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 – Beyblade Episode 2: The Day of the Dragoon

SSBS - Beyblade episode 2 screen1

Plot: Tyson and Kai start their match. While Tyson is confident in his new technique, Kai’s Beyblade, Dranzer, easily blows his Beyblade apart. Tyson starts building a new blade and preparing for a rematch, but the Blade Sharks soon set their sights on the Chief and Dizzi. Training will have to be cut short.

Bey-Battles

Tyson (Dragoon Grip Attacker) Vs. Kai (Dranzer S)

Victor – Kai

Tyson (Dragoon S) Vs. Kai (Dranzer S) REMATCH

Victor – Draw

Breakdown: Continuing on from the previous episode, it’s Tyson versus the leader of the Blade Sharks, Kai, in a fierce Bey-battle. Tyson thinks he has the whole thing locked up with his new speedy Dragoon, but Kai is far from breaking a sweat. His Beyblade, Dranzer, is actually feeding off of the energy that Dragoon is creating with its intense spinning. With one fell swoop, Dranzer lifts up into the air like a helicopter and smashes down on top of Dragoon, shattering it into a million pieces.

I find this a bit….ya know. I’ll actually let stuff like this pass. We’re going to see far odder stuff in the future than a Beyblade gaining spinning power off of another’s and somehow randomly lifting into the air and setting back down without so much as a wobble.

Tyson wants a rematch right then and there, but that’s obviously impossible, and Andrew even advises him not to since they’re obviously not on the same level.

The next day, The Chief and Andrew go to Tyson’s house to see if he’s practicing and are surprised to find he is indeed practicing, but in kendo.

Tyson: “Argh! En garde!” That’s fencing, Tyson. But nice try.

As Tyson gets more and more intense, thinking about how he’ll find a way to beat Kai, his family sword reacts with a brilliant glow. Also, somehow, this all happens and, despite The Chief and Andrew watching the whole time, neither one seems to notice that this happened….okie.

SSBS - Beyblade episode 2 screen2

They talk to him about what happened the other day and explain more about who Kai and the Blade Sharks are. They’re not just a band of punks collecting random Beyblades for kicks. Kai is searching for the ultimate Beyblade – one with the ultimate Bit Beast that no one can ever beat.

He goes on to talk about Bit Beasts like they’re both something known (flippantly saying it’s a Bit Beast) and then saying that legends tell of Beyblades that are powered by creatures like lions and dragons…..Uh, what do they think a Bit Beast is if not a powerful beast that lives within the Beyblade?

Tyson then gets the revelation that the only way to get a rematch with Kai and beat him is to build the ultimate blade….foolproof plan. Because if you had the parts and ability to do so beforehand, why were you using the less powerful blade in the first place? Andrew also points out the obvious that he’d have no chance anyway because he has no Bit Beast.

Tyson brings Andrew and The Chief to his room to show them all of his Beyblade parts to get started on building the new blade. The Chief takes this opportunity to properly introduce him to Dizzi, The Chief’s Bit Beast that was trapped in his computer after a mysterious power surge (I don’t think they ever adequately explain this, and Dizzi as a whole is a dub-only thing, so just roll with it) Dizzi is short for Dizzara. No, that never matters either.

SSBS - Beyblade episode 2 screen3

Tyson then asks what a Bit Beast is…..*rubs temples* Uggh, I don’t get this. One minute they know about Bit Beasts like they’re a common thing, the next they’re legends, the next a kid who is supposedly the best Beyblader in town has no clue what they are at all.

Also, the Wiki for this episode says this:

“Tyson is introduced to the advent of the Blade Sharks, Bit-Beasts and Dizzi, even though he already knew of it in the previous episode.” So it’s just poor writing? Kay.

Instead of giving any sort of real answer, The Chief just says that Dizzi knows everything there is to know about Beyblades, so she’d be perfect to help Tyson build a new one to beat Kai.

As they work on that, Kai shows his cruelty in…an almost laughable scene where Carlos has his blade destroyed. They spin his Beyblade in a wok, three of Kai’s goons release their blades into the arena and smash it to pieces.

