Do you need a last minute gift suggestion for the otaku in your life? Why not get them Channel A, the anime pitch party game! What is Channel A, and what does anime pitch party game mean? Allow me to explain. Channel A is a game where you and a bunch of friends take turns making up anime ideas and voting on which is your favorite. Cards add an element of hilarious randomness, because they form the basis of the pitches. Whoever gets the most votes wins a point, and whoever gets the most points wins. It’s as simple as that.
Channel A is another member of the “party card game” genre brought to the public by Apples to Apples. You may be more familiar with it’s more mature counter part, Cards Against Humanity. The basic idea is that one person draws a card that presents a question and the other players select a card that best answers it. The fun comes from making highly intelligent or usual choices and trying to tell your friends how they make sense.
The companies behind the game are Asmadi Games who made the Whack a Catgirl card game and Foam Brain Games whom you can find in many conventions. Channel A’s designer is Ewen Cluney, best known as the translator for the Maid RPG and Golden Sky Stories (I hear the physical books will be out early 2014). The graphic design was done by Clay Gardner, who wrote the OVA RPG. Expect a review of OVA from our very own Power Surge in the future (hopefully).
The first thing you notice when handling the game is the thickness of the cards. Seriously, these are the thickest, most hardly cards I have ever encountered in my entire life. They don’t feel like cardboard cards at all. They feel more like little sheets of plastic then playing cards. I don’t think you’ll ever find a more solid card then the ones you’ll find in Channel A. I feel the need to emphasize just how structurally sound these cards are. They are that good.
If you take the time to examine the cards, you’ll be happy with what you find. First off, there are three hundred and thirty of them. Since the game is twenty five dollars (but cheaper if you know where to look), that’s a good dollar to card ratio. The premise cards all appear as scripts, complete with typed out text and built in coffee stains (They’re drawn in; they didn’t actually spill coffee on the cards). The title cards are all accompanied by unique graphics. For example, the word “stardust” will feature a starry sky, while the word “blade” will have red blood behind it. That’s a lot of work for over three hundred cards! Some of the more obscure cards will be accompanied by context-giving text. All of the title words are also printed on clear black and white on the side, so you’ll always be able to read it. As an added plus, ten of the cards are blank, allowing you to add whatever words you want! You can add new exciting words like “twerking” and “selfie!”
The rules are simple but clever. The producer picks five premise cards and selects two to show to the other players. Having multiple premise cards allows the producer some choice instead of just top-decking the next card. Having to select two of them can lead to bizarre (and therefore hilarious) combinations. The other players then select some title cards and make an anime pitch. This adds a unique twist to the genre, since you’ll get to exercise your creativity and story telling abilities instead of just picking a card that matches best. Everyone votes for a winner, and you repeat until someone scores enough points to win (or you don’t feel like playing anymore). The rules are so simple, they really don’t take up a lot of space to explain. To fill in the rest of the short manual, they gave tips to smooth out the game play experience and threw in over a dozen variants to mix things up.
Sadly, as of this review, I never had the opportunity to playtest this with a group of people. While this goes against my personal grain, I am confident enough in my game analysis skills to recommend this to any anime fan looking for a social game to play with fellow anime lovers. I also played the single player variant, where you just pick some premise and title cards and write out an anime pitch. You can read the results of what I made to see if the game interests you.
Starting Title Cards: Area, J, Eater, Ring, Rider, Chronicle, Moon, Witches, Let’s, Robo
Premise Cards: Cooking, Drama
Anime Name: Robo Eater Chronicle
Ever since Robos (Robotic Overlayed Biological Organisms) first became prevalent in society, there has always been unease between them and normal humans. The cybernetic process Robos undergo transforms them completely, differing them so much they don’t even eat the same food as normal people; with one exception. The radical dishes of Japanese chef Monosun Netikona are a strange mix of brilliance and insanity. They are also the only cuisine that both Robos and Humans can enjoy. Can Netikona’s food serve as a bridge between two different worlds? How can a chef deal with solving racial tension while trying to run a successful restaurant?
Restocked Title Cards: Road, Area, J, Ring, Rider, Creamy, Moon, Witches, Let’s, Police
Premise Cards: Feudal Japan, Banana
Anime Name: J Area Moon Riders
For hundreds of years, Japan has isolated itself from the outside world in order to preserve its unique cultural identity. The first and greatest line of defense against cultural intrusion are the Moon Riders, a secret elite band of wondering samurai, charged with ensuring that no outside influence dilutes Japanese purity. Their dedication was absolute. Until one day when they encountered a girl washed up on a beach, carrying with her a mysterious-but-tasty fruit known only as “bananas.” Pure of heart and full of dreams, she seeks only to spread the wonders of bananas to new people and new places. Now the Moon Riders are conflicted between executing an innocent girl and risking the cultural infection they fought so long to prevent. Will they make the right decision? Or will this choice tear the Moon Riders, and all of Japan, apart?
Restocked Title Cards: Road, World, Ring, Creamy, King, Witches, Blue, Let’s, Diver, Police
Premise Cards: Supernatural Battles, Colorful World of Magic
Anime Name: Police Witches Blue
While the magical world is quite different from the real world, in many ways they’re quite alike. People grow up, fall in love, and commit crime! That’s where the Police Witches step in, enforcing the peace and protecting the people. However, in a world of demons and fireballs, even the Police Witches get outmatched from time to time. That’s where the Blue Squad comes in. They’re highly powerful witches with enough magic power to take out the threats the regular Police Witches can’t handle. Momo, Elcair, and Sakura are the youngest Blue Squad ever commissioned, with an average age of just sixteen! They have no equal in magical ability, but do these young girls have what it takes to be a part of the Police Witches Blue?
Restocked Title Cards: Angel, Road, Cosmic, World, Ring, Burst, Creamy, King, Let’s, Diver
Premise Cards: Agriculture, Chinese Fantasy
Anime Name: King’s Ring Road
The Imperial City, capital of the great Dragon Empire, is home to mighty warriors, strange mystics and creatures beyond imagination, but they still gotta eat, right? Food has to come from somewhere, and, for the Imperial City, that somewhere is King’s Ring Road, a road that loosely loops around The Imperial City. Surrounding King’s Ring Road are many farms that grow the rice and other foods the city depends on for survival. While they may be humble farmers who don’t go to war or other grand adventures, their stories are still worth telling. Being a farmer comes with its own set of challenges, especially the farmers who inhabit King’s Ring Road!
If you’re interested in trying this out for yourself, here are some premise and title cards you can use to make up your own pitch! If you come up with something good, post a comment and tell me about it! If you enjoyed it so much you want to keep doing it, consider buying the game! And get your friends to come play with you! If you’re ever at an east coast convention, try to find me, and maybe we can play it together, huh? Come on, it’ll be fun!