One of my most highly anticipated winter anime premieres is the January 9 debut of HIGH CARD, a highly-stylized action original series by TMS Entertainment, Homura Kawamoto (Kakegurui), and his younger brother Hikaru Muno. The series actually had its premiere at Anime NYC in November, and I was fortunate enough to have a seat for the screening and the chance to talk to both Kawamoto and Muno.
HIGH CARD revolves around a special deck of 52 cards called “X-Playing Cards”. At the beginning of the first episode, the cards are stolen, but the briefcase holding the deck comes open during the escape, and the cards are scattered to the winds. As we discover, each card in the deck gives its owner, or “Player”, a very specific power, and some very dangerous people are trying to acquire all the cards.
When I say ‘very specific’, I mean it. One card gives its Player the ability to turn anything he touches into marbles. One card gives its Player extreme luck. We only saw a few of the cards during the first episode, so there are something like 49 more abilities to discover.
If HIGH CARD reminds you of the Kingsman franchise, then good. It’s supposed to. As Kawamoto and Muno explained on the Q&A panel following the screening, their series is heavily inspired by Kingsman. The idea was to create something that would appeal to global audiences. That’s also why they chose to set the series outside of Japan – a globe-trotting series means that we’ll be introduced to characters from different cultures.
So then it makes sense that the world premiere was not in Japan, but in New York City. And the reception really surprised Kawamoto, Muno, and producer Hiroki Okamoto. (Okamoto even cried, according to Muno.)
“It was more than what we expected,” said Kawamoto.
“We normally don’t see audiences’ reactions live, so this was quite a rare opportunity for us to see all those reactions face to face,” said Muno. “People got so excited.”
It was definitely an exciting premiere. The episode drops you right in the thick of things almost immediately, with our central protagonist, a streetwise kid hoping to save his home from foreclosure, getting in way over his head. Judging by the first episode, which features both a daring heist and a high-speed car chase, this will be an action-packed series.
An action anime is nothing new, but Kawamoto and Muno hope that audiences will realize that they’re trying to do something different with HIGH CARD.
“There are a lot of animations with people wearing suits or action or with super-powered fighting,” said Muno. “But I believe HIGH CARD is quite different from those, so I would like the audience to just wait and see. Please look forward to how different and how exciting this world will be when it comes out.”
“I want people to like the characters,” said Kawamoto, when I asked what they were most looking forward for audiences to see. “We purposely made loveable characters. […] I hope that people will also love them like we do.”
“In HIGH CARD every single character has its meaning, has its job, has its reason to exist in that world,” added Muno. “I would like people to find your favorite character. That’s something that we are looking forward to.”
Something else that they are looking forward to, according to Muno, is seeing what everyone else thinks of HIGH CARD. They were very surprised by some of the reactions from the premiere.
“People just laughed in unexpected scenes,” said Muno. “Like, ‘Oh, people just laughed at that – ok, I guess that’s funny for them.’ Or people get really enthusiastic about what’s going on in the scene, and they’ll go ‘yeah!’ or vocalize their excitement. Hearing [those] made us really delighted. I hope that we’ll get all those unexpected reactions from broader audiences.”
If you follow us on Twitter, you’ll know that I was blown away by the premiere. It was a very exciting episode! The premise is really interesting, and I’m intrigued to learn more about this world that Kawamoto and Muno have created. You’d better believe that I’ll be tuning in when this show premieres.
HIGH CARD premieres Monday, January 9, and will be simulcast on Crunchyroll.
I would like to once again thank Kawamoto and Muno for taking the time out of their no doubt busy convention to talk to me.
Author: Jamie Sugah
Jamie has a BA in English with a focus in creative writing from The Ohio State University. She self-published her first novel, The Perils of Long Hair on a Windy Day, which is available through Amazon. She is currently an archivist and lives in New York City with her demon ninja vampire cat. She covers television, books, movies, anime, and conventions in the NYC area.
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