Cardfight!! Vanguard overDress Season 2 Review


To put it mildly I was not a big fan of the first season. For a franchise that is used to getting 9s and 8s before, that one only got a 6. It had a lot of glaring issues and would have been a whole lot lower if not for Tohya taking the whole season on his back and keeping it afloat. I’ve rewatched his fights many times on Youtube while I have not rewatched any of the other episodes at all. Well, season 2 seems to have gotten the memo as Tohya is a full main character now and we even got a big fight between groups here. Season 2 is a complete step up in every way and while Tohya still carries all of the best moments, the episodes without him as the focus are finally solid here. We’re not quite at the great level yet but now I can say this season is pretty good.

Last time Tohya torched the banner of Team Blackout and Danji ran off somewhere. So this season begins with the fallout from that. Tohya is trying to make amends for what he has done and is starting by getting the banner back together and fixing the amusement park. He’s done rather well for himself and gradually everyone starts hanging out with him and acknowledging him as a good guy. Tohya is not very comfortable being part of a group and so he has to get used to this. There isn’t a lot of time to take it easy though as a group has started going around burning other team’s banners and they’re doing this across the country.

Tohya’s old partner is in on this but the mastermind is Mirei, the leader of team Daybreak. She will have to be taken down to restore peace in the Cardfight community. It won’t be easy though as she is the head of a multi million dollar company and her bodyguard is…Danji? Why has he crossed over to the villain’s side and will Tohya be able to take him down this time? So far he has not proven up to the task but now is his chance to win the rematch and help his new friends out at the same time. He can’t afford to lose!

With season 1 one of the many issues was just how aimless it could be. You would barely have a cardfight even happen sometimes. The humor didn’t work and Yuyu was a rather sad main character. Well, season 2 works on this by having more of a plot right away. Having Tohya work to atone from last time is already a good starting premise since it reminds you of the stakes from last time. We’ve also got an actual villain that isn’t comic relief here. (Referring to Tohya’s partner from last time) So the stakes are higher and the season is a lot more personal. Danji’s got his own plot here too but I’ll stick to the heroes for now.

Tohya is still my favorite character and it isn’t even close. He just does a really great job and you can tell that he’s a very responsible person too. He’s not taking the easy way here. He also didn’t have to be the guy to shut down team Daybreak but he goes in anyway. Then when he fights Danji he doesn’t back down and challenges him to a Cardfight. That’s exactly what I want to see from the tough rival here.

There are a lot of callbacks to the original fight. When Tohya asks Danji if he has any drive left that’s when the music starts up and you get pumped. Man that episode has a ton of great replay value and you could watch the fight so many times. There are fake-outs and moments when both combatants seem like they are going to win. It just doesn’t end and you can really feel satisfaction for the victor when it’s all over. It’s a spectacular fight and a 9/10 episode. Definitely the pinnacle for the season even if it wasn’t the end arc fight.

But we already knew that the Tohya parts were going to be great. We knew that he was the guy who carried season 1 so you are probably more curious about the rest of the cast and events. Well, that’s definitely fair and that’s exactly where this season excels over the first. So lets head over to the Danji plot now. Mirei is his younger sister and she is blind which is naturally quite rough if you want to play the game of Cardfight. They were very close back in the day but one day she was to be put into an arranged marriage and Danji found out that the guy was no good so he caused a scene and cancelled the wedding.

Only he knows the truth and everyone else thought he was acting out since Danji used to be a bit of a delinquent. So Danji was basically forced out and Mirei’s guardian Haruka told the world that he was dead. They even had a funeral for him. Well, now her overall goal is to use Cardfight to bring people together in a way where everyone can be equal. By each group having their own flag it means that can’t happen so they all have to be burned. Additionally no emotions are allowed during the games so that people don’t feel sad when they lose.

In a way she has turned her tragic past into her drive to make Cardfight the safest game around. A game where you can always be happy and the groups she takes out will thank her someday. It’s definitely an overly optimistic view of how things would go since you can probably imagine how each of the groups are quite upset at her for burning their flags. Who would be happy about that right? To an extent she has been tricked by Haruka who just wants Mirei to be happy but it’s also partially that Mirei has been sheltered from the actual effects of her policies. A lot of people also support them so she just doesn’t have a proper worldview now.

Danji is basically blackmailed into being her driver by Haruka. He is not to let her know that he’s the long lost brother and has to play it cool. He does want to be with her so this is how he does it but along the way that means he is basically overlooking all the crazy things that the group is doing. I heavily disagreed with Danji on this and in general he doesn’t look great in this season. He should have come clean to Mirei a lot sooner. Sure he might get sued and chased out of town again but she deserves to know and the longer he doesn’t say anything, the more it is like he’s basically tricking her too.

Particularly as we see later on that Haruka records all of their conversations. Danji knows this and doesn’t say anything so now this is also an invasion of privacy since Mirei is talking to him in confidence and doesn’t realize that she’s being recorded. Danji is passive as she meets with the heroes and debates. It’s all rather hard on him but he’s just not as outgoing and decisive as he was in season 1. He’ll be back to normal for season 3 but he’s just disappointing throughout the entire season. He makes all of the wrong calls and found himself on the wrong side. In a way the show may have been paralleling how Tohya atoned the right way and Danji as being in the wrong here but I’m not sure if that’s 100% intentional. It makes a lot of sense so I can roll with that though.

This shouldn’t be used as an excuse for Danji during his battle with Tohya though. Listen when you take the field in a Cardfight battle then you have to accept the results no matter the outcome. So even if he was dealing with some things, there is no backing out now. Danji may have been super annoying the whole time but at least he still does have a lot of skills and I doubt Yuyu would have been able to stop him.

As for Yuyu, he is still the main character and it’s fair to say that he gets the most screen time but at this point he shares so much time with both Danji and Tohya that it’s not by a huge margin. I’m completely cool with this because I’m still not a big fan of his. He does make some good speeches during the duels but he’s another character who is just a bit too passive and doesn’t just get out there. He has a little more confidence than he used to, but still just lets Mirei walk all over him in their verbal debate. If he keeps up the upwards trend then he should be set for season 3 but we’ll see how that goes.

As for Mirei, she’s the main villain and will be appearing a lot so it’s important that she be a good character as well. Fortunately I would say that she is fairly solid. I wouldn’t say her goals make a whole lot of sense when you think about it and she gets manipulated a lot but that’s why making her blind was a very smart decision. It makes a lot of her choices believable because your whole worldview is just so different if you have to rely on what other people tell you your whole life. I can’t really imagine what it’s like to be blind and this did have a big toll on her.

So while I think she could have handled things differently, it’s not something that I would seriously hold against her. Particularly when the heroes have multiple opportunities to talk to her and end up chickening out each time. Perhaps they would have been able to have gotten through to her a little sooner. Her guardian Haruka is also responsible for a lot of this as she takes the job a little too seriously. Haruka tries to keep Mirei in a bubble and make decisions for her but this doesn’t tend to end well. I can appreciate her intent but I would say she handled things poorly as well. If Haruka had realized the truth behind the arranged marriage and why Danji broke it up then that would be one thing but without that she is on the losing side here.

Then there’s Megumi who is still the main heroine…sorta. I feel like her role is so small that you almost forget that she is the heroine. She is around a lot of course but doesn’t get a whole lot to do. In part this is because she doesn’t have a big rival like the others although they try to play the kid up as her rival. He’s not much of a threat compared to the others but he can duel so I suppose that will have to do. Megumi is a solid character either way.

Tomari gets some action here and shows that she can still duel with the best of them. She is a member of the team after all so you’d expect her to be able to duel. I was glad she got a little shine here. Tomari tends to serve as one of the more experienced members of the group so she should absolutely be able to pitch in when needed and she keeps the characters sharp. Zakusa is also around but I was never as much of a fan of him. He has his whole punk angle where he starts to talk tough and then he’s usually mild mannered but that whole dynamic never works. It definitely doesn’t for Zakusa and he just isn’t very interesting to me. It doesn’t help that he’s another very passive character.

This may be why I like Tohya so much since he actually goes out there and gets things done while the other characters prefer to just talk and talk all the time. The cast isn’t very strong yet which also didn’t help season 1 since that was all about the characters. Here we have a lot of duels and the impending threat of team Daybreak so that kept everyone focused. The duels are really good so I do want to emphasize that the show did that justice. The stakes are high and the music is very fitting for each one of the duels.

Finally there’s Masanori and I still can’t take him seriously as a villain. I get that he’s always around and seems to be the mastermind behind everything but he takes so many Ls and at what point is he supposed to start being a serious threat? Right now it doesn’t seem like he can beat the heroes even if he tries his best and I don’t get the feeling that he even knows what he will do next. The guy is a true wild card without a doubt but not one that you need to fear.

The soundtrack is quite excellent. The gyroaxia song returns for Tohya as he questions Danji’s drive and it really is a song that gets you pumped up. The animation is also fairly solid. I don’t think there’s any scene that quite matches when Tohya pulled off his special transformation in season 1 but it’s all pretty solid though. You shouldn’t have any complaints on the technical side here as they don’t phone any of that in.

In terms of negatives, I’d say the only thing here is that the first half of the season can be a little weak. The show builds up to the war against Daybreak so in the first episodes you hear about them and see Mirei through the Danji subplot but not a whole lot happens. It’s got that season 1 vibe of being more of an aimless slice of life. It’s better this time though because it isn’t truly aimless, not to mention the episodes aren’t as weak. We don’t get a whole episode of Yuyu being sick after all.

In the main plot we have Tohya trying to get the town to accept him and in the B plot we have Danji getting absolutely devastated in every scene. So at least things are happening and there’s always a duel around. It’s just not until the second part of the season where we kick things into high gear with the big battles of clan against clan. The show’s humor is also fairly decent. The heroes running around trying to get a free meal was decent enough. If the whole show was like this then I’m sure it would have lost a star and been around the first season’s level but we did get the action so this ended up making it.

Cardfight also tends to be about a clash of ideals. Whether it is power vs enjoyment in Aichi vs Ren, Acceptance vs Change in Chrono vs the kid who lose his parents, or now Discarding vs Embracing the flames in Danji vs Tohya. There always tends to be something deeper behind each duel which is part of what makes the series is a blast. Naturally we have those themes in these duels as well. I would say in particular Danji vs Tohya and Yuyu vs Mirei would fall into those camps so lets quickly look at those two duels since they were some of the best in the season.

So for Danji and Tohya I mentioned there were a lot of callbacks to the first season’s fight. That time Danji won as he pointed out that Tohya was too fixated on power and ended up losing his strength as a result. So initially Tohya thought he had to discard his flames and completely change himself but instead of doing this he ultimately decided to embrace them. Danji didn’t particularly agree but also said it’s a choice each person had to make. Tohya won the duel but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s right. It does mean that he successfully defended his ideals though.

Danji wasn’t defending anything in this season which is part of why Tohya’s win was so important here to get Danji back into his groove. As for the Yuyu duel, well of course he believes that you should be able to have fun and laugh while playing Cardfight. This emotionless way of dueling that Mirei teaches goes against Yuyu’s ideas here. Instead of making the game completely equal, it takes away from the fun.

Neither character is as eloquent in this duel since they’re both a little on the younger side but they still do their best and it is a pretty intense battle. There’s a lot of good back and forth here and I will always say that my one complement for Yuyu is that he gives good speeches. Sometimes they are thrown right back at him like Tohya when he turned the tables but Yuyu has a lot of passion in his duels. If he could keep this up outside of the dueling table then he could definitely join Chrono and Aichi as some of the higher tier main characters someday. As long as we keep up these emotional duels then the series is in a great spot and I don’t see that changing.

Overall, OverDress still has a ways to go if it wants to catch up to any of the other parts of the franchise but an upwards trend is always good. As long as Tohya is here you know you’re guaranteed to have at least one excellent match in the season too. He always brings in the passion and emotion that you want to see from the main characters. He could really teach the other characters a thing or two. The third season looks to be finally adding in some tournament action so that sounds really promising. Who knows, it could end up being the best season yet!

Overall 7/10

Cardfight!! Vanguard overDress Review


The Cardfight Vanguard franchise has really come a long way. It went from being the new kid on the block to being able to stand shoulder to shoulder with pioneers like Yugioh. At this point it can hold its own with any title in the trading card genre. overDress is the start of the newest generation in the franchise. It has a lot to live up to with the original, G, and the reboot era all churning out stellar titles. This one is off to a weak start so far with the weakest season in the franchise but knowing this franchise, you can’t count it out. Both G and the original series had a weaker first season compared to their sequels so this could be a similar path.

The series starts off by introducing us to Yu-Yu (Which sounds like a Yugioh protagonist name) who is rather timid and as a result he is pushed around by his family. They aren’t antagonistic and certainly don’t mean to be pushy but they have a lot of fun dressing him up and he doesn’t do anything more than half heartedly complain about it. One day they dress him up as a girl and he finally has enough of this so he storms off. He meets up with a girl named Megumi who introduces him to the world of Vanguard.

See, the players in this town use an abandoned amusement park to have their games in. It’s like a sanctuary here and it’s led by Danji, who is known as Big Bro by the community. He takes Yu-Yu under his wing and the hero quickly realizes that his life can be a whole lot brighter with this game by his side. Slowly Yu-Yu learns to open up and be more independent as he gains a lot of friends through this. When a challenger named Tohya shows up and threatens these bonds, Yu-Yu will have to fight for his friends.

It’s a fairly quick season at 12 episodes. That may be the standard for a cour but it’s rare to see Cardfight shows with any season less than 20 episodes and usually it’s higher than that. As a result this is more of an introductory view into the series. We get to meet the characters and see what makes them tick. Don’t expect quite as many big battles here, it prioritizes being a slice of life over being a dueling series. You can even go full episodes with no true duels here.

Slice of life isn’t a bad approach and to an extent Cardfight G did this. I think that one still had many more duels but it did use up the first 30-40 episodes just on introducing the characters without introducing big villains. This one does have an antagonist by the very end but it is very low key. There’s a whole episode where Yu-Yu is sick and the characters have to help him out after all.

There are some moments of foreshadowing like Daji hinting that he used to have someone he looked after and a lady who has some kind of ties to his past. Also Yu-Yu may already be developing Psyqualia to an extent near the end of the season. That’s about it though and the series is a lot happier than you would expect from the opening. The opening is surprisingly somber the whole time so don’t let that fool you. This isn’t nearly as sad a show as it would have you think. For the most part it’s usually fun and games here.

Where the show falters is that it isn’t nearly as funny as it thinks it is. The scenes with Megumi getting the wrong idea about Yu-Yu and Danji for a few episodes barely qualifies as a comedic subplot since you won’t be laughing. Everyone loves to mess with Yu-Yu to an extent where even Aichi would have told everyone to knock it off. The characters just don’t click for the most part. The main, main characters are solid but most of the guys at the club feel like throwaways.

I’d also say that this is a show where you need the cardfights because those are the moments that really give the show its spark. Not including them much is like taking the show’s strongest aspect and keeping it on the backburner. Doesn’t feel like the show is playing to its strengths in that way. There’s a reason why the best moments in the show are all regarding the Tohya plot because that feels like peak Cardfight.

So Danji is an unbeaten Cardfighter with 20 victories in a row. (Not a lot so this guy clearly doesn’t duel too many people. We also see him lose at several points so it seems like only “official” duels in the ring count towards this) One day a guy named Tohya shows up to duel him and break that streak. Tohya has personal reasons for wanting to win this fight as it will help determine his future path. Their battles are great.

The first one in particular goes all out with the animation. On the whole the animation doesn’t pop out as much as the previous seasons. It seems to be using more of a faded color palette so it doesn’t strike you as quickly but when the fights come in we get some really streamlined moments. The speedblitzing and high end attacks are great and it will make you want even more Cardfights. It’s also a glimpse of what overDress could be like in the future with how high energy and epic these moments are. The fight animation deserves a lot of credit and unsurprisingly, episode 11’s animation as a whole is really solid.

Tohya even has a true origin story that is suitably tragic. It shows how serious it can be to misread someone’s final wish on their death bed. Tohya is chained by his past and it shows in his fights. He gets a lot of development and is easily the best character in the series. I was also glad that they played his final moments straight with no cop outs or sudden plot twists. He made his decision and went down a dark path, there wasn’t any hesitating or anything like that.

Out of the 12 episodes he really gets 3 full ones to himself and those are not surprisingly the best episodes in the show. He duels with a fiery passion that you just don’t see much in this season. He doesn’t even feel like one of the normal characters. To him Cardfight isn’t just a game and that really goes against the whole worldview of Yu-Yu and the others. If the show ultimately becomes more of a Shonen battle title in the next seasons then we’ll see if he’s proven correct. That said, while I do like this guy, I do think the final scene and decision with Danji is undeserved. If I were the side characters I would certainly be upset as well.

That’s enough about the best character though, lets talk about the others. Yu-Yu is one of those really timid main characters so he’s not really my style. I always prefer characters who are able to defend themselves and really get into the battle. I can already see his character development in place as he talks tough to Tohya near the end of the season. I can see him being a tough character down the road but he just isn’t quite there yet. Give him another season and we’ll see if he has really made it to the next level or if he just won’t be able to make the jump. At the very least he won’t be dressing up anymore..presumably. The season already gave an excuse in the wrestling episode for that to come back so we’ll see.

Danji is one of the most hyped up characters in the series and it is deserved in a combat sense. The guy is undeniably the strongest character in the series right now. It takes a whole lot to bring this guy to his limits and he will win 9 times out of 10. He isn’t always reliable outside of a duel though like arriving late when the flag was going to be burned and the whole outcome was his fault. The team needed him and he bailed. His sudden decision to step away from the game also rubbed me the wrong way.

He seems like a character who is just very carefree but he takes it to the point of just being irresponsible. Perhaps if we have more context to his decision then that will help things out but in the meantime that just hurts him as a character. I like him well enough and he beats most of the side characters but at this point in time I’m not super impressed with him. I want him on my side in a duel but that’s about it.

Megumi is the main heroine here and she can duel which is always a good thing. That’s a must at this point if you want to be a solid character. She has a tendency to lose a lot though because she lets her emotions run wild with her. That’s something she will definitely have to watch out for in the future but I can see her improving there. Her crush on Danji is probably not going to go anywhere at this rate either so she should be careful there. Like Yu-Yu I expect she will be getting a lot more development.

Now we get to the side characters who don’t get quite as much to do. Zakusa used to be a punk so he can revert to that mode at times where he can’t talk but…it’s not really that cool and more cringeworthy. He’s trying really hard to be the tough guy in the room but I can’t take him all that seriously. He did get one really good win in the show but that’s about it. You don’t feel safe with him as the second in command so he needs to train a lot more.

Tomari is a much more charismatic character and does well in announcing the fights. She gives the duels that old school energy and does her best to support Yu-Yu as well. Unfortunately she doesn’t really duel which will limit her potential a whole lot. Next up is Masanori who is Tohya’s right hand man. We don’t know a whole lot about this guy yet. He seems like a comic relief character most of the time but will then suddenly get serious at the drop of a hat. He really is a mystery but I suppose that’s what is supposed to make the character interesting.

Unfortunately I just don’t like the guy. Tohya has concrete goals and visions so you can at least understand why he is doing what he is doing. This guy? Not really, he just seems to like chaos so far and that’s not really enough to make for a solid character. He’s also just not funny even though he tries to be which is game over there.

The soundtrack is a little limited so far but it works well enough during the duels. The serious duels have good soundtracks to accompany them and that’s what counts. The opening is also good as far as the music is concerned even if it can’t match the originals. Then as I mentioned the combat parts of the animation are really solid and the day to day episodes have their moments. They certainly aren’t bad at any rate.

Right now overDress is like a roller coaster. Episode 1 was solid, 2 was rather weak, 3 was good 4 and 5 were weak, 6 was solid, 7 was straight up bad, 8 was weak, 9 was very weak, then 10-12 end the series on a high note with some intense battles and even a serious mini arc. In particular 11 was the pinnacle of the series as we had a great clash of ideals with Yu-Yu and Tohya. Nothing makes a great fight even better by putting that emotional weight behind it as each character fights for their beliefs. I saw that fight 3 times while prepping this review because it was really spectacular.

Season 2 just needs to continue that energy and that will be enough to keep it soaring. It’s not to say you can’t have stand alone episodes or be an episodic series. That can work but a whole episode where the main character is sick? That’s the kind of episode that’s probably not going to fly even in all star titles like Yugioh GX, Digimon Data Squad, or Beyblade. Being sick just isn’t an interesting plot point in the slightest and I’d say not to even have it as a subplot. The wrestling episode just felt pointless but it’s at least got some dueling there.

The series may prefer to be a slice of life show or at least something more grounded than in previous generations. If that is how it wants to be, then the key will be to make the characters better. Straight up that’s the way to do a slice of life. The characters have to be charismatic and/or humorous. As I said before, the show just isn’t very funny at the moment which limits the slice of life appeal. We need some more banter and having Tohya around as a main character could help with that to an extent. Of course I’m hoping we double down on the hype duels since you can have a lot of great banter and intensity with that. It all ends up snowballing into being a great show when you start introducing those factors.

Ultimately it all goes back to this being the origin of a new generation as I mentioned. It may have been a rocky start but many titles have had a rocky start and gotten really good so we just have to see how season 2 goes. Presumably this title won’t be in continuity with the older titles but right now I don’t think there is anything in the show that would contradict the others so who knows, maybe by season 3 or 4 we’ll have a guest star or two. I won’t have my hopes up for it or anything but that would be fun.

Overall, Cardfight overDress feels like a step down from the average experience in the franchise but it isn’t bad. I would like more of an emphasis on dueling in season 2 or at least more of an ongoing plot though. Some episodes here like the wrestling one or Yu-Yu getting sick just weren’t all that fun. The technicals are on point so once the show finds its footing then it should be all set. I’ll certainly be ready to see where season 2 takes this show. Hopefully Tohya continues to get a solid amount of screen time here because there really is a whole lot you can keep doing with him. I also want to learn more about the mysteries surrounding Danji and see where that goes.

Overall 6/10

Cardfight!! Vanguard Extra Story -IF- Review


Cardfight Vanguard’s had a very impressive run. Not only did the original series have 4 extremely impressive seasons but when we got another set of installments that took place in the future G verse. After that the series went into reboot mode readapting all of the original arcs but using the manga as a reference this time so there were a lot of changes. That finally leads us to this installment which re-adapts the Legion Mate saga to close things off. This means the next step could be the G remake but whether it’s that or just a completely new adventure I’m sold. Even “If” is a unique adventure in its own right as the plot is so drastically different from the original that it shouldn’t really be called a remake. At this point Cardfight has long since left most franchises in the dust.

The series starts with Kouji as the main character. Following up on his adventures in the last season, he has finally come to terms with his past. He may have deleted a lot of cardfighters but he has put that past him now. Unfortunately his ghosts won’t rest. Suiko shows up one day and tells him to get in the car. He reluctantly does and she explains that the timestream is unraveling. The Tatsunagi family needs him to go inside a book to a parallel universe to set things right. Kouji’s not really on board with this but he isn’t given a choice as the book sucks him in.

