Bad news: we still haven’t found out how to go inside our favorite anime. We’re still working on it, but in the meantime we’ll have to satisfy ourselves with video games. And trading card games! Because there are lots of trading card anime out there — and some that recursively get their own.
If you’re looking for a way to deal in to your favorite series, or just something new to watch, check out these shows. You might even be able to pick up a deck… and in the case of one of these shows, the cards are free!
Okay, we’re starting with a bit of a cheat, but we can’t help it. Fate/Grand Order isn’t technically a trading card anime (despite the gacha elements), but it has invaded the world of tabletop gaming… twice! Summon Pencil Servant has you roll pencils to do battle. And then there’s F/GO Duel, which combines trading cards and collectible figures to make your own mini Holy Grail War.
The F/GO Duel scene is still just starting up, but it operates much like the mobile game. So if you know what you’re doing with Servant cards and Craft Essences, you have a chance at acing this particular battle.
A multi-season trading card anime with cards for days, Cardfight!! Vanguard will keep you super busy. On the surface, it’s a cute series about a boy named Aichi who delves into the exciting world of the TCG Blaster Blade. But he also gets a cheat-level power called Psyqualia, which lets him foresee victory in card battles. That power has already turned one person to darkness, thought — and Aichi has to decide if that’s where he wants to go, too. Oh, and also the alien world in the game is real.
The attached game launched in 2010, and has an impressive presence overseas, too. Plus, there’s a new anime on the way.
WIXOSS has gone through a lot of forms, as both a card game and an anime. This season’s iteration sees it joining the idol scene, as WIXOSS DIVA(A)LIVE takes its players straight into the game itself!
DIVA(A)LIVE combines player with LRIG — an as-yet-unexplored option for the series, which usually puts players in control of separate characters. As players enter the virtual world, they take on the appearance of singers, dancers, and idols. And now, they fight in teams of three — meaning it’s band vs. band for the trading card anime this time around! It’s currently underway on Crunchyroll, so get yourself in on the action!
What’s the best way to get someone to play your card game? Give it away for free! That’s the basis for the trading card anime Z/X Ignition, which came from the Broccoli title Z/X Zillions of enemy X. In the game, you befriend and also battle creatures known as (you guessed it) Z/X, hailing from alternate futures. There are multiple seasons of anime telling a connected story, but that’s not the coolest part.
The cool part? Broccoli just gives these cards away! You can get them at their stores and build yourself a nice deck. Plus, they’ll occasionally put out limited-edition cards for special occasions, like the anniversary of their mascot Di Gi Charat.
Come on, you knew we weren’t going to do a trading card anime list without hitting this one, right?
Yu-Gi-Oh! has been through several seasons and iterations, but the original is where our minds always go. The manga by Kazuki Takahashi, about a shy kid who awakens the spirit of a game master, has made for some cool anime… and, of course, trading card games. Fortunately, IRL Yu-Gi-Oh! doesn’t play out like it does in the anime. But with massive card decks and on-brand accessories, you can get awfully close.
Of course, trading card games are a bit like mobile games: if an anime gets successful enough, a tie-in is sure to happen. Which one is your favorite?
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