I recently came into possession of the rarer Ghostrick cards, and since I've become enamored with these 'end-eerie-ing' monsters! The Ghostricks are the newest 'cute' archetype that Konami's recently introduced in Shadow Specters, pretty much the first adoracuddy deck theme since the release of the Madolches.

You couldn't do a better job creating this archetype because these monsters are a great blend of humor, card flavor, and horror that just couldn't occupy a more serious strategy. While I don't know if they'll be making a competitive impact any time soon, the deck's cool, the art's cool, and the word "Ghostrick" is pretty cool, so they've garnered a big fanbase anyways.

So today, grab your popcorn, your cuddliest stuffed buddy and flashlight, as we journey into the lore of the Ghostrick monsters! Cue the lightning flash and organ music!

Creeping Up The Backstairs...
The basic idea of the Ghostrick deck is to take advantage of their signature effect, which is changing their own battle positions to face-down defense. Did you stop to wonder why they do that, though? Simply put, the point of the monsters' abilities to flip themselves face-down and then flip back up with effects 'SURPRISE from the shadows,' with their self-flipping effect representing their 'return to the shadows'. To mirror this idea, the opponent's monster often flips face-down to symbolize their fear, frightened out of the battle momentarily. All of this is pretty evident from both the card text and the imagery given to us in the art.

Another question I've been asked a lot is "what are the Ghostrick monsters," and I always reply "they're monst-" but I'm quickly cut off with an invalidating "NO! I mean WHAT are they?" The answer isn't that they're monsters per se, but legendary and folkloric entities spanning the globe, each one dripping with urban legend and pop culture influence. A witch is a witch of course, but what is it that makes a witch a witch or Frankenstein's monster more than just a brutish homunculus? It's peoples' fascination with the unknown and the latent fears that reside in all of us; that's what makes these creatures so special. They became staples of modern lore in today's society because of how iconic they've become and the fear that they instill in us.

The Ghostricks resound for similar reasons. Not because of fear, but because of how unique they are, both as a deck theme and visually speaking. There's an added layer of cachet too, because they were quickly embraced by the community as Halloween-themed archetype, which is kind of a first for Yu-Gi-Oh.

Moving along, note that certain monsters fall into certain categories, divided by both type and Level: all Level and Rank 1 Ghostricks are depicted as ghosts and apparitions. All Level 2's are hostile female characters.

Furtive Eyes Peep Out of Holes...
Ghostrick Lantern is the first monster I want to discuss today, because I remember the sourced stories from my childhood. Ghostrick Lantern is a gleeful wandering soul with a Jack O'Lantern as a disguise. The Jack O'Lantern is this monster's inspiration, but not the pumpkin figure we carve; it's actually the man himself, Stingy Jack. The story of Stingy Jack originates from Ireland, where the tradition began with carving large turnips and potatoes instead of pumpkins. The tradition changed when it was brought to America by Irish immigrants, where it became a staple of Hallowe'en culture.

The story begins when the penny pinching Jack offers to buy the devil a drink. Jack, of course, didn't want to pay for the drink and so he convinced the devil to turn into a golden coin. Instead, Jack kept the golden coin and placed it in his pocket next to a cross of silver. The devil couldn't revert to his original form, restrained by the cross. Therein Jack made a deal: he told the devil not to bother him or make any attempt on his soul for one year, and if he agreed, Jack would free the devil from his pocket and the silver cross. The devil agreed to his terms and left.

The next year, the devil returned. Jack, the hubris-landed man he was, convinced the devil to climb into a fruit tree and grab them both something to eat. The devil fell for Jack's ploy and climbed up the tree while Jack waited at the bottom and carved a cross into it. The devil was imprisoned within the tree, again defeated by the power of the cross. Jack struck yet another deal with the devil, same as before, but now the devil could not come for Jack for ten years instead. The devil agreed and was again freed from his confinement.

