Most of the monsters we see in the Ghostrick Museum take us away from the typical 'Hallowe'en Horrors' of Shadow Specters, such as the Frankenstein's Monster, Witch and Vampire that would be at home within their haunted mansion. Instead, these new Ghostricks from Legacy of the Valiant take us into the world of myth, legend and folklore, collecting these fantasticals and displaying them as wonders rather than horrors.
We have the Mummy and Skeleton who have shared their time in the horror spotlight, but are displayed as everyday objects of interest in the Egyptian and Evolution of Man wings. The Dullahan could be any sort of armor for display in the armory. The Yeti and Nekomusume would be hidden away somewhere in the Asiatic exhibitions. Jack Frost would probably be skulking around the science department, and Bloody Mary somewhere within the hall of interesting artifacts. So there is in fact a reason why these monsters took refuge in a Museum rather than in the haunted house of the Shadow Specter Ghostricks. Interestingly, the Ghostrick Ghoul and Ghostrick Yeti are never featured in any of the art for any of the Ghostrick cards. that shouldn't be shocking though, as they're World Premiere cards that didn't appear in the original Japanese releases. However, these two monster still perpetuate the themes of their respective sets, with an emphasis on horror (Shadow Specters) and legend and folklore (Legacy of the Valiant). So now, let me be your tour guide through the Museum of Ghostrick Monsters. Your first visit is always free...
"Walking through the science department, you feel a slight chill creep down your spine. It's not fear, and no windows are open; instead, it's the winter air blown in your direction by Ghostrick Jack Frost."
Jack Frost was born from Scandinavian legends. His original name was 'Jokul Frosti' or 'Icicle Frost', and he was an artistic sprite blamed for painting the icy fern patterns on windows in the winter. Ghostrick Jackfrost was named for the spirit of Jack Frost himself and you can see that it has a satchel on its waist that mirrors its face. However, the face's mouth is a zipper, calling to mind the idea of Jack Frost nipping bare skin in the cold. Although Jack Frost's usually depicted as friendly, or without a particular allegiance to good or evil, he did possess the power to turn people into frost or freeze them to death. He's also said to be quite the trickster as well.
Similar to the Ghostrick Yuki-onna, Ghostrick Jackfrost mirrors her effect but in a much easier and pertinent way. Ghostrick Jackfrost glides out of your hand and onto the battlefield negating an opposing monster's attack, freezing them in an icy prison! In reality, it negates the attack and then flips the monster face down to symbolize its powers. Personally, I don't understand why Jack Frost is depicted all bundled up in winter clothing considering he'd probably want to keep cold, being made of ice. Maybe it's just tired of being cold all the time?
"Clip-clopping through the misty shadows of a corridor less traveled, you gaze upon an old set of armor set astride a horse in the armory. Here awaits Ghotrick Dullahan!"
The Dullahan is Irish folkloric faerie that rides atop a black horse, with his head cut clean from his shoulders. He's said to hold his head under his arm, charging through the night looking for his next victim. His eyes dart about as he stares down his prey with a horrifying toothy grin. One should never stare or watch the Dullahan, because those that see it are either blinded in one eye or have blood thrown at them. No gates or doors can keep the Dullahan at bay and like magic, barriers unlock and open themselves allowing the Dullahan to enter freely. However, the Dullahan fears gold and there's no explanation as to why. If the Dullahan stops in front of you, your soul will be sucked away and you will drop dead on the spot.
Our Ghostrick Dullahan rides on a white horse, has no discernible facial features and in fact looks nothing like a Dullahan aside from the telltale head it holds under its arm. The horse itself contains the features of the Dullahan's steed with it's fierce red eyes, terrifying expression and ghostly look. The Ghostrick Dullahan sits in the Museum just away from suspecting eyes as a plain suit of armor with no one the wiser. Its effect hearkens to its death call, standing in front of the opposing monster, draining their soul (halving the opposing monster's ATK) and then attacks over them for an easy kill, harboring them off to the spirit world for all eternity.
"As you turn away from the first two fiends, you catch a glimpse of yourself in a mirror in the antiques wing...and something else in the corner of your eye."
