Cardfight Vanguard G Review

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It’s time to take a look at G, the next era of Cardfight. It already has three seasons so this era could end up being just as large as the original. That’d be great since Cardfight’s been a great franchise thus far and a worthy rival to Yugioh. G is the weakest installment so far, but that’s typically the price that you pay for pushing the old cast to the side and introducing new main characters. It’s still fun though and a good show in its own right.

A decently large amount of time has passed since the previous Cardfight Vanguard season. The world that Kai and friends protected has finally arrived into an era of peace. Aichi has taken the time to head to America after quickly bumping into Chrono. The other Vanguard warriors still reside in the city, but they mostly just stop by for the occasional guest star appearances. Kamui is the semi manager of the new cardshop though so he is a main character. He meets up with Chrono, the new hero of this story. Chrono isn’t a very approachable guy and typically looks like he has a bit of an attitude so he doesn’t have any friends. That’s when he is introduced into the game of Vanguard. Through it he finally starts to make friends and really gets to know two other characters, Shion and Tokoha. The three of them decide to form a team known as Try3 and go around entering tournaments. The more tournies that they win, the higher that their ranks will get.

This series is mostly a slice of life adventure. There is a bit of a plot towards the end and a lot of foreshadowing, but this season is mainly used for character development. At 48 episodes, that is definitely a lot of time for it. The cast is quite large though and this gives the show time to ensure that everyone gets a fight. It’s also used to have the main characters go through their slumps early on. Chrono doesn’t really know what he’s fighting for and works to get better at talking things out. Tokoha wants to get out from her brother’s shadow and Shion has trouble balancing his duties as the heir to the Kiba family while still playing Vanguard. The three of them all get through these troubles by the end of season 1 so the good news is that we won’t have to worry about this for season 2.

As for the bit of plot that I mentioned, one of Chrono’s friends used to love Vanguard. Then he made the mistake of joining a clan to work on getting better and has lost all of his nice emotions. Chrono figures that the training regime is not good for the kids so his team goes to their headquarters to see what’s up. They will have to defeat the head honcho there though and the guy is fascinated with the mystical Depend Cards. Those will become more relevant in the next season. Either way, Chrono can’t back down now! Of yeah, did I mention that Chrono has been mysteriously receiving cards for the one of a kind Gear Chronicle deck? It’s part of what gets him into the game in the first place and also helps to give him a bit of an edge since nobody’s even seen the deck before. Chrono’s Dad also mysteriously vanished a long time ago and is presumed dead, but is he really?

One unfortunate change for Cardfight G is that the card fights are no longer shown in their entirety. In fact, most of the time nearly the whole fight is off screen. The next season fixes that a little, but it’s still nowhere near the days of old. In the original Cardfight show, you would see each move and you would always see the characters activate their counter blasts and triggers. It was more fun that way, at least for big card fighting fans like me. Instead, the fights will either start in the middle here or just show us the virtual reality part so we see the avatars making moves, but they don’t explain what happened in real time. You can get what’s happening anyway for the most part if it’s just an attack, but not if an ability is used. It also makes the characters make some odd decisions like just attacking with the vanguard and not summoning any support units. It feels like an easy way out for the writers since they don’t have to think up a whole duel this way.

I like seeing the virtual part, but not at the expense of my thrilling card fights. As I mentioned though, you want to go into this show with less of an emphasis on the action and cardfights and more on just watching the characters have a good time. The main cast is likable so that helps quite a lot. Some shows can’t handle this approach very well, but even if it’s just an episode of the characters going shopping or fishing, it will still be fun. In that sense, the show was definitely not going to go under a 7, but it wouldn’t go higher than it either. This is probably the limit for a show like this, but so long as the show was fun in the end, I can say that the approach was successful. In theory, it should be all uphill for the show from here.
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The animation is nice and sharp. I always thought that this company did a good job with the animation. I’d say that Legion Mate and Link Joker still defeat it, but this show can hold its own with the average modern show. It’s not going to be making a run at the top shows of course, but the animation isn’t lazy or sloppy. It works well here. It’s always good to see the monster fights and the character designs are always a bright contrast to the surrounding area so they stand out. Unfortunately, I can’t say that the soundtrack is quite as good. I actually liked the English theme song for this one by the end. That being said, I can’t say that it’s really fitting. It’s pretty emotional and downcast while the series is always very chipper so it’s an odd contrast. It’s the reverse of Madoka Magica in a sense. There aren’t any really good themes here. Not to say that music is all bad though. The themes are fairly fitting for the scenes and maybe it’s just because there haven’t really been any scenes that would need great themes. Cardfight Vanguard just had a very large array of awesome themes back in the day. G’s are more on the generic side. It’s not so much that they’re too upbeat, but where aren’t any real battle themes, which is my problem on that side. Still, it’s not a bad soundtrack by any means and while you’re watching the show you probably won’t think about it all that much.

