Monday, 25 August 2014

Anime Review - Cardfight!! Vanguard Series 1 (eps 1-65) 2011

Been a while since I indulged in my weeaboo leanings and watched any anime (YuGiOh! Arc-V doesn't count) so after seeing loads of people spunking off over it down at the local games shops, and finding out that the entire series is available to watch for free on Youtube, I thought I'd give Cardfight a try.

Now, I mostly don't watch modern animes (YuGiOh! Arc-V doesn't count) simply because I don't like the way that most modern animes have gone down the route of being all emo to make them more down with the kids at the expense of sex demons and lots of gratuitous violence and swearing, however I must admit a slight fondness for animes based on gaming, so, therefore, I should like Cardfight....hmmmm.

 So, the story arc of the first series, and what a series it is too coming in at a whopping 65 episodes, revolves around, as many of these types of show do, the card game "Cardfight!! Vanguard", which is said to be the most popular card game in the world.

Aichi Sendo is a teenaged boy who is a bit of a loner and gets bullied a lot, however one day his favourite trading card, "Blaster Blade", which was given to him as a gift (even though at the beginning of the series he has no interest in playing CCGs) is stolen by two bullies who plan to use it to beat the local Cardfight champion, Kai (who originally gave Aichi the Blaster Blade card).
Aichi races to the games shop "Card Capital" to beg for his favourite card back, however Kai has already beaten the bullies and taken "Blaster Blade" for himself, so Aichi challenges this as yet unbeaten "Cardfighter" to a game with the prize for winning being that Aichi gets his card back.
Aichi, despite never having played Cardfight!! before manages to win and finds that he rather enjoys the game, so he becomes a regular visitor to Card Capital, eventually becoming one of the stores top 4 players, earnig himself a place on the store team in the national Cardfight tournaments.
Through paying the game, Aichi gains a lot of self confidence, as well as making new friends, however, as always, he makes enemies in the form of another Cardfighter called Ren, who has the mysterious power to be able to see the outcome of games before they have been played, and thus remains the worlds unbeaten Cardfight Champion, as he basically abuses his power to cheat.
Aichi finds out that he too shares Rens power, and it begins to corrupt him, however through various struggles, Aichi and his team mates emerge victorious at the Cardfight national championships on their second attempt....

Phew!, 65 episodes....yeahhhhh.
First off its worth stating the obvious that the series exists purely as an advertisment designed to sell Cardfight game cards to viewers, however, unlike YuGiOh!, the series does NOT misrepresent card powers, what cards you see on screen would be exactly the same as they would be if you bought a pack or sealed deck of them in real life, so that is a bonus right there.

The first 20 or so episodes make sure that the viewer understands the games rules of play, which is a good thing being as that having watched loads of games of Vanguard in real life, up until I watched this series I had absolutely no idea what was going on, so at the very least, I could now play a game of Vanguard without having to refer to rulebooks or ask my opponent what to do (I will also state that despite asking several Vanguard players how you play in RL, none of them could be arsed showing me...tight arsed bastards!, probably didn't want me to crush them or something...grr).

So, did I enjoy this series?, well,t he answer to that question is a simple "meh".
While I liked the overall premise of the series, and the fact that the show teaches you how to play the game and presents you with varying styles and strategies of play, I did not like how for the vast majority of the time, the show consists of two people playing a game of cards whilst making snidy comments to each other.
Even the overall story arc of series 1 was pretty boring, and went on waaaaayyyy too long to hold much interest to anyone who isn't interested in the game. Yes, yes, I realise that YuGiOh! does exactly the same sort of thing, however the "game playing" portions of that show are interesting to watch because they genuinely do add something to the story, whereas Cardfights in game dialogue simply consists of the players trading thinly veiled insults whilst playing the same cards over and over and over again and then waiting until either one of them fucks up or one of them gets lucky and manages to pull the right card during their drive trigger phase so that they annihilate the other player (this is probably a harsh observation being as that the RL CCGs game mechanics are at fault here, however devoting a whole 65 episodes to seeing the same people play the same game over and over again gets a bit tiresome).
Yeah, Team Q4, as Aichi and his mates are called, literally play the same opponents over and over again and its dead obvious what they are going to play and whether they will win or lose before they have even started trading insults.

There are 3 (at time of writing) follow up series, "Asia Circuit" , "Link joker" and "Legion Mate", I haven't watched any of the others yet but I'm going to give them a chance, as hopefully story will take precedence over scenes of people standing at gaming tables.

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