The story begins with Yugi sitting alone in his classroom. A classmate invites Yugi to play basketball, but Yugi says whatever team he is on would just lose.
“I wish I could play my kind of games with someone,” says Yugi, “but I know I’ll finish that today.”
Yugi pulls out of his backpack a puzzle box that he refers to as his greatest treasure.
“This riddle is a hint,” says Yugi, “‘It’s something you see, but have never seen before!’ What do you think it is?”
Yugi attempts to open the box, but before he finishes, Honda swipes it from him.
“What are you talking to yourself about, Yugi?” says Honda, “You win the prize for creepy!”
Honda throws the box to Jonouchi.
“Geez! Only a girl would care about a box,” says Jonouchi, “Watching you makes me sick! So…I’m going to teach you how to be a man!!”
Jonouchi tries to get Yugi to throw a punch at him, but Yugi screams, “I hate fighting!”
Jonouchi looks inside the puzzle box and says, “How dumb,” and throws it to Honda, but it gets intercepted by Anzu Mazaki.
“If you think it’s dumb, give it back to Yugi,” says Anzu.
Apparently, this is enough to scare Honda and Jonouchi out of the room.
Anzu returns the puzzle box to Yugi.
“Wow, Anzu, one word from you and they ran away!” says Yugi.
“Their heads will swell if you don’t knock them down once in a while,” Anzu responds.
Anzu asks Yugi about his box. Yugi says he will show Anzu if she promises to keep it a secret. Yugi opens the box and reveals a disassembled puzzle laying inside. Yugi has never finished the puzzle, so he doesn’t know what it looks like. Thus, the completed puzzle is ‘something he can see, but has never seen before.’
Yugi’s family runs a game store that sells games from around the world. He found the puzzle years ago on a shelf covered with dust, so he took it for himself. According to Yugi’s grandpa, it’s called the Millennium Puzzle. It was discovered at the beginning of the 20th century when a team of British archaeologists took it out of a pharaoh’s crypt in The Valley of the Kings. However all those in the team died mysterious deaths…and the last one said with his dying breath, “THE SHADOW GAMES“
Yugi supposes the hieroglyphs on the puzzle box say something life, “Whosoever solves this puzzle shall be granted one wish.” But Yugi admits that he might just be daydreaming.
“But this puzzle is major hard,” says Yugi, “I’ve been working on it for eight years and I’ve never solved it.”
“Don’t give up, Yugi!” says Anzu, “Your heart is in it!”
To which Yugi responds, “Yup! I’ll do my best!”
Meanwhile, Honda and Jonouchi are walking down the hallway. Not looking where they are going, they run into a hall monitor named Ushio.
“What were you saying about bullies?” asks Ushio.
“Nothing! Keep outta this, you…” says Jonouchi.
“Picking on people is bad!” says Ushio and walks away.
“Jonouchi! Who do you think you’re picking a fight with?” asks Honda “That’s the ogre of a hall monitor Ushio! He makes all the rules at school! Even the teachers are too scared of him to say anything!”
After Ushio leaves, Jonouchi says he has something interesting. He pulls out a puzzle piece that he took out of Yugi’s puzzle box.
“I just got a glimpse, but it looked like a puzzle!” says Jonouchi, “So if he’s missing this piece, he can’t solve it!”
Jonouchi throws the puzzle piece out the window and into a pool.
The next day, Yugi comes to school feeling tired. He stayed up late last night trying to solve the Millennium Puzzle.
Ushio walks in the classroom and asks Yugi if he can have a moment. He leads Yugi outside where he shows him that Honda and Jonouchi have been beaten up.
“I decided to teach these bullies a lesson!” says Ushio, “One they wouldn’t forget!”
“Ushio, this is too much!” says Yugi and asks Jonouchi if he is alright.
“Yugi, you bastard, are you happy now?” asks Jonouchi.
Yugi pleads with Jonouchi to believe that he didn’t ask for any of this.
“Remember, Yugi!” says Ushio, “You still have to pay what you owe! Body guard charges: 200,000 yen!”
Ushio threatens to hurt Honda and Jonouchi further, but Yugi stands in front of them and says, “Don’t touch these two any more! If you’re going to hurt someone hurt me!”
Ushio the proceeds to beat Yugi up with all kinds of kicks and punches.
While getting beat, Yugi thinks about the wish he made on the Millennium Puzzle.
“I wish for friends,” he says, “Friends I can count on! Friends who could count on me…no matter what!”
Ushio then tells Yugi to bring the money tomorrow or he will teach Yugi even more pain.
“With this,” says Ushio and pulls out a knife.
As Ushio walks away, Yugi realizes there is no way he can stand up to Ushio and wonders if giving him the money is really the only option.
