An Absurdly Deep Dive into the History of 4Kids | Part 16: Yu-Gi-Oh No! (2005/2006 cont.)

In October 2005, Yu-Gi-Oh! GX was brought into the fray to replace the void left from the original Yu-Gi-Oh! series as it was ending the same year. However, instead of premiering it on Kids WB or 4Kids TV, 4Kids opted to premiere the show on Cartoon Network (on the programming block, Miguzi, which was basically Toonami if it was less cool and held underwater) for some reason. I’m not complaining, I’m just confused. Not airing it on Kids WB I get a little, but why wouldn’t they want it premiered on 4Kids TV? It would take until September 1, 2007 until it would air in syndication on 4Kids TV.

4Kids hoped GX would breathe new life into the franchise with new characters, new cards and a more casual and fun atmosphere with the new series taking place at a dueling academy. The show did suffer from the typical 4Kidsisms, including story changes, dialogue changes, a lot of visual edits in regards to transitions and splitscreens to make it seem more fast-paced and ‘cool,’ but it wouldn’t really be much more changed than the original Yu-Gi-Oh!.

Unfortunately, in 2008, 4Kids would wind up canceling GX without ever airing (or dubbing?) the final episode of season three or the entirety of season four. This was reportedly due to the fact that Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds had started airing in Japan, 4Kids had already acquired the first season and wanted to focus on releasing that instead.

According to an email response someone got from 4Kids around the time of cancellation;

“Thank you for writing to us about your interest in Yu-Gi-Oh! GX. Because a lot of our resources are dedicated to dubbing and airing 5Ds, we will not be dubbing season four of GX for this season.

However, this does not mean that we won’t ever dub it, it just means that it is not on the schedule for the near future.

The 4Kids.tv webmaster”

Basically, how this can be interpreted now is that 4Kids didn’t want to lag behind. Considering their dubbing plate wasn’t really all that full at the time either (see: all the shows they lost at this point) they easily could have dubbed GX alongside 5Ds, but I can bet they just didn’t want to bother.

It was also suggested that, since the new wave of 5Ds-based TCG releases was coming and 5Ds would still be around a year or more before release in the States if they decided to finish GX first, they just decided to bump up 5Ds and save some money by ditching GX on the side of the highway.

Other rumors theorize that 4Kids didn’t like the new direction the show was taking in the final season. The show had gotten notably darker and stood in stark contrast to the much lighter casual show it had started out as. Judai/Jaden himself also suffered from a personality change, making him much more brooding and serious than his trademark happy-go-lucky self was in earlier seasons.

It didn’t help that reception for the final season and the tail end of season three in Japan wasn’t nearly as good as it had been, and it was mostly for that very same tonal shift. Ratings for GX also weren’t as good in the west. They weren’t particularly bad, but they seemed to have paled in comparison to the original show. Either fans of the original didn’t like the new cast/vibe/setting in comparison to the original show, they didn’t like the way 4Kids had presented it, particularly in making Jaden this ‘radical’ main character who shouted out “Get your game on!” whenever he started a duel, the fact that many of Yu-Gi-Oh!‘s original fans had aged out of the target demo and the new generation of the demo wasn’t hooking in much yet or the lingering decline of Yu-Gi-Oh! as a whole was keeping it from finding a large audience.

There’s another rumor that Konami and TV Tokyo pressured 4Kids to dub 5Ds in order to capitalize on the new TCG releases, which makes some sense, but it doesn’t answer the question of why they couldn’t have also dubbed and aired GX at the same time.

Also, according to an email exchange from 4K Media, which was the division of Konami that took control of Yu-Gi-Oh! when 4Kids lost the rights after they went bankrupt (and is not, in fact, basically 4Kids in disguise as some people seem to believe), Konami didn’t have any say in 4Kids dumping GX. They claimed that they didn’t even know why 4Kids stopped dubbing GX.

Really, the only one who would suffer for keeping GX out there is 4Kids because they were the ones who would have to devote time, money and other resources to the show. Konami probably did pressure them to dub 5Ds as soon as possible, but how much pressure, I don’t know, and I sincerely doubt they told them to drop GX since that would just be additional advertising, basically, for Yu-Gi-Oh! as a whole.

Despite 4Kids claiming they might dub the rest of the series some day, they never did. They also retained the international license for several years, so no one else could take over at the time. It’s possible Konami could now dub and release the final episode of season three and all of season four, but I sincerely doubt it. It’d be a lot of work and fuss for something that probably wouldn’t be profitable.

You could argue that they just didn’t want two new Yu-Gi-Oh! shows airing at the same time.

Only they totally had two Yu-Gi-Oh! shows airing at the same time.

As Yu-Gi-Oh GX was airing on Cartoon Network, 4Kids also premiered a brand-new Yu-Gi-Oh! show on 4Kids TV….one that 4Kids had made from scratch.

Yu-Gi-Oh Capsule Monsters was a show commissioned from Studio Gallop by 4Kids based on the game, Capsule Monsters – a game introduced in the original pre-soft-reboot version of the manga and in Season Zero, which never aired in America. Because the last time 4Kids commissioned their own Yu-Gi-Oh! feature just went over so well, Twix said sarcastically.

It’s possible that 4Kids was also basing this off of Yu-Gi-Oh! Capsule Monster Coliseum – a PS2 game that released two years prior. Capsule Monster Coliseum was not a successful game. While the very few reviews I can actually find on the game are somewhat positive, they all cite the high learning curve as a big negative, which is understandable considering it’s a game based on a game where even the writers had no idea how the actual hell it really worked.

I can’t even find any sales information on the title (best I could eek out is that it may have sold 220,000 units in America with 440,000 units overall, but I can’t be certain because the website on which I got this information has no information on the Japanese sales.

Basically, the game wasn’t a success. In fact, many extensive lists on Yu-Gi-Oh! video games frequently forget this title exists. People say the same about Dungeon Dice Monsters, but at least Dungeon Dice Monsters was actually explained and prominently featured in the main anime. I loved the Dungeon Dice Monsters GBA game.

I honestly don’t know why Capsule Monsters was created. It was set near the end of the original series, but considering GX was premiering right as the original series was airing its final handful of episodes, it can’t be that they intended for it to be some bridge between the two. The Lost Media Wiki says it was made to promote the toys that 4Kids had made, but one of the links that they cite as a source, an ICv2 article, claims the exact opposite.

“The game will be drawn from the Season 5 12-episode story arc that will begin airing in the States in January 2006.”

And if that’s true then…why was the show created? Was it really just to try and get a new toy line for a property that was literally about to end off the ground? Were they really desperate to milk the series for content considering Pokemon was out the door and Yu-Gi-Oh! was left holding the bag? I guess they could have eventually launched a GX version, but considering GX was already airing, why not just start there?

It’s such an oddity. Capsule Monsters had little promotion, little fanfare, no official announcement as far as I saw, but still spawned its own tabletop game, which was very much unsuccessful. It was canceled after only releasing two starter sets and one booster pack. I honestly wouldn’t have even known there was a Capsule Monsters game if I hadn’t seen it once or twice in stores when I was a kid. Even the IMDB page for the anime has a pitiful one review to its name.

It really didn’t help that they made the game entirely different from the way it was played in the manga/Season Zero and the video game. The game 4Kids made up was just as confusing as the other versions. The game is so confusing that they felt the need to release two versions – one basic and one advanced.

