Magic: The Gathering Reveals New Cowboy Bebop Collaboration

You meet all kinds of folk in the Wild West of Thunder Junction, including characters from the best anime of all time, Cowboy Bebop. In a new crossover collaboration with the legendary anime, Wizards of the Coast is releasing a series of promotional variant cards that depict characters from Outlaws of Thunder Junction in a style reminiscent of anime.

The collaboration even got its own anime-style opening based on the iconic Cowboy Bebop intro, replacing the bounty hunters and spaceships with the villains of Oko’s crew and carriages. 

You can find the video reveal here

Ossification (Featuring Tinybones)

Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Ryan: Don’t like the yellow but I love the use of Tinybones being on Ossification, exceptionally spot on.

Marcy: My only guess here is that pink didn’t look or print right? Because the spot this copies in the Tank! opening is pink, not yellow, so if it wasn’t for the upside-down face and the fingers (which seems to be a mash up of Ed’s typing and face spots), I actually would have a hard time realizing this is an homage to Ed. I do like the flavor, though.

TheChirurgeon: Yeah, but yellow is the color associated with white most of the time. Anyways Tinybones as Ed makes plenty of sense given the Outlaws story. Card looks great.

Disdainful Stroke (Featuring Oko)

Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Ryan: Stunning. 10/10. I need two playsets.

Marcy: By far the best card in the set. Extremely clean art, easy to understand which moment and who this is supposed to be an homage of, and a creative way of dealing with the source material, since there was no way they were going to have Oko smoking a cigarette in the art.

TheChirurgeon: Agreed, easily the best card and the most successful at capturing the Cowboy Bebop vibe. Though let it be said that Oko is kind of a weird dork and doesn’t deserve to be the Spike Spiegel here. Better than Jace, I guess.

Go for the Throat (Featuring Rakdos)

Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Ryan: Amazing art direction on this one. It’s a little hard to tell, but Rakdos has shot or hit someone and they’re flying backwards as you can kinda see with the hands along the outside frame of the card, so we’re looking at Rakdos as if he has just assassinated the viewer.

Marcy: I like the direction of this one but I am a little iffy on it overall; I think the colors are a little dark and muted which doesn’t make it as striking as it could be. I do like the implied joke that he’s punching “you”, the viewer. I don’t know if it screams “Jett” but it works, I think.

TheChirurgeon: Rakdos as Jet totally does work, however. Cool idea but it doesn’t really work as well visually as the others with the attempt to do dark black on dark blue/purple.

Lightning Strike (Featuring Annie Flash)

Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Ryan: Such a cool and subtle card that’s a direct reference to Faye Valentine firing a gun in the Cowboy Bebop opening. All these cards are Magic interpretations of the anime opening, but this one absolutely nails it.

Marcy: Second to Oko, I think this is the best one in the set. I really like the homage here. The font is great, the colors pop, and the action implied matches the opening the best. Oko I think wins just due to the art and style, but this one captures the “feeling” of Tank! to me.

TheChirurgeon: Yeah this one is solid. I don’t love the silly lightning guns of Outlaws of Thunder Junction but this art totally works and it’s a solid utility card I’d consider picking this up for.

Snakeskin Veil (Featuring Vraska)

Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Ryan: The last of the promo cards shows off Vraska and her outlaw silhouette, and is a cute reference to her snake-like aspects being a Gorgon.

Marcy: I like the Faye vibe here, but again the color choice of the card (in the art, not the color profile) is what gets me here. Why is it not yellow? I think the homage would have worked a lot better if the color tones matched the characters they’re based on, and it doesn’t seem like it requires the color identity, because Tinybones is yellow and Rakdos is dark blue, which I guess as a stretch you could tie to the White and Black identities in Magic? Still, the art itself is nice.

TheChirurgeon: Worth noting that the iconic art against the silhouette in the intro is on a red background, but again I get why it’s green here. Vraska is no Faye, though.

