Buddyfight never hit it off quite as well as Cardfight but it still did last for an impressive amount of time. It got several seasons with the original cast and then we got this one, a sequel sort of like Cardfight G. It’s definitely not quite at the level of the first set of series but as you have to get used to a whole new set of characters it is rare for this to be the case anyway. As it stands, this is still a great show and I was sad to see it go. I’m sure the next arc would have been pretty epic and with more time the ending probably wouldn’t have been so rushed.
The plot follows a kid named Yuga Mikado. He is the son of Gao Mikado but for reasons that are never explained and make no sense Gao never introduced him into the world of Buddyfight despite being the world champion. I guess we have to assume that Gao just never went back home because it sure seems like Yuga doesn’t really know the guy. Still, Yuga prides himself on being the ace of games. He just tends to be very good at whatever he does and even has a Paltube account to document his experiences along with his friend Ranma. One day Ranma gets Yuga into the world of Buddyfight and his world changes forever.
The first episodes are mainly for introducing the other characters who I will talk about in a bit. The actual plot mainly revolves around a big tournament that is coming up. The champion will be considered to be the best in Japan. Yuga is definitely ready to claim victory but Ranma realizes that the gap between them is steadily growing. As a result he decides to turn to the powers of darkness to make a comeback. He decides that crushing Yuga is what he has to do and they can’t be friends until that happens. Meanwhile his buddy has plans to destroy the world and Yuga’s Buddy Garga may be Earth’s best hope against him. Can Buddyfight really solve all of their problems?
The show definitely starts out pretty strong thanks to having a pretty well rounded cast of characters. Aside from Ranma most of the other characters tend to be pretty solid. It’s also cool to have the heroes grow up in the same city as the originals but I do think we should have gotten more guest star appearances. I understand the logic of keeping them away during the first season and Cardfight did that as well, but it’s always a lot of fun to see the old gang band together one more. Surely at least Gao should have shown up at some point.
I suppose this does mean that the show has to succeed or fail on its own merits though. The animation is definitely pretty sharp. The energy effects are really on point. While I don’t think it beats the top Buddyfight animations, it is definitely up there. The show looks really clear and all of the scenes flow well. It’s always pretty consistent and definitely works to enhance the experience. Then we’ve got the soundtrack which is definitely dynamite. This is one of those series where all of the main characters get their own theme which is cool. I think it’s a nice touch and really lets you get into the heat of the duel. The best theme is actually Ranma’s. It’s a really solid villain theme and definitely gets across the despair of facing off against him.
So let’s talk about the characters. Light is probably the character who shows up the most yet gets the smallest role. He duels maybe two times in the show and spends most of it just watching the other characters. Being a spy is his job so it makes sense I suppose but I feel like he should have done more. His plot of resenting Gaito a bit also came out of nowhere considering how much he also likes Buddyfight.
Then we’ve got Yuga who is the actual main character. He’s definitely a fun guy who is always looking on the positive side of things. As the Ace of Games he also has his competitive side as well. That being said, Yuga is probably the best loser that I’ve seen. He never even comes close to being upset at anything. Even when Ranma turns evil and starts hurling insults 24/7 Yuga just shrugs them off and keeps claiming that the two are still friends. Yuga may be a bit exaggerated in that respect but it is a really nice change of pace to have a lead who just refuses to acknowledge his friend’s betrayal. Even as Ranma continued to get worse and worse Yuga keeps their friendship. He’s definitely a great lead and whenever he puts on the headphones you know that he is getting serious.
Masato is the Ace of Sports and one of the main fighters here. He fights with the Link Order Dragons. While sports are his favorite thing to do he also does enjoy Buddyfight quite a bit. He is able to hold his own with just about anyone in a fight. His backstory is pretty good although to an extent all 3 characters have a similar one. They were all friends with someone who turned evil and needed to be dueled out of it. Masato even has his own winning cheer. I feel like it probably just adds salt to the wound for the foes he defeated but since he died the cheer no matter the outcome you know it isn’t personal.
