Anime / Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS
Take hold of the wind, Playmaker!

"Take hold of the wind - Into the VRAINS"

Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS is the sixth series in the Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise. It began airing in May 10, 2017 as part of the Spring 2017 Anime lineup. A TV special, Yu-Gi-Oh! LABO, was aired between April 5, 2017 and May 3, 2017 to introduce its characters and setting. It can be legally watched on Crunchyroll with subtitles here.

In Den City, the advanced networking technologies created by the "SOL Technologies" corporation has produced an amazing virtual world known as "Link VRAINS" (Virtual Reality and Artificial Intelligence Network System). Within the cyberspace of Link VRAINS, duelists transform into colourful alter-ego avatars and compete against each other, with the most popular competitors making a living as online celebrities called "Charisma Duelists".

However, a mysterious group called the Knights of Hanoi are illegally hacking into the virtual world and wreaking havoc. Their goal is to find and destroy Cyberse, a sanctuary network for Artificial Intelligences hidden somewhere within Link VRAINS.

Yet one duelist has become famous for leading the fight against Hanoi: the enigmatic "Playmaker". In the real world, Playmaker is an unassuming Ordinary High-School Student and computer hacker named Yusaku Fujiki, who is exploring Link VRAINS for answers to a certain incident in his past. One day he captures a mysterious A.I. program being pursued by both SOL and Hanoi, one that holds the secret to Cyberse. With this, the winds of the "Data Storm" begin to blow through Link VRAINS once again.

Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS provides examples of the following:

  • Adults Are Useless: Played with like the last series. Shoichi helps Yusaku hack but doesn't really duel, the Knights of Hanoi are largely run by adults but their leader is of indeterminate age, and Akira Zaizen runs most of the plot-relevant activity on SOL tech's end but mostly hires other people. In short, adults help with everything except dueling.
    • Later averted with Akira where he does duel Playmaker in the SOL Databank.
  • Arc Number: Three.
    • When questioned why he does things, Yusaku gives three reasons for his decisions, which also doubles as a Survival Mantra for him. Revolver does the same.
    • By the rules of Speed Duels, only three monsters can be in play at a time, save for Extra Deck monsters. Accordingly, Yusaku's ace monster Decode Talker is a Link-3 monster.
    • SOL Technologies has three main leaders that Akira speaks to.
    • Counting Yusaku himself, there are three groups competing for control of Ignis; Yusaku, SOL, and the Knights of Hanoi.
    • Go Onizuka, playing on wrestling tropes, counts 1-2-3 in his duels.
    • Blue Angel's Skill, Trickstar Fraud, makes the opponent draw until they have three cards in their hand, which also complements her Death of a Thousand Cuts play style.
    • Playmaker is equipped with three Sphere Kuribohs when infiltrating SOL Technologies' data bank, which he uses to neutralise purple security traps.
    • Akira Zaizen's Tindangle deck is based on creatures with a triangle theme, and his Ace monster is Tindangle Cerberus.
  • Captain Obvious: Duelists' AI assistants have a habit of making blatantly obvious statements during a Duel.
  • Central Theme: As the Tagline says: never surrender and keep trying.
  • Cool Board: Charisma Duelists ride floating surfboards named D-Boards during Speed Duels.
  • Cyber Punk: VRAINS appears to be this thanks to its futuristic themes.
  • Cyberspace: VR Duels are set in a cyberspace constructed with the latest technology.
  • Darker and Edgier: Yusaku is the first main character in the franchise who started out as a Jerkass Anti-Hero instead of a Hot-Blooded Idiot Hero or an All-Loving Hero, using Duel Monsters as weapons for his quest of Revenge. The same applies to the series itself too, as the entire premise explores Escapism, Ambiguous Disorders, cyber crime, and the dark side of online gaming.
  • Decomposite Character: Yusaku, Aoi, Go, and Revolver represent a part of Seto Kaiba: Yusaku has his Jerkass attitude, Aoi has his wealthy background and position as an adopted family member, Go has his orphaned upbringing, and Revolver has the rest of him (rivalry with the main character, opposite color scheme, dragon-like 3000 ATK ace monsters, and introduced as a villain).
  • Department of Redundancy Department:
    • The following lyrics for the first ED (Believe In Magic) has "Akiramenai sa (I won't give up), Never Give Up Never!".
    • The summon chant for Link monsters, which involves saying Link two to three times (Link Summon, Link [number], followed by the monster's name, which may also include the world Link) in as many (two word) sentences.
  • Determinator: Enforced as with ARC-V; the show's main theme is "Take a step forward and try!", the premise being that kids should try things out instead of giving up at the first try due to being overwhelmed by information.
  • Distaff Counterpart: Along with Spear Counterpart. Aoi and Go use decks with heavy feminine and masculine overtones, respectively. Aoi has Magic Idol Singers and Go has Wrestlers with animal themes. Finally, they have the two major factions setting them up to duel against Playmaker for Ignis, with SOL Technologies recruiting GO while the Knights of Hanoi manipulate Blue Angel.
  • Dull Surprise: Neither Yusaku or Kusanagi bat an eye when AI regains and reveals his true form, and continue analysing him to see if they overlooked anything. Ai doesn't appreciate not having his attention reciprocated.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: The Eye of Wdjat appears in the first OP, "With the Wind", for the first time in the franchise since GX.
    • The "source code" Ghost Girl makes a program with in episode 14 consists of text from both cards and the game's rules. This is only shown when she's actually making it, not when Yusaku and Shoichi get her message.
  • Fun with Acronyms: Virtual Reality, Artificial Intelligence, Network System.
  • From a Certain Point of View: Akira tells Go several basic facts at least some of which are known to be completely true (and some of unknown validity), but phrases what he says in a way that makes it sound like Playmaker stole something valuable from SOL Technologies.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar:
    • In #4, Ignis recruits Roboppy and convinces her to do... it's never actually said what they were trying to do, but from the noises and their behavior it's pretty clearly meant to be sex.
      • They do it again in episode 14, and reference it in episode 12.
    • In #6, Shoichi and AI convince Yusaku to try to get to know Aoi in order to get information from her brother. They then spend the rest of the episode teasing him about his skills with women and how attractive Aoi is.
  • Gratuitous English: "Into the VRAINS!"
  • Hollywood Hacking:
    • Credit for showing the viewers that the camera is skipping the long, boring hours spent staring at pages of programming language, and enough appropriately placed Techno Babble to show that the writers have probably skimmed a programming book. The trope still counts due to Shoichi and Yusaku using Extreme Graphical Representation, seemingly for no reason other than to give the kids in the audience a basic understanding of what they're doing.
    • There's no way Shoichi could've broken the block featured in #4 unless he'd done it before against the exact same block and just re-ran the code he created last time.
  • Japanese School Club: The Duel Club, which Yusaku joins against his will thanks to Ignis.
  • Jigsaw Puzzle Plot: Much like ARC-V, right off the bat the audience starts getting clues about major mysteries and dangling plot threads.
  • Love Chart: Non-romantic variant; the official website has relationship charts in the characters page, separate ones for both Den City and Link VRAINS.
  • Magical Incantation: Unique summoning chants aside, when performing a Link Summon, the Duelist says some variation of:
    "Arrowheads confirmed! The Summoning condition(s) is/are [Link Materials]! I set [Monsters] into the Link Marker(s)! Circuit Combine! Link Summon! Come forth, Link [Number]! [Link Monster's Name]!"
  • Magