The Yu-Gi-Oh anime is loaded with stylish heroes and eccentric villains — all of whom are voiced by talented actors who help breathe life into these characters. Voice actors play a significant role in how viewers connect with characters, so it's no surprise to see that actors are popular guests at anime and comic conventions. Many of us, myself included, grew up with these characters on Saturday morning television. The voice of Dan Green as Yugi Muto and Yami Yugi was a part of the reason why I started playing this game in the first place! 

Ultimately, the Yu-Gi-Oh TCG is an attempt to give anime watchers a chance to fulfill the same fantasy they've seen play out on TV: summoning powerful monsters, turning a duel around at the last moment, and surprising your opponent with an unexpected twist.

Typically, an anime voice actor has very few long-term partnerships with any particular series.  That's actually not the case with Yu-Gi-Oh's voice actors. Earlier this month I had the opportunity to attend a local comic con and meet Erica Schroeder, the voice of both Mai Valentine from the original Yu-Gi-Oh anime series and Akiza Izinski from Yu-Gi-Oh 5D's.  Another Yu-Gi-Oh voice actor was there — Eric Stuart, the voice of Seto Kaiba — as part of a panel discussing their roles in the Pokemon anime, but this wasn't the first time I'd had a chance to meet Eric Stuart.  Both voice actors had previously made appearances at actual Yu-Gi-Oh TCG events.

Starting in 2011, Konami began inviting voice actor guests to YCS events, World Championship Qualifiers, and the World Championship itself. They didn't just show up to sign cards, either — these guests participated in the event through scripted duels in a live setting. You can find these duels on YouTube if you're interested in watching any of them. Scripted duels also aren't the only way that Yu-Gi-Oh voice actors have participated in the TCG community. Below, we'll take a look at ten actors that brought their talents from the world of anime to the realm of physical cards.

Karen Neill

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The 2019 North American WCQ featured a showdown between everyone's favorite underdog Joey Wheeler and the mysterious Ishizu Ishtar. Karen Neill reprised her role as Ishizu for the live duel and demolished Joey with a final attack from Obelisk the Tormentor. Obelisk's use in this duel was a throwback to her role in the Yu-Gi-Oh anime as the introduction to the Egyptian God Cards: the central plot of the anime's Battle City arc. Neill also voiced a few other characters in Yu-Gi-Oh, and Mrs. Andrews in Yu-Gi-Oh Zexal.  

Erica Schroeder

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At YCS Providence in 2012 players witnessed a long-awaited duel between Yusei Fudo and Akiza Izinski.  The role of Akiza was reprised by Erica Schroeder, who has voiced characters in nearly every Yu-Gi-Oh anime series to date. She's most famous for Akiza and Mai Valentine, although you might also know her as the voice of Dark Magician Girl, and Nurse Joy in seasons 7 and 8 of the Pokemon anime. Schroeder returned in 2013 to duel Yugi as Mai Valentine, but her duel against Yusei is particularly worth watching for the awkward flirting between the two characters.

Jonathan Todd Ross

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Scripted duels give players the opportunity to see duels that would never happen in the context of the manga or anime. The 2015 North American WCQ in Nashville featured a duel between Pegasus and Marik Ishtar, two characters that never meet in anime. (In the manga, Pegasus is actually dead by the time Marik is introduced.) Jonathan Todd Ross took up the role of Marik and Yami Marik in a wild duel where The Winged Dragon of Ra is summoned by the effect of The Winged Dragon of Ra - Sphere Mode. Ross also voiced Slade Princeton in Yu-Gi-Oh GX, in addition to other minor roles.

Ted Lewis

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Jack Atlas is the result of a simple question: what if Seto Kaiba had a motorcycle? Ted Lewis voiced the arrogant king of Turbo Duels in Yu-Gi-Oh 5D's, and at the 2017 North American WCQ he dueled both Pegasus and Aster Phoenix from Yu-Gi-Oh GX. Jack defeated Pegasus in a single turn, prompting Aster to take up Jack's challenge. Pegasus continued to narrate the duel as Jack and Aster faced off, ultimately leading to Aster winning the duel. Surprisingly, Jack Atlas isn't necessarily Lewis's most famous role. He also voiced Bakura Ryou and Bandit Keith in the original anime, as well as various characters in nearly every Yu-Gi-Oh anime series since.  Ted Lewis also participated in a scripted duel in 2012 as Bakura where he played against Yugi.

