Yu-Gi-Oh! is one of the biggest manga success stories of recent years. Since its not-so-humble beginnings in Weekly Shonen Jump magazine (in which it was serialized from 1996 to 2004), it’s spawned a pretty darn huge multimedia franchise.
In 1998, the first of two Yu-Gi-Oh! anime series started to air. For many of us, this is the series as we know it, following the increasingly bizarre and implausible adventures (this is anime, after all, and that’s what we love it for) of our hero Yugi Mutou. Yugi is a young boy who is obsessed with all sorts of games, and becomes embroiled in a card game called Duel Monsters.
But we know all of this. We know that Duel Monsters centers around playing powerful monster cards, which battle each other Pokémon-style. We know there are big, scaly-butt dragons and demons howling all over the virtual battlefield. We know that this laid the foundation for the real-life TCG. We know that Kaiba’s a douchebag. We also know that, a couple of decades later, the franchise has gone to some hilariously shonky, peculiar places.
In short, Yu-Gi-Oh! is ripe for a darn good meme-ing. This is the case for just about any big franchise, naturally. You know what the internet’s like. If you stand still for long enough these days, someone will write a new meme across your forehead.
Luckily, this series has some solid gold memes to bring to the table. Pull up a chair, you won’t want to miss these.
30. When Pokémon Rears Its Head Again Unexpectedly
Ah, darn it. I can’t unsee this, I really can’t.
Now, let’s be fair here, this isn’t the easiest call to make. The world of fantasy, monsters and Harry Potter wouldn’t be anything without the dragon. These magnificent, scaly dudes are probably the most enduring mythical creatures in history. Images of dragons exist in so many different cultures’ folklore. You just can’t get away from them. You can’t swing a cat without hitting a dragon.
As a result, depictions of these beasts will have similarities. Sometimes, these similarities will be a little too on the nose. Other times, they’ll be ripped right off of somebody else’s sketchbook, and the battalions of winged lawyer-monkeys will have to be dispatched. Is this one of those times? Well, Zekrom and Reshiram are very similar to the iconic Yu-Gi-Oh! dragon duo.
29. When Yu-Gi-Oh! And Chill Was Always Going To End This Way
Meme making can be a delicate art. Quality meme making, at any rate. Anyone can just hop onto Paint and slap some text onto an image, but there’s so much more to it than that. It’s the difference between a professional videographer and the dad who went viral after borrowing his son’s GoPro for a trip, holding it the wrong way around and only filming his smiling face.
There are two main roads to take when it comes to memes. Do you want to create something brand new, or are you adapting an existing meme to fit the occasion/subject? Both can be brilliantly effective, particularly the latter when done with some of the versatile memes. (Insert blank) and chill is one of my favourites, and here it is doing solid work as always.
28. When You’re Her Type And You Know It
When it comes to potential partners and such, people will tend to talk about their ‘types.’ You know the sort of thing. Maybe long, dark hair is one friend’s type, while another prefers a certain eye colour, or body type, or larger or smaller… personal appendages. Nobody’s judging anybody else here, and what attracts people is a matter only for them.
It’s when it comes to I only like guys with a lot of money and that sort of thing that it all goes a little wrong. As Kanye West once sang, I ain’t sayin’ she’s a gold-digger, except he totally was saying that. It’s good to be called out on these things. After all, some people aren’t interested in personalities or deeper connections, they just want your Blue-Eyes White Dragons.
27. When The Rules Get A Little Shonky, But It’s Totally Fine
You know that feeling you sometimes get, when you come back to a game and reload a file you haven’t played in months/years? Your character will be standing in the middle of a forest somewhere, wearing gear you don’t remember ever getting. You’ll have twenty sidequests in progress, concerning NPCs whose names you’ve never heard in your life, and there’ll be a monster you don’t remember ever seeing before chomping at your ‘nads.
In short, there’ll probably be an expression on your face like Jack Sparrow’s when he’s watching his ship be carried away by crabs in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End. Incidentally, this is exactly how it feels when you come back to a TCG after a hiatus. New mechanics, new cards, new meta.
26. When Everyone Remembers That One Time Kaiba Smiled And Heck Actually Did Freeze Over
Ah, Seto Kaiba. Since that time I saw you rip Yugi’s grandpa’s prized card up back in the day, I knew we were dealing with a Grade A d-bag right here. For my younger self back then, this became the act by which all evil would be measured. Vlad the Impaler, and his habit of having leaking victims on big ol’ spikes around his dining table? Fairly uncool, but he’s no Kaiba.
