Posts tagged ‘Silent Tom’

Wonder Crash

Ooof.

 

I just got back from Anaheim last night, where I spent the weekend experiencing all of the excitement and joy that Wonder Con could cram into the convention center, while still accommodating the young female cheerleaders and volleyball players that had many of my friends and I concerned that some creeper nerd would cause an unfortunate incident. Other than that unfortunate coordinating decision and a few conflicting events of interest I would have to say my experience at Wonder Con this year was utterly amazing.

 

I had the chance to attend multiple panels discussing writing for television, as well as panels for Once Upon a Time (a show I’ve already discussed here, though will probably discuss again soon because that show is…sure something), Community (oddly enough, another show I’ve already written about), Adventure Time and even a brief panel about the upcoming film Prometheus, which will probably outdo sliced bread in terms of greatness. I also had the chance to meet and briefly talk to Kris Straub, a webcomic artist whose work I greatly admire, especially in his sci-fi webcomic, Starslip.

 

What does all of this mean for the Cove? Well ideally I will manage to incorporate some of my experiences into an interesting post in the near future, but more importantly it means I am in desperate need of some time to readjust to normal life. Worry not, I’m not talking something crazy like a month or even a week, I’m just saying I’m certainly not coherent enough to post something of my ordinary length or quality today. I am, however, already working on a post for Wednesday, so hopefully everything will be back on schedule by then.

 

I thank you for your patience as I attempt to become a “normal” human being again, and reward your patience with this doodle I made of my favorite Cardfight!! Vanguard unit, Silent Tom, when I stole my brother’s tablet computer over Christmas vacation:

 

See? I can totally draw well enough to make a webcomic some day!

 

…shut up. I’m still going to try.

 

 

Remember you can always get the latest news about Cove of Solitude and my You Tube channel by following me on Twitter @VascoDaGamer

Holiday Hiatus 2011

I’ll try to find the time to post some random things, or at least work towards updates in the New Year, but in the meantime have a safe and happy holiday season until I can resume regular updates!

Cardfight! Vanguard – Ride 4: Assault! Twin Drive!

Suggested Title: Card Advantage 101

Summary:

Aichi comes to Card Capital, but finds no one there to play with. Well, no one his own age anyway. This is a children’s card gameafter all. He talks to the Nitta, the store’s manager, then shows him his Royal Paladin deck. After some contemplative noises, Nitta tells Aichi to come back to the store tomorrow, because “something nice” will be waiting for him.

It's weird how inconsistent the people playing at Card Capital is. Sometimes it's thirty small children, sometimes a handful of teenage boys, sometimes a troupe of ninjas.

Pictured here is the target audience of the game, who we shall summarily ignored for the rest of the series.

 

Aichi returns as instructed, with Morikawa and Izaki in tow. Nitta says Aichi must have a cardfight! before he can have his nice thing, which sounds increasingly like a euphemism for something unpleasant. Nitta says he was going to fight Aichi himself, but he’s late for a very important meeting and suggests that Misaki, the shopkeeper who claims never to have played a cardfight! before, be his opponent.

After Misaki delivers a line so shallow I can only hope to assume its purpose was to confirm that she’s the token female of the show (with anime art styles it’s often hard to tell), the pair shuffle up for their cardfight!

Once the cardfight! is completed, Nitta returns as if on cue and asks what he learned from the battle. He says that he still has a lot to learn about Cardfight! Vanguard. Nitta says that was what he wanted to show Aichi, that the world of Cardfight! Vanguard is vast and exciting and blah blah blah, buy more cards.

Cardfight! Summary:

As I mentioned back in my What is Cardfight! Vanguard? post, Misaki uses an Oracle Think Tank deck, which means a lot of psychic creatures, sorcerers and some just plain weird crap. Misaki starts with a mage known as Lozenge, so I assume her powers include mitigating cold symptoms. She quickly trades “up” to a monster that is made up of two creepy dolls.

Aichi makes the karate bookman his Vanguard and summons some dogs to the rear guard. His attack introduces a new type of trigger: the Draw Trigger! When you hit a draw trigger…well, you draw a card. Plus you can boost a unit’s attack power for one round.

On her turn, Misaki rides some  scantily clad girl carrying a scale and calls two Silent Toms, my favorite Unit in the game. She

When I grow up I want to be Silent Tom. Hey, my Mom said I can be anything I want, so why not aim high?

Silent Tom is a gangster mummy, haunted by the spirit of a hot chick whose finger is also a gun. How is this not the greatest thing you’ve ever seen?

attacks with the Silent Toms, whose ability keeps Grade 0 units from blocking them. Aichi rides Blaster Blade, uses its ability to get rid of one Silent Tom, then introduces the ability to attack units in the rear guard by attacking and retiring the other one. Jerk.

