Final Review: Cardfight!! Vanguard Asia Circuit-hen

DISCLAIMER: Anime reviews on this blog will attempt minimal to no spoilers unless otherwise noted. If a review seems dull or shallow, it’s because I’m trying to make sure not to go into too detail for those who are actually interested in the show before or after reading the review or those who have yet to finish the title. If you want further details, there are usually tons of reviews that can be found elsewhere on the internet. Furthermore, anime reviews in general are the sole opinion of the author writing it and thus differ across the users. There is no such thing as a “right answer” only a majority agreement. You are free to have your own opinions and thereby free to state and/or argue/debate in the comments section below or on the Fansub TV Forums. The review is not necessarily meant to serve as a recommendation but rather a personal opinion of having completed the series.

Cardfight!! Vanguard Asia Circuit-hen is the immediate sequel to Cardfight!! Vanguard, which ran for 65 episodes between January 2011 and March 2012. The sequel ran for a shorter 39 episodes between April 2012 and January 2013. The series continues to follow Aichi Sendou and his friends playing the Vanguard card game. In Asia Circuit-hen, Aichi meets a mysterious boy who suddenly replaces Aichi’s Royal Paladin deck with a Golden Paladin deck. While Aichi certainly remembers using Royal Paladin, it seems their existence have been completely wiped from everyone else’s memory. Furthermore, Kai Toshiki and Ren Suzugamori also had their decks replaced but do not seem to recall using Kagero or Shadow Paladins. Aichi must now fight in the Asia National Vanguard Tournaments with his friends to try uncover the meaning behind this mystery. Like the first series, Cardfight!! Vanguard Asia Circuit-hen was simulcasted on CrunchyRoll.

So Cardfight!! Vanguard was a good series…In fact, no one would have mind if it had ended there given its solid conclusion (see my review here). Unfortunately, Cardfight!! Vanguard Asia Circuit-hen (hereafter known as Asia Circuit-hen) took what Cardfight!! Vanguard did wrong and turned it into a story and a very poorly written one at that. Unlike its prequel, the series didn’t spend time really developing and growing the fighters. Instead, it mostly reused characters, threw in some new ones and basically made them win one and lose one. The show introduced a couple new concepts but many of the fights were never long enough to really expand on them. Speaking of fights, many were rushed through as if they didn’t happen. Outcomes were simply known and they made the show really uninteresting. The point of proxy battle titles are the proxy battles themselves. No one cares about this psyqualia business, especially when the issue is so vague outside being a mind reading power. Lastly, Aichi’s deck is incredibly boring this time around. Royal Paladin had some mix-ups to them but Gold Paladin was literally the same thing over and over again. Not to mention that the show attempted to make Aichi look as if he mastered the deck when in reality nothing really changed since the beginning of the series and of course he calls a “form” of Blaster Blade for the final battle. Conclusion and matches are overly predictable. The only thing unpredictable is why did Royal Paladins, namely Blaster Blade become a Gold Paladin?

Art and animation are both pretty poor this time around. Like the first season, backrounds and character designs remain basic and generic. Animation dropped to a new low for TMS where there are lot of scene skipping and generally laziness in animating full fight sequences this time around. Inconsistencies were also far more frequent this time around particularly regarding card effect animations. The show generally remains colorful still.

OP is not memorable this time even though it continues to be by JAM Project. ED1 is also forgettable. ED2 and ED3 are the most memorable themes both of which are decent songs. Sea☆A is rapidly growing on to me as a decent group. They’re not StylipS or sphere, but could be the next best thing. Background music and sound effects remain fine and the same as before. The insert theme of “Believe in my Existence” was very fitting and nostalgic in the finale.

Enjoyment? I’ll be brief: significantly less than the first series. It was literally rinse and repeat for the first two thirds of the series (i.e. Aichi and co lose at the different circuits to the one team that wins) and for the last third, the script was not very well thought out. Things smacked together as a last minute job with little to no explanation.

Overall, if you saw the original Cardfight!! Vanguard, Asia Circuit-hen is definitely one you can skip. In fact, I’m hoping they leave out a fair chunk of the events of Asia Circuit-hen in the upcoming sequel: Link Joker-hen as the show seems to be starting fresh to some extent. If so, it makes entering Link Joker-hen from the original much easier for those who dropped Asia Circuit early on or mid-way.

 

Story and Character:

  • Premise (0.5/1): Takes the worst aspect of the prequel and makes it a series. Aichi gets a new deck to play with to give some hope in mix-ups.
  • Character Personalities (0.5/1): Mostly same as before. Protagonist is weak and not very interesting, making it difficult to stay interested in the show early on. Misaki remains the cool character. Kamui is annoying.
  • Character Development (0/2): None this time.
  • Character Usefulness/Presence (1/2): Ren and Kai were “hinted” to be main characters but ultimately only show up for a few episodes.
  • Pacing: (0/1): Terrible last third. First two thirds are too slow but would have been okay if the last third at least tried to expand.
  • Reasonable/Plausible (0.5/2): Again, took the worse part of the prequel and tried to create a story. Tetsu loses somehow. And Royal Paladins become Gold Paladins? What was the point of this series again?
  • Conclusion (0.5/1): Conclusive but far too rushed and predictable.
  • Total: 3/10

Art and Animation:

  • Backgrounds (0/2): Generic and lacking in detail.
  • Character Designs (1/2): Poor all around. Very repetitive bases used, making many characters look a like despite different physical appearances. Monster designs are good though and creative too despite the relatively small set.
  • Fluidity (1/2): Too many inconsistencies
  • Visuals/Special Effects/Flashiness (2/2): Still colorful despite inconsistencies.
  • Art and Animation “Expectation” (0/2): TMS can clearly do better than this given their track record.
  • Total: 4/10

Sound and Music:

  • OP/ED/Insert Themes (1.5/3): OP and ED1 are forgettable. ED2, ED3, and insert are good.
  • Background Music (2/2): Strong musical score overall. Many memorable tracks
  • Sound Effects (2/2): Repetitive and simple sound effects made it easy for memorability. Nothing that would really hurt the ears.
  • Seiyuu (1/3): Mediocre all around even for inexperienced seiyuus. Lacking emotion.
  • Total: 6.5/10

Enjoyment:

  • Amusement (0/2): Introduction of Limit Breaks and Ultimate Breaks with little explanation made it hard to be amused by 6 damage “miracle plays”
  • Weekly/Next Episode Anticipation (0.5/2): Some at the beginning.
  • Presentation: (0.5/2): A general mess. Repetitive formula.
  • Re-watchable (0/1): Waste of time
  • Recommendation (0/2): Watch the original and skip this. Go watch Yu-Gi-Oh! instead if you want some more magical related card games.
  • Value (0/1): None
  • Total: 1/10

Preliminary Score: 5/10

Final Score: 4/10

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