In this alternate world Cardfight Vanguard never became a huge thing. Instead there is a dark castle in town that only some can see. Ruling over the castle is Aichi who has somehow become a dark mastermind surrounded by his faithful knights Kourin, Naoki, Shingo, Morikawa, and Miwa. The two heroes who oppose them are Aichi’s sister Emi and her friend Suiko. In this universe they are magical girls who are able to cause their cards to materialize in the real world to fight off Aichi’s minions known as the Jammers. The Jammers want to keep on corrupting the timestream so they go through the past and future as they take control of various characters to force them on an alternate destiny.

Naturally this causes Emi and Shuka to meet up with Kouji and Suiko. They all have the same goals of course but their methods certainly vary. At the end of the day Emi and Shuka really do the hard lifting with the actual duels but since Kouji and Suiko are familiar with how the characters should be acting they are good at spotting the Jammers. The first half of the show is really focused on these day to day adventures as the heroes find a problem and correct it.

The show is quite good at these adventures. It brings in a ton of characters from all of the old arcs which is pretty cool. It really feels like a grand crossover which is neat. Even the very first episode deals with G themes as Kouji has to make sure he gives Chrono a deck. From there things would only get more and more expansive. It’s also a fun way to see what things could have been like had the characters made different decisions in their lives. Some would have become quite successful and rich while others like Shinemon would have just become traumatized by having to make the same foods over and over again. The show isn’t afraid to get pretty out there.

One of the reasons why the show is so much fun though is because of Kouji. He steals every scene he is in. The guy’s been through a lot for sure as he’s been both a hero and villain in the past. You can really understand why at this point he just wants a chance to relax and forget about all of this. Kouji just desperately wants to have a Cardfight with someone but the Jammers always prevent this from happening. It’s a bit of a running gag where Kouji constantly tries to get in a fight but it never actually ends up working out. I’ll give him props for effort though as Kouji tries this a bunch of times.

This season definitely has the most humor out of all the Cardfight shows and it’s all handled so well that I wouldn’t mind them incorporating more of this into the main titles. Kouji is extremely exaggerated in all of his reactions to everything but it works well. He’s also quite talented as during the course of the game we learn that in addition to being a top rate duelist he’s also an expert chef which comes in handy a few times. There’s one episode built around the concept of cooking from the start.

Eru Nakagami gets a big role in that episode which was cool to see. The guy has always wanted magical powers after all so finally getting to flex them on the characters was amazing. He always gets great music to accompany his appearances and knows how to milk the drama. The instant he got involved I knew that things were getting interesting. I would have to put that as one of the better episodes in the season.

It’s just so great to see all of the old characters showing up. Meanwhile Suiko gets a lot of character development here. I suppose it’s about time as Kourin always stole all of the screen time from the main 3 and you could argue that Rekka had a lot of character from the beginning. Suiko is a very by the books character who follows orders so she is never quite as free as the other two. Now’s a chance to see how she adapts on her own. There’s one critical moment where she takes down Kouji with a cheap shot that results in the two of them getting kidnapped so she doesn’t always make the right moves but for the most part she’s a pretty solid character here. It’s easily her best appearance in the series that’s for sure. I’d probably still put Rekka and Kourin ahead of her but this season definitely showed how Suiko should be portrayed.

Then of course you have Emi and Shuka who have big roles here. Shuka is a character with suspicious origins as she hides quite a few secrets for a while. Naturally the show can’t let this one go without some fun moments so there will be times where she looks like a horror character with her eyes glowing. Naturally you get the feeling the show is going for some red herrings here but it works well. I like that the show was really going for all genres. Shuka definitely made some big mistakes here and I would say that she is completely to blame for them. Coming clean from the start would have probably helped out a lot. At the end of the day though I would put her in the good character range here. She always speaks her mind and has more bravery points than Emi and is always there to protect her.

Emi being one of the main characters was definitely a switch from the rest of the series. Usually she is a minor supporting character at best so seeing her take such a prominent role was pretty cool I must admit. I also like the fact that she is wearing Aichi’s original gear too. She is doing all that she can to save Aichi and while Emi does waver in her goals at times, it makes sense. From her perspective Aichi’s never been involved in Cardfight so even though everyone says he is distorted, that isn’t necessarily the case for her version. Of course either way she needs to shut down the castle to stop Aichi from being a super villain though so that’ll need to happen regardless.

Emi’s personality here is pretty similar to the original series although she tends to throw insults around a lot more even if they are in a passive way. It’s a fun addition to her character though so I approve. Between her, Suiko, and Kouji they have a pretty great dynamic. Kouji may talk tough but he’s always ready to defend and help them out when needed. Emi also does get a duel near the end so she was training up her dueling abilities. It’d be neat if she and Shuka would be supporting characters in some future seasons. I guess she wouldn’t have powers anymore but who knows, anything is possible with imagination in this series so maybe she would have them unlocked.

Aichi is quite different from the classic version as well. Usually he is super polite and always willing to go the extra mile to help someone. How did he go from that to being a world conqueror who is fully ready to murder everyone in his way including his friends and sister? Well, we get some background to this via a flashback later on. How believable the transition is will probably vary. It’s interesting because it is totally played off as this still being Aichi. He’s not being mind controlled or anything. If anything he just cracked because he learned a little too much about the future. Takuto should be ashamed at his performance here but the scene was really cool because it felt like such a horror moment.

The animation got rather dark and Aichi even had a super sinister expression on his face. Effectively Aichi turned to the darkness as a form of self sacrifice to an extent to help someone out. He goes as far as to say the person he is helping has no say in the matter though so it goes back to the old question of “If you’re helping someone out and know that they will be better off, does it matter if they don’t want it?” For example, if you can see the future and know that someone’s going to be in a fatal plane crash the next day. Once peaceful means have failed, would you be able to go as far as to kidnap the person or sabotage the plane prior to taking off so that nobody is hurt? In the present everyone will be upset at you including your friend who would never find out the truth so it’s not like they would know better. In this case Aichi is preventing a possible future from occurring so the more drastically he tries to prevent it, the more likely it is that nobody would ever forgive him.

It’s a pretty interesting dynamic here for sure. That said, I do think Aichi loses his credibility here when he starts actively trying to murder people though. Put it this way, he may prevent the timeline he thought was coming to pass but this one is getting far worse. Effectively the person he was helping escape their future is going to have an awful time here. So Aichi really lose sight of his true goals and completely cracked. For most of the series he was relatively restrained. I would say for at least half of the series he handled things really well as nobody got hurt and he saved lives. He just ended up going too far and started messing up which is common for villains. The morality of reshaping time to make things better is a debate for another day but for now all I’ll say is that I wouldn’t fault Aichi for that. It’s only once he started taking things too far that things went off the rails.

The animation throughout the series is excellent by the way. The character designs are on point and all of the attacks are sharp. I wouldn’t say the real time battles are always quite as high end but I don’t think the show was really focusing on the fights. If they were really top notch that probably would have taken the show to the next level. Still, it was all very consistent. Naturally the writing was also exceptional as well. It’s just very witty and it makes all of the episodes a real blast from start to finish.

Then we’ve got the soundtrack which is naturally excellent. A lot of the classic themes are back from V including Kouji’s excellent Deletor theme. Now that’s always a tune you’re ready to hear as he gets ready to start dealing damage to his opponents. The theme song for the series is also pretty catchy. The real standout would be the ending for the second half of the series though. It’s really fast paced and just makes for a super action packed theme that you won’t be forgetting anytime soon. It was a good way to note the shift in tone between arcs as the series would change quite a bit.

Speaking of which, now’s a good time to discuss the second half of the series. Things take a very different approach here. The first half was really a comedy most of the time with a lot of crazy scenarios that Kouji and Suiko were put into. Well, Aichi and his Knights have decided to take the offensive in the second half of the series and the first thing they did was eliminate Kouji by throwing him out of the planet. The new main character now is Kai. He finds out that his life isn’t quite correct since his parents are now alive. The sad thing for him is that his life truly is perfect but now he’s going to have to find out what’s going on.

It’s one of those things where if he never found out that things were different then he would be okay but as soon as it became known to him it meant that he had to act. Unlike Kouji, Kai is able to merge with the cards that are summoned so whenever Emi and Shuka fight, Kai is able to directly get into the action as well. Usually he will merge with Blaster Blade who could definitely use the power boost here since he tends to lose a whole lot in the series.

Kai’s definitely a fun main character. I wouldn’t say that he is able to match up to Kouji of course but it’s always great to see him getting a starring role. Kai is definitely one of the best Cardfight characters after all and a top duelist. It’s also fitting that the series gets a lot more serious and emotional once he shows up since that’s Kai’s whole thing. We get a lot of flashbacks during this half as we learn the origins of Shuka, this version of Aichi, Kai, and a lot more.

Kourin is one of the big characters of this half as well. Things never tend to work out very well for her. In the first continuity she was manipulated by Takuto the whole time and had to sacrifice everything to serve him. In this series she was forced to part with her memories and couldn’t get them back again. Despite all of this she is always willing to defend Aichi which is exactly what she is doing now. No matter how far into the darkness he goes, Kourin is quick to follow him. As a result she has mastered her abilities to a higher degree than most.

Kourin can bend reality, time travel on a whim, merge with one of the strongest monsters in the planet, and even mess with someone’s mind. Her abilities don’t seem to have much of a limit which is pretty interesting. Of course in general I wouldn’t say the series puts a lot of thought into the abilities. Even Suiko and Emi seem to be able to do all of that when they want to but rarely do. Everyone here seems to have a lot of fantastic abilities so I guess it’s no wonder that nobody wants to bother with an ordinary Cardfight. Why bother settling everything with cards when you can just blast them out of existence right? It’s always been a meme that this was the case so it was pretty cool to actually see it get acknowledged here.

Kourin gets the short end of the stick every time so I was definitely rooting for her to win or at least get a happier ending this time. The other knights get less of a role but usually at least get a pair of episodes. Naoki for example was a pretty solid opponent. He’s definitely someone who’s always got Aichi’s back at well but once his memories are back he’s not the kind of guy who would keep following orders without questioning them. I did enjoy the twist on what his end game plan was though. It was a pretty interesting one. Meanwhile we have Shingo but that guy is far less interesting. Even this season couldn’t really change that for me. Morikawa loses so quickly you can forget he’s even in the show. Miwa gets a sizable role and looks pretty good. He takes a while to make his move but definitely did more than most so you have to give him some credit there. At least he had his suspicions early on.

Then you have Nome who is effectively Takuto’s replacement for monitoring the universes. I don’t think the guy did a very good job at all. He underestimated the book and at the end he’s ready to just run away instead of solving the issue. He’s certainly no hero which I suppose is pretty clear from the start but I don’t even think he can duel nearly as well as Takuto. For those reasons I would definitely have to give the guy a thumbs down.

Aside from Kouji and Suiko, Ren and Rekka were also sent in to fix the disturbances. There is a twist about this though so lets just say they didn’t do a great job. The heroes should be pretty mad at Ren for sure. At least he was having a lot of fun with his costume as a tribute to Tuxedo Mask though. The show pokes a lot of fun at his character to be sure but he does step in to help when the threat gets really serious. Otherwise he’s content to just troll everyone. Rekka also has a lot of fun with her own gig. She vanishes for large portions of the show though and doesn’t get to help out quite as much as the others.

