Secret Santa 2014 Review
This series is of the "Card Game Battling" genre; so, the plot is fairly preditable (though there are a few interesting curveballs). Unlike Yugioh (which goes all out with the supernatural/fantasy elements from the get go), Cardfight Vanguard actually starts off fairly grounded and realistic. I personally like the fact that it starts off humbly and somewhat realistic and gradually works up to becoming more epic, but I can see how some people might find it boring. This series takes awhile to really hit it's stride. Eventually, the series begins to introduce the supernatural/fantasy elements. I will say that Cardfight Vanguard makes the trasition from somewhat realistic to more fantasy better than some other anime (*cough* Samurai Flamenco *cough*). I also like that unlike Yugioh (in which the main character wins almost all the time), the main character of Cardfight Vanguard does lose (especially in the begining, which makes sense since he's a beginner). As I said, the story is fairly predictable and nothing spectacular, but it's still fairly decent and enjoyable (as long as you're not one of those people that expects epic "Yugioh-ish" stuff from the get go. If you are, then this series may bore you).
The animation is typical for this kind of anime. It's not great, but it's not terrible either. There are a few detail flubs here and there, but most of them are only obvious if you have an eye for detail like I do. I like most of the character designs (especially Ren's *drools*).
The first opening is pretty cheesy, but it's also pretty catchy. The second opening is also catchy, but not as cheesy as the first one (in my opinion, at least). The endings are pleasant to listen to, but not particularly memerable. The background music may not be the greatest, but it gets the job done and fits the tone (especially with the more dramatic/heartwarming scenes).
Aichi (the main character) starts out as a wimp who is contantly bullied and is unsure of himself, but thoughout the course of the series he does gain some more confidence. As the series goes on, he gains the power of Psyqualia and while he starts to win more often because of it, it also causes him to briefly show a darker side to himself. Aichi also has a bit of an obsession with his friend/rival Kai (which may creep some people out. It didn't bother me at all, but that's because I'm a yaoi-shipper so I like that kind of thing). Speaking of Kai, he is your sterotypical cold/loner type of character. He does slightly lighten up later on. Kamui can be slightly annoying at times, but he can also be funny and he does get some character development. Misaki is a really well developed character and is arguably the best character in the series. I really liked Aichi's sister, Emi, as well. Ren is the hot, evil villian who uses his Psyqualia powers to not only dominate Vanguard but also wants to use them to conquor the world (somehow). However, flashback scenes show that he wasn't always that way but was led to it due to being addicted to his Psyqualia powers (a fact that is comfirmed when Aichi gets addicted to his powers and starts behaving alot like Ren). The only character in the series that I hate is Nagisa. She is extremely annoying and clingy. The only thing redeming about her is the fact that she is a pretty good card player. There's a bunch of other characters, all with their various quirks.
If you are not into the "Card Game Battle" genre, this series will probably not change your mind. If you like this type of anime though, then you should give it a try. Though this series has it's flaws, it's still enjoyable for what it is. Just keep in mind that it takes a while before the plot starts to get going. Anyways, I heard that the sequels were better than this first season/series; so, I'll probably check them out (and possibly review them) later.
Yeah, yeah. 10 out of ten seems like a bit much for an anime made to promote a card game, but believe me when I say you would NOT regret watching this. Aichi Sendou is a weak middle school kid that gets the ever-loving crap beat out of him on a regular basis. He likes the card game, the bully-guy steals it, and he has to win it back from an old rival.
So sure, this doesn't start of as the epitome of an amazing series, but it's got it's own charm to it. This anime breaks away from traditional card anime in the way that characters don't just PULL OUT A MIRACLE IN EVERY BATTLE AND WIN EVERY SINGLE TIME REGARDLESS OF CIRCUMSTANCE. It's actually exciting to see who wins and who loses these games. Things could twist on a dime. No battle is ever just cut and dry ONE PERSON BLOWS THE COMPETITION AWAY THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE BATTLE. You genuinely don't know the outcome until it happens.
So this may seem like a minor novelty, and the show IS cheesy at times. The show's strong point isn't really intensity as it is the characters. Cardfight!! Vanguard has some of the most interesting characters you could get out of a show like this. Some are timid, others are angsty and antisocial, but characterization plays an enourmous part in this show.
Of course the first few episodes aren't that exciting, but it really does pick up afterwards. Some seem to think it's uninteresting because "The bully becomes his friend after a couple episodes", which I respond with the fact that Morikawa is pretty much just a lowly goofball. You're really not supposed to take him seriously.
