Picture it. We're astral bodies that have appeared on Cray, a planet very much like Earth...
Aichi Sendou is a shy and lonely Ordinary Middle School Student who collects "Cardfight!! Vanguard" cards, a popular Collectible Card Game. One day he meets Toshiki Kai, an experienced Vanguard player who gives him the rare card "Blaster Blade" and encourages Aichi to become a player as well. As Aichi learns the rules of Vanguard and improves his skills, he slowly comes out of his shell and starts to make true friends, all with the goal of one day battling Kai on equal grounds and receiving his recognition.The original anime aired from January 2011 to April 2012. It was popular enough to earn a second season, Asia Circuit, which aired from April 2012 to January 2013. In this season, Aichi and his teammates receive an invite to the prestigious "Vanguard Fight Circuit", a cross-country tournament pitting the top players of Asia against each other for the ultimate prize. However, there is a darker angle to the competition: the Royal Paladin, Kagero and Shadow Paladin clans have mysteriously disappeared from the world, and only the benefactor of the Vanguard Fight Circuit seems to hold the answers, which he promises to the grand winner.A third season, Link Joker, began airing in January 2013. It tells the story of Aichi entering high school and forming a "Cardfight Club" with the intention of spreading the game amongst the heavily-conservative academy, despite the opposition of the Absurdly Powerful Student Council. But the story takes a dark turn when an evil force known as "Link Joker" appears and begins to spread like a virus, possessing innocent people and turning them into twisted reflections of their normal selves.The fourth season, Legion Mate, began airing in March 2014. When Aichi suddenly disappears from the world overnight, Kai realises that he is the only one who remembers the existence of his best friend and rival. Taking up a Royal Paladin deck with the new "Legion" ability, Kai begins his quest to rescue Aichi from whatever fate has befallen him. Standing between him and the truth are the enigmatic "Quatre Knights", a dark counterpart to Team Q4 who seem to safeguard the secrets behind Aichi's disappearance.The Movie, Neon Messiah, which takes place after Legion Mate is scheduled for the Autumn, Seasons 6 and 7 have also been announced.A flash anime for the Mini Vanguard series, a 4-panel comic strip will be produced too. There are also two manga series published by Kadokawa Shoten in different magazines: one in Comp Ace and another in Kerokero Ace. However, ever since the discontinuation of Kerkero Ace, the manga was moved to Bushiroad's own monthly magazine, the Monthly Bushiroad. It also has a Prequel in the form of 0 Start Set, which depicts Kai's childhood and playing Royal Paladins before meeting Aichi. Another manga series was also serialized in the Monthly Bushiroad, titled Cardfight!! Vanguard Gaiden: Swordsman of Light, which follows the story of the units and their battle on the Planet Cray.The franchise was popular enough to warrant its own video game. In April 2013, the first game Ride to Victory came out in the Nintendo 3DS handheld, produced by the Fu Ryu Company. The game follows the player character (Chosen from 6 available) in his/her way to become the National Champion. A year later, in June 2014, a sequel game, Lock On Victory, followed suit, produced by the same company. It follows closely to the plot of Link Joker Arc where the player character (Chosen from the same 6 characters from the previous game + 5 new characters in this game, one of them voiced by Nobuyuki Hiyama, no less!) gets to choose which of the 3 high schools (Aichi's Miyaji, Kai's Hitsue or Ren's Fukuhara) to join and win the Vanguard High School Championship while fighting the invasion of Link Joker. However, both games are subjected to No Export for You and region "Lock"ing by a Link Joker controlled Nintendo doesn't help the matter.Episodes are now available subbed on Crunchyroll and dubbed on Youtube.
Apocalypse How: By the Asia-Hen finale, Cray is verging on a Class 6. If it had its way, Void would be on its way to doing the same to Earth.
All There in the Manual: 0 Start Set reveals that Suiko was the one who first introduced Ren to the concept of psyqualia and set him on the path to becoming Drunk on the Dark Side. This makes their match in episode 130 much more meaningful (especially when you take into account reversed Suiko's comments about Ren being corrupted by darkness once already), rather than it just being an interesting matchup.
Animation Bump: That one scene in Episode 138 where Kenji rides Super Dimensional Robo, Daikaiser is clearly drawn differently than the series, because the animation of only that scene was directed by Masami Obari, the designer/illustrator of said unit.
Anti-Climactic Unmasking: Jun tries to pull a dramatic unmask on Aichi in the Japan Stage of the Circuit, only for it to fall flat due to the fact that, even without the mask, Aichi has no clue who he is. It's justified though, as though he knows of Aichi due to helping to set up his and Kai's fight in episode 50, they've never been formally introduced.
On a similar note, the same goes to Ezel (All 3 forms), both Alfred's later forms, and especially the Aqua Force clan.
Awesome, but Impractical: The Megablast abilities in general are this. The effects can be pretty awesome (such as standing all of the player's units or destroying all enemy rearguards), but they require Soulblast 8 (which can be difficult to achieve) and Counterblast 5 (so in most cases the player must not use other counterblast abilities, or has to rely on luck to get a heal trigger). In addition, many of the Megablasts work only if the unit's attack hits, so if the enemy manages to guard the Megablast is useless.
Battle Aura: Used both for artistic effect when characters make critical moves, and also as a sign of Psyqualia.
Link Joker possessed fighters have a nasty looking blood red one.
Battle in the Rain: Though they're fighting inside, it starts pouring with rain the moment Ren and reversed Suiko ride their starting vanguards. Kyou and his gang fighting the masses of Link Joker possessed Fukuhara students play it much straighter.
Beach Episode: Episode 35, 84 and 85. They're notable for not just being simple filler episodes, instead bringing in serious plot/character developments. Episode 35 is the start of the Aichi psyqualia arc, and episode 85 marks Aichi accepting the Gold Paladins as his comrades and not just tools to get the Royal Paladins back.
Because Destiny Says So: Morikawa often uses this to justify his losses as a series of ever-more ridiculous twists of fate, such as the planets not being aligned right. In Episode 15, he even goes to the point of calling his horoscope his 'bible'.
Episode 155, Reverse Leon tells Leon that he is destined to lose. But Leon manages to pull double criticals to screw that.
Berserk Button: Kai practically flips out when he catches Aichi, Kamui and Miwa trying to follow him home. By his standards, anyway. Note that this is pretty much the first time he ever seems genuinely angry and not either faking a mean persona or being bored.
That's not much compared to the second episode when he pretty much bites Aichi's head off for having an image of him based on what he was like as a kid.
Aichi has one when Ren starts insulting Kai and calling him weak after beating him in a fight the night before. He's doing it to get Aichi's Psyqualia active again. And it works.
The above gets used again, but in reverse; Kai snaps at Leon and claims he's insulting Aichi because they were both in some form of fighting alone, but Leon took the offer from Void to work against everyone else. What Kai does is inadvertantly hit Leon's own Berserk Button, who's insulted that he's comparing Leon and Aichi's situations.
Be Yourself: The message of Season 1. Psyqualia is shown to completely corrupt those who use it, both of these users having embraced it to impress Kai, and Kai sees it as a false strength compared to Aichi's resolve and courage, his true strength which he always had. Aichi's greatest conflict in the latter half of the season is his struggle between the part of him which wants to embrace Psyqualia, and the part of him which rejects that power. Ultimately he comes to accept both sides as a part of him, symbolically claiming both Blaster Blade and Blaster Dark as his avatars.