It was also released oddly. The figure game was leaked in December of 2005 on Talkinsportsweb.com, then episodes of the show were airing early on January 30, 2006, without any announcement, on the Irish children’s channel, RTE. In TV listings, it was just noted as Yu-Gi-Oh!, meaning viewers thought they’d be seeing normal Yu-Gi-Oh!, but got Capsule Monsters instead, all seemingly without the knowledge of 4Kids and completely by accident on RTE’s part. RTE would continue accidentally airing these Capsule Monsters episodes until February 2, 2006 when they would shift back to GX and keep Capsule Monsters under wraps until August (Ireland was typically able to air 4Kids shows a tiny bit earlier than the US.)

Viewers were both confused and confused. Confused because there was absolutely no information on this show anywhere, nor any Japanese source material, but the evidence was right there on a LiveJournal post that it existed. Confused because the show just seemed so weird. It was still Yu-Gi-Oh!, the main cast was front and center, but it was focused on an entirely new game that, for some reason, involved what looked like arm cannons.

To make things even more confusing, the show was not presented as a spin-off. The reason I say this is because it has the exact same theme song as Yu-Gi-Oh!, just with a few different background clips and the words “Capsule Monsters” put underneath the title, as if this was a different arc of the Yu-Gi-Oh! series, not a spin-off. In addition, at the start of each episode, Yami would just say “Previously on Yu-Gi-Oh!” not “Capsule Monsters.

Some sources claim it’s a spin-off, others claim it’s just a new arc to the original series that aired some time in the middle of the final season. US TV listings at the time said “Yu-Gi-Oh! Capsule Monsters” which implies a different series, because a different arc would still be the same series. It’s incredibly confusing.

To make matters even worse…..this series comes off like a huge Pokemon rip-off. I don’t like to throw around that word much anymore, but, at its core, this was damn near plagiarism. They kept these monsters in ‘capsules,’ they could be released outside of ‘games’ and follow them around like fairly sentient (but non-verbal) animals, or they could use them as modes of transportation. They were also recalled and released with beams of light and frequently just battled other monsters with no gameplay enacted besides things like type advantages and whatnot. It was really watered down to just “Monster has a weakness against (x), so we have to do (x)”

They also didn’t have actual Capsule Monster games against other people. Capsule Monsters is supposed to be a rough off-shoot of chess, which is why one of the original names for the game in the manga was Capumon/Capsule Monsters Chess. The real world game follows roughly the same-ish format. However, in the anime, they were always just battling head to head against other wild monsters. A lot of the time, the ‘game’ came off like, well, Pokemon battles. You just command the monsters to attack and strategize based purely on certain advantages. You also collect them. And by “collect them” I mean, most of the time, they just sorta stumble upon the capsules and get monsters for free….A few times, though, they did get monsters after battling them first. And some of them just followed them for no reason, which doesn’t sound familiar at all, no sirree.

I think that’s the main reason they came up with that ‘arm cannon’ gimmick for the series when it’s not present in any form of the game, either in the video game, manga or Season Zero. If they didn’t have the arm cannon thing, they’d either have to throw the capsules or open them to release the monsters, and I can bet even 4Kids thought that imagery would probably be a bit too on-the-nose.

Oh and one of Joey’s monsters is the Baby Dragon….and he’d blow fire on Joey. Baby Dragon looks a lot like a mini-Charizard. You piece that together.

YGCMSCREEN1

Also, fun fact, the rough draft version of Pokemon was called Capsule Monsters, and that was in 1989. I’m not sure I believe the original game in the manga was inspired by/ripped off from Pokemon as Capsule Monsters. The Yu-Gi-Oh! manga originally came out in 1996, and the first Pokemon games were released in Japan in 1996, but the game in the manga and Season Zero is so different that I can’t say anything with any degree of certainty. It is definitely weird is all I’ll say, especially when you take the releases of the video games into consideration.

This specific anime version, however, I’m much more comfortable suspecting as a Pokemon rip-off, especially because 4Kids called for it. Since the completed game was leaked in December of 2005 and the announcement of the license agreement ending was in December of 2005, they likely didn’t know quite yet that they’d be losing Pokemon when they commissioned this series, so I won’t say this was some attempt to fill the void. Maybe it was more like general laziness and mooching off of it, like they were trying to fuse Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh! and make some sort of super mutant merchandise baby.

There was only one actual game against a real person in the entire series, (even though it was still just a normal battle) and THAT ended up coming off like a rip-off of the duel against Pegasus because one of the main issues in that battle was that Alexander, the main villain, could read Yami’s mind, allowing him to predict his moves and change his game plan accordingly. And Yami responded by confusing him with the Millennium Puzzle because his mind is literally a labyrinth.

One interesting aspect of the series was the fact that the players were able to merge with their monsters and basically partake in battles themselves. And by “players” I mean Yugi 99% of the time. Joey was able to do it once (With Red-Eyes Black Dragon – and it was pretty sick) and everyone else got wings on one occasion, that was about it. This was not only something the main series had done a few times before, but it was also something that felt very much akin to either Digimon Tamers and Biomerging or Digimon Frontier and Spirit Evolution.

The most damning aspect of the show, however, was that it was flatout boring. Most of the monsters in the show were ones we had already seen in the main series, and there were really no fun strategies or, ya know, GAMEPLAY to hook you in. It was just a watered down series of Pokemon battles.

One of the bigger issues some gaming anime have in properly advertising their real-world games is over-fantasizing it. If you can’t even remotely emulate what’s happening in the show in real-life, the real-life game seems very boring by comparison. Yu-Gi-Oh! may involve a lot of fantasy aspects, magic and drama and whatnot, but, at the end of the day, they play the game like everyone else in real life. Capsule Monsters doesn’t do that. They only barely touch upon the actual game in the first episode.

The aspect of Yami becoming a monster himself (or really just him in various suits of armor) was cool, but it would’ve been cooler if everyone else did it regularly. Or, outside of Joey, literally even once. Not to mention the aspect of Capsule Monsters kinda loses something if the main attraction isn’t really the Capsule Monsters but Yami as the Capsule Monsters.

It probably also wasn’t a good move to make the monsters so real but still keep in the aspect of them being able to pretty much die in any battle. I’m not kidding. Their monster companions die near the end – even the tiny cute ones. Imagine Pokemon if you were worried Pikachu would die in any battle.

In addition, the art and animation were clearly either rushed or suffered a case of budget-fever. I’d wager both.

Capsule Monsters aired for 12 episodes, which did contain a full arc, but it’s obvious that 4Kids intended to build something here, otherwise they wouldn’t have tried to launch a whole game on the title. I don’t know if they planned to make a full series themselves or if they hoped Japan would be so hyped on the idea that Konami would run with it and they could just bank off of their stuff. If they really were trying to build something here, why did they do such an awful job promoting this? Did they just give up before they even started?

To be fair, as far as I saw, Capsule Monsters actually didn’t do too bad for itself in ratings. However, it’s pretty clear that it wasn’t generating much word of mouth outside of ‘What the hell is this?’, and just as quickly as it came into fans’ lives, it vanished. They did rerun the show once on Toonzai in 2012, but that was it.

4Kids technically never released the series on DVD either. By that I mean that they released the series on DVD, but only after it had been recut into two movies. The first movie was released on May 23, 2006 while the second was released on September 12, 2006. 4Kids and Konami offered a full free screening of the first movie on Yugioh.com the day before the DVD was released.