As for the show’s ending, I suppose it’s pretty satisfying but still not perfect for one character who seemingly can’t win in any timeline. The characters all get their closure though. I do wish that they would all retain their memories of the season though as a little thing I never like is when the characters just forget. I think they should remember and be forced to acknowledge these events forever since it helps make the adventure mean more. Ah well, maybe next time I suppose. I guess with this, this version of the series may be over now. We’ll see what the next timeline brings.

Overall, Vanguard If was definitely an excellent way to celebrate all the characters over the years. It was a very different kind of Cardfight show to the point where it was really like a comedy/parody of the whole thing and it was executed excellently. Kouji was a stellar pick to be the main character here and the show did a really nice job with Emi, Shuka, and Suiko as well. The 4 of them had a great dynamic going which you may not have expected at first. Low key I also thought the show’s decision to have a character narrate each opening was great as well. The dialogue was handled super well along with one of the show’s original themes created for If. That music would make any scene entertaining and mixed in with the fun dialogue it was perfect. Since this show functions more as a spinoff it’s a good launch point if you’re not really into card games and duels so you just want a magical girl show. With all the timelines and flashbacks going on you should be nice and confused and can make this feel like a mystery title. I’ll be eagerly awaiting the next show in this series.

Overall 8/10

Cardfight!! Vanguard: Shinemon Review


It’s time to take a look at the next season of Cardfight Vanguard. The franchise has definitely been going quite strong for many years now. It’s easily outlasted Buddyfight at this point and now there are over 10 seasons of the show. That’s pretty crazy when you think about it. When’s the last time you had a show go all the way through, do the big next generations series with a new cast, get several sequels to that one, and then do the modern reboot of the original? Well, that’s what Cardfight has done and now we’re getting the prequel to the reboot and it looks like we’re getting close to a reboot of the next generation show. It’s really quite impressive and this is definitely staying up there as one of my favorite franchises of all time. Shin actually holds his own show quite well. While this one can’t match some of the earlier seasons for sure, it’s still a great anime.

The show starts by introducing us to Shin, possibly the youngest cardshop owner out there. However, his ownership of the place is a bit questionable. See, he decided to take it over when Misaki’s parents died as a last wish in order to keep her safe. Shin feels like he owes it to them and has quickly found his place in the cardshop setting. The problem is that he is still attending school and so he can’t be at the shop most of the time. A rich lady by the name of Esuka also wants to own the shop for personal reasons of her own. She has a fair argument for why she would be the best person for the job. She’s not a random villain or some petty person that wants to make some cash. She knew the parents as well and to be honest she seems like she would do a much better job. The show debatably has 2 main arcs, the fight against Esuka and then the G prequel arc about dimension hopping.

For most of the first half of the show Shin does his best to fight against Esuka and her corporation. The thing is, are you even rooting for him? Neither side is evil so you don’t have to worry about that. At the end of the day you have to think about who would run the shop better and I have to give the nod to Esuka here. Fortunately for Shin she also looks after him quite a bit and goes easy on the lead. For most of the series she seems to be way more skilled than he is and definitely has more resources. I have to admit that I was rooting for her the whole time. Shin’s a solid lead and all but he was too young to run a cardshop and I think this begun to sink in a little later on. Shin can be pretty stubborn though.

Then for the climax of the series we have Ryuzu showing up. Fans of the G series will remember him as one of the big villains. The guy is a little less crazy at this point in time though so this is sort of seeing how he went off the wrong path. He wants to harness energy from the other planet in order to make Earth a better place. The warning bells that trigger with statements like that though is that when you take energy from one place to make the other one better, it’s inevitable that one of the worlds won’t be doing so well at this point. It’s a conversation that he doesn’t seem willing to have at the moment. None of the other characters are really persistent about bringing it up though so it’s hard to blame him. How does Shin even fit in to all of this? Well, Rive is on Shin’s team but he may have to miss the tournament because of all this so now Shin has been roped into finding out what’s going on. It’s a pretty fun climax even if the characters could be a bit annoying at times. I think Ryuzu could have easily been encouraged to keep doing his research in a safe manner but nobody was really trying.

Going back to Shin, it’s amazing how far he has come from the original series. The other way of looking at it is how far he has fallen since his younger days I guess. This version of Shin is a lot more fiery and isn’t afraid to pick a fight. He does lose his motivation pretty quick when defeated but he always starts out strong. He has a great fight against Esuka in their first round and shows similar energy in most of his duels. I also like his go to card. It’s incredibly strong and also shows how one powerful card can take you a long way. Shin uses this as a crutch for a while in the series before eventually improving his all around skills.

While I wasn’t on Shin’s side in the debate against Esuka, at least his reasons for doing so were good. At the end of the day he just wanted to make sure Misaki could retain ownership of the shop and he needed to keep custody of it until she was old enough to do so. Shin’s always thinking about how he could help Misaki. Really my only problem with Shin is how he basically threw away one of the tournaments. After Mark had gone to the trouble of exceeding his limits and winning so many battles I thought that was just disrespectful. It’s a horrible way to lose the tournament if you ask me.

Mark is one of Shin’s best friends and so he gets a pretty big role here. Like Shin I was never particularly a fan of the guy in the main series. He is reasonable here though. While the series tries to make him look a little too powerful towards the end for plot convenience, the guy always had Shin’s back which is definitely important. Without him the heroes would have been in trouble during the tournament. He’s also a lot more reliable than Rive, who is mainly just here to be annoying most of the time. He participates in risky experiments and flakes whenever a big match is coming up. Shin and the others cut him a ton of slack but the guy is really not trust worthy. It just comes across as a betrayal when the team is counting on him to win the big tournament and he just ducks out of there. That’s completely unreasonable and I never liked him in the main series either so it’s pretty consistent. His big moment at the end also feels pretty pointless because he could have jumped to the monster along with Chrono. Deep down he didn’t seem to care a whole lot about getting back to Earth. That ending was rushed in quite a few different ways. It makes the monsters in Chrono’s deck actually seem a bit on the evil side with how they just allowed Rive to be trapped when they clearly could have done something.

Tatsuya’s role here is definitely a lot different than what I would have expected. He starts out as a nice enough kid who looks up to Shin and gradually gets a much bigger role. By the end of the series he’s a solid genius who has his own goals. Tatsuya makes for a solid antagonist because his motivation is a solid one. If anything the counter arguments that the heroes give in return are quite weak. It’s at the point where you are likely to be rooting for Tatsuya for a while. The heroes’ arguments all rest on hypotheticals and things that they can’t actually prove. Either way it’s a pretty fun battle though.

Mikuru is another one of Shin’s best friends and gets a big role. She never really gets to duel which does limit how much she can contribute compared to the others. Still, I did enjoy all of the crazy nicknames she would give Shin. His name rhymes with a whole lot of adjectives and she makes sure not to miss a beat. Misaki and Chrono don’t get to do a whole lot since they’re kids in this version. We briefly see them back to normal age at the end though and they should be quality characters as always. This just wasn’t their story this time.

Esuka’s a really fun character and she goes in a much different direction than what I would have expected. She’s definitely not your average rich tycoon. If anything it’s a bit of a subversion because to the characters she acts in much the same way as most rich villains. She uses some bribery and tricks to get her way so the heroes never trust her. The thing is, she usually means well and just has a hard time not acting like a rich tycoon. For example, she offers to make one of the characters rich and famous. The heroes assume she has some kind of ulterior motive and get out of there but she actually was going to try and make that happen. It’s fair that the other characters are suspicious though, it’s just a fun thing to note. She also isn’t afraid to go into the front lines herself like when she infiltrated Ryuzu’s base.

Nanami is Esuka’s main fighter and she gets a pretty big role in the series. She’s effectively a child prodigy and can keep up with the pros. Her deck’s pretty solid and I definitely like her confidence. Tonori is another one of Esuka’s top fighters alongside Nanami. His thing is that he gets stronger the hungrier he is. It’s a bit of an odd gimmick but it works well. He’s a bit underused though as he gets maybe 1-2 big fights in the series and that’s it. I also thought he was really nerfed because he shouldn’t have lost the final fight. The plot demanded it but I wasn’t able to buy that. He’s fun enough though.

Kanzaki got a big role in G and while his role here is a lot smaller, it’s a nice throwback to the G days. He still only thinks about power and yells that weakness is a crime. It can be a bit hard to take him seriously with that at times but he does win most of his fights here so I guess he earned it. He also paid Mark some respect in their close fight which was pretty solid. I probably would like his character more here if I hadn’t seen G first. He’s a bit one note though and his cool design can’t save him. Ryutarou is one of the members of Kanzaki’s team. I think he tries too hard to be Kanzaki’s opposite. He doesn’t really care about winning and just likes a good fight. That’s fine, but he tends to lose a lot so it almost seems like an excuse. The whole “I only lost because I didn’t care about winning” thing doesn’t tend to go well. To be fair, he never uses that excuse but I do think he should take the fights more seriously.

Ruga is definitely one of the most tragic characters in this series. All he wants is to have a serious fight with Rive and yet the guy always runs off. I don’t get why Rive is being so cold here. They used to be best friends and then Rive grew distant as soon as he got married. Yeah, both of them agreed not to get married but Ruga would have been a lot more understanding if Rive didn’t suddenly ditch like that. The only reason Ruga was opposed to this was because he felt like it would take up all of Rive’s time…and then his fears came true. Rive could have absolutely mended the bridge with Ruga if he wanted too and as a result Ruga became even more obsessive.

Finally we have Ryuzu who has always been a fun villain. His goals are pretty interesting. In this series at least I wouldn’t consider him a villain since he is still trying to help the world. Things don’t always go his way but at least he tries his best. His deck is solid and he is usually one step ahead of the other characters. At least he is actually doing something important. Towards the end of the series they try to make a case that playing a normal game of Cardfight is just as important as making research that can save the lives of millions. Ryuzu is really at a loss for words at this and I kind of was as well. Ryuzu may not be perfect but at least he is trying to better society, can Shin and the others really say the same?

Shinemon is definitely the right way to do a prequel. Each episode is a lot of fun and it develops the characters rather quickly. You know the setting and everyone in it within the first 3 episodes. From there we are able to jump into the duels. The series doesn’t really have high stakes like some of the other seasons but that’s fine. In a prequel you already know most of the characters are safe anyway and it would be difficult to jump to end of the world stuff so quickly. That’s why the series focuses more on powerful character moments and sharp duels. The series is just a lot of fun and taps into the early G feels. Shin’s also a very different main character from Chrono and Aichi which helps to differentiate him. I really had no complaints with the title. If anything I wouldn’t have minded if it got more episodes but in a way I like the short seasons because it helps the franchise keep going further. I want to see how many seasons it can churn out.

As expected the animation here is quite sharp. The animations are very clear and smooth. Whenever a monster is summoned it also looks quite crisp and it’s clear that they’re not phoning it in for any of these episodes. I’ve always liked the style that they use for Cardfight. It’s pretty simple in terms of design and such so they’re able to put a lot of effort into the colors. I’ve greatly enjoyed anime with detailed or simple designs so both can definitely work as long as you put the effort in and this one definitely did. Meanwhile the soundtrack is pretty great as always. I’m not really sure if this one added any new themes but at this point the series has so many that you barely need to do that. It grabs some themes from G and the reboot seasons so that’s already a good amount of variety.

Overall, Shinemon is a great season and a nice way to handle the prequel. It really shows us that Shin used to be a cool character as opposed to being one of the blandest characters I had ever seen in the main seasons. I’d consider that to be a bit of a soft reboot since it’s impossible to picture Shin being this great back in the day. The final episodes even try to give a reason for why he changed so much at the end and it’s a nice attempt although you will still have a tough time buying it I’m sure. Since this is a bit of an origin story you can easily watch it without seeing any of the previous seasons. It is one of those prequels made to be watched after experiencing the originals but that doesn’t matter much until the final 2-3 episodes. Either way you should have a blast.

