SSBS | Bakugan Episode 4: Dan and Drago

Plot: After throwing Drago into the river, Dan confronts his classmate, Ryo, who is very knowledgeable about Bakugan, yet has never played it. Despite Ryo being very courteous and bashful, Dan becomes infuriated at him when one of his classmates states that Ryo’s so knowledgeable on Bakugan that he might even be able to beat Dan in a Brawl.

Nearly having his laptop broken by Dan’s outburst, Ryo is approached by Masquerade who recruits him, claiming he could be the best Brawler around with his knowledge, and his strategies should be respected. Without Drago by his side and facing a super-strategic first-timer with a Doom Card on his side, can Dan manage to win?

Breakdown: *Deep breath* Okay, Bakugan. I am a reasonable person. Maybe you’re just struggling to get through this first handful of episodes. I get that. So, let’s put the water under the bridge, the exact same place you threw Drago, and try to move on.

Ahem.

Today’s episode starts with a really sloppily edited and written scene with Dan’s friend guilt-tripping him and trying to get him to go find Drago. He stubbornly refuses and goes to lay on his bed without shutting off the computer or closing the video chat.

“Dan, come back!” He’s just laying on the bed about two feet away from the computer. He can still hear you and talk.

Meanwhile, Drago and underwater shenanigans.

The next day at school, Dan starts ragging on this kid named Ryo who, despite never having played Bakugan before, likes to analyze the data from battles and make up strategies for certain scenarios using his computer. So, pretty much Bakugan’s version of The Chief from Beyblade. Dan believes there’s no strategy to Bakugan – it’s all about who has the most power….This Bakugan prodigy, one of the best in the world….Has early Yu-Gi-Oh Joey syndrome. Or Morikawa from Cardfight!! Vanguard syndrome, take your pick.…..

I’m not kidding – Dan is MYSTIFIED that there’s actual strategy involved in this game.

They pronounce Ryo as ‘Rye-oh’….

One of their classmates says Ryo knows so much, he might even be able to beat Dan in a Brawl, and Dan becomes enraged. He mocks Ryo some more, despite Ryo being perfectly pleasant and nice this entire time, and challenges Ryo to a Bakugan Brawl. He tells him to put his money where his mouth is unless he’s afraid to show that his data isn’t worth spit, but Ryo didn’t say a damn thing, the other kid did. So he’d be putting his money where some other kid’s mouth is.

Dan gets so pissy that he rushes up to Ryo’s face to the point where Ryo stumbles backwards and drops his computer.

For a change, the other kids actually call Dan out for being a dickhead and defend poor timid Ryo and his possibly broken computer. Dan doesn’t own up to it, though, and just runs out of the room claiming it wasn’t his fault when it 100% was.

While Dan sulks later that night, Ryo is contacted through his Bakugan simulation software by Masquerade. Ryo states that he’s perfectly content simulating Bakugan, acting as if it’s a chess game, as opposed to playing the actual game. Masquerade claims Ryo wants to prove to the world that he has the skills and knowledge to be an amazing Brawler, and he can help him with that if he joins his mission.

The next day at school, Dan actually seems like he might be about to apologize, but Ryo suddenly challenges him to a Brawl, revealing that he has one of those Duel Disk-esque things from Masquerade. Dan accepts the challenge.

Dan: “This geek is going down!” So much for apologies, apparently.

Ryo sets down a Doom Card, and they both set down their first Gate cards.

Ryo sends out Fear Ripper. Dan puts down another Gate card and summons Pyrus Terrorclaw.

Ryo….draws a card from his shirt? I’m not sure that’s allowed, but whatever. He places another Gate card and summons a dark praying mantis thing. He then uses the ability card, Marionette to….grab…Terrorclaw and…..somehow that allows the praying mantis thing to beat him.

Wiki Response – Apparently, moving Terrorclaw to Darkus Mantris’ spot….lowered its power enough to beat him…or something?

Anyway, Terrorclaw is now in the….the Doom Dimensionpbbbttthahahahaha. That will never not be funny.

Ryo recalls his Mantris for some reason, and we’re off to round two.

