Japanese in Yu-Gi-Oh 101: Lesson 2 – Effect Monsters & Summonings

Hi guys. Welcome to this second article of the ongoing series Japanese in Yu-Gi-Oh 101. Last week, we mentioned about the Japanese katakana and hiragana writing systems, as well as being introduced to all the main different types of Monsters in the game. This week, we are looking a bit deeper into the different subtypes of Effect Monsters, what to say when doing a Summon, as well as a simple introduction to Spells/Traps which would be covered in detail in the next article.

Part I: Effect Monster Subtypes

So in the previous article, I mentioned that Effects are written as 効果(こうか, koukain Japanese, and therefore the phrase 効果モンスター literally means “Effect Monsters”. But there are so many various subtypes of Effect Monsters: Tuner, Flip, Toon etc. How do we know which subtype a random Effect Monster refers to?

Luckily, in a similar fashion to TCG English cards, the OCG side do label the subtype a monster belongs to on their cards. In the TCG, the subtype is found in the pair of bolded brackets before the effect text, in the format: 【Type/Effect Monster Subtype/Effect】. An example is Magic Undertaker:

Japanese cards also follow the same format, for instance Superheavy Samurai Horagai-E below (Effect Monster subtype is annotated in a red rectangle below):

Do take note that if a monster is an Effect Monster that is also a Synchro, Xyz, Fusion, Ritual or Pendulum monster, the respective Japanese terms (as we’ve learnt last week) will be written inside where the red rectangle is.

Anyway, the first subtype is チューナー (chuunaa), which hopefully as you would have guessed from its pronunciation, refers to Tuner Monsters. An example for this would be Superheavy Samurai Horagai-E above, so I won’t go into that.

In fact, you would have noticed that identifying a subtype for an Effect Monster is very, very easy, as long as you have learnt the katakana in Japanese well. All of these subtypes are borrowed words from English, and therefore are all written in katakana:

  • リバース (rebaasu) is a borrowed word meaning “Reverse”, and it means Flip Monsters.
  • ユニオン (yunionn) means Union Monsters.
  • トゥーン (toonn) means Toon Monsters.
  • デュアル (dhuaru) is a borrowed word meaning “Dual”, and is means Gemini Monsters.
  • スピリット (supiritto) means Spirit Monsters.

As a quick recap, remember all these subtypes of Effect Monsters is found on cards in the same positions as TCG English cards.

Part II: Summonings

To go into this, we would need to be familiar with two Japanese particles – and . は is normally read as ha, but when used grammatically as a particle, it’s pronunciation changes to wa. を follows the same way, normally being read as wo, but changes to when used as a particle.

The function of は is as a subject marker. A simple Japanese sentence that follows the pattern “<Noun A> は <Noun B> です” is translated to “A is/are/am B”. Recall that the term 私(わたし, watashi) means “I”. The new term 学生(がくせい, gakusei) means “student”. Using the pattern above, the sentence:


means “I am a student”.

But that is the affirmative form of the sentence pattern. To show the negative, all we need to do is to change です to ではありません. So the sentence:


simply means “I am not a student”.

What about を? を is an object marker. In English, the sentence such as “I eat rice” follows the pattern “<Subject> <Verb> <Object>“. Japanese has a similar pattern, but the arrangement of the words are reversed instead, which goes “<Subject>  <Object>  <Verb>”. 

In relation to the topic in question, we are going to be introduced to the verb 召喚します(しょうかんします, shoukannshimasu). It means  “to summon”. Using the sentence pattern above, we obtain the sentence:


which would mean “I summon a Monster”.

Of course, in all 3 of the sentence patterns above, you can replace the Subject, Object and Verb with anything you like, so long as the sentence makes full logical sense.

Part III: Spells/Traps Introduction

This third part is merely a simple introduction to Spell and Trap cards, which would be covered more in detail in the next article.

Spell Cards are green-bordered cards, and in Japanese they are called 魔法カード(まほうカード, mahou kaado). Sometimes you would have noticed in the Yu-Gi-Oh anime, people do not called them as such and instead use the katakana phrase, マジックカード (majikku kaado), which essentially means the same things. This is perhaps because the demographics of the anime are usually small kids who have yet to learn a lot of kanji, and so using katakana would be easier for them to understand.

An example of a Spell Card would be Monster Reborn, which is as shown below:

Trap Cards are called 罠カード(わなカード, wana kaado) in Japanese. Similar to Spell Cards, Trap Cards can also be referred to トラップカード (torappu kaado) for easier understanding.

Spell and Trap cards also have effects, so how do we refer to their effects? Recall that in the last article, we discussed the possessive particle の and the term 効果 meaning effect. So the noun expression マジックカードの効果 would mean “Spell Card’s effect” and トラップカードの効果 means “Trap Card’s effect”.

Since we are on the topic of grammar, you can also use the 3 sentence patterns you learnt above in the context of Spell and Trap Cards too! For instance, we have these two sentences:


So what does it mean? The subject in the first sentence is the card 「ギャクタン」, which is Wiretap. The first sentence means “Wiretap is not a Spell Card”. Since the first sentence is negative, there is a second sentence behind it to state the affirmative and clarify exactly what kind of card Wiretap is. We can omit the subject in the second sentence since it’s redundant, and therefore the second sentence means “It is a Trap Card”.

Moving on, I would like to introduce another verb commonly used in Yu-Gi-Oh, 発動します(はつどうします, hatsudoushimasu), and this verb means “to activate”.  In Yu-Gi-Oh, the effects of monsters, spells and traps can be activated, but how do we express that in a Japanese sentence?

Remember the 3rd sentence pattern that we are introduced above: “<Subject>  <Object>  <Verb>”. Since we are doing the action of activating an effect, simply insert “I” into <Subject>, “to activate” into <Verb>, and for <Object>, just put in the noun expression: “X’s effect”, where X can be the Japanese term for “Monster Card”, “Spell Card” or “Trap Card”. It becomes fairly simple once you grasp these basic sentence patterns.

And that’s it for today’s lesson! Hope you guys all enjoyed it and if you have any questions, feel free to put down in the comment section below. Some revision practice questions are available below with answers (highlight for the answers by dragging your mouse at the end of every question), which you can do it for fun and at your own time.

Next lesson, we are going through the types of Spell/Trap Cards and Attributes so do stay tuned! Thanks!


Q1. What is the subtype of the Effect Monster shown in the image below?

Answer: Flip Monster

Q2. Translate the following sentences into Japanese:

  • X is not a Synchro Monster. It is an Xyz Monster.
  • I summon a Pendulum Monster.


  • Xはシンクロモンスターではありません。エクシズモンスターです。
  • 私はペンデュラムモンスターを召喚します。

Q3. You wish to declare that you are activating the effect of a Spell Card. How do you do so in Japanese?

Answer: 私は魔法カード(マジックカード)の効果を発動します。

Q4. (This question is a revision question for both this lesson and last article’s lesson)

This is a Monster Card used by a character from the Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V anime. Look at this card carefully and answer the questions that follow.

(a) Pronounce the name of this Monster Card in Japanese.
(b) What type of Monster Card is this? Answer in Japanese.
(c) What do you say in Japanese if you wish to activate the effect of this monster?

Answer: (a) せいせんじゅつきタロットレイ
(b) 儀式モンスター (Ritual Monster)
(c) 私は「せいせんじゅつきタロットレイ」のモンスター効果を発動します。


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