I love this sequence. In their tag-team duel with the Light and Dark Mask guys, Kaiba has just sacrificed his Blue Eyes White Dragon so that Yami no Yugi had time to combine his magnet warriors into Magnet Valkerion. When Yami hesitates instead of attacking the Light and Dark Mask duo, Kaiba immediately jumps to the conclusion that Yami was just using him and that he’s about to be betrayed.
I love Yami’s response. He immediately tells Kaiba that if he needs Yami to attack he’ll do it, regardless of consequences. For possibly the first time since his parents died, someone has not only taken Kaiba’s emotional needs seriously, but has actually put Kaiba’s emotional welfare above their own agenda. Then Yami does something just as remarkable: after telling Kaiba to calm down, he backs off and gives Kaiba the time he needs to focus, think things through for himself, and to understand what Yami was trying to tell him. Yami waits until Kaiba gives the word to attack – and I love the smile on Yami’s face when Kaiba comes through.
Earlier in the duel, Yami asks for Kaiba’s trust. Here he shows why he deserves it.
I just have to say that the Kaiba brothers’ reaction to Yami telling them he’s not the real Yugi is priceless! I died lauging at Seto’s face. I mean this is a huge shock to him since it goes with what Ishizu was saying about the tablet she showed Seto but still, nice facial expressions Seto.
The idea that Mai Valentine is materialistic simply because she seeks compensation for something she’s good at is not only fundamentally baffling, but insulting. You know who else dueled for money in Duelist Kingdom? Joey Wheeler.
You know who isn’t demonized for needing money and utilizing well-honed skills to try and net it? Joey Wheeler.
We don’t know Mai’s motives weren’t just as pure as Joey’s. Mai doesn’t need motives to make dueling for money okay.
Dueling is an established profession in canon and affiliation with duel monsters as a franchise is both lucrative and respectable.
Why shame Mai dueling for money when everyone else on the duel monsters train is making money? Pegasus dedicated an island, and Seto Kaiba a city, to Duel Monsters tournaments. They’re kind of a big deal.
People are allowed to like what they do and receive compensation for it.
Hobbies that come across to others as leisurely still require endless time, effort, motivation, and strategy.
Athletes, artists, writers, etc. deserve to be compensated for their skills and time the same way everyone else is.
So, in a canon context, duelists deserve to be compensated for their time and skill the same way everyone else is, point one.
And don’t come at me with the “she cheated!!”
Yes, she did, and rather than continuing after she’d been called out, she learned from her behavior and confronted her insecurity.
That’s also irrelevant to the above point because she’s still shown as an amazing, capable strategist without her tricks.
Point two, Mai openly rejected a proposal from an obscenely rich celebrity because she was repulsed by his treatment and objectivity of women.
She openly chose independence.
She openly chose to make her own financial security.
If Mai Valentine was a one-dimensional character solely motivated by wealth, she would have married John-Claude Magnum.
Mai isn’t a perfect person and that’s the main reason I absolutely adore her as a character. She’s a strong, witty, intelligent woman who knows the merit in “fake it til you make it” confidence.
She’s not flawless, but you can miss me with that “Mai is materialistic trash” trope.
You can pry strong, capable, work-in-progress Mai Valentine from my cold, dead hands.