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MTG Outlaws of Thunder Junction’s crossover with Cowboy Bebop is perfect, inspired, no notes.

A faithful reproduction of the anime's opening segment manages to find space for a wild west wagon and Oko's elk mount.

Oko as Spike Spiegel in MTG Outlaws of Thunder Junction's crossover with Cowboy Bebop
Image credit: Wizards of the Coast/Sunrise

Outlaws of Thunder Junction, the new cowboys and cacti set from Magic: The Gathering will incorporate a different type of outlaw in its official crossover with beloved anime series Cowboy Bebop. A new trailer remixes the original opening, substituting the main cast with MTG characters Oko, Rakdos, Vraska and Tinybones in a genuinely incredible and hilarious reproduction.

The near one-to-one mirroring of Cowboy Bebop’s intro, still scored to Tank! by the Seatbelts, isn’t just a fun homage but promotional material for a collaboration with anime production studio Sunrise. Players in Japan only (sorry, rest of the world) can earn the chance to snag neoprene playmats and card sleeves featuring the four aforementioned heist members, illustrated in Cowboy Bebop’s signature style. Each member stands in for one of the main crew aboard the Bebop: Oko fills in for Spike Spiegel, Rakdos for Jet Black, Vraska for Faye Valentine and chaotic skeleton Tinybones is a fantastic fill-in for Edward Wong Hau Pepelu Tivrusky IV, aka Ed. Oko’s lost son Kellan even shows up briefly.

The collaboration will take part across three campaigns, the first of which runs from April 26th, 2024 and March 31st, 2025. Any player who purchases more than ¥3,000 (nearly $20) of unopened MTG cards will receive one of five postcards featuring the new artwork (the fifth piece is a shot from the trailer replacing Spike’s gun with one of Thunder Junction’s totally-not-a-gun light blades wielded by Kellan). One thousand postcards will instead be a winning ticket that awards playmats and sleeves, instead.

How to Play Magic: The Gathering | A beginner's guide to the rules and deck-building Watch on YouTube

The second campaign hasn’t yet been announced, but there’s a good chance it involves actual MTG cards decorated with the gorgeous new artwork. An unverified image of five such cards has been floating around forums and social media in the wake of the trailer’s drop, but neither Sunrise nor Wizards of the Coast has announced anything officially. Japan’s MTG community has enjoyed plenty of anime-styled alternate art treatments, so it would make sense given the company’s partnership with one of the most celebrated and well-known series in the world.

The third campaign will take place at the 6th Players Convention in Tokoname City, Aichi Prefecture on May 25th and 26th. This open tournament will host various competitive events where the winners will be awarded a special playmat featuring Oko, Vraska, Rakdos and Kellan in a separate piece of Cowboy Bebop-style artwork that appears to be exclusive to this tournament.

Trailer for Outlaws of Thunder Junction's crossover with Cowboy Bebop.Watch on YouTube

While I’m extremely jealous that these products won’t be available beyond Japan, it’s well worth watching the trailer if you’re a fan of the original anime. The fact that they even reproduced the resolution and blurring effects when Spike/Oko kicks across the screen shows a startling level of dedication. Substituting an unhorsed wagon for the Bebop produced a genuine chuckle from me, and while I won’t spoil it, the team found the perfect way to incorporate Oko’s elk mount.

Outlaws of Thunder Junction is available to purchase and play now, and we found the yeehaw set’s mechanical design to be extremely satisfying even as its theming felt “soulless” - what we in the South would call “all hat and no cattle”. If you’re eager to tell your own Cowboy Bebop stories on the tabletop, Mana Project Studio recently adapted the jazzy sci-fi anime into an official tabletop RPG.

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