The animation can get a bit janky at some points later on in the series, but overall everything looks pretty clean and nice. Can't argue with the monster designs, as they are all fresh and interesting designs throughout.
Oh the sound. Some of the battles have excellent music, and honestly, this show has an A+ English voice acting team. Everything sounds great, and it seems the VAs really outdid themselves.
As I stated above, the characters for this show are all fantastic. Every single one has strong and weak points and even the most powerful fighters on the show can lose at some point. The characterization is wonderful and exciting to watch, making you want to start the next episode right after each one ends.
Overall, I wouldn't go as far as to say this anime was flawless. It's cheesiness in the early episodes really is its major flaw, but it quickly outgrows that when you become attached to the entertaining cast.
What makes this anime great is the way it keeps you guessing. No matter what, the outcome of the battle isn't decided until the last damage has been dealt. This provides an entertaining battle with each episode. Not to mention the story develops greatly when the supernatural aspects are introduced.
This is a YuGiOh (YGO) style anime (made by the same people, has the same character archetypes, and even has a few subtle references to that show), meaning it is made just to promote a card game. At the same time it is very different that YuGiOh and in a way tries to deconstruct the formula in order to create a more realistic overall. And guess what, this is exactly what makes it so lame. Although I was never a huge fan of the older franchise but did appreciate the cool presentation. And yes, I did have the motivation to learn how to play the game thanks to the anime. Vanguard on the other hand is far from cool and quickly loses its glamour. There is no better way to explain what I mean than to keep comparing these two anime, showing where one succeeded and the other failed.
1) YGO was the first major card game promoting series and for that it had created a sensation. Afterwards, the novelty faded (since a dumb idea can only work once) and the later seasons, as well as other anime that tried to copy its success, simply didn’t work. And to no surprise Vanguard is not a hit either.
2) YGO and especially its first version which never went overseas, was very dark and creepy. It had all sorts of occult overtones to the point many parents thought it was initiating their kids to Satanism. They obviously watered down the atmosphere with each new season in order to calm down the adults and to increase the age advisory to the point their latest shows seems completely tamed and easy-going. Well unfortunately for them this is exactly what made it so cool to watch. It was full of occult stuff; demons and devils and satanic rituals. The kids loved it as much as the parents hated it. And thus you get Vanguard that is plain childish and boring. No evil charm to it.
3) YGO had a plot where defeat would mean some really scary and creepy stuff. Your body would be shred to pieces, your soul would be trapped in limbo, hell would break loose on Earth, the planet would blow up, evil would rule the universe, and someone would kick a puppy. Vanguard doesn’t have that sort of looming threat as defeat means nothing more than trying to learn from your mistakes and improving along the way. As mature as that sounds, it is far from cool and the target audience is little kids who want cool stuff.
4) Although both shows have a very similar weak/pathetic geek as a protagonist, the one in YGO had a cool dark personality that was taking over his body and unleashing all sorts of awesome powers upon its enemies. Vanguard is nothing like that; the geek remains a geek all the way. Although he also has a sort of dark personality too, it is just a minor side story and it is meant to be scary and hidden away instead of us saying how cool it is. So we are supposed to hope the dork remains a dork and his cool dark powers never come out? Seriously? Lame!
5) Hairstyles! YGO had some really crazy cool ones. Vanguard does not.
6) The monsters of YGO were early on presented as creatures from ancient Egypt or demons from hell who constantly try to get to our world and trash everything. That was cool. The ones in Vanguard are presented like aliens who are at war on their planet but otherwise can’t and don’t want to have anything to do with our planet. Lame!
7) The players of YGO hardly use copies of the same monster in a duel, unless of course they need two or three of the same kind in order to do some cool strategy. In Vanguard they summon the same monsters again and again, as if there are only a few dozen different cards in each deck. This makes it both boring as well as trashing the illusion of each monster being a special individual.
8 ) The monsters in YGO were appearing in battles through holographic projectors and later on in the flesh. In Vanguard, none of those cool things happen. You are supposed to IMAGINE them fighting. I am not kidding you, you are literally supposed to imagine you are on the alien planet, imagine the monsters fighting, imagine them hitting you, and imagine that losing a duel has some sort of serious significance in your life. The only thing I imagine when I am doing that is BULL SHIT! Just show it to us you idiots; this is not literature, it is an animated show for kids.
