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Why are certain Yu-gi-oh! cards abbreviated in unusual and inconsistent ways?

A number of Yu-gi-oh! cards have unusual, inconsistent abbreviations in their card names that stand out.

Perhaps the most notable is the Lord of D.:

Lord of D.

This card abbreviates the word which is clearly supposed to represent "dragon" without apparent reason for doing so. The word is definitely not too long to fit - other card names can testify to that. The word itself is also not taboo - it appears in the names of other cards, as well as in it's own body text in describing a creature type (Dragon-Type, a core creature type).

Speaking of dragons, another example comes in the form of the Red Eyes B. Dragon. Here, the word "black" has been abbreviated. Again, proof that the name wouldn't have been too long otherwise can be seen by comparing it to the Blue Eyes White Dragon, which is slightly longer in its first word and identical in length in the third word in question. The name "Red-Eyes Black Dragon" is also spoken aloud prominently in the show, as it is a trademark card held by main character Joey Wheeler.

Perhaps the most awkward is the card, "The A. Forces." In this particular case, I can not even tell what this letter stands for despite analyzing the context (perhaps its the same word as the one found here? Joking, of course, but that would actually give it a reason to be censored!)

What is the reasoning behind this haphazard abbreviating of seemingly random words on these cards?

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That is sooooo weird. –  Alex P Jan 18 '13 at 5:30
    
Not familiar with Yu-Gi-Oh, but how do they determine what creature type a card is? On Magic cards, the type is clearly spelled out by "Creature - Dragon." If Yu-Gi-Oh bases it on the name of the card, this card helps your other Dragons, but is not actually a Dragon itself, because it doesn't (technically) have "Dragon" in it's name. –  Discord Jan 18 '13 at 14:24
    
@Discord good guess, but that's not the case. The creature type is the first thing listed in the bold brackets, i.e. "Spellcaster". –  Southpaw Hare Jan 19 '13 at 0:26
    
Are you sure it isn't supposed to be Lord of Darkness instead of ... Dragons? That would explain the censored D. –  SQB Feb 21 at 11:52
    
@ATS Quite certain. All of the abbreviated names are spoken in their uncensored forms in the show - he is clearly called "The Lord of Dragons." It is also the meaning of his untranslated name, and also relates to his card effect (which effects dragons). –  Southpaw Hare Feb 21 at 14:08
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2 Answers

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As strange as it sometimes comes through, Yu-Gi-Oh! Cards are commonly being censored for the western market, not only visually, but also in text. One prominent example is the renaming of "Magic Cards" to "Spell Cards" shortly after the release of the third set "Magic Ruler", which was released as "Spell Ruler" in Europe. This renaming is probably due to Wizards of the Coast complaining about the similarity to their own game's name ("Magic the Gathering") and possibly even threatening legal action.

Notably, Konami was very strict in removing sexual, cultural, religious and political references as much as possible, but also several cases of copyright driven censoring (like the Magic thing mentioned above). Examples include

  • Premature Burial, Injection Fairy Lily or The Cheerful Coffin (the originals had cross symbols in their pictures, religious reference),
  • Sangan (who was originally called "Critter", which was too close to the unrelated "Critters" franchise/brand),
  • Tragedy (the original showed a Guillotine, which refers to European and notably French history as a symbol of the cruelty during the French Revolution) as well as
  • countless girlish characters whose clothes and bodily features were "adjusted" (most well-known example for this is Dark Magician Girl).

There are many, many more examples.

As for your examples:

  • Lord of Dragons doesn't seem to be offensive, so it's either a copyright thing (there are several "Dragon Lord" brands in gaming and entertainment) or one of the few cases where the name was already abbreviated in the OCG for style reasons. @Discord's guess is actually not that far off, avoiding the reference to the Dragon-type might actually have been a reason so as not to confuse the children this game was targeted at.
  • Red-Eyes B. Dragon is interestingly the only one (well, the only family) where they did it by abbreviating, but the word Black was entirely stripped from Yu-Gi-Oh!. I have no idea why they did this, but up to this day, nearly every single instance of the word Black has been categorically censored. Dark Magician, Dark Hole, Dark Magician Girl, Dark Magician of Chaos and many more all had the Black instead of the Dark when they were first released in Japan. Some of Red-Eyes' cousins share the transition to "Dark" (Red-Eyes Darkness (Metal) Dragon), some don't (Red-Eyes B. Chick). As far as I know, the only exceptions to the Black censorship are all objects without soul (such as Pitch-Black Power Stone), which supports the theory that this censorship is intended to avoid references to skin colour (as pointed out by @SQB).
  • The A. Forces, as has been noted by @ire_and_curses, is a reference to the Allied Forces, which is a term used to describe Germany's enemies during World War II (specifically, the USA, the UK, France and Russia), who ended up winning the war and dividing Germany, leading to a long history of cultural, economical and political tension known as the Cold War. The term has also been used in other military contexts, but always in conjunction with war.
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I just saw you opened a bounty while I was typing. Unfortunately, your "Looking for an answer drawing from credible and/or official sources." can't be fulfilled. For more or less obvious reasons, official sources tend to keep silent about censorship and their reasons. :-P –  scenia Feb 19 at 16:15
    
At least, I think this should be a pretty complete answer and you can use the examples I included to kind of confirm the credibility of my claims. Sorry I can't give you more than examples :/ –  scenia Feb 19 at 16:17
    
That's ok, this is a very good answer. And it does indeed cite some sources, so I think that comes close to being authoritative. –  Southpaw Hare Feb 19 at 16:18
    
"I have no idea why they [stripped 'black' entirely from Yu-Gi-Oh!]." Actually, as you note that "the only exceptions the the Black censorship are all objects without soul", could it be that they wanted to avoid black as being thought of as referring to skin colour? –  SQB Feb 21 at 14:14
    
That's a very interesting theory. This might actually be the reason. Nice catch :) –  scenia Feb 21 at 21:23
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Great question! Unfortunately, I don't have a complete answer. According to the Yu-Gi-Oh! Wikia:

Some cards have been released in the TCG with shortened or abbreviated names. A major reason for this was that the names were too long unabbreviated, and Upper Deck Entertainment had not yet figured out the smaller card name font for long names, but other reasons include stylistic choices and occasionally because the card name was also abbreviated in the OCG.

Not an entirely satisfactory explanation, particularly for card names such as Lord of D. which as you say, clearly fit on the card. I'm guessing in these cases it's just a somewhat bizarre stylistic choice (it is anime, after all...).

As a side note, "The A. Forces" is short for "The Allied Forces".

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A decent find in terms of research, but I don't buy the explanation that they give. The Blue-Eyes White Dragon is one of the oldest cards in the set - In fact, it's from the original set, fittingly titled "Legend of Blue-Eyes White Dragon". Even then, they were using the compressed font to fit in long names, so that reason doesn't line up. As for "style"... maybe? That's hard to prove one way or the other. –  Southpaw Hare Jan 18 '13 at 5:28
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