Tanto Cuore

 Black Lagoon, Book of Bantorra  Comments Off on Tanto Cuore
Oct 282011

Pretty sure I’ve told this story before, but I’ll tell it again. When hanging out with my real life friends, we don’t watch much anime. My real life friends and I are united by table top gaming. Back in the day we were all about Dungeons and Dragons, World of Darkness, and all that shit. I’ve even dabbled in LARPing (Think I’ve said I’d tell that story before, and I still need to tell it, but not today.) But yeah, we don’t have the time to concoct convoluted adventures, create maps, and all that stuff that goes into RPing. We still do it every now and then, but for the most part we stick with board games and card games when he do our weekly gaming night.

Since we do the table top gaming thing, I’m always looking for ways to connect that with my anime nerdiness. I’ve talked about a few other games that have bridged this gap before, but I found what may be the best example yet of melding otakudom with my other hobby: Tanto Cuore.

Tanto Cuore is what we gaming geeks like to call a deck-building game. If you’ve played Dominion or Thunderstone or the new Resident Evil card game, you’ve played this sort of game before. The catch being that instead of buying land, forming adventuring parties, or loading up on guns to kill zombies, you’re hiring maids to work in your luxurious mansion, and whoever does the best job of running their household wins the game.

Yeah. It’s a card game that effectively re-enacts a harem anime, except with the twist of competing with other players’ harems to see who is the awesomest harem constructor.

Anyway, for those of y’all that haven’t played one of these deck-building games, here’s the gist of it:

You start with a pre-determined deck of cards. You use these cards to:

  • Buy more cards from a set pool that you add to your deck so you can use them later, and P
  • Perform actions that net you victory points.

It’s all about trying to create a smooth-flowing deck that lets you do stuff to get victory points in an efficient manner. If you’ve ever played in a M:tG draft tournament, it’s kinda like that. The catch being that the drafting process is built into the mechanics of the actual game.

With Tanto, you start with a deck of 10 cards. Seven of these cards are Love cards. Love is the currency in the game. So yeah, according to this game, you aren’t exactly paying for these maids with cash. Nope. You’re basically using your inexplicable main character charms to make these maids fall in love with you, and thus do your chores and shit before you cast them out of the house after they’ve done what you need them to do(That is, discard them at the end of the turn.). It that regard the game is exactly like a harem anime, except chicks move in and out of your harem as you see fit. It’s a very practical way of hareming.

You use these Love cards to buy new cards from the general pool. You can buy larger denominations of Love (Each of your starting Love cards is worth 1 Love, and you can buy it in denominations of 2 and 3 as well.) or you can hire maids. When you use your Love to hire a maid (or almost any other card for that matter), it goes into your discard pile for later use. Once you run out of cards in your current deck, you shuffle your discard pile and make a new deck out of those cards. That way, your cards are constantly cycling through and you can get to those new cards you bought.

Those maid cards you buy let you do extra stuff during your turn. On your turn you start with five cards. In addition to that you can:

  • Play one card from your hand, which in-game terms is called a “service” since it represents a maid doing some menial task for you like sewing something, doing your laundry, or slacking off and falling asleep in the courtyard.
  • Buy one card from the general pool,which in-game terms is called “hiring.”
When you perform a “service” on your turn, the maid in question allows you to do at least one of the following:
  • Immediately draw one or more extra cards.
  • Gain extra Love to buy stuff this turn.
  • Perform additional “services” after this one.
  • Hire additional maids from the pool.
  • Some specified actions printed on the card.

So you buy maids with your Love, use these maids to buy even more maids, and essentially reap the rewards of their meager efforts all while trying to impress the other “masters” in the game with how well you run your house of moe moe indentured servants. It’s exactly like an anime.

It’s a pretty straightforward game once you see it in action. It’s all about streamlining your deck to do stuff that’ll net you victory points (Some maids give you VP for simply owning them, some give you VP if you have certain other cards or multiples, and so on.). Once so many cards have been bought from the pool, the game ends and you add your shit up.

The “charm” of the game comes from the theme. Like I’ve been saying, it’s all about buying maids with love. You get to play out your own generic harem storyline all in card form. All of the maids have a specialty written on their card. So the one that lets you take two additional “services” after playing her is the Sewing Maid. Because, I don’t know, she sews up a nice, new suit for you and it lets you impress the other maids so much that they’re more willing to do things for you this “turn.” Then there’s the Treasury Maid, who lets you draw more cards and buy more things. Maybe you’re using your meek charms to “cook the books,” so to speak, and she’s working things so that you can get to your inheritance easier or something like that.

My favorite card was the Sleeping Maid. That’s what it says on her card. The way I see it, you hire her thinking she’s gonna do shit for you, but once you have her perform a “service” she just goes out into the yard and falls asleep. That’s why she gives you three Love and allows you to buy one extra thing that turn. It isn’t because she’s helping you, it’s because you’re so pissed off that you feel compelled to hire more maids to pick up the slack, so you have to muster extra charm (the 3 love) to hire two maids to do what this one maid couldn’t do. Sure, the card may show the “master” laying in said sleeping maid’s lap, as if the extra love is supposed to represent that tender moment shared dozing under a cherry tree while looking at the cloudless sky, but screw that. This maid’s worthless and you need to find a replacement STAT!

My gaming buddies got a kick out of it. Most of them are used to the sort of cute-but-suggestive style of art that’s present in this genre of anime stuff, but they still laughed at things like the maidwho just barely flash their panties or who are posed in such a way that it might not be all that innocent-seeming. They know the drill, but they aren’t deadened to it the way many of us are.

All in all, Tanto Cuore’s a pretty decent deck-building game. I think I like Thunderstone a bit more, but that’s because there’s a good bit of action in that game, but Tanto is amusing enough as is. Cracking jokes about the absurd nature of the game almost makes up for the lack of slicing minotaurs in half. Almost.

Dec 312010

Yep. Obligatory “Best of the Year” post. Hell, I churned out ten of these damn things last year so I could catch up on everything I hadn’t written about in the millions of years I spent not blogging, so I may as well churn out one for this year, right?

So yeah, Let’s Listage!




13. Heroman

I think I may be the only person that thinks Heroman is a legitimately good super hero story. It has an old school vibe to it, like the sort of stuff Marvel and DC used to churn out when they were marketing their shit mainly at kids. There’s an earnestness to it all that’s missing from most of today’s metatextual superhero stuff– modern stuff is superhero comics about superhero comics while Heroman is a superhero story. It isn’t quite as brilliant as Tiger and Bunny, but it’s definitely worthy of people’s attention. Y’know, so long as they don’t have some irrational bias against superhero shit.

12. Dance in the Vampire Bund

It was a mess. A ridiculously absurd mess that never really explained much of what was going on. And the whole “naked girl cavorting about while claiming she’s super-duper old” was kinda creepy. But damn, this series was a beautiful mess. I blame my digging of this series on my old World of Darkness fanboy tendencies, since Bund aped so many tropes from that RPG and other vampire shit. I also blame my love of plot hole ridden old school OAVs that forced you to fill in the holes with your own convoluted ideas. It’s trash, but it’s the sort of trash I like.

11. Shinryaku! Ika Musume!

10. Working!!

The problem with anime comedies isn’t that they tend to take place in schools or focus around harems or shit like that. What’s wrong with them is that they’re usually pretty shitty. Squid Girl and Working take the usual formulas and remember that comedies are supposed to be funny. They acknowledge current trends without forgetting that the most important things are comedic timing and the way characters play off of each other. Working does it a little better, since it’s more character-driven and less gimmick-driven, but there isn’t much differentiating these two series besides that.

9. Trigun: Badlands Rumble

I didn’t see the Trigun movie until after I made this list, but I did write a post about it here. It accentuates everything that was good about the TV series and cuts down on all the stuff that annoyed me. It’s the ideal anime TV-to-movie transition– the sort of thing all such movies should strive to be like. Not unlike, say, the Cowboy Bebop movie.



8. Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt

Panty and Stocking is the bastard lovechild of Gainax’s hyperkinetic styling and 90′s western cartoons like Dexter’s Laboratory and Ren & Stimpy. It didn’t always work, or else it’d likely be in one of the top two or three slots, but when it was working it was damn brilliant stuff. And fucking funny. Fatherfucking funny shit. And the Chuck to the Future shorts were some of the best post-Looney Tunes cartoon shorts I’ve ever seen.