Overall 8/10

Cardfight Vanguard Zero Review


It’s time to look at a recent app that I downloaded. I’ve always enjoyed watching the Cardfight Vanguard show so I figured playing through an app game would be pretty fun too. It’s got a unique gameplay style that is different from Yugioh and I’ve never gotten to play it in action before. This was my chance to change that and the game is definitely a lot of fun. It’s also very challenging so you can rest assured that it will force you to become a better player as the levels go on. With an active user base and ongoing events there will be enough content to keep you entertained for the long haul.

As with most mobile games there are a ton of options that greet you on the menu. It can all be pretty overwhelming so the game wisely locks a lot of the options behind level ups so you experience them all gradually. You’ll likely be spending most of your time in the story of playing online battles. Aside from that you can also clear daily missions, fight practice battles, customize your deck, and buy more cards. While there are some paid options you can do the game is 100% free to play and you can do quite well without spending any money. It’s the kind of game where you can absolutely hold your own without spending a dime.

The story mode has 11 chapters which consist of around 50 rides. While you might think you can clear those right away, it will take a lot of time. Every 3-4 rides you have to go and do other tasks to unlock the next ones. These range from beating an opponent 5 times to fighting online for 3 battles. There are a lot of different tasks and it is the game’s way of making sure you try everything out. I could be a little annoyed at having to take a break from the story so often but I understand the logic. I don’t approve, but it is what it is and the rest of the modes are all fun as well which helps a lot.

The story mode covers the first season of the show although I expect as more and more levels are added it will eventually cover the entire series. It’s been pretty detailed at trying to grab almost every fight and the game actually plays whole anime scenes which is pretty cool. You don’t see a lot of mobile games do that so it was pretty nice. I made it through around half of the rides before doing this review and they’ve been fun.

I’ll quickly go over the gameplay but it’ll be difficult to go too in depth due to how many rules there are. First off you start with a hand of 5-6 cards and then each player rides a grade 0 Unit. As each turn passes you can ride a card with 1 grade higher until you get to the max of 3. (There are future cards that go higher but I doubt they’ll be added anytime soon) There are 3 columns and 2 rows which you can rill with monsters. Only the 3 monsters in the front row can attack and the one in the middle is your Vanguard. He gets a Drive Check which has the potential to strengthen your team, heal your damage, or do something else. The first player to get to 6 damage loses the match. The only way to deal damage is to attack your opponent’s vanguard with a monster stronger than his own. The attacking player has the advantages of having a support monster to boost attack as well as the drive check so attacking is quite easy.

You’ve also got a bunch of other mechanics like sentinels and intercepts so you’ll want to study a bit. There are a few rules that are simplified here compared to the actual show and I imagine it was to help balance the game as well as make it go quickly. Depending on how many rules were added each round could take forever. As it stands most duels aren’t very long although I can’t say that I’ve actually counted how long any of them took me. I imagine they may be around 10 minutes or so. The deck I went with was Kagero and it served me well. Ultimately the battle I ended up getting stuck on was Aichi on Hard mode. That guy’s pretty hard to deal with and he’s also got a permanent attack boost on all of his monsters which is a little suspect if you ask me.

As for the graphics, the game looks quite good. Aichi’s character model is the only one that looks unfinished but everything else is very polished and holds up quite well. The soundtrack is excellent with the full anime opening being the intro music. I definitely appreciated that nod and in general it’s all very high energy so you’re always right in the thick of the action. It makes every duel even more enjoyable and for a mobile game the key is making the game easy to pick up and play at a moment’s notice. This game achieves that because you’ve always got time for a quick duel. I think card games really excel in the card game format and this one is no exception.

Overall, Cardfight Vanguard Zero is a great game. You’ll have a lot of fun here and even if you’ve never played before you’ll be fine. The game gives very detailed tutorials and the online community will also be more than willing to help you out. There’s a good amount of support here and a lot to do. I’m definitely confident that you will be engaged for the long haul. Right now I’m pretty busy with Final Fantasy VII Remake but Zero was definitely a whole lot of fun and I look forward to seeing the game grow. As with most mobile games this is where my journey will end, but it was still a pretty fun experience.

Overall 8/10

Cardfight Vanguard: High School Arc Cont. Review


Time for another Cardfight review! This may seem pretty soon compared to usual, but that’s because this was more of a miniseries than a full fledged one. It deals with the fallout from the recent reboot season. Kouji must face his demons and Aichi still intends to bring his club a world championship as soon as possible. At 14 episodes the series has to move on pretty quick but still makes for a good watch. It’s probably the most standard of the series and by default is the weakest entry in the franchise. There’s only so much you can do in 14 episodes when the others are all around 30-50 episodes (Some are at 60+) but it does what it can.

The show picks up where the last one left off. The universe has been reset after Kouji was defeated. Everyone has seemingly lost their memories of the old timeline. As a result there are a few things that don’t add up. One is that Aichi’s cardfight club no longer has the right amount of members so the student council decides to shut them down. Aichi and his team defeat them to avert this dilemma and as part of the deal even get the council to aid them in joining the big cardfight tournament that is about to start. Aichi aims to learn why the club is seemingly missing someone despite having no knowledge of this. Winning the tournament might somehow give them clues on how to do that.

They aren’t the only team to enter the Koshien though. Meanwhile you have Ren’s team and they’ve recruited a powerful ally in Kouji. Kouji no longer wants to erase Vanguard from the world, but as a result he is frozen with fear whenever he duels someone. He knows that if he wins he will end up destroying the opponent’s will to play so he must find a way around that if it’s even possible. His plot is almost as big a focus as Aichi’s as he tries to find a new path for himself. Meanwhile Kai is also still weakened from when his spirit was destroyed and along with the rest of the emptied souls must try to regain his joy for the game.

While the main plot of the season is technically about the tournament, it really doesn’t have a whole lot of importance. It’s here as a plot device to get all of the characters together to get through their difficulties but ultimately that’s about it. Unfortunately someone must have told the animators/writers this because it gets the shaft. The tournament doesn’t start until the last few episodes and as a result just about every fight is handled off screen. Sure, you see them on screen briefly for the trash talk and posturing but then most of the duel just goes by in a flash. It almost would have been better to not have had the tournament at all. It all feels very half hearted like the show is just going through the motions.

I suppose a rushed tournament is still better than not having any duels…but there’s more the show could have done if it cut the tournament out. The best episodes here are mainly the ones about Kouji as he struggles with his inner demons. It continues to show why he is the best character in this post reboot world as he is trying very hard to change himself. It’s a pretty painful process compared to everyone else who just has to win a duel. Trying to lose is always a tough thing to do because it also hurts your reputation. I still consider Kouji to be the strongest duelist here even with the nerf as I don’t find his new deck to be quite as impressive.

Although it initially seemed like he was the only one who kept all his memories while everyone else had to start remembering little flashes, the last episode seems to contradict this. Perhaps the universe change is slowly going to get everyone and Psyqualia only prevents this for a time. Ideally I’d like everyone to remember the old days as I never like for it to be permanently forgotten. The characters all get happy endings this time around though so that’s an improvement over the last adaption of this arc. Kourin gets her proper closure and is once again a true part of the team. She’s definitely been a fun character and it’ll be nice to have her back on the cast for a future season if we go back to these guys someday.

Nakagami is probably the biggest of the new characters. He’s got a lot of potential to be sure. At times he is played off purely as a comic relief character and I have a gut feeling that this will always be the case, but there’s always the chance he will be played seriously. If the show ever does go down that route it’ll be cool. I like the concept of his demon arm and he actually seems like a pretty decent duelist. His ramblings are fun and his duel theme is great. All in all I have to say that he is just a great character and struck all of the right notes.

The rest of the student council are decent, but they won’t leave much of an impact on you. They’ve each got their character quirks, but that’s about it. I like the President’s global gimmick as he is always yelling about that. Aichi’s club is always around, but I wouldn’t say that any of them have an especially big role. Naoki does want his revenge on Kouji since ironically one of his only memories is of the days when Kouji was a villain and insulted Aichi. As a result he wants revenge during the big tournament which is his perfect opportunity to do so.

Kai’s episodes are not quite as thrilling as Kouji’s but he also does get a pair of episodes where he duels Mamoru which also works as some setup for Cardfight G. It’s just so weird to see Kai acting so weak. It doesn’t feel right since he’s always been the champ above everyone else. I dare say that he’s taken the biggest hit from his old stature in this reboot series. He is getting to his old level though so I like to think that by the next series he will be back to normal. At least he ultimately did get his hits in though. At this point we definitely need another big season with more G characters. I feel like they’re all close enough in age right now where we could get some good fights between them without the original cast being as old as they were in the original.

As always the animation is pretty sharp here. I’ve always liked the style and especially since the show isn’t very action based the animators can easily just focus on making sure that the character models stay even at all times. The colors are bright and the whole thing just works quite well. In terms of soundtrack it’s all tunes from the last season and they are just as good as they used to be. Kouji still has the best theme but the others all share solid themes as well. The action tunes go quite well with the duels.

I know there are some who prefer the days of Cardfight before the stakes became planetary level. Back in the old episodes it was more about having fun and getting better with your friends so I can understand that. However, I think it’s the natural progression of every series to get higher and higher stakes so my favorite seasons are still the ones like that such as Link Joker. Still, this is a nice refresher season I suppose which is the best way to put it. As I mentioned earlier it’s still quite solid, it’s just “average” compared to the others which would absolutely blow you away.

Overall, This was a good aftermath season. I can see why it would make sense to just include this one with the last season. Ultimately it’s not like it’s trying to tell a brand new story just yet. The next season has already started in Japan though so I’ll be watching it pretty soon. I’m not sure how long that one’s going to be, but I expect it’ll be at least 26 episodes if not 40 so the review for that will likely take a lot longer. If you’re been watching the Cardfight shows then you definitely need to check these out. If this would be your first Cardfight title then I definitely recommend watching the previous season first as you wouldn’t really appreciate the aftermath without actually seeing the events that led up to it.

Overall 7/10

Cardfight Vanguard (2018) Review


It’s time to take a look at the recent Cardfight Vanguard reboot that came out. The franchise has definitely done pretty well for itself over the years. It’s got numerous seasons, multiple movies, and a solid manga. I suppose it was about time the franchise took a step back to redo the first season to get that nostalgia in. This time they’re adapting the manga adaption of the original season so there are some differences to be sure. This title effectively covers the first 3 seasons of Vanguard in one shot but it’s a very loose adaption since otherwise cramming 3 seasons into 1 would have been pretty crazy.

The show starts by introducing us to a kid named Aichi. He’s a pretty timid guy who has no friends, but one day he is introduced to the world of Vanguard by a kid named Kai. Fast forward a few years and while Aichi is still timid, Vanguard has helped him gain confidence and actually make some good friends. The timing was fortunate since a villain group by the name of Asteroid has shown up and they are twisting the game into something painful. They force the duelists to wear gloves that shock you every time you take a hit and are taking over all of the card shops. Aichi has to stop them while hanging onto his joy of the game.

That’s the first arc and it’s the famous one that introduces Ren. From the various arcs I’d say that this one is the least changed from the original series. The series does a good job of introducing us to the characters and slowly expanding the cast. Aichi is a solid main character as always and I dare say that he gets to be a good character even quicker in this version than in the original. He becomes pretty confident during arc 1 and by the end of it is already known as a world class fighter. Once he obtains Psyqualia he definitely doesn’t back down to anyone and he isn’t afraid to fight it out with Ren.