The whole time, Carlos is yelling and begging for them to stop…..Dude, calm yourself. Tyson just had his blade smashed way worse than yours and he barely mourned the loss at all, despite the fact that he has a more emotional connection to the game and his blades. Certainly that can’t be the only blade you have anyway.

He’s so distraught over this that he collapses and needs to be carried away.

Kai’s goons then inform him of what Tyson and the others are doing as well as the existence of Dizzi, so he goes to investigate.

Back with Tyson and the others, he tests out his new blade, the Dragoon S, against Andrew and beats him fairly easily, but Dizzi says the power level is still too low to beat Kai…..so….it’s under ninethousaaaaaannnnddddddd?

If Kai’s blade is one that feeds off of the power of other blades, isn’t focusing on increasing the power kinda….pointless?

The Chief decides that he needs to do more research in order to help Tyson win, so he goes back home for a while. On his way back, he’s cornered by Kai’s goons, one of them wearing whatever the hell this is.

SSBS - Beyblade episode 2 screen4

For those awkward times where you want the formal appearance of pants and the breeziness of shorts, there’s this thing. Ugly bare mid-drift top not included.

They kidnap The Chief, and the kidnapping is witnessed by two guys I think I should recognize but don’t, and they tell Tyson what happened.

Kid: “We thought we could save him if we followed him, but there were just too many!”

The instant The Chief got jumped, you yelled out ‘Let’s get out of here!’ How is that a precursor to ‘Let’s follow them and try to save The Chief!’?

Tyson: “Those blasted Blade Sharks!” This accursed line!

Kid: “But you can’t beat him on your own!”

Tyson: “Well, what else am I supposed to do? Stand here and do nothing?”

Kidnapped child.

Call. The. Cops.

Tyson: “Rrrgh, aw man! I have a feeling this is going to put a serious dent in our development program…”

Aw, drat. My friend got kidnapped and that negatively affects ME.

Andrew and….Kid #1 and #2 agree to go with him to the warehouse to help save The Chief, but before he leaves, Tyson asks the Dragoon for help in saving his friend. Dragoon hears his pleas and emerges from the sword, entering Tyson’s Beyblade. With the power of Dragoon with him, he heads off to face Kai again.

Back at the warehouse, the goons try to get info out of Dizzi, but are confused when they find her acting like a fairly normal computer interface. Just as the goons are about to try to get information out of The Chief directly, Tyson and the others (including a slue of other random background children) show up.

They’re about to start a big group Bey-battle when Kai appears and accepts Tyson’s challenge.

They start the match, and it seems like it’s merely going to be a repeat of last time as Dranzer draws power from Dragoon’s spinning and flies into the air. As it descends, Dragoon spins rapidly around the arena, creating a vortex that Dranzer flies into. It seems like Dranzer will either crash or lose its spinning power, but Kai proves that the battle’s far from over.

SSBS - Beyblade episode 2 screen5

As the blades continue to clash, Dranzer glows orange while Dragoon glows blue. Dranzer, revealing itself to be an amazing red phoenix, and Dragoon emerge from the Beyblades and clash in the air. Both Beyblades fly out of the Beystadium and into the hands of their owners, causing the match to result in a draw.

Kai explains what Bit Beasts are to everyone before walking away. Kai shows us a closeup of his blade and it’s pretty severely cracked while Tyson later shows us Dragoon and it’s mostly unfazed. Doesn’t that technically kinda mean Tyson won?

Tyson, The Chief and Andrew talk about what just happened. Andrew promises to help him make Dragoon even more powerful, but Tyson says he doesn’t need to because his Beyblade’s now powered by Dragoon. Prepared for anything that Kai may throw at them in the future, the three part ways.

———————————————————-

This episode is pretty alright. Nothing mind-blowing, but we do get some fun battles, we get to actually see the Bit Beasts now and since the Bit Beasts have been introduced, you can expect more of Beyblades pretty much just doing stuff on their own.

The conflict here is one that seems like it could fixed by calling the cops, but since this is a kids anime, the cops are probably too busy being cardboard cutouts sitting in patrol cars.

The writing is a bit screwed here, too. As the Wiki pointed out, Tyson is learning of things he already learned of in the first episode, and the whole thing about Bit Beasts just continues to get scrambled. In the end, even Andrew, who was giving the explanation earlier as to what Bit Beasts roughly were, was confused as to what Dragoon was. And Kai had to explain it again too.