Then we have the Ace of study, Subaru. He’s a little more aloof than the others, but isn’t mean as you might expect from the rivals. He just likes Buddyfighting and studying and quickly makes friends with the others as a result. He’s not quite as interesting as the others as a result, but his skills are definitely the real deal. His Buddy can predict the future which is handy, but whenever Subaru is going to lose he suddenly can’t see the future which is a little too convenient. It is what it is I suppose. Subaru comes up with an infiltration plan in the second half of the series which was an interesting idea, but I don’t think he pulled it off too well. Still, he always made it pretty far in his duels.
Tasuku is really the only old character with an active role so he’s repping the old characters. He only gets to duel 2-3 times but it is definitely fun to see him get in on the action. He’s still got his Jackknife Dragon at the ready and their retro combos. As the police chief he can’t be quite as reckless as he used to be and seems to follow regulations more. While he may not be quite as much fun as when he was a kid, Tasuku is still a quality character. He is ultimately the one who comes up with the super weapon that plays a key role in saving the world.
Dan or Da Dan as they call him is the main comic relief villain in the series. He has his own Pal Tube account and likes to mess with the heroes. He can’t fight as well as the others for a while, but he never gives up. How much you like him will definitely depend on if you like this kind of character but I thought he was pretty reasonable. He actually did put up a great fight against Ranma in the end. Dan was really close to winning that one and it’s crazy to think on how different the series would have been if he succeeded. Dan also probably had the toughest time out of all the characters since he was effectively trapped for a long while.
Garga is Yuga’s buddy and he is a very formal dragon deity. He’s one of the strongest monsters in all of Buddyworld so the guy has a lot of experience under his belt. He surprisingly has things under control from start to finish and doesn’t go through the whole “Yuga needs to prove himself worthy!” plot. He definitely gets a little more comfortable with the heroes towards the end and even starts filming Paltube videos. From the various main buddies through the years he is definitely one of the best ones. His decisions on how to handle the situation with Vile Demonic Dragon were also the right ones. Garga really hits all the right notes. He’s a dependable ally and a great friend.
Banjoe is one of the supporting characters who is around at times. He’s your classic punk character, but he doesn’t get a whole lot to do compared to the others. He’s a reasonable fighter and has a decent character arc, but I don’t think you’ll be remembering this guy much. Ion is the new announcer, but she definitely doesn’t have the memorable charisma that Paruko had. Mel is a girl who likes to sleep a lot and doesn’t have the bravery needed to talk to Subaru. That’s not really what I want to see in my favorite characters so you can tell that she was one of the weaker ones.
Mamoru is a nice homage to Ultraman so he’s a fun guy to see. You sort of know that he’s doomed in the duels since he just feels like a one shot character, but the fact that he can actually fight in the real world is definitely pretty cool. Miko is a supporting character who appears quite a lot. She owns a pizza shop and always treats the main cast to free pizza every other episode. I do think she is probably losing out on a lot of profits here, but I can’t really fault her for treating her friends right? She may not be too outgoing, but her buddy isn’t afraid to take control of her body and fire energy blasts at opponents who get too close. Miko can fight when in a pinch as well so you definitely don’t want to count her out.
Now it’s time to take a look at the main villains. One of these guys is Daijiro. He’s Masato’s main rival. Aces decided to give each of the main 3 heroes a rival so they all pair up nicely in the final tournament. Daijiro is super competitive like Masato, but winning is all that he cares about. This naturally led to a rift developing between the two characters. Daijiro has a pretty reasonable deck and I do like him as a villain. He’s one of those guys who still follows an honor code and that’s something I always like to see with these characters.
Then we’ve got Seiji who is the more cunning villain. He’s not direct like Daijiro and likes to pit characters against each other and watch the fireworks. When this doesn’t go well then his confidence fades fast though which is definitely his weakness. He’s also a little more petty and easily manipulated by Ranma and the others. I always like the dynamic of a sub villain who wants to betray the leader, but you never really feel like he’s going to come out on top. Seiji really isn’t that kind of villain and he gets too emotional to really be much of a leader. I do like him as a villain though.
