Published on August 11th, 2014 | by Anthony Price0
Stand Up My Avatar – Cardfight Vanguard Review
Hello and welcome back to Anime Mondays. Now, many of you might be thinking that we skipped a week at the end of last month. Well, you would be correct and it didn’t have anything to do with the fact that the calendar confused me and I forgot I had a deadline. Oopsie! Anyway, we’re here now, so let’s get on with it shall we? Good.
Whilst trawling through the many Anime related websites that I regularly peruse I came across a tiny little gem that I had never heard of before; Cardfight Vanguard! And now, for your enjoyment, I share it with you. Check out the short trailer below (sadly couldn’t find an English one, but I’ll explain in a moment)…
As you can see, Cardfight Vanguard is a popular Japanese Anime and Manga franchise that’s been running since 2010 in Japan and has made its way across the world to the U.S and the U.K. The story is set around the young Aichi in a world where trading card game battles have become a big part of peoples lives. Everyone who is anyone plays a particular style called Vanguard and like other Anime’s in this genre, the shy, unconfident Aichi finds his purpose in the world of Vanguard by constructing a deck centered around his avatar, Blaster Blade. Created in collaboration between Akira Itō (Yu-Gi-Oh! R), Satoshi Nakamura (Duel Masters), and Bushiroad president, Takaaki Kidani, the similarities between this and its contemporaries are plain to see, particularly with Yu-Gi-Oh (watch this space for a future review!). Both are based around trading card games that have become highly popular in Geekdom (I’ve played Cardfight Vanguard, but not Yu-Gi-Oh even though they have similar game mechanics.). However, unlike Yu-Gi-Oh, the plot of Cardfight Vanguard feels much more humanistic in nature and doesn’t always surround itself with an evil antagonist hell bent on destroying the world. It’s about the characters, their struggles, fears and the camaraderie they find through a shared game world. It’s something that really sets it apart.
I came to Cardfight Vanguard without any preconceptions, as I had never really been that in to Yu-Gi-Oh. I was completely blown away by the quality of the animation and the depth of character development, two things that can often be quite sparse in this genre. The protagonist, Aichi, is both relatable and likeable; he very much reminds me of Ash Ketchum from Pokémon, particularly in the early seasons. The card battles are also fantastic and well thought out. In fact, the battle scenes featuring the different card characters are often the highlight of an episode; they’re both action packed and epic in scale. There is a downside to Cardfight Vanguard though. A lot of the episodes end on a cliff hanger, which means that a lot of the time you end up watching five or six episodes in one go, just to get a full story. This wouldn’t feel like a bad thing if it wasn’t for the fact that Cardfight Vanguard is also a commercial product. At times it feels like the only message is to go out and buy the trading card game, giving it the feeling of an extended advert, albeit one with high production values.
In all then, Cardfight Vanguard was a pleasant surprise. With its cheery disposition and similarities with the other shows, such as Yu-Gi-Oh and Pokémon, it’s very easy to get in to. However, I’m a trading card gamer that’s always on the look out for a new system, which could account for my receptiveness for this show. I’m not entirely sure how non card gamers, particularly those that are older, will feel about it. However, if you’re a fan of this genre then Cardfight Vanguard is a must.
That’s it for today. We’ll be back in two weeks time (if the auto schedule system works!) with a look at Yu-Gi-Oh. Until then…Keep consuming.