Feature Article

Yu-gi-oh: Worldwide Epidemic

by Ismael Manzano


Choose your path and learn more about the Yu-Gi-Oh Epidemic:

Stage 1: The Television Show            Stage 2: Collecting The Cards                Stage 3: Dueling

Stage 4: Not Just For Kids Anymore...


     I’m writing to you today to warn the world at large about a growing plague that has been sweeping through the nation and beyond for several years.  The plague, called duelis-monstrous-wallet-eatis, is more commonly known as Yu-gi-oh.  There are several stages of this epidemic, varying in degree from treatable and benign to aggressively malignant and highly contagious.  Due to the severity of the threat, I will need to discuss each stage of the disease in depth, in an effort to educate the public and hopefully prevent its spread.  When reading this, keep in mind that this disease works like an addiction, it takes root within your mind, spread into your wallet and leaves you with nothing but a stack of painted cardboard, DVDs and regrets.  Do not let this article sway you into the dark world of duelis-monstrous-wallet-eatis.

Stage 1: The Television Show

     The first stage of the disease is known as whiney-childish.  This stage of the disease is more an annoyance than a problem and affects only the parents of the infected child.  It infects mostly younger children, usually under the age of six and is transmitted via a common household item: the television set. The symptoms of this stage are increased television time, repetitious reciting of nonsensical dialogue, heightened excitability, and maybe a request or two to comb their hair in that increasingly popular anime style.  Treating the disease at this stage is also fairly easy.  Buy them the movie, sit with them through the show, maybe get a t-shirt or a bedspread and they’ll be happy. 

     If your child is infected, you should know a few things about the show, so that you can monitor how sick your child is.  The TV show Yu-gi-oh, follows the adventure of Yugi Muto, a puzzle-loving, middle school student who is obsessed with gaming.  He stumbles across an ancient puzzle that houses the soul of a long deceased pharaoh.  When he solves the puzzle he unlocks the pharaoh’s spirit (Yami) who occasionally takes over his body when Yugi is in trouble. 

     I should note here that the original Japanese version of the show is far more morbid than its American counterpart.  In that version, the pharaoh is cold and often sadistic, prone to violent acts when his friends’ lives are threatened. 

     In the TV show, multi-billion dollar business tycoons are dueling a ten year old boy for his rare cards, his millennium puzzle or his soul.  And the dumb kid always accepts?  What asinine shit is this?  Let’s get some perceptive!  Here’s a thought, the next time someone comes up to you and asks to duel for your soul, say NO!  It’ll save you a lot of hassle, trust me.   Has anyone ever been about to be killed and then challenged their attacker to a game of poker for their lives?  Well it happens in the world of Yu-gi-oh and guess what, it works.  Because the man that wanted to kill you one moment, will honor the verbal agreement not to kill you if they lose a card game.  Doesn’t that make perfect sense to everyone?  I have to try that one day.  Better yet, the next time I go into a store to buy groceries I’ll duel the cashier for the food instead of paying for it.  And of course, the cashier will have to accept. 

     And why are those grown men humoring this kid’s card game obsession.  If they want the kid’s card so badly, kick him in the stomach and take it.  How hard is that?  A hell of a lot easier than kidnapping the kid’s grandfather or his friends and setting up elaborate death traps or spending a million dollars to hold a card tournament to lure the kid to the game. 

     Mixed into the story is the card game Duel Monsters, the favorite game of all the Yu-gi-oh characters.  It is in this game that the disease expands to the next stage.

     Parents should know a little about this stage as well.  Take careful notes of what you read; the more of this you hear from your child, the further along the disease has spread.  Get your wallets ready, because here is where the illness spreads to your pockets.  This stage is known as banco-emptis.

Stage 2: Collecting The Cards

     When the disease spreads, children, usually older ones, begin collecting these cards.  It can seem harmless enough at first.  They want the cards they see on TV, perfectly reasonable, right?  Wrong!  It’s a progressive illness, and the disease is cleverly insipid.  Cards can be bought in starter decks or booster packs.  The problem is, even if you buy the starter deck with Yugi’s picture on it, you won’t get all the cards that Yugi uses in the show.  The child will inevitably need to buy booster packs to emulate the deck they see on TV.  So what’s the problem?  At seven bucks a pop, with random cards in each booster pack, a child can end up with well over a hundred cards before they find the cards they wants and some cards are not found in booster packs and have to be specially ordered or bought in stores.  Depending on what the infected child needs, the parents might find themselves spending anywhere from seven dollars for one—ONE!—card to sixty dollars—SIXTY HUMAN, REAL LIFE DOLLARS—for one card. 

     No problem, you splurge and get it all.  It’s over right?  NO!  Now you’re entering the next stage: dueling or bangus-headis-againstus-wallis. 

Stage 3: Dueling

    This stage of the disease is the all or nothing stage, the point of no return stage.  Here is the parent’s chance to end the madness before it goes too far.  Catching the illness at this stage offers the parent the opportunity to buy the infected child a Gameboy Advanced with a good Yu-gi-oh game to satisfy the competitive nature of the disease.  Short of that, you will have to endure the following:

     Dueling involves two players, that’s right, TWO INFECTED CHILDREN in the same room.  By now the child knows enough about the game and is old enough that they can understand the rules and follow them. 

     The basic game play goes as follows:  You start off with 8000 Life Points.  You win when, via direct attacks of indirect attacks, you drop your opponent’s Life Points to 0 or when your opponent runs out of cards before you.  You have a deck of at least 40 cards, divided up into monster cards, magic cards and trap cards.  Among the monster cards there are normal monsters, effect monsters, fusion monsters and ritual monsters.  The monsters have attack points and defense points, each used in correspondence with what position (attack or defense) you leave the monster in. 

