to repetitively raise her undead army from the grave.
A white tiger that assumes human form with her Shadow Charm gauntlet to find a worthy duelist to be her husband, Tania travels with another tiger named Bass, who resembles the Amazoness Tiger. She falls in love with Bastion Misawa, and after some sweet talking and showing off her amazing dueling skills, defeats him and makes him her bridegroom for a short time until she grows tired of him. Tania then fights Jaden in a soul match with the effect of Amazon Arena, and eventually resumes her true form and runs off. She appears before Jaden and his group during the third year as her human self, having been sucked into the second alternate dimension they visit since their last meeting. She serves as their guide through the first town they encounter, and stays behind with Bastion after Jaden liberates it.
Tania's Amazoness cards, based on the Amazons of Greek mythology, are divided into two decks: Courage and Knowledge (the former focusing on offense with more damage inflicted via Amazoness Arena, while the latter is more based on turning the opponent's battle strategies against them). She uses the Knowledge deck against Bastion, and the Courage deck against Jaden.
Don Zaloog (首領－ザルーグ Shuryō Zarūgu?) is the fourth Shadow Rider. In the English version, Zaloog is voiced by Darren Dunstan who impersonates Christopher Walken, while Taiten Kusunoki takes the role in the Japanese version.
Zaloog is actually a Duel Monster spirit brought to life by the power of the Shadow Charm eyepatch he wears. He is also the leader of the band of thieves known as the Dark Scorpion Gang (Black Scorpion Graverobber Gang (黒サソリ盗掘団 Kurosasori Tōkutsu-dan?) in the original Japanese language version), who were also brought to life by the item. He masquerades as a detective named Detective Zaloog (Police Inspector Manguer), sent to assist the students in hiding the remaining Spirit Keys, while his posse work on taking the keys incognito. However, since they fail to obtain the keys in a Duel, they are unable to unlock the Spirit Gate of the Sacred Beasts. When Zaloog and his gang are discovered, he and Chazz Princeton duel with all the remaining keys on the line. In the end, he and his cohorts are defeated, and the power of his Shadow Charm is nullified. After reverting back to their spirit forms, the Dark Scorpions join the many weak monsters in Chazz's care, to the young duelist's annoyance.
Zaloog plays a Dark Scorpion deck, themed on bringing together the members of the Dark Scorpion Gang and triggering their five effects in unison, with support from cards such as Mustering of the Dark Scorpions and Dark Scorpion Combination. Like his card, however, in the English anime, he wields twin swords and in the Japanese version, he wields guns.
Abidos the Third (アビドス3世 Abidosu San-sei?) is the fifth Shadow Rider. His name is derived from the name of the ancient Egyptian city, Abydos. In the English version, Abidos is voiced by Darren Dunstan, while Mamoru Miyano takes the role in the Japanese version.
An ancient pharaoh who never lost a single Duel, Abidos regained physical form through the powers of the Shadow Charm headband he wears. With an army of mummies, Abidos gathers Jaden and company on his celestial yacht for a Duel. During the Duel with Jaden, Abidos realizes that the only reason he kept winning was because his opponents always lost on purpose, simply because he was pharaoh. Jaden, however, manages to give Abidos a real Duel in which the opponent actually tries to win. Satisfied with his defeat, Abidos departs for the afterlife, giving Jaden his Shadow Charm, the latter making a promise to meet him again in one-hundred years time, presuming that Jaden will be dead within that time.
Abidos plays a Servants of the Pharaoh deck, themed on gathering three Sarcophagus cards to summon Spirit of the Pharaoh.
A hitman originally hired by Crowler to deal with Jaden, Titan captured Alexis Rhodes to force Jaden into a Duel for her life. Despite his reputation of possessing the power of a Millennium Item, the "Millennium Item" turned out to be a fake Millennium Puzzle, and Titan used various tricks to mimic a Shadow Game. He became the victim of a real Shadow Duel, however, but was saved by Kagemaru, wearing a Shadow Charm mask to bind him to the real world. Taking advantage of Alexis' desire to restore her brother's memories, Titan challenges her in the abandoned dorm where they first met. He is ultimately pulled back into the pits of darkness when he is defeated.
Titan plays an Archfiend (Demon) deck, composed largely of monsters based on chess pieces, in his first encounter with Jaden, which is later supported by Fiend Bullfighter (Demon's Matador) cards in his Duel with Alexis; this last deck is inspired by Spanish traditions with names related to bullfighting, such as "Picador", "Matador" and "Banderillero".
A homunculus inhabited by Lyman Banner's soul. Unable to find Banner's Cat, Pharaoh, Alexis, Chazz, Jaden and the others starts looking for him. While looking, Amnael challenges and defeats both Chazz Princeton and Alexis Rhodes in a duel, who then get sucked into Amnael's book as a result. Jaden gets lead to the abandoned dorm where he defeated Titan. There he finds a mummified body that resembles Banner, and Amnael who later reveals himself to be the spirit of Banner. Both Amnael and Jaden duel which results in Jadens victory. After giving Jaden his Emerald Tablet which previously held his Shadow Charm, Banner is reduced to dust along with his original mummified body. His spirit, however, lives on in the stomach of his cat, Pharaoh.