Japan would never air this series, presumably because they didn’t want people to think it was canon. As the Lost Media Wiki explained, it’s even questionable if a Japanese version exists. The series is on Studio Gallop’s website, but it’s labeled as Yu-Gi-Oh! ALEX. As far as fans who actually know about it are concerned, they pretty much see the series as being entirely non-canon.

We’re almost rounding the corner into 2007, so we should probably cover the last development of 2006. The next subsidiary 4Kids launched – 4Sight Licensing Solutions. 4Kids had long since been a company aimed squarely at children, but since their scope was narrow and their business was going down, it was time to expand their horizons as much as possible. 4Sight would be geared towards licensing properties for older kids, tweens, teens and adults.

And….uh….eh….kinda? 4Sight licensed a lot of art, for use in apps, calendars, textiles, home décor, stationary etc. For instance, they licensed The Dog and Friends, which was a puppy photography series out of Japan by Artlist inc. that was known for their use of fish-eye lens. They also licensed the artwork of Japanese artist, Hokusai Katsushika, and they got at least three licenses for Pachanga art by Belen Mena. They handled the American Kennel Club license, which 4Kids had handled itself for many years before this, and Crufts, which is the UK version of the AKK basically. They had an agreement with Celestial Imports Ltd, which was largely centered on the Chicaloca brand fashion in Europe.

They got into other media a little. They released a fashion game based on the Chicaloca brand, which was released on mobile platforms and Facebook. It doesn’t seem like this game was very successful because there’s barely any information online about it. Searching for “Chicaloca game 4Sight” only brings up three pages of Google results, most of which are unrelated, and the ones that are related are just announcements for the game’s release.

Less than four months after 4Kids announced they had made a licensing agreement with Microsoft, 4Sight would reach a new multi-year agreement with Microsoft to “work in partnership with Microsoft’s Franchise Development team, exclusively handling all global brand development and merchandising deals for the XBox and XBox 360.” which, as far as I can see, really only amounted to handling the license to Viva Pinata – an XBox 360 game geared more towards kids as opposed to the more teen and adult audience XBox typically catered to, which is….kinda backwards given 4Kids’ intentions with 4Sight.

4Kids—err, excuse me, 4Sight created a cartoon series for the games (4Kids is credited for it practically everywhere), but as for anything else they did with Microsoft or XBox, that remains unclear. Besides mentioning Viva Pinata a few times in official documents and press releases, no other information regarding other Microsoft or XBox properties in relation to 4Kids/4Sight ever came up. They did have some 4Kids show-based games available on the XBox, but that’s not really the same.

As for Viva Pinata, I don’t remember a single lick of either the game or the cartoon, but both seemed to have enjoyed a good degree of success. The cartoon lasted for 91 episodes and three years. That’s pretty darn good. It also has very high ratings on IMDB, even if there are only five reviews.

It’s frustrating that there is such little information on 4Sight available, but I can only surmise that’s because they wound up not doing much with the subsidiary either because they didn’t really know what to do with it or they were afraid to actually enter waters geared towards older audiences. Even when I combed the financial reports for every year, the only mentions of 4Sight were just pointing out that it existed and was owned by 4Kids. I did find a supposedly insanely detailed business report online on 4Sight, but I could only access it if I paid $300, which, ahem…Lol.

4Sight would stay with 4Kids as a subsidiary until the absolute end of the company in 2017.

Also during this year came one of Al Kahn’s most infamous moments where he garnered quite a bit of backlash from the anime and manga fandom. In an ICv2 Graphic Novel Conference, Al Kahn was quoted as saying;

“I think manga is a problem because we’re in a culture that is not a reading culture. Kid’s today don’t read, they read less today. In every survey, we find that they’re watching more television, they’re on the Internet more, and that content, although being king, is very disposable. Because the way content gets put out now, it gets put out free. We’re streaming most of our shows. The reason why we’re streaming them is we want kids to watch them as much as they can, and get vested in the concept and go out and buy products. The products ain’t free. The content is going to be free. And manga in my mind is trying to put a square peg in a round hole in the U.S. It will never be a big deal here, for the kids that are in the computer or the Internet generation, because they’re not going to read. They haven’t read, and they’re not going to start now.”

To say his comments didn’t go over well is an understatement. According to some sources, people booed and hissed at several of his comments. I mean, I don’t really understand how you can go to a Graphic Novel Convention with over 125 panelists – in New York City – and then go on about how kids don’t read and manga is never going to be popular in America and not expect a bad reception, especially in 2006….ya know….when Harry Potter was exploding in popularity.

Reading rates for fun among children fluctuate quite a lot, and data about this specific query was unclear because of the way the studies were conducted and the fact that there were a surprisingly few amount of studies about it. Believe it or not, at least according to data in the decade in which he said this, children read for fun fairly often when they’re young, not as often when they’re teenagers, but then the rates increase again when they become adults. Reading rates among children for recreation did go down steadily as television and video games became more readily available and appealing (in addition to a variety of other factors we won’t explore here – including a noticeable discernment among the sexes.) but it wasn’t a drastic downturn, and upticks happened regularly for a variety of reasons, including reading online.

…..Oh and by the way, this comment would become especially weird in 2009 when 4Kids would become the licensing agent for WordWorld – a former PBS preschool show that promoted *drum roll* LITERACY.

And, of course, Al Kahn just saw this as little more than a money grab.

“WordWorld’s expertise in the creative and educational domains coupled with 4Kids Entertainment’s proven track record in developing entertainment brands is certain to produce exciting results – from a sales and innovation perspective.”

I also find it funny that one of the episodes of Kirby: Right Back at Ya! was shifted around to mooch off of the release of a new Harry Potter BOOK. Like, yeah, kids don’t read, but we also recognize that there’s a massively popular kids’ book series out now that we need to capitalize on.

As we can see now, he was obviously wrong as manga eventually did become incredibly popular in the west, among children as well, even if reading rates continue to fluctuate throughout the years. As recently as 2020, manga sales hit an all-time high.

He was also making these comments right next to many people who worked in the manga industry in America, including people from TokyoPop, Kodansha, and Viz Media. Al never dipped his toes into that world so he just sounded like someone who had no idea what he was talking about acting is if he was an authority on the matter.

It wasn’t just a commentary on how something like manga would never take off in the US – he was flat out saying kids these days were never interested in reading, they aren’t now and they never will be because of digital media, which is not true for a multitude of reasons. Like I said, you can definitely argue that children reading for fun wasn’t as common, but acting as if reading as a whole was dying among children was too outlandish of a claim.

To be completely fair, though, there was some validity in his statements. 2006 was a bad year for manga in Japan. Manga sales had been declining for over a decade at that point, and 2006 was the first year manga sales had dipped below ¥500bil. Print media as a whole was on the decline in Japan, and, basically, manga had just been as affected. Indeed, all commercial print media was down, and, yes, cell phones and digital media were a part of that decline (There were several reasons why both manga and anime were down in Japan at the time – such as two major financial crises for Japan preceding this, low birth rates and even their strict immigration practices.)

Japan was way ahead of us when it came to mobile technology, and they still are. The practice of spending time on your phone instead of reading a book while you’re on the bus or train was increasing. However, manga was available to consume digitally and had been for about three years at that point. It was a ¥9bil industry, and it was growing like wildfire. Consumers loved the low price point, the convenience and the discretion – considering enjoying manga, particularly hentai titles, was embarrassing in public, and reading on a cellphone allowed customers to read in public without having to worry too much about people seeing what they’re reading. The sales for manga this way, I believe, were not reported in the same manner as their print counterparts, so the manga industry was probably doing better than how it looked back then given the purely print numbers.

