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 312009

2009. Let’s call it The Year of the Anti-Hero. Or something like that.

Really. Let’s just call it “The Year Where the Villains were the Heroes.” Because most of the peeps in these series aren’t nice people, even when they’re doing The Right Thing.

Also: Hamyuts Meseta is the most moe anime girl ever. If one’s “moe quotient” was measured by body counts. And it is.


12. Trapeze

Trapeze is a matter of style as substance. The actual gist of the series is kinda mediocre: exploring and solving people’s anxieties. If this were done in a more conventional animation style, it’d be a fluff piece that I’d have quickly forgotten. But it’s an anime with rotoscoping. Rotoscoping. It looked like something Ralph Bakshi would have done in the 70s. His shit may not be the most brilliant stuff ever made, but I love his visual style, and I loved seeing something similar utilized in an anime series. And that’s about it, really. This series beat out the likes of Eden of the East and Bakemonogatari purely for its visuals. I’m totally shallow like that.

11. Ristorante Paradiso

Ristorante ain’t really my sort of thing on the surface. It’s a straight-faced drama for the most part, dealing with the everyday problems of a group of waiters and chefs working at a hole-in-the-wall restaurant in Rome. But the series manages to have a good sense of humor to it, avoiding the sort of melodrama I was afraid it’d devolve into over time. The cast is pretty damn likable, and their issues are far more relatable than that of your average slice of life moemoldooze. It might be a bit on the light side, and the humor might not be downright hilarious, but it was surprisingly charming. It’s pretty much what slice of life anime should be.

10. Umineko no Naku Koro ni

First things first: the last story arc revolving around Ange fucking sucks. It took everything good that transpired in the previous arcs, threw it out, and replaced it with an obnoxious lead character who couldn’t carry a paper sack home from the grocery store, much less an entire storyline. But the first two-thirds of this series is damn near perfect. It starts off as your typical murder mystery, but once you discover the twist to the whole thing, it starts descending into the sort of dream-logic madness of Dario Argento and shit like that. And the ending to the third arc, where Beatrice reveals her master plan from that “game” to Battler, was brilliant. This is the sort of surrealist shit that I dig. Pity it was tarnished by that Ange arc or else this’d be considerably higher on my list.

9. Canaan

Canaan suffers much in the same way as Umineko: there’s one insufferable character that brings everything down. That one character happens to be Maria, an obnoxiously happy photographer who’s the polar opposite of every single character in the series. Canaan’s all about badass assassins and terrorists and how they’re trying to kill each other in cool action sequences. Then Maria comes along and acts like she’ belongs in the latest anime with tildes and hearts in the title. It’s a shame that she brings the series down, because everything else that goes down in Canaan is assassiny goodness. You get some good gun fights, you get some crazy government cover-ups, and you get an awesome villain the form of Liang Qi. It’s probably the best girls with guns anime since… no, it’s even better than Noir. It’s probably the best one since Dirty Pair.

8. Darker than Black: Gemini of the Meteor

Ending the trifecta of “series ruined by one character but are still awesome enough to make it on this list” is the second season of Darker than Black. Suo basically plays Short Round to Hei’s Indiana Jones in this season, pulling everything down with her annoying moralizing and hesitance. Darker than Black is all about people with super powers whose sense of morality and conventions have been twisted by an unknown supernatural force. The whole thing comes off like a Cold War spy drama, with Contractors replacing the ever-present threat of nuclear war, and the second season plays off of this just as well as the first. But then Suo starts to cry about how she might have to shoot someone to save the world. Boo Hoo. Fortunately, the actual story is pretty cool, going off into some crazy stuff about creating alternate realities and shit like that.

7. Hipira-kun

Probably one of the best short anime series out there. It’s a cute kids show with a Tim Burton-like aesthetic, and it doesn’t hold back its punches. We’re talking about vampires and other monsters here, and despite this being a kids show it still manages to do some freaky, demented shit. Hell, the series ends with Hipira and his friends being devoured by a papercraft/crayon dinosaur. This is the perfect sort of children’s show, all cute and sweet and reveling in the horrors of real life.


6. Zan Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei

Is it the same old Zetsubou shit? Yep, pretty much. Is the same old Zetsubou shit superior to most anime comedies? Yep, pretty much.




5. Astro Fighter Sunred 2

I want to be Vamp when I grow up. I want to be that fusion of badass world conqueror and polite, neighborly chef. Vamp is the standard that we should all aspire towards– both cunning and culinary– nefarious and noble. He’s the Metrosexual Dr. Doom, and that’s a totally awesome thing. Yeah, and the series he’s from is pretty awesome too, what with all of the sentai hero parodies and matter-of-fact humor. But it’s Vamp that elevates the series from “pretty good parody” to nearly sublime.

4. Cobra: Time Drive

It’s all of the goodness of Cobra packed into a two episode OVA. It has a batshit crazy villain in the form of a giant lava walrus dude who has slave girls dangling from him like pimp chains. It has Cobra traveling back in time and creating all manners of paradoxes, and he’s so badass that his actions don’t fuck up the space-time continuum. It has man-eating water. It may not reach the blissful heights of 2010’s space piranhas, but it’s awesome stuff.


3. Evangelion: 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance

I forgot to insert the second Eva movie when I did my initial revision of this list. Had it in my head that it came out in 2010. That’s when the DVD release was, but let’s go by the original theatrical release. Just because. This is where the Eva movie remakes finally became true remakes rather than simple retreads. It isn’t just a matter of tossing in a new character, it’s a completely different worldview being explored. The original Eva was all about personal failure. Shinji refused to act. Asuka was filled with personal issues. All of the adults were fuck-ups. With Eva 2.0, a lot of those issues are no longer as pertinent. Failure comes from the outside. Shinji seems to overcome all of his problems and saves the day, only to have all of his hopes crushed by godlike forces from the outside. Failure is no longer self-created and avoidable. It’s wholly inescapable. That shift is what’s making these movies worthwhile as true remakes.

2. Shin Mazinger Z Shougeki Z-Hen!

Ashura is one of the greatest heroes of all time. You heard that right. Hero. He/She is fighting for the will of the gods. They may seem to be malevolent beings bent on humanity’s destruction, but who are we to question the will of the powers that be? It is but one of the mysteries of the universe. But what isn’t a mystery is that Shin Mazinger is a masterpiece of mecha action. The only mecha series I like more than this is Evangelion, and Mazinger’s awesome ending may even trump Eva’s.


1. The Book of Bantorra

I’ve talked about Bantorra a lot. I’m one of the few bloggers to champion this fucking awesome series. It has one of the greatest anime characters in Hamyuts Meseta. It has some of the bests twists and surprises I’ve seen in a series. It doesn’t pull its punches. It doesn’t cop-out. It doesn’t give a fuck what you think or whether you love a character or not. It isn’t safe. It isn’t pretty. It’s everything I love about anime.