Big Bad: Ren Suzugamori, for Season 1. Void for seasons 2 and 3.
Big Fancy HQ: Team Foo Fighter's HQ is huge: several stories high, lots of space, multiple scientists working there, even more players training there, some expensive-looking training equipment... In fact, on the outside it can be mistaken for the HQ of a big corporation.
Taken Up to Eleven in the Link Joker Arc, it was revealed that the Foo Fighters also has their own High-School, Fukuhara. Said school is even connected to the HQ building. And Misaki and Kourin even quoted the interior looks more like a sophisticated department store (That sells branded goods!)
Big Brother Mentor: Kamui first starts referring to Aichi as "onii-san" because he has a crush on Aichi's younger sister Emi, but later he seems to start looking up to Aichi as this, even though he's actually a stronger fighter than him for the majority of the first season.
And interestingly, Aichi seems to show a bit of Big Brother Instinct in return when Kamui walks out on the team right before the nationals after a bad disagreement with Kai. After the arc concludes and Kamui returns to the team, Aichi no longer constantly objects to Kamui calling him "onii-san", which had been something of a Running Gag before. (He could've just been giving in to the inevitable, though.)
Yuri from Team Caesar plays a big sister mentor role to Aichi, giving him tips as to how to refine his deck.
Bishōnen: Kai, Kenji from Team Caesar, and Ren. Renespecially. Aichi is more of a cute little boy. An entire team of these also makes an appearance, complete with Bishie Sparkle and the name Team Good-looking Men.
And then there's the Foo Fighters sub-team, Brilliant Stars, which is full of Bishōnen with obligatory Bishie Sparkle, and even has an accompanying team of fangirls.
Black Knight: The Shadow Paladins. Particularly Blaster Dark, given the second opening plays up the contrast between it and Blaster Blade.
Blessed with Suck: Misaki has a perfect memory, which as Kamui points out, could help the team analyze their opponents' Decks and prepare counters. Unfortunately, this 'perfect memory' seems so perfect she literally cannot forget anything and the memories even force themselves on her at times, including the traumatic ones involving her parents' deaths. Episode 24 details quite nastily the effect this has on her, culminating in an utter emotional breakdown.
Misaki: There are some things I don't want to remember.
Book Ends: The first two Triggers Aichi checks in the series are Yggdrasil Maiden Elaine and Bringer of Good Luck, Epona. The last two Triggers he checks in Season 1 are also Yggdrasil Maiden, Elaine and Bringer of Good Luck, Epona. Bonus points for checking them under identical circumstances (as his sixth Damage for Elaine, and to break his opponent's guard and win for Epona).
Also, the first fight which starts onscreen in the series is Aichi vs. Kai. The last fight of Season 1 is also Aichi vs. Kai.
An even longer one. The first fight between Aichi and Kai, and indeed the first fight of the series, ends with Blaster Blade attacking Dragonic Overlord. The last fight of season 3 between Aichi and Kai ends with Blaster Blade Liberator attacking Dragonic Overlord "The Яe-birth".
Butt Monkey: Morikawa. He currently has a pathetic on-screen win record because of his god-awful deck balance (his deck is mostly grade 3 cards, which is useless due to the lack of lower grades to support them). His purpose is usually comic relief mixed with being the opponent of choice for characters to prove themselves against. We're provided with a very entertaining sum-up of Morikawa by Misaki in Episode 3 in one subber's translation: 'Noob'.
Averted, however, whenever someone tricks/forces him to use a well-constructed. Without his unbalanced deck holding him back, he is likely one of the strongest characters in the series, in one instance winning a shop tournament with an unbeaten streak. And then someone gives him Kai's "The End" deck...
Call Back: Episode 65 has several. Aichi catches a falling Ren, exactly as Kai did in Episode 49's flashback. Majesty Lord Blaster impaling Phantom Blaster Overlord with his sword brings to mind Blaster Blade doing the same to Dragonic Overlord in Episode 2.
Calling Your Attacks: Done every so often for significant cards, but an absolutely epic one is done in episode 82, where Koutei superior-crossrides his most powerful unit, Ultimate Dimensional Robo, Great Daiyusha.
Also in Episode 3, the Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game poster actually featured official artwork for AIR for some reason, even though AIR isn't geared toward the same audience and doesn't have its own card game.
Takuto's first appearance consists of briefy appearing in a group of people in Ren's flashbacks near the end of season 1, several episodes before being important in seasons 2 and 3.
Towards the end of the Link Joker Arc, some characters from the 3DS games (Notably Ryouta and Luna) can be seen looking at the giant Link Joker ring in the sky.
Canon Immigrant: Daigo, a character from the Vanguard live-action movie who appears occasionaly, starting with Episode 83.
Ibuki Kyoji, from the manga, appears as the antagonist in the Neon Messiah movie.
Can't Catch Up: A lot of emphasis is placed on Aichi and Ren's attempts to try and get good enough at Vanguard for Kai to acknowledge them, and how they are ultimately led to embrace their PSYQualia to try and get stronger.
In Link Joker, Izaki reveals that he once felt this towards Aichi, but eventually grows out of it. This is in direct contrast to Kai, whose inferiority complex about not being able to match the strength of Aichi and Ren is what causes him to accept the power of Link Joker.
Caramelldansen Vid: The Cardfight!! Vanguard version can be found Here. There are spoilers in it, but (with the exception of the three knights used in the final fight of the first season) they are about general character development and not plot events.
Cerebus Syndrome: Let's face it, Ren's arrival more-or-less shook up the formula. Particularly since the next episode had Misaki's tear-jerking backstory laid bare, and ended with her suffering what can only be described as a breakdown and abandoning Vanguard, seemingly for good.
Cerebus Rollercoaster: After the aforementioned, the show goes back to being its normal, quirky self until Q4 lose at the Nationals when things start to get darker again, followed by a Beach Episode, then back to what could be its grimmest episodes with the Psyqualia incident, culminating in Aichi and Kai's rematch. Immediately afterwards, it shoots back to another lighthearted shop tournament, building up the main team again before flying off the dark end again with Ren and Kai's match leading into the Q4/AL4 rematch and Ren/Aichi's fight, complete with Mind Rape and ominous background music all over the place.
Kai getting corrupted by Link Joker is clearly the point where things start getting dark in series 3.
And it only gets worse. Immediately after Link Joker's conclusion and the small breath of relief it brings, Aichi disappears and when answers are finally given, they put together a damning picture that Aichi hasn't actually recovered from Reverse and has sealed himself in exile to keep from following in Kai's footsteps.
Character Tic: Dr. O has a habit of forming an O symbol with his thumbs and index fingers whenever an "oh" sound appears in his dialogue (which he also emphasises).
It should be noted that Blaster Blade and Blaster Dark are two separate individuals, meaning the trope is partially subverted.
Although the TCG lore states that Blaster Dark was Blaster Blade's predecessor who failed to activate the weapon named Blaster Blade (the source of Blade's retire skill), and went rogue out of jealousy, getting his power from Phantom Blaster Dragon. Now consider that the PR Blaster Blade isn't just unskilled, he's also walking awayfrom his weapon...