The fact that Al Kahn didn’t even bring up the concept of digital manga (he even speaks as though it’s not possible for manga to be digitized?) or even digital means of reading as a whole shows that he didn’t know much about what he was talking about, especially since he later comments on how, if you look at people in America, they’re all using MP3 players and cell phones while walking around, but, in Japan, everyone on the subway has a “3000 page manga.” I don’t know if he was exaggerating or being stupid. Most manga have around, I’ll say, between 150-300 pages. A 3000 page manga would be comically large. It is literally two and a half Bibles.

The digital age seemed like such a hindrance to reading in the eyes of older folks, but that wasn’t necessarily the case. The internet boom and the rise of mobile devices made it much easier for kids to learn how to read and gave them more access to different modes of reading – like ebooks, online articles, web comics and even video games.

And just to drive the point home – the American manga industry was doing very well, especially during the start of a major recession. In 2006, manga sales actually grew 22% from $7.5mil to $9.5mil, with sales jumping from $60mil in 2002 to at least $170mil in 2006, and roughly 44% of all graphic novels in bookstores and comic book stores were reported to be manga. Manga sales would see another rise by 10% in 2007. However, this would obviously go down sharply in 2008-2010 due to the worst of the financial crisis hitting as well as lack of big name titles being released and the closure of the Borders bookstore chain among several other factors, until they finally rebounded in 2013. The industry was also growing, albeit, admittedly, slowly. In fact, one of the ways the Japanese manga industry was helping ends meet was through international manga sales, particularly those in the US.

One of the other reasons his comments garnered backlash was because it made off like children were becoming illiterate and we should just….ya know….let them. There’s no profit in promoting reading to kids, so screw it. It really shines a bright light on why 4Kids does everything in their power to remove any and all text, no matter the language, from their shows. They think if they let kids see too many words their profit margins will go down or something. Obviously, basically outright saying “Don’t invest in books, manga or any other reading materials for American kids because kids here don’t read. Instead, let their brains rot and profit off of that.” is a hot take that will certainly not earn you any favors with pretty much damn near anyone in the anime industry, whether State-side or otherwise, considering basically all of them are tightly woven into the manga industry.

Liza Coppola, Vice President of Viz Media, responded by pointing out that Viz had recently partnered with the literacy campaign, Read for America, and stated that, “Manga is a great medium to bring kids back to reading.” Viz had seen a positive response from librarians and children from their manga, and they continue making partnerships for the sake of literacy campaigns to this day. Likewise, in June 2006, Tokyopop also launched a program with the LA Public Library using their manga to promote reading to kids and teens.

As a final note for this year, 4Kids also acquired the licensing rights to Futari wa Pretty Cure. However, they never seemingly recorded a dub for the series at all, presumably because Mew Mew Power hit a brick wall and Magical DoReMi didn’t take off well enough. They announced that they had the license to Precure and never said much about it again. They held onto the rights for about three years until the license was handed over to Ocean Productions so they could finally dub and release the show in English on Canada’s YTV.

All in all, 2006 was….not awful. It was down from 2005 with $71,787,000 in net revenues compared to $80,607,000 in 2005. Yu-Gi-Oh! was still noted as being their biggest contributing factor, though the show’s domestic broadcast returns were down, along with TMNT and Cabbage Patch Kids, despite the latter two recording lower revenue from last year. Revenue from Viva Pinata and Chaotic were noted as giving them a boost in that regard. However, they did end the year in the red with a net loss of $1,006,000 in comparison to 2005 with a net income of $5,069,000. Their stocks did enjoy a significant bump, though – seeing the first rise since 2002-2003.

Next – Part 17: 4Kids TV 2: The Kidsening

Previous – Part 15: The Chaotic Nature of Rumors


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An Absurdly Deep Dive into the History of 4Kids | Part 15: The Chaotic Nature of Rumors (2005/2006 cont.)

2006 was a massive transitional period for 4Kids. Pokemon was out the door. Yu-Gi-Oh!’s initial run was ending. Several titles they had either dubbed or gotten the broadcast rights to were already either over or canceled. 4Kids had become heavily reliant on having at least two or three big titles to serve as their main sources of income. Losing one and having another start to walk off into the sunset was certainly a massive problem for 4Kids. They needed a new big hit, and they needed it fast if they wanted a chance at staying alive, let alone staying as a top contender in the world of children’s media.

In an effort to cast a wider net in the marketing and advertising world, 4Kids formed three new subsidiaries – TC Digital Games, LLC, TC Websites, LLC and 4Sight Licensing Solutions, LLC. We’ll talk about 4Sight a little later since their main hopes rested with TC Digital Games and TC Websites as they would be crafted specifically for a franchise that 4Kids hoped would be its newest biggest hit – one that it would produce in-house and own a majority of the rights to – Chaotic.

TC Digital Games, LLC was formed to be their trading card game company. Because of the massive and continued success of Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh!’s TCGs, 4Kids invested millions in making an entire section of their company dedicated to creating trading card games. Their flagship game would be the aforementioned Chaotic.

Chaotic was made from an existing Danish TCG called Chaotic: Now or Never!, which was created in 2001 and was based on another card game called Grolls & Gorks that was released in 2000, which itself was based from a toy line called Dracco Heads. Chaotic: Now or Never! was unique in that they had codes on them which could be redeemed for online versions of the same cards and used in online play. The innovative card game had garnered quite a bit of popularity over time.

In 2003, former Upper Deck executive credited with helping make the Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG a success in the west, Bryan Gannon, created the US-based Chaotic company, Chaotic USA Entertainment Group, to help bring the franchise overseas. The owners of Chaotic, Dracco Company Ltd. and Apex Marketing, sold the worldwide licensing rights for Chaotic to 4Kids on May 11, 2005. In December 11, 2006, the agreement between 4Kids and Chaotic USA was solidified to help make Chaotic exclusively an American franchise. The contract gave 4Kids the merchandise licensing rights through December 31, 2016.

Chaotic: Now or Never! would cease production in lieu of 4Kids and CUSA making their own sets of cards. The card game would experience numerous changes as a result of this shift. Not only would designs, names, card types and mechanics change, but so would the overall lore and storyline.

One thing that wouldn’t change, however, was the innovative online game integration. In addition to the TCG, 4Kids and CUSA also gained the rights to the patent for the game’s unique structure of having codes on the cards that could be redeemed online for digital copies of the cards that could be used in 4Kids’ and CUSA’s own American version of the online game.

TC Websites, LLC was made to help support this aspect of Chaotic. While there was some talk of TC Websites doing other things besides just managing the Chaotic online game, nothing else really came of it as far as I researched. In 4Kids’ financial documents, they also mentioned hopefully managing more TCGs in the future with TC Digital Games, but, again, nothing came of that either.

The most prominent report I found was that TC Digital Games and TC Websites had acquired the licensing rights to the NFL in October of 2009 and were planning on basically making an NFL version of Chaotic where they would produce football trading cards with codes that could be redeemed online for use in some online game they would develop, but there are very few articles about this, and all of them merely announce that the deal happened. No updates on development, nothing about when such a thing would be released, no mentions of it in any financial report or official document I read, no speculation – nothing. I can only assume 4Kids or the NFL must have backed out of the deal or it otherwise fell through.

