First Impression: High Card

The best place to keep a valuable treasure stowed away is in a castle, on an isolated island, guarded by machine guns and heavy armor. Or so you would think, but a team invades the sanctuary and steals the valuable suitcase, only for it to break open in the midst of their escape, releasing poker cards charged by some sort of magic, which then stream away to destinations across the globe. Some time later, a young thief named Finn, with one of the cards in his possession, uses it to hit it lucky at a casino. Unfortunately, his act has attracted the wrong kind of attention and he’ll will soon discover that the power of these cards isn’t just for making a fortune—they are explosive weapons, and other parties will do anything to get their hands on them all.

The typical small-time scam at the beginning of the episode was meh, but it did remind me that I’ve probably been this guy and said exactly this at Starbucks before. Sorry, baristas!

Assemble, high card! Is that like, “Avengers, Assemble”? Regardless, High Card seems to have a battle cry, though the epic parts made to say such a thing are still a ways off. Instead, after the sort of exciting castle escape intro, episode one goes smaller. It follows Finn, a thief with a heart of gold who intends to use his earnings at the casino to help an orphanage that is about to close. Awww. But first, he has to escape evil card dudes who know how to use these magic accessories way better than he does. One of the guys can freeze things and people with them, which then burst into blood and marbles. Another does something else cool with his card, I think? Sorry, I’m not sure he’s actually activated his yet. And Finn? Well, he’s about to learn what kind of weaponry he can make as well, but not before a high-speed chase through a Monte Carlo-like city. The pursuit is also only so-so, as is the rest of the fighting. That’s kind of the story of this episode. High Card is colorful and flashy, but everything, including the jazz soundtrack, feels like a retread and nothing is quite as exciting as it should be, which is a shame when you’ve got heads exploding into marbles. Come on, that should be way cooler than it turns out to be! Anyway, the story seems headed in a pretty obvious direction as Finn catches on with a cool, strong, and probably noble guy who’s slightly older and way more mature. The series might end up being alright and will probably be a lot of fun, but can I convince you to watch a Lupin III series or Great Pretender instead? They’ll feature many of the same elements but done better, though if you want tome Fate/Zero-style magic and combat mixed in with your heist/thief series, High Card could be the hand you’re looking to draw.

High Card is streaming on Crunchyroll.

3 thoughts on “First Impression: High Card

  1. This doesn’t sound too bad. I might give it a try. Though, as I was reading your review I kept thinking of other animated series and movies. Like when you mentioned that they were playing cards that were weapons, I thought, “Oh like Gambit’s cards from X Men”. And you mentioned that then the cards shot off across the globe, like the Clow Cards from Card Captor Sakura. And then a kind thief named Finn finds one, like Flynn from Disney’s Tangled movie. Lol! A combo of other movies and series could be good.

    1. Haha it does bring to mind all those as well! I wish I had though of both Flynn and Gambit, especially, when writing my review. Great thoughts!

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