The card-collecting fad, the second stage of a Japanese brainwashing experiment to see if kids gullible enough to fall for “Pokemon” will remain suckers for a few years longer, is now a minor motion picture. “Yu-Gi-Oh!” is exactly what you’d expect -a 90-minute ad for new cards in the latest kiddie con job to float over from Tokyo.

Something evil is manipulating the epic magic card game between card-dueling master Yugi Moto and his nemesis Kaiba. It is sneaking all these loopy-cool “god cards” into what is essentially a game of “War” where the rules change according to the marketing department’s need to sell new cards to the children of parents who are, no doubt, owners of swampland and Beanie Babies and deeds to the Brooklyn Bridge.

Gullible, you know, doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Could that something evil be an ancient Egyptian god of the underworld? Or Warner Brothers, American purveyors of this poison?

The animation is barely animated, the dialogue is all “Shadow creatures, BE GONE! I command you! Return to the dark realm from which you came!”

But really, it’s all about the cards and having a card your opponent has never heard of, each new one with the amazing power to separate you from your money.

So take little Julie and little Johnny today. The theater is dark. You won’t be able to look into their eyes and see them getting dumber by the second.

And they won’t be old enough for Gambler’s Anonymous for a couple of years yet.


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