SSBS – Cardfight!! Vanguard Episode 15

SSBS CFV EP 15

Plot: Emi decides she wants to try her hand at playing Vanguard, so Shin suggests having a practice cardfight with one of Aichi’s friends. Morikawa leaps at the chance to ‘teach’ her, really just itching to finally take down someone with his beloved grade threes. Misaki loans Emi her deck to get her started and the match begins. Can Emi’s first match be her first victory?

Breakdown:

Last episode review: “Can Morikawa manage to defeat a little girl on her first match?….That’s a serious question.”

The answer is no, no he can’t.

And thank god. It might be hard to believe a little girl who barely knows anything about Vanguard to win her first match, but it’s even more unbelievable for Morikawa to win any match period.

At least I can take solace in the fact that everyone else is as exasperated with Morikawa’s antics as I am. Seriously, he straight up throws away a grade zero unit just so he can litter his side of the field with grade threes. That doesn’t sound so bad until you learn the main reason he loves grade threes so much – their twin drive. However, as Kamui points out, only those in the Vanguard circle, of which there is only one, can use twin drive, so it’s entirely pointless. And his throwing away that unit made it so he couldn’t use the drive trigger for his actual Vanguard anyway.

I’m learning this game as I go along too. I’m only slightly more knowledgeable about it than Emi is, and even I’m rolling my eyes at Morikawa whenever he plays. How many times does he have to have that ‘OH MY GOD, I HAVE NO GRADE ONE OR TWOS’ moment before he finally gets the hint that his deck is horribly unbalanced? And even when he gets grade zeroes, ones and twos on his first draw, he opts to discard and redraw so he can get more grade threes. He is ridiculous.

Morikawa aside, we finally get to see Emi take the stage, and she is just a peach. Her imaginary version of Cray is a pretty field with butterflies and a bunch of moons and flower petals. She chooses monsters based on how cute they are and literally throws herself onto the game table when Morikawa attacks because she doesn’t want her units to get hurt and doesn’t want to guard with a unit in her hand for the same reason. It’s silly and adorable and I love her to death.

Emi’s not an idiot, either. While Kamui, Shin, Aichi and even, sometimes, Morikawa give her information and advice from the sidelines, Emi is able to work through the basics of what she needs to do rather easily since she’s seen Aichi and the others cardfight a few times at this point. She even catches Morikawa in a technicality that no one else caught – the aforementioned problem that his Vanguard had in using a drive trigger. He wasn’t allowed to use the trigger unless there was a unit of the same clan on the field, and the only one he had of that clan was a grade zero he threw away for the sake of summoning another grade three.

Morikawa’s not all that irritating through most of the match, in spite of his incessant stupidity. He actually does seem like he’s just pumping up his ego but is still kinda teaching Emi when the theatrics stop. Nearly every turn is him being a grade three fanboy while everyone groans at his antics and Emi just stares at him confused. However, once he gets a few damage, he starts mocking Emi and that’s when he gets irritating. Dude, it’s a little girl on her first Vanguard match. Get a clue.

At least Emi doesn’t pay his mocking a single mind. She just keeps being confused at him or ignores it.

The match was pretty entertaining for a first-time match with Morikawa. It was nice to see Emi throw her hat into the ring, and I loved watching her play. Not only did she seem to be having fun, but Aichi fondly watching his little sister get into the game he’s grown to love while giving her advice was too cute.

Even Kamui was pretty cool in this episode. He is obviously trying to wedge his way into becoming Emi’s Vanguard teacher to be closer to her, but he’s also legitimately giving her the rules and information about the game as a fellow player.

This episode was a strong example of the great dynamic the whole main cast has. Even Kamui’s friends played off of the story well and had some funny reactions. I love when all of the characters click so well together, even if Morikawa gets annoying. Plus, it was a nice refresher episode for those still trying to get the rules of the game down pat. I even learned a few new things.

I hope we see Emi build a deck of her own and play more in the future.

Rating: 8.5/10

Next time, the regional qualifiers are here. The Card Capital representatives make their way to the arena, but Shin and Misaki are mysteriously absent.

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SSBS – Cardfight!! Vanguard Episode 14

SSBS CFV EP 14

Plot: Kamui (begrudgingly) takes Aichi to a card shop called Card Shop Handsome to meet some national-level players and train for the regional qualifiers. Kamui introduces Aichi to Goki, leader of Team Handsome, the players who represented Card Shop Handsome in nationals last year.