Like the last episode, the solution to the battling problem doesn’t make logical sense to me. I don’t know of a solution to this issue outside of avoiding getting hit, but if something absorbs your Beyblade’s power, increasing the power doesn’t seem like it would help.

Not to mention that the final few lines of the episode irk me and exemplify one of the main problems with the series that I’ve already addressed.

Not only does Kai explain how special his and Tyson’s blades are in comparison with other ‘normal’ blades, but Tyson straight up refuses to further alter his blade or try to improve its power just because he got a Bit Beast. It highlights the problem that is Bit Beast = better than you normies.

His refusal doesn’t even make sense. He never beat Kai, and Kai also has a Bit Beast. He should be altering his blade and practicing in order to beat him in the future.

Rating: 6.5/10

Next episode, it’s the debut of Max, my favorite character.

……Previous Episode

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 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 7: The Fearsome Soul Blast!

SSBS CFV EP7 TITLE

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 soul bursts, 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.

…Previous Episode

SSBS – Cardfight!! Vanguard Episode 2: Ride to Victory!

SSBS CFV EP 2 TITLE

Plot: As Aichi and Kai continue their battle, Kai finally remembers who Aichi is. Aichi and Kai met several years ago. Aichi had just been beaten up by a bunch of bullies so Kai decided to give him the Blaster Blade card, urging him to imagine himself as the great paladin fighting on the planet Cray in order to boost his confidence. It worked, kinda, and from then on Aichi developed a great love of the game.

Aichi always wanted to battle Kai again as thanks for giving him something that helped him believe in himself. However, Kai moved away not too long after that. He still looks up to him and is very grateful for what he did for him, but Kai brushes it off and says he just gave him that card so he could kick his butt in Vanguard much worse than those bullies did that day. Anything Aichi thinks he knows about him is a stupid fairy tale he lets himself believe.

Despite this, Aichi manages to nearly defeat Kai, but it was really Kai letting Aichi play right into his hands. He uses the damage cards Aichi racked up on him to give his Dragonic Overlord several attacks, devastating Aichi and nearly defeating him, but he managed to save himself with a healing drive trigger.

Aichi says he doesn’t believe what Kai says about his motivations for giving him Blaster Blade. He knows what he remembers of how he was back then, and that will never change. He makes another attempt to battle with Kai one damage point away from defeat. Kai has more than enough to defend himself against the assault, but Aichi lucks out with a card that allows him to power up his Blaster Blade and knock Kai’s final damage point down.

Kai gives the Blaster Blade card back to Aichi, with Aichi having now won it back fair and square. He leaves with barely a word, leaving Aichi to believe that he hates him now.

The next day at school, barely anything’s changed. His classmates still all openly mock him for being shy and not knowing answers in school, and Morikawa, the bully who took his Blaster Blade before, is still bullying him. He’s unimpressed with Aichi’s victory over Kai and moreso believes Kai is a weakling who is too embarrassed to ever show his face around the card shop again after losing to “Shy-chi.” He also refuses to battle Aichi or teach him anything at Aichi’s request.

The status quo seems to be returned when Aichi sadly returns to an empty card shop, but his spirits are quickly heightened when Kai, Morikawa and everyone else return to the card shop wanting to battle Aichi.

———————————

This was a pretty good episode, giving us insight into Kai and Aichi’s background, Aichi’s connection with his Blaster Blade and what Vanguard truly means to him.

Like I mentioned in my Episode One-derland segment, instead of having holograms or real monsters in the card battles, all of the battles are imagined by the players, much like how anyone playing a real-world TCG would likely do. However, it’s a bit more than that. Aichi doesn’t just imagine the monsters and battles for the sake of ‘ooh cool, fighting and monsters!’ he imagines it because it gives him confidence and, in a way, gives him a place of belonging.

To many people, Vanguard is just another TCG, but to Aichi, it’s something that he treasures and makes him feel a little better about himself, even if he seemingly never has anyone to play against.

I appreciate that, and I’m sure many viewers would be able to relate to that.