This might change as of Episode 110, however, with Mark-sensei transferring to Hitsue's high school division, now acting as faculty advisor to their Cardfight club, and appearing again later in his Ninja Master M persona. Only time will tell if he gets shafted again as the season continues
Cloudcuckoolander: Ren and Daigo. It doesn't stop them from being funny and awesome at all.
Color-Coded Characters: Each member of Team Q4 has a color associated with them, which is reflected in the cover of their Fight Gloves: Aichi is blue, Kai red, Misaki green, Kamui orange.
Comeback Mechanic: The Counterblast mechanic is designed so that a player who is losing has more currency to spend on special skills that can help them out.
Limit Break, introduced in Breaker of Limits, is a more obvious form of this. It grants special abilities so long as the player has at least four (out of six) points of damage.
Break Ride, introduced in Triumphant Return Of The King Of Knights, combines the strengths and weaknesses of both Limit Break and Crossrides. It grants a powerful one-turn ability when you ride any Grade 3 over a Break Ride unit, but only when you have four (out of six) points of damage.
And Chris. Void to Leon, and tries to be to Aichi.
Link Joker to Takuto, Kai, Asaka, Tetsu, Suiko, Team Handsome and Team Brilliant Stars in season 3.
Crippling Overspecialization: Katsumi Morikawa has too many Grade 3s in his deck, to the point where he doesn't have enough Grade 1 or 2 cards to be able to actually play them. He's so obsessed with Grade 3s that he dismisses any lower grade as worthless (despite the fact they may have incredibly useful effects) or will even mulligan a perfectly good hand just to get more Grade 3s. On the rare occasions when he is tricked/forced to use a normal deck, he often beats the pants off everyone present.
Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: At first, Misaki looks like the type who'll get curbstomped by Aichi since she's never played before. Then she proceeds to crush him, revealing that even though she's never played, she picked up the game rules just by watching from the counter of the card shop.
Miwa is more of a straight example.
Curb-Stomp Battle: Every single Kai Cardfight after the first. Any game against Morikawa becomes one in short course. This rapidly becomes much less funny in Episode 24 when Misaki beats Aichi this way. It should be awesome. Seriously, it isn't, mainly because of the fact that the viewer can see just how screwed-up Misaki is to the point that she's hearing her dead parents' voices in memory announcing her plays.
Ren versus Kenji Mitsusada, at the final fight of the National Championship. Completely one-sided. In fact, we never saw Ren Ride a Grade 3 unit, just the Grade 2 Blaster Dark. Despite that he won with no trouble at all.
In episode 49, we learn that after Ren first gained his Psyqualia, he dealt this out to Tetsu, and Kai of all people.
The Corrupter: Season 1 has Ren for Aichi. Season 2 gives Takuto for Christopher by way of giving him psyqualia, and to a lesser extent Aichi and Ren due to reactivating theirs. Takuto is also this is season 3, as Kai can attest. 0 Start Set reveals that Suiko was this for Ren, as she first introduced him to the concept of psyqualia.
Cute Kitten: The shop kitten (whom the shop owner refers to as the "sub-manager").
Ahem, I believe it's "manager".
Though the fact it was around when Misaki was around seven or eight may move it out of the 'kitten' age.
Dark Is Evil: Team AL4 all run dark-themed Clans, Spike Brothers, Pale Moon, Dark Irregulars and Shadow Paladins. Surprise surprise, they're the villains.
Dark Is Not Evil: Episode 64 shows that darkness isn't always necessarily evil with a single moment.
Deal with the Devil: While predicting or talking to cards makes you stronger and nearly unbeatable, they also turn the person evil, as seen in Episode 41 where Aichi's personality is seen starting to go down the path of evil.
Leon also made one with VOID in order to resurrect Aqua Force.
Kai, of all people, makes one with Link Joker in order to gain enough power to match the likes of Aichi and Ren.
Episode 162 might as well be called The Deconstruction of Kai. Want to be the strongest? Well, you'll have to be Lonely at the Top because by definition you have to defeat everyone to be the strongest. And you have a hunger for power which leads you to make a Deal with the Devil and take up an evil power even though you know it's evil because you simply can't resist the lure of power. And even then, you Can't Catch Up to The Hero. What's left is a Broken Ace who it's strongly implied has been Driven to Suicide by his self-resentment and guilt about hurting Aichi.
Digging Yourself Deeper: An example shows in Episode 24. Misaki is having the memories of her parents' deaths come back strongly, and is literally torn between the game and the memories. All the others, bar Shin (who can tell something's wrong), are doing is talking about how her 'perfect memory' will help them win Nationals.
Disappeared Dad/Missing Mom: While the anime does show us some of the main cast's parents, mainly Aichi's Mom, the missing parents aren't so much as referenced in any of the family talk that crops up every once and a while.
Dissonant Serenity: As Aichi falls further under the influence of Psyqualia, his attitude during battle begins to take this stance. What might be worse is that he gives off both a more confident presence than before, but also a sort of "broken" feeling even though he's now more powerful.
Drunk on the Dark Side: Aichi became like this starting in episode 41 due to his Psyqualia, until Kai defeated him and snapped him out of it in episode 50. Ren is revealed to have been drunk on Psyqualia for years until his defeat at Aichi's hands in the first season finale.
Happens to Christopher Lo and Ren in Asia Circuit Hen after Takuto grants (in Ren's case, re-grants) them Psyqualia. Ren seems perfectly normal after the fight though.
Dude, Where's My Respect?: In Season 3. Despite the season opening with a monologue that describes how "card games have become a part of everyday life", no-one in Miyaji High School (with the exception of Shingo) has heard of Vanguard or gives Aichi the respect he probably deserves for being the champion of Asia.
Elite Mooks: In the lore for the card game, Kai's Kagero are described as an elite assault unit for the Dragon Empire nation. Note that this perfectly fits how the guy himself is depicted in-show.
Epic Fail: Everything Ninja Master M does outside of Vanguard. Note his pathetic smoke bomb and absolute failure at disguising himself as a shop wall.
Foreshadowing: Quite a few things in essence foreshadow Episode 24's Reveal about Misaki's parents being dead and thus her aversion to Vanguard. First off, in Episode 4, Misaki drops her Deck, which is excused as her 'not being familiar with handling the cards'. Episode 24 supports this point, and elaborates something, the fact that she's also reluctant to get into a Cardfight. There's also the fact that she knows the Oracle Think Tank so well from the start, which at first seems like a trait of her picking up the rules of Vanguard by listening to games, but actually comes from the fact the cards were used by her parents and she spent quite a bit of time as a child going over those cards.
Also, if you pay close attention to some of Shin's dialogue earlier, there's a line about him buying outfits for Misaki. At the time, it may seem fairly comedic, but then you realize why he does so, he's Misaki's legal guardian because her parents are dead. The fact that Misaki's parents are never mentioned prior to Episode 24 also counts. Really it's quite clever how the writers seeded these hints in, but kept them seemingly insignificant or Handwaved them in-episode that they only became meaningful once Episode 24 rolled around.
