SSBS – Cardfight!! Vanguard Episode 21: Rematch in the Final Match!

SSBS - CFV EP21

Plot: Aichi and Gouki are set to face off yet again, and the entire regionals are on their shoulders. Aichi manages to grasp a newfound confidence in himself and his royal knights, but Gouki’s no slouch either. He’s bringing his A-game with his Granblue deck filled with undead pirates who can return from the drop zone. Will Aichi manage to come out on top, or is he not quite at national level yet?

Breakdown: First of all, A + on that title. Doesn’t sound awkward. No sirree.

Second of all, I was half and half about this episode. On the one hand, it was great seeing Aichi get his second wind and even have Gouki on the ropes for a little bit (and Aichi’s voice actor was really going for it in some scenes) but I can’t help but feel this match so far is a little slow. I felt like anytime even the slightest thing happened we were brought back to random crap the others were doing, whether it was making banal comments about the match (Aichi’s different, he’s better, it sure is an exciting match etc.) or just Nagisa or Morikawa (Can we please write these two out of the show?) making insufferably annoying comments. The pace of the match just kept getting interrupted over and over.

And, somehow, I felt like the intensity was off here even when the focus was on the match. Maybe I’m just not feeling it because I haven’t watched the series in a while, but this didn’t feel like the start to the final match in a tournament, at least until the very end. Nothing really wowed me or impressed me, which is why, when the announcer started getting ridiculously excited about the match, I literally rolled my eyes.

Granted, Aichi has been doing well – certainly better than he did the last time he faced Gouki – but something still felt off.

Either way, I did leave a little excited to move onto to episode 22 and the conclusion (I assume) of the match because I really don’t know how this will go. It’s such a weird spot to be in. He could win and show that he’s improving substantially or he could lose and take it as a learning experience for the next big tournament they try to participate in.

Nothing about this match so far screams that it will go one way or another, so it’s really up in the air, which, as I’ve said before, is quite refreshing for this type of series.

I do find myself enjoying Aichi’s deck the more I see of it. A paladin/royal knight theme that supports each other is pretty cool and very fitting of Aichi’s character. If I ever managed to successfully play Vanguard, I’d probably want a deck like that.

Next time, will Aichi be able to take down Gouki’s undead pirates and win the match? How can he fight off two grade threes with only one on his side? Can he lead team Q4 to victory?

 


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SSBS – Cardfight!! Vanguard Episode 20: Hidden Message

SSBS - CFV Ep 20

Plot: It’s the second match of the finals! While Kai steps up for his match, Aichi stews in anxiety as the weight of the tournament piles on his shoulders. He knows Kai will win, leaving the deciding match to him. Self-confidence slowly fades away from Aichi, but Kai sends him a hidden message with this battle. Will Aichi get what Kai is telling him?

Breakdown: This episode is 80% pointless. Even the characters know that Kai will, no question, win his next match, and we, as an audience, know he won’t lose to Mr. Kaboom. And if he did lose to that kabooming ignoramus, I think I’d drop the series along with my faith in humanity.

The only real point of this match is to bring Aichi’s waning self-confidence back up since he now realizes that he’ll be the deciding factor in whether or not they win the tournament.

What’s that, you say? What of Misaki?

Well, dear reader, she’s….refusing to battle. Yes, even though she was the main player in the team and Aichi was just an alternate, and even though she arrived so late the tournament was nearly over by the time she arrived, she vehemently refuses to play the final match when Aichi asks her.

I assume this is for the sake of building him up as a Vanguard fighter, but I’m really failing to see what the point even was of making her the main teammate in the first place. She has been completely without a role here. Also, isn’t she a bit too green herself to be doling out these life lessons like this?

How we even reached the ‘message’ is kinda strange and I’m not sure it makes enough sense. Kai taught Aichi to nut up and battle through………winning a Vanguard battle like Aichi knew he would. Aichi’s realization was that he wants to be as awesome as Kai, and to do that he can’t run from challenges.

So was this just Kai strutting his tail feathers around Aichi? Before his match even started, he said he doesn’t fight against players who run from matches. Considering Aichi’s deep almost obsessive admiration of Kai and his desire to battle him someday, I imagine that’s literally all he had to say to get him to do it.

What I don’t understand is how that gave Aichi confidence. Even when Kai’s match is over, he still says to himself that his skills are nothing compared to Kai’s.

In similar situations, the example being given to the character without confidence is usually by another underdog, or at least someone who’s not the obvious winner. They come back against all odds to win either through sheer determination, skill or hard work. Sometimes, the example in question doesn’t even win. It’s their behavior and attitude in battle that inspires the other character.