Jack would meet his end before the ten years were up and God, who saw Jack's tricks as distasteful, refused to allow him into heaven. The devil wouldn't allow Jack into hell either because he was fed up, and so he was sent to wander with nothing but a burning ember to light his way in the night. Jack placed the hot ember inside a carved turnip he uses as a lantern and was damned to roam the earth forever.

It's said that on dark nights, unwary travelers are sometimes chased by mysterious floating lights with no means of supporting themselves in the air. In reality, this is the work of Will-O-the-Wisp phenomena or bio-luminescent insects like fireflies.

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Ghostrick Specter's the resident ghost of the bunch. A "specter" is a broad term for a ghost or apparition type of anomaly. Ghosts come in all different shapes and forms and each one varies depending on the culture that creates it, but they're not limited to the traditional image of a see-through, otherworldly being or fully-formed, physically solid haunts. Although many speculate that a ghost can't harm you, paranormal investigators the world over do believe that malevolent ghosts have the ability to attack and make physical contact with their victims. Different types of hauntings are said to exist as well. Places can be haunted, but so can objects such as mirrors and jewelry; even people can be 'tagged' by a ghost and followed in many superstitious traditions.

Everyone at one point in their life has felt the presence of something otherworldly around them. In truth, many ghost 'sightings' are in fact psychological incidents, wherein one person's fears come to life in their own mind. One such category of these behaviors is called pareidolia, which is the scientific term for when our mind applies meaning to the meaningless: when we hear things while showering and assume it's a person, or the interpretation of faces in everyday objects.

When our ability to recognize faces becomes confused, we can sometimes psych ourselves into seeing entire people that aren't really there. As you can imagine, there are many realms of real psychology into which the idea of ghosts can be fit, and in the end there's no way to prove the concept of a life after death, or the existence of the paranormal. It's important to remember that in all this uncertainty, many also like to make money off of the fears of others. All these different explanations of ghostly phenomena explain why our two little Ghostrick ghosts vanish into face-down defense after they've been dropped from your hand.

She Has Many Guises...
Coming up next we have the Spellcaster Ghostricks who, for the most part, have an Asian flare which will be more evident when Legacy of the Valiant releases later this month. Interestingly, all these monsters aside from Ghostrick Witch are not generally perceived as spellcasters or magicians. Their typing is probably just a generalization for the female caste of the Ghostrick family.

Ghostrick Yuki-Onna is the Yuki-Onna of Japanese legend; and there are many legends attributed to her. The stories say the Yuki-Onna can manifest as a young woman by herself, or a young woman swaddling a fake child, which is either an illusion or made of an impermanent material like snow. In the old folk tales, anyone who dared to touch the child would be instantly killed, frozen in place.

One legend states that Yuki-Onna would typically be found in winter or snow storms and find men who were lost. She would invite them to come stay with her for the evening and rest. Once they were convinced, the Yuki-Onna could do one of several different things including leading the victim further into the snowstorm and to their death. The Yuki-Onna could also blow an air so chilling from her lips that she would freeze her victim, leaving behind a corpse of ice. The Yuki-Onna could also drain a man's life force away with a kiss or through a sexual encounter. In some stories, the Yuki-Onna would marry a man and upon her discovery, she would melt away like ice, leaving the man confused or killing him outright.

Our Ghostrick Yuki-onna is a little girl holding a small stuffed snow bunny. While Yuki-Onna only wear white so they can blend in with the snow, out Ghostrick Yuki-onna wears a kimono embroidered with Snowflakes as well as a grey skirt and black 'diamond' headband. Typically the Yuki-Onna is a young woman holding a child, although here she's a young child herself and has come to enjoy the company of a Stuffed Animal. Our Ghostrick Yuki-onna has the same abilities as the fictitious Yuki-Onna, wherein if an opposing monster would attack and destroy her, the monster is flipped face-down and frozen in place, unable to change its battle position. She has red eyes as well, which is out of place for the Yuki-Onna of the folk stories.

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Ghostrick Witch is the one true Spellcaster of all the Ghostrick monsters. Little known fact? Male witches are also called "witches." The title of "warlock" doesn't denote a male witch as many often believe, but instead refers to another type of magic-user entirely.