Naturally then we have Ranma. Unfortunately..he’s the weakest of the main 3 villains. He starts out as Yuga’s best friend, but quickly gets jealous when the hero gets the most OP buddy in the game. Ranma sulks quite a bit as other people become Yuga’s friend and he really wants to be the hero’s only friend. You can see the warning bells right away here. Ranma succumbs to darkness in order to beat Yuga and does finally get his own buddy. However, instead of being grateful for that he turns into a full blown villain. He goes so far off the deep end that it’s hard to buy his inevitable redemption arc. He even gets over the fact that his buddy murdered one of his teammates. The last episode feels really rushed in this respect and since it looks like we might not get a season 2 that’s going to make it even harder to like the guy. You can sometimes make a big betrayal like this work (ex: Sasuke) but you can’t do it like this. The motivation is extremely important and Ranma’s is petty at best.
Ranma’s buddy is pretty cool though. Vile Demonic Dragon will remind you of Azi Dahaka from the original series. This guy has big plans and he has quite a few different super forms at his disposal. There’s one part where he fights alongside his super form and it makes for really cool visuals. Realistically you should never lose when this guy is your buddy. Of course, he wasn’t exempt from the cheesy end either. It’s hard to buy this guy wanting to be a nicer monster after all of his tough talk. I do like the idea of a bond between him and Ranma, but he just shouldn’t be willing to join the heroes so quickly. Also, how did he get out of jail so quickly? Even if it was for good behavior, you’d think it would take years and not a few weeks. Maybe the Buddypolice do some brainwashing?
One character that the show was probably a little too misleading on was Rei Urameshi though. He was seen as a very mysterious figure for most of the final tournament. The build up gets to the point where you start to actually look forward to his debut. Unfortunately he then shows up as a comic relief villain. This doesn’t have to be a bad thing as I thought Dan was handled well, but he’s just pretty annoying. It’s hard to go for that complete 180 and succeed. Either you like the twist or you don’t, but it definitely didn’t work for me. I was hoping for someone who was a little more impressive.
Buddyfight Aces definitely wastes no time in making the monsters pretty OP here though. By the end of the series there are quite a few fighters who could probably hold their own against the strongest fighters in the original series. The power creep gets incredible particularly for Yuga and Ranma. There’s no way they can realistically lose to anyone now. Yuga is not even the strongest and he can launch almost 10 consecutive attacks with his combo. If you don’t have a bunch of shields then you can expect an instant loss. Ranma’s attacks are even more devastating as even when he loses all of his life points you have to beat his monster around 15-20 times in order to beat him. In a normal duel you are definitely not getting that many attacks before you lose. Ranma may get lonely at the top now, but he has finally gotten his wish to be the best. Hopefully he makes the most of it.
Aces definitely had a really solid run, but it feels like the season was cancelled or at least had to end a little sooner than expected. The last episode is just crazy sudden and moves at a lightning pace. Quick pacing isn’t inherently bad of course, but when you have multiple villains who have to pull a 180 in the span of a single episode that really isn’t going to work well. If there was going to be a season 2 I feel like the ending would have been quite different. The Dragon would have escaped and Garga would have pursued him. This would lead to Yuga deciding to follow him into another world and of course then there would be a bunch of other monsters. Maybe Gao would also show up to save his son. A lot of potential there that we might never see.
In the end I would say that the character roster is a little weaker than the original Buddyfight’s, but at the same time the core characters are mainly good. The supporting ones are more hit or miss. The villains are probably more solid all around although with the main villain not being too high that does limit the others a bit. The dueling is on point as always though and with the power creep it would have been fun to have seen what they’d do in season 2. I feel like Garga would have lost his form change ability or something to make Yuga have to work for his wins a little more. Alternately everyone’s gonna have multiple flags at the ready.
Overall, Buddyfight Aces is definitely a great show. It’s very focused on developing the characters but throws in a lot good duels and action in the meantime. It’s a shame that it looks like it won’t get a follow up season though. Typically the second season is when the plot would really get going and we would start to see more guest stars. Still, it’ll definitely hold up very well as a one shot title, particularly if you look at it more like a stand alone than as a sequel. It’s a Cardfighting show, how can you not love it?