Here, we go into the match knowing Kai will win, even Aichi says that straight out, which is why he gets nervous in the first place. Then Kai wins and that somehow turns Aichi’s attitude around.

The one question mark was why Kai was choosing not to guard certain attacks when he easily could’ve, but obviously that was just part of his endgame strategy because again, duh, he’s not going to lose.

I might be a bit harsher on this episode than necessary because I felt a bit cheated. We’ve skipped over several matches that would’ve been interesting to watch in their entirety yet they dedicate an entire episode to Kai vs. Billy Mays and his KABOOM. Coming fresh off the heels of Kamui vs. Nagisa, which was both annoying and redundant in their play styles, and this final is turning into a disappointment.

I’m a bit conflicted on whether I want Aichi to win or lose. Kamui changed the terms of his marriage agreement with Nagisa to needing to win the finals as a whole for it to stick, so that’s on the line, but she’ll probably be a recurring character anyway.

I’d like Aichi to win, but on the other hand, if they do win this tournament this will probably lead to the Nationals, and not too long ago I praised this series for not going too far with their tournaments too quickly. I get that the stakes need to keep going higher for the sake of audience interest, but I always feel like shooting too high too fast causes the realism factor to diminish.

And just to get this out of the way, Morikawa was also putting his annoyingness on high today. That combined with KABOOM made me go into this episode feeling irritated enough.

All in all, I’m not really upset with this episode, I didn’t even find it bad, I was just disappointed. I didn’t expect much from this match to begin with, even Goki would’ve been thoroughly spanked by Kai, but I feel like it was a big waste of time.

Aichi’s moment of picking himself back up should’ve been handled a lot better. Maybe have Kai go first, then Kamui, then have a brief break where Aichi is freaking out about going into the finals with the victory resting on his shoulders then have Kai talk with him or even have a side-match with him or something. This just wasn’t the way to go, in my opinion.

Rating: 5/10

Next episode….

..Previous Episode


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SSBS – Cardfight!! Vanguard Episode 17: New Allies

SSBS CFV EP 17

Plot: Aichi’s match is coming to a close. Can he utilize his newest units to get a win against Team Black Magic? Afterward, it’s Kai’s turn to see if he can put one in the win column.

Breakdown: Aichi’s match was intense, but, I won’t lie, I felt a little bit like the match was won due to the ‘heart of the cards’ luck. Even Shin said he likely wouldn’t have won had he not drawn a critical trigger. It’s a bit annoying how draw luck is such a deeply integrated part of this game, but I guess, technically, that’s a part of any card game.

He utilized his new units well, and it’s clear that Aichi is improving his strategies every day. Also, it’s a bit surreal to hear them talk about expansion packs. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a TCG based anime talk about that stuff. I’ve heard booster packs but not expansion packs.

It’s so pointless to watch Kai’s matches now that this is yet another of his matches that they opt to completely skip over. They hype it up like ‘Wow, they both use the same kind of decks. This will be intense!’ Then they skip to the final turn where Kai completely thrashes the opponent without batting an eyelash. It’s getting old…

And even though we only catch the final turn, he still draws two critical triggers. Is his deck loaded with them or something? Then everyone, not just Aichi, gushes over him. It’s irritating that so many people are such massive fanboys for a guy as douchey as Kai. He cracks a smile during Aichi’s match, but he’s still a cocky douche.

Because they won two matches in a row, Kamui becomes devastated that he’s unable to fight. He’s completely shocked that this is a rule…..but I’m confused as to why. Kamui either has first-hand experience fighting in tournaments or he’s watched a lot of them, yet he’s surprised that he’s not allowed to fight when they’ve won 2/3 matches already.

Team Black Magic is revealed to be a bunch of pretty boys, but they’re really nice and respectful. Also, they somehow all have surnames that start with ‘Kuro’ (Black) How they managed that, I don’t know, but I hope they come back in the future.

Rating: 7/10

Next episode, Kamui is finally able to fight and we see Goki in battle again.

…Previous Episode

SSBS – Cardfight!! Vanguard Episode 16: Team Q4 Heads for the Regional Tournament!

SSBS CFV EP 16

Plot: Aichi, Kai and Kamui, dubbed Team Quadrifoglio for ‘four leaf clover,’ prep to go to regionals, but Misaki is mysteriously missing. Shin explains that Misaki had something to do and that she’d meet them later that afternoon at the arena. Problem is, their first match is in the morning. Don’t worry, though. That’s what alternates are for. Right, Aichi?