In the second opening, at the very end there's a revolving card which changes between Blaster Blade and Blaster Dark, before fading out into Aichi. Not only does this foreshadow his deck change to Shadow Paladins and his subsequent change back to Royal Paladins, but it also foreshadows his use of Blaster Dark in his Royal Paladin deck in the last fight of Season 1.
There's plenty of foreshadowing towards Aichi possessing Psyqualia, some even before Ren shows up. In his match with Gouki, he sees his deck glowing and claims to hear a voice, (as well as one of the glowing bubbles associated with it flashing across the screen). Some interpret his seeing Kai's deck glow in the second episode another signal.
Foregone Conclusion: All over the place, usually setting up the unfavorable party's Heroic Second Wind. This is heavily lampshaded during Izaki's fight with Aichi in season 3, because of course someone who's just one part of Those Two Guys is no match for a the person who won both the Vanguard Nationals and the Asia Circuit...right?
Forgotten Phlebotinum: As of the second season, Psyqualia is back, but the three characters most involved with it during the first season - Aichi, Ren, and Kai - seem to have forgotten it existed, with Aichi just letting people use it willy-nilly and Ren bouncing up to Kai and start chirping about how great Psyqualia is. Kai doesn't even appear to care, although it cost him his best friend for a good few years, and nearly lost his another.
Oddly enough, when Jun comes back into the picture during the Japan stage of the Circuit, he does remember it (or what little he would have) and the Kai/Aichi fight.
Good Is Not Nice: Aichi in Episode 41, who declares the card he'll beat Kyou with and starts putting the guy down without a thought. And his final line just screams this. Though, it's because of his Psyqualia corrupting him.
Aichi: *Slasher Smile* Now, picture this. You, defeated before an overwhelming power.
Gratuitous English: All over the place. Most of the card names are in English, and the characters also say "Stand up, Vanguard!" and "Stand and draw" and so on during games. Then there's also Kai's (and Ren's, and Misaki's, apparently) Catch Phrase "Final Turn," and Kai and Ren's "stand up THE Vanguard" (probably because it sounds cooler, or whatever).
Hammerspace: In episode 19 after Nagisa beats Kamui during the regionals, she is somehow wearing a wedding dress. Keep in mind that Nagisa made Kamui "promise" that he would marry her if she beat him....
Hellish Pupils: Ren has slits for pupils, while the PSY trio don't have any at all.
Heroic BSOD: Episode 24. By the end, Misaki is pretty much staggering away after her cardfight with Aichi, despite the fact she won. It's both shocking and tearjerking to watch.
Aichi suffers a particularly brutal one at the hands of Ren after he loses to Tetsu.
Hidden Eyes: All of Gouki's Link Joker possessed mooks have these.
Two very nasty ones in Kai's direction in Episode 58. At the fight' climax, Kai's got all he needs and launches an attack with The End, calling out to Ren in a way not like himself. A drawn-out build-up follows with Ren smiling and the attack playing out. Then Ren's smile quickly changes to a Psychotic Smirk. And Kai knows he's not done. In the next turn, Ren has his counterattack and hits Kai with Phantom Blaster Overlord at Critical 3; Kai can make it if he pulls 2 Heal Triggers. His second is a Heal. The third? No.
Imagine Spot: Emi uses hers to picture Morikawa and his friend as delinquents ready to beat up Aichi.
This is also how the series makes up for the lack of holographic devices/supernatural stuff to provide a visual medium. Essentially Aichi imagines his Units facing his opponent's on Planet Cray, and Kai does so as well (he was the one, more or less, who got Aichi into this habit).
Kamui gets multiple ones about Emi, such as him teaching her how to play Vanguard and her feeding him. Of course, they never go as planned.
Informed Attribute: In Kai's official profile, it's stated he's a skilled player with nationals level ability who could take the pro scene by storm if he wanted to. But from his actual games in Vanguard, those that we've seen fully anyway, he seems to win more by gratuitous Trigger pulling then any real skill. The exemplification of this point is his final turn in Episode 20, where he had a perfectly good play combo which was reasonably complex set up to empower his Vanguard to 16,000 Power... and won by pulling two Triggers in a row. Which he didn't even need. It was even called 'overkill' in-universe.
Innocent Cohabitation: Episode 3 makes it look like it's this with Emi, and doesn't clarify their relationship up until the very end, when Aichi says that she's his sister.
Invincible Hero: Completely subverted. The best way to maintain a high win ratio in Vanguard is to not fight. Averted for Aichi, who has only won slightly over half his fights (even less if you count the training camp's half-offscreen half-on matches). Justified in that he's still a newbie at the game. Played irritatingly straight with Kai due to his unbelievable luck at pulling Triggers, his only onscreen losses being to Aichi in Episode 2 (and it's implied he deliberately wasn't playing at full strength, since that was a training match) and Ren in episode 58, and Leon at the end of season 2.
Invincible Rival: Kai. This is partly the reason for his Base Breaker status, that currently only Aichi, Ren and Leon have beaten him. This sounds fine until you note two things. A) His characterization. And B) Who he happens to beat, including the winner of the shop tournament for the previous year. While commenting exactly the same as he does when beating Morikawa.
Invocation: Everytime a named character rides/calls a significant unit, using Limit Break, lengthy speeches are done in almost every possible way.
Jerk With A Heart of Gold: On a level, Kai. Kamui to some extent as well, who can get pretty rude towards people he doesn't respect.
Kick the Dog: Ren, fullstop. After Aichi's loss to Tetsu, he shows up, initially to talk to Kai, but it quickly turns into the guy pretty much verbally kicking Aichi up and down the street over the loss.
Another case of Kick the Dogs or World:
MC: Could you say a few words to Cardfighters across the nation?
MC: And how about a few words to the people you fought against?
Ren: There's nothing to say.
MC: Then what did you think about the tournament this year?
Ren: It was boring.
Aichi at the end of Episode 47, Kamui's expression in the next episode certainly carries a heavy hint of 'kicked dog'.
Kai reiterates his reason for accepting the power of Link Joker after defeating Aichi, who is on his knees and screaming as he fights the effects of Reverse.
Kick the Son of a Bitch: Ren is implied to do so. It's complicated. After Kyou's loss to Kai after the guy had spent pretty much all his screentime being an obnoxious, arrogant brat, it's very implied that Ren does something to him which leaves the guy a trembling, speechless wreck cowering on a bench. And Tetsu later says that Kyou has been sent back to headquarters for 'retraining'.
Kicked some more by Tetsu and Asaka: first Tetsu tells him Foo Fighter has no need for losers and revokes his membership, then Asaka tells him he lacks ability and to get out.
In season 3, Takuto is most certainly this. The very next episode after his introduction sees the first case of Link Joker possession. Not to mention the episode after that has him reduce Kai to an emotional wreck, which drives him to embrace the power of Link Joker.
Hilariously done with Kyou in season 3. Having just infiltrated Fukuhara, he has no idea about the mass Link Joker brainwashing session going on there, and so challenges a bunch of brainwashed students to a fight without knowing the stakes involved if he loses. Come the next episode preview, he's angrily wondering what the hell's going on and why he's feeling so pumped up about facing a bunch of people who he thinks are just random mooks.
