|“||I want to help but we must act quickly Yugi.||„|
|~ Ryou Bakura|
Bakura Ryou is a heroic side character in Kazuki Takahashi's manga and anime Yu-Gi-Oh!. He is a school friend of Yugi Muto though he is far less seen than his other friends like Katsuya Jonouchi, Hiroto Honda and Anzu Mazaki. Bakura is constantly at odd with the series' main antagonist Yami Bakura, though only on occasion is able to stop the evil spirit.
Like Yugi Muto, Bakura Ryou would receive a millennium puzzle, and ancient relic composed of numerous pieces like a 3-D puzzle. Though the object was picked up for Bakura by his father during a trip to Egypt, both it and Yugi's millennium puzzle were predestined to wind-up in the hands their respective owners. Upon completing the puzzle Bakura was told he would be given a wish. The spirit haunting the puzzle first persuaded Bakura to invoke him by offering him power to undo death, Bakura had lost his sister and his mother in a car crash and agreed to the terms at first not knowing the true nature of the spirit he was allowing to possess him and soon came to regret his decision but his later objections were of no consequence after the spirit was first invoked.
For the bulk of the series Bakura is possessed by an evil spirit and indeed seen less as his normal self than his evil alter-ego. Bakura is considerably skilled in the Duel Monsters game but nowhere close to the level of the spirit that takes him over or Yami Yugi and plays Duel Monsters as little more than an amusing hobby. Bakura's link to the spirit world is a Millennium Puzzle similar to Yugi's but while Yugi's Puzzle alters chance, Bakura's is a divining tool used to located other Millennium items. While traveling to the past it is hinted at that Bakura himself is the reincarnation of the spirit's first host and thus tied to it. Bakura himself is often well spoken, intelligent and trepidatious but only on a few rare occasions has he actually helped the main cast of heroes. Towards the very end of the series, Bakura is freed completely from the spirit's possession.
Once Bakura became aware of the evil nature of the spirit possessing him he is willing to go to any length to foil the spirit going as far as trying to remove his own hand and even allow himself to be killed if it means being free of the spirit and sparing his friends. Because the spirit that possesses Bakura often forgets to eat whenever Bakura regains control of his body after a long bout of possessing his first instinct is always to fill up on food immediately. Like Anzu, Bakura is more moral support as he is physically quite weak and he has learned to distance himself from high-stakes Duel Monsters games. Bakura still knows practically all the in-and outs of Duel Monsters and though he is less inclined to play it, he is happy to advise Yugi on it and can usually foresee the moves Yugi intends to make. The spirit possessing Bakura has noted that dealing with Bakura's soul has been almost more trouble than it is worth and explores taking over others in his place so he need not deal with it. As the series progresses Yami Bakura become more and more powerful after each semi-exorcism only allowing him to gather more power with each renewed attempt to possesses him; as a result of this, the later appearances of Yami Bakura have cut off Bakura entirely from his body and he is unable to remember the experiences, initially. As seen before his final possession, Bakura has waking nightmares as he relives taking the lives of others, at which point he is racked with guilt of and fear. Once Bakura is able to piece together the plans and continued presence of Yami Bakura, he quickly tries to find Yugi, unfortunately he is not able to get to Yugi Muto in time to warn him of Yami Bakura's previous actions and return before he is completely overtaken.
- The name "Ryou" is Japanese for "Dragon King".
- Both of Bakura's voice actors also worked in Pokemon, in Japanese by Rica Matsumoto, who voices Ash Ketchum and Ted Lewis, who also voices Giovanni in the English version.
- Bakura's first voice actress was, You Inoue. You Inoue had several years experience as voice actress but fell ill during recording and needed to retire. Bakura was the final role before her death in 2003.