Ren is still a super solid villain as always. He’s definitely a little insane in the first arc as he tries to act like he’s not the villain at times, but that can only go so far. Even if you plead innocence, you’re a villain if you’re the leader of the group that is terrorizing everyone. You can’t just look the other way and expect it all to fade. Ren’s definitely talented and tends to win most of his duels. The other characters are just seriously outmatched against him and Psyqualia is still as broken an ability as it always was.

Kai is still a cool rival as always. Due in part to the fact that the series has to go through the early arcs pretty quickly there is less time for him to show everyone up. He still gets a lot of wins of course, but I’d say that he isn’t quite as untouchable as he used to be. He also mellows out a little bit faster. He’s still one of the best characters of course, but this time instead of being my favorite character he was actually surpassed by someone. Kai gets a good role in all of the arcs though so I was glad about that.

Misaki gets a big role as well since she is featured in all of the arcs and is a central figure in the high school arc. Her memory method of dueling is still super useful and she saves the day quite a lot. Misaki gets a lot of character development and is definitely one of the more well rounded characters in the series. Kamui gets less of an active role here, but he actually gets to act as a coach for quite a bit of the final arc. His fans will likely still be a little disappointed that he isn’t actually on the front lines dueling, but at least he is still shown to be a great duelist.

Tetsu definitely feels pretty sinister in this series. He’s basically the reason why Asteroid turned evil in the first place so it’s hard to feel all that sympathetic for him when the losses start piling on. The characters let him off the hook for being evil pretty quick so you’re glad that at least someone got to knock him off his high horse. He’s a solid duelist for sure, but he doesn’t have the same passion that the others have. Meanwhile Asaka is still a lot of fun and she has one of the most emotional duels in the series. Her battle against Ren while being mind controlled was definitely intense. She’s certainly the most loyal of the antagonists and while she never really gets to have any big wins she is still quite skilled.

Kyou actually got a much bigger role than I would have expected. He tails Aichi around for a while to learn how to wield Psyqualia and eventually is able to access it even if it is a forced activation. He has a lot of confidence and has a lot of good duels. Once his spirit is broken he still gets to show up at times and does a better job of getting back into the mix than even some of the big characters like Kai. He’ll continue to have a role in the next season.

Alas, characters like Leon don’t get nearly as big a role as they had in the original. That’s partially because of the 3 seasons, season 2 was definitely abridged the most. Most of it simply didn’t end up coming through into the remake so that’s to be expected. Leon still gets a good duel though and while he may not have gotten to make much of an impact in the story, at least he appeared right? Better to show up and not do much than to miss out altogether.

The second half of the show is about the High School arc. Aichi decides to form a Cardfight Club and thanks to help from Naoki is able to assemble a full squad. The squad is Aichi, Kourin, Misaki, Naoki, and Shingo. Together they are ready to enter some big tournaments, but their plans are put on hold when a new villain threatens to destroy Vanguard once more. His name is Takuto and he has the ability to control the soul of anyone he defeats in a match. Likewise anyone he defeats can then go and defeat someone else to continue this cycle. Then you’ve also got Kouji who is going around deleting opponents. When he defeats someone that person is cut off from Vanguard and can never enjoy the game again. Aichi has to stop these guys, but can he do it on his own?

This is really the arc that stands out in the series because it really doesn’t have a whole lot to connect it to the original. There are a lot of elements from the Link Joker arc in here, but it’s handled completely differently. Kouji also throws a lot of wrenches into Takuto’s plans which is always cool. The arc definitely has the highest stakes out of all the arcs and it’s a nice way to get the full cast in on the action. Even in the original series the Link Joker arc was the best. It’s just hard to top because it serves as a final tribute to all of the original characters like Kai and Ren as they get their big battles.

Kourin has always been the best member of the idol trio and that continues here. She actually likes Vanguard and does her best to resist the mind control. She made for a good teammate and was a valuable member of the club. As with the original series she gets a bit of a sad ending here, but at least there is actually hope for her since the next season will be continuing the plotline. I still don’t care for Suiko and think of her as a total villain. She’s more like Tetsu as she is totally on board with these crazy plans and doesn’t even care about being a nice person like Kourin. Rekka is in the same boat. While she doesn’t seem as overtly corrupt as Suiko, you can tell that she’s got her own agenda going on.

Naoki is still one of the better characters in the series and his intro is pretty great. He may be a newcomer to the game, but he does try hard to learn the rules and is quick to help Aichi out. He’s one of the more determined characters in the series and added a nice spark to the main cast. He’s one of the highlights of the final arc and I hope to see him continue to get a big role in the upcoming episodes. In comparison Shingo’s character is still more of a miss for me. There’s not a whole lot to his character’s personality and there’s not much about him to make the guy all that likable. He never gets a big moment where he finally gets to prove himself.

Takuto is the main villain so naturally he gets quite a few moments to shine. He’s definitely a tough duelist to beat and his cards have a lot of crazy super powers. I’d like to have seen Kouji take him on a second time but they did fight once so we already know what the outcome would be like. Takuto makes for a good mastermind behind the shadows so the “Concert Master” title is definitely pretty fitting. He’s definitely a much better character when in his pure evil form.

Finally you’ve got Kouji. He’s easily the best character in the series and I was impressed by just how cool he was. Every scene with him is incredibly intense and he gets some of the best fights in the series. His duels against Kai, Aichi, and Takuto are among my favorite fights in the series. They’re all just incredible and I think part of what makes Kouji work is his absolute confidence. He’s basically just a random guy who walked into a battle between worlds and he took the whole thing in stride. Kouji isn’t worried about what is going on for a minute. He just strolls in and takes names. That’s the kind of villain that you want to have. He’s a chaotic wild card and there aren’t a whole lot of series that can pull this off. He takes down the main villain and the rival. I can’t think of a single other time where something even close to that has happened. He’s like a secret final boss.

As always the animation is definitely quite solid here. The character designs are on point and the colors are sharp. You can really get into the intense cardfight battle animations and it’s all just very bright. The soundtrack is also pretty solid. It’s not quite as off the walls as the original series, but there are several hype themes like Kouji’s delete theme. They help to set the stage for the match and the music properly amplifies the experience. A good soundtrack should always make every scene even better.

This series is just awesome. Once the climax starts in both arcs it’s basically a nonstop roller coaster of intense scenes from start to finish. I’ve always loved card game shows and this one has all of the good qualities involved. The duels have a lot of strategy and it’s nice seeing how many different kinds of decks you can build. The main cast is pretty strong and the writing is on point. Even the episodes that are just for character development end up being entertaining and that’s what makes for a good series. It achieves success in every tone it goes for.

Overall, Cardfight Vanguard (2018) is an excellent title. It’s also a nice way of recapping the first 3 seasons if you don’t have time to watch that many episodes. You can watch this one and jump right into Legion Mate without much of a problem. It’ll be interesting to see how far the series goes with this. The next season seems like it’ll be a totally original story at this point. Then we’ll either get a G remake or the series will do something else. As long as the franchise continues to go on I’ll be fine with whatever they decide to do next. So I definitely recommend this series. Whether you jump in as a newcomer or you just want to relive the original days it will definitely satisfy your needs.

Overall 8/10

Cardfight Vanguard Review


It’s time to look at the manga adaption of one of the greatest anime of all time. This one takes a lot of liberties though and diverges early on. This is a great decision if you ask me. It’s an interesting debate on if the following media should adapt the original. I do think that when the manga comes out first the anime should adapt it pretty straight, but if it’s vice versa then I prefer for the manga to do its own thing rather than try to copy the anime. Not sure why, but when the manga tries to copy the anime it usually just doesn’t feel as real or the artwork can’t really capture the animation in the powerful moments. When it does its own thing then it really begins to excel. In fact, the manga was so good that the anime did a reboot that followed the manga so that tells me even the company saw how good this new storyline was. Nothing will beat the original anime version of the arc, but I really did like the manga’s take on it.

The general plot revolves around a kid named Aichi Sendou. He used to get bullied a lot when he was a kid, but things began to look up for him when a kid known as Kai showed up and introduced him to the world of Cardfight Vanguard. We then skip ahead a few years and Aichi is ready to begin playing in earnest. This soon gets him new friends and rivals, one of which is Kai although the kid has gotten a lot more stern over the years. He no longer loves the game as he once did. Aichi will have to show him how much fun the game can be again. Also, a villainous organization known as the Foo Fighters have shown up and they are forcing everyone to play the game in a painful way. Their methods threaten to wipe Cardfight off the map so Aichi will have to stop them as well, but in doing so he may unlock a dark power.

That’s arc 1 and there are really only two arcs in this series. Lets talk about this one and the characters before going on to the second arc. It’s definitely pretty similar to the anime version here. With the Foo Fighters taking over various schools we are quickly introduced to the VF Gloves which allow you to feel damage in the duels. It’s a quick way to raise the stakes and it works well. It’s also a good introductory arc for expanding the cast since most of the main villains here would end up becoming supporting characters in the second arc. It’s not quite as large scale and exciting as the second arc, but it’s a great way to get the ball rolling.

The main villain is Ren and he’s one of those aloof leaders. He doesn’t even care much for the organization’s methods and just lets Tetsu do whatever he wants. Ren just wants a challenging card fight, but the problem is that he has become too good at the game. He has the ability of Psyqualia which allows him to know the ending of a match as soon as it begins. He can also talk to his deck and basically control the whole flow of the game. No wonder it became boring right? He’s a fun character although I’d definitely say that he’s more enjoyable as a rival than as the villain. Both versions work pretty well, but with his very laid back demeanor he just never really felt like a big villain.

In comparison it is the opposite with Tetsu. He feels like a villain through and through so even by arc 2 it’s hard to trust the guy. You could try to say that he’s just a super curious fellow, but I don’t think that really excuses him shocking everyone constantly with the gloves. He’s a good villain, but I can’t say that I ever got around to liking the character. The final member of the big 3 is Asaka. She is only in the group to support Ren and her strong bond has helped her elevate her Cardfight skills. Asaka has quite a few big duels in the series and her biggest one is likely in arc 2 where she is forced to fight Ren. It’s definitely a pretty emotional duel since neither one of them really wants to take down the other.

There are other members of the villains of course, but I’d say that the only other important one is Kyo. He also gets a pretty big role in the series. He acts as one of Aichi’s friends for the most part and the main character seems to believe him the whole time. Even once Kyo shows his true colors nobody takes him seriously enough to actually get upset. In a way you could say that this is the ultimate disrespect. As for the heroes, there are quite a few of them of course.

For the main group we should start off with Aichi. He’s basically the same as his anime version. He starts off as a pretty timid kid, but gradually he becomes more confident as the series goes on. By arc 2 he is still quiet, but in a more confident way and he isn’t afraid to speak his mind. He’s definitely an expert by then as he even managed to win the big national tournament. Aichi definitely looks very good here. Kai also has a great role even if he isn’t quite as overpowered as he was in the show. By arc 2 he has been surpassed by quite a few characters and just seems very relaxed. He may have found his happiness again, but it seems to have come at the expense of his hype.

Kamui’s a pretty good ally as well although he only gets a small handful of duels here. His main role in the show is to offer Aichi vocal support. Then you have Misaki who takes the leadership role in arc 2. Even in arc 1 she is usually the first line of defense against the villains. while her abilities aren’t quite on the upper echelon as Aichi and friends she is always able to put up a really good fight. She does have some solid wins under her belt as well. Leon and the Gundam kid get to show up as well in what I’d say are basically guest star appearances. It’s nice to see them even if they don’t do much.