9) YGO had the very convenient but otherwise cool plot devise of “Heart of the Cards”. Every time you were about to lose, if you had faith in your abilities you would magically draw the only card that could possibly save you in a one in a billion chance. And that would be followed by a very cool display of MY CARDS WILL NOW KICK YOUR ASS! In Vanguard you don’t get that feeling. It’s like you are supposed to draw cards and hope you will trigger a counter BY COMPLETE CHANCE! That is not cool at all. It doesn’t even have a cool name for an otherwise convenient plot device.
10) As a follow up to the above, the very Vanguard game is hardly as exciting as YGO. In YGO you were made to think you were using a strategy since the very beginning. For example, trap cards you set from your hand would remain hidden on the battlefield so the opponent would have no way to guess how you are planning to own his ass. And at any time you have clear knowledge of how you plan to activate those said cards or the opponent could through various means cancel them before they are activated. This was creating both a sense of control as well as building tension to see how the whole thing will play out. Well you hardly get this in Vanguard because you can’t plan ahead your strategy. Every time you attack or defend, you draw cards and just HOPE they will give you triggers. That’s right; there is no way to know if it works or not. This makes the whole thing to feel very random and chaotic.
There are of course some elements that make Vanguard a lot more mature than YGO and I will mention them here as means to give it the credit it deserves.
1) Vanguard is not about winning but about learning from your mistakes. Thus the protagonist is losing many, many times throughout the show. Although this is hardly as cool as in the SUPER AWESOME YAMI YUGI WHO NEVER LOSES at the same time you see how he is supposed to improve along the way by trying new strategies and cards.
2) Vanguard has actually some capable female players in it. Unlike in YGO where they are used mostly as fan service and are completely useless in card games, over here you get some seriously good gals who know how to kick ass. That makes it more respectable to the female audience.
3) Vanguard is following the rules of the real game correctly. That is, no mambo-jumbo stuff that does not happen when you play the real game. Let’s be honest, YGO was barely following the proper rules and was just making up stuff just for the sake of coolness.
4) The whole show is JUST about card games. Not about saving the world by playing a children’s card game. Sounds lame, but also more realistic at the same time. The characters are trying to get better, in courage, planning, social life, wisdom, awareness, and lots of other stuff by playing this game. Ok, they of course overdo it in the way this is supposed to work but it is otherwise shown properly.
And despite the above positive remarks, the show is still not as good. As sad as it sounds, the target audience will not be inspired to go buy the game if it looks so real. If little kids watch a protagonist who loses half the time, they will think the game sucks. If they see good female players in it, they will think it’s gay. They won’t care much if the rules are presented properly as they would if the battles are cool. And no, the battles are not cool because you are not trying to save the world with a bunch of cards. It is plain entertainment 101 here and an anime is supposed to be entertaining first and educational second.
Ok, let me now talk a bit about more abstract stuff that I felt about this anime. First of all, I hardly liked Vanguard as a game. I did bother to go learn it but it far from exciting. You are not given the feeling of epicness coming out of it, since most of the time you are replacing monsters instead of feeling you are empowering them to something better. You don’t have 8000 AWESOME LIFE POINTS, you just have 6 cards of life. No matter how powerful your attack is, you only normally inflict 1 card worth of damage. You don’t set traps to use in a later round but draw cards the moment you attack or defend and HOPE you will get a trigger. You can’t mix cards from different clans very well because synergy is overused to the point the number of strategies you can use is limited. Even the number of available cards felt very small but that had to do with YGO airing several years after its release instead of what Vanguard did, when the game was still new and with a small amount of different cards.
I also am too old now to get into the whole card game madness as easily as I did about a decade ago. It was so easy to do so back when I only had Pokemon, YGO or Digimon to watch or play but after all these years the constant sequels and spin-offs have saturated the genre to the point I don’t care much. Even when Vanguard tried to change the formula, I still didn’t feel it was doing much to improve it past its nasty trappings. In fact, it felt worse than before.
And for last I say… IMAGINE??? Really now. IMAGINE??? People don’t watch anime to imagine anything. They watch to be handed over a concept they are supposed to take at face value or analyze with what they feel or know. Vanguard doesn’t do any of those things. The rules are set out clearly, the concept is way too simple, there is nothing to think or feel about it. It… just… is.