Their first match is against the ‘mysterious’ Team Black Magic, who all wear black cloaks and try to act dramatic and imposing. It’s Aichi vs. Kurosawa in the first round, and Kurosawa uses a deck very similar to Kai’s. This fact along with the pressure of the tournament start to get to Aichi. Will he be able to pull out a win, or will Team Q4 start off the tournament 0-1?

Breakdown: Whoo yeah, regionals! Whoo yeah, trope subversions!

While the first half of the episode is largely establishing specifics of the tournament as well as revealing who of the known characters happen to be there (it’s damn near everyone – including Nagisa, who is still a bratty bitch), the second half starts off the action of the tournament. It was to be expected that Misaki would go missing purely for the sake of forcing Aichi to cardfight right out the gate. I thought Misaki would be treated as the alternate, but apparently Aichi is.

Team Black Magic is a bit of a parody of those super mysterious cloaked teams that lots of gaming and tournament fighters tend to have. They try to act imposing and dark, but they’re obviously a bunch of goofballs in cloaks. I found them to be pretty funny, and I actually like that Morikawa is slowly starting to believe they’re real wizards for no reason after he heckled them.

They’re not to be shooed aside, either, because they are very skilled Vanguard players.

The match isn’t all that fantastic so far, except the cliffhanger is pretty good considering Alfred isn’t at full power and Aichi had to sacrifice all of his cards to get him to the level he’s at now, which means he’s completely without guards.

Also, you really don’t know if Aichi will win this match because this is a team tournament. If Aichi loses, it doesn’t matter much because it’s best of three. Meaning, he could very well lose.

This tournament utilizes the Motion Figure System we were introduced to before at the card shop, PSY, meaning we’re now jumping headfirst into the hologram fights. And this time there are two major differences.

First, the holograms on the Motion Figure System at PSY were very small, like game pieces. The fighters lorded over the arena like gods in the sky. Here, the holograms consume the entire playing field. All of the monsters are monster-sized and the fighters themselves take the spot of the Vanguard. Also, all of the cards are shown in the hologram when played. The only times we ever really see the fighters full-out anymore is when we see them drawing triggers, and even that’s not consistent.

Second…..they get some sort of special (albeit cool-looking) gloves called Vanguard Fight Gloves. According to Shin, they all bear a crystal that comes from the planet Cray…..*cough* So are these kids meant to be really gullible or is Cray meant to be a real place in this series? Because you guys may have just bitchslapped me away from my views of ‘wow, this series is really realistic.’

The gloves enhance the fighter’s experience in battle by allowing the Vanguard to track their movements and mimic them, making it seem like they’re actually leading the battle as their avatars instead of it all just being in their imaginations.

I would think a full-body tracker suit would be needed for this, but whatever.

I’m….not sure how cool I am with this. Like I always thought with Yu-Gi-Oh, this would be really awesome if it were a real thing, but I am more partial to them just imagining the battlefields. In a weird way, you’re both adding to and taking away from the experience by making these holograms.

The movements are no longer what you imagine them to be – they’re being imposed on you. It’s like how people are never happy with book adaptations because the TV show or movie isn’t matching what they imagined it was like. Each person has their own internal view on how things look, and if the vision is imposed on you, it makes you feel slightly disconnected.

At the very least, these holograms still aren’t as ridiculous as Yu-Gi-Oh holograms are, like when they induce pain or are seemingly so real you can stand on them.

….Or maybe not.

In the manga, from what the Wiki states, the gloves cause pain to the user whenever they take damage. Though they seem to only be used in conjunction with special systems and an antagonist team called Foo Fighter. Still, though.

Like I mentioned some episodes ago, the realness of the show made audience members connect with it better, too, because those overblown shounen gaming anime made you feel disappointed whenever you played the real thing and it wasn’t nearly as fun or exciting. Maybe that view is silly, though, I dunno.

…..I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want a pair, though. I don’t care if I don’t have any Vanguard cards – those are cool gloves.

Rating: 7/10

Next time, the match between Kurosawa and Aichi concludes. Can Aichi and his paladins pull off a victory?

…Previous Episode

Final note: Apparently, fighters aren’t allowed into nationals unless they have a pair of these gloves…..I worry for a future ‘oh god, we can’t enter the tournament because we don’t have some superfluous item we’ll inevitably find or replace’ episode. I hate to keep making comparisons to Yu-Gi-Oh, but they did this, like, twice.

SSBS – Cardfight!! Vanguard Episode 13: Shop Tournament Winner Crowned!