This next saga starts off with Aichi heading off to a new school. I believe it’s high school. This school doesn’t have a Cardfight club and even worse, most people there don’t seem to have even heard of the game which is completely uncanny. Aichi decides to start the club and while it takes a little while to find members he eventually gets a full squad with the additions of Shingo, Kourin, Misaki, and red hair. They don’t have a lot of time to relax though as it turns out that a mysterious being known as Takuto shows up and has decided to conquer Earth and the world of Cray. The 3 idol singers are his captive minions and anyone they defeat in a duel turns into a Psyqualia zombie. Slowly they are conquering the city and Aichi may even need to take down his friends along the way. A wild card is a man named Ibuki who is going around erasing Cardfighters. If you lose to him you lose all of your feelings and memories of Cardfight. You simply don’t want to play anymore.

This arc is definitely what transforms the series from being great into being amazing. I always loved this arc’s plot with everyone turning into zombies because it really raises the stakes of losing a duel. Additionally, since having Psyqualia instantly makes you a better cardfighter it is also a good way to make the old characters relevant again. The series gets to turn a lot of people in a pretty short amount of time. It also does a good job of introducing Naoki and the other characters very quickly. Throw in Ibuki’s role and the arc has everything.

Speaking of Ibuki, he’s actually the best character in the series. This is also impressive since I wasn’t his biggest fan in the original show. This one handled him a lot better as he is introduced as a big threat and has a solid origin story. Even by the end he is definitely one of the strongest Cardfighters around and he makes his presence felt. It’s rare to get a true wild card character who deals damage to the heroes and villains, but he does this perfectly.

From the 3 members of Ultra Rare Kourin definitely gets the biggest role and is certainly more likable than the other two. The other two are basically just your average villains while Kourin gets a lot more depth. While her original goal may have been to spy on the gang she quickly became a valued teammate. Things don’t go too well for her here, but she made the hero call when it counted. Meanwhile Takuto is the ringleader here of course and he goes through a few changes. Either way I consider him to be a villain though so whether or not he is the conductor it doesn’t really change things. He makes for a fun villain, but he isn’t quite as intimidating as Ren or Ibuki.

For the new heroes, I’m still not a fan of Shingo. He never becomes much of a duelist and could be written out of the manga without changing anything. Naoki is a great addition though. He immediately jumps up to being one of the best heroes here and his skills are definitely the real deal. It’s always good to have a more aggressive character like him in the works to spice up the main cast. He gives the group a whole lot of energy that they didn’t have before his arrival.

The art here is definitely quite solid so you don’t have to worry about it feeling second rate or more like a tie-in level quality. The artists here definitely put in the work and the duels feel very intense. It’s quality throughout and we even get some fight scenes during the cardfights. Of course they’re playing with cards but since it’s so imagination based they are able to take some liberties and throw in some action scenes from time to time which is always appreciated.

Cardfight managed to get a little over 10 volumes in so that’s definitely time for a lot of quality Cardfights. Both arcs were excellent and this is definitely a title where you will walk away satisfied. I’d actually say that it beat all of the Yugioh spinoffs except for possibly Zexal and R. As I mentioned earlier this is definitely a fresh take on Cardfight so whether you’ve seen the original show or not you can definitely check this one out and get right into the thick of the action. Who doesn’t like a good card fight right? The only unfortunate part is that the series couldn’t keep on going longer. That definitely would have been great.

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by how good this manga was. Don’t get me wrong, it was always going to be pretty solid and a 7 at the worst to be honest since I really enjoy these card fighting titles. That being said, it went above and beyond my expectations and turned into a super memorable experience. It sets a pretty high bar for future card game titles to try and beat and definitely did live up to the original anime version. It was concise, but still long enough where we got a lot of action. You’ll be doing yourself a disservice if you don’t check this one out.

Overall 9/10

Cardfight Vanguard G: Z Review


It’s been a good run, but Cardfight Vanguard has finally ended. With 370 episodes across both generations that is quite a lot of Cardfights. It’s really comparable to Yugioh at this point. Naturally that franchise has more total episodes and it would be tough to ever match that number, but once you cross 100 episodes you can certainly be counted as a legitimate powerhouse. I’ll be sure to rank all of the Cardfight seasons at the end of the review. Most of them are super close so it’s definitely a tough one to decide. All right, lets dive into Z!

Right away you can tell that this series is going to be intense because you only use the term Z when the series is going to have a ton of action. Vanguard does not disappoint here as action is absolutely what you will be getting. The last season ended with the heroes defeating the main 3 Diffriders and winning the tournament. That may have been good progress in the fight against evil, but Kazumi was never the main threat. The Apostles of Gyze are around now and they need a vessel for their leader. Their plan is unaltered, they want to awaken the 6 Zeroth Dragons to pave the way for Gyze. The members decide to split up and take Team TRY 3 out of the equation pre-emptively. (Pretty smart move honestly) The heroes will have to move quickly to stop their plan and they will need teamwork, but the situation is already quite personal for them so it may be tough to move in with a clear head.

As this season is only 24 episodes (The shortest in the franchise unless you count one of the G seasons that was merged together with another one in the Dub) the plot has to move right away so there is no waiting around here. That’s the bonus of continuing the plot of a previous season. There is no need for build up or character introductions since that was already done last time. As such the villains attack Chrono and Shion within the first 3 episodes. The Apostles really look very impressive from the start here as the heroes just seem like no match at times. The most impressive member would be the one who fought Shion at least when comparing their initial appearances. The show dropped the ball on him a bit though.

Almost every episode has a big fight occurring in this season. As the villains aren’t playing games around you also see a level of desperation among the heroes that hasn’t happened too often in G. At the very least, it usually doesn’t happen quite so soon. One small moment that I really liked here was how Chrono used a Zeroth dragon with no hesitation. Usually when the main character relents and uses the dark power of a villain there is a lot of drama or the character gives it some long thought. Chrono just went for it. For context, he was up against the leader of the Apostles. If he wins this fight he can save his friend and eliminate one of the biggest threats to the world in one move. None of his cards are strong enough at this point, but if he uses one of the evil deity cards that he swiped from another member it will give him a chance.

Dark power like this never comes cheap though. The price for playing a Zeroth Dragon is that if you lose the duel all of your Grade 4 cards will be atomized and so you will be losing all of your strongest cards. It’s a steep penalty since you are essentially powerless in a duel without those. before G you could get away with it since Grade 4s didn’t exist, but now that they do they are absolutely essential. The stakes are high, but it would have almost been selfish of Chrono to not use one just for that. He had a world to protect.

Naturally I was a big fan of Chrono here. He definitely looks like the experienced veteran that he is here. It doesn’t mean that he is now the strongest player in the world but he certainly ranks up there. He takes risks and is always ready to defend his friends. Chrono is the kind of guy that you want on your team for sure. He won’t back down from a duel. Chrono has definitely developed into a character worthy of his mysterious deck.

Shion is still Chrono’s rival but at this point that is rarely evident as he has completely mellowed out into being a friend. I suppose it’s a good change of pace to have a rival who isn’t super rude or obnoxious the whole time. Shion is finally back to being master of the Kiba empire at this point so as you can imagine he feels pretty unbeatable. That’s why his first fight with Valeos was so intense because it was basically unheard of for someone to have the upper hand against Shion. It also showed that the villains recognized him as a legitimate threat. Shion’s role in this season is still rather small but it is a good one nonetheless. He does get his revenge for the earlier loss as well.

Then we have Tokoha who has started to bounce back from the last season. That one didn’t go so well for her as she absorbed quite a few losses and wasn’t really in a right state of mind since Miguel was taken out of the picture. Now she has mainly recovered from this and is back to being a strong contender. Like Shion she doesn’t get too many duels here but still gets to help out in the final battle.

Kazuma certainly has a large role in this season and is probably the most crucial aside from Chrono. Now that he has his brother back Kazuma is ready to take the fight to the villains. While he is a very strong fighter and Kazuma’s confidence is at an all time high, he still isn’t quite ready to take on these villains yet. Things don’t go very well for him, but I do appreciate the attempt. Kazuma still has a cool deck and a nice theme. Couple that with his character development into a more confident character and he is one of the best members of the main cast. At the very least I think he would be second among the main G heroes.

Kazumi was one of the big villains of the last season since he was being possessed but it’s important to remember that he was a world class duelist even before all of that. It is fortunate for the heroes that he is around. Kazumi’s a nice character and you will get some Itachi vibes from him. Unfortunately he doesn’t look great when it comes to dueling. After all, what better shock value can there be than taking down the former Under 20 champion? Winning and losing are t everything though and it doesn’t change the fact that he is quite formidable.

Arata and Makoto are a little important in this season because of what happened to their friend Noa who was possessed by the dark side. Still, they really can’t fight so for the most part they are stuck cheering everyone on in the background. The characters really weren’t needed to be honest but I guess it would be weird if they had just vanished. They aren’t bad characters, they just aren’t ready for a villain of this magnitude.

Noa is one of the big villains and probably the strongest aside from perhaps Gyze. He was in the shadows a lot for the last season but his presence is always felt. He has the Link Joker deck which is still the best one in the series. The monster is the only one who doesn’t just fade away after being defeated or turns good. This guy can’t stand the humans and does his best to bury them. I would have liked Noa to have dueled a little more to be honest, but I’m certainly satisfied with how much effort it took to bring him down. Having Aichi and Kai team up against you is always a sign of respect.

Kouji is definitely an interesting character. I’m still not really a fan of the guy. He is essentially the vanguard of the heroes but his plans never seem to be very good. The villains always have the drop on the heroes and while he may have been very powerful back in the day, Kouji seems a little outmatched against all of the new villains. He has softened up completely into a nice guy, but never likes to admit to it which leads to him always trying to keep to himself. He’s not as bad as in previous seasons as he has finally stopped doubting Chrono’s ability, but the guy just needs to be cooler. Maybe a new costume would have done the trick.

Saori doesn’t last too long in this season as he was mainly a big character in the last season, but he is still a lot of fun here. He still has one of the best battle themes out of all the characters and he is just a tough fighter. Saori has a lot of doubts about what he is doing, but ultimately just stays on his path. The villain’s confidence is really what makes him a fun character.

Aichi finally gets to duel a little more seriously here which is good. In general I still think the original cast didn’t get to do a whole lot compared to what I would have liked to see. They did have 4 seasons (Aichi only had 3) so I guess that was enough fights. I don’t like how Aichi has basically retired from Cardfight but I suppose as long as his skills don’t get rusty he will always come to help out when it counts. Likewise Kai is also here to fight the good fight. He gets 2 big fights against the villains which is good. Wakamizu actually does give him a good fight, but the outcome is what matters and at the end of the day Kai is still one of those guys that you never expect will lose.

Kamui also looks solid here. He has done a good job of keeping up with the other characters over the years. While he isn’t in the top 5 at this point he still helps out a lot against the villains and it’s always nice to see him around. Misaki finally gets a duel of her own. The series took its time with her, but having her take on one of the big final villains was certainly good. I am a little skeptical on her being strong enough to take on this particular opponent, but perhaps her deck was simply well suited from the job. In a duel you never ultimately know who is going to win. Her tactical style does bring out the best from her deck as well.

Valeos is a bit of a tragic case since I actually liked the villain quite a bit. He was a credible threat to the heroes and seemed to be the main thinker of the villains. Going after Shion’s OP sword was brilliant and taking it out of the equation definitely helped their goals get a bit easier. That’s why it makes no sense when he suddenly goes insane near the end. The show was slowly building up to this as we gradually got hints of his psyche decaying, but why did it have to happen at all? It came out of left field and seemed to just be an excuse to let Shion have the upper hand. If he didn’t crack then I don’t really think Shion would have been a match for him. Not sure what to think of this guy by the end but at least he had a great intro.

