Appearing as a giant man who is both sadistic and malevolent, Yúan is first seen during the flash back sequences of Ren and Lee Bailong, both times in shadow. His first true appearance is in volume 7, when Ren and Yoh Asakura fight for the last spot in the Shaman Fight. Because of Yuan, both Ren and Jun had extremely painful childhoods, as they were exposed to bloodshed and death on a daily basis, as well as severe physical abuse. When Jun questions his actions relating to Ren, also asking him to set Ren free, he laughs and proceeds to "punish" her by sealing her in a dungeon for the ten days it takes Ren to return home after his fight with Yoh.
To meet Ren, Yúan creates an army of Jiang-Si from freshly killed corpses which Ren disposes of with little difficulty. When Ren and Yúan face off Ren cannot wound his father even with the Golden Vorpal Dance. He then proceeds to punish (aka torture) Ren and locked him in the dungeon with his sister. His friends eventually arrive; with their combined efforts, Yúan is literally torn to pieces. At the verge of defeat, Yúan's concentration breaks and it is revealed that his appearance is an illusion created by his Oversoul - he actually appears as an older greatly mustachioed looking man very similar to Ren. He reveals the source his obsession with the family doctrine is because he must bear the weight of two thousand years of Tao family souls (in a type of mortuary tablet armor) and reveals his second Over soul, an oriental dragon with a head similar to his first Oversoul. Ren defeats his father and they have a small moment of revelation as Yuan passes him the Thunder Sword (Houraiken). Afterwards, he is shown much as a much more enthusiastic father, such as coming to the Patch Village and cheering Ren on during his team's match (much to his son's embarrassment).