Theory: How Reincarnation Works in Yu-Gi-Oh!

This was first posted on my Deviant Art journal.

The concept of reincarnation shows up in a few of the stories I know that feature Ancient Egypt. Off the top of my head, there’s The Mummy Returns, my friend CaribbeanRose9‘s story Osiris Rising, and, of course, Yu-Gi-Oh: Duel Monsters. There is a bit of controversy over whether the Ancient Egyptians believed in reincarnation, with some claiming they did and that “process is considered to take approximately 3000 years” (“Ancient Egyptian Reincarnation”) and others claiming that this is an “erroneous conclusion” that “is based on references to Egyptian theories of transmigration of the soul made by ancient Greek writers” (“A Short History of Reincarnation Teachings”).


Atem stepping into the Afterlife, meeting Priest Seto, Shimon, Isis, his father, etc.

How can they be in the both Afterlife and in the present day world at the same time? Well, I think I have an explanation.

The Ancient Egyptians believed in various components of the human being:

The Ancient Egyptians believed in various components of the human being:

  1. The khat, the physical body
  2. The ka, a spiritual equivalent of the khat, which was the immortal life-force
  3. The ib, the heart, the seat of emotion, will, and thought
  4. The sheut, the shadow
  5. The ren, the name
  6. The ba, the personality

The ba, represented as a spiritual entity with the body of a bird, and human head

Upon death, the ka left the khat, and then was later reunited with the ba to form the akh. It is this unified form that enters the Afterlife. (Egyptian Mythology; “Ancient Egyptian concept of the soul”)

Therefore, my theory is that it is not the entirety of one’s person that is reincarnated in Yu-Gi-Oh!, but one or more of the person’s components, probably ib, or the sheut, or both. That would explain why why the Ancient Egyptian characters we see in season 5 are in the Afterlife while their reincarnations are walking with the Earth. It would also explain why Kaiba can read the text on the Ra card, but has no conscious memory of his past life. It could also explain why Yuugi has such a resemblance to Atem (which suggests Atem is his preincarnation since that’s how these things work in anime): Atem is the akh that was trapped in the Millennium Puzzle, while Yuugi has Atem’s ib/sheut.

Of course, this does not explain why Bakura looks so much like Thief Bakura, which suggests he is Thief Bakura’s reincarnation. The ib was thought to be weighed by Osiris, and devoured by Ammit, the divine demon, if the ib proved to be impure, heavier than the Feather of Ma’at (Order/Balance). The person would then either “cease to exist” (“Ammit”) or “to become restless forever” (“Ammit, goddess of Egypt”), wandering the afterlife for eternity (depending on the source).

Surely, Theif Bakura’s heart was not pure enough to enter Aaru, the paradise that awaited the pure and balanced. Perhaps there is no such judgement in Yu-Gi-Oh!, or some part of the person (the sheut?) survives and is reincarnated no matter what happens to the heart at judgement. Interestingly enough, present-day Bakura seems to have even inherited Thief Bakura’s ren (name), unlike other reincarnated characters.

So, to sum up: The present-day characters of the Yu-Gi-Oh! series are not reincarnations of the entirety of their preincarnations’ make-up, but rather just a part or parts of them. Of course, this is just a theory, but one that I had fun contemplating!

What do you think of this idea?
This entry was posted in Non-language issues and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Theory: How Reincarnation Works in Yu-Gi-Oh!

  1. atthematinee says:

    This was a great idea, thanks for sharing! Have you ever had your writing on any other websites?


    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s