SSBS CFV EP 13

Plot: The Card Capital Tournament is coming to a close. Kai has defeated Misaki, and now it’s down to Kamui and Aichi’s last few turns to decide who gets to have a rematch with Kai. When the victor is chosen, will Kai fall in the finals or will his ego remain unscathed?

Breakdown: Holy shit…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aichi lost.

 

 

 

 

 

To Kamui.

I honestly wasn’t expecting that at all. The way they were building it up, I thought for sure he’d make it to the finals and then get trounced by Kai to get a personal lesson delivered by Mr. Ego himself, but nope. Kamui took Aichi down.

He did it in a spectacular way, I might add. That is definitely my favorite match so far. Aichi went down fighting like friggin’ champ, but that Soul Blast of Kamui’s was too much for the poor guy. The fact that he was strategically building that up for so long was impressive to say the least. Kamui is a very strategic player, and it’s fascinating to watch him play sometimes.

This is the first time we really see Aichi upset about losing. After each defeat, Aichi tends to just be happy playing the game, learning and making friends. This time is different since it meant he lost his chance to have a rematch with Kai, which was what he was looking forward to the entire time. He also took it as proof that he really wasn’t strong enough to take Kai on again, which I think is something he needed to learn. Though, I think he’d just be happy fighting Kai again, win or lose.

Aichi is down for a while, but his friends pick him back up and he enjoys the tail end of the finals, admiring it as being a match currently beyond his level, but hoping he can one day roll with the big dogs.

Speaking of the finals, that was something I was concerned about before I even watched the episode. The next episode preview showed the title of the episode – “Shop Tournament Champion Crowned!” Why is that a problem?

Let me ask you, doesn’t it sound like Aichi and Kamui’s match takes up quite a bit of time?

It does. More than half the episode.

How could they crown the champ in the piddly amount of time they have left?

Simple. They amputate 99% of the match and only show their last turns.

Love. Ly.

Yeah, we’ve just been watching this tournament for like four episodes now. Why would we want to see the main event? If Aichi’s not battling, who cares, right? Not like Kamui’s totally awesome to me lately or anything. PBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT!

That is the one mar of this otherwise incredible episode. You can dedicate one more episode to the final match. Time management is key, guys. Be better.

Other than that, we get some insight into Misaki’s role in this tournament. We finally learn why she joined the tournament to begin with (Shin forced her) and we clearly see that she was drastically affected by her loss at the hands of Kai and has gained a better appreciation, if not passion, for the game in its entirety. I like that they actually bothered to include this as some subtle character development, and I look forward to Misaki’s matches in the future.

But wait, there’s more!

Shin reveals that this whole tournament was designed as a selection process for the upcoming Vanguard national tournament, because of course it was. I’ll give it a pass because they started with a small tournament first before chucking the characters into a national tournament.

Everyone who made it to the semi-finals gets to represent Card Capital in the national tournament after they pass a regional qualifier, meaning they’ll all be teammates. Whoo!

If I can say one last thing, someone please knock Kai down a peg. Between his beating Misaki and Kamui without so much as thinking about sweating, I feel like his ego won’t fit in the stadium during the tournament.

Kamui’s still doing his dumb joke shtick, but that’s fine because this episode was pretty awesome…barring the finals (seriously, one more episode, guys. Just one. Half of one, even.) I’m looking forward to what the next tournament has to offer.

Rating: 8.5/10

Next episode, Aichi needs to prep for the upcoming tournament.

…Previous Episode

SSBS – Cardfight!! Vanguard Episode 12: Aichi vs. Kamui

SSBS CFV EP12

Plot: It’s the Card Capital Tournament semi-finals! Aichi is facing off against Kamui while Misaki faces off against Kai. Aichi’s definitely holding his own a lot better than he was the last time he fought against Kamui, but can he manage to pull off a win?

Breakdown: This episode focuses almost entirely on the match between Kamui and Aichi because, let’s be honest, Misaki is just not going to win her match. We all knew this the instant the lots were drawn. She’s inexperienced and Kai’s a ruthless powerhouse. I was impressed by her strategic thinking in the short bit of the match we were able to see, but of course she loses.

Aichi’s match against Kamui definitely shows how much Aichi has grown, learned and improved as a Vanguard fighter. He was getting absolutely mauled by Kamui last time and now they’re neck and neck. And it’s not just because he has Grade 3s now, either. In fact, most of his best moves have come from his Grade 1s and 2s, proving that it’s more about having balance and knowing your cards well than it is about having powerful cards. It’s a fantastic fight, and I’m really starting to love watching Kamui battle.

