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Let’s Duel! An Inside Look at Japanese Yugioh Cards

Let’s Duel! An Inside Look at Japanese Yugioh Cards

For overseas players, the idea of spending money on Japanese Yugioh cards may never cross your mind; but if you stick with the game long enough there will come a time when you switch from casual gamer to hardcore collector and when that happens, you’ll have to wipe away the drool as you begin seeking out all the cool ultra-rare cards available only in Japan. Want to know what makes a Japanese card coveted by collectors? Read on!

Getting Your Hands on Rare Japanese Yugioh Cards

The Yugioh card game has been a mainstay CCG in Japan since the manga debuted in back in 1996, and its legacy within the country can now be summed up in one word, “Duel!” which has become synonymous across playgrounds and hobby stores as the invitation to battle it out Yugioh style.

This popularity has spawned collector’s both in Japan and overseas looking to build their library of ultra-rare cards. But what is considered rare? For Japanese collectors, what makes a card rare can be categorized into three groups: 1) Unbelievably low print runs; 2) Promotional cards, and 3) Misprints. For overseas collectors there is also the added bonus of collecting censored cards deemed inappropriate for the developing minds of our youth.

The Rarest Yugioh Card: Chaos Soldier

The Rarest Yugioh Card: Chaos Soldier

The one on the left—shockingly expensive. The one on the right—meh.

The fabled unicorn of the Japanese Yugioh CCG market is the unbelievably rare Japanese edition of the Black Luster Soldier, which is known in Japan as Chaos Soldier (カオス・ソルジャー). Unplayable in tournaments, this Holy Grail for collectors comes in a limited run of 1 and was initially given as the winning prize in Japan’s first nationwide tournament in 1999. If you happen to find this card on a Japanese auction site and would like to mortgage your home or use your college funds, we say go for it. You’ll definitely have better luck finding the normal edition of the Japanese Black Luster Soldier though.

But how do you know if the card you’re bidding on is authentic or an imposter? You’ve got to look for the Post-It note.

The Rarest Yugioh Card: Chaos Soldier

In the picture above, the note clearly states in Japanese (本物) that this card is the real deal, genuine, authentic. While a Post-It note doesn’t necessarily guarantee authenticity, it at least makes you pause and wonder.

Since Chaos Soldier’s or the Black Luster Soldier’s release, it has been sold at a super high price. The most expensive price tag so far? A whopping 2,480,000 yen! Ka-ching!

Yugioh Promo Cards

Yugioh Promo Cards Celticgardian

This Japanese edition of Celtic Guardian (エルフの剣士) may look to the unknowing eye like a run-of-the-mill Yugioh card. However, for avid collectors in Japan, it’s highly sought after due to it being an extremely limited pre-sale promotion by Konami, maker of the trading card game. When the Yugioh starter box was released in March 1999, the card was included as a bonus in the first sets only.

Even though reprints have since been released, demand for the original is still going strong, and finding this “super-rare” card can require quite the trek throughout Tokyo’s many small hobby shops. What would you pay for this card? If you’re anything like previous Japanese collectors, anywhere upward of 18,000 yen.

The icing on the “collectable” cake, so to speak, is that the creator of the Yugioh manga, Kazuki Takahashi, illustrated the elf that appears on the card.

Yugioh Misprint Cards

Yugioh Misprint Cards Kusari

Where does the value of a card come from? For players, it’s about strategy and gameplay. For collectors, it’s about whether or not the game maker screwed up royally when the card was printed. Printing mistakes do happen in CCG and Japanese Yugioh TCG is no exception.

The example above, Kunai with Chain (鎖付きブーメラン), includes an extremely rare text error. This “no name” card somehow got past a sleeping quality insurance employee and made an otherwise common card into a highly prized collector item.

The last recorded selling price for a misprinted Kunai with Chain was 400,000 yen in June 2015.

Cover Your Children’s Eyes: Censored Yugioh Cards

Cover Your Children’s Eyes: Censored Yugioh Cards Magicmagician

While some prudes may find CCGs like Yugioh and Magic: The Gathering to be gateways into the seamy underbelly of sex and Satanism, eventually those adolescent collectors grow up to adults and get their hands on Yugioh contraband. The example above, Dark Magician Girl (ブラック・マジシャン・ガール), is just one of many censored exports from Japan.

We’ll let you decide why you think the Japanese version on the left is considered inappropriate compared with the English version on the right (Hint: We think it’s the hat.)

Investing in Japanese Yugioh Cards

While Yugioh TCG hasn’t exploded like an A-bomb across the world to the extent of let’s say Pikachu and his cohort, the popularity of this Japanese export is by no means laughable. Yugioh in all forms continues to remain strong with no sign of fading away anytime soon.

And with the ability to easily purchase Japanese cards online, it’s a lot easier for collector’s to expand into the many different categories of rare cards available through auction sites and online hobby stores direct from Japan.