As we know, later in the series, Yami was able to purge the evil that dwelled in the body of the Kaiba corp CEO. Even Yami couldn’t fit the guy with a whole new personality, sadly, and so Kaiba smiles about as often as Arnold Schwarzenegger in the Terminator movies. It’s just as terrifying, too.
25. When The Forbidden One Slaps You Silly With ALL Of Its Limbs
That’s right, friends. Hold on to your butts, as Samuel L Jackson once said in Jurassic Park, because the Forbidden One is here.
I don’t know if you got the hint from his name at all, but Exodia the Forbidden One is not the kind of guy you want to screw with. He’s not someone you’re going to want to bring home to meet your mama, however cool mom happens to be about the sorts of guys you date.
Exodia-based decks generally go one of two ways: super, super well, or horribly badly. There’s not much in-between with this strategy. When Exodia comes out to play (should you manage to get all of the pieces into your hand, that is), it’s not going to be a good time for the person staring down the barrel of its… arms and legs.
24. When Someone Starts That Blasphemous Pokémon>Yu-Gi-Oh! Talk
It’s a curious thing, but people always seem to feel the need to support one side over the other. We see this in all kinds of arenas, but never more so than with video games. Most of us remember being part of the infamous consoles wars of the 90s; there was no room for compromise. No room for Mario and Sonic in your life at the same time. Get out of here with your logical talk.
If the parallel we were taking about was Pokémon versus Digimon, I would understand. They’re two pocket monster peas in a pod. But Pokémon versus Yu-Gi-Oh!? Are they really similar enough? I guess so. I remember some pitched schoolyard battles on this topic, too.
23. When The Anime Goes A Little Off The Rails
It’s a tough life, being an ardent follower of anime. Sure, there are snarky nicknames like ‘weeb’ being bandied around, but it’s deeper than that. The anime fanatic seems to be stuck in some kind of eternal Shrodinger’s box problem.
If you open the box/stop watching a series for a while, you might find that the darn cat’s dead (ie: you come back to a series and everything has changed). If you leave the box shut/keep watching, you’ll never know if the cat’s alive (ie: the filler episodes will drive you nuts).
If you’ve taken a hiatus from Yu-Gi-Oh!, you might well have come back to find the series completely unrecognizable. Who’s that guy? What’s she doing? Where in the name of Satan’s clogged underworld u-bend did all of these freaking motorcycles come from?
22. When You Search ‘Dark Magician Girl Fanart’ And Instantly Regret It
The Internet, as we all know far too well, is a darn seedy place. It reminds me of one gigantic global Grand Theft Auto city. It’s all bright, happy and rich on the surface, but if you dig a little deeper, all kinds of horrors emerge from the shadows. Criminal conspiracies, infuriating cousins who constantly whine at you to come bowling with them, people doing things with horses… it’s all here.
Here on the Internet, we call it Rule 34. Some of the more popular video game characters, like Lara Croft, have fallen victim to it thousands upon thousands of times, but it’s not strictly game characters. The Dark Magician Girl, poster girl of Yu-Gi-Oh! kawaii-ness, has lost her modesty countless times in fan art too.
21. When This Card Only Exists To Troll You
As I say, Yu-Gi-Oh! is one of the longest-running TCGs out there. Of those that are still relevant, anyway. A lot of them have come and gone, but only a select few stand the test of time. Pokémon, of course. Magic the Gathering, too; the first real trading card game and one that looks likely to outlive humanity itself at this point.
You see where I’m going with this. While the games themselves remain the same, their mechanics have changed dramatically over their long lifespan. Synchro Summoning? Back in my day, buddy boy, we only had Tribute Summoning, and we were grateful for it.
In tandem with that, several thousands of different cards have been released over the decades. There’s something for every possible deck. I can’t imagine why the hell anyone would ever want to use this one, though.
When MST Screws You Over… Again
As I say, the sheer number of cards available now is absurd. At the rate that new packs and updates are being introduced to these games, they’ll outnumber humanity 2:1 by 2020. If you thought the machine uprising in the Terminator movies was terrifying, wait until you see homicidal, sentient Yu-Gi-Oh! cards overthrow us in the future. You cannot imagine the paper cuts.