There isn’t really much to say about this match besides that because this is our second cliffhanger. Their match was getting right down to the wire when they were interrupted by Kai finishing off Misaki. I was about to ding Aichi for yet again losing focus in his match just to focus on Kai (Seriously, dude, TCG etiquette), but Kamui was doing the same and this is a major match ending so I’ll let it slide.

Other than that, we have another nice added tidbit of realism in Morikawa and Izaki running around the Vanguard tables acting like idiots and Shin needing to tell them to stop their horsing around. This is a room filled with kids in what is essentially a toy store. Of course that is bound to happen. I’m not even mad that the scene was completely pointless because it just peppers in that feeling of realism and nostalgia.

Also, we get this exchange during that scene.

Taishi: “Word of advice – You’re never going to get a girlfriend acting like that.”

Morikawa: “Whatever, man. I’ve got Vanguard – the best girlfriend ever.” My stomach hurts from laughter at this line. Morikawa is starting to be less annoying to me because he gets such ridiculously funny (and stupid) lines.

Rating: 9/10

Next time, the match between Kamui and Aichi concludes. Who will win? And who will face off against Kai?

….Previous Episode

SSBS – Cardfight!! Vanguard Episode 11: The Ninja Fighter Withdraws!

SSBS CFV EP 11

Plot: Aichi’s match with Ninja Master M concludes, and he’s moves on into the semi-finals. Kamui and Misaki also win their matches and move on. It’s time to draw lots for the semi-finals!….After lunch!

Aichi is matched with Kamui, and Misaki and Kai get paired up. Who will get to the finals?

Breakdown: Ladies and gentlemen….our first truly disappointing episode.

I mentioned in episode ten that time management seemed to be an issue and that the battle with Ninja Master M didn’t need to be a cliffhanger. This episode truly exemplifies that point. The match against Ninja Master M only takes one more turn, as predicted, yet it takes up the entire first half of this episode – in spite of the fact that the next episode preview and title spoil the whole thing. It was a great final turn, but it was drawn out for no real reason.

We see a few minutes of Misaki completely destroying some sniveling 30-something woman, which was nice to see as a preview of how much she’s improved in the few weeks she’s been actively playing.

And that’s it. The rest of the episode is a lunch break where 90% of the scenes are Kamui drooling over Emi and fantasizing about the two of them eating lunch together. It was a little funny for a short while but got old real quick. They obviously just didn’t want to put any of the actual semi-finals into this episode, so they had to dump in some filler until we got to the last few minutes where they at least draw their lots.

I would’ve preferred if they at least spent the final half on Misaki’s match.

Some other things were that Kai’s assessment of the tournament so far was that everyone was weak and not worth playing against….Dude, it’s a small-town rinky dink shop tournament. Why would you ever think you’d find a pro or the like here? Get your head out of your ass.

We also got a painfully unfunny return of Kamui’s running ‘joke’ where he gets common sayings wrong. This one doesn’t even make sense. He’s last to pick his lot, so he says ‘Saving the best for blasts, huh?’ What the hell does that even mean? The point behind the saying is IN the saying for God’s sake. There’s no way he knew it’d be appropriate to say that unless he knew the saying was ‘Saving the best for LAST’

But that’s not all. Izaki, Morikawa and Taishi have to spend about 30 seconds explaining why what he said was wrong. Thanks. We. Got. It.

Let’s not stop there. Let’s have him do another in the next episode preview. He tells Aichi to fight it out ‘bears and bears’ and Aichi, of course, has to correct him to ‘fair and square.’ Again, why the hell does he believe that saying is correct? Is he suggesting Aichi and him fight so fiercely that they maul each other?

In regards to short moments, Misaki got a pretty funny one where she yells ‘Bite me!’ to Taishi when he calls her cute for blushing as her name is listed off.

This episode is the first one I’ve seen so far where there just weren’t a lot of shining good moments to direct attention away from the problems.

Rating: 6/10

Next episode, it’s Kamui vs. Aichi, and we might get a glimpse of the match between Misaki and Kai.

….Previous Episode

SSBS – Cardfight!! Vanguard Episode 10: Enter the Ninja Fighter!

SSBS CFV EP10

Plot: The next round of the Card Capital tournament is underway. While Kai battles the three-time CC tournament champion, Aichi is paired up with Ninja Master M, whom they quickly determine is Aichi’s teacher, Mr. Mark, in disguise. As Ninja Master M, he immerses himself very deeply into the role of a (stereotypical) ninja. He tries to hide as a part of the wall with a cloth, tries to make quick getaways with (indoor-safe) smoke bombs and even injects ninja-esque vernacular into his cardfights.

