Followers of the site, or commemorative coins in general, will know that the New Zealand Mint loves a licence, anything from Monopoly, Spongebob Squarepants, and The Terminator, to new and huge properties like Star Wars and Disney. After dipping their toes in the well of trading cards with a Magic the Gathering series, the mint is back with another huge name in that industry, Yu-Gi-Oh!, a brave decision given the MtG series stopped at one coin.

Yu-Gi-Oh!, written and illustrated by Kazuki Takahashi, is a Japanese manga series about gaming, first appearing in a magazine (Shueisha’s Weekly Shōnen Jump) in 1996, and then making the inevitable leap to video-games, movies and television as its popularity grew. It was obvious, given the story is about a boy named Yugi Mutou, who solves the ancient Millennium Puzzle and awakens a gambling alter-ego within his body that solves his conflicts using various games, that the property would end up as a trading card game. To date, over 25 billion cards have been sold and it remains very popular throughout the world.

Enter the NZ Mint, and we see the release of a pair of 1oz silver coins with selective colouring. Depicting two of the major characters in the Yu-Gi-Oh! world, they each feature a coloured representation of the character art as drawn by Takahashi, set against a cleanly struck background featuring the Egyptian hieroglyphics that make up so much of the backstory. The appeal to the millions of fans of the game is quite obvious. As you’d expect, the packaging is very well done, colourful and showing the coins off well. The obverse is the usual effigy of Queen Elizabeth II that adorns all coins from Niue. The first coin, Yami Yugi, will be available from 06 June for $85.00 USD, the second from 12 July for the same price.




The second personality inhabiting Yugi’s body, a 3,000-year-old gambling spirit of an ancient Pharaoh who resides in the Millennium Puzzle. Like his host, he shares a fondness for games and gaming culture, often referred to in the manga as Game King . He appears whenever Yugi’s in trouble, challenging bullies and criminals to occult judgment games called Shadow Games and enforces Penalty Games  to enact ironic justice (the default powers of a Millennium Item wielder). A defining character moment for him is when he decides to stop using them after finding out that the Millennium Items contain an evil intelligence. In the second series anime, Dark Yugi comes off as a lot more merciful as a character because this subplot is written out. As the story progresses to the point where he’s more than just a split personality, he becomes more and more independent of Yugi and develops a desire to find out who he is and where he came from.
Even compared to Yugi, he seems to have the most knowledge on gaming and gambling culture within the whole cast. In addition, the original manga’s version of Dark Yugi seems to have a somewhat dark sense of humor in his dialogue, even after his decision to stop inflicting Penalty Games. This personality trait is an aspect that is retained in the 1998 TV series. However, in the latter series, Dark Yugi is somewhat more serious and loses much of the dark sense of humor he originally had in the manga.
Yugi and his friends eventually find out that he is the spirit of an ancient Pharaoh who has long forgotten his name. At the end of the manga, it’s revealed that his name as Pharaoh was Atem, who sealed his soul into the Puzzle along with the Great God of Evil, Zorc Necrophades. The group is finally able to defeat Zorc and his pawn, Dark Bakura, once and for all in the memory world (which reenacted the Pharaoh’s past) and help Atem pass over into the afterlife.


The current President and CEO of the Kaiba Corporation, Kaiba was first introduced as a prodigious, cold-hearted gamer who stopped at nothing to achieve his goals, even resorting to seemingly killing his opponents. In the early manga, Seto discovers that the grandfather of his classmate, Yugi Mutou, owns the rare “Blue-Eyes White Dragon” card. Kaiba steals the card from Yugi by switching it with a fake copy. Yugi recognizes the card for a fake and duels Kaiba to get it back. Yugi, Honda, and Jonouchi were beaten up by Kaiba’s guards until the Yugi from within the Millennium Puzzle confronts Kaiba and challenges Kaiba to a Shadow Game with the card as a prize.

Although Kaiba nearly wins, the magical nature of the game prevents the stolen Blue-Eyes from obeying him, and Kaiba is defeated, suffering a temporary Penalty Game—an illusion of being killed by monsters. He later comes back to take revenge on Yugi by kidnapping his grandfather and subjecting Yugi and his friends to his death-themed amusement part, Death-T. Following his second Duel with Yugi, he was left in a coma, where he reconstructed his heart and emerged less evil. Since then, he retains his arrogance and rivalry with Yugi, but shares compassion for his younger brother, Mokuba.

He departs from the story after the Battle City storyline, but returns in the film Dark Side of Dimensions and its prequel manga chapters, which serves as an epilogue to the original manga, where he develops new dueling technology and attempts to bring back Pharaoh Atem. In the anime adaptation, he is made a major character, especially in episodes made exclusively for the anime and has a large role in the final storyline.




$2 NEW ZEALAND 0.999 SILVER 31.1 g 40.0 mm PROOF 5,000 YES / YES