Done to the entire Miyaji Cardfight Club. Ever since Episode 127, the focus of the show was shifted to other characters dealing with Link Joker's invasion with Kai being the first one to be reversed. Then it switches to Ren dealing with the entire reversed Fukuhara. Next it switches to Leon dealing with a reversed Kenji, the Kamui dealiing with the mass conversion of Miyaji Academy. Aichi and friends are stuck on a bus in traffic the entire time.
Lost in Translation: The dub has had to change some of the jokes in order to makes sense to native English speakers. However, the "Make-mi"note What Kamui often calls "Katsu"mi Morikawa joke was ignored completely.note "Make" means "lose", while "katsu" means "win", the latter of which "Katsumi" Morikawa almost never does.
Taken Up to Eleven by Daigo in the live-action. Not only does he topdeck Majesty Lord Blaster with Sage of Guidance, Zenon's skill, he proceeds to Twin Drive into not one, but TWO Critical Triggers, letting him take his opponent from two Damage to six.
Malaproper: Kamui whenever he tries to use complicated words such as (as Crunchyroll translates it) "lady-cress"note in this instance, he means to say "ludicrous".
Mistaken for Gay: Kamui and Aichi in Episode 14 because Kamui Cannot Spit It Out. To elaborate, Kamui is trying to explain that he's not in love with Nagisa but Big Brother Aichi's little sister. However all he can get out is the Big Brother Aichi part, causing Gouki to jump to the wrong conclusions.
Moving the Goalposts: In Link Joker, the Absurdly Powerful Student Council is dead set against a Cardfight Club being established in "their" school. So much so, that they make an announcement that the club must have five members, and must get one by a certain time. Once they do get a fifth member however (namely Misaki), they decide not to recognize them anyway...unless they get a "faculty advisor".
Myth Arc: Though all the seasons have their own self contained story arcs, the ongoing plot throughout the series is the battle against VOID. The whole point of season one was to get Aichi and Ren to resolve a civil war between the paladin clans, which created a united force to stand up to the threat of VOID. Season 2 followed the cardfighters' efforts to thwart VOID's first attack on Cray, namely the sealing of the Royal Paladins, Shadow Paladins and Kagero clans, and to stop VOID's attempt at invading Earth. So far, series 3 seems to have VOID change tactics and decide to invade Earth first, using it's avatar clan Link Joker, and follows the character's attempts to deal with this threat.
Naďve Newcomer: Kai explains the rules once to Aichi, but we also get another description of the rules for Emi. For the first few episodes, Aichi's opponents continually give him advice on game features such as the mulligan and when you can use Heal Triggers. Misaki is set-up as one, but quickly proves she knows the game better than Aichi.
Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: The Granblue Clan are zombie pirates with a couple of Lovecraftian influences thrown in and even a reference to Frankenstein.
Nonindicative Name: "Katsu" means "victory", not that it helps Katsumi Morikawa, with his zero on-screen win record and firmly cemented spot as the worst player in the anime.
The Nose Knows: Team Fragrance can tell people's emotions based upon their scents.
Not So Different: Episode 9 has Aichi crippled by nervousness in the shop tournament, and thinking everyone else is perfectly fine. Then he notices Izaki (his opponent) make the same mistake he earlier made and realizes that it's Izaki's first tournament, and the guy's nervous as well. He later notices that Misaki also seems nervous (despite having just curbstomped Morikawa, who exists to be curbstomped).
Rather more darkly, thirty-two episodes later, Aichi is becoming very reminiscent of Ren. Same Psyqualia, and it seems that like Ren, Aichi is losing himself to the power of Psyqualia.
Episode 48 has Bidou face Aichi; the former is obssessed with being recognized with Ren and jealous that he gave Aichi the Shadow Paladin deck and gets excited when he sees Ren watching his match. Aichi, having gone to the extreme to be noticed by Kai and only succeeded in pushing him away, plays with Bidou's obssession because he has the advantage of Psyqualia and either doesn't realize or outwardly confess that they're quite similar. He, too, allows himself to be distracted very briefly by the idea of Kai watching him, but disturbingly uses it as a Madness Mantra.
Kamuis reaction in ep. 7 when he realizes that Kai can use Vortex Dragon’s Soulblast
Mr. Invincible, Soul Blast! Aichi: SAY WHAT?! Kamui: With Mr. Invincible's skill, I stand all units!
Another Oh Crap used for comedic effect is in Episode 37: Emi: First check! *Critical trigger* I got it, what good luck! Kamui: Bravo! Go ahead, draw one more (critical trigger)! Emi: Second check! *Critical trigger* Look! Two stars! Kamui: C-congrat- *gets hit by Flores [Emi]* ...ulations!
Kyou gets this in Episode 41 when Aichi starts to remind him of Ren. Especially when Aichi calls a second Young Pegasus Knight to replace the defeated first, having predicted that Young Pegasus Knight would be the card he won the game with.
All the major characters at the Finals when Aichi plays Blaster Dark, fearing that he'll change under Psyqualia's influence again.
Season 1 finale; Ren's Phantom Blaster Overlord is at 28000 power, Aichi throws out a total shield of 35000, which requires two Triggers for Ren to break through. Ren draws a Heal Trigger and gives the boost to Phantom Blaster Overlord, Misaki notes that normally, he would have given it to his Rear-Guard. Kamui catches on what she means - Ren knows he's getting a second Trigger and does. Cue one huge Mass "Oh, Crap!". If not for a Heal Trigger himself, Aichi would have lost there and then.
Ominous Latin Chanting: Plays at the end of episode 48, providing fitting backing for Aichi fully succumbing to psyqualia and Kai's vow to stop him.
The end of episode 64, after Ren declares Final Turn and plays Phantom Blaster Overlord.
One Steve Limit: Averted with regards to the game. Because the card-pool is so small, currently several characters run the same cards. This is best shown by Episode 6 where Aichi faces another Royal Paladin player, and the first few turns consist of the two playing off the exact same cards.
This happens less and less as the series continues, but still tends to happen with characters that focus on clans rather than specific archetypes, like Kai with Naoki and Miwa in season 3.
One-Woman Wail: In episode 65, after Aichi rides Majesty Lord Blaster.
OOC Is Serious Business: In Episode 24, the first clue that Aichi and co get that something is wrong with Misaki is when she doesn't reprimand Kamui and Morikawa for speaking too loudly while she's playing. Unfortunately, they don't take the hint.
To say nothing of Aichi's behavior in Episode 41...
All the more aggravating in that Kai takes that exact next episode to push the poor guy over the edge BECAUSE his out of character actions reminded him too much of Ren.
The clan Angel Feather is filled with angels who worked as nurses, and some wield gatling guns. Justified since some of them served as security to the medical team on the battlefield.
Our Dragons Are Different: Aichi's Soul Saver Dragon looks more like a cross between a knight, a dragon and a (female) angel than a typical dragon. Dragons in general tend to vary according to their clan, with appropriate sub-species.
Our Mermaids Are Different: All the Bermuda Triangle units are variations on the theme of mermaid pop stars. Aqua Force includes warrior mermaids.