Aichi is thrown by Ninja Master M’s behavior, but quickly realizes that he’s no joke when it comes to Vanguard. Utilizing a strategy in which Aichi is forced to keep discarding cards from his hand, Ninja Master M gets Aichi into a corner quickly. Will Aichi have to concede defeat?

Breakdown: I am a tiny bit mixed on this episode.

On one hand, Ninja Master M (He’s wearing a samurai helmet. This is bugging me.), despite me just barely remembering Mr. Mark in the slightest (was he only in episode one? Hm.) is an entertaining character. I smiled several times at his scenes, and his pathetic ninja shenanigans remind me a lot of Agiri from Kill Me Baby, only he plays it straight.

On the other hand, Morikawa kinda ruins his whole shtick. Morikawa, for some strange reason, believes Ninja Master M is the real deal and marvels in everything he does. Even when he’s in the middle of a cardfight and is claiming he’s doing ninja things that are obviously not happening, this dolt believes every word (IE, he claims riding a Grade 1 on top of a 0 is a ‘ninja replacement’ technique and Morikawa just eats it up.) Keep in mind, all of the visuals for these moves are entirely in Aichi’s head. All Morikawa is seeing is NMM playing a card and saying something.

Also, it seems like they’re both mocking and celebrating cosplay here? Maybe I’m looking too far into this, but NMM’s first opponent claims he lost because he was so distracted by his outfit and mannerisms. Then he tells him he wishes his parents had never let him out the basement and calls him a freak of nature.

Granted, yes, this is a little kid talking, but an adult wrote it, and, still, ouch.

However, despite everyone rolling their eyes at NMM, no one else is really making fun of him. Aichi quickly takes NMM seriously in their match, too. There’s no disrespect on his end – it just took him a minute to get used to his strange behavior and dress. Does that mean they’re really saying they respect cosplay or is this not even a factor?

On one hand, it was nice to see a fiercer and more amped up Aichi.

On the other hand, I am still annoyed by his obsessed focus on battling Kai. He even gets distracted away from his match with NMM, in the middle of an attack no less, because Kai just finished his match, which he obviously won. He’s dead set on just getting through his matches to get to Kai. It’s very rude to skew your attention away in the middle of a match like that. Have some TCG courtesy, Aichi.

This is also our first cliffhanger episode! Oooooooooh…..it was a very unwarranted two-parter. It ends on what has to be Aichi’s last turn and he’s fighting someone he’s obviously going to win against.

Not to mention……

Cardfight!! Vanguard, can we have a little talk? I was a little perturbed by your use of a cliffhanger here, but I understand that you’re new at this stuff and it wasn’t completely awful, so it’s cool. Just try to manage your time a little better.

I won’t, however, overlook the grievous sin you have committed. When you have a cliffhanger to a game in a gaming anime, you never ever spoil the ending in the next episode preview. Yet, not only do you show Shin doing the ‘Winner’ gesture to Aichi’s side of the table, not only do you show NMM’s monsters getting successfully attacked when NMM has little damage to spare….you named the goddamn episode….’The Ninja Fighter Withdraws’ Oh, well, thanks, Vanguard. I literally have no reason to watch the next episode now. THANKS A BUNDLE.

Why do so many shows do this? Not just gaming anime, but just anime in general. I get that you want to show good stuff to get people to watch, but spoiling the whole episode just gives me little reason to watch. If his match with NMM doesn’t even take up the full episode, why not focus the title and preview on whatever is taking up the second half?

Come on, guys. I can’t do your jobs for you.

Rating: 7.5/10

Next episode—Errr….I guess I already told you……..Uhhhhhh……

smoke bomb archer

….Previous Episode

SSBS – Cardfight!! Vanguard Episode 9: The Shop Tournament Begins!

SSBS CFV EP9.png
7/10 of these characters will be ousted off-screen. 9/10 have no character whatsoever.

Plot: The Card Capital Shop Tournament is underway, and Aichi finds himself much more nervous than he anticipated. His first match is against Izaki, and he’s a complete mess. Can Aichi pull it together, or will he be axed from the tournament in the first round?

Breakdown: I continue to be impressed by this show’s sense of realism in regards to situations involving becoming invested in a game or sport. Aichi is incredibly excited about the tournament, but is quickly succumbing to nervousness and self-doubt when he realizes that a good deal of people will be watching him partake in his first tournament. He’s even more distressed when he believes that no other competitors are seemingly nervous.