… And it’s for kids. It doesn’t have emo lolis, incest, lesbians, gore, or whatever other crap sells a billion bucks these days and makes people to consider them mature and thought provoking (I am joking but it’s sadly true for most). So no, there is nothing to see here. It is way too saturated and way too simple and way too real for its own good. Not recommended.
And now for some excused scorings.
ART SECTION: 5/10
Analysis: General Artwork 1/2, Character Figures 1/2, Backgrounds 1/2, Animation 1/2, Visual Effects 1/2
SOUND SECTION: 6/10
Analysis: Voice Acting 2/3, Music Themes 2/4, Sound Effects 2/3
STORY SECTION: 5/10
Analysis: Premise 1/2, Pacing 1/2, Complexity 1/2, Plausibility 1/2, Conclusion 1/2
CHARACTER SECTION: 5/10
Analysis: Presence 1/2, Personality 1/2, Backdrop 1/2, Development 1/2, Catharsis 1/2
VALUE SECTION: 1/10
Analysis: Historical Value 0/3, Rewatchability 0/3, Memorability 1/4
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 2/10
Cardfight Vanguard... I just watched some episodes of this anime just to see if it was a decent anime or just another shitty thing to sell Cards or Toys to the Children and guess what... it's the second thing... This anime review was made after watchin the frist 5 episodes of this series
Ok, it's a bit stupid to wait for a good plot in an Anime like this, but for god's sake... 5 episodes and there is not plot yet? I don't remember another series like that with a slow plot, it's like Yu-Gi-Oh GX were at first it didn't have any real plot and all the episodes were about a bunch of random duels. In Cardfigh Vaguard they take 5 episodes for explaining the rules and presenting new (And not so important) characters.
Nothing impresive, a bit so-so, just the kind of animation that you could expect from a series like this, a bunch of explosions, flashing lights and that kind of things, nothing really impresive but at least not so bad.
Not also a good thing for this anime, I don't really remember any good musical piece in any episode that is a real bad thing, also the opening and ending songs are not really good.
Cardfight Vanguard cast of characters is just a big cliche festival, we have our main protagonist that is a good for nothing and is being picked by school bullies and start playing some card games and his own self-esteem grows by playing (Yeah! So run to your nearest cards/toys shop and buy some Cardifght Vanguard Cards NOW!) and I must say it, I've never seen a more gayish (Is that a word?) character in any anime, the way he acts before the main antagonist and how he blushes while playing against him scares me (And that's true), our main antagonist whith a cold personality, is the best player around town and it's best card is a super mega ultra powerful Dragon (Is that familiar?), and yes, he was a good and very happy kid in the past.
I don't want to talk about the other cliche characters of this anime like the bully that thinks that is the best player around town but just sucks and is just the comic relief of the series, the silent girl who just prefer to read some books instead of playing some card games, the little sister that gives orders to our protagonist and some other cliche characters.
Overall, Cardfight Vanguard is a really bad anime tied with the likes of Bakugan, I think that Yu-Gi-Oh GX is a better series based on a Childrens Card Games and that's the worst Yu-Gi-Oh series so far and that talks a lot about the bad quality of CV, so just avoid this anime and all about it
The story is of little to no consequence. Some kid gets bullied, gets his favorite card stolen and then uses card fighting to get it back. Suddenly the people who bullied him become his best friends and he's no longer the loser of his class. They especially note this in the second episode where they point out that before he had his card fight, he was a ridiculous loser with no friends and never talking to anyone, never being happy. Yup, worst story I've been in a long time
It's your Generic card fight animation. Flashy lights when cards are used, random spirits popping up left right and center, colorful hair for no reason other than to... actually, I don't know why. I was going to say make it seem original, except every single anime does this. So colorful hair the sake of it? In short, the animation is about as Generic as it gets
There's not much to say. You don't really notice the sound. It doesn't help nor hinder the anime. It's practically non-existant, which probably makes it the best component of this anime
If I could, I'd give it a -10. You have your main character who's a whimpy little brat, then you have your side characters who consists of two bullies who magically become friends, a quiet mysterious shop keeper and a brooding quiet other person. Because creativity and interesting character design with depth is over-rated
This is amazingly generic. Someone must have slept their way to getting this into anime form because there's not a single interesting thing about it. The characters suck. The story is non-existant, the animation is bland and generic and the entire concept is proposterous. I only watched it for four episodes because I was hoping something interesting would happen, and the first three episodes were just scene setters. I guess not.