Paper-Thin Disguise: Aichi more-or-less realizes that Ninja Master M is actually Mr. Mark within five seconds of meeting him. To be fair, the man himself threw out a hint:
Ninja Master M: Have you figured out how you would survive? (This is a Call Back to the first episode where Mr. Mark asked Aichi how he'd survive in a given historical period during a history lesson)
In the Asia Circuit Japan Stage, Team Unknown. While still unknown to the characters in-universe, it's pretty obvious to the audiences.
Parental Abandonment: Misaki's parents died in a car crash when she was young, though Shin does act as a Parental Substitute. Aichi's father is neither seen nor mentioned, and neither of Kamui's parents are ever mentioned. Episode 49 reveals that Kai's parents died a few years before the start of the series, which is the reason he left town (he went to live with his uncle's family).
Power Glows: Lots of it. Psyqualia activations, units glow whenever another unit boosts them, the circles on a fight table glow whenever a unit is called, and the cards themselves glow when a Trigger is activated. No one seems to think this is unusual.
On the Psyqualia front, it goes Up to Eleven in the final fight of Season 1 when both Ren and Aichi are surrounded by a flame-like aura whenever they activate their powers. Similarly, at the tail end of Asia Circuit-Hen with Leon and Aichi when each are affected by Void's influence.
Pragmatic Translation: The Genocide Jack card was renamed "Brutal" Jack in the dub, since the dub likely doesn't want to look like it's promoting genocidenote which is the entire annhilation of a race or people. This is normal for card games.
In one episode, Vortex Dragon's attack is renamed from 'Burning Hell' to 'Cataclysm'. The English TCG card sticks with Burning Hell. In a later episodes, Phantom Blaster Dragon's 'Damned Charging Lance' becomes 'Corrupted Charging Lance'.
Product Placement: This, being an anime to advertise the card games, have real life booster packs' names popping out once in a while. Often by a character that says "My deck had been strengthened by cards from [Insert booster pack name here]!"
Not to mentioned several posters in Card Capital.
To go with the above, one of the posters in the earlier episodes is a rather blatent advertisement for the first Aichi and Kai Trial Decks - both characters are even on the poster!
In EP 52, the Manager pulls out a parcel that revealed the booster packs "Twin Swords Awakening". The final episode of the first season borrows this title and showcases its poster unit Majesty Lord Blaster.
In EP 106, there is an advertisement about Ultra Rare's latest album "Endless Fighter", which is also the ending song of the season.
Though, as explained in episode 64, the ability's true nature is that it synchronizes the user with the Planet Cray, allowing users to act as the "vanguard" of the armies fighting there.
At the end of episode 65, Aichi loses this ability, with the implication that its purpose had been fulfilled. There's no word yet, however, on whether or not this also applies to Ren, though it's implied.
Guess what's back in Asia-Hen. Takuto's seems to have the ability to hand out Psyqualia, restoring Aichi's, Ren's and dragging in Christopher. Leon also has Psyqualia, though he obtained it through Void. It's not clear if anyone has it after Asia-Hen's finale.
At the very least, Aichi still has Psyqualia, as he uses it in Link Joker-hen to stop himself from being Reversed. Leon can still sense the wind, so he likely keeps his Psyqualia as well. Ren and Chris don't show signs of it though, apart from Ren keeping his Psyqualia personality.
Ren uses these pretty often, when he doesn't go for a straight-up Slasher Smile.
Kai accepting the power of Link Joker in episode 128.
Put on a Bus: Mr Mark in season 1, mainly due to the fact his seiyuu was getting a full time role voicing Ren, and Koutei in season 2 due to Team Caesar becoming redundant plot-wise after the Seoul arc. Both make comebacks in season 3.
In Episode 42 Aichi won against Kyou, but afterwards Kai left team Q4.
Also, Kenji in episode 82. He finally manages to beat Ren, only to learn the rest of his team lost.
Red Baron: From Team FFAL4, Asaka is known as "Assassin" and Tetsu is known as "General". And from Team Caesar, Gai is called "Gladiator", Yuri is the "Empress", and Kenji is called "Emperor" (Koutei). Kenji is also called Koutei as a regular nickname (It's an alternate reading of the kanji for his name).
Hot-Blooded Kamui and The Stoic Kai have this dynamic. In episode 26, this culminates in an angry outburst from Kamui, who quits Team Q4 for the remainder of the tournament because he can't stand to fight alongside Kai anymore.
Card Shop PSY has the energetic, outspoken Rekka ("blazing flame") and the calm, patient Suiko ("water tiger"). They're Colour Coded Characters.
Miwa and Kai, very much so.
Red Shirt: Wearing black Fight Gloves is a good general indication that you won't be lasting long. Made especially clear with Yahagi Kyou as he is the onlyFoo Fighter to lose a match. Subverted by Jurassic Army who quickly established themselves as the series' Badass Normal team.
Red String of Fate: Played with in-universe: In episode 21 Nagisa throws and ties an actual red string on Kamui's pinky (despite the two being on opposite sides of the playfield), and then declares she loves him. Kamui is... not thrilled by the obvious implications.
Refuge in Audacity: Miwa gets the underground fighters to lay off Kai by saying that Kai's father is a police commissioner, his mother is a Chief Justice, he's the grandson of the prime minister, and between karate and judo, he's at 15th dan.
Refusal of the Call: Misaki was initially dead set against joining the Cardfight Clubnote Moreover, she originally never had any intention of playing Vanguard in the first place, until she started confronting her past, until Kourin accused her of not being a "serious" enough player.
Relative Error: Kamui first thought that Emi and Aichi were dating and the next day challenged the latter in order to get his "Goddess" (Emi).
Rescue Arc: Legion Mate-Hen with Kai searching out how to bring Aichi back to Earth.
The Rival: Kai, but with a unique spin in that he's the one who teaches Aichi how to play.
For the other members of Q4, Asaka is one for Misaki, while Gai, Tetsu and Gouki are ones for Kamui.
The Oracle Think Tanks have some Japanese deities within their top ranks. So far, Amaterasu, Tsukuyomi and Susanoo have been featured. Oracle Guardians Nike, Gemini, and Apollon are references to Greek Mythology.
The Battle Sisters have their names derived from food, especially pastries.
My heart is burning! It screams out "Let me join the Cardfight Club!" Gaze upon! My lethal! My invincible! My miraculous BREAK RIDE!!! Discharging Dragon!
Near the end of episode 13 when Aichi is in the middle of a baseball stadium would be a shout out to Tsubasa Yonaga's role as Ren Mihashi from Ookiku Furikabutte. Ren was the role that helped Yonaga get more attention as a voice actor.
Skyward Scream: Ren gets one in season 1, coupled with Say My Name, and Aichi has a similar one during the penultimate episodes of season 2. Aichi also does this in second opening of season 3. Interestingly, all three of these are due to the same person: Kai.
Spoiler Opening: The first opening shows a lot of characters that appear later in the series. Some appear relatively early (Kamui in Episode 5 and the PSY trio in Episode 6) while others appear (much) later (Gouki and co do not appear until Episode 14, after the Shop Tournament ends, while Ren Suzugamori appears first in Episode 23, after the Regionals end). Averted with the second opening.
The English dub uses the third ending in place of the first one. The one that shows clips of all the fights from up to the first regional arc.