4Kids’ partnership with CUSA granted them co-ownership of the two subsidiaries. TC Digital Games would be majority owned by 4Kids with 53% ownership later upped to 55% in 2007 while CUSA owned 47% later reduced to 45%. Unlike with TC Digital Games, the ownership of TC Websites would be a 50/50 split with CUSA, however, this would also change to a 55/45 split in favor of 4Kids in 2007. With this partnership and co-ownership, and now owning 32% of CUSA (with his Vice President, John Milito, owning another 32%) and 60% of the outstanding capital stock in Apex, Bryan Gannon would be made CEO of TC Digital Games and TC Websites – effectively making him the helmsman of the entire Chaotic franchise.

In addition to the TCG and online game, which would launch on October 24, 2007, 4Kids and CUSA would also work together with Bardel Entertainment and Dong Woo Animation to produce and distribute a new cartoon series based on the title that would premiere on October 7, 2006. The TV show, TCG and the online game were all interwoven. While the TCG codes allowed players to create their real-life decks in the game, the TV series would implement real strategies that would help players get better at the game.

The DVD situation with Chaotic is a little confusing. I can find several volumes of Chaotic DVDs, but most of them are just in French. From what I can find, it seems that Canada got a series DVD release in French, but not the US in English, which is extremely odd. The first two volumes claim they’re in English, but according to reviews it’s actually only in French, which is, I assume, why the Amazon and eBay star ratings are so low. I also found one box set in Portuguese.

I did find one full DVD box set available in English on Retroanimation.com, but I’m very wary of its legitimacy, mostly because the only other place I’ve found it is backtothe80sDVDs.com – a place that seems…..less than legal? Their bread and butter is selling DVD collections of old commercials, but they also sell a ton of DVDs of retro TV shows and movies, most of which either being cartoons or live-action kids’ media. I can’t remember for which show it was, but the last time I visited this site searching for DVDs of a show, it was clear they were just selling the TV rips to the show in a DVD format as the official DVDs didn’t exist. Skulking around a bit more, it seems that’s quite common of them to do that since the preview videos for House of Mouse and Dave the Barbarian (which never got a DVD releases) have the Disney Channel logos on them. From the preview videos of Chaotic, it seems like it’s legitimate because there aren’t any TV station logos, but they could have just taken the DVD footage from foreign DVDs and put the English TV audio tracks on them.

The other thing that makes me very wary about this box set is that, on the backtothe80sDVDs set listing, it says the box set comes with four hours of 1990s commercials….which….uhm…why? If this was legitimate, they wouldn’t include four hours of retro commercials as a bonus feature – commercials I’m also quite certain they’re not legally authorized to sell.

So yeah….don’t buy from there (Or RetroAnimation. I recently found out they’re bootlegs too.) – especially considering their privacy policy is two sentences long.

4Kids was extremely ambitious about Chaotic. They even publicly stated they planned on having the animated series last at least seven years.

Make no mistake, however. 4Kids and CUSA were both taking huge gambles with this outing. In the financial report for 2006, 4Kids outlines in detail the various risks associated with this venture, claiming that, should Chaotic fail, they would lose massive investments. According to the documents for that year, they had invested $10,000,000 in TC Digital Games and $20,000,000 in TC Websites out the gate. In addition, while Chaotic was still largely an American property now, their agreement with Dracco and Apex included a 10% net income fee annually.

Luckily for them, for all intents and purposes, Chaotic was shaping up to be a good success in its first year. It looked like it would become the life preserver 4Kids desperately needed when its future was looking grim. At its peak, Chaotic enjoyed the number three spot on the top TCGs on the market at the time, beating out Magic: The Gathering, but never quite beating out Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh!. Chaotic also won out over Magic online with 1.25 million registered players on chaoticgame.com as opposed to Magic’s 150,000 players.

The show didn’t receive the same success initially. The animated series had a rough outing with the first season, but fans responded more positively to seasons two and three, which had a bump in production quality (moving from Flash to traditional animation and changing animation studios) and better writing. Still, the show wasn’t a huge hit or anything. According to as many ratings reports from Cynopsis Media that I could find between the years 2006 and 2010, it frequently lost out in ratings to TMNT 2003, Sonic X and Yu-Gi-Oh!, sometimes even Viva Pinata and Dinosaur King, and never once dominated the block.

When it was run later in the day in syndication on Cartoon Network, the situation was about the same – it did okay numbers at best, but never really broke out into big popularity. The show managed to get three seasons, airing primarily on 4Kids TV with season three moved to The CW4Kids, and reruns airing on a variety of networks and blocks such as Canada’s Teletoon and Jetix.

For about two years. Chaotic continued to be a decent success, but then, in 2010, Chaotic was canceled. The TCG ceased production. The online game went offline. And Chaotic as a franchise faded into obscurity with a moderately small but very loyal fanbase still keeping what was left of the game alive.

Many fans wondered exactly what happened. And when I started writing this article, I didn’t think much of it. Chaotic probably suffered the same problems every other canceled franchise or show did – it wasn’t making enough money. Little did I know of the massive rabbit hole I would wander into…..

Everywhere I looked, fans asserted that Chaotic was doing wonderfully around the time it was shut down. The show was doing fantastic, the TCG was selling well, the online game was doing well, they even had some console and handheld video game releases. In their eyes, it made no sense whatsoever that Chaotic died.

Some time after Chaotic ended, someone claimed that the reason for Chaotic’s downfall was a “series of lawsuits” in which 4Kids was trying to acquire the full rights to Chaotic from CUSA to maximize their profits from the property. 4Kids supposedly claimed that they somehow felt entitled to 100% of the rights because they had 55% majority ownership, which makes absolutely no sense. Basically, 4Kids was being greedy and trying to bully the franchise away from its original owners. However, this move blew up in 4Kids’ face spectacularly.

Not only did they not gain the full rights to the series, but at the start of the trial, the judge allegedly put a hold on the entire property – no Chaotic merchandise could be made or sold as long as the trial was going on, and, according to the rumors, the trial went on for about four years. No TV show, TCG, online transactions or other merchandise sold for a franchise for years would easily mean its doom. And, according to the rumor, it was.

According to the rumor…

I typically like to have at least some sources when I make any claims, even if the best sources I can get still aren’t entirely concrete. But so many people were parroting this story and asserting it as absolute fact that I went and wrote nearly three pages about this whole ordeal and how it was 4Kids at their lowest, proving them to be one of the scummiest licensing companies in existence without any actual evidence besides the words of the Chaotic fans. When I got to the editing portion, I decided I definitely needed some actual sources for this because it was too harsh of a claim for me to feel comfortable acting as if it was fact, even if this is 4Kids we’re dealing with.

However, no matter where I looked, no matter how many documents I scanned, I couldn’t find a single, solitary sliver of evidence that this lawsuit ever existed. I even asked the Chaotic Reddit community for literally any source for this claim, no matter how small, and all I got was someone telling me to watch the interviews with Bryan Gannon on Youtube.

There are three interviews with Bryan Gannon on Youtube, all of which I had watched in full before I went to Reddit, and none of which contained any mention of a lawsuit by 4Kids. The only interview that even mentioned 4Kids was just talking about how it took several years for Bryan Gannon and CUSA to get the rights back from 4Kids (then 4Licensing) after Chaotic died – only managing to finally get full rights back in 2014.

