Seeing my 12-year-old cousin obsessed with the new treasure that he handled daily piqued my curiosity. I found out it was a collection of cards based on stories from Japanese “manga” comics.
Anxious to get the complete set, he saved up money; begging his parents and older siblings, and looking for ways to sell his other valuables (including his marbles, a top, a kite and even a dove.
The much-desired cards are permeated with magic; they are full of amazing lights that -though occasionally shining opaquely from their constant handling- remind one of videos made with movement and color.
Nothing can stir the imagination more than red and blue-eyed dragons, slithery snakes, time-traveling magicians, dungeon sentries, horned and winged monsters, battle-ready warriors or figures from the light and dark side.
It’s a new way to admire the unified beauty of “force and power” -their basic function- with lines traced with rhythm and technological capacity provided in these post-modern times by computerization.
Everyday my cousin comes home from school anxious to finish his homework, eat, take a bath and receive the attention his parents insist on giving on him, in order to finally hold up in some corner of his room or on his bed to devote all of his uninterrupted youthful thoughts to admiring those drawings, as well as comparing the powers of each character to the other.
Likewise, he tries to get an idea of which ones he’s lacking or which one would make strategic sense to buy next time. Like in confrontations that seem so real on the screen, he imagines battles between them and determines which is best.
Surrounded by the card’s quiet violence, he lives within himself, watching shows on TV that he would want to complete, as the combats evidence: “Now I’ll finish you with my zombies,” or the manner in which they speak: “Die from my lethal blaze” and “Your stars will be mine,” or to be like the boy in his class -the most admired of all- who has a computer and lots of these types of games and videos.
My cousin sometimes seems glum and dejected. Each time he enters or leaves the house, in his pockets can be noticed a small bulge or something of similar size hidden in his hands. On those occasions he returns with his head down and sits somewhere with his knees against his chest, his attention absent, his thoughts escaping from time to time through the window.
Yet other times he comes back jumping up and down, one foot up and the other down, two jumps on the right foot then two jumps on the left.
His mother yells, “Albin! Stop bouncing all around, you’re going to break the knick-knacks in the front room,” but he only puts his hand in his pocket and pulls out a new card. “Mom, I got it! Now I have it! – though his family doesn’t always quite share his ecstasy.