Welcome back to a world of imagination and card game tutorials. In case you’re somehow just tuning in, that means it’s time for some Cardfight! Vanguard. Our last episode was the completion of the pilot’s cliffhanger, wherein our novice protagonist defeated the most talented cardfighter in the store and managed to make some friends. How else will the discovery of this card game affect Aichi’s life? Let’s buckle down and find out, shall we?


In case you haven’t been reading my Code Lyoko updates, this week also marks my attempts to try things a little differently, so be sure to let me know what you think here in the comments or on Twitter @VascoDaGamer.


Suggested Title: Buy All Our Playsets and Toys!




Freud would have a field day with Aichi's dream here. Kai and a big old sword? I wonder what it all means...

This third episode introduces Aichi’s sister, Emi. She wakes Aichi up from a dream about Kai then heads downstairs to make him breakfast. Emi’s role here is to further underscore how unimpressive Aichi is as a protagonist. Not only does he barely know how to play the central game of the show, but apparently routinely needs his much younger sister to wake him up, make him breakfast and even remind him to leave for school.


When she tries to send Aichi off to school on this particular occasion, though, she finds that he has already left of his own volition. Their mother makes a brief appearance to prove that she exists and says this has become a trend recently.


After school, Emi begins to walk home but worries about what Achi might be up to, so she does the logical thing and heads to his school so she can stalk him.  Once there, she spies Morikawa giving Aichi a hard time as he is still playing the part of the bully despite his general incompetence.


The first rule of Cardfight! Club is: you do not talk about Cardfight! Club!

Emi gets the impression that Aichi is involved with a gang, and does the only responsible thing that a grade school girl can do, which is to tail her brother and the two suspected gang members all alone. If this weren’t a card game anime, this would probably be a really morbid Japanese cautionary tale, but fortunately for us this episode contains no tentacles.


Morikawa, Aichi and Izaki lead her to card capital, which she imagines to be some sort of fight club., and by her reaction once she finally gets inside, she may have preferred it if it was a fight club. The manager, Nitta, steps in to act as our exposition monk for the evening and explains that, “This is a trading card game shop, or TCG for short”. I wasn’t kidding when I said Cardfight! Vanguard dealt in the basics of playing a card game.


After Nitta takes Emi on a brief tour of the shop, starting with the counter where all the products are sold (hint, hint), and he takes a moment to formally introduce Misaki, the shopkeeper, and the substitute manager, Emi spots her brother shuffling up for some cardfight! action.


It’s a pretty low stakes game that doesn’t introduce many new units. Aichi plays the karate book-man as his vanguard and Morikawa rides a Halloween Bowie. That’s right, we’re already seeing repeat cards between different players. There’s a LOT of overlap between units in various decks on this show, so get used to it.


After Aichi summons a bunch of Samurai and some pets for them to play with, he launches several attacks in one turn, prompting Morikawa to reveal that “I didn’t stick any boring guards you could guard with in my deck, you see”. I can see his point though, winning games is pretty boring.


Nitta, the manager, explains the importance of a balanced deck, but Morikawa ignores it, since a well-balanced deck doesn’t have enough powerful grade 3 units for his liking. Aichi deflects one of his attacks with his trusty pink poodle, then wins the game with a conveniently timed critical trigger.


Emi heads over to talk to Aichi and try and make sense of all this cardfight! nonsense, and he just now notices her for the first

Oh I didn’t see you standing there…for ten minutes.

time. She’s been in the store for ten minutes, in plain view of where he has been sitting, and he has, in fact, been facing her and he’s only now noticing her. Nothing gets past this guy.


Emi realizes that this game has made her brother more confident and also demonstrates how useless a bully like Morikawa really is. She asks them to play again and this foray into the realm of cardfights ends with a shuffling montage.




This episode once again prove that whoever is writing this show doesn’t understand what people want to watch from a competition anime. I respect the decision to make a character-driven episode, especially one that introduces a new character, but the second real story of the series seems early to take a break from the action.


When you compare this to a show like Yu-Gi-Oh, where the second episode sets up some recurring villains in a way that isn’t obvious and also contains a card game for the fate of the protagonist’s grandfather’s soul, you can see how I might find this plot less than exciting.


More than anything, this episode really feels like an introduction to all the things about Card Capital, one of the main settings of the show, that they didn’t want to come out and tell us in the two-part pilot episode. For one, you can go to the card shop and buy Cardfight! Vanguard products! I mean, think how enriched your life is now that you have this knowledge!


Next up, Nitta the manager of the store introduces Misaki, who will become important later on. As I mentioned, though, he also introduces the store’s “substitute manager”. You can have as many guesses as you want to try and figure out who it is, because you’re not going to guess it.


The substitute manager is his cat.

Pictured from right to left are Card Capital's shopkeeper, its substitute manager and your physical response to this episode.


I’m not even really sure what to say about that. He doesn’t say it like a joke and he continues to refer to the cat that way. Heck, I don’t even know the cat’s name, I just know that it is the substitute manager of Card Capital!


Making the store manager seem even more unstable and irresponsible is an off-handed remark he makes to Emi at one point in the episode. He asks if Emi (a grade school girl) is interested in playing Cardfight! Vanguard and even offers to give her private lessons. Japan is a terrible place. Luckily Misaki the storekeeper is the voice of reason and gets her uncle to stop creeping on the young girl.


This episode introduces Morikawa’s gimmick, his obsession with Grade 3 Units. To clarify, Units are ranked in general power level as being grade 0, 1, 2 or 3. You can only play a Vanguard of the same level or one higher than your current one, and you can only summon units that are the same level as or lower than your current vanguard. Since 3 is the highest grade, they are the most difficult to play, especially when you’re a moron who doesn’t understand that you need low level units to play the good ones.


It’s meant to be a running gag, but it’s a totally one note joke. If Morikawa sees someone play a grade 3 unit he cheers. If someone does something impressive with a lower grade unit, he remains unimpressed and mentions how grade 3 units are the most powerful. He’s like Pavlov’s cardfighter or something, it’s a conditioned response that’s never all that funny. But it’s still not as bad as that waste of space from Kamui’s posse, but we’ll get to that later.


One more thing, they mention at least twice in this episode that Emi is wearing the school uniform of a school for rich girls, but to my recollection that hasn’t come up again at any point in the first 45 episodes. I don’t know why they go to so much trouble to establish something so clearly unimportant.


That’s all for this underwhelming installment of Cardfight! Vanguard, but if you join me next week you’ll see the introduction of some of my favorite units in the game, as well as an important game rule that probably should have come up by now.


Cardfight! Lessons of the Day:

-CF!V is a TCG or “Trading Card Game”

-Go to a card store to buy cards

-Build a balanced deck or you will constantly lose, like Morikawa.


Moral of the Story: Play cards games and your life will improve. Somehow today’s moral directly contradicts last week’s moral, but that’s the hallmark of rich, interesting storytelling, right?