Misaki calls a Grade 3 Feudal Japanese priestess by the name of CEO Amaterasu. What is she CEO of? I don’t know, cardfights maybe? Whatever her business model, she introduces yet another new rule for the episode: the Twin Drive. Grade 3 units check twice for a drive trigger on each attack, thus allowing you to draw two cards as well. This lets the CEO get in for some extra damage.

Aichi’s attack in unsuccessful in finishing off Misaki, so she achieves vengeance for the fallen Toms by moving a card from the top of her deck to the bottom, but then leaving a Critical trigger on top, dealing Aichi his final damage and his first loss.

Reactions:

To be honest, as ridiculous as this whole show is, I actually find this to be a really good episode. It’s one of my favorites in a lot of ways. For one, it introduces the Oracle Think Tank deck, which I find more interesting to watch than most, though that’s obviously a personal preference. While Cardfight! Vanguard does have some episodes that are more about character and/or plot, this is definitely a cardfight!-centric episode and that’s ultimately where it must succeed or fail. And this episode’s card fight feels a lot more genuine than most, like a game you could actually have with a human being sporting a sensible haircut.

You activated my very complicated trap card! ...You may want to sit down or grab a snack or something.

How not to write.

In a show that’s about a game, it can be difficult to explain the rules without making the characters seem like they’re reading from an instruction manual rather than a script. But even though this episode has more new rules than any other since the pilot, they all come up fairly organically. They’re explained only when the situation arises and only as much as they need to be explained. This is a far cry from the Yu-Gi-Oh! School of “I played a card, now let me explain every possible use for it in a five minute monologue”.

It also manages to have a few really good dramatic moments (for a show about a card game), that don’t feel overwrought for once. When Aichi realizes he can’t use his hand full of grade 0 monsters to block the Silent Toms he realizes that he is suddenly very far behind, and when the Twin Drive check comes up, it’s the first time he’s seen something like that and it utterly rains on his parade. Looking at all the elements, you can genuinely see where he progressively learns the lesson that there’s a lot more to cardfighting than he currently understands, rather than simply having Nitta explain it. This episode gets its point across without having to bludgeon us with it and I appreciate that fact.

And stop going through my garbage, you're freaking out my raccoons.

Picture it in your mind: a restraining order that I got signed by a judge.

Now I’ve poked a little fun at Aichi’s obsessive relationship with Kai, but this episode genuinely takes an odd step with it. It opens with Aichi entering card capital and spotting Kai. He rushes over to see him, but it turns out that it’s just someone who’s  like cosplaying Kai or something. It’s way too similar to be just a coincidence. Then a disappointed Aichi has a conversation with store manager Nitta, who asks him what’s wrong. He says, “before you seemed oddly dejected. Like you’d been stood up by your girlfriend”. This observation is followed immediately by a sly look from substitute manager the cat.

From what I’ve seen of the series there isn’t a lot of evidence that the two are meant to have a romantic relationship, and yet they do play Aichi’s obsession with Kai to a ridiculous degree. He dreams about Kai on a somewhat regular basis, he does get genuinely upset when Kai’s not around and he frequently seeks validation from Kai like he’s got daddy issues.

Having forgotten this moment from the first time I watched the episode, I was making the relationship jokes because of how silly the whole codependency thing was, but come to think of it there are some more gay jokes coming up, so maybe it’s just a really bizarre instance of fanservice for the inevitable Kai/Aichi slash fiction. Good lord, their names even combine easily into Kaichi! Now I’m downright concerned.

Getting back to the episode at hand, Misaki is the second character to play the game and win with supposedly no prior experience playing. I like that Aichi loses a game here early on, both because his lack of experience means he probably should lose and because it demonstrates that he’s a very atypical protagonist. However it feels really weird to use this same plot device more than once to demonstrate a player’s potential. Each time it happens it makes it seem less special, plus it just seems odd for multiple people to win when they only vaguely know what’s going on.

Oh, and of course they’re not even remotely subtle about it either. Anytime during the cardfight! that we cut away from the action to see what the peanut gallery is thinking, someone says a variation of “Misaki’s never played before, but she know how to handle her cards”. No joke, every time. So it happens like three or four separate times in the course of the episode, which is completely unnecessary. I don’t know if all the successful novices are meant to be audience analogs, convincing kids watching that they can be successful at the game too, but even so that already feels overplayed. I think having Aichi as the central character should be enough since he subverts the typical competition anime trope of the infallible protagonist and makes the game seem accessible by example.

And remember, kids, as great as Grade 3 units and their Twin Drive check are you must use them sparingly. Otherwise you’ll be Morikawa, and nobody wants that.

I'm also disappointed that no one came in to buy cards during the cardfight! That transaction would be priceless.

I want there to be a sign that says "do not haggle with cat".

One More Thing!

We do actually get to see the substitute manager in action. Good rule of thumb: if something I mention is so bizarre that you think I must be making it up, you’re wrong.