Released Year : January 8, 2011 to March 31, 2012
No of Episodes : 65
Genre : Action,Adventure,Demons,Game,Shounen
Plot : The protagonist of this story, Sendo Aichi, is a timid boy in his third year of middle school. He had been living his life looking backward rather than forward, trying not to stand out. However, he had one thing that kept him going - the "Blaster Blade," a card from a card game that was given to him when he was little. That card is the reason why he begins to engage in Card Fights, something that changes his life drastically. The name of the card game is "Vanguard." The game takes place in a different planet called "Cray," and due to a never before seen play system, it becomes popular throughout the world. Aichi, immediately attracted by Vanguard, meets friends such as Togura Misaki and Katsuragi Kamui, along with other rivals. Through friendly rivalry with them, Aichi begins to enjoy a fulfilling life. Aichi, however, has a goal: to once again battle with a Vanguard Fighter by the name of Kai Toshiki. Kai Toshiki is an aloof and cold-hearted high schooler who has outstanding abilities in the world of Vanguard. He is also the reason why Aichi started playing the game. For him, Toshiki is the person who saved him from his boring life and introduced him to Vanguard. In order to get better at Vanguard, Aichi puts his soul into it every day. He wishes that someday, he'll be able to battle Toshiki and have him recognize his worth. (Source: Crunchyroll)
Our Review : Final turn!
It becomes obvious pretty early on with Cardfight!! Vanguard that whoever said "Don't judge a book by its cover" was...clearly not talking about this show. Yes, Cardfight is a show you can and should judge by its cover, as that judgment will determine whether or not you should watch the show. But I'll get to that later. Let's run the bases:
The story is basically thus: people play card games. Or rather, card game. Vanguard is the "big thing" in the world of Cardfight, as one might expect. For at least half the series, this basic idea is what the show runs on. It occasionally shows signs of wanting to do something more, but I have to be honest: most of it comes off as cheesy and laughable. But, well, that's only the first half of the series. Somewhere along the line, you start to be able to actually take the show seriously and like it. Its pacing seems slow at first (expected with 65 episodes of run time), but it's all the better to develop characters and situations with. In the end, Cardfight actually becomes a great story about learning who you are and understanding others through the lens of this card game. Power of Friendship is nothing new to anime, but it can still be done well, and Cardfight pulls it off.
Obviously it's not without its perks. If you're not into the card game thing (which really shouldn't be the case if you even pick the show up, but still), you'll have a hard time getting into the meat of things. Then there's the deal with Psyqualia; although the last couple episodes make it obvious that more is coming, we don't learn much about this rare ability that is very important to the plot. We don't know where it comes from, how it chooses people, how it really works, how it may possibly be controlled, etc. All we know is that it has a tendency to bring out the worst in people.
Nevertheless, the perks tend to be minor and shouldn't bother you too much if you go into the show knowing what to expect: lots of card games. And lots of card games you will get.
Art and animation is reasonable for what seems to be an average-budget kid's show. Many settings and details are rather plain, but the card fights are all well-animated and the monsters all look pretty cool and distinguishable. It's obvious where they put the effort, and really: what else would you expect?
Now, I could have sworn when I first heard him that the main character in this was voiced by a woman, but I was wrong. Seriously, for a long time Aichi sounds very girly and wimpy. It's odd at first, but you get used to it, and when Stuff Starts Happening, it gets better.Voice work is, again, of fairly standard quality; it's good, usually well done, and generally not poor. There is, at least, nothing for me to complain about. Music is quite well done. The second opening in particular is a great way to get hyped, especially in the final 15 or so episodes when things really start to get heated. In-series music stays suitably light-hearted. It is, essentially, "game music." It never takes itself too seriously (well, until the last episode), and this turns out to be for the better.
As I mentioned before, Aichi sounds very wimpy and girly for a long time. This is because he is. As an example, when asked what he would do in a dangerous situation, his response is to "always be sure I have a path of retreat behind me." I know what you're thinking: "Not another wimpy male lead! I'll pass!" And no, it's not the most pleasant thing to behold. But in a way, I was able to accept it. I remembered that this show is aimed more at kids than someone my own age, and since I knew it would go on for a while, I was able to bear it even though I didn't like it (just the character, not the show). I was rewarded in the end. Aichi gradually grows into a mature character with a backbone that I was proud to see through. As his ability in Vanguard grows, so does he. He learns to fight his fights, help others, and make a name for himself.
65 episodes leaves room for a lot of characters, but I don't want to go into full detail on all of them or I'll be here all night. Basically: the important characters all get their time, and the side characters get a reasonable amount, good and bad. Kai just seems like you're typical, stone cold, bad friend for a long time, and though he really only turns into a jerk with a heart of gold, seeing what he went through really makes you understand and relate to him as a character, and this also leads into the development for the series' main villain, Ren, who is a huge, overconfident (well, he largely does have the ability to back it up) asshole that you just can't wait to see defeated (note: that isn't a bad thing).
Skipping over a few characters to the negative side: Katsumi, an eventual friend of Aichi, is the comic relief who is...just not funny. He's a loser who thinks he's awesome, and the gimmick gets really old really fast and just never dies. That's the worst of it, but Doctor O, the guest commentator for tournament Cardfights, I think was also supposed to be humorous, and again, isn't. He's just kind of strange. But luckily, he isn't overdone.
Here's the important part of the review, as I hinted at in the first paragraph: if you read all that and thought, "Doesn't sound like a show I'd ever want to watch," trust yourself; don't watch it. You're probably not going to like it. I went into this wanting a show about card games just for a fun twenty minutes every week and got exactly what I wanted. If that's what you want, go for it; you won't be let down. But it has to be stressed: you really must know you want this if you're going to enjoy it. It's not going to surprise you and turn into something epic if you're not prepared to watch a lot of card games (65 episodes, remember?). You'll probably just drop it before you hit the ten episode mark.
Think about what you want. If you're ever thinking, "Yeah, I could use a fun show about a card game to kill some time," that is when you should watch this. It is very much a kid's show (read: not average MAL age), so you need to be either young enough or old enough to really enjoy and respect it.
Personally, I went into it thinking it would be as I just described: a time-killer every week. Watch some card games for fun. It was never high on my priority list, but I always looked out for it. But then somewhere along the line it turned into something more. It became highly anticipated, and eventually it was the show I looked forward to the most every week (and by Winter 2012 I was keeping up with 20+ shows). If you ARE willing to watch and have fun with the show's first half, you'll be more than excited to continue as you get further on in the series.
I don't consider myself the greatest of reviewers, but I wanted to do this show some justice and provide both sides of the spectrum: the kind of person who will like it and the kind of person who won't. Otherwise I feel most people wouldn't ever give this show more than passing glance and just write it off as some twenty minute commercial for a children's trading card game. And it largely is just that, but it's also more than that. It's nothing amazing, and it never tries to be. And there's nothing wrong with that. It's still a good series.
Now, I'm off to buy a starter deck and choose my new avatar...