Who ever thought card games could be so serious? Well with volume 3 of Cardfight Vanguard Aichi becomes deeper and deeper enthralled with his new found abilities. He continues to pummel his competition, but can his new found strength be considered as such when he can already foresee the outcome?
This volume of Cardfight Vanguard continues on from last volumes tournament conclusion, with Team Q4 dealing with their failure, something that Aichi takes quite hard. After being introduced to a new Dark Blaster Blade card, Aichi begins to take a turn for the worse, spiraling into habits that can only be described as evil. It is tough to watch the usually meek and good natured Aichi become more or less a villain. This dark version of Aichi really is quite a twist and given the Psyqualia power to foresee the future, you can see how it goes to Aichi’s head.
Having to rise back from the ashes, Team Q4 tangles with Ren and his cohorts again, but Aichi’s increasing psychic abilities are causing concern for all of his team-mates who feel that the Aichi they know, love and respect is lost. The majority of this collection revolves around Kai’s quest to bring the old Aichi back. This all comes to a shocking head when Kai tells Aichi straight that he is weak and that he has given up on him. It is a hard moment to watch considering how far these two have come over the course of the series. The bond between them is not just as rivals, but also like brothers.
I must say, while the idea of a dark Aichi does make for compelling storytelling, I feel that Cardfight Vanguard’s minimalist simplicity is lost with the inclusion of magic powers. The straightforward card game focus of the early run of the series is traded off for a more Yu-Gi-Oh-esque supernatural element. I can’t say I approve of the inclusion because Cardfight Vanguard’s realism was one of its best qualities, but it is far from damaging.
Seeing Aichi corrupted by Ren is heartbreaking to say the least and with the conclusion of this volume promises an epic showdown between Aichi and Kai in the future, there is a lot of interesting developments clearly ahead for the series. Kai’s promise to stop Aichi makes for a great moment and honestly makes this entire storyline worth it, here is to hoping that the pay-off for all of this is golden.
Hanabee’s release of this particular volume doesn’t feature any bonus features, but does come in dual language with both the original Japanese and English dub present. The video quality of this release is noticeably poor in comparison to previous releases, there are some choppy frames and odd quality drops here and there. It isn’t unwatchable but it definitely is disappointing.
The visuals continue the same pace set in previous volumes, however with the DVD’s production issues, there are sadly some problems throughout. The soundtrack and audio however remains great quality with plenty of memorable tunes alongside the unforgettable opening and ending themes.
Ultimately it was a pretty ballsy move by Cardfight Vanguard to turn its hero into an all out villain. It turns the entire series on its head and makes for some utterly compelling viewing. What happens next is anyone’s guess and the cliffhanger ending leaves us hanging for Kai and Aichi’s destined confrontation. By bucking the norm, Cardfight Vanguard strikes gold with a story that departs from tradition to intriguing results making for an impressive outing for the card games anime.
You can pick up this volume of Cardfight Vanguard at Hanabee’s Online Store.