Wayne Grayson

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Joey Wheeler's accent in the anime's English dub is, I think, part of what makes him such a cherished character for so many fans. Wayne Grayson provided Joey's voice in the anime and you probably won't be surprised to learn that yes, he is originally from New York. Grayson has appeared in four scripted duels over the last decade, although I personally I'm a big fan of his match-up against his old nemesis Seto Kaiba. You might also recognize him as the voice of Syrus Truesdale in Yu-Gi-Oh GX.

Michael Liscio Jr.

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Pendulum Summoning is complicated enough for duelists in this world — can you imagine trying to explain it to someone from the anime world? Turns out, it already happened when Yusei Fudo and Yuya Sakaki dueled at the North American WCQ in 2016. Yuya is voiced by Michael Liscio Jr. in the Yu-Gi-Oh ARC-V anime, and he also provides the voice of Ai in Yu-Gi-Oh VRAINS. Liscio Jr. somehow managed to control the insane alliteration of various Performapal monsters, all while explaining Pendulum mechanics to the biggest gearhead in the Yu-Gi-Oh anime universe. Yusei's incredulous reaction to Pendulum summoning is also absolutely worth watching.

Darren Dunstan

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The voice of Maximillion Pegasus is none other than Darren Dunstan. Dunstan is practically a regular at scripted duel events, with an astonishing six total duels under his belt. Last year he dueled Yugi in a remote Speed Duel, but I'm excited to see him return to live events for another reason. At YCS and WCQ events you'll sometimes get to participate in what's called the 'Pegasus Challenge', where Dunstan will randomly read off new rules for all event participants to apply to their duels. A new declaration from Dunstan might force both players to destroy all of their monsters, or let a player summon a Toon monster for free from their deck. For someone who grew up with the anime, there's nothing cooler than having the voice of Pegasus tell your opponent that their turn is suddenly over.

Greg Abbey

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The very first scripted duel took place in 2011 at the North American WCQ. Our own Jason Grabher-Meyer gets a shoutout right at the start of this match between Yugi and Yusei Fudo. Yusei is voiced by Greg Abbey, but that wasn't his first role in the Yu-Gi-Oh series. He initially voiced Tristian Taylor and provided a voice in Yu-Gi-Oh GX before scoring the lead role in Yu-Gi-Oh 5D's. Abbey has taken part in three scripted duels over the years while calling out the summoning chant for Yusei's ace monster Stardust Dragon. A signed Stardust Dragon is still on my Yu-Gi-Oh bucket list, and I'm hoping we'll see him return to a YCS or WCQ event soon.

Eric Stuart

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It's really hard to overstate how cool Eric Stuart is.  If you grew up on the original Yu-Gi-Oh anime and the Pokemon anime, you've heard a lot of Stuart's voice work. His role as Seto Kaiba is famous, but it's likely overshadowed by his work in Pokemon as Brock and James. Stuart has taken part in four scripted duels, including an epic showdown against Yugi at the 2016 World Championship. Like the other actors in this article Eric Stuart does a fantastic job bringing the obsessive and calculating Seto Kaiba into our world. There's no one better to show off new Blue-Eyes cards.

Dan Green

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Yugi Muto is the King of Games in the Yu-Gi-Oh anime, but Dan Green is the king of scripted duel appearances. With seven scripted duels under his belt, there's no one better at bridging the gap between the real world and the Yu-Gi-Oh anime. Green flawlessly transitions between the sometimes-reserved Yugi Muto and the confident Yami Yugi, and he's responsible for inspiring thousands of players to pick up Yu-Gi-Oh cards for the first time. His most recent rematch against Kaiba at the 2019 World Championship in Berlin ended with a final attack from Exodia, the Legendary Defender against Giant Germ, sealing Kaiba's fate despite his favorite Dragons.

Voice actors from every series in the Yu-Gi-Oh anime have been giving back to fans not just in comic cons and anime conventions, but in our homes as Yu-Gi-Oh players: major tournament events. It's always worth remembering that Yu-Gi-Oh is even bigger than the card game. There's a whole generation that grew up with the anime and still has connections with the show's characters. The fact that we can watch these live duels at tournaments is incredibly unique in the anime community.  Normally you'll only see voice actors at a booth or on a panel at a convention, but with Yu-Gi-Oh, you can watch your favorite character take part in a 4th wall-breaking duel right in front of you.

Have room for one more video in your watch list? The 2020 reunion of the Yu-Gi-Oh Duel Monsters anime cast is a great watch that answers some burning questions fans have had about the series. You can tell just how passionate the cast is about their characters and Yu-Gi-Oh in general, and I don't think you can ask for much more from actors in any series. As fans, we've been really lucky to have such awesome people be part of the broader Yu-Gi-Oh community.

Until next time then!