So, anywho. In my Yu-Gi-Oh! career, I’ve used all sorts of things. Toon deck, Dinosaur deck, Insect deck, Zombies, general goodstuffs, you name it is. Whatever I’ve been using, though, I’ve found my strategies thwarted by a timely Mystical Space Typhoon time and again. Man, do I hate this card. So simple, so effective, so versatile. Screw you and your chain. I can’t. I just cannot deal.
20. When You Get A Little Self Conscious About The Size of Your D
You know how it is. Relationships are darn difficult beasts these days. We face all manner of difficulties keeping our partners, which our parents’ generation never had to contend with. Social media monitoring our every move and breeding uncertainty and doubt, GPS apps showing that we aren’t actually at grandma’s house at all, all of these sorts of things.
On top of all of that, today’s general high pressure, high anxiety world doesn’t make things any easier. It’s tough on us all, is what I’m getting at here. We all need to be a little more self-assured, pay less attention to those niggling doubts. This is not the way to do that. You can’t go comparing your D to others’. That’s the path to madness.
19. When You’re So Terrified Of Mirror Force That You Daren’t Leave The House Any More
As the old meme goes, raisin cookies are the reason that so many people have issues with trust. They just sit there, in their packet, looking for all the damn world like chocolate chip cookies. You’re lured in, like sailors to Sirens, only to find that these aren’t stunning promiscuous fish-ladies at all. They’re damn raisins.
For Yu-Gi-Oh! players, though the true reason we’re plagued by trust issues is Mirror Force. This is one of the most feared Traps in the entire game, capable of pulling your sorry butt from the jaws of certain defeat in a heartbeat. Instantly destroying all Attack Position Monsters your opponent controls, when one of them declares an Attack? That’s a heck of a thing, right there. If you’ve got a field full of slavering beasts, and your opponent has nothing but oneface-downn Spell or Trap, you’ve still got to be darn wary.
18. When Your Guardian Angel Tries To Save You From Your Own Life Choices
Ah, yes. I can 10,000% relate. I’m sure we all can, really. This is basically what adult life looks like, particularly mid-month when payday is a distant oasis in the desert of… your need to buy food and such.
In the holiday season, this whole thing is ramped up to fever pitch. You know how it is. You think you’re done, when suddenly you receive Great Aunt Euphregina’s holiday card and remember that you don’t have her gift yet. Or your little cousin sees that commercial on TV and definitely wants that robot baby. Or your stepbrother’s down, and his drink problem necessitates another few expensive six packs.
17. When You Inadvertently Activate Their Dragon’s Thing
I’m sure you’re thinking exactly the same thing, so I’m going to get it over and done with now, for all of our sakes: Hey, dude! I heard you like dragons, so I put a dragon in your dragon so you could dragon while you dragon.
Ah. I feel better now that’s out of my system. Back to business, I totally do not know what to think about this one. On the one hand, this could simply be a matter of unfortunate clipping. You know, there’s a long-necked dragon behind this first guy and the animator screwed up a little.
16. When They Bust Out Dark Bribe Out Of Nowhere
Like Mystical Space Typhoon, Dark Bribe is another one of those real love-it-or-hate-it type cards. As a general rule of thumb, you love it when you play it, and you hate it when your opponent plays it.
This darn card is notorious for much the same reason as MST. It’s simple, effective, as versatile as Johnny Depp, and it can save you from all kinds of dire situations. Offensively or defensively, it can get the job done.
Dark Bribe is able to negate and destroy any Spell or Trap your opponent plays, at the cost of their drawing a card afterwards. It’s a staple in all kinds of decks, and is the sort of thing that will make your opponents cheeks clench a little before making a big play (see also: Mirror Force).
15. When Starter Packs Are So 2016, And It’s All About Starter Decks
The starter pack meme, too, is as versatile as all heck. This is the cornerstone of all the best memes, of course, and this one has that down pat. Without a doubt, though, this is my favourite use of it.
Starter decks, as we all know, are the kind of Baby’s First Yu-Gi-Oh! Deck that we all needed at some point or another. I remember the first Yu-Gi-Oh! cards I ever owned, the Dinosaur’s Rage starter deck, which instantly cemented my love for the archetype.
The neat thing is, these pre-made decks aren’t only for beginners. A lot of times, they’re a good way for experienced players to build up playsets of certain cards, usually much more cheaply than buying booster packs or singles. Mirror Force, for instance, was darn expensive to get hold of, until a Common version was added to the Marik Starter Deck a few years back.
