Aichi's idolization of Kai really does come across as a crush at times, something even the store manager notices.
What They Say:
Episode 4 - Twin Drive!
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Striking the right balance when it comes to your characters with how they feel about each other can be quite hard, especially when a part of the audience wants to view everything through the yaoi filter, whether it's there or not. Cardfight!! Vanguard has a hard time really keeping it clean, such as we see at the start of the episode when Aichi arrives at the game shop and is seriously disappointed that Kai isn't there. Nitta notices this and comments about how he looks like he was just rejected by his girlfriend. Aichi manages to brush it off because Nitta talks up how happy he looks just to be there now, but it's the kind of awkward moment that only fuels the fire of the relationship gang.
The show takes an amusing twist as it gets going as Nitta has to head off to a meeting of various managers in the area. That means he can't play his match against Aichi as promised, so he substitutes Misaki for it, something she's decidedly unhappy about. We've mostly seen her just sitting there quietly so far in the show and it hasn't been easy to tell if it's just a job or something she's actually interested in. Nitta getting her to play helps that a bit, once he puts in the sub-manager of the cat to watch the counter, and we see what Misaki is capable of. She definitely seems to know what's what about the cards and the deck she's given, but there's an uncertainty and hesitance to how she plays, including dropping several of her cards right from the start.
Not surprisingly, a large part of the episode is about the actual cardfight itself which continues to feel too heavily like an instructional video rather than an entertainment program. Misaki has a decent method of play where she's making some good moves and using things that Aichi hasn't really come to understand yet, like the triggers, but the reliance on his Buster Blade already feels a bit old. With each battle we see new cards introduced into the show and visualized both as the card itself but also the otherworldly battle zone that lets the show have a bit of energy, so there's plenty of highlighting going on there to tease fans about various cards and how they'd look.
With this being Misaki's first game played after watching and observing for so long, she pretty much schools Aichi who was starting to feel confident about himself. Shifting Kai out of the episode is a nice touch since it lets it focus elsewhere, but a good 80% of the episode is focused on gameplay itself with new cards introduced, which of course is what they want to do since it's just a long commercial. There are moments in the first three episodes where you feel like there's a chance to tell a story and we saw some of it in the last episode with Aichi's sister, but this one is given over almost completely to slapping down cards, talking about rules and showing them battle, lightly, in the visualized world. With there being zero chance of me ever playing the game, this show is having less and less to offer as it progresses.
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.