It’s a little obvious that Kai’s lying about his intentions regarding giving Blaster Blade to Aichi. First of all, his claim makes no sense or makes Kai look stupid. He gave him such a rare and powerful card just so Aichi would learn to play the game, battle him, defeat him very badly, I guess, and rub it in his face or something?

That’s very convoluted and time-consuming just to say ‘haha, you suck, person who has barely played the game!’ And what if he still never decided to play? That would mean Kai gave away a powerful rare card for nothing.

Second, his demeanor completely changes when he says this, like he’s trying to rile up Aichi on purpose. Though, to what end, I don’t really know. Maybe so Aichi would be less sentimental about the match?

The battle itself was pretty cool and entertaining, but I won’t deny that it has two ‘heart of the cards’ moments. Maybe not that cheesy, but Aichi survives Kai’s assault on pure luck by drawing a healing trigger, which I can take just fine, but he also has the luck to draw another trigger that wins him the game on his next turn.

Aichi’s character is indeed turning out to be pretty unique for a shounen gaming anime protagonist. Yeah he has loads of beginner’s luck, and I hope he doesn’t develop the newbie messiah syndrome, but he’s shy, has little self-confidence, is just starting out with the game for the most part and has few to no friends.

Plus, when he pulls his first major win out of his ass, no one truly seems impressed by him. No rumors go around school, he’s not heralded as ‘that kid who beat Kai’, he’s not developing an ego off of it, he just wins then goes back to his life. It’s almost like, *gasp*, the world and everyone in it don’t revolve around this card game. BLASPHEMY.

He hopes to see and battle Kai again, and even tries to make friends with the bullies who took his Blaster Blade in the first place. He’s almost the exact opposite of every shounen gaming anime protagonist I’ve ever seen. Watch this and something like Bakugan back to back and the contrast will knock you on your ass.

What confuses me a bit is the ending where everyone comes back to the card shop all happy and raring to battle Aichi. Kai I can understand a bit more because he probably wasn’t angry in the first place and just walked away silently because he’s a stoic lone-wolf character and that’s what they do. However, just minutes prior, Morikawa and the other bully just refused to teach Aichi, refused to battle him as well, and mocked Kai for losing to Aichi, mocking Aichi in the process. Then when they get to the card shop it’s all, ‘Hey, if you want to battle Aichi, I’m playing him first!’ and they’re all good friends? Huh?

All in all, a pretty good episode and a solid conclusion to the first episode. Despite some hard to swallow luck, this series is maintaining its easygoing attitude, and I love that.

Rating: 7.5/10

Next Episode, Aichi’s sister, Emi, discovers his love of Vanguard.

…Previous Episode

SSBS – Beyblade Episode 1: The Blade Raider

Beyblade episode 1 screen

Plot: Tyson is a passionate player in the game of Beyblading. He’s one of the best around, and he’s always up for a challenge. When he’s set to challenge Andrew, another top Beyblader in town, he finds that their match is canceled due to Andrew losing his Beyblade in a bet against the Blade Shark, Carlos. Infuriated that Carlos is collecting Beyblades from his opponents, he challenges him to win them back. However, he needs to find a way to beat Carlos’ incredibly steady heavy Beyblade with some ingenuity and lots of practice.

Bey-Battles:

Tyson (Dragoon Grip Attacker) vs. Billy (Death Driger)

Victor! – Tyson

Andrew (Unknown) vs. Carlos (Kid Dragoon)

Victor! – Carlos

Tyson (Dragoon Grip Attacker) vs. Carlos (Kid Dragoon)

Victor! – Tyson

Breakdown: Ah, Beyblade. Another nostalgia bomb. I loved Beyblade when I was a kid. I had plenty of Beyblade toys, though they annoyed the living hell out of my mom since they were so loud.

Like many shounen gaming anime, I both loved the fact that they were super exaggerated forms of the real thing to make for loads of fun and the fact that you could get a taste of the same excitement with the toys. Like the Beyblades in the show, most of the real Beyblades could be taken apart to the smallest piece and customized with other parts. Sadly, the little bit beasts never emerged from my Beyblades, but I take what I can get.

