We were left speechless at the cards’ final resale value.

Pokémon cards are selling like hotcakes right now in Japan. There seems to be a shortage of them everywhere, and I had to visit three Pokémon Centers last month before I was lucky enough to find one where the newest expansion packs weren’t sold out.

Our Japanese-language reporter Yuichiro Wasai calls himself the “novice of novices” when it comes to Pokémon cards. However, he’d heard the rumors of the cards being super popular, too, and it just so happened that a friend who traveled to Singapore recently gifted him with 15 cards as a souvenir in the hopes that he could write an article about them. This friend had purchased the cards from a vending machine that was selling packs of Japanese-language cards, and also shared the photos of the machine seen below.

Yuichiro’s friend thought that seeing all of the rows packed full of cards would feel like hitting the jackpot for many fans.

It was hard to imagine a shortage of cards with so many here, but Yuichiro figured that certain packs must be rarer than others. Maybe these ones in Singapore are also fairly easy to get in Japan. On the other hand, wouldn’t it be exciting if they were hard to get at home! Since he himself didn’t know anything about them, he figured he needed a pro to evaluate them.

First, though, here’s a little more info about the specific cards that his friend had gifted him. He received three expansion packs, which come with five cards each in Japan. The first one was from the Violet ex series and cost 8 Singapore dollars (about 870 yen/US$5.90).

The second one was from the Ruler of the Black Flame series and cost 7 Singapore dollars.

The third one was from the Triplet Beat series and also cost 7 Singapore dollars.

Here were the results of opening each respective pack:

▼ Violet ex pack

▼ Ruler of the Black Flame pack

▼ Triple Beat pack

Of all of the Pokémon he scored, he recognized only three of them: Magikarp, Altaria, and Scizor. It was a little bit nostalgic for him to remember hopping on the Pokémon GO bandwagon for a while a few years back, but now he was struck by an insatiable curiosity about how much he could sell them for.

▼ He thought that Pokémon cards might just make the perfect souvenir–they’re fun to open and easy to carry in luggage.

Along those lines, after getting the permission of his friend, Yuichiro headed to resale collectible goods chain Mandarake in Tokyo’s Nakano Broadway shopping complex. He wasn’t planning on necessarily selling them–he just really wanted to know how much they were worth. He had no concept of what that might be, but at the very least, he thought he’d break even of what his friend paid in total. He’d even read online about how people were being hired to steal hundreds of cards, so maybe he could afford to get his hopes up a little.

As he walked to Mandarake’s entrance, he couldn’t help but lose himself in thoughts of his upcoming fortune. What would he do with 100 million yen? Heck, he’d happily settle for 10 million yen. He should probably split it evenly with his friend, then treat his family to a month-long vacation in Hawaii.

Once inside, he proceeded to give his name and address, then waited his turn in line. When called, he then handed over his cards for evaluation. There wasn’t anything to do while waiting, so he looked around the store at the displays of rare cards. He was astonished to see that one could buy a new car, and still have money leftover, for some of the displayed prices.

Finally, his cards’ value was assigned. How much were these 15 cards that had been bought overseas worth?

…The answer was 50 yen (US$0.34).

Yuichiro is now convinced that his brain broke when he saw that number. All neural activity sputtered to a stop as he stared blankly at the paper.

On top of that, he was told that only one of the cards was sellable–the Miraidon ex card. According to the worker, this particular card was also worth a little bit more not too long ago, but this is what it was worth at the present time. The store wouldn’t even buy the other 14 cards from him. It turned out that there wasn’t a single distinctively special thing about these cards his friend had bought in Singapore.

He still couldn’t muster up the brain waves to say anything other than, “OK, I’ll take it.” He held out his palm and a 50-yen coin was dropped into it.

At this point, Yuuichiro is still attempting to console himself every day that at least he had an experience that money can’t buy. Still though, it’s hard not to think enviously about why he couldn’t have gotten that one card worth an unfathomable amount of money.

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[ Read in Japanese ]