Home Samurai culture Magic: The Gathering – Fist of the North Star’s Tetsuo Hara explores cyberpunk and Japanese elements in Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty

Magic: The Gathering – Fist of the North Star’s Tetsuo Hara explores cyberpunk and Japanese elements in Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty

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The long-standing legacy of Magic: The Gathering (MTG) leaves plenty of room for creative exploration, and its 91st expansion will continue to nurture that imaginative spirit. From Japanese mythology to mythical nocturnal creatures, its current tabletop iterations have expanded across narrative realms and genres, but the Kamigawa: The Neon Dynasty together (check out our unboxing for preview) promises an interesting and different experience, in more ways than one.

It starts from the thematic influence itself. The 302-card deck makes its mark as the first in the collectible card game universe to feature a sci-fi aircraft: a neon-lit futuristic Japanese-inspired world filled with cyberpunk elements, set over 1200 years after the original Kamigawa block. concluded in 3326 AR. Now, the marriage of its feudal past and modernity has spawned ninjas and samurai who carry a cyberpunk aesthetic.

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For the team, however, the significance goes beyond fiction. The central theme of Kamigawa: The Neon Dynastywhich highlights the conflict between tradition and modernity, in fact reflects their struggle to develop a sequel to one of the most poorly received blocks of MTG, where they had to separate it from the previous frame without making it stray from the genre. As a result, half of the set will feature the new mechanized world of modern Kamigawa, while the other half depicts the more traditional Kamigawa.

Where new worlds are born, new characters follow. Legendary planeswalker Shizuki Kaito makes his debut here, the brainchild of three influential Japanese artists, including a seasoned manga illustrator. Tetsuo Hara. Known for his works such as Hokuto no Ken (located as Fist of the North Star), Hana no Keiji, So no Kenand Ikusa no Kothe man shares his enthusiasm to dive into a new but familiar creative space.

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The following interview has been edited for clarity.


Question (Q): Share with us your impressions of the world of Magic: The Gathering and map illustrations.

Tetsuo Hara (TH): The design of Magic: The Gathering and Kamigawa – even for the other characters – is so free, with different worldviews and directions; yet it is still able to function as separate elements. I wanted to create a sci-fi ninja warrior story set in that kind of world. is so free, with different worldviews and directions; yet it is still able to function as separate elements. I wanted to create a sci-fi ninja warrior story set in that kind of world.

Q: Can you talk about the similarities of composing a pose that reads well in a smaller format (like a MTG map) to the composition of an individual manga panel?

E: In the case of manga, I tend to use a bust or high-waist composition because it’s hard to see facial expressions when the composition is pulled back like in this illustration. In terms of art direction, the various elements and flow of movement, such as “fearless smile”, “draw a sword”, “throw a shuriken” and “run on a tiled roof” are expressed through several panels in the manga. However, for the MTG piece, I had to complete the figure of the character first before adding the other elements, which I don’t usually do.

Q: When you found out you were going to draw Kaito Shizuki’s character, what was your initial design concept for this character?

E: For Kaito Shizuki, I already had a character design in mind, so I didn’t have to choose an image of a real person.

Since I have to follow the original design and setting, I opted for the phrase “fearless smile”. Then I thought about what I could do to fix the image so that it would be recognized as mine […] I decided to add elements of Laos from Fist of the North Star and Hana No KeijiThis is Maeda Keiji. Also, I always add western elements even when drawing in Japanese style – if I don’t, I can’t finish the drawing.

Q: How does it feel to be a Magic: The Gathering artist?

E: I was thrilled to be asked to illustrate the world’s most famous card game, and since I love science fiction art, the world of Kamigawa, with its Japanese and cyberpunk elements, was a dream came true for me, so I was happy to do this.

The world of Magic: The Gathering and Kamigawa is interesting, and I would like to draw at least five more pieces. Please send your requests to Wizards of the Coast (laughs).

Q: For many readers, they may not notice the small changes in your art over the years – can you tell us how you are still looking to improve after so many years of drawing?

E: I try to value the stimulation I receive from the people around me. I also try to keep my chuuni spirit (used to refer to someone who acts and speaks as if living in a fantasy game, manga, or anime world with magic, evil organizations, etc.) in mind (laughs). In fact, I’m quite a pessimistic person, so the encouragement I get from people around me is important to me. If I created the Coamix company in 2000, it is because I cannot continue without my friends, and I need them to help me fill in the gaps. Authors who have had great success are also authors who have exhausted themselves.

I think the important thing is the idea and the feeling of the image. If you put your heart and soul into it, you will be able to convey the merit of the image. If there was a rule that you had to be good at drawing, I couldn’t draw. There are many people who are better than me. But I can do it because there are people who are happy with my photos.

Q: For Kamigawa: The Neon Dynasty, an untold Magic story set in the Japanese-themed cyberpunk world of Kamigawa. Do you want to give a message to your fans before the release?

E: I will be happy if my drawing of Kaito Shizuki makes even one or two people happy. If you play Magic with this card, I will be even happier. The world of Magic: The Gathering and Kamigawa are interesting, and I would like to design at least five more pieces. Please tell everyone at Wizards of the Coast (laughs).


Kamigawa: The Neon Dynasty is scheduled for release on February 18, with exquisite full-art card works featuring select legendary creatures and planeswalkers. It will be available on Amazon and Shop in regular draft boosters, theme boosters, collection boosters, set boosters, as well as the Neon Dynasty pack and two Commander decks.


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