Jon Finkel is a god among Magic nerds. He’s in the Magic: The Gathering hall of fame, he’s won Pro Tours and world championships, and he was the subject of the 2005 biography Jonny Magic and the Card Shark Kids.
On Japanese social media, though, he’s suddenly part of a very strange meme. Apparently, some Japanese fans are joking about Finkel being kind of “moe”—an anime fandom term for something precious, cute and feminine, in a way that inspires affection. So they’ve started posting meme pics comparing him to Kaede Takagaki, a sexy top idol from the video game and anime franchise Idolmaster.
But how is Finkel the same as Kaede? It’s not the physical resemblance: If anything, the obvious humor of the meme is that the two look nothing alike. Here are the possible reasons, as near as I could figure out from Google Translate and Idolmaster fan sites:
First, the idol characters in Idolmaster: Cinderella Girls are represented as trading cards in a Magic-esque collectible card game, with various cards at different levels of rarity. So there’s the Magic connection. Loose as it might be, it explains all the pics of Kaede holding cards.
But why Finkel, and why Kaede? Well, they’re both the “final bosses” and top idols of their respective arenas. In the Idolmaster anime, Kaede is the experienced, mega-popular idol that the younger girls look up to—much as Finkel is the most-cited role model for new Magic players.
Oh, and Finkel is also one of the few competitors in Magic history to appear on his own card. (Unlike Kaede’s though, it’s a not a super-rare.)
Now it all makes sense. Well, as much as anything like this is going to make sense.
Finkel and his professional Magic friends have discovered the popularity of Pretty Sailor Finkel-Senpai, Japanese Pop Idol, and they seem to be loving it.
Meanwhile, others just want Finkel-senpai to notice them.
Good game, Japan. Well played.