The second opening of season 3 outright informs the viewer that Team Handsome, Team Brilliant Stars, and most of the Fukuhara cardfight club (that is, Suiko, Asaka, and Tetsu) will get reversed, and also spoils the fact that The Bus Came Back for Koutei.
Start X to Stop X: The Miyaji High Student Council employs this strategy against the unwanted Miyaji Cardfight Club by sending "assassins" against said club, they hope the club will cease to exist once they beat them in their own game. Needless to say, this has yet to succeed, prompting the vice president to take more extreme measures in sabotaging.
Status Quo Is God: In episode 51, Morikawa receives a well-balanced deck when he forgets his own, and wins every fight he's in. Then at the end of episode 52, he "powers it up" with a bunch of Grade 3's, and goes back to always losing immediately.
Stealth Insult: Ren Suzugamori's dialog consists of either this or just flat out insults. He gets better by the time seasons 2 and 3 roll round.
"As long as he doesn't get a trigger", "I'm going to protect myself", and similar lines. Often followed by an Oh Crap when the other player gets the trigger he needs, or uses a new unit the speaker did not expect.
There's also Kamui's decision in Episode 37 to not guard against Emi’s attack. Brilliant decision, as shown by one of the Oh Crap examples above.
The Reveal: In Episode 64 of Season 1, after numerous foreshadowing and wild mass guesses, Planet Cray is revealed to be actually exist, and the role of PSYQualia is to connect the fighters to the units and events that are unfolding on Cray.
In Episode 99, it was revealed that the mysterious force that was invading Cray is VOID. And Takuto's plan is to use the VF Circuit to find strong fighters to fight them.
Misaki is the designated punching bag of Team Q4. Though the show emphasises the advantage of her photographic memory, it also notes that she is the least experienced and least enthusiastic member of the team.
Even moreso are Team Caesar. They're set up as world-class players, but almost all of their wins are off-screen.
Theme Tune Cameo: An instrumental version of Diamond Star (the 1st ending) can be heard once Team Q4 arrives at the training camp.
The second ending, "Smash Up" plays during the tournament montage in episode 39.
The second opening, "Believe in my existence", plays during Kai's Final Turn against Aichi in episode 50.
Twice in episode 65. "Believe in my existence" plays during the conclusion of Aichi's fight with Ren, and "Diamond Star" plays at the very end of the episode.
Limit Break makes it a complete set for the Openings in 104.
Break Your Spell makes an appearance as one in Episode 162.
There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Phantom Blaster Dragon is made out of this. It'll be truly epic overkill if two critical triggers are drawn aside from activating Counterblast twice (49000 and 5 damage). The same can be made of Gancelot, Aleph, Galahad and Edel Rose.
Taken to another level with Vajra Thunder Emperor, Indra. It gets a Critical 6 when you have another 3 units of the same name in your Rear Guard and gets a double Critical Trigger. All in the cost of Counter-Blast 1.
This trope basically works every time a player gets a double Critical Trigger when your opponent is at 5 damage.
Those Two Guys: Morikawa and Izaki. Reiji and Eiji, who have little purpose outside cheering on Kamui.
This Loser Is You: In Episode 32 after Aichi loses his round, and knocking Team Q4 out of the tournament (for real), Ren proceeds to rub it in has face. Furthermore, the next episode has the team only able to watch as Team AL4 completely pulverizes the competition and not surprisingly win the Nationals.
In episode 51 Morikawa of all people. He forgot his deck the day of the free-for-all shop tournament and Shin loaned him a structure deck. He spends the rest of the episode curbstomping people while moaning about how the deck ony has one Grade 3 unit.It doesn't last, though...
As of his victories against Koutei in episode 56 and Ren in episode 65, Aichi is officially Badass even without Psyqualia.
Thanks to training from Kai and Miwa, Izaki gets a MAJOR one during episode 121. Forcing someone like Aichi to use up his entire hand to block one (critical 3!) attack AND managing to get in a critical 2 attack in the same turn is no mean feat.
Tournament Arc: Five in the first season: the Card Capital shop tournament, the regional tournament, the Nationals, the second Regionals (the second shop tournament was just a brief prelude to the Regionals) and the second Nationals. The second season was basically one big tournament arc - the Vanguard Fight Circuit - divided in four parts: Singapore Stage, Seoul Stage, Hong Kong Stage and Japan Stage. The third season had the High School Championship (specifically the Regionals part).
Unexpected Character: Ride 50's key card came completely out of left field, seeing as it was supposed to be a manga exclusive; "Together with the knights, open a path...and look upon the young king! Ride the Vanguard! Alfred Early!"
Unstoppable Rage: At the end of Episode 24's Cardfight, Misaki is more-or-less suffering a complete breakdown due to be flooded with memories of her dead parents, and seems to go into this state, seeming more aggressive than before. Naturally, the moment is heralded by a Critical Trigger making itself known for her final blow.
Villainous Breakdown: Kyou in Episodes 30 and 42. Ren in Episode 65 after Aichi uses Majesty Lord Blaster and claims to accept him.
Ren: I don't want your acceptance! Go ahead and reject me! I don't accept anyone, either!
In the live-action, after losing to Daigo, Teru's mentor runs out of the building in tears while shrieking like a lunatic. Considering how bizarrelyunlikely his loss actually was, it's almost understandable.
Although he's not exactly a villain, [Psy]Aichi's breakdown in his match against Kai is quite a bit like Kyou and Ren's.
Warrior Therapist: Kai is this to Aichi and Ren. In the latter case, it doesn't work, and the task falls to Aichi.
Wham Episode: Episode 32. Aichi loses and Team Q4 are out of the Nationals.
Followed immediately again in 33. We get the first view of Blaster Dark, the Shadow Archetype to Blaster Blade, in Ren's first true fight. Demoralized by how powerful he is and his personal loss, Aichi falls into despair, and Kai barely pulls him out. Shaken by these events, Shin enrolls Q4 in a training camp to fight on even footing with AL4 in the future.
Episode 41 seems to be shaping up to be one too, judging by the fandom's reactions. Turns out Aichi's Psyqualia is corrupting up much faster than anyone expected....
Episode 42 is now the Wham Moment: "No, Aichi Sendou, you have gotten weaker."
Episode 49. The destined fight between Aichi and Kai begins, with Kai using Aichi's former Royal Paladin deck, and we finally get Kai's backstory.
Episode 64. We finally learn more about the person the PSY trio is working for. It turns out to be an entity from Cray (which in turn confirms Cray as a real place) and “borrows” Rekka’s body to watch the fight between Ren and Aichi (the effect is similar to when someone is using Psyqualia, just not as dark). We learn what is going on on Cray and that users of Psyqualia actually sinchronyze with Cray (something that was only hinted at in previous episodes). And in addition to all that, Aichi uses Psyqualia again and calls Blaster Dark, to everyone’s shock.
Episode 66, the first episode of Asia Circuit. It ends with Aichi's deck either transformed or stolen, and the Royal and Shadow Paladins, as well as Kagerou clan, erased from living memory. No one can recall them except Aichi. Made all the worse since this episode effectively eliminated the card that symbolically tied Aichi and Kai together.
Episode 82. Koutei and Ren's fight in the final of the Seoul Stage.
