Welcome back to the show with the largest volume of vanguards per cardfight!: Cardfight! Vanguard! You may recall that we left off on a cliffhanger. Arrogant jerkhole Kai had attacked hapless “protagonist” Aichi and hit on one of his Critical Drive Triggers, dealing the fourth of the six damage he needed to win. Aichi, on the other hand, had dealt only two damage, but drew his Ace Monster (to borrow some sweet Yu-Gi-Oh terminology) and was about to turn this cardfight! around!
Blaster Blade immediately uses an ability which lets him “retire” a unit in his opponent’s rear guard by turning two card from his damage pile face-down. Oh no! Not one of those generic wyvern guys! He was just one week away from retirement! And now he’s…retired. Oh. I guess that was just a nice gesture on the part of Aichi…who is now some sort of wyvern employer?
Uh-oh, it’s time for a heavy-handed anime flashback! Aichi remembers how he used to be picked on a lot (boy how times have changed!), and Kai recalls walking up and giving him the Blaster Blade card…for no discernable reason.
They’re not really trying here, are they? I expected maybe they were friends before and they had some deep connection or rivalry and blah, blah, blah – whatever. Instead, we find out that Kai pretty much walked up and handed Aichi the card out of the blue pretty much because the writers said so. There’s a reason this isn’t a good TV blog.
Anyway Aichi explains he built his Vanguard deck because he loved the Blaster Blade card and become obsessed with challenging Kai, but he moved away. He also became obsessed with Cardfight! Vanguard, despite never playing a game, and essentially tuned out the entire world while building his deck. I’m sure that’s entirely healthy.
Aichi finally decides to take a break from the exposition, and attack Kai’s Vanguard (the man standing on a dragon) with Blaster Blade. For the most part I’ve described basically what each unit is, but because of its special status as a plot device, I’ve neglected to let you know that Blaster Blade is essentially a knight in white plastic armor wearing a TRON outfit as chain mail under it. Apologies for the oversight.
By the end of his turn Aichi’s attacked Kai with his Blaster Blade, his karate man and a freshly called blind samurai, taking Kai to 5 damage, with one more hit he will win the game. Morikawa and his lackey who apparently hasn’t yet earned a name have a fit over this fact, since they don’t understand that even people who win card games sometimes take damage. This actually happens a lot in competition anime, there’s some weird misconception among characters that taking damage in a game about battling monsters is a sign of weakness. That’s like saying losing any piece in a game of chess indicates poor strategy.
Kai throws around some trash talk about how he never cared about Aichi and just wanted to take rare cards from him…which would actually make a lot of sense given how random their only other encounter was. He also draws to start his turn and plays his Ace Monster, Dragonic Overlord. If you ask me he’s more like Generic Overlord, since he has no defining features other than being a dragon, one of the most overused fantasy tropes in card game history.
“I call two Monicas,” he says, although I’m not sure what his ambitious dinner plans have to do with Cardfight! Vanguard. Oh wait, they’re some sort of female soldier dressed for a Chinese New Year parade. He then activates his Dragon’s Special Ability, which boosts his power by 5,000 and lets him attack again if he retires a rear guard with his attack. At this rate, Aichi’s pension fund is going to get cleared out!
Aichi blocks the attacks from Kai’s rear guard, but loses two of his own units and then his Vanguard gets attacked by the Dragon. Kai gets lucky and finds another Critical Trigger, meaning this attack will do two damage and wipe Aichi out. It will take a miracle to keep Aichi in the game!
Did someone say miracle? Because Aichi gets one in the form of yet another rule pulled out of his…Tron-mail. You see, when you take damage you also check for triggers to activate, and Aichi got a heal trigger from his last damage. That means that since he has more damage than Kai he gets to heal one damage and have an undeserved turn with which to try and win the game.
Aichi takes this opportunity to turn Kai’s campy speech around on him, and declare that he can picture his inner strength, as well as the Blaster Blade defeating Kai. He calls a green-haired fairy to the field, which teams up with his pink poodle to attack Kai’s Dragon, which gets blocked by a man with a very large spear, saving Kai the embarrassment of losing to the most unthreatening units Aichi could muster.
Aichi makes his final attack with his Vanguard, which is literally accompanied by a fanfare of brass instruments and a bunch of unnecessary flashbacks. It all culminates in a lucky drive trigger off the top of his deck which lets him get in for the final damage needed to defeat Kai.
Kai makes sure to wrap up the whole “picture it in your mind” motif by explaining that with six damage he has returned to the form of a helpless spirit and has been banished from Cray, where this game takes place for some reason. He also declares that Aichi has earned the Blaster Blade card after all by winning their cardfight!
We cut to Aichi in school…still being clueless and still being teased by his peers. So nothing has changed. From what we’ve seen so far, I think it would take an actual act of God to improve anything about our protagonist.
At least he’s learned how to open up and make friends, right? No, he tries to bond with Morikawa over Cardfight! Vanguard and gets shot down. Let me remind you that we’re talking about the guy who stole and lost his best card, and never apologized! Even that guy doesn’t feel enough shame to befriend Aichi.
After school and a brief stop at the park to daydream about Kai (I’m only slightly embellishing) Aichi stops off at Card Capitol where he finds absolutely no one, for some sort of bizarre moment of tension, I guess. He sits down and has like 20 emo seconds to himself before everyone who was in the card shop yesterday shows up and wants to play with him.
This includes Morikawa, who refused to play with him like 2 hours ago. How did he know Aichi would come to the store later and not just commit suicide because he has no friends? Dick move, Morikawa.
It also includes Izaki, Morikawa’s nameless sidekick who gets a name in the last moments of this first two part episode, presumably so relentless slash fiction writers know what to call him.
The episode closes out with a montage of a bunch of children running into the store to play Cardfight! Vanguard, reminding us that this is, in fact, a children’s card game. Along with this montage, comes a callback to that pseudo-profundity from the first episode about how Cardfight! Vanguard is the game that gets most of our attention now. Clearly this show is set in Japan.
So what have we learned today? You can be very successful at a children’s card game and still fail at life. Join me next week as Aichi’s family discovers his new hobby!