Yu-gi-oh seems like nothing more than just another shameless marketing ploy aimed at middle-class youth. Well, maybe I don't give Bandai enough credit. They've taken merchandising to a whole new level with this one...

It used to be, if a tv show or movie was successful, the production company would flood toy store shelves with merchandise based on the production. But now, it seems that the process has been reversed. Yu-gi-oh is a show about a trading card game along the lines of Pokemon or Magic the Gathering --imagine that. The advantage now is that, marketing people for lack of a better term, no longer need to think of fun and appealing merchanise that tie into the production, the show producer has already taken care of that.

The entire cartoon show has the marketing processes, and the planned merchandise in mind. So, in effect, the show is just a marketing device, sort of a preparation for the release of the trading card game.

So what's the flaw in this if there is one? Well from the producer's point of view, this merely replaced one obstacle with another. Now instead of marketng having to devise sellable merchandise that ties into the show, the show producers are stuck with the dilemma of devising a sellable plot that will also glamorize planned merchandise.

So the real advantage is just that it's a lot easier to sell a crappy cartoon to little kids than dumb toys to their parents. Kids will watch anything animated and broadcasted after nap time.

Ikura notes that transformers toys may have been the first example of this type of marketing campaign, but since the actual toys were designed before the cartoon was aired perhaps the cartoon only spawned from the success of the toys as a way to raise extra revenue and not so much to prepare the market for the toys.