Our final Ghostrick Fiend, Ghostrick Mary, is an actual being steeped in urban legend: Bloody Mary. This is a modern urban legend and there are many ways to summon Bloody Mary (the err, modern folklore Mary, not the Ghostrick). As far as how she came to be Bloody Mary, many different versions of the tale exist. One such story states that her child was murdered and so she killed herself, damning herself to the mirror world. Another states that after she'd suffered many miscarriages, she succumbed to suicide. Either way, the legend sadly never ends well.
Bloody Mary is believed to be a spirit invoked within a mirror, a method known as catoptromancy. When she's summoned, she'll either kill whoever summoned her or divine their future. It's said she can be called on through many different rituals including candle rites, chanting, as well as a few ridiculous physical feats such as spinning around and walking up the stairs in total darkness backwards. All of these of course require the use of a mirror. These rituals all bring the mind and body into a state of psychosis that can make the summoner become delusional, and may induce a form of self-hypnosis. When you look into a mirror with a dim light, your facial recognition plays tricks on you and allows for your fantasies to seem like reality, when in fact it's just your mind's inability to process its surroundings.
One method of summoning Bloody Mary says to announce that you were the one who murdered her child. At that point, Mary's said to appear in the mirror to murder you back, or show you your future. What guides the decision between those two fates in the vengeful spirit's mind has never really been explained, but if you somehow survive an attack from Bloody Mary, she's said to stalk and haunt you in every reflective surface you come in contact with. Other legends state that she'll haunt you and eventually pull you into the mirror world with her for all eternity, damning your soul along with hers. Another spin on the urban legend states that she can reveal to you who your true love will be. If you ask her on Hallowe'en night, she'll either show you the face of who you're to marry OR a skull, which means that you'll die before you find your true love.
Truth be told, even I've never been brave enough to chant Bloody Mary's name three times in a dark room with a mirror. The curse of Bloody Mary is far too terrifying to even fathom. Luckily for us, Ghostrick Mary is on our side (I think?...) and when you take damage, its throws itself into the fold, shattering its mirror world and Summoning from the mirror your greatest wish...in the form of a Ghostrick monster!
"Stumbling on through the Asian exhibit of the museum, you hear purring and the sound of soft, padded footsteps. Museums don't allow pets, do they?"
Ghostrick Nekomusume, another Japanese monster lending itself to the archetype and continuing the Ghostrick's Level 2 sub-theme as a group of 'femme fatale' type creatures. Ghostrick Nekomusume is essentially a werecat. Werecats are thought to be strictly female, whereas werewolves were typically perceived as male. Witches were thought to change form alongside their cat familiars and venture out into the night to cause mischief. At one point, speaking of private matters in front of cats was thought to be a bad idea incase the cat were in fact a witch, or it's familiar.
The Nekomusume (cat girl or cat daughter) walks and talks and appears like a normal girl, but don't be fooled by her well-trained precision as she has the ability to take on her cat-like qualities at any given time. The Nekomusume shows those catlike features when hunting for fish or when humans are not nearby unless it feels in the mood to cause mischief. They're considered to be a class of Yokai, and they've been featured in American media as well. Nekomusume are typically not as dangerous as the Bakeneko, another Japanese cat Yokai...or so one is lead to believe by how well they can integrate into society. Interesting fact! If you rearrange the letters in Nekomusume you get 'Neko Museum' or 'Museum Cat'!
"Continuing through the Asian exhibit, you see a textual recounting of the legend of the Yeti, and what looks to be a Yeti dummy behind glass...Did it just blink?"
The Zombie subtype of the Ghostrick group seems to be seeing more and more support these days, now with a grand total of six monsters. The World Premiere Ghostrick Yeti from our version of Legacy of the Valiant wouldn't be the first monster you'd expect to see with the Zombie type-stamp. Nothing would indicate that this monster could be a Zombie, either. Its effect is ok; not something most Ghostrick players would consider to be astounding, as its ability still allows for cards that offer non-destructive removal.
What it does do though is make your monster as elusive as a Yeti! How can your opponent destroy something that doesn't exist? With a deck that's already tight on space, Yeti might be relegated to the sidelines, but who could say no too such a cute face? The Yeti – Tibetan for 'rock-bear' – is a cryptoid in modern terms, a creature whose existence is disputed at best in scientific communities. It's said to live in the Himalayas of Tibet. Most 'sources' state that the Yeti is playful and doesn't seem to be threatening, but actually very timid. Throughout the 50' and 60's, countless Mountain explorers claimed to have seen the Yeti with their own eyes, but whether that was true or not obviously can't be proven. Perhaps those accounts were just delusions created by the reflections of the snow or the high altitudes. Different cultures also have their own versions of Yeti folklore, including the North American Bigfoot, the Australian Yowie and the Japanese Hibagon.