Dec 262009

2006 was a weird year for me as far as anime goes. I hadn’t abandoned the hobby or anything, but I was way too distracted by other stuff to really give a damn. I was trying to be a middle school teacher. I was way too occupied with grading papers, putting up with inter-teacher politics, and dealing with parents who wouldn’t believe their precious little kids were obnoxious little shits. It didn’t help that the biggest anime I had seen around that time was the awful Eureka Seven, which put a bit of a damper on my enthusiasm for the stuff.

Yeah. I kinda hate Eureka Seven. That’ll be the first of many sacrilegious comments in this top ten list.

So this wasn’t really a stellar year for my fandom, but soon after I gave up on trying to be a teacher, my free time rocketed and I was able to discover all the cool shit I missed out on. Turns out 2006 was busy being pretty damn cool while I was distracted.

It just ain’t cool for the expected reasons.

10. Ouran High School Host Club

Usually, when something manages to click with a lot of differing demographics or whatever, it means the thing in question is speaking to the lowest common denominator. Ouran seems to be one of those shows that attracts all sorts of peeps, but it’s far from being that LCD. Sure, the thing has all the pretty boys playing up the vaguely homoerotic thing. You got your fans that love that stuff. Then you have the reverse harem thing, where other fans can bask in the self-insertiness of a girl surrounded by hot dudes. Then you get peeps like me who dig the series for being funny. Ouran’s legitimately funny. It has awesome comedic timing. The characters play off of one another pretty well. It doesn’t always work, and it strays into seriousness a bit too much for this sort of thing, but as a whole it’s pretty good stuff.

9. The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya

I hate the Haruhi movie (sacrilege #2). I kinda like Endless Eight on a conceptual level (#3). But the original TV series is genius. It’s a matter of how the story is told as opposed to the actual content of the story. By rearranging the source material, the story creates a mystery where there wasn’t one. The series then progresses along and ends on a double whammy of a climax. Had things played out chronologically, we’d get one “ending” after the fifth episode and another an episode or two before the end of the season, leaving us with a dull, meaningless ending. Had this series aired chronologically from the get-go, it’d be generic at best– technically well-made but nothing special. It’s a shame the rest of the series just falls apart.

8. Genshiken OVA

I don’t like Ogiue (#4). Until the “next generation” manga currently playing out, she always came off as forced, as if they needed to get another female otaku perspective into the series but didn’t know how to go about it. And then her romance with Sasahara never really felt genuine. Again, it was as if they were going about things because they felt it had to happen. So the OVA is my least-favorite bit of the Genshiken series since it focuses upon her introduction. Still, it’s fucking Genshiken. Genshiken is awesome. Even with Ogiue wedged into the formula, that formula works.  It’s more of the same, not quite as great as either TV series, but solid stuff.

7. Hellsing Ultimate

I really like the original Hellsing TV series (#5). That second half isn’t nearly as bad as people claim. There’s one or two lame episodes in the latter half, but the actual showdown at the end is good stuff. Ultimate isn’t over quite yet, so I can’t make a final final assessment on the thing, but I’ve read the manga and know how it ends. Since the anime up to this point has been pretty damn loyal to the original manga, I can safely make a just-final assessment. I don’t like how things end. The final conflict between The Major and the Hellsing Organization just isn’t all that interesting. But damn are there some great moments before that lame ending that’ll inevitably get animated. I fucking love The Major’s war speech. It’s sublime ridiculousness and may be one of the greatest character moments in all of anime and manga. But when you get down to it, I just wish the OVA had the TV series’ soundtrack. That’d probably move it up on this list a few slots

6. Bartender

The series is nice. It’s about adults doing adultish stuff. It’s about booze. I don’t drink, but I can appreciate where the series is coming from as far as that stuff goes. If I forced myself to delve into that wicked realm of slice of life and iyashikei, I’d say this is my sort of thing because it is relaxing and comforting in that sense. But the main reason why I really like this series is the opening song. It’s easily in my top five all time anime openings, and I’d even dare say it’s my all-time favorite if not for another song from this very year that competes with it. Yeah man, it’s an upbeat jazz duet. If I had my say, every anime opening would be just that.