Beyblade, to me, is still a show that, for the most part, doesn’t stray too far away from just being a fun sport. Sure, ancient beasts emerge from the Beyblades and start wrecking the joint, but that just adds to the fun. Rarely does anyone get hurt or anything severely dramatic happens, and to the best of my knowledge the world’s fate never rests on these spinning tops. In this series anyway – there are many more sequels to cover. There’s even a series airing this year.

Without further ado, here’s the first episode of Beyblade!

————————————–

We start out with some blue silhouettes of Beyblades as a narrator tells us that Beyblade is actually an ancient game involving ancient beasts. They must’ve lived next door to Egypt where Duel Monsters was gaining popularity. Now, the game stays popular but the beasts are dormant, ready to be awakened some time soon.

Tyson and his always-trying-to-sound-‘hip’-and-‘cool’ Grandpa are training in Kendo in their family’s dojo when Tyson tries to leave. Tyson’s Grandpa stops him to tell him the legend of the family sword and how an ancient dragon named Dragoon was entombed inside of it. The sword must be passed down to skilled martial artists in the family, so it’s important for Tyson to practice.

Now’s as good a time as any to tackle the concept of Bit Beasts. Bit Beasts are the ancient monsters that the narrator was speaking of before. Nowadays, they take the form of small pieces of plastic that clip into the top of a Beyblade. When called upon, the beasts emerge from the Beyblades and use special abilities like elemental powers or buffs.

Obviously, the beast Dragoon will eventually become Tyson’s Bit Beast. Dragoon has the power to make tornadoes in battle.

Now, the concept itself, to me, is pretty cool. If I can accept that monsters can be shrunk down and captured in little balls by ten years olds, and that monsters live in pieces of cardboard for a children’s card game, the fact that monsters live in pieces of spinning tops is no problem to me.

However, I do have two issues with it.

The first is, if you have a Bit Beast and you’re going up against someone who doesn’t, they’re kinda screwed. They really have no chance unless the person with the Bit Beast just sucks that much at Beyblading.A normal run-of-the-mill Beyblade going up against something that can, say, create tornadoes, create lightning, create fire, somehow slash at your Beyblade with cat claws and more. There’s no way a normal Beyblade would be able to compete.

The second thing is, these Bit Beasts are meant to be rare yet by the end of the series they’re everywhere. Everyone and their brother has one. At least the ones that the main characters typically battle, indicating, again, that people with normal Beyblades stand no chance. If you want to get into the Beyblading circuit, you better hope that you stumble upon one of these ancient beasts or you’ll be toast.

It also bugs me how using these things isn’t considered cheating at any point. They give you a major advantage, yet refs usually act like it’s all part of the game.

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Tyson pretty much blows off Grandpa again and gets suited up for a scheduled Bey-battle when he’s cornered in the street by a bully (?) named Billy and his two goons. Billy wants to settle a Beyblading score with Tyson so they set up at a nearby Beystadium (which, on the street, is basically just a wok) and start the match.

One of Billy’s goons conveniently has never seen a real Beyblade battle despite Billy, an avid Beyblader, being his best friend. Being a handy-dandy intro episode, Billy’s other goon explains the game to him.

It really could not be more simple – you launch two tops, known as Beyblades, into a Beystadium using a launcher and a ripcord or winder. The two tops smack into each other until one Beyblade either breaks, stops spinning, or flies out of the stadium. The game gets a bit more complicated later on, especially in tournaments, where new aspects such as terrain, specially modified Beyblades and more Bit Beasts start showing up.

Then there’s the whole thing with it seeming like Beyblades actually obey the commands of their owners….Not kidding – they act like trained dogs. They turn when told, go where they’re told, attack when told. It’s weird. I imagine this change was made so that the Beybladers actually seem like they’re doing something in battles instead of just standing there and hoping for the best, but it’s still weird.

In this Bey-battle, since those factors aren’t in place yet, the battle pretty much goes the same way a real one does – you basically just stare at the Beyblades until one of them is thrown out. In real life, though, it’s usually just a matter of the Beyblade losing rotation power and crapping out in the wok.

