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Redakai

Cards meet combat as we conquer the Kairu

It’s not for the first time that cards and combat have gone together. Yu-Gi-Oh!, Pokemon, and CLAMP’s Cardcaptor Sakura all revolved around real or imaginary decks of cards, while Summer Wars got viewers curious about old-fashioned Hanafuda, or flower cards. Unlike them, Redakai: Conquer the Kairu (to give the cartoon’s full name) isn’t from Japan. It’s a Canadian-French team-up, tailored for America and other English-speaking markets, though you may notice the name of DR Movie in the credits. This is a hugely important South Korean studio, with credits on anime by Studio Ghibli, Madhouse, Gonzo and many others.

As the trailer shows, the film combines traits from Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh! From Pokemon, there is the idea of rival teams, each following the same treasure hunt (or in this case, mystical energy hunt), destined to cross swords again and again. 15 year-old Ky Stax is the leader of the good guys. His wisecracking strong-armed buddy is Boomer, while the tattooed girl Maya is the outfit’s brains, helped by her ESP visions. Early in the series, it’s indicated that Lokar, the show’s chief villain, has a hidden plan for Maya, who looks to be more than the traditional token girl of action teams.

Like Yu-Gi-Oh!, Redakai uses card-based duels. As the characters collect the show’s paranormal power-force – the “Kairu” of the title – so they put particular units together to turn into giant monsters, or launch attacks on one another. Each of the different characters has his or her preferred monster and attack. Of course, fans of the show can do “battle” themselves in the tie-in Redakai card game, which uses plastic trading cards classed as “Characters,” “Monsters” or “Attacks.” Parts of the cards are see-though clear, which affects their value when a card is put on another. The video below explains the “Basic” and “Advanced” rules of the game. (Note that the cards themselves sport 3D animated pictures, as shown at the beginning of the video).

The first DVD volume, released today, contains the first seven parts of the show. It begins with fairly straightforward stories and fights, though with signs of arc plots to come. Among the voice-cast, anime fans should look out for two support actors with anime connections. Katie Griffin voiced Alex in later episodes of the anime-esque Totally Spies!, but she’s best known in anime circles for dubbing Sailor Mars in Sailor Moon. In Redakai, she reportedly voices Zair, a member of the malign Team Radikor. But the biggest name in the voice-credits is Wil Wheaton, late of the Starship Enterprise (he was teen cadet Wesley in Star Trek The Next Generation). Since then, he’s taken supporting voice roles in Naruto, Naruto Shippuden and Mobile Suit Gundam UC, and turns up in Redakai as Quantus, a character who appears further into the story…

Redakai is out now on UK DVD.

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