There are far too many legends of witches for me to recall them all here, but in the end the easiest way to explain Ghostrick Witch's effect is that she 'bewitches' an opposing monster. She has a few defining 'witch' elements in her character design, too: she's dressed all in black, she has devil horns atop her hat, AND she carries a broomstick adorned with stars. All she's missing is a familiar, and she'd be a true bride of the devil by Western standards! In truth, many of the ideas and misconceptions we have about witches are mostly the work of discrimination and holy wars against traditional folk beliefs. Witches didn't make deals with devils to obtain powers, nor did they ever fly around on broomsticks...they did get high as kites and pretend to fly around on broomsticks at times, but that's about as far as it went in reality. True, witches did make potions and they worshipped atypical gods. Their gods were not necessarily the mainstream religion though, and over the course of history they were cast out by society as heretical and.

Church and law went hand in hand at one point, as they often still do today. It's been suggested by numerous historians that Pan, the goat god folkloric believers in parts of Europe once worshipped, was the basis for the horned and cloven devil we see featured in pop culture today. Witches could be considered early practitioners of medicine and Spiritualism with different rituals for blessings and favor. Witches still exist today, but continue to be met with criticism by a conditioned society… which is unfortunate, because most of them are really nice people who believe in spreading good fortune and peace. Next time you meet a witch, give them a big hug.

Playing Dead And Sweet Submission...
Looking at the Level 3 Zombie Ghostricks, we see that they're all literally undead. Plucked from all over the world, each of these monsters are unrelenting fiends who serve as the brute strength and muscle for the Ghostrick strategy. Their ATK surpasses all other released Ghostrick monsters, and their ability to endlessly search for Ghostrick cards is a tremendous asset.

Like the true zombie, a word we throw around far too often in modern conversation, the Ghostrick zombies cannot fail their master's orders. True zombies are people who've been afflicted by voodoo and are forced to do their creator's bidding. Through the use of poison and psychological conditioning, it's speculated that one can actually become a zombie in a medical and psychological sense. The 'zombies' we see in the media today are better classified as infected beings. True undead are brought back to life through mystical means.

Ghostrick Jiangshi's actually the second Jiangshi monster to be released in Yu-Gi-Oh, with the first being Master Kyonshee. "Jiangshi" is the Japanese name for the Chinese hopping vampire known as the Kyonshee. The story behind the Jiangshi and why they hop takes us back to the Qing Dynasty of China. There, when someone died far away from home, the corpses were strapped to bamboo gurneys which were then carried on the backs of the bearers to their hometown. The corpses would give the illusion of 'hopping' on the road with their arms outstretched because of rigor mortis.

Some Jiangshi were said to have the ability to detach their upper body from their legs, but one thing that's constant between the legends is that they always needed the life force of others to survive. Traditionally, they're dressed in old style Chinese clothing (because of how long it takes to become a Jiangshi) and they don't suck blood. The blood-drinking vampiric notion is a modern convention introduced to draw the Jiangshi closer to the Western vampire. Jiangshi actually drain the life force itself – the qi, not the blood – from a living being to sustain themselves.

There are many methods said to counter a Jiangshi, including showing them their own reflection, or threatening them with fire (after all, who doesn't fear fire?). The slips of paper that are seen emblazoned upon their foreheads – and that feature into the design of Ghostrick Jiangshi in our game – weren't originally promoted as a way to stop the Jiangshi; it's a modern trope, so I wouldn't suggest trying it should you find yourself facing one down.

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I think the ghoul has become a bit of an esoteric and forgotten concept, both as a monster and as a Ghostrick card. In truth, the word "ghoul" is often used synonymously with many other types of undead, but they're actually a distinct kind of haunt. The term itself is Arabic in origin, and ghouls are said to shape shift; they can take any form, but their distinguishing feature that can't change is that they have the cloven hooves of a donkey… a feature that you may notice is actually missing from Ghostrick Ghoul. Ghouls are also reported to be corpse robbers, hungry devourers who live in graveyards and complex tunnels within Mountains.