Tyson wins, and Billy laments that he was unsuccessful yet again. Tyson gives him a pep talk and says he has a great Beyblade, but the difference between him and Billy is that he’s had his Beyblade forever and is constantly practicing with it and perfecting its design. He even dreams about it. There ya go Billy. You keep losing because you’re not nearly as obsessed with the game as Tyson.

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Billy asks for a rematch, but Tyson realizes that he’s late for his scheduled Bey-battle against Andrew, noted for supposedly being the best Beyblader in town and having a skull design that baffles medical science to this day, and he runs off. Meanwhile, while Andrew is waiting for Tyson, a Blade Shark named Carlos challenges Andrew and puts up the bet that he has to give him his Beyblade if he loses.

Tyson later arrives to find his Bey-battle with Andrew canceled due to the fact that he lost against Carlos and lost his Beyblade. Enraged that Carlos, the boy with way too many sharp angles in his face, appears to collect the Beyblades of all of his ‘victims,’ Tyson challenges him to a match next. Carlos states that Tyson was his next target anyway and accepts, but is interrupted by the Chief who tries to get Tyson to notice something odd about the patterns left in the wok from Carlos’ Beyblade.

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Carlos quickly grows tired of the stalling and leaves while telling Tyson to meet him the next day at the river for a match. If he wins, he gets Tyson’s blade. If he loses, Carlos has to give every Beyblade he’s won back to their owners.

Chief introduces himself to Tyson and also introduces his computer’s AI, a quick-witted Bit Beast named Dizzi, to him as well. Tyson is weirded out that the Chief has a Bit Beast trapped within his computer, but is very willing to hear what he and Dizzi have to say.

….Wait, Bit Beasts are already common knowledge in the Beyblading world? And seeing one isn’t even worth a few minutes of awe? Did I miss something? (Technically, yes I did. Dizzi is only a Bit Beast in the dub.)

Tyson, Andrew and the other kids watch a recording of Andrew and Carlos’ Bey-battle in which Dizzi explains that Carlos’ Beyblade is made to be heavy, thus making it very stable and allowing it to spin longer, which doesn’t make much sense.

In order to combat it, the Chief calculates that a faster Beyblade is the solution – a Beyblade that is four times faster than normal speed, to be precise. The other kids simply want to give up, but Tyson will hear none of that. After a quick pep talk, Tyson runs off to build the perfect Beyblade to beat Carlos.

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That night, Tyson gets an idea during dinner to put an extension on his winder to make the Beyblade faster. I don’t really get why he gets this idea merely from seeing his Grandpa hold a fish with chopsticks, but according to the Wiki this is something that merely didn’t translate from Japanese to English (and they really didn’t try)

“In (the) Japanese version, as they’re having dinner, Tyson sees the fish that his grandfather is holding with sticks ‘duplicate’ itself three times, making a longer series of fish. That is what originally gave him the idea to lengthen his ripcord.”

However, even with the extension, the Beyblade only spins twice as fast as normal…..I don’t really get how that works. I mean, even with a longer winder, isn’t it the speed in which you’re pulling the winder that affects a Beyblade’s speed and not the winder’s length? Even if I had a long winder, if I pull it at the same speed, the speed of the Beyblade wouldn’t be affected. If you rip the thing out of the launcher like it owes you money, it would go faster.

After Tyson gives up in light of his only idea being a failure, he is visited by Dragoon who transplants himself into Tyson’s blade. With a newfound enthusiasm, Tyson goes out for some intense practice to get his Beyblade up to speed before his match the following afternoon.

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Tyson arrives late to his match and shows up covered in bandaids from his training. The match begins, and Tyson gets a running start to launch his Beyblade. This always confused me as I never understood how merely getting a running start and jumping could affect how fast a Beyblade spun.

…..I still don’t, but watching the scene again and seeing him perform the launch…I’m assuming it’s because he puts all of his body into his launch while in the air and that allows him to pull the winder harder? I really don’t see that working very well, but that’s the only way I can add logic here. Also, you could’ve made the Beyblade lighter….

I’m not getting why a faster blade is best against a heavy one. The faster speed does make for better power, but if Carlos’ blade is all about stability and lasting power while the faster blade is more unstable and has little lasting power then shouldn’t it just be a matching stand off? I guess it’s an effort to out-muscle the heavier Beyblade, but I’d bet on the heavy blade in that match, to be honest.