Chrono is the main hero and he’s a solid lead. His character arc of looking mean, but actually being a nice guy on the inside is a good one. Not everyone can come across as super happy or approachable like Naruto or Aichi. Some people just naturally look mean and Chrono’s haircut in and of itself probably makes him look tough. Once he starts dueling, Chrono develops into a very good character. He definitely looks out for his friends and does his best to rescue the various duelists from the final boss of the series. With the various mysteries plaguing him from all sides, Chrono will have to keep his guard up at all times. In a show like this one, a character’s duel avatar is important and Chrono Jet Dragon is a solid go to card.

Shion has to balance a whole lot of duties so he probably has the toughest time behind the scenes when compared to the other two characters. Attending a lot of functions, being a kendo master, and an expert duelist is a lot to ask of a kid who still has to attend school as well. He does a good job of completing it all silently and without a complaint though. At first Shion is very with drawn, hiding in the shell of formality, but by the end he warms up to the others. Chrono’s still my favorite character of the main 3, but Shion makes for a good rival. He blurs the line a bit in the sense that he may count as more of a friend than a rival at this point, but he could work as both. Either way I want a Chrono vs Shion rematch at some point with high stakes. Maybe fighting at a tournament soon once they are both at peak strength. Shion uses the Royal Paladins so I certainly want him to fight Aichi at some point.

Tokoha is the third member of the group and easily the most outgoing person on the team. She really keeps the team together and helps to jump start their bonds by having the team help in clean up activities and volunteer all over the place. Her subplot of getting out from her brother’s shadow definitely would have been annoying if it had lasted too long so I’m glad that it’s over now. She came to terms with it well and now she has less drama to deal with than the others. Shion’s troubles carry on into the next season along with Chrono’s to an extent. All of them will still deal with future troubles, but for the most part their core personalities have been solidified. Tokoha uses the Neo Nectar Deck so she has a lot of grass based fighters. The deck doesn’t look as imposing the other two’s, but her skills are certainly at their level. At the moment, I would consider Chrono to be the strongest followed by Shion and then Tokoha. At least by the end of this show, but we’ll see if that changes at some point.

Kamui is a main supporting character which was good to see. He was always one of the weaker members of Q4, but he is still a world class duelist just the same. At this point, I feel like he should definitely be considerably stronger than the main 3. If the world is ever in danger again, Kamui would likely be the first line of defense. He still uses a very offensive deck to suit his fire style and he’s a solid character. Since Emi is rarely around, he is usually fairly serious the whole time. His character has a lot of depth and that’s the result of being a main character for all 5 seasons.

Kanzaki is the final boss of the show. He doesn’t have much in the way of charisma or development though. He gets a cool flashback where we find out that his horse can run on skyscrapers though. He wants to be ultra strong and to be the best. Those are decent motivations though, but he is certainly a villain with how he handles his base. The kids there also just have low will power, but that’s a whole other issue. Kanzaki is certainly powerful though and winning 3 duels at the same time was certainly very impressive. I wouldn’t mind seeing him again at some point.

Shouma is certainly a more interesting villain though. He likes to take shots at those who were born with enormous riches and political power. He loves to see his opponents humiliated before defeat and has a lot of mind games against Shion. His abilities are certainly quite real and he even has a short physical fight against Ibuki. I’d actually say that Shouma is easily the best villain in the series and it’s safe to say that he should have a big role in the next season right?…..

Rin is Tokoha’s rival. She makes sure to remind Tokoha about how her big brother Mamoru is a much better duelist than her all the time. The tactic works a little too well, but once Tokoha got over that she was able to surpass this villain. Without her mind games, I’m wondering if Rin has enough character to make another appearance necessary. She’s rather similar to Ren’s teammate after all. She wasn’t a bad villain, but not as interesting as Shouma.
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Sugiru easily had the smallest role out of the three villains. He made the mistake of underestimating Chrono and that’s never a good move to make. He was basically written out after his defeat so there’s not a whole lot to say about him. I suppose that we needed an expendable and he fit the bill. He’s rather similar to Shion’s fencing rival. The guy is around and he’s relevant I suppose, but he really just stuck to having a bit role.

Kouji is a mysterious figure. You can’t really call him a villain although he is hyped like one at first. Unfortunately, I just couldn’t take him seriously as a result. His duel against Chrono was probably the first epic episode in the series, but after that he had too many happy scenes just drinking and eating with Mamoru. That was around where I started to figure out that he couldn’t be a villain. I think the show handled his approach incorrectly and he still hasn’t had much of a real duel at this point. I do think that his character design is good though and having a mysterious rival for Chrono could be good. I think they should just save him for moments like that though or just make him a total good guy. The second season basically does this and that’s an improvement over straddling the line between protagonist and antagonist. He was never meant to be a villain so it was misdirection, but it wasn’t needed.