Release Schedule and Final Thoughts

The first Cowboy Bebop promo to be released is Tinybone’s Ossification, which will be available from August 2 to September 19. After that is Oko’s Disdainful Stroke, which will run from September 27 to November 7. Go for the Throat is next, ranging from November 15 to January 30, then Lighting Strike from February 7 to March 2. Finally, Snakeskin Veil is the last promo and will be available from April 4 to May 29.

These promos are all full-art traditional foil promo cards, featuring art from illustrator Maxilla. The nice thing with these promos is that they’re going to be relatively easy to get, all you have to do is play in weekly Standard Showdown events, which can be found at plenty of gaming shops so long as they’re a WPN store. 

TheChirurgeon: These are all pretty neat, I guess. I like the art direction they’ve taken here more than doing a set of alternate name Legends versions of the Bebop crew, and for the most part they’ve managed to create some striking versions of cards I’d actually like to have and play, without being so bonkers I find them unusable.

That said, I saw someone say that this set made them finally want to watch Cowboy Bebop and reading that did an amount of psychic damage to me that can’t be repaired. So while I’m happy that someone will finally experience the show, I may never recover from the discovery that it took a quintet of alternate art Magic cards to make that happen.

Seriously, if you haven’t seen Cowboy Bebop, it’s worth your time. It’s an incredible series with wonderful art and music, and it’s a pretty tight, self-contained 26 episodes. The main cast are incredibly compelling and likeable and the series absolutely nails the ending. And on top of that, the movie taking place sometime between episodes 22 and 23 – Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door – is amazing as well, and features some incredible animation. Bebop is one of those series where people will frequently tell you they “don’t like anime… except for Cowboy Bebop,” and with good reason. The show has had an incredible effect on modern media, and if you liked Cyberpunk: EdgerunnersFirefly, Trigun, Gungrave, Samurai Champloo, or Guardians of the Galaxy, you’ll love Cowboy Bebop. It’s one of the most important anime of all time, and one of the half a dozen or so series responsible for bringing anime to the mainstream in the United States. Just stay away from the Netflix live action remake.

Marcy: There’s a lot to be said for what amount of work Cowboy Bebop did for entire generations of anime fans in the West. It’s placement in the Toonami rotation helped make it iconic, and Shinichiro Watanabe’s fairly easy to digest directorial style and the aesthetics of the show went a long way to helping it stand out; his other works, like the aforementioned Samurai Champloo and the exceptionally slept on Space Dandy are similar, due to his tendency to focus on self-contained episodes connected to a faint overarching plot that made it easy to miss an episode in rotation and not feel totally lost (but then want to ensure you saw it on a rerun). Bebop is a sort of timeless classic whose episodes have all (mostly) aged well, whose plot requires very little logical leaps to “still work”, and whose animation and style still feel remarkable. The movie, as Rob mentioned, is an interesting bird; I think it was unfairly maligned a bit because people refused to let the series “end” as it did and expected the movie to change that. The movie has one of the best songs I think the series ever produced, and maybe one of my favorites of all time, “Ask DNA” by the Seatbelts:

There are some times in which Bebop’s legacy has some odd friction that moves a little close to being uncomfortable; you’ll sometimes hear “Bebop isn’t like OTHER anime,” or similar comments, which is more a statement of ignorance to a medium than the idea Bebop is a some sort of odd “un-Japanese” anime; the continued legacy of the show is both due to its quality and to how it shaped the trajectory of the Western anime market, where it and the Toonami block served as a consistent gateway to the medium in a world before high speed internet anime sharing and streaming were common (I still remember getting my VHS clamshells in the mail and then being told of a newfangled “DVD” format option halfway through the series release). If you’ve never had a chance to check it out, the show is absolutely worth giving a chance.

Have any questions or feedback? Got a story to share about how you discovered Cowboy Bebop? Got a favorite episode? Want to shit on the Netflix remake? Drop us a note in the comments below or email us at contact@goonhammer.com.