14. When Pot Of Desires Is Life
As I’ve said previously, the ridiculous number of Yu-Gi-Oh! cards that have been released allow for all kinds of strategies. Some are far more viable than others, naturally, and some require luck and super weird gimmickry to pull off, but there it is. There’s a use for every card, however obscure and pointless it may seem (even you, I guess, Self-Destruct Button).
Pot of Desires is a curious one. With this Spell, the user banishes the top ten cards of their deck face down, and then draws two cards. Zombies, Lightsworns and such would love this, is the ten cards were simply sent to the Graveyard, but they’re removed from play. Face down, to boot. As a result, this one’s mostly seen boosting your Life Points in a pinch with Soul Absorption, helping to activate Chaos End, or with Destiny HERO Diamond Dude to avoid its harsh cost.
13. When Your Homie Doubts The Power Of The Heart Of The Cards
Back when I was new to the Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG, I made all the common mistakes that newbies will. The biggest of these was overdoing the amount of Tribute Monsters in my decks. We all know how that works out.
Sure, I might have a fancy foil Demon From the Depths of Satan’s Underpants Hamper (FYI: not a real card), but it’s a level ten and it’s stuck in my hand forever. We’ve all been guilty of this. It’s the Yu-Gi-Oh! equivalent of that Ember/Flamethrower/Fire Blast/Fly Charizard we all thought was legit back in Pokémon Red and Blue.
It’s crucial to learn that deck-building balance. After all, we aren’t Yugi, however much we wanted to be when we were thirteen years old. We can’t tap into the heart of the cards whenever we damn well please, and draw whatever we want.
12. When Payday Is Weeks Away
If you’re anything like me, you have a major issue with remembering passwords. This is a huge problem these days, with the 8,000,005 websites we’re all registered with.
Granted, there’s software that will remember them all for you and autofill them in each time, but I just can’t bring myself to trust these things. I’ve watched the Terminator movies many times, and I’m not trusting any damn computer with my passwords. Screw you, SkyNet.
As a result, I also can’t rely on Internet banking. This leaves me playing a constant game of Can I Afford This, in which I haven’t checked my balance at the ATM for a while and I have zero clue what’s left in my account.
11. When You Fall For The Old ‘Synchro Summon Your Own iPhone’ Scam
I’m deeply, deeply conflicted on this one. On the one hand, this is totally not what any customer wants to be staring down the barrel of. You’re all set for your iPhone 7 to arrive. You’ve sold your home, your children and your grandma’s budgerigar Mr. Snickles to pay for it. The postman finally arrives, you tear open the package, and… this has happened.
You’d be every possible shade of pissed, and you’d be darn right to be. On the other hand, though, as long as it hasn’t happened to you, you’ve got to appreciate the ingenuity of this scheme.
10. When Your School Bus Accepts Yu-Gi-Oh! Cards
Now, generally, I like to think of myself as relatively down with the kids when it comes to slang. I can usually decipher what the teenagers I pass in the street are saying, after all, so I think I’m on the right track.
One term I have been having trouble with lately is swag. I’ve never been entirely settled on what swaggy means, and I have zero clue whether I have swag or not. I’ve seen the terms thousands of time online, and have trouble determining what the essence of swag is exactly.
Or rather, I did have. Today, after all my struggles, I think I understand what it means. It means hopping onto the bus, presenting the driver with your super rare (not Super Rare, you understand, there’s a difference) holo promo card like a boss, and sitting down like you own the place. Or the bus.
9. When Yugi Delivered The King Of All Burns
As Austin Powers would say (back in the nineties when he was last remotely relevant to anything), ouch, baby. There’s a certain line that you just don’t cross, however, heated the argument might get, and here’s Yugi not caring and crossing it anyway.
This guy may be the protagonist and hero of the piece, but we can’t pretend he’s a 100% all-round good guy. He and his alter-ego with the even sweeter hair have done some shady stuff. Literal destruction of his opponents, sending their shattered souls to the shadow realm, all of these sorts of things. It’s all just a game to him, which I guess you could call ironic. Granted, most of them were a-holes who deserved it, but still. Calm your bad self, Yugi.
8. When You Remember That Yu-Gi-Oh! Is Not An Extreme Sport
In a lot of ways, society today is a pretty darn sad state. Sure, in some aspects of life, we’ve come a long way, but we remain woefully lacking in others. People are really quick to judge others, and it’s kind of sad. I’ve been to my share of comic conventions, seen a lot of cosplayers, and done some cosplaying myself at times. On occasion, the kinds of looks that you get from others on the street make you feel some type of way.