Dan calls out Juggernoid while Ryo summons….the Mantris again. Why recall it if you were just going to call it back out half a second later?

Juggernoid attacks Mantris, but Ryo uses the ability card, Companion, which…sends both of them to the Doom Dimension?

Wiki Response – I guess that’s exactly it’s function: it kills both an opponent’s Bakugan and your own. *shrug*

Dan is offended that Ryo let his own Bakugan be a sacrifice to beat his, but Ryo says they’re all just tools and parts of his strategy.

Round three – Dan sends out Robotallion and uses the ability card, Robotallion Enforcement. That….beats him….I guess?

Wiki Response – Robotallion Enforcement powered up Robotallion by 50g, which gave him a 40g lead over Fear Ripper. However, they never show Robotallion attacking. They both get engulfed in flames, return to their ball forms and, I guess we’re left to assume that Dan just won that round because of that.

Round four – Ryo sends out Reaper, and Dan thinks this match is clinched because Reaper is standing on a Gate card that will give his Pyrus cards an extra 150g, meaning Reaper won’t be able to beat Robotallion. Boy it sure is nice when the show actually EXPLAINS what’s happening.

Dan sends out Robotallion and activates his Gate card, but Ryo counters with Dimension 4, which nullifies his Gate Card. Now without the g boost, Reaper is able to beat Robotallion, giving the match to Ryo.

Dan finally actually, legitimately lost…..and I feel numb. I thought I’d feel happier with Dan finally losing, knock him down a peg. But, remember, I am reading the Wiki page for this episode….He wins the rematch later on, so this whole thing just seems somewhat moot besides guilting Dan enough to go after Drago.

Also, despite the fact that time stopped at the start of the Brawl, the second they get back from the pocket dimension, it’s suddenly looking like there’s going to be a storm.

Ryo and the other kids walk away, leaving Dan on the ground beating himself up over losing his Bakugan. And if there were ever a more inappropriate time for the commercial break to bust in going ‘Stay tuned for more Bakugan: Battle Brawlers!’

Dan has a welcome moment of self-reflection as he laments on not learning anything over his battles and being the cause of his Bakugan being sent to the Doom Dimension.

There’s also this –

Wiki: “When Dan was thinking about his battle against Rikimaru, the flashback of the battle is entirely different. None of it occur [sic] where Siege deflected Drago’s attack on him by the gate card. Thus this is more of an alternate timeline scene since Drago broke free from using his ability and waited for the gate card to open.”

Okay…..Wiki, I think you’re being a little generous with the ‘alternate timeline’ explanation. I think a better one would be ‘The writers were too lazy to remember what happened there, so they bullshitted something.’

He, rightfully, beats himself up for being so self-absorbed, then rushes off to save Drago from the river.

Drago…sparkles or something, allowing Dan to finally find him.

Once the symbolic and literal clouds clear, Dan apologizes to Drago, and despite the fact that Drago also admitted he was unfair and apologized to Dan in private, he doesn’t share such a kind sentiment in response to Dan’s apology.

Drago: “You are not completely useless to me, so why should I not take advantage of you as much as I can?” Stop. Please. I’m tearing up.

Dan: “Do you really mean it?” Why are you acting like that was a sweet thing to say?

Oh my god, that embarrassingly animated shot of still-frame Dan and slide-animation Drago. Wow. That’s a special thing right there.

They start a rematch with Ryo. Fear Ripper is called out by Ryo first while Dan sends out a horned demon thing. They show that Dan’s learning by pointing out that he suspects a trap.

His suspicions are confirmed when we basically get the exact same song and dance as before with Mantris and Marionette. Ryo also opens his gate card, which grants Fear Ripper another 80g, making it a match of 400g vs. 320g.

Dan activates Fire Wall, which decreases Fear Ripper’s attack by 50g….Obviously….he failed math and the demon thing is sent to the Doom Dimension.

Dan: “Just trust me, Drago! Okay?”

Drago: “I trust you!” He threw you in a river and left you there for over a day and only retrieved you when he finally felt the sting of loss, knowing you were his best Bakugan and could give him the best chance to win in the future.

But okay.

Round two – Dan calls out Drago, and Ryo…calls out…Fear Ripper again. I didn’t even see him recall him that time. Whatever.

