Behind The Cards: Shaddoll, Yours Eternally

Franco Ferrara

1/24/2015 11:00:00 AM
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Hello everyone, and welcome back from the holidays! I hope you all got what you wanted for [insert holiday here] and at your Secrets of Eternity Sneak Peeks too (if you were lucky enough to attend one).

Today I want to reveal the hidden secrets of some of the cards released in Secrets of Eternity. While this set hasn't been as warmly received as the last two, it did introduce some cards that will be very useful later when Secret Forces and Crossover Souls are released. What's more, this set also did something very important which was flesh out some “Behind The Scenes” aspects of the chaos in the Duel Monster realm.

So without further ado, I want to focus this article on the two new Shaddoll cards in SECE: El Shaddoll Wendigo and Nephe Shaddoll Fusion. These two cards are packed with hidden symbolism and imagery that's far too juicy to pass up, and they'll be the centerpieces of today's discussion. So let's jump right on in!

Puppet Strings For The Soul
Nephe Shaddoll Fusion is a pun on the Hebrew word “nephesh / nefesh” which is generally how the word “soul” is translated from Hebrew. It's one of five parts or aspects of the soul within the kabbalistic system, a hierarchy of levels to the soul if you will, with five different levels existing as follows:

1.The nephesh is the lowest and most basic part of the soul and the more animalistic aspect found in common creatures incapable of understanding love or nurturing, and lacking personality or the ability to form bonds with others.

2. Second is ruach, which is the soul's ability to distinguish right from wrong.

3. Third is neshamah, a higher form of the soul where reason and sense meet spirituality.

4. The fourth is chayyah, which is the soul's ability to understand the divine aspect and the unity between itself and god. This is the state the soul had before Adam sinned against god and was banished from the garden.

5. Finally, the fifth soul is known as yechidah and is the highest plane the soul can reach, wherein it sets aside all earthly and mortal pettiness and is able to become one with the divine.

In the card art of Nephe Shaddoll Fusion, we see that El Shaddoll Winda's partially consumed or attached to one of many flying yellow “power stations” of an Infernoid (Infernoid Belphegor, an unconfirmed Infernoid at the writing this article). It's flanked by Qliphort Scout with the Sacred Tree of Naturia or the Qliphotic tree floating in the background.

The symbolism here, and the relationship of this card with the concept of nephesh is fascinating. As an Equip Spell, Nephe Shaddoll Fusion becomes one with your “soulless” Shaddoll monster and imbues it with soul-like qualities. With this, a Shaddoll monster can now transcend and take all five aspects of soul stated above unto itself.

 Nephe Shaddoll Fusion
$9.99
$0.91
$0.50
Nephe Shaddoll Fusion95553
Set Secrets of Eternity
Number SECE-EN059
Type Spell Card
Monster spell
Attribute SPELL 
Rarity Secret Rare
Card Text

Activate this card by declaring 1 Attribute. Equip only to a "Shaddoll" monster, and it becomes that Attribute. During your Main Phase: You can Fusion Summon 1 "Shaddoll" Fusion Monster from your Extra Deck, using monsters from your hand or your side of the field as Fusion Materials, including the equipped monster. You can only use this effect of "Nephe Shaddoll Fusion" once per turn.


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What this means is that the golem-like Shaddoll monster, a concept which we touched upon in the Shaddoll article here, is now capable of understanding, transforming and finally gaining the ability to perceive the divine and become one with it. In the case of the Shaddoll monster, becoming divine means fusing into one of the El Shaddoll Fusion monsters. The El Shaddoll monsters are viewed as being higher and more closely linked to the divine. This is evidenced by the name “El Shaddoll,” which is a corruption of the Hebrew words “El Shaddai.” Those words can be loosely translated as “the all-sufficient god,” or “god the almighty and powerful.”

This card is fascinating in how well it links together the concepts of the soul, nephesh, and commune with the divine. It almost makes me like the Shaddolls... (But not really, because they took my Gem-Knights away from me. Jerks.)

Where The Reviled Things
One of two El Shaddoll monsters to not be originally named after a Judaic concept, El Shaddoll Wendigo looks awfully similar to El Shaddoll Winda. I'll explain that in a moment. In the art of this card a young girl sits beside a gigantic dolphin, both mechanical and puppet-like in appearance. Some of you may not recognize this figure but her and her dolfriend are actually featured in another card that was released in this set, Ritual Beast Ambush.

In that card art you can see two shadows in combat, Ritual Beast Ulti-Apelio from the upcoming Secret Forces, and Yazi, Evil of the Yang Zing. In the foreground Pilica, Lineage of Gusto reaches out her hand to the uninfected El Shaddoll Wendigo as both her and her mount are ensnared by shadow-like hands.

Because cards were released in a different order between Japan and North America, the uncorrupted counterpart of El Shaddoll Wendigo, Ritual Beast Ulti-Petolfin was released first in the OCG version of The Secret Forces. For those of you who aren't familiar with the Ritual Beasts, they're a group of monsters divide into the Ritual Beast Tamers and their companions, the Spiritual Beasts. They're essentially a group of monsters who live in the forest and partner up with one another to attain stronger forms.

That's one of the many aspects shared between this theme and the Gusto tribe: the Ritual Beast Tamers are also Psychic-types, and the Spiritual Beast monsters and their Fusions are either Pyro, Aqua or Thunder-type. In fact, one of the Ritual Beast Tamers looks very familiar: Elder of the Ritual Beast Tamers is thought to be the older Kamui, Hope of Gusto. The accessories and apparel worn by the characters are also very similar as well.

