This is not a language-related post, but I wanted to write it, anyway.
I just finished reading Rick Riordan’s The Throne of Fire, which rekindled an old interest in ancient Egypt and its mythology; an interest that was a huge part of why I liked Yu-Gi-Oh! (a Japanese anime that focuses on a trading card game that sometimes has world-changing stakes) as a teen, and why I re-watched it a couple years ago.
The more I think about the Egyptian God Card オシリスの天空龍 (Oshirisu no Tenkuuryuu, Osiris’s Sky Dragon, “Slifer the Sky Dragon”), the less sense it makes to me as an “Egyptian God Card”. First of all, its English name “Slifer” has zero connection to Egypt or the gods, so that was just stupid. Changing this card’s name from Osiris in the Japanese version to Slifer in the American one as a tribute to Roger Slifer, the show’s executive producer of the show’s American version was strange to me; no connection to Egypt whatsoever.
But let’s go back to the god connected to this awesome-looking dragon in the Japanese version. Osiris was king of the underworld, so why would he have a sky dragon?! He was the god of resurrection and regeneration, but the dragon’s powers (strength determined by how many cards the user has in his hand, and a second mouth that saps the strength of/destroys enemy monsters when they’re summoned) have zero connection to any of these attributes, as far as I can see.
Of course, a huge-ass dragon is pretty awesome. But they could easily have made it a reference to Hapi the god of the Nile (long-ass river, huge-ass dragon), Sobek a crocodile-headed god (reptilian), Horus a falcon-headed god (god of the sky, and sometimes depicted in Egyptian art as a falcon, which has wings like the monster does)…
So many possibilities. Wasted.
But then, オベリスクの巨神兵 (Oberisuku no Kyoshinhei, The Giant God Soldier of [the] Obelisk, “Obelisk the Tormenter”) makes little more sense. The only connection I can see between an obelisk and the monster is that they were both big (though it wasn’t the biggest of the three God Monsters by any stretch of the imagination). It’s the 巨神兵, the giant-god-soldier, after all. Obelisks not considered gods in themselves, and were were actually connected to Ra, so why was “obelisk” chosen at all, I wonder…
ラーの翼神竜 (Ra no Rokushinryuu, Winged [God] Dragon of Ra) makes the most sense. Ra was the king of the gods, so it makes sense that this monster is the most powerful.
It has a “phoenix mode” activated when it is brought back from the “card graveyard”, which connects to the fact that Ra was a sun god, and died and came back to life every day. (Granted, the phoenix is more of a Greco-Roman mythological creature than an Egyptian one, but there’s apparently some reason to believe it is connected to the Bennu, the spirit [ba] of Ra, a sun-bird deity connected to rebirth and creation.)
The monster even has a spherical mode, which refers quite nicely to the circular/spherical nature of the sun, and the sun disk on Ra’s head.
The only way that the Egyptian God Cards make sense to me is if you think of all three of them as aspects of Ra: obelisks symbolised frozen rays of the sun, and, of course, Ra, as sun god, travels through the sky in the day.
You know, given the fact that there are three God Monsters that could only be controlled by the pharaoh (the king) in the show, they could have chosen to have all three god-kings: Ra, king of gods; Horus, the king of Egypt; Osiris, king of the afterlife.
But hey, a lot of things about the show break down when you think about them. Like: Why does Yuugi go everywhere in his school uniform?! I still love the show, though!