Throughout its nearly 30-year history, Magic: the Gathering has not been immune to controversy. Recently, the Universes Beyond cards and the heavily bogged down 30th Anniversary Edition drew the ire of the community. Prior to this, players had been arguing over the reserved roster for decades! Given how much the MTG community loves to complain, it seemed almost certain that Jumpstart 2022 would cause some serious issues with its animated maps.
In recent sets, Wizards of the Coast has been seriously experimenting with their Booster Fun frames and art styles. For example, Dominaria United had gorgeous stained-glass maps, Unfinity had striking retro-pop maps, and Streets of New Capenna had art deco-infused Booster Fun frames. Jumpstart 2022, however, took recent experimentation a step further with anime-inspired Booster Fun cards. With some of the art completely out of place next to traditional MTG maps, MTG fans were expected to go to start up. In reality, however, now that Jumpstart 2022 spoiler season has begun, MTG players are surprisingly fond of anime map art.
Beloved Booster Fun
Following the initial revelation of Coldsteel Heart Back in October, MTG gamers weren’t quite sure what to make of the anime-inspired art style. Some players were shamelessly interested, but others just swerved and joked about the map’s striking new art. Once again the spoilers have started to arrive, along with the new Booster Fun frame. However, interest in art only grew. Next spectral sailor, for example, players like u/Umbra888 admitted that Wizards were onto something. “As a pirate and anime fan spirits player, I am the target audience. It’s good.”
Somewhat miraculously, that excitement hasn’t waned now that more of Jumpstart 2022’s anime-inspired maps have been spoiled. Flicker of FateThe anime-inspired art, for example, captured gamers’ hearts the moment it was spoiled. “Love the flavor art and text, wish this was a better sparkly map,” u/GolfWhole commented via Reddit. Bouncing off that comment, u/Tyroki joked that “this is misquoted. It should be, ‘Sure, I have nine lives, but that doesn’t mean I want to waste one right now. Desu.’”
Thanks to their uniquely flavored text supporting the artwork, jokes like these have been heard throughout the MTG community on Reddit. User u/Atakori, for example, pointed out that Eidolon of Rhetoric‘s” flavor text [is] directly telling us that people lose to this animated girl because they have to touch the grass. Adding more levity to the Reddit post, u/Pola2020 quipped, “how to make the Stax experience even more miserable: force the adversary to watch anime girls.” Despite all these jokes at their expense, players aren’t outraged by the art. Instead, players like u/PrinnyParis are happy to use them, stating, “I own the non-weeb version. Ngl though, I would actually use it.
Why all the love?
While most gamers seemed happy with the bold Booster Fun frames, it’s understandable that not all MTG gamers were too enthusiastic. On the Eidolon of Rhetoric post, for example, u/apophis457 stated emphatically, “these anime cards are getting obnoxious.” Similarly, u/Chijima also said, “wow, that’s… not for me.” While damning, these reviews were nearly drowned out by the legions of excited fans. In fact, the negativity only seemed to arise around Magnifying glassdeemed “painfully generic” by some players.
Of course, it’s clear that this art isn’t for everyone, which begs the question, why isn’t it viciously ripped? Other cars have been condemned by the community for much less, after all. Many Universes Beyond cards, for example, feature artwork that matches MTG’s overall tone and style much better. just look Hierophant Bio-Titan from the Tyranid Swarm Warhammer 40,000 deck, for example. Sure, he’s got a saw blade for an arm, but he doesn’t look out of place next to Skyfisher Spider. Even cards like Goliath Truck don’t look out of place in MTG thanks to the increased power of vehicles.
Ultimately, however, there is one major detail that separates Jumpstart 2022’s Booster Fun art and Universes Beyond’s Warhammer styles; reprints. In Jumpstart 2022, each of the cards receiving the Booster Fun treatment are reprints, making them an optional extra that players can take advantage of if they choose. Warhammer 40,000 cards, meanwhile, feature 168 unique new mechanic cards that players can’t find anywhere else. This means players have no choice but to use Imotekh the Storm Lord if they want that card’s specific mechanic.
A two player game
While it’s understandable that players don’t want to use cards with art they don’t like, there’s a major flaw in this argument. Magic: the Gathering is a multiplayer game, so you don’t just play and interact with your own cards. This ultimately means that if your opponent wants to play the anime-inspired rendition of Balan, knight-errantyou have no choice but to watch it.
Even beyond the maps themselves, MTG players have been free to express their own style with a myriad of customization options. When we joke about Eidolon of Rhetoric, for example, u/MediocreBeard pointed out that there are other ways to inflict anime on your opponents in MTG. “For more pain, also use anime sleeves. The back of the card? Anime. The face of the card? Anime. The playmat? Anime.” Ultimately, these customization options exist in Magic for years, whether or not players like playing in front of them.
Unfortunately for fans of the anime-inspired artwork, it’s currently unknown if they’re coming to MTG Arena. Unfortunately, since Jumpstart 2022 isn’t coming to the digital client, chances are the art won’t either.
Read more: MTG Jumpstart 2022 Reprint Causes $50 HRE Card Crash!