Episode 90. Leon's backstory is revealed, and at the end of the episode, Aichi willingly activates his Psyqualia to fight against Leon's wind.
Episode 98: Takuto sends Teams Q4, New AL 4, Dreadnought and SIT Genius to Cray in order to become leaders who can unite the Clans against the Mysterious Force. And then Leon declares that he is the only one who can lead Cray, standing against the others.
Episode 102: Kai faces Leon and both show off new Crossride units, the sheer power going into the fight is enough to give both Aichi and Ren headaches. Leon beats Kai, who apologizes for not being any help to Aichi before he, Ren and Asaka are returned to Earth, leaving Aichi and Leon as the only Psyqualia users left on Cray to fight.
Episode 103: Leon and Aichi's fight. The sky above Cray starts to crack to put apply more pressure at that Void's about to break through to Earth. Void begins to poison Aichi, causing him to hallucinate and then collapse. He's revived by Blaster Blade Spirit, which he plays and puts Leon at 5 Damage. Then Leon crossride Glory Maelstrom.
Episode 126: Naoki becomes a pawn of the Link Joker and used to fight Aichi, showing off the first Reverse card while Brainwashed and Crazy.
Episodes 127/128: Takuto is hijacked by the Link Joker/Void and when Kai visits him to talk about Naoki, gets himself tangled in a fight against him. The latter episode consists heavily of Takuto slowly Mind Raping Kai until he caves in and accepts the power of Link Joker.
Episode 154: Arguably the biggest of the show thus far - Aichi and Reverse Kai's fight, ending with Aichi losing and being almost Reversed, saved at the last minute by Leon and Takuto. But even then, they tell him that the Reverse is still inside him and if he goes off to fight again, it'll take over and his life is hanging in the balance. Even still, Aichi is determined to face Kai again and Takuto has to force him to pass out in order to protect him from a suicidal charge after Kai.
Episode 162: By this point, most of the episodes could count, but this one has the start of the climatic fight of the season; Aichi and Reverse Kai's rematch under the collapsing Link Joker Gate. Kai makes it clear that he intends to win and then disappear. Aichi, whom he sees as his final opponent, is naturally distraught and tries to sway Kai's plan, as he believes his mere existence harms Aichi and everyone else as he feels the need to keep fighting to be the best and defeat everyone around him, riding all the way to Dragonic Overlord The Яe-Birth.
Episode 164: Kai found out that everyone has forgotten about Aichi, except him. Might be a recurring pattern that every even numbered seasons will start with a Wham Episode.
Episodes 169 and 170: The appearance of the Quartre, who tells Kai and his mates to stop chasing after Aichi, defeats Kai and Naoki, Miwa and reveals that they have abilities similar to the "Punish Game" that Millenium Item users have. At the end of episode 169, Gaillard tells Kai that there's 4 of them.
Episode 177 is a big one. First, it's the return of Link Joker. Second, Aichi reveals to Kai and his mates that he doesn't want to meet them anymore and that they should stop trying to find him. Third, Kourin takes Blaster Blade Seeker back from Kai, rendering his Seeker deck totally "useless."
Episode 180. Sera reveals to Kai and his mates that if they lose in the Sanctuary, the Quartre Knights can perform a Memory Judgment, which will make them forget about Aichi, AGAIN.
Wham Line: Delivered by Aichi in episode 43: "I'll keep you company. This is my Shadow Paladins' first battle."
Suiko delivers an absolute shocker in Episode 50: "You should give your gratitude to him."
Episode 63, Ren gives what could easily be the two most horrifying lines of the series so far to Aichi. "As long as I have this power, I can do what I want with you". (Inwardly) 'It's boring to just humiliate you, I think I'll transform you into the very thing you hate the most'. The preview for 64 really doesn't help the unsettling feeling.
Chris: This is the image of my victory. This is the power of PSYQualia!
Morikawa defeating Aichi, Izaki, Miwa and almost everyone in the shop, with just an unmodified Trial Deck.
From Episode 99:
Leon: I'm afraid that Royal Paladin, Kagero and Shadow Paladin won't be coming back. Ever...
Episode 126. Three in quick succession.
Naoki: That's what I... was ordered to do.
Naoki: Final turn!
Naoki: Crossbreak ride!
Episode 128 has quite chilling ones.
Kai: This is power. This is...! Ride!
Takuto: The only things of value are your own power and strength. You had faith in that, huh? And just now, you murdered that faith with your own hands.
Takuto: This may seem sudden, but your world......is going to be destroyed.
Kai: Final Turn. And this is our final fight!
Kai: Farewell, Aichi...
Kai: My presence would only hurt you more. I'm going to disappear from your lives. Forever.
Aichi: Everyone...I don't want to meet with you guys anymore. Forget about me. I want you to stop trying to rescue me, stop trying to find me.
What the Hell, Hero?: Kourin delivers one to Kai in episode 44 over his role in Aichi developing Psyqualia and subsequent abandonment of him.
And we get, perhaps, Ren's only non Slasher Smile -esque real smile in the same episode after the final match.
White Knight: Aichi's Deck-Type, Royal Paladin, is this, mostly.
The Wise King: From Alfred - Early's flavor text, it can be reasonably assumed that this is King of Knights, Alfred's character.
Worthy Opponent: Team Caesar view their respective counterparts on Q4 as this. This is especially clear with Kenji, who actively seeks Aichi to be the last opponent he plays in Japan in season 2.
Aichi spends the majority of season 1 trying to be this for Kai. ItdoesNOT go well when Kai all but outright states that he'll never see him as one.
Season 3's last episodes make it clear that Kai sees both Ren and Aichi as this, enough to corrupt himself with Link Joker's power to reach them, who have become far stronger than he is. Meanwhile, Ren returns the feeling to the point of not caring at all about the world being destroyed. In their final match, Aichi makes it clear that he still sees Kai as this, as well.
Yin-Yang Bomb: Majesty Lord Blaster, which Aichi uses to defeat Ren. It can only reach its full power by using both Blaster Blade and Blaster Dark together.
Yin-Yang Clash: Ren delivers an ominous speech describing this just before riding Blaster Dark for the first time, though he appears to favor the darkness over the light.
Ren: Where there is light, there is darkness. That is one of a pair of truths. And light can only be swallowed up by darkness. That is a truth too.
You Can't Fight Fate: Ren and Aichi's belief and the reason for their absolute confidence when channeling Psyqualia. However, as Aichi points out, this doesn't apply when fighting another Psyqualia user.
You Shall Not Pass: In episode 129, Kyou holds off a bunch of Link Joker possessed Fukuhara students and Team Brilliant Stars, who are attempting to cause Link Joker to take over Ren, which allows Ren to fight a Link Joker possessed Suiko.
Your Mind Makes It Real: One of Ren's lines in Episode 63 after he sends Aichi to Cray to be attacked by Blaster Dark strongly implies this.
Ren: It feels like I actually just swung a sword. *Slasher Smile*
The fact that Aichi obviously feels a degree of pain after being attacked by Blaster Dark, and then again by Phantom Blaster Dragon, backs it up.
In the manga, the Fight Gloves produce the same effect and losers appears to be drained of their strength after the match. Throw Psyqualia into the mix and you've got main characters constantly collapsing during and after their fights.