Ryo then uses the ability card, Slash Zero, which grants Fear Ripper 80g, making its attack 400g to Drago’s 340g. Dan protects Drago by using the gate card, Intercept, to stop Fear Ripper from attacking Drago.

Dan summons a Mantris of his own and also uses the ability card, Marionette, to take control of Ryo’s Fear Ripper and set it on Mantris’ gate card, which is Mind Ghost and even the Wiki doesn’t help me here as, apparently, doing that sent both Mantris and Fear Ripper to the Doom Dimension. Dan does explain what this does, as it’s basically Companion, I guess, but why the card activated on its own when Dan placed Fear Ripper on it is beyond me.

Logically, there’s no way Dan should’ve even known Ryo had that card, let alone had it out on the field. That wasn’t strategy – that wasn’t even heart of the cards bullshit – that was a guess and luck.

Dan: “Well, you see, Bakugan is really a strategic game. You have to read your opponent’s mind and anticipate his moves.” Literally, I suppose, because the only way you could’ve possibly have known Ryo had that card out was if you actually read his mind.

Also, shut up.

Ryo: “I don’t understand! He actually managed to double-cross me!” You’re not using that word right.

Round three – Ryo summons Reaper and quickly disposes of Dan’s Mantris.

Round four – Reaper and Drago face off. Dan is anticipating that Ryo will use Dimension 4 this time, which actually make sense.

Dan activates his gate card, which looks like another Fire Wall, so Ryo tries to counter with Dimension 4 again, but Dan reveals this is a character card, which isn’t affected by Dimension 4, meaning Drago gets the powerup.

Dan’s whatever card doubles Drago’s power to 680g as opposed to Reaper’s 370g. Even though it’s entirely pointless because the power gap between the two Bakugan is now massive, Dan powers up Drago even more with a Boosted Dragon card, making his attack level a ridiculous 880g. Yes, I’m going to prove I’m not all about power by needlessly powering up my already overpowered Bakugan.

The match goes to Dan.

Yay.

At least Ryo and Dan make up and look forward to a nice non-doomy match someday.

And by ‘someday’ I mean ‘never’ because Ryo never appears again. Shame. He’s much more interesting than Shuji anyway.

Dan takes a break from bragging about himself to his friends by bragging about Drago (and himself by proxy – even mentioning he went up a rank) Then Dan gets all cuddly and kissy (literally) with Drago’s ball. This series let me say that sentence.

The end.

————————–

This definitely was the most tolerable episode so far. Dan was a prick in the first half but got more likable in the second. He pulled some stuff out of his ass to win the rematch with Ryo, and, honestly, I think he was dumbed down for the first match. Dan has showed much more strategy than that, and the idea that he’s such a high-ranking Brawler without understanding that this game involves strategy is ludicrous.

Either that, or Bakugan is a broken game, which it very well may be because I’ve been watching for four episodes now and I still can barely make heads or tails of what’s going on without needing the Wiki. Explain card effects. Name the Bakugan and cards every time you show a new one. Don’t just expect the audience knows this shit.

But, of course, either way, he needed to be dumbed down and beaten without Drago around in order to have Dan realize the error of his ways and go after him.

Dan’s problem was never a lack of strategy, it was impulsiveness and recklessness. The fact that they tried to show his growth in strategic planning (And, ironically, caring for the Bakugan as living creatures) by letting two more of his Bakugan be sent to the Doom Dimension (as PART of this strategy) and magically predicting Ryo’s use of a card Dan had no prior knowledge of is just poor writing.

Ryo’s personality change was way too much for me. I’d understand if Masquerade has some sort of dark influence on people, but, as far I know, he doesn’t. He’s just really good at coercion and manipulation. Ryo went from really timid and kind to cocky asshole and back again within the course of two days. It was a bit hard to swallow, even with Dan being a jerk as the trigger.

I did like Ryo as a character, and I would’ve loved him to be a sort Chief-like character for this show, if only for the sake of explaining what the hell is going on, but alas, that’d be something I’d enjoy so of course he’s a one-off.

Next episode…..Runo….yay.


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