     Strategy is heavily involved in the success of the game.  You can supplement your monsters’ strength with magic cards and thwart your opponents’ attacks with well placed trap cards.  With different monster attributes (water, fire, earth, wind), different types of monsters (fiend, light, dark, etc.) and various magic and traps, there are quite literally, an infinite number of choices one can make in constructing their deck.  A basic example of this is to get a deck of about twenty water monster and add magic cards and trap cards that are specific to water monsters. 

     Having two infected children competing means that one of them must lose, which means that loser much search the discarded pile of cards for a new combination of cards that will allow him to win the next duel.  If the child continues to lose, they must buy new cards, cards that the other child does not have—cards that no one else has ever seen before, or so they’ll think.  Where does that leave you, the parent or older sibling?  In card shops and comic book stores, searching for rare cards—expensive cards, so that the diseased child can construct that perfect, unbelievable deck. 

     Or, worse yet, if your child wins, then they must continue to win.  They undoubtedly will search for other infected children to test their skills against.  Before anyone knows it, they’re in card shops, playing in junior tournaments for a free pack of cards.  By this point winning or losing no longer matters to your diseased child.  All that matters is competing with other children, playing the game and trying out different strategies.  They have a mountain of left over cards that don’t fit in with their current deck and are more than a little eager to try different decks on different opponents. Unfortunately, the more they duel, the more they want to duel, and every few months, a new—and often pointless—booster pack comes out and the cycle of buying cards, redoing their deck, testing it against opponents and re-redoing their decks begins again. 

     But it doesn’t end there and it doesn’t end with the children either.  Because if you’re not careful, if you’re not very, very careful while you handle your infected child, you could find yourself smack-dab in the middle of the final and most pervasive stage of the disease:  Blow-your-brains-out now. 

Stage 4: It's Not Just For Kids Anymore...

     In this stage, YOU—the caretaker of the infected child, the staunch defender of their health during the entirety of their illness—have fallen ill.  Yes you!  No, you did not read this wrong, I wrote that you are now the infected party.  Brace yourself!  Take a deep breath and come to terms with your denial.  You are not just playing the game because your child needs someone to practice on.  You are not coming along to the tournament to keep your child company.  You are not sifting through your child’s leftover cards to help organize your kids’ room.  You are not just holding on to the forty or fifty cards that your child will never use in your pocket, ready to duel at a moment’s notice, hoping that you see a Yu-gi-oh card sticking out of another adult’s pocket so you can challenge them.  What are you doing then?  You’re dueling, you’re honing your deck, you’re buying cards on the side, you’re challenging kids at your son’s tournaments.  You are infected!  It’s rare—okay, not so rare—but it happens. 

     All the other stages now apply to you.  You find yourself watching the show, enjoying the movie, talking to your kid about it and trying to pretend that it’s all for his benefit.  Before you know it, you’re giving your kid advice on their dueling strategy, trading cards with them and getting frustrated when your kid comes close to beating you in a game that was meant for children.  As the disease really takes hold of you, you begin to wonder if it would really be so bad to walk around with the gigantic plastic duel disks around your forearm, and why not?  It’s a great way of letting everyone who might want to duel you that you’re up to the challenge.  This stage is particularly problematic for adults because, unlike children, you have complete access to your funds and do not need to ask anyone whether you can dip into your checking account, savings accounts or kids’ college tuition to buy that ultra rare card that will complete your deck.  And unlike your children, you are more likely to care about collecting the different types of cards, convinced that in ten years, they’ll be worth a hundred times their original value. 

     I should note here that the inventors this disease were as sadistic as they were careful in marketing the cards to collectors such as yourself.  Any number of cards (monster, magic, trap, etc.) can be categorized into different, and pointless sub-categorizes.  For example:  A simple, Monster Reborn magic card—found in almost any starter deck, can be common, rare, super-rare or ultra-rare, depending simply on what part of the card has a holographic image.  If no part of the card is holo, then it is a common card; if the name of the card is holo, it is a rare card; if the image on the card is holo, it is a super-rare; if both the name and the image is holo, it is known as an ultra-rare card.  Keep in mind, you infected adults that are now salivating over your computers, that all of these variations of the Monster Reborn card do the exact same thing.  It doesn’t matter whether it is rare or not, whether the card is creased or ironed straight or whether it has an ink stain on it or not—it does the same thing.  There is nothing special about it whatsoever!  Do not get fooled by the marketing!  Do not slip deeper into the addiction!  Hell, you can write down the names on index cards and play with an equally infected person and it will still be the same game!    

     So what can you do?  What are your treatment options?  As an adult, the only thing you can do really, is to exercise some self-control: buy a Gameboy Advanced, find a decent Yu-gi-oh game with a duel link feature, play for all the cards you want instead of paying for them, duel with other grown adults with a Gameboy Advanced, and wait out the disease until your grownup genes remind you that you are not a kid and you can beat this in time.  Can’t do that?  Then do what the name of this final stage suggests, because, believe me, it doesn’t get any easier.  If you can’t beat this illness now, you never will. 

     How do I know so much about this disease?  I have a nephew and a sister.  Okay, I am Ismael Manzano, and I am a Yu-gi-oholic. 

     Do you have a problem with that?  Do you think that’s funny? 

     Okay, smartass—LET'S DUEL! 


For feedback, visit our message board or e-mail the author at imanzano@g-pop.net