I was reading the Duel Art book again and noticed new, interesting stuff ^^
Takahashi created characters first by deciding their personalities–are they fundamentally good or bad? Softer, rounded lines implied gentler personalities while sharper angles were aggressive.
Similarly, lines at the top of the eyes indicated egotism while lines at the bottom indicated cooperativeness and dependence on others, which is why Yugi has lines at the bottom of his eyes.
Atem has a strong Tutankhamen motif. Tutankhamen was named in part for Amun, while his father believed in Aten, and Tutankhamen’s tomb also had Aten symbols. Takahashi speculates that due to becoming Pharaoh at such a young age, Tutankhamen’s priests and advisers defied his will, seized his power, and forced him to promote a different god rather than following in his father’s footsteps like he presumably wanted.
Since YGO was a bit dark, Takahashi decided GX would be brighter, as Jaden doesn’t have a dark side, is cheerful, hot-blooded, and easy to read.
Takahashi also felt that GX’s cheeriness meant the protagonists couldn’t grow as much and would be unable to defeat someone like Marik, so he wrote in Jaden becoming the Supreme King, but then felt it was almost too dark. But he feels Jaden became a stronger character after that.
The 5Ds Duel Runners were mainly made so characters could travel the world and assemble pretty much anywhere. Originally only Yusei and Jack Atlas were going to have them, but it turned out everyone did.
5Ds’ Dark Signer arc was partially inspired by a miniseries Takahashi had presented to Shonen Jump that got rejected, where 5 heroes with glyph birthmarks were killed by an ancient enemy, got reincarnated, and only had the glyphs to remind them of their past lives, which they’d gradually remember and join forces to take down the original enemy.
The main reason the above was rejected was because the sample oneshot ended right as they died. Aside from the geoglyphs and dragon marks, the Dark Signer arc was made by the staff, though Takhashi really enjoyed how exciting the finale was.
“Anything can become a dragon” is a central tenet of Yu-Gi-Oh, hence Stardust Dragon, Black Rose Dragon, Barrel Dragon, etc. Takahashi prefers drawing Western dragons but feels as long as it has recognizable dragon elements anything can be one.