When Magic: The Gathering maker Wizards of the Coast said that the trading card game’s arching narrative would change in the aftermath of March of the Machine, they left that future fairly vague. The latest set, Wilds of Eldraine, officially releases later this week and brought with it an anime-style launch trailer boasting some heavy hitters from the Japanese media scene.
The official anime trailer hit WotC’s YouTube channel on September 6th and contained just over three minutes of tense, emotional sword fighting between twin royals Will and Rowan Kenrith with other key players in Wilds of Eldraine’s story - Ashiok, the three witch sisters and the mysterious boy Kellan - interspersed between their blows. It’s economical, stylish, and another indicator that the US-based company owned by toy giant Hasbro cares about its growing Japanese audience.
Those who aren’t keyed into the massive anime production industry in Japan probably won’t recognise the names attached to Wilds of Eldraine’s trailer, but producer Pierrot has been responsible for some of the most popular titles to cross the ocean and find success on Western shores - Naruto, Bleach, Yu Yu Hakusho and more recently Black Clover has all come out of the Tokyo based studio. Music composer Hiroyuki Sawano is no slouch either, as his portfolio boasts scores for Attack on Titan, Kill la Kill and The Seven Deadly Sins, among others.
Magic: The Gathering’s maintained a large and thriving player base in Japan for a long while, and the TCG started printing special anime art-style cards as far back as 2019’s War of the Spark, at least. But efforts to connect the Japanese and Western fan bases kicked up a notch with Strixhaven’s Mystical Archive, followed closely by Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty’s alternate art treatments. That same set also enjoyed an anime trailer to match the plane’s cyberpunk and Japanese animation influences.
Someone at WotC obviously understands the power behind an anime intro because Wilds of Eldraine’s video was the perfect emotive tone piece, showing us all the key players and setting the mood without spoiling the story that will eventually play out across the cards, themselve. The venerable TCG hasn’t always excelled on this front, but Eldraine leveraging of anime’s character-driven drama to introduce a new chapter in a world that has long appealed to more traditional high fantasy tropes might signal fresh winds in their narrative sails. And if nothing else, it’s a great bit of hype in a popular style.
Wilds of Eldraine will officially release into retail on September 8th, following a digital release on Magic Arena and MTG Online on September 5th. Check out Dicebreaker’s preview of the set mechanics and draft archetypes, along with our overall impressions of the set and what we think are the 10 best new cards to saunter out of the Wilds.