Yugi returns home and starts counting his money. He doesn’t have enough to pay Ushio. Yugi tries to think of what to do, but he keeps getting distracted trying to solve the Millennium Puzzle.
“What am I doing working on a puzzle?” asks Yugi, “This isn’t the time for that.”
But Yugi can’t think of anything else to do, and working on a puzzle at least makes him feel better. For some reason, Yugi starts successfully placing pieces that he had never figured out before. He notices that solving the puzzle is easier today even though he feels awful. After many successful clicks, Yugi finally solves the Millennium Puzzle — all except for one piece. Yugi reaches into the box, but its gone! The last piece of the Millennium Puzzle is missing! Yugi searches his entire room for the piece, but it is nowhere to be found. Yugi is worried he will never solve the puzzle and never get his wish. Yugi’s grandpa walks in and is amazed to find that Yugi has completed the Millennium Puzzle. Yugi tells Grandpa that he couldn’t finish the puzzle because one of the pieces is missing. Grandpa says Yugi should have more faith. Yugi looks over and Grandpa shows him the last piece of the Millennium Puzzle in his hand.
“Grandpa, thank you!” says Yugi, but Grandpa says he wan’t the one who found it. One of Yugi’s friends came by and asked Grandpa to give the piece to Yugi. Yugi wonders who it could have been. (It was Jonouchi.) Jonouchi also told Grandpa about Ushio, so Grandpa put some money into Yugi’s backpack.
As Grandpa walks away, he says, “It’s written in the Book of the Dead that the one who solves the puzzle inherits the shadow games. He becomes the guardian right and passes judgment on evil.”
Yugi inserts the last piece into the Millennium Puzzle.
Ushio comes to the school at midnight because Yugi told him to come. When he gets there he sees:
Ushio demands that Yugi hand over the money. Yugi pulls out the money and says he raised it to 400,000 yen.
“But this much money,” says Yugi, “it wouldn’t be any fun to just hand it over…so…How about you play a game with me!”
But this won’t be just any game, this will be a SHADOW GAME. Yugi says they will only need one tool to play this game — the knife Ushio has hidden.
Yugi then explains the rules: “The players take turns putting the money on top of their hand and stabbing it with the knife. The player keeps only the money that the knife stabs. And he must take more than one bill. The game continues until the last bill is gone! The challenges is to take as much money as possible. If a player tries to take the money by hand, or quit the game in the middle, he loses and forfeits all of the money to the opponent.
“But if you break the rules, as punishment the penalty game decides your fate!”
The game starts.
Yugi goes first. Yugi stabs the money. He didn’t even get ten bills.
Ushio’s turn. Ushio stabs the money. He stabs over 100,000 yen. Ushio gets excited, but Yugi reminds him that controlling his strength will get harder with each passing turn.
The game proceeds for a while, then it comes back to Ushio’s turn. Ushio thinks he will win the rest of the money, but his right arm begins to feel weird. He realizes he is using too much strength. He is going to stab through the money and onto his hand.
Yugi says to Ushio, “In the shadow games, a person’s true nature is revealed to decide their fate…Ushio, your right arm is controlled by your greed. You can no longer stop it.”
Ushio says there is a way he can take a stab without hurting his left hand and get all of the money. “Die Yugi,” shouts Ushio, and attempts to stab Yugi with the knife. Yugi is fast enough to dodge the knife by jumping back and using the Millennium Puzzle to block the knife.
Yugi now has a glowing eye on his forehead. Ushio sees the eye and begins to sweat. Yugi says, “This is only seen by those who trespass in my soul! Like those who hurt my friends and try to steel my money.”
“Penalty Game!!!” cries Yugi.
The Penalty Game he gives Ushio is called The Illusion of Avarice. It makes Ushio see money falling from the sky.
“They say money makes your head spin,” says Yugi, “but now the only thing in your head is the Illusion of Avarice! For as greedy as you are, this might be a happy end for you.”
The next day at school, Yugi is walking down the hallway when he realizes that he can’t remember anything that happened last night. The only thing he can remember is that he solved the Millennium Puzzle…and then he remembers — he finally solved the Millennium Puzzle! Yugi celebrates by tossing it in the air.
Jonouchi is standing around the corner. He asks Yugi how he is doing. Then he says, “Yugi, if you can keep a treasure, so can I. Want to see? You can’t. I’ll give you a hint. It’s something you can show, but can’t see. You give up? It’s friendship. Thanks for showing me that we’re friends.”
And that’s the story of how Yugi and Jonouchi became friends.
**Images from the Yu-Gi-Oh! manga were obtained from https://www.viz.com/shonenjump/chapters/yu-gi-oh