I’ve been going back to read the Yuugi-ou manga, now it’s all out domestically and I can see it in one go. And I find myself instantly caught up in the Problem of Ryou.
The problem, of course, being that Takahashi really didn’t put much thought into his character, being clearly more interested in Bakura.
Now, Bakura is interesting, no doubt about it. Reading over again, it makes a good deal of sense that Bakura himself is, in a way, two people at once: Bakura and Zorc. *pauses to roll her eyes over that name once again* They want the same thing (the Items) but for different reasons. Bakura strikes me as the one who is insanely competitive, more than a little unbalanced, and frankly a bit of a spazz. Zorc, early on, is pretty much in the background, but as time goes on I think his influence manifests more in the moments of colder arrogance. Bakura is arrogant, right enough, but he burns hot. This is the person who thinks nothing of injuring the body that he is still actively inhabiting in order to make things go his way, and then cackling about it. He’s also the person who likes close games, wants to win but seems to enjoy both the edge of uncertainty and crushing his opponents’ hopes at the eleventh hour.
The best hints we get of how Ryou fits into all this come early. During that first RPG, there’s a lot of soul manipulation going on, that being the Ring’s specialty, and Ryou takes active part in that. Indeed, he does it well enough to win, making fast moves to control his body when opportunity presents, moving by stealth or open defiance whichever will shake Bakura more, shifting himself to the Wizard, and to the dice, giving himself a fall-back. He is presented as someone who has always loved RPGs, so I doubt this was by chance; rather, Ryou is a good strategist, good enough to win against Bakura, and determined enough to take a long chance to save his new friends.
The result of his defiance is also interesting. He insists that he will not allow Bakura to hurt his friends anymore. And, after this incident, to the best of my recollection, Bakura doesn’t. He manipulates, as with the soul fragment in the puzzle. He puts them aside, as with the sleep spell on Yuugi’s grandfather. But he never acts directly/terminally against them again, outside the usual scope of duels.
This suggests to me that Bakura is a good deal more influenced by Ryou than anyone suspects. It is even possible, given what we know, that Ryou is in direct conflict with Zorc himself for influence over Bakura’s actions, which would make a nice reversal of the obvious dynamic.
And the reason all this is possible is that Takahashi neglected to actually give us any firm idea of what’s going on with Ryou. *sighs* Well, I suppose we fic-writers can count that as a bonus of a sort.