Life of Toshiro Umezawa – Kamigawa: Neon Destiny
Date Reviewed: February 1, 2022
Commander [EDH]: 2.83
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
I knew this card would be a reference to Umezawa’s Jitte without even reading more than its name. If the Jitte is vicious, repeatable, format-defining excess flexibility, should we fear this card as much? Perhaps not: being limited to two activations, at a specific time during your turn, is not at the same level, which is definitely just as well. But the effects are diverse enough that you’ll have a good chance of one of them being relevant at any given time. You can bend that limitation with anything that adds or removes counters from a card, or by recurring it from your graveyard; that’s the kind of strategic play that the original Jitte was missing (beyond “attack with creature and win”).
Memory of Toshiro seems slightly anticlimactic and unrelated at first glance, but it’s a reference to Toshiro’s own card from Betrayers of Kamigawa. We’re more used to seeing abilities like that in red and blue, but black can make use of it too. Toshiro himself can re-use removal spells very effectively, and this might be a way to speed up expensive bombs like Crux of Fate or Agadeem’s Awakening. Your opponent may not be expecting black to be able to do that, either.
Commander [EDH]: 3/5
In honor of the protagonist of the last outing on Kamigawa and his most stabulous implement, Life of Toshiro Umezawa has room to be a bit more on the charming side. Jokes aside, this card packs a lot of flavorful references into it, and…it’s actually pretty decent. It’s not great, but when you can kill two X/1 creatures, that’s quite a solid investment for two mana. Without those to kill, you can give a creature a short-lived combat buff or even just grant yourself more life. That you can do all of these based on the situation affords this a lot of flexibility, and that’s before we get to the backside.
The memory of the departed samurai is a decent blocker that also can provide use as a mana dork whose limitations hearken back to Toshiro Umezawa himself. When you factor in the value you got en route to this flipping, that’s potentially pretty nice as a final payoff. I think this is one of those subtle sleeper cards…it’s not the strongest in the game, but it packs a fair amount of value alongside its lovely references to the original Kamigawa block…without being as busted as Jitte was, but what can match Jitte?
Constructed: 3.5 (I think this may have a home, especially if X/1 creatures are endemic)
Commander [EDH]: 3.5
I love this card for two mana with a choice option. Need a creature buff? +2/+2, need to get rid of the 1/1 blocker? -1/-1. Short on life and wish Food tokens were still in standard? Gain two life. Having this one ability for two turns is fantastic and can put you in the right advantage to turn the game into your favor. The transformed side is a nice 2/3 creature that can give you some mana in a pinch to cast your kill spell, removal spell, or if you really need to cast Duress to see what your opponent is up to. Great uncommon card that is sure to see play! Commander this is too slow to really generate value and the creature you get doesn’t progress you through the game, it could fit in a theme deck nicely though!
Commander [EDH]: 2/5
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