The first battle is underway as Aichi discovers what his potential may be with the Blaster Blade card.
What They Say:
Episode 2 - Ride to Victory!
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Cardfight!! Vanguard is a show I'm trying to wrap my perceptions around by viewing it for what it is in two was. One way is that it is purely an advertisement for the game and all the stuff that will be coming out for it with this being something of a sampler and tease for it all. The other way is that since this show airs early Saturday mornings in Japan, it's akin to the kind of stuff I used to have as meager choices on TV at that time when you wake up and there's only mostly religious programming, news and a couple of cartoons. No matter how awful, you end up watching because you're a kid and you don't want to watch the other stuff while having your cereal and playing with your toys.
The second episode does some amusing things in a way at first here as Aichi plays against Kai with his Blaster Blade card. The effort he went through, considering his personality, to go after it shows how important it is to him. But not as a card to be played in the game as he wasn't engaging in cardfights prior to this match with Kai. There's a brief flashback as Aichi describes how he was when he was younger in that he was always getting picked on by other kids and bullied, which doesn't seem all that different from now. What changed him to some minor degree is that a certain someone saw him and gave him the Blaster Blade card and made some minor uplifting talk about standing tall and not taking crap from people. That card got Aichi into the game, or at least into building a deck of cards around the Blaster Blade because of that gift.
The continuing cardfight takes up a decent part of the episode as it has Aichi and Kai going back and forth, though Kai doesn't really get shaken in the slightest because of his confidence in his skill and his deck while Aichi is nervous at times and tense, but also feeling quite the thrill. What can make a card game like this exciting in animated form is if it showcases the fights of the cards in that other world as we've seen so far. The few snippets we get could make the whole thing a lot more exciting, but the majority of the card fight is spent with the two players across the table talking and slapping down cards. That's something that can work with certain games, I'm looking at you Hikaru no Go, but for Cardfight!! Vanguard, it doesn't provide the thrill it needs to make the battle exciting. The fight scenes as seen by the other world are far too brief and at times not truly animated in a full sense. The focus is on the cards themselves with all the detail being paid there.
I'm generally not a fan of trading card games or their anime adaptations, but every show has potential. This one could be a whole lot more interesting if it gave us some useful and engaging visuals for the battles, but so far they're kept far too minimal and the focus is on the card playing itself. The secondary focus this time around is on Aichi's past and why he idolizes Kai so much (though as you can see from the comments on the Crunchyroll page, many people are seeing it as a shounen-ai angle, which I think is just projecting'). Aichi's idolizing of Kai comes across as something more simply because of Aichi's personality and pitch of voice. Cardfight!! Vanguard isn't a show I had any real expectations for and it's essentially meeting that, but it's one where I wish it would capitalize on its potential. Even as a kid I can see myself getting very frustrated by this show as it doesn't offer much. The otherworldly game scenes is what could help make it much more, but that requires a budget apparently that they don't have.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Dell 10.1 Netbook via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.