What Is It?
Wild Cardz is a two-episode OVA by BMG Victor and Studio OX. It was directed by Yasuchika Nagaoka(Crest of the Stars, Idol Project), and released in the west by Central Park Media under their U.S. Manga Corps label.
You’ve been warned, so buckle up.
The series is set in the Card Kingdom, where peace reigns across the land. This tranquility is maintained by the efforts of a special team of magically powered girls, known as the Crown Knights:
- Jo Diamonds is basically The Flash. She can run at the speed of sound and leap (somewhat) tall buildings in a single bound.
- Casa Clubs is the token badass. She’s a martial artist with super senses, who can unleash the special abilities like the Sonic Boom. Only they’re given improved names, like the Sonic Bomber.
- Coco Heartful is the team’s adorable psionic, who can harness the power of “Psycho Magic.” No, they didn’t pay the guy who named these things in weed.
- Sunday Spade is the leader of the bunch. You know her well. Well, you probably don’t, because this OVA just doesn’t deserve that much attention. Anyway, she has the double-plus bestest power of them all, because convenience. Rather than use it for the good of the kingdom, though, she spends most of the OVA barking orders at the rest of the Crown Knights from afar.
That said, the Crown Knights use their card-based powers to deliver four suits of justice to anybody that would harm their homeland. This time around, though, the enemy isn’t the typical criminal. It’s not an assassin, a thief, or even a petty thug (though they do take out some asshole named Red Lobster in the beginning of the first episode). Rather, it’s a UFO. Shaped like a gigantic white pawn.
The mysterious craft appears on a day that began like any other, destroying a bridge into the kingdom in the process. This wouldn’t be a problem, right? I mean, there are four magical superwomen just waiting to deal with something like this… right?
As it turns out, the craft is indestructible, and advancing toward the capital. The situation turns from difficult to dire, though (Oh, who are we kidding? It’s already dire!), when a second magic chess piece of death appears, in addition to all of the damn crazies in the kingdom. So, not only do the Crown Knights need to save the kingdom from two indestructible objects of absolute destruction, they also need to deal with a crazy chick that thinks she’s an agent of God, a gaggle of ninjas, and an incredibly offensive black marketeer named Chee Chu Kai. I kid you not, his name is Chee Chu Kai. And, as one would expect this guy’s a walking Chinese stereotype with buck teeth, tiny eyes, and a tendency to speak in incredibly broken English. Seriously, if they went any further, this guy would be chucking egg rolls at people, and everybody line would be something along the lines of “Ching Chong Wing Wong.”
Clearly the paragon of great writing.
No, really. What the hell is it?
Wild Cardz is one of those titles from the earlier days of the bubble. The series was released on North American VHS at the beginning of the anime bubble. Specifically, it hit the market in December 1999, amid a number of far better releases, like Cowboy Bebop volumes 4 & 5, Saber Marionette J Again, and about sixteen different Ranma 1/2 releases.
The OVA itself was sold primarily on its dub. The title starred “living anime girl” Apollo Smile. At the time, she was a pretty big deal.
That said, Wild Cardz is simply dire. The plot it utter nonsense, offering no context, and no real explanation about anything. The villains aren’t exactly explained to the viewer, and the good guys get zero backstory. Plot elements are thrust at the viewer with zero warning, and the pacing just feels generally sloppy and rushed. To make matters worse, the characters simply don’t develop. The cardboard cutouts of popular archetypes that viewers see in the beginning are exactly what the cast members will be when the final credits roll.
Oh yes! That highly touted dub starring Apollo Smile? It simply blows, and not in that hilarious Garzey’s Wing way. The script is poorly adapted, which leads to a number of simply awkward lines. The acting is poor, even by 1999 standards. Characters speak with that ham-handed monotone that would be unacceptable in amateur theater, and the vocal ranges are all over the place. A number of the more awkward lines are spoken an a clunky, slow pace to match the mouth flaps.
And you want me to watch this WHY?
Wild Cardz is a title that will get a reaction out of any crowd. This isn’t like Jewel BEM Hunter Lime or Cosplay Complex, where there’s the hope of a decent time. Likewise, this isn’t Garzey’s Wing, where the awful dub becomes a main comedic driver. It’s 50 minutes of concentrated horrible, seems to just get worse as each episode progresses.
Your audience will laugh, they’ll jeer, they’ll even boo and beg to make it go away. While the reactions will differ, there will undoubtedly be a few people squirming in their seats as they behold the craptacular adventures of the Crown Knights.
When and how long should I screen this for?
Wild Cardz is a title that’s best placed at the very beginning of a Bad Anime Night. It can set the stage for an evening perfectly, and completely demolish any illusions that things can’t get that bad.
As for length, never, I repeat never show a full episode. Forcing your audience to sit through the full 25 minutes will just lead to a crowd tuning out for the rest of the evening. Hosts would be better advised to show about half of the first episode, then cut to something whimsical and fun like the pilot for The Governator, or Hellsing Ultimate Abridged.