During my wait for the new episode of 5D’s, I decided to check out Zexal’s supposed competitor. We’re first shown a monster getting its ass kicked by another monster, then the thing switches to a view of two guys playing a card game on a regular table at some dueling shop/cafe/station thing. It’s a facility where there’s a bunch of desks and you just play cards with other people on them. The closest thing I’ve seen IRL is a card shop with some tables that people dueled at. So the more bishounen-looking guy (Kai) beats the rather generic-looking bully type guy. So the bully gets pissed.
Anyways, there’s no holograms of monsters as of yet. The card battles all just happen presumably inside the players’ imagination, where they imagine themselves on a different planet summoning real monsters. Cardfight!! Vanguard takes place in a rather ordinary present day setting, with kids going to normal school and Vanguard is just treated as the most popular card game. I’ll give it 10 episodes before it starts straying from being an “ordinary card game” with no magic and no monster holograms. And knowing how shonen manga and anime develop, there will probably be a more serious save-the-world plotline that pops up later on.
So our main character is Sendou Aichi, a shy, wimpy middle school kid who got beat up all the time when he was little. He has no friends to play card games with, but built a deck anyways because he wanted to play. So he’s sitting at school looking at some important card that has backstory (which actually just looks like a generic warrior/machine monster), and the bully who lost earlier sees this. Aichi’s card is rare, so the bully goes and corners the poor kid with his minions and takes his card. Then he goes to challenge Kai (pretty obviously the rival) again and loses. The loser has to give the winner their rarest card or something, so Kai gets the generic warrior/machine monster. Aichi arrives at the card shop and challenges Kai to a children’s card game because he wants his card back.
Our hero doesn’t know how to play, so the rival character kindly explains to him the rules of the card game. I wasn’t terribly insterested since it only involves monster cards and no spell/trap/equip/the equivalent of those. The game feels fairly limited in terms of strategy, and highly depends on the player’s drawing luck. The damage system doesn’t use life points, instead there is a fixed damage counter. Each time the opponent destoys your monster, you take 1 damage. You lose once you take 6 damage. To guard from an attack, you have to play a monster at the time of the oppoent’s attack in the “defense” slot and that monster’s ATK points become its DEF. Like Duel Monsters, defeating a defense position monster doesn’t deal damage. However, when declaring an attack ,you can draw a card from your deck and if it has a symbol in the top right corner, you can add ATK points to the monster you attack with as well as add 1 damage.
Certain monsters have certain effects, but most of them don’t. Remember the vanilla monsters from the early days of YGO where they actually put a description of the monster in the space where they usually write the effect? Yeah. So that’s about as much of the system as I remember. Wasn’t as interesting as watching the duels in 5D’s, since Vanguard only utilizes monsters. There’s something about having vanguard and rear guard monsters and how rear guards can add their attack points to a vanguard’s, but I didn’t pay much attention.
Anyways, when dueling, it is revealed that Aichi’s important card was actually given to him by a boy when he was little. That onii-san who gave him his generic warrior was actually Kai, and since then Aichi decided to build a deck and get stronger. Aichi says all this affectionate stuff to him (lol, cannot unsee Ho Yay), but Kai’s all tsun and claims to have given him the card so that he can steal rares from him later on. So then further into the duel, Kai summons his ace mosnter (a Dragon!) whose effect basically let him attack 3 times at once. But since the system seems to involve more luck than strategy, Aichi wins by actually thinking and takes his card back. It wasn’t a very spectacular duel, and the duel against Kai didn’t really have that feeling of a strong rival. At the end, Aichi, Kai, the bully and their minions come back the next day and become friends.
So, the show is really unoriginal so far and the card games don’t have the feel of a “battle”, but I only watched the first two episodes. I’ve got nothing better to do, so I guess I’ll watch on. At least the opening is nice and catchy (JAM Project FTW!). And it might become less dull later on, like 99% of shounen manga where serious plots don’t kick up until several ten chapters in.