He fumbles through even the simplest of game mechanics and soon starts faltering in his match. I’m no card game tourney master, but I have been in a couple of little local rinky dink Yu-Gi-Oh tournaments back in the day – when gumballs were a nickel and you had to walk 70 miles to school in the rain, snow, sleet and dinosaurs.

As someone who is incredibly socially anxious, I know this feeling hits you like taser dart. Like Izaki states, being that nervous drains you of the enjoyment of the game and leaves you wondering why you’re even playing. It’s a game – it’s meant to be enjoyed. However, stage fright and the pressure of winning in succession can weigh on you either way. It’s only when you focus purely on having fun and learning from each success and failure that you can truly relax.

Izaki seems to be doing much better than he is, but when Aichi starts to make moves that are slightly better, Izaki starts making mistakes as well. Aichi realizes that, despite how he looked on the outside, Izaki is just as nervous as he is, and he should just relax and enjoy his favorite game with his friends.

To his credit, Izaki is a much better fighter than Morikawa. He is very skilled and thinks analytically, which is in contrast to Morikawa’s brute rush ‘strategy.’ Of course, you’re nearly certain that Aichi will win his match before he even knows who he’s battling. While I won’t predict he’ll win the tournament (he’d most certainly have to beat Kai for that, and I’m not sure I’d believe he could pull that off) he’d had to at least get through the first round.

Watching his match was simultaneously awkward because of how many rookie mistakes he was making and exciting because Izaki put a lot of passion into his moves at the end, matching Aichi’s. My favorite part wasn’t even in the battle itself – it was in Aichi smiling gently as he watched Izaki playing his cards once he finally relaxed. He was enjoying watching someone else have fun with the game with him. It was really sweet.

Another realistic aspect is the tournament itself. Shounen gaming anime, like Yu-Gi-Oh and Beyblade, for example, tend to jump right into these massive televised tournaments without letting their characters chill with some local ones, like any normal person would. This is a small shop tournament. There’s a very reasonable amount of people attending, the people attending react like real people, the tournament board is a poster, the roster names are covered with stickers and the winners are indicated by a red marker.

Not to mention that Shin is also inept at holding this thing. He needs to resort to bribing his ‘Assisticat’ with treats to unveil the roster, and he lets Morikawa and Kamui grab his mic and let them play their egos. It’s extremely charming and, to a degree, nostalgic.

Because this is a normal tournament and not a ‘would take a million years in real life’ shounen gaming anime tournament that does everything one match at a time, this match is happening alongside Morikawa’s match with Misaki.

I have no clue why Misaki is partaking in this tournament. Didn’t she just have her first Vanguard fight a few episodes ago? I know she has fun with the game, but she even implied herself that learning about the game was moreso for her job and not anything else. I’m glad she is here because she’s the only prominent female player who’s a regular character, but it doesn’t make much sense to me. Maybe they need to elaborate a little more on this.

As you can guess, Morikawa goes into this acting like a hotshot asswad and promptly loses because he never learns. We only see a short blip of his match with Misaki, and it’s of him celebrating getting a Grade 3 on a draw then lamenting that he can’t summon it because he doesn’t have any Grade 2s. If he’s still having balance issues this severe after being fully aware of them for at least a month, I’m not sure I have much hope he’ll ever become anything worthwhile as a player in the near future.

Aichi internally commends her on her ability to always stay cool and calm, until he realizes that she too was nervous. I’m going to chalk this up to stage fright because being nervous battling Morikawa must be like being nervous while beating a rug. The worst that will happen is you’ll inhale some dust.

There is some stuff I’m getting annoyed by, though – Aichi’s obsession with Kai being the forefront again. He gets all excited when he sees Kai’s name in Block D, then he gets depressed when he realizes he’s in Block A, meaning his only chance to face him will be in the finals. He is so preoccupied thinking about being so far away from Kai in the roster that he doesn’t even bother reading the name of his opponent until he’s stared at Kai for a while. Then, once his match is over, he instantly thinks to getting to the finals so he can face Kai – because no one else has any chance I suppose?

Kamui is also in this tournament, but the rest are no-names so far – which means they’re probably just filler characters to get the tournament going off-screen. The only one they’re putting any sort of focus on is some guy wearing a visor and a samurai helmet. His only identifying feature is a blond goatee, but since we don’t know any characters who have such a feature so far, this means nothing to us.

I did like this exchange upon first seeing him, though.

Kamui’s Friend #1: “What’s up with that guy?”

Friend #2: “Yeah, and what’s with the costume.”

Uh, I think the ‘What’s up with that guy?’ was covering the costume part, sweetie.