Their Fusion Monsters can only be summoned via Contact Fusion, with their required materials being any combination of one Spiritual Beast and a Ritual Beast Tamer. Their relationship, for now, is symbiotic...or was, apparently until the darkness descended upon the Duel Monster realm.

How to Eat Your Friends And Enslave Peoples
Until I actually did research into the Wendigo, I always assumed that it was a gigantic beast like in Marvel comics, but it turns out the Wendigo takes on a much different form in the progenitive lore. While both are equally terrifying, the Wendigo's origins are native to the Algonquin speaking people of North America. The tales state that it's the embodiment of all the fears and horrors that a person traveling alone in the forest would experience. It's the feeling of dread you feel when you're alone in the darkness; the “thing” that watches you, or that you see out of the corner of your eye as a gleam of tooth, eye, or claw in your periphery. It's the madness creeping into you.

It was said that the Wendigo was a shapeshifter, something that the Ritual Beast archetype emulate on a game mechanic level. All of the Fusion materials needed for their Fusion monsters have no requirements beyond one Ritual Beast Tamer and one Ritual Beast. That means you can use any Spiritual Beast and any Ritual Beast Tamer to make any “Ritual Beast Ulti-” monster regardless of the images displayed on the card. So essentially lions can become dolphins. Apparently.

The Wendigo was merciless, uncaring for the lives of mortals and regarding them with an icy heartlessness that cared naught for social status or fortune. I think we're beginning to see a connection between the concept of nephesh, the Wendigo and the Shaddoll by now. Wendigo were notorious for stalking their prey and could even attack their victims psychically in their dreams.

 El Shaddoll Wendigo
$1.47
$0.40
$0.09
El Shaddoll Wendigo95473
Set Secrets of Eternity
Number SECE-EN047
Level 6
Type Fusion/Effect
Monster Psychic
Attribute WIND 
A / D 200 / 2800
Rarity Super Rare
Card Text

1 "Shaddoll" monster + 1 WIND monster
Must first be Fusion Summoned. During either player's turn: You can target 1 monster you control; this turn, it cannot be destroyed by battle with an opponent's Special Summoned monster. You can only use this effect of "El Shaddoll Wendigo" once per turn. If this card is sent to the Graveyard: You can target 1 "Shaddoll" Spell/Trap Card in your Graveyard; add it to your hand.


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One very prominent description given in my many books is that its body was thin and skeletal, symbolic of starvation with corpse-like features, including missing toes and fingers as well as half-eaten flesh. Wendigo are synonymous with cannibalism, something of great fear in North American native communities of the past especially when the winter months were so harsh, and food so scarce. It was believed by some that those who were ostracized from their communities, who turned to cannibalism, would transform into Wendigos.

Cannibalism in general was thought to transform one into a Wendigo, and horrifyingly enough, Wendigos could transform others into Wendigos similar to the curse of a werewolf or vampire. Sadly, those who were transformed would be fully conscious of what they were doing but unable to control themselves.

Here's where the Ritual Beast Tamer and its mount invoke Wendigo lore. Afflicted and consumed by the Shaddoll shadows, these two become Shaddoll monsters themselves, much like the curse of the Wendigo. The Shaddoll shadows transfigure, infect and transform their hosts just like the Wendigo curse, and is reminiscent of the Evilswarm virus from many sets ago. As mentioned above, El Shaddoll Winda – part of the Gusto Tribe and the predecessor to the Ritual Beast Tribe – shares many traits with this monster.

The Wendigo's said to be practically impervious to mortal weapons and nigh-indestructible; one of the only ways to kill it was to melt its cold heart. Obviously, El Shaddoll Wendigo's effect is a reflection of the original creature this monster's based upon, Ritual Beast Ulti-Petolfin. Both of these monsters are identical in Level, type and stats and share a similar effect that resists destruction: El Shaddoll Wendigo prevents any one monster you control from being destroyed through battle by an opponent's Special Summoned monster, while Ritual Beast Ulti-Petolfin prevents itself from being destroyed by card effects (and differs in that it's an Aqua-type, not Psychic). These destruction effects allude to the indestructibility of the Wendigo by coincidence, but are at the same time very different from one another.

Interestingly the difference between these two monsters' types reflect the focus of the monsters in the cards, Ritual Beast Tamer and Spiritual Beast. The Shaddoll version of this monster, El Shaddoll Wendigo, is a Psychic referring to Wen the Ritual Beast Tamer. Wen's originally a Psychic before she pairs up with the Aqua-type Spiritual Beast Petolfin. Ritual Beast Ulti-Petolfin is an Aqua too. Essentially one monster represents the Psychic-type aspect and the other the Aqua-type aspect of this pair.

Here Comes Gold, Glitter'n'Gold!
Before I end this article I wanted to give a nod to Sky Cavalry Centaurea. This monster's name is a combination of the words “centaur” and “aurea”. Aurea can mean one of two things: it can mean “wind,” but more frequently means “gold” or “golden”. Not surprisingly, this monster's armored accents are golden and the wind aspect is probably represented in its ability to fly, and its association with the sky.

I hope you enjoyed today's article on the new Shaddoll cards released in Secrets of Eternity. These two cards were some of the most fascinating and revealing I've researched in a very long time. As a final note, does anyone else believe that Performapal Partnaga should have been named Performapal Handaconda? Maybe it's just me...See you again very soon!

-Franco Ferrara


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