Magic: The Gathering‘s newest expansion set is Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty, which serves as a high-tech reboot to the disappointing Champions of Kamigawa block. This time around, Kamigawa is all about the future, not the rustic past, and the set underwent major aesthetic changes as well as gameplay ones. This is Kamigawa like never before.

Wizards of the Coast also has a good sense of humor, as its popular Un-sets show, and has even snuck pop culture references and jokes into expansion sets. Neon Dynasty is no exception. Given this plane’s Japanese inspiration, more than a few of these in-game references refer to classic manga, anime and video games, among other sources. Anime-savvy Magic fans are sure to spot them all.

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At least eight different Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty cards involve pop culture references in their titles, artwork and/or gameplay, from mythic rares to commons. Among the set’s black cards, You Are Already Dead clearly pays homage to the classic 1980s anime series Fist of the North Star, whose martial artist hero, Kenshiro, famously says this line right before an enemy explodes into gory bits. Kenshiro can strike acupuncture points with his bare hands to destroy his enemies from within before they even know what’s happening, and this Neon Dynasty card reflects that. It also cantrips to make up for having such a niche effect.

Explosive Singularity pays visual homage to the Dragon Ball franchise, where Saiyan heroes such as Son Goku can gather massive amounts of energy to create a Spirit Bomb attack to wipe out the series’ most powerful villains. Explosive Singularity is a costly red sorcery that borrows the convoke ability of the Selesnya guild of Ravnica, and it deals a whopping 10 damage to any target, a burn effect worthy of Goku himself.

Greasegang, Okiba Boss plays into Neon Dynasty‘s Vehicle and artifact theme, and this Rat Pilot creature is no doubt a reference to the beloved cyberpunk anime movie Akira, famous for its hero’s red motorcycle. Many anime and manga series have paid tribute to that motorcycle’s stunts, and both Greasefang and a visual from the first Neon Dynasty trailer recreate that red motorcycle in true fashion.

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Mechtitan Core is one of the set’s most obvious and powerful pop culture references, and it allows players to create their very own Megazord, or perhaps the Voltron robot from the eponymous series. This rare Vehicle can exile itself and other artifact creatures for a cost to assemble the mighty Mechtitan, a titanic 10/10 artifact creature token that’s all colors and has five different abilities. This thing can dominate any game of booster draft Limited.

Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty didn’t stop at four cards when making pop culture references. Two particular cards harken back to the TMNT franchise, those being Silver-Fur Master and Kappa Tech-Wrecker, referencing the four Ninja Turtles and their mentor, Master Splinter. This is a simple and elegant way to pay homage to pop culture without disrupting the game’s own lore, since Silver-Fur Master fits neatly into the blue-black Ninja archetype and Kappa Tech-Wrecker fits green’s theme of destroying artifacts and enchantments. It also shows how diverse the Ninja creature type has become.

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Hotshot Mechanic is a Fox Pilot that can crew Vehicles as though its power were two higher, and while that’s great news for white-based decks running Vehicles, Hotshot Mechanic has some extra flavor to it. This card is no doubt paying homage to the Star Fox video game series in which Fox McCloud flies to victory in mission after mission in his Arwing craft. Fox is also notorious in the world of Super Smash Bros., especially Melee where he sees a lot of competitive play.

Finally, Neon Dynasty takes a break from the anime and game references and featured Rabbit Battery in red, a cheap artifact creature Equipment that demonstrates how the new reconfigure ability works. This is more than a cheap, aggressive creature — it’s also an amusing throwback to the Energizer Bunny, who is known for playing a marching bass drum while wearing shades. That bunny has endless energy thanks to those batteries, and Rabbit Battery feels the same way.

KEEP READING: M:TG – Why [SPOILER]’s Arrival in Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty Is a Big Deal



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