Rating: 9/10

Next time, Aichi fights the samur – ninja guy in round two!

….Previous Episode

SSBS – Cardfight!! Vanguard Episode 8: The King of Knights Enters the Fray!

SSBS CFV EP8

Plot: The Card Capital Tournament is coming soon, and Aichi struggles with the decision to enter or not. He feels as though his shouldn’t until he learns Kai is entering. Eager to face him again, Aichi tries to take the last spot, only to have another player named Kishida muscle in at the last second. In order to settle the dispute, Shin suggests having a Cardfight for the final spot. Can Aichi utilize everything he’s learned so far to earn the final spot, or will he spend his first tournament watching from the sidelines?

Breakdown: Have you ever wanted to fuse Weevil Underwood and Pegasus together? No? Well, too bad, because that’s essentially Kishida in a nutshell.

He uses a bug-based deck, he tries to act smarter than he is, he has glasses, long, flowy silver hair and a posh accent that you’re most certain is fake.

But enough about Maxivil Pegawood, we got a tournament to prep for!

This show does a great job at handling TCG plotlines in a manner that’s both exciting yet realistic at the same time. Morikawa, thinking he’s hot shit, is eager to enter and claim his crown. Aichi, however, is uncertain, which is understandable given his personality and experience so far. I’d say he’s at a month or so of experience at this point.

Even when he gets to the card shop, he finds that plenty of other customers have similar doubts, especially when they hear of who will be entering, and this is before Kai puts his hat into the ring.

It’s subtle, but it’s realistic and very relatable, which is a massive difference when compared to other shounen gaming anime where situations like this would be blown ridiculously out of proportion – like completely over the top tournament announcements, every single player thinking they’re so awesome that there’s no way they’d lose, signing up actually requiring some sort of pre-requisite ‘are you worthy?’ test, including some ridiculous puzzle you have to solve before the end and every step of the tournament being played out like it’s life or death (or the end of the world).

This is a simple local tournament at a small card shop. Cheap posters and fliers were made, signing up was literally just signing up, people had doubts in their abilities and avoided signing up, and in the end this is just a low-key tournament where players are having fun. There are egos, sure – Kishida has this in spades, but it’s realistic.

Now that I’m older, I find more appeal in these toned down gaming shows. I get that explosions and high stakes keep the brains of the children focused on the TV box and buying more toys, but something that always bothered me about playing the real game based on the show game was that it was always disappointing. Even though I got very invested in playing Yu-Gi-Oh, and still play frequently to this day – though most of it’s on Duel Links – it’s still not all that exciting when compared to the insane stuff you’ll see on the show.

I got a Duel Disk for Christmas one year and felt really cool for about ten minutes, but then I kinda felt like a dork, especially since no one else I knew had one and playing the game on it is a bit of a nightmare from hell. Who the frick can get a decent deck, or even a regulation sized deck, into that deck holder slot? The damn plastic piece meant to hold in the cards is so rigid and the space is so small you’d think the creators never realized that a regulation deck holds, at minimum, 40 cards.

However, I believe if I ever played Vanguard, I’d be very content with it because I imagine it’s a very similar experience to playing it on the show. You can exaggerate and pump things up without resorting to magic, evil cults, alternate dimensions and–

card games on motorcylces

That being said, Aichi’s obsession with Kai is getting a bit out of hand. I get that Kai is a measuring stick of progress – a rival to work towards defeating – I also realize that this is a great opportunity for Aichi to battle Kai when he said in the previous episode that Aichi was too weak to challenge a second time. However, he is always asking about Kai, thinking about him, wondering where he is and what he’s doing. And all Kai does is treat him like crap.

There’s an underlying sense of respect or friendship there, but he does treat him terribly. It’s a little awkward sometimes.

While I have been complaining about Aichi’s losing streak, it’s very obvious that the streak ends with this episode. I doubt they’d have a tournament arc where their main character is not a participant, especially since he got all revved up for Kai and considering his opponent is a pompous douchecanoe.

I was very happy when he finally won, and the genuine look of delight on Aichi’s face was, quite frankly, adorable. I was a little uneasy about Kishida pulling one of those infamous antagonist 180s where he’s a jerk the whole time and then becomes nice after the battle’s over. I get that, in the writer’s logic, he has no reason to puff up his chest and try to intimidate anyone anymore, nor would it work after a loss, but I think, realistically, people don’t change that drastically that quickly. It’s whiplash character development.

Rating: 9/10

Next time, the Card Capital Tournament is underway and Aichi’s first match is against Izaki.

…Previous Episode