Cardfight!! Vanguard

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Ahh, advertisment.

Ever since Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh! showed the world (and more impotantly the game industry) how effectively you can promote your product by creating a TV-series about it, there have been more and more shows to follow in their footsteps. And hey, why not? As long as the show is worth watching and isn't a complete bore it's fine, right?

That being said, when it comes to card games, the comparsion to Yu-Gi-Oh! is unavoidable. Still one of the most sucessful TCG of our time, probably only second to Magic the Gathering, there hasn't been a challenger who managed to kick the king of games of his throne. 

Our new contender is Cardfight Vanguard, with an anime that already spans several seasons. 

The story is about a boy named Sendou Aichi, who gets into the cardgame Vanguard and makes it his goal to learn everything about it. So he faces new opponents, forms a team, goes to a tournament, plays against the champion who is controlled by a mysterious power...sounds basic? It's basic. Through and through. 

Cardfight Vangurad is playing it save on every level. It's not a complete failure, but also not incredibly good, and its main issue is certainly its lack of any originality. What's nice is that the show is relatively realistic: the characters follow the rules, lose sometimes, have doubts, and there aren't cards that are made up the moment the player needs them to. Also the female characters weren't just there to be cheerleaders or fanservice.

Vangurad itself as a game is...ok I guess. I don't know how much fun it is to play in real life (I've never played it), but I think playing yourself is more fun than just watching. It soon becomes apparent that every deck has a certain basic moveset, like a standard opening move etc etc. While it is close to reality, it soon becomes repetitive and there is too little variety in both strategy and cards. Even the opponents repeat, and they don't evolve enough to spark your interest again. 

So in the end, it feels kinda like you've seen it all somewhere before. It has the typical 'the villian is possessed by a dark force and now we have to save him' cliché, which most other card game anime use as well. With that it has little that lets it stand out, making it pretty much unnessesary. 

If you like card games, you might want to give it try, but honestly you don't miss out too much if you don't. Yugi remains on his throne...again. 

More like this:

Yu-Gi-Oh! (duh, also better than this), Duel Masters....and pretty much every other anime about card games. 

5/10 story
6.5/10 animation
6/10 sound
5/10 characters
5/10 overall
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Story:

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).

Animation:

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*).

Sound:

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).

Characters:

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.

 

Overall:

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.

Secret Santa 2014 Review

6.5/10 story
6/10 animation
7/10 sound
7.5/10 characters
6.8/10 overall
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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.

10/10 story
8/10 animation
9/10 sound
10/10 characters
10/10 overall
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YuGiOh is an anime most of us know of, probably played a lot, and definitely will remember forever thanks to the abridged version. Card Fight Vanguard on the other hand is an anime very few of us know of, probably never played, and have no reason to remember. Why did this happen, if both of them promote a card game, were made by the same people, have the same character archetypes, and target the same audience?

1) Novelty: YGO was the first major card game promoting series and created a sensation simply by being the first. After the novelty faded (since a dumb idea can only work once) later seasons, as well as any other card game promoting anime such as Vanguard, failed to be sensational.

2) Dark Tones: YGO, and especially its first version which never left Japan, was dark and creepy. It had all sorts of occult overtones to the point many parents thought it was initiating their kids to Satanism. The producers were forced to water down the atmosphere with each new season in order to calm down the adults and to increase the age advisory, until the whole thing became just another tame kiddie show. This still doesn’t take away the fact that a huge part of the charm it had at first were the occult stuff, the demons and the satanic rituals were you sacrifice souls to summon bigger devils. The kids loved it as much as the parents hated it. Vanguard has none of that, it came out at a time when everything was neutered and dull, and thus fails to stand out by making your parents lose their shit.

3) High Stakes: YGO had a plot where defeat leads to 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. It’s no different from a sport. Later on, it does move to more dangerous stuff, but by then nobody cared, since the target audience are children who want cool stuff right away.

4) Protagonist: Both shows have a very similar weak geek as a protagonist, but the one in YGO also has a cool dark personality that was taking over his body and unleashes all sorts of awesome powers upon his enemies. In Vanguard, the geek remains a geek, with his dark personality being more like a minor side story, and he keeps it hidden away instead of letting it take over. Again, because of the target audience being children, of course and YGO has a far more interesting protagonist.

5) Variety: The players of YGO hardly use copies of the same monster in a duel, unless 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. This happens mostly because the first season came out when there weren’t many cards in the game, but the problem is still there.

6) Presentation: The monsters in YGO were appearing in battles through holographic projectors, and later on in the flesh. In Vanguard, you are supposed to IMAGINE them fighting. I am not joking, the show is literally telling you to imagine the battles taking place, and pretend you are in pain when they hit you. Too much make belief for little kids to appreciate in an animated series.

7) Gameplay: YGO had a very convenient Deus Ex Machina called the “Heart of the Cards”. Every time someone was about to lose, he would draw the only possible card that could save him, followed by a cool display of MY CARDS WILL NOW KICK YOUR ASS! But until that was needed by the plot, you were still given the impression that the players had control over what they could do with the cards they were using. They were setting traps which would trigger in a later round, and since they were kept hidden, you were filled with tension and excitement, wondering what their plan is or what the effect would be. In Vanguard you don’t get that feeling. You draw cards and hope you will get a trigger BY COMPLETE CHANCE! The characters are not planning ahead, they cannot use something in a later round; they are begging for a card they can use to turn the tables. Not cool, and feels random.

8 ) Depowering Realism: What eventually ruins Vanguard, is trying to feel more real, and that ends up working against it.

a) It is not about winning as it is about learning from your mistakes. The protagonist is losing many times throughout the show, each time realizing something more about himself. It is hardly as cool as the SUPER AWESOME YAMI YUGI WHO NEVER LOSES but that had also to do with the fact that Yugi could not afford to lose. Defeat in YGO meant the end of the universe. In Vanguard, defeat is means to improve by trying different strategies and new cards next time.

b) It also has 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.

c) It is also following the rules of the real game correctly. That is, no mambo-jumbo stuff that does not happen when you play the actual game. Let’s be honest, YGO was barely following the proper rules and was just making up stuff for the sake of coolness.

d) And above all, the show is JUST about playing card games and having fun. Not about saving the world by doing silly things such as playing a children’s card game.

9) Epicness: Despite these positive characteristics, Vanguard fails because that is not what the target audience wants to see. If the protagonist loses half the time, they will think the game sucks. If they see good female players in it, they will think it’s gay; since only big boys play card games. They won’t care much if the rules are presented properly next to the battles being cool. And the battles are not cool because you are not trying to save the world with a bunch of cards.

And even as a game, Vanguard doesn’t feel as epic as YGO, despite having a much bigger emphasis on strategy.
- Replacing monsters is limited to your main creature.
- You don’t have 8000 AWESOME LIFE POINTS, you just have 6 cards of life.
- No matter how powerful your attack is, you normally inflict only 1 card worth of damage.
- There are no on-going effects, just temporal buffs.
- Synergy is way too important, to the point it limits your possible actions.
- Buffs from triggers are impossible to control.

Vanguard is worse in everything, compared to YGO. It is uncool, saturated, tame, expects from you to imagine what is going on instead of feeling it, and above all, it is modern.

5/10 story
5/10 animation
6/10 sound
5/10 characters
4/10 overall
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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

 

Story: (2/10)

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.

 

Animation: (5/10)

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.

 

Sound: (3/10)

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.

 

Characters: (3/10)

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

2/10 story
5/10 animation
3/10 sound
3/10 characters
3/10 overall
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