But what really matters? What others think, or how you feel? We’re getting a bit preachy and after school special-y here, but that really is what counts. Nuts to the naysayers, let’s dress as awesome wizards and get our Dungeons and Dragons on.
7. When You’re A Real Playa And A Yu-Gi-Oh! Player
Speaking of cosplay, general nerdery and the stigma behind it, that’s exactly how these sorts of jokes come about. Who says this guy isn’t an amazing lady-magnet? The kind of guy who would make Casanova look like a lonely gaucho, who spends his days eating slices of bread straight from the bag with the drapes shut?
More importantly, who says he isn’t? Is it that wispy half-a-moustache? Well, possibly, but mainly it’s the Duel Disk on his arm there. Come on now, society. It’s almost freaking 2018. We’ve got to get a little more enlightened.
6. When Your Rare Cards Just Aren’t Rare Enough
In the TCG world, as with video games these days, re-releases are king. A new print of the same card, with a different rarity? A new release of the same darn game, only with the textures HD-ified a little? We’re all throwing cash at our screens like Fry from Futurama at the mere prospect of it.
Yu-Gi-Oh! takes the whole rarity concept even further than other games. There are infinite different types, from Rare to Super Rare, Ultra Rare to Ghost Rare and beyond. Foil cards are another huge draw for TCG players, and only the rarest version of a card will do for some.
Complicating this even further is the teeny line of text that denotes whether a card is a First Edition. It’s meaningless in game terms, but it’s the sort of thing that’ll stop collectors sleeping for weeks at a time.
5. When Your Deck Counters Theirs, So They Pull A Kaiba On Your Cards
As I say, there’s a huge range of different card archetypes to build a deck around. It’s a lot of fun to theme your deck around a specific archetype, and it’s much easier than just being let loose on the entire backlog of Yu-Gi-Oh! cards and choosing forty of them.
All of these archetypes have weaknesses, though, and it’s for the player to learn exactly what they are and how to counter them. If you’re running a Toon deck for instance (which actually is a thing some people do, if you can believe it), it’s very reliant on its signature Spell card Toon World. You’ll need to support it with other cards that can prevent its destruction, or you’ll be largely helpless.
4. When It’s Time To D-D-D-Duel
I know what you’re thinking. A certain Overwatch character has drummed the fact that it’s high freaking noon into your head thousands of time. You can’t even look at a clock any more without seeing that meme in your mind’s eye.
Well, it’s not high noon for me, buddy boy. I’m not a big follower of Overwatch, If I’m honest. The only time that’s significant for me is D-D-D-duelin’ time.
In the melodramatic world of the Yu-Gi-Oh! anime (and all other anime, come to think of it), the Duel Monsters card game is the answer to everything. EVERYTHING. It is always time to duel. If there’s ever been a time when it wasn’t, these people don’t want to hear of it. Before there was duelling, there was nothing at all. Duels are life. Duels are love.
3. When The Rules Get Really, Really Shonky
Yes. Oh yes indeed. Following on from that last point, this is what happens when you don’t keep up with a TCG. Maybe you’ll be clearing out the attic, come across your collection of cards, and it’s like drinking seventeen straight shots of pure nostalgia. You want to hop back into the game, but it’s not as easy as that.
It’s like a whole new befuddling world. Pendulum Summoning? What in the name of all that’s good and pure is that? In my day, you think, we just Tributed Monsters for Summons. One Tribute for level 5 or six Monsters, and two Tributes for level 7 and above. Maybe, if we were really feeling ballsy, we’d venture into the Extra Deck and perform a Synchro Summon or two, but that was as far as we ever got. What are all these new mechanics?
2. When The Egyptian God Cards Come Out To Play
Speaking of Yu-Gi-Oh! back in the day, I’m sure you fell foul of the Egyptian God cards more than once. These things were the mystical Holy Grail of the game, only spoken of in hushed, suitably reverent tones at recess.
Sometimes, if you were super, super lucky, one of your buddies might let you take a brief look at one of theirs, but just for a fleeting second. After that, it was snatched away, in case you breathed on it too much and your ‘breath particles’ started to erode the shiny surface.
This trio of cards were purely trophies, never to be used in an actual game. Still, merely owning them was more than enough. The jewels of any collection, these guys were always a big deal in the manga and anime too.
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