Mamoru is Tokoha’s big brother and the head of the Dragon Empire branch. He’s a relatively powerful fighter and he gets a good amount of hype. I want to see him have a serious duel before I buy into it, but he’s a good character. He just hasn’t had anything really big to do at the moment. Jaime is another character who gets hype, but I don’t like this guy at all. His constant flirting got annoying the instant that he first appeared and his catchphrase of (My Heart!) is always annoying as well. The show couldn’t have made this guy more irritating if they tried. It gets worse when you consider the fact that he is actually portrayed as a tough character so he’s going to be around for quite a while. Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo. He’s easily The worst character in the show.

Trinity Dragon has a catchy jingle whenever they appear so I’ll give them that. They’re basically the equivalent of Dex from Megaman. They’re comic relief characters who can’t duel for beans, but they always have a lot of confidence anyway. They don’t back up from any group and are always determined to one up Chrono. I like the leader of the group, but I don’t care for the other two. They’re doomed to their roles for the duration of G so if you don’t like them in their first appearance, odds are you won’t like any of their moments after that. There are a lot of them so hopefully you become a fan. Shin was a big supporting character in the original Cardfight show, but he never got to do anything. It was said or implied that Shin was a world class duelist at some point, but it was never really delved into. Even during the Link Joker debacle where Shin stepped in a little, he never got to do much. G is setting him up to be a bigger player this time around. He has a serious duel with Chrono and you can bet that he’ll still be around for the next season. Shin does get serious from time to time and this upcoming fight involving Chrono’s past will be more personal than usual. I’m ready for a serious Shin, but hopefully the contrast between him being serious and comic relief isn’t too drastic.

There are some other minor characters who appear in the show like Takeru. He faces off against Chrono in a tournament and they become friends while travelling across town. He’s a fairly strong duelist and I would definitely expect him to appear again someday. That being said, Naoki returning makes this guy a little irrelevant since they are so similar. Tokoha also has a friend who wants to learn how to duel and loves eating pastries. I don’t see her ever being a big character, but it’s always nice to have a supportive friend. The final big character is probably Taiyou. He’s the kid who is brainwashed by the evil branch and wants power at any cost. He is shown to have a lot of latent potential as he quickly surpasses almost everyone and nearly defeats Chrono. Now he’ll learn how to win the right way. Taiyou was fairly annoying the whole time though and added a lot of drama by letting himself be warped so easily. I didn’t care for him, but with that whole situation behind him, he should start being a good character now. At the very least, his plot did add some real stakes and tension though so it was good that he was in the show. The fights with the villain group were some of the best in the series.

This show is at its best when the tournaments are going on or when Team Try3 is having its grudge matches against Kanzaki’s group. Those episodes felt like they could have been right out of the original series. That’s the personal level of stakes and trash talking that I missed in this season. Tournament battles are always cool after all and remember earlier that I mentioned how the series did have 1 or 2 good tunes. If I recall correctly, both of those played during the fights with Kanzaki’s team. Still, G’s character introduction approach works well. The characters have all been securely introduced and most of them got a lot of development. Just look at Jaime, he had 3 episodes to himself although he’s still a terrible character. This show won’t be beating any of the Cardfight or Yugioh titles anytime soon, but it does defeat BuddyFight 100. That’s a start and with how much the next season has improved, it could make it back to 9 territory someday.
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Overall, Cardfight G is another solid show to add to your collection. It’s the definition of a fun Saturday Morning Cartoon. It all goes back to my definition of what a good TV show, Comic, Manga, Video Game, or any sort of media should be. It should be fun. You should walk out of the experience knowing that you had a good time. A grin should be on your face and you should be glad to talk about it for a while. If those things didn’t happen, then something went wrong. The term “slice of life” may have a bit of a negative connotation to it when placed in the context of a show like Cardfight, but it really shouldn’t. The Earth isn’t always in danger and you know that the show will get back into the action genre soon. Having some time for the heroes to actually enjoy the world that they have protected these all years is good. G is a show that is very easy to talk about and there is a lot to discuss. Each episode was a blast and I can’t recall any bad ones. A lot of plots have been set up for the next season so there is a lot to wonder about. Most of the episodes also have an after credits scene so I recommend being on the lookout for them. One of them even solves the mystery of who has been leaving Chrono his new cards. Whether you like Card fight shows or not, I recommend checking this one out. Just about any kind of anime fan can get into this one with ease. I’ll have a review for the next season shortly.

Overall 7/10

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