Goki’s little sister, Nagisa, has a huge crush on Kamui and is constantly calling him her boyfriend and jumping all over him even though Kamui doesn’t return her feelings at all and explicitly states that he loves Aichi’s sister, Emi. Hearing this declaration, Goki defends his sister’s love by challenging Aichi to a cardfight. Utilizing a Granblue deck of zombie pirates, can Aichi find a way to win?

Breakdown: I wasn’t all that much into this episode. It was alright, but I just didn’t get into it very much. Goki and Team Handsome aren’t that interesting so far (and one of them has the annoying habit of saying ‘KABOOMY!’ for no reason) and the Granblue deck didn’t live up to the buildup, which is a shame on many fronts. I love zombies, I love pirates – why is a zombie pirate deck not that intriguing to me? Especially when it’s a little OP as well. Aichi didn’t get thrashed or anything, but Goki was never once even considering sweating.

Aichi is thinking even more methodically but yet another failed ‘heart of the cards’ instance screwed him over. Yeah, Aichi lost again, and his reaction was actually quite the typical ‘I’m gonna be stronger, like him. No, better than him!’ which kinda surprised me a bit.

Nagisa is also incredibly annoying. I may rag on Kamui for his crush on Emi sometimes, but at least he’s kinda cute about it. Nagisa is 35 pounds of irritating brat. She consciously doesn’t listen to anything Kamui says about not wanting to be her boyfriend or being in love with someone else, and she latches onto him like a leech. Not to mention that one line about tying him up to prevent him from running away. Someone’s going to get restraining orders as an adult.

While I didn’t downright hate or even deeply dislike anything in this episode, I didn’t really like it much. Even the match wasn’t all that great.

Rating: 4/10

Next time, Emi decides to throw her hat into the Cardfighting ring. Her first opponent is Morikawa. Can Morikawa manage to defeat a little girl on her first match?….That’s a serious question.

SSBS – Cardfight!! Vanguard Episode 13

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 and it’s “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: 8/10

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

SSBS – Cardfight!! Vanguard Episode 12

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 3’s now, either. In fact, most of his best moves have come from his Grade 1’s and 2’s, 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.

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

SSBS – Cardfight!! Vanguard Episode 11

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.

SSBS – Cardfight!! Vanguard Episode 10

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 one on top of a zero 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

SSBS – Cardfight!! Vanguard Episode 9

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 Yugioh 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 Yugioh 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 three on a draw then lamenting that he can’t summon it because he doesn’t have any grade twos. 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.

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

SSBS – Cardfight!! Vanguard Episode 8

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 Yugioh, 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.

SSBS – Cardfight!! Vanguard Episode 7

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Plot: Kai has returned, and Kamui is quickly annoyed by his attitude. While Kai rejects a challenge from Aichi, believing he won’t have a chance, he does take Kamui up on his offer. Using the new standing tables at Card Capital, the two have a heated cardfight. Kamui manages to keep pace with Kai, but beating Kai is larger task than he ever anticipated. Is this the end of Kamui’s win streak?

Breakdown: It’s ego vs. ego. GO GO GO!

While I’m still having trouble keeping up with the more fast-paced matches (I even caved and studied a Wiki while watching this) they continue to do a good job explaining the major aspects of the match without needing third-party assistance (Looking at you, Bakugan). I learned some new strategies and aspects of the game, so I don’t feel like I’m getting washed away or anything.

Speaking of new things, Card Capital gets standing card tables, which….I guess are cool? I can kinda see how standing tables would be more immersive than just regular tables you sit at, but is it really that big of a deal? We also learn about soulbursts, which are cool.

Kai vs. Kamui is a match that I wasn’t even sure I wanted to watch. Both characters are full of themselves and dismissive of opponents that they don’t see ‘worthy.’ The only difference is that Kai is stoic, calculating and egotistical while Kamui is loud, thinks more on his feet and is egotistical.

Truth be told, this is the first episode where I basically knew the outcome. Kamui obviously needs to be taken down a peg to help quell his ego and make him mature more as a player. Kai is treated like a Vanguard god, so him losing before the episodes even get into the double digits is unlikely (Even though he already has….) Still, it was a pretty intense match, and I’m thankful they had the match be relatively even the whole time instead of just having Kamui get thrashed from start to finish.