"Exiting the Asian exhibit, you wander through the Evolution of Mankind corridor. You see countless skeletons, each representing different stages of man through the ages. One of the skeletons doesn't look quite right, though. Was… Was that there a moment ago?"
Ghostrick Skeleton and Ghostrick Mummy aren't literal monsters themselves, but entities representative of the fear people have lived with since the beginning of time: the fear of death itself. While the Egyptians welcomed death, modern society has tried to find ways to keep it at bay. Ghostrick Skeleton IS dressed up as the typical figure of Death as the Grim Reaper, though it's hard to believe that this monster is the actual personification. If it were so, I would like to think the Japanese name wouldn't have been Ghostrick Skeleton, but Ghostrick Death or Ghostrick Reaper. Instead, it should be taken lightly that this monster is just a skeleton, maybe one that took to dressing up to make itself more terrifying.
Ghostrick Skeleton's ability to banish cards is probably a reference to its deathly look, reaping away cards from the top of the deck so neither player can access those cards in any way. Skeletons have been depicted in paintings over centuries as the symbl of death itself. Those skeletons do not wear a cloak or brandish a scythe, but instead come to the wary in paintings as harbingers of sorrow, death, Misfortune and humility of one's own delicate existence. The skeleton has been used in many movies and other horror media to evoke a fear of the living dead as well. While not particularly powerful, the Skeleton serves as a living reminder of death and the fear of our mortality.
"Walking through the Egyptian wing of the Museum, you hear the creaking of hinges in the distance. Is it coming from in front of you? Or behind you…"
Ghostrick Mummy immediately evokes the idea of the fabled 'mummy's curse,' with said curses once thought to have killed archaeologists since their modern day discovery. These 'curses' were largely explained away by modern science as airborne bacteria. Like all the monsters that inspired Ghostrick cards, the mummy also served as a key trope in horror media, usually shambling along, their wraps unravelling on their quest for love or murder. Either way, so long as you don't trip the mummy generally wouldn't catch and kill you.
Our Ghostrick Mummy's quite the clumsy fellow from what we can see in the artwork for Ghostrick Museum, further perpetuating the idea that mummies are in fact clumsy, stiff creatures. Its body is a strange Dark Gray-blue color and its eyes don't seem to open, probably referencing the mummification process in which all the organs, including the eyes, are removed. The mummification process, an often long procedure that's been around for centuries, was thought to have been perfected by the Egyptians. The techniques prevented further decaying of the body and the ritualized methods were deeply culturally important to the ancient Egyptians. Let me quickly run you through the steps.
First, the body was washed with water and a natron (mineral salt) solution. Next, an incision was made on the side on the body and the organs were removed. The organs were washed and placed in jars which were buried along with the body in a separate compartment. The Egyptians thought the heart controlled what we now know the Brain Controls, and so the brain was actually discarded, unlike the rest of the organs. The body was then stuffed with linen and more natron, before being placed in natron and linen for forty days to dry. After the forty days, the body was exhumed and the insides were cleaned out, to be replaced with fresh linen and natron. The body was rewashed with essential oils and the excision hole was replaced with wax or gold; the eyes were removed and replaced. After this, the body would be wrapped in the linen sheets we see mummies in now. This was important to the ancient Egyptians because they believed the spirit would return to the body and live in the spirit world for all eternity, along with whatever was buried with it.
As we finish our tour of the Ghostrick Museum, you sigh with relief; nothing truly frightening happened, so perhaps it was your mind playing tricks on you? As I write this article, no Ghostrick cards have been announced for the next booster set, Primal Origin, but hopefully by the time this is posted, that will have change.! One thing that's remained constant: all of these monsters are enemies in the Castlevania franchise! I hope we see a 'Side Show' of Ghostrick Monsters or perhaps a 'Ghostricks of the World' as the next Ghostrick theme, but what would you like to see next?