Gastille is essentially the deputy of the villains. Gyze is certainlty still the leader but while he is out of commission Gastille tends to call the shots. He is a powerful villain, but one who doesn’t get to appear a whole lot. Still, he does really well in his brief appearances and I liked him. He’s still not the best villain since Noa and Saori are around but otherwise he is probably the beast. You get a Ren vibe from the guy with how confident he is. Well…okay all of the Cardfight characters are confident, but they tend to show it in different ways.

Taiyou was one of the big members of Chrono’s team for the last few seasons, but his role in this one is rather small. He gets badly injured after one of the early duels and never really recovers after that. You still have to like the guy’s dedication though. He’s very loyal to helping out the heroes and won’t hesitate to throw himself into harm’s way. He eagerly attacks the villains and while he doesn’t succeed, he did put up a good fight.

Then we have Wakamizu who is probably the least interesting villain. He’s technically pretty smart and the villains would have had a tough time without him, but his deck isn’t quite as good as the others. He’s deceptively strong, but I just didn’t care for the guy much. Not a bad villain, but I suppose he was simply outshined. His master Gredora was certainly more compelling even though her screen time was incredibly limited. At the very least she felt like more of a commander though. She was also a villain who actually cared about her subordinates and quickly went to defend Wakamizu after he was defeated. It’s always nice to see villains who also show loyalty and that’s why Gredora was a villain worthy of an army.

Gyze is the big boss of the series. Naturally this means that he is asleep until near the very end though. He gets 2 duels which isn’t bad, but I would have liked to have seen him more. The guy serves his purpose as a big final boss though and puts up a good fight. He just wasn’t ready to deal with the likes of Team TRY 3. He did come close to destroying the world though and I like how even in defeat the world would get destroyed by the sheer impact that it had on space and time. Gyze is definitely not the kind of opponent who does anything halfway. He did have a pretty cool design and his special ability of bringing in all of the Zeroth Dragons at once is really useful.

As always the animation is certainly stellar. The character designs starting from the last season certainly look really good. Chrono and the others look more experienced than they used to be and they also act accordingly. They get the respect you’d expect them to have considering that they have saved the world a few times now. The duels are as sharp as ever and the colors are vibrant. There is nothing negative at all to say about it. Then the soundtrack is just as impressive. I really like the new bumper/music that comes at the start of each episode. It’s a very dramatic theme that has you keep your guard up. It also really supports the feeling of dread that the heroes have. Each character still has a battle theme and most of them are quite epic. Even the few characters whose theme doesn’t absolutely stand out still have a good one. The best theme is definitely the red haired kid’s, but Kazumi’s is also excellent. You have a lot of options to choose from. Cardfight never disappointed on a technical level (Or any level for that matter) and this last season was no exception.

All right it’s time to rank all of the Cardfight seasons! There have definitely been a lot of great ones over the years so it’s tough. I know the first and last place ones off the top of my head, but the rest get really tough. Still, I gotta make the tough choices at some point so it may as well be now.

1st. Cardfight Vanguard: Link Joker. Pretty easy number 1, this was the best season by far and the season was completely amazing. Really has everything that you could ever want in a single season.

2nd Cardfight Vanguard. The original Cardfight definitely helped get the series on the right track. It’s really rare to see a main character who actually loses as many fights as Aichi. If handled wrong that could have been annoying but overall he learned from his losses and got really good. It was just a great season and is also super nostalgic.

3rd Cardfight Vanguard Asia Circuit. This season probably has less memorable aspects to it compared to the other seasons, but this was the big Psyqualia boom. Everyone had it from Leon to the leader of the kid squad to Ren and Aichi. I still miss Psyqualia to this day so that was a lot of fun and the season was basically nonstop tournaments so you really can’t go wrong there. The climax was also super hype as you would expect.

4th Cardfight Vanguard Legion Mate. This season is tough because I thought it was awesome from the plot to the execution. At the same time it was a little short. I guess 33 episodes is a solid length, but it’s really close between this and NEXT. I’ll give Legion Mate the edge because having Kai as a main character was hype and the loser of each match getting burned was definitely a very real way of raising the stakes.

5th Cardfight Vanguard G NEXT. Definitely the best G season. The tournament was really good and Kazumi was just such an awesome villain It was also really long so we had time for a bunch of fights. We hadn’t had a tournament that was this long and serious since the original Cardfight days. The new animation style also worked quite well for this saga and the first episode was the perfect way to hype up the new villain.

6th Cardfight Vanguard G Z. This season is very close to NEXT, but it mainly loses out because it’s a lot shorter. There’s less chance to quite match the hype that was behind NEXT. Still, a great way to end the series and 6th is certainly nothing to be ashamed about when it’s relative to other Cardfight seasons. A superb show in all aspects.

7th Cardfight Vanguard G Stride Gate. We finally got the payoff to the first G arcs here and it was definitely a lot of fun. I liked the main villain and this is really where Chrono came into his own as a solid main character. He didn’t fall for the mind games of the villains and kept dueling as he knew best.

8th Cardfight Vanguard G: GIRS Crisis. The plot started to get moving with this show, but it was still a little slow. Not a whole lot happened here compared to what you might guess from the title. The heroes were still trying to get recognized as serious fighters here, but it would be a while before the grownups would acknowledge them.

9th Cardfight Vanguard G. Still a very solid show, but pretty much the whole season was just character introductions. While that is similar to the first half of the original Cardfight, we didn’t get a big payoff at the end like the original. There was no Psyqualia equivalent or an antagonist quite as interesting as Ren.


Overall, This was a really great way to end the G part of the series. By the end of its run it had really solidified itself as an excellent show even without the influence of the main series. I currently have Cardfight Vanguard as a whole in my top 5 shows. If we count G separately then it would likely still be in my top 15, perhaps just barely making it into Top 10, but no guarantees there. Throughout the various sagas the characters got a lot of development and we got a bunch of great characters. The animation and music were on point and this show has met the high bar that the card game genre has set. I definitely recommend checking this show out. Honestly, it’s best if you start with either the first G series or the very first season as opposed to starting with Z, but either way you’ll have a blast here. I look forward to seeing the retro season coming up.

Overall 9/10

Cardfight Vanguard: Neon Messiah Review


It’s time to look at a film that I’ve been waiting to watch for quite a while. I consider Cardfight Vanguard to be one of the greatest shows of all time and it was really at its height back when Aichi and the gang were the main characters. This film was the official wrap up for them before handing the baton over to a new cast. The trailer was really good and looked to include the first ever 2v1 fight in the series. While this movie is incredibly short that isn’t all that uncommon for an anime film. Until recently a lot of them seemed to be about 70 minutes and this one was a double feature as well. Still, it’s definitely a great ride while it lasts.

The film starts off with a mysterious new player challenging Ren. The skilled Cardfighter accepts the challenge but it soundly defeated and his tournament entry pass is stolen. Meanwhile Aichi is pretty psyched to finally get a chance to prove his mettle once more at this exclusive tournament. He is one of the lucky 16 to make the cut and heads to the arena with his friends. Unfortunately 7 combatants do not show up and Kouji declares that he has taken them down. He is allowed entry into the tournament and now all of the heroes should be worried. What is Kouji’s true aim in all of this?

I always like the movie trope of having a new villain show up and suddenly start beating up on the old hype characters. We had Frieza show up in Resurrection F as he took out Mystic Gohan in a single blow, the main villain from the Pyramid of Light who actually defeated Kaiba, and Mewtwo who took down Gary in the first Pokémon film. There’s just something nice about seeing a new villain show up and start taking names. Of course the other way around is also fun though like when a hype character actually manages to hold his own and claim the win but that’s super rare. Considering that by the movie the main cast are usually at their strongest, this cliche really helps make the villain appear to be a legitimate threat.

Neon Messiah does that well with Kouji. Taking out Ren is already impressive and then he also beat Leon. Those two were probably Aichi’s biggest rivals besides Kai and they lasted for quite a while back in Arc 3. Seeing them get absolutely wrecked (Leon losing off screen and Ren losing without getting his theme music) shows just how skilled Kouji is. Kouji is definitely an intense villain here and one that I can get behind. His motivation for destroying Cardfight does come across as really petty and hard to take seriously but considering that he had to master a game that he couldn’t stand it does show his resolve. He was able to become one of the best players in the world at the end. As a villain I would put him up there as one of Cardfight’s best. It’s too bad we couldn’t see him go up against Kai though. That would have definitely been a great fight and I’m still convinced that Kai would have been able to claim victory.

As for Kai, since he had some ties to Kouji from the past he gets a particularly large role in this film. Kai has experience being the main character, main villain, and rival in various seasons of the Cardfight show so one might say that he has the most well rounded resume of the bunch. As such it is no surprise that he can easily hold the plot on his own. I’d say that his portrayal was definitely really good since he doesn’t lose a duel in the whole movie. With his current skill level there are very few who can hope to challenge him.

Aichi also looks pretty good as always. He has certainly come a long way since the days where he was just a timid beginner. Even though he is unable to match up against Kouji, he still had his confidence throughout the duel. You could also make the case that he was a little distracted because Planet Cray was getting beat up for the 100th time in the last few months. Aichi was probably disappointed that the supposed embodiment of Cardfight is so weak. Aichi quickly regrouped in time for round 2. I’d argue that he should have let Kai finish off Kouji, but I suppose this was one duel that he didn’t want to miss.

The supporting characters are fun as always. Kamui probably gets the biggest role from them as his duel is reasonably long and he gives Kouji a good fight. It’s nice to see someone step up with Leon and Misaki couldn’t stay on screen long enough to help. For the record though, they made the right call in standing up to Kouji. If they aren’t strong enough to stop him then it doesn’t matter if they wait or fight now. On the other hand, if they are strong enough to stop him, then the sooner the better since the longer he lives the more chance there is of the monster planet being completely destroyed. The characters here are all confident in their skills and they should be. They’ve tangled with many strong opponents in the past.

I do think that Aichi should finally start using his Psyqualia more though. I know that he basically ditched the ability along with everyone else in season 2 because it was deemed unfair as it’s an auto victory, but shouldn’t that not apply when you’re fighting a villain who will destroy the world? I can respect an honor code, but it would be nice to see the return of Berserk Aichi. That would really be hype.

The animation is definitely really good as you would expect. The show already has a lot of vibrant colors and detail so for a movie this is amped up even more. As there wouldn’t be time to show the actual cardfights here as just 2-3 would be the whole length of the movie, this film opts to give us some visuals as it speeds through the fight in a montage style. The cynical side of me can’t help but notice that it is also a lot easier on the writers as they don’t have to actually think up the specifics of the duel. It would be extremely hard to notice some kind of error in this style and most wouldn’t even bother to try. Of course no matter the reason it is fun to see some real time action. It would soon be the norm in Cardfight G so I guess this was another bridge to that sequel. The film has 2 insert songs which is always cool. Some of the ingame music for the duels were also fairly solid but I can’t say that I really remember any of them. It worked well for the duels which is good enough.

Overall, Neon Messiah was definitely a great film. I would have certainly preferred it to be another 30 minutes longer at the very least but it still tells a complete story and gives us a lot of action so I’m satisfied. The action scenes have a really high budget and the film is always exciting with no dull moments to slow it down. It’s not enough to place it as the best card game movie or anything like that but it’s still a great movie all the same. I’d recommend it to fans of the series for sure or if you are a Yugioh fan as well. If you like action movies then you can potentially enjoy it even without any context as it’s very fast paced and engaging from start to finish.

Overall 8/10