You probably had your bigtime OTAKU phase, if you're here reading this. You know, just getting into the wide, wonderful world of anime and everything seems so RAD 2 THE MAX and otherwise ANIMAWESOME. You call yourself a card carrying otaku, not really knowing the connotation in actual Japan puts you about on par with "Klingon Wedding Participant."

It sort of started with the animated gold rush of the mid-to-late nineties. The handful of dedicated companies for translating and releasing titles sudden opened the sluice gates to the mainstream, and anything with the exciting, exotic word 'anime' splashed on it suddenly was hip and trendy and sought after like past generations' "XXX." And among this was the anime themed, multi-series chaotic crossover game, Ani-Mayhem.

Here are the rules! First you throw all the cards on the floor and sort them all out by color so you have about four different decks laying around. Lay out seven Item cards, then cover them up with Disasters and finally a Location card, to determine who can get in there in the first place to get the sweet, sweet treasure within.

Right off the bat, there are some pretty decent concepts behind the game. The Disasters are the real "enemy," so you may want to- or need to team up with other players to overcome them then make a mad dash for the goods. By that same concept, this is a rare CCG that you can play alone. And you have no idea how hard it is to resist making a joke about that in the context of otaku social lives.

It helps that I only ever really played this solitaire.

So, we have this wacky multiverse going on, where the cast of Dominion: Tank Police drives around Ranma's hometown while the Bugrom and renegade Boomers roam free. Sounds pretty promising, right? Endless worlds of wacky potentiality, just waiting for you, the player, to slap down your cards and reap the benefits of omnipotent self-insertion. One problem though... Read that first sentence again and digest it this time instead of skimming and hoping I say the words "fuck" or "balls" for a cheap laugh. Giant robots and tanks are running around in the same location as your characters who range from freakishly powerful to That Blonde Guy From Tank Police. Whereas enemies tend to occupy levels from heavily armed thugs up through uh, well... dieties. At least the licenses make your being patently outgunned bearable with measured ludicrosity and screen captures, like Happosai at left. The thing that's just a little disturbing- well, besides the idea of a sexually-deviant old man assaulting female characters for their garments, is that they rank him as a Major Disaster, as indicated by the D!.

Did You Know Care?: A comic relief villain from Ranma 1/2 is more deadly out of the starting gate than Ifurita from El-Hazard.

Examples of a Disaster, Item, and Location. Though the Item here is a person. Why one needs to be a peeping-tom survivalist to enter the swimming pool is up for debate too. Also note the flair the designers had for flavor text.

Whatever you do, don't use the card at left on Happosai.

I never really understood the finer points of the game to be honest- there are numerous 'flip cards' for actions, but I'm not sure where they fit in with the rules. Feel free to correct me on this- no, wait, don't. It isn't like the game is still in print or being officially supported anymore.

So what was the downfall of Ani-Mayhem? Well, there were some balance issues obviously- the cast of Ranma equipping Hardsuits and trouncing the poor player who only brought Nondescript Defense Minister and Al to the part, and the fact there were so damn many shows crossing over made it a pain in the ass for someone, like me, to even ATTEMPT say, building a Dominion themed deck from Boosters. But like many things, a pitiful slow mewling death could be attributed one particular misstep that seemed like a good idea at the time.

Dragon. Ball. Z.

The day DBZ entered the Ani-Mayhem universe, much like when it first came on TV, ruined it. This was even the pre-Super Saiyan days, but the addition of a mainstream, more popular show pretty much demanded of its fan base that the cast OMFG PWN everything else established. DBZ eventually spun off into its own, longer lasting game, leaving Ani-Mayhem busted and useless, like a chair a really fat guy thought would hold. That and more than a few of the liscenses ended up fading into obscurity by the second printing or so (Phantom Quest Corps? Buh?) as the Big Boom began in earnest, or as I like to call it, ADV Gets OCD.

Ani-Mayhem did have a pretty good sized online following, to the point I couldn't get many official card pictures until I scanned the ones buried with my comics. Go ahead, google it.

It's kind of unfortunate really, that there aren't more anime CCG's out there that can work interchangably even given the cut and paste concepts behind them (Monsters fight. The end.) now that it's ingrained in the mainstream and crammed onto the airwaves. It'd be a healthy reminder that whether you like Yugioh, Pokemon, Digimon, Rastamon, you're still a giant dork!

Also: fuck balls.

Pioneer Entertainment I Guess

"What are you waiting for [Random Anime Hero?]"
"I'm waiting for Hot Legs to open so I can get something to eat!"

Well, it was funny when I was seven.