Throughout its nearly 30 years of history, Magic: the Gathering hasn’t been immune to causing controversy. Recently, Universes Beyond cards and the much-mired 30th Anniversary Edition have been drawing the ire of the community. Before that, players had been arguing about the Reserved List for literal decades! Given how much the MTG community loves to have a good ol’ complain, it seemed almost certain that Jumpstart 2022 would cause serious problems with its anime cards.
In recent sets, Wizards of the Coast has been seriously experimenting with their Booster Fun frames and art styles. For instance, Dominaria United had gorgeous stained-glass cards, Unfinity had striking retro-pop cards, and Streets of New Capenna had vividly art deco-infused Booster Fun frames. Jumpstart 2022, however, was pushing the recent experimentation one step further with anime-inspired Booster Fun cards. With some art looking entirely out of place next to traditional MTG cards, there was the expectation that MTG fans were going to kick off. In reality, however, now that Jumpstart 2022’s spoiler season has begun, MTG players are surprisingly fond of the anime card art.
Beloved Booster Fun
Following the initial reveal of Coldsteel Heart back in October, MTG players weren’t too sure what to think about the anime-inspired art style. Some players were unabashedly interested, but others merely deflected and took to joking about the card’s striking new art. Once more, spoilers started rolling in, featuring the new Booster Fun frame. However, the interest in the art only grew. Following Spectral Sailor’s reveal, for instance, players like u/Umbra888 admitted that Wizards was on to something. “As a spirits player fan of pirates and anime, I’m the target audience. This is great.”
Somewhat miraculously, this enthusiasm hasn’t waned now that more anime-inspired cards from Jumpstart 2022 have been spoiled. Flicker of Fate’s anime-inspired art, for instance, captured the players’ hearts from the moment it was spoiled. “Love the art and flavor text, wish it was a better flicker card tho,” u/GolfWhole commented via Reddit. Bouncing off this comment, u/Tyroki joked that “this is misquoted. It should be: ‘Sure, I’ve got nine lives, but that doesn’t mean I wanna waste one right nyow. Desu.’”
Thanks to their unique flavor text supporting the artwork, jokes like these were heard throughout the MTG community on Reddit. User u/Atakori, for instance, remarked that Eidolon of Rhetoric’s “flavor text [is] straight up telling us people lose to this anime girl because they have to touch grass.” Adding more levity to the Reddit post, u/Pola2020 quipped, “how to make Stax experience even more miserable: force opponent to look at anime girls.” Despite all these jokes at their expense, players aren’t outraged at the art. Instead, players like u/PrinnyParis are excited to use them, stating, “I own the non-weeb version. Ngl though, I’d actually use this though.”
Why All the Love?
While most players seemed happy with the bold Booster Fun frames, understandably, not every MTG player was too enthused. On the Eidolon of Rhetoric post, for instance, u/apophis457 flatly stated, “these anime cards are getting obnoxious.” Similarly, u/Chijima similarly stated, “wow that’s … not for me.” While damning, these criticisms were almost drowned out by the legions of excited fans. In fact, negativity only seemed to arise around Magnifying Glass, which was deemed “painfully generic” by some players.
Evidently, it’s clear that this art isn’t for everyone, which begs the question, why isn’t it being viciously torn apart? Other cars have been condemned by the community for much less, after all. Many Universes Beyond cards, for instance, feature art that’s far more befitting of MTG’s overall tone and style. Just look at Hierophant Bio-Titan from the Tyranid Swarm Warhammer 40,000 deck, for instance. Sure it has a sawblade for an arm, but it hardly looks out of place next to Skyfisher Spider. Even cards like Goliath Truck don’t look out of place in MTG thanks to the rise of vehicles.
Ultimately, however, there is one major detail that separates Jumpstart 2022’s Booster Fun art and Universes Beyond’s Warhammer stylings; reprints. In Jumpstart 2022, each of the cards receiving the Booster Fun treatment are reprints, making them an optional extra for players to enjoy if they want to. The Warhammer 40,000 cards, on the other hand, feature 168 brand-new mechanically unique cards that players can’t find elsewhere. This means that players have no choice but to use Imotekh the Stormlord if they want that card’s specific mechanics.
A Two Player Game
While it’s understandable that players may not want to use cards with art they don’t enjoy, there is one major flaw in this argument. Magic: the Gathering is a multiplayer game, so you’re not only playing and interacting with your own cards. This ultimately means that if your opponent wants to play the anime-inspired rendition of Balan, Wandering Knight, you’ve got no choice but to look at it.
Even beyond the cards themselves, MTG players have been free to express their own style with myriad customization options. When joking about Eidolon of Rhetoric, for instance, u/MediocreBeard highlighted there are more ways to inflict anime on your opponents in MTG. “For added pain, use anime sleeves as well. The back of the card? Anime. The face of the card? Anime. The playmat? Anime.” At the end of the day, these customization options have existed in Magic for years, regardless of whether players like playing opposite them or not.
Unfortunately for fans of the anime-inspired artwork, there’s currently no word on if they’re coming to MTG Arena. Sadly, since Jumpstart 2022 is not coming to the digital client, it’s likely the art won’t either.