Kai still continues to annoy me, though. I could’ve sworn he was more likable in the first episode, but he’s just a stone-cold ass. If Morikawa was in the second half of this episode, this probably would’ve been the first episode I disliked just on egotistical ass overload.

Rating: 7/10

Next Episode, Aichi wants to sign up for the Card Capital tournament, but needs to face off with a boy named Kishida in order to win the final slot.

SSBS – Cardfight!! Vanguard Episode 6

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Plot: Preparing for a tournament, Morikawa and Izaki take Aichi to some card shops out in the city. They get lost, but find a mysterious card shop called PSY. It’s completely empty and filled with holograms. While there, an employee introduces them to a Vanguard Fight Stage that presents Vanguard battles in hologram form. Morikawa is unable to turn the stage on, but Aichi is, prompting him to get challenged by another employee named Kourin.

She has a similar deck to Aichi’s, but is obviously on a different level than him. She’s initially unimpressed by his skills, but eventually becomes enthralled in the match due to Aichi’s enjoyment and determination to never give up.

Breakdown: I knew this was coming. I mentioned earlier in the series that I liked how the visual presentations of the battles were imaginary, much like how any person in real life would visualize a TCG match while playing. I used to do it all the time when playing Yugioh, and it resonated with me when I saw it in Vanguard.

However, there’s only so much excitement you can get from imaginary battles in a TV show. I knew from the OP that we’d eventually get to hologram battles, and it worried me a bit.

One of the things that always nagged me about Yugioh was how ridiculously real the holograms were. They could be stood on, create realistic attacks, cause pain, push you down and even knock you out. I was worried that when holographic battles were introduced here, it’d be the same ridiculousness. Luckily, Vanguard surprised me again, because it’s the more realistic route of just having a holographic battlefield with little monsters fighting on it. The players loom over the battlefield like gods – it’s pretty cool.

Being fair, they do eventually impose Aichi and Kourin in the monsters, and the monsters even kinda interact with each other, but I don’t think that’s being reflected in the real holograms. I think Aichi’s imposing his imagination onto the scene again.

An iffy aspect of this episode that concerns me is they’re seemingly lampshading an ‘Aichi is special’ plotline. Morikawa was unable to activate the stage, but Aichi was able to activate it with a touch, which impressed the employees. Time will tell what’s going on there.

On the topic of the actual battle, it was pretty intense, which is something I usually don’t expect from matches involving similar decks. Those episodes are usually a little boring because they spend a good chunk of the match playing the same cards at the same time just to highlight ‘HEY WE HAVE THE SAME CARDS IN OUR DECKS’ Fortunately, they only do this for a couple of cards in this match. Otherwise, it exemplifies how you can have similar deck structures while also being drastically different.

Kourin is pretty alright as a character. She’s a little annoying in how she initially writes off Aichi since he’s a rookie (Izaki notes that Aichi’s been playing for a few weeks now), but she soon shows that she respects Aichi simply for his determination to continue on, even when there’s no way to win, and his desire to keep learning.

Yes, again, this is another episode where Aichi loses the match and takes the battle as a learning experience. I have been enjoying his uniqueness as a shounen gaming protagonist that constantly loses. It’s a very realistic take on this seeing as how he really has only been playing for a few weeks. It’s much better than dealing with the ‘miracle rookie’ trope. They even had a ‘heart of the cards’-esque moment, and it flatout didn’t work.

I also love how Aichi still has such strong resolve to keep fighting and battling even when he can’t seem to win against anyone but Morikawa. He keeps getting knocked down and getting right back up again with a smile on his face, happy for the battles he’s fought and what he’s learned.

But…

I’d like to see him win again sometime soon. I connect with Aichi so much and like him so much as a character that, even though he doesn’t mind losing, I keep getting sad that he doesn’t win. I’m not asking him to knock down a champ, just throw him a bone not in the shape of Morikawa.

Speaking of Morikawa, while he still gets on my nerves a lot, especially considering he keeps rooting against Aichi (this time because he has a crush on Kourin) he had me laughing at the end because of his desire to be defeated by her. His dialogue is so inappropriate and hilarious. Another nod to the voice actors here, because they’re doing a great job.

Next time, Kai’s back! And he’s battling Kamui!