The idea of the ghoul dining on the dead actually came from a mistranslation of texts from The Thousand and One Nights. In fact, because of the leniency taken with translating the stories of the ghoul, much information on them is limited and lacking in credibility. Our Ghostrick Ghoul is none of these things. It has an ability identical to that of Blackwing - Sirocco the Dawn, but nowhere in legend have Ghouls ever been reported to have an 'invigorating' ability of that type/

The last of the three Zombie-type Ghostricks is the infamous Frankenstein's monster. Remember that in a literary sense, the monster itself ISN'T called Frankenstein: Frankenstein was the character from Mary Shelley's classic novel who created the creature, not the creature itself. The monster's just simply referred to as 'The Monster' or 'Frankenstein's Monster'.

Needless to say, Ghostrick Stein is a toolbox and search card for the Ghostrick deck, and is interestingly seen only in the artwork for the card Ghostrick House, where you can spot him coyly but endearingly holding the Ghostrick Witch in his hand. This monster's appearance and brief expression of mannerisms is reminiscent of The Monster's childlike demeanor in the original book. This particular rendition calls to mind the Boris Karloff film, when the Monster and the farmer's Little Daughter are throwing flowers into the pond. The Monster, with his child-like innocence, can't understand the world and joyfully flings the little girl in the water, assuming she would float like the flowers did. She dies. This is incomprehensible to the Monster and he walks away with both fear and sorrow for finding out a hard lesson about the world.

Let's hope he doesn't do the same to Ghostrick Witch...

Jeering At The Shadows...
The Rank 3 Ghostrick Alucard sounds like a direct shout out to Alucard from Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse, or the more well-known Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (one of my favorite game series of all time). Needless to say, this monster as well as the other Ghostricks made their debut in the Vampire-dominant set, Shadow Specters. Also included in that released was the bearer of the Vampire Killer himself, Vampire Hunter. The set's like a direct homage to the Castlevania license, and if you look carefully even Castlevania itself is featured in the background of Vampire Hunter's artwork. Castlevania IS a Konami-owned brand after all.

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The name Alucard is Dracula spelled backwards, and it's used frequently in stories by both Dracula and other vampires as a way to cover up their identity. This trope has been recycled many times throughout all forms of storytelling. Before Castlevania, some early media featured Alucard as the son of Dracula wherein the word is cut up into pieces to create a first name, middle initial, and last name of sorts, somehow fooling the protagonists...really?

I'm not sure whether Ghostrick Alucard is really Dracula or not; only someone from Konami knows the answer to that question. But being a vampire, and to dissolute any possible confusion with the 'serious' Shadow Specter's vampire theme and Crimson Knight Vampire Bram, this little monster clearly had to change his name. That said, Bram is a reference to Bram Stoker, the writer of the original 1987 horror novel. Either way, the name Dracula isn't protected by copyright anymore so it's fair game no matter what the inspiration.

Where Did You Get Those Eyes?
After much debate and editing, I've decided to keep the new Ghostricks from Legacy of the Valiant Ghostrick for another article. This discussion's getting a little lengthy and rather than test you further, I think the remaining monsters will make a nice treat for another day! Also, without the proper names of cards or without the knowledge of a possible Ghostrick World Premiere, the possibility of which is unknown while I write this article, I'd like to give their newest members – if any – the fortune of being paired with their Ghostrick buddies.

So now here's my question for you: what kind of 'monster' or 'urban legend' would YOU like to see as a Ghostrick in the future? I'm tied between The Werewolf OR The Creature (from the Black Lagoon). I hope that Medusa will be released as a Rank 2 Ghostrick Xyz seeing as how we have a lot of Gorgons in the next set. The problem with all these wishes is that neither of them fall into the Fiend, Spellcaster or Zombie category. Keep this in mind as you make your choices, and who knows! Just like the predicted Hazy Flame Hydra, your favorite monster might make its dueling debut in a future set!

-Franco Ferrara