Also, wouldn’t making a Beyblade heavier give it less lasting power? Heavy blades require much more energy to spin because weight makes movement difficult. Being more stable, I can get behind, but spinning much longer than a lighter blade? I sincerely doubt it.

The match seems pretty equal for a bit until Carlos’ blade is shot out of the wok, making Tyson the winner. While Tyson and the others celebrate, Carlos tries to make off with the Beyblades only to be stopped by the leader of the Blade Sharks, Kai.

He states his disappointment in Carlos and smacks him to the ground. As Kai leaves, Tyson stops him and challenges him to a match. The Chief tries to stop him as the Blade Sharks are the toughest Bey-gang in town (apparently Bey-gangs are a thing…), but Tyson won’t listen. Kai accepts his challenge and gives him ample warning about his Beyblade as well as his Bit Beast, Dranzer.

As they start their match and launch their blades, the episode concludes.

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Thism as a first episode, is a pretty good one. It explains the game very well, allows us to get plenty of insight into Tyson as a character and even as a Beyblader, plus the development of the strategies, even if they sometimes don’t make much sense to me, was always a part of the show that I really enjoyed. However, this episode has several problems.

First, let’s address something that’s a problem with the entire series. The art and animation are horrid. It’s not the worst I’ve seen, and you have to take shounen gaming anime art with a grain of salt a la Yu-Gi-Oh, but dear god, this is disgusting sometimes.

Carlos’ face looks like it was drawn with rulers, Andrew’s face looks like it was molded with silly putty, and Tyson’s face looks huge. The details are sparse, though they are much better than, say, Medabots, and everything just looks ugly. The animation is stilted and the mouth flaps never match up with the words properly. I know it’s a dub, but this is bad even for dub syncing.

The music is great, and it has one of the most memorable and catchy OP’s of the bulk of shounen gaming anime I’ve watched.

The voice acting is….ech….Everyone is just okay at best (Kai, Chief and Tyson) and laughably bad at worst (Carlos). Also, the line reads are so incredibly awkward due to the poor lipsyncing efforts. There’s so much stalling for no reason in the middle of sentences or saying things oddly just to try to get the line to fit.

The characters….Okay, I’ve always liked Tyson because, despite the fact that we’re starting off with him being a super awesome Beyblader who is undefeated, he definitely has plenty of growth and problem areas to work out through the series. He works his ass off to figure out ways to beat his enemies, and he definitely doesn’t end up scoring wins around every corner, something we’ll see very soo—oops spoilers.

However, there’s not a lot to make him stand out much. He’s a hardworking optimist, and that’s great, but I’d never see one anime character and instantly think ‘yeah, he’s a lot like Tyson from Beyblade.’

I’ve also always liked the Chief. I kinda think his role on the sidelines constantly giving advice to the team is cheating a little on occasion, but his role is necessary to both provide the audience with detailed information on what’s going on and why, and as technical support for the group. Dizzi is funny and memorable, though I am kinda weirded out that she seems to have a crush on the Chief…

Carlos is just a terrible first antagonist. He’s a laughably bad poorly written thug who just takes Beyblades….in a pretty fair manner. He’s not forcing these people to put up their Beyblades, nor is he forcing them to battle him, they agree to Bey-battle and put their Beyblades up as an ante if they lose. They could just refuse the terms, but no – they decide to put their precious Beyblades on the line against a psycho with a sack of blades. Also, his horrible laugh and bubble gum are just cliché and silly.

Kai is a bit more interesting, though we don’t get much insight into him right now. His kinda-ish rivalry with Tyson is interesting because they are indeed friends and teammates and not sworn rivals like Kaiba and Yugi.

The story as a whole was fine, but not terribly creative. The cliffhanger was fairly decent, especially considering that Tyson is rushing into this mostly blind while relying on modifications he made purely to battle someone else. I also appreciate how Bey-battles are relatively short instead of going on for ages like how some games do in these shows. However, that won’t last forever. Bey-battles will get pretty long and crazy in the future.

Rating: 7/10

Next episode, we conclude Kai and Tyson’s match.