Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Anime Review - Cardfight!! Vanguard - Asia Circuit (Eps 66-104) 2012

So, following on the heels of the first series, "Cardfight!! Vanguard - Asia Circuit" forms the second series of the Cardfight!! franchise. At only 39 episodes in length (probably because by this point there was no need to spend many episodes explaining game rules and card types) the series is shorter and much more to the point than the original series.
Again, this series is Available to watch for free on Youtube

The series begins a couple of weeks after Team Q4 is declared victorious in the national Vanguard tournament. Aichi, Kai, Kamui and Misaki have all gone their separate ways, in order to have some "time off" from the game.
One day, Aichi goes to Card Capital to find the shop deserted apart form a mysterious boy whom says he has an interest in playing Vanguard, so Aichi plays a game with him to teach him the basic rules. Throughout their battle, the boy keeps making cryptic statements about Aichis cards being "retro", and that Aichi needs to find his "Limit Break". Then during one turn, the boy speaks Aichis name, despite Aichi never actually telling him it, the next thing, Aichi wakes up and finds himself standing alone in the shop. He also finds that his deck, containing both Royal and Shadow paladin type cards has been replaced by a new deck containing cards from the new "Gold Paladin" clan, and the mystery gets stranger when his friends insist that he has always used a Gold paladin deck
Aichi seeks out Kai and tells him about the mysterious boy, and finds that Kai's Kagero deck has also been replaced by a new deck themed around the Narukami clan, and he too doesn't remember Aichi's old deck, or his own. Kai challenges Aichi to a game there and then, saying that if Aichis story is true, then he will need to practice with his new deck. During play he stumbles over what to do with the unfamiliar cards, however Kai points out that Aichi needs to stop behaving like a spoilt child and open himself up to new gameplay strategies, and with that, Kai demonstrates the new game mechanic of the "Limit Break", which utterly defeats Aichi in a single move.
Later, Aichi finds out that Team Q4 have been invited to participate in the VF Circuit (Vanguard Fighter) , an international level competition with teams from all over Asia meeting to play Vanguard to decide which team is the best.
He initially has some trouble forming a team, as Kai has completely disappeared, Misaki is indifferent towards playing, and Kamui has joined Team Handsome instead. Aichi however is successful and manages to take Team Q4 initially to the Singapore leg of the championships, then on to the Korean leg, Hong Kong leg, and then finally to the Japanese leg.
During the tournaments, Aichi makes it his goal to find the mysterious boy who swapped his deck and find out just what is going off, both here on Earth and on the planet Cray, along the way meeting up with old friends and making some new enemies. The battles they participate in are also made difficult by the addition of random game conditions, such as limiting the time that can be taken over turns, randomising attack targets etc.
Eventually, the mystery is solved, although the story of the battle for planet Cray is far from over....

This series is much better than the first series, as it benefits from actually having a decent and coherent story arc that stretches over the run.
In a brilliant marketing move, the series not only both makes sure it maximises sales of cards by prominently featuring a new card set with a new game play mechanic, but also encourages RL players to buy more cards by having Aichi face a problem encountered by most CCG players, namely having to change their play style to accommodate changes in game play and learning to adopt different play styles as opposed to just building and playing the same deck all the time.
That said though, once again, most of the on screen action takes place at the gaming tables of the tournament, however unlike the previous series, effort is made to make the games, and the characters dialogue whilst playing, interesting to watch and listen to.

So, I'd rate this series "quite good"

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