Someone else mentioned that most of the details about the lawsuit would probably be under an NDA, which makes some degree of sense, but you guys need to understand something here. My search engine skills are pretty damn strong. I am annoyingly curious, and I hate when I can’t find something, so I typically look for a very long time until I at least find some nuggets to work with. I can find some of the most obscure shit, and during the course of this deep dive I most certainly have, whether it was useful and interesting or not, and yet, somehow, I haven’t been able to find a trace of this lawsuit even existing. Forget getting details about it – I can’t find proof that this supposedly four year long lawsuit existed.

I even silently joined the Chaotic Discord server and looked for any post involving “4Kids” or “Lawsuit” or words of that nature, and all I got was people talking about the 4Kids lawsuit, but no sources for it, not even anyone explaining who told them the rumor in the first place. I had found two Youtube videos that stated this rumor as the reason Chaotic died, one of which may have been the source of the rumor in the first place, but all they said in the video was that it was something someone told them.

One of the reasons I decided to note the various lawsuits 4Kids has been involved in throughout the years at the end of each section has been to act as a demonstration of the level of detail the financial reports provide. 4Kids needed to note each and every bit of litigation they went through, no matter how minor, no matter if it was just their subsidiary going through it and not technically their main company, because these were official financial reports. They needed to be registered in legally official channels, and they needed to be presented to shareholders, who have a right to know about any major financial impacts currently going in the company they’re investing in, like, say, a multi-year long lawsuit that could literally make or break them and wound up allegedly destroying a big franchise that they helped create. NDAs, as far as I know, would never restrict them from merely reporting that the lawsuit existed. And it would be stupid on the part of 4Kids because that would mean they’d probably be withholding reports of massive expenses, which could land them in legal trouble with the IRS.

Even if I wanted to put on the biggest tin foil hat and say 4Kids, for some reason, was keeping this the biggest secret they could, there still would have been official legal reports of the lawsuit kept in legal archives available to the public. I looked in as many places as I could from publicly owned legal archive websites to official government archives and found absolutely nothing, even though I did find documents for all of the other lawsuits 4Kids and CUSA had been involved in separately or together, never against each other.

Stepping away from lawsuit talk for a minute, let’s discuss how Chaotic was objectively doing out in the wilds of the marketplace. In its first several months after release, Chaotic was doing alright and was staying near the top, it just wasn’t the huge hit 4Kids was hoping it would be. It was on a steady track of meeting revenue expectations, but not exceeding them. It wasn’t the next Pokemon or even Yu-Gi-Oh!, but it was holding its own. Even when Kahn would admit to being anxious about the massive undertaking of Chaotic, as late as February 2009, the LA Times responded by claiming that Chaotic was doing so well that Kahn’s “initial worries [were] proven to be unfounded.”

I have to wonder how Al Kahn responded when he read that article, if he did, because that article was released just one month before Q4 of 2008 reports would be released – Q4 2008 being the biggest hit Chaotic and 4Kids would ever take.

The Great Recession of 2007-2009 was hitting them hard. They were losing money across the board for any merchandise sales on any property they had left – and they were losing it to shocking degrees. 4Kids began laying people off and reducing operating costs to help offset the losses. 4Kids was already on wobbly ground when it came to their revenue, but they were getting by. 4Kids was clearly putting almost all of their eggs into Chaotic’s basket, because, truth be told, it was one of the last baskets they really had. Several times over 2008, their earnings were touted as being boosted by Chaotic sales, which were only going up. They needed Q4 to be particularly good in order to be as stable as possible.

I can’t stress enough how important Q4 is to companies that focus on children’s media/toys/merchandise etc. This is the holiday season, meaning what is typically expected to be a huge boost in sales that most any company needs, but especially 4Kids. However, instead, the fourth quarter of the year was abysmal.

Due to the financial crisis, stores were canceling orders for merchandise and even returning merchandise they had acquired in order to reduce overhead and save money. Particularly, many stores were reducing the amount of seemingly superfluous items like trading cards, video games and toys. Speculation from the way 4Kids words their reports also indicates that Chaotic’s lower popularity compared to other TCGs and shows/franchises contributed to Chaotic having higher levels of returned merchandise than competing properties.

Chaotic had trainwrecked. In Q3, they had $7.3mil in revenue for Chaotic, a number they hoped would jump up quite a bit in Q4 to help them meet projected earnings of at least a year-end total of $20-30mil. In Q4, they only managed $500,000 in trading card revenue from Chaotic. In addition, their net losses were up from $16,486,000 in Q4 of 2007 to $19,613,000 in Q4 2008, making their year-end earnings for Chaotic $15,276,000 – $5mil short of their lowest project earnings target. Overall for the year 2008, they wound up with a net loss of $36,819,000 compared to the net loss in 2007 of $23,326,000.

Al Kahn stated,

“The sharp economic downturn and associated severe deterioration of consumer confidence starting in September 2008 deeply impacted our licensing revenue and trading card game sales in the fourth quarter. Our results were also impacted by declining licensing revenue throughout the year from some of our more established properties. While we are extremely disappointed by our results for 2008, we implemented significant cost cutting initiatives in the fourth quarter of 2008 and the first quarter of 2009 that we expect to reduce our operating costs by $25 million in 2009 as compared with 2008.”

Source

“This decline in sales is primarily due to retailers and distributors reducing, canceling or returning orders in an effort to reduce their inventory as they respond to the rapid, steep economic decline. In addition to impacting sales, it also triggered an increase in our reserve for returns and allowances and a $3 million write-down of our trading card inventory.”

Even in the shadow of this this sharp decline, Kahn still remained optimistic.

“Despite the fourth quarter sales numbers, Chaotic finished the year as the number three selling trading card game in the U.S. behind Pokémon and Yu-Gi-Oh!,”

“Looking forward, we believe Chaotic still offers a tremendous opportunity for 4Kids in the future as we roll out the Chaotic trading cards in the UK, France and Germany during the first half of 2009. Chaotic will also be bolstered by the revised and improved Chaoticgame.com website that went live on March 3 and is now available in English, French, German, Spanish and Italian. We also expect additional Chaotic licensed products to be available from our master toy licensee, Spin Master, and our videogame partner, Activision Publishing, which is scheduled to release a Chaotic video game on the Wii™, Nintendo DS™, Xbox 360®, and PLAYSTATION®3 platforms in fall 2009.”

2009, however, would have its own set of problems. Chaotic’s sales were reportedly very unreliable as noted in 2009 because, according to Kahn, the conversion to “pay on scan” was making it so Chaotic wasn’t selling much at all on their reports. In Q2 of 2009, they mentioned during their earnings call to shareholders that they shipped $2.6mil of Chaotic merchandise, but it couldn’t be reported back as actual sales until it sold in retail outlets and their sales were reported back to 4Kids.

There’s something else you need to keep in mind about Chaotic. Since 4Kids was footing most of the bill for the production of the cards and the upkeep of the online game, their production costs were up quite a bit from previous years. Their trading card production costs were usually either the highest bill they had or at least in the top three.

In Q4 2009, 4Kids reported taking a $20,195,000 impairment charge related to Chaotic merchandise. Declining interest in the property had forced 4Kids to allow for drastic markdowns of merchandise already in stores, the returned merchandise was basically just collecting dust as retailers were not increasing their orders once they were reduced, and they were also taking losses on the TV show in regards to production costs versus returns.

I want to remind everyone that 4Kids expected Chaotic would have between $20-30mil in revenue in its first year – a number that was expected to grow as time went on.

We know it didn’t reach the first year projected goal. What of 2009?

Only $2,603,000 in revenue to offset that staggering $20.6mil loss that was added onto the $12,947,000 in losses for the trading card and game division in 2008.

In 2010, the year production would cease on Chaotic, TC Digital Games and TC Websites would report a mere $247,000 in revenue with $6,736,000 in losses.

As 4Kids reported, due to “continued lack of profitability,” TC Digital Games, TC Websites and, as a result, Chaotic, would all shut down production on September 30, 2010. Support for the website and trading card game would cease on October 1, 2010.

For some unknown reason, 4Kids would still latch onto their majority share of the rights for another four years, supposedly preventing the franchise from attempts at revival by CUSA and Bryan Gannon. However, the rights are back with them now.

Bryan Gannon stated a bunch of optimistic things about Chaotic’s future, including bringing the TV show back – not rebooting it, but continuing on in the storyline it left off – bringing the TCG back, bringing the online game back, though focusing more on a mobile app version, and creating Chaotic for a new generation of players and fans while also honoring and catering to loyal fans. Obviously, COVID has put a dent in these plans, but from everything I’ve heard they’re still plugging away.

I think that’s great, and I’m glad that, despite not being a Chaotic fan myself as a kid (Although, I was aware of both the show and the TCG) that the franchise will hopefully rise again and enjoy new life. Bryan Gannon seems legitimately passionate about the franchise, the fans appear to be even more passionate and excited, and I wish him, the fans and Chaotic all the best in the future.

I’d be one of the first to jump on a ‘4Kids bad’ bandwagon, but from all of the facts I’ve gone through, they didn’t do anything wrong in this circumstance. They just took a gamble and it failed because of factors mostly out of their control. They didn’t try to steal Chaotic from CUSA or Bryan Gannon just to eat up all the money they could from a franchise that was on life support. They didn’t allow the franchise to stagnate for years and eventually die while wasting god knows how much money on their legal team for a clearly fruitless venture instead of just dropping the supposed lawsuit as soon as the pointlessness was made apparent.

It just died.

Had the financial crisis not happened, Chaotic could have lived a more prosperous life, but let’s not fool ourselves. It wasn’t ever going to be a big juggernaut in children’s entertainment, it wasn’t going to break new ground, and it likely wouldn’t have saved 4Kids from the bankruptcy they’d soon suffer along with its inevitable death four years later.

As for why this rumor about a bunch of lawsuits came to pass, I have a theory. The Yu-Gi-Oh! lawsuit was coming up around the same time they shut the doors on Chaotic. I believe someone just either mistook the Yu-Gi-Oh! lawsuit for one involving Chaotic or they purposefully bent the truth to stoke a ‘4Kids bad’ fire.

This would be more of a stretch if it wasn’t for the fact that the judge in the Yu-Gi-Oh! lawsuit put a hold on the rights until the lawsuit was over. In the case of Yu-Gi-Oh!, 4Kids had brought up concerns about TV Tokyo and NAS selling the rights to Yu-Gi-Oh! when they were in the middle of preparing to release Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL. No matter the outcome of the lawsuit, if the rights were sold while the lawsuit was going down, they’d suffer a massive loss of income. In turn, the judge ordered a hold on the Yu-Gi-Oh! license until everything was cleared up. To be specific, this was just a hold on the licensing rights – not on any productions involving Yu-Gi-Oh!. However, that particular similarity felt like too much of a coincidence.

In all honesty, I can’t imagine any judge ordering that a company stop producing a product altogether just because a lawsuit over full rights is ongoing, at least in the circumstance of a supposed lawsuit over Chaotic. 4Kids would own the rights either way. If they won, they’d own 100%. If they lost, they’d go back to owning 55%. There’s absolutely no reason a judge would order a full production hold. That’s needlessly massively harmful to both companies in question and makes absolutely no sense.

In summary, always check your sources. The most important aspect of that being always make sure you have a source in the first place. I absolutely don’t blame the Chaotic community for spreading this rumor as there was no real announcement about the cancellation or the closing of TC Digital Games or TC Websites to work from, and that is on 4Kids’ shoulders. I sincerely doubt anyone in their situation is going to dig through long, boring and sometimes difficult as hell to read financial reports and earnings calls transcripts for crumbs of information regarding the cancellation of a trading card game and cartoon – that’s a bit unreasonable. The only reason I dug that much is because my brain doesn’t like not being neurotic for five seconds.

Rumors like that can spread like wildfire very quickly, especially if the people who seemingly started the rumors are trusted people in the community. It’s just a little disheartening that this rumor is still taken as fact by so many people. I know my blog doesn’t have that many readers, but I hope some individuals from the Chaotic community read this and help clear this matter up. To what end, I don’t know. It’s not like 4Kids is around anymore or it’s some massive wrong that needs to be righted, but maybe it’ll do something positive for someone.

If I am truly wrong and someone can actually provide me with concrete evidence of any kind that the lawsuit did happen, then I will gladly post a retraction to all of this and offer a sincere apology, but I legitimately worked my ass off for weeks trying to find anything that would actually be valid proof and I just couldn’t. It was all word of mouth from within the fandom.

As a final note, I do concede that it was still awful of 4Kids/4Licensing to latch onto the majority rights for four more years when they weren’t getting anything from it. I have no way of knowing why they did that, but it seems very petty of them. Legally, they were actually in the right here as their contract said their rights agreement would go until 2017, but they weren’t doing anything with the license, it was making them absolutely no money, and at least they might be able to get some income by selling the rights back. I guess we’ll never know the answer to that one for sure.

Next – Part 16: Yu-Gi-Oh No!

Previous – Part 14: (The Time Has Come)


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SSBS – Cardfight!! Vanguard Episode 19: Showdown! Nova Grappler!

SSBS - CFV EP19

Plot: The finals are gearing up, and the long awaited Cardfight between Kamui and Goki is about to start. Until, that is, a last minute change shakes up everything. Kamui will actually be fighting Nagisa! And she claims he’ll have to marry her if he loses! Can Kamui manage to defeat Nagisa and get her out of his life for good or will she wrap him up in the binds of marriage?

Breakdown: Hey, Cardfight!! Vanguard! Long time, no see!

I forget why I stopped watching you for a wh–

SSBS - CFV EP19 1

Oh…..right….I forgot about her. I thought the world looked a little brighter since I stopped watching this. Well, let’s at least hope the battle is interesting, but considering I know the outcome and….this is Nagisa, I’m guessing no.

*One viewing later*

Yup. This episode was just as obnoxious as I feared, if not moreso.

The entirety of it, everything, is just obnoxious. Nagisa’s obviously the main source of obnoxiousness, but so are Team Handsome with their gushing over Nagisa and encouraging her bullshit, Morikawa and his ego and also cheering on Nagisa to take down Kamui because he supports ‘love,’ Taishi and whatever the hell he’s doing egging on Morikawa, Kamui with his constant back and forth between sighing over Nagisa’s antics and Emi believing he and Nagisa are dating, and even Emi is being irritating with how oblivious she is.

Not to mention that the first five minutes of the episode is explaining how and why Nagisa is suddenly a part of Team Handsome. She was devastated when she heard Kamui would never visit Card Shop Handsome again once he beat Goki, so she took up Vanguard to be in his life as much as possible. Until one day, I guess, she got to a point in skill where she decided to make this marriage bet.

The fact that she’s basically a champion-level Vanguard player fueled purely on her drive to trap Kamui into marriage (of which she’s already bought the dress for) is embarrassing. I know she’s a little girl, but it’s already hard enough to find strong female characters in shounen gaming anime without one of the only competent ones being so stereotypically moe. She is the epitome of ‘notice me, senpai!’

Also, this first five minutes drag so long and are made so irritating by Nagisa that even Morikawa and Taishi are complaining and telling them to start the match already. Pointing out that something you’re writing is annoying and a slog to sit through doesn’t make it any less of a chore, writers.

I thought the Cardfight might be some solace, but no. Nagisa in her endless ability to annoy, somehow even ruins that. First off, because she loves Kamui so much, she uses nearly an identical deck to his with only a few (girly card) variations, so it’s already boring.

Second, she has to chime in all the time explaining his moves as he makes them.

Finally, she has to interrupt the match several times for her lovey-duvey shtick.

My mind just went numb during the entire match. I couldn’t care less.

Thank god it’s over, though. Hopefully it will be a long time before she’s the focal point again. Can we please get back to the fun?

Next episode, while they initially teased it would be Aichi vs. Goki in the next episode, apparently it’s Kai’s turn next so…..while I imagine it will at least be a much less irritating and more interesting fight, I’m already bored because I know Kai won’t lose. He never loses to begin with, he’d never lose to one of the randoms of Team Handsome, and now their team is down one match, meaning they’d lose the whole thing if he did.

….Previous Episode


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SSBS – Cardfight!! Vanguard Episode 18: White-Hot Tournament!

SSBS CFV Ep 18

Plot: They basically skip through every match until we get to the finals, then we break for lunch and that’s pretty much it.

Breakdown: This episode is a gigantic mess. It is, by far, the worst episode I’ve seen.

I’d like to apologize to anyone who read my last CFV review because I was wrong about the next episode. The preview made it seem like we’d see Goki and Kamui fight, at least in separate matches, but no.

First half, we rush through all of the remaining matches for the tournament so we can quickly get to Team Q4 vs. Team Handsome, which is kinda pointless because we don’t even get to see the start of that match in this episode.

I like tournaments because, even if they’re battling people who will obviously lose, it gives the writers the opportunity to get creative and introduce us to some interesting one-off characters. CFV doesn’t seem like they want to bother with this.

If you need more evidence, just look at the brief glimpses of the teams as they whiz by in the montage of defeat. If you thought Team Handsome was a stupid name, try Team Martial Arts, Team Chemistry Club or even Team Hot Noodles….And, yes, Team Martial Arts is filled with martial artists (whose only saving grace is giving Q4 their dojo signs after they lose. That was a little funny.) Team Chemistry Club is, well, duh, and Team Hot Noodles…is a bunch of ramen cooks. How did these people even get here?

The only other team is Team Nadeshiko, who are alright in name, and their shtick is that they’re…super respectful and traditional?

Oh and yeah, people are still creaming their pants over Kai. Because that never gets old.

They also jam in the backstory of Kamui and Goki. Kamui was bullied as a kid because he was so small, but he saw Goki beat an adult at Vanguard and he was inspired by that, so Goki became a bit of a mentor to him, I suppose. Kamui wants to prove to Goki that he can fight on his own.

It’s….not a good backstory, if you ask me.

Beating an adult at a children’s card game is not akin to beating someone twice your size in a physical altercation. Besides, Goki is clearly a teenager here and he’s a pretty big muscular guy. He’s nearly as tall as the adult he’s battling, and he’s definitely bigger than the kid we see beat up Kamui.

The logic doesn’t click. It would’ve made more sense if Goki was younger and smaller like Kamui and he took down someone twice his size at Vanguard. It’s still not the same, but at least it would make more sense. Maybe it would show Kamui that he can come out on top in certain things despite his small stature.

But at least we got to see the origins of Goki’s bandanna…..That was something weighing on your mind, wasn’t it?

Second half, lunch time. You heard me. They’re pulling this shit again. And, like last time, this part of the episode is filled with Kamui gushing over Emi, who arrives late to get some lunch to Aichi and his friends.

Ooh, but wait! There’s more! Remember, Nagisa, the human cheese grater for the ears, is here, so she’s also filling up this half of the episode with gushing over Kamui and getting in poor Emi’s face for ‘stealing her man.’ I am developing a massive pile of hatred for this little brat. I hope to God she just fades into the background more and more as time goes on, because I can’t stand much more of her.

Misaki arrives after lunch with no explanation as to where she’s been this entire time. They keep bringing up that Aichi ‘had’ to fight the first match of the tournament, even though, like Shin points out, the teams are the ones who choose the order of their participants, so Aichi never really had to fight at all other than to give him some screen time.

Dash your hopes for seeing her fight in this tournament, though, because she passes the baton to Aichi since he’s been doing so well…..Then why even show up at all?

Shin references Larry the Cable Guy by saying ‘Let’s get ‘er done!’………….That was a thing that happened.

So the finals st—nope. We have to interrupt our tournament for a random song number by the Ultra Rares – the pop group made up of the girls from the card shop PSY. The song’s not good, though they keep the Japanese version for it, which is nice, and it’s a completely unwelcome intrusion that’s accompanied by another unwelcome intrusion – a random unnecessary clip show to the episode in PSY so we can….remember who these girls are? I dunno.

Just when you finally think they’ll start the finals, you look at the time stamp and realize the episode is very nearly over. Kamui’s first up, itching to take on Goki when –

Goki’s not fighting! But wait! Who’s taking his—Nagisa….Nagisa’s fighting Kamui. And she’s added the stipulation that, should she win, she and Kamui will get married. She’s also wearing pink Vanguard Fight Gloves…because of course she is.

Which means….next episode is chockful of Nagisa. The only thing I might find more enjoyable than that is shoving a swarm of angry wasps into my eye socket.

Oh and since this is the last round of the regional qualifiers and I can’t see Kai the VanGod losing his match, I assume Kamui must lose his match in order to have Aichi be the crux match in the finals. I care so little about this next match that I’m going to cheat and peek at the end of the next episode.

Yup, he friggin’ loses. Which also means Nagisa will never shut up about the marriage thing, right? Let me cheat again! To the Wiki!

Yup, even after a time skip, she’s still trying to force him into marriage. Lovely.

I’m going to take a break on this series for a little bit since…I just really don’t want to watch the next episode right now. The show’s not falling to pieces or anything, but this episode is so sloppily done I’m almost angry at it. Not to mention, I need to charge up if I’m going to watch an entire episode centered on Nagisa.

For now, I’ll switch to Tokyo Mew Mew for my regular updates.

Next episode, Nagisa gets locked in a box and never appears in the series again so Twix can refrain from ripping the screen off of her laptop.

…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.

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

…Previous Episode


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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.

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 the 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.


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SSBS – Cardfight!! Vanguard Episode 15: Thrilling! Emi’s First Fight!

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 3s. 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 would 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 0 unit just so he can litter his side of the field Grade 3s. That doesn’t sound so bad until you learn the main reason he loves Grade 3s 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 1 OR 2s!’ moment before he finally gets the hint that his deck is horribly unbalanced? And even when he gets Grades 0s, 1s or 2s on his first draw, he opts to discard and redraw so he can get more Grade 3s. 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 0 he threw away for the sake of summoning another Grade 3.

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 3 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.

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

….Previous Episode


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SSBS – Cardfight!! Vanguard Episode 14: The Fearsome Undead! The Granblue Deck!

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 the 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.

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.

…Previous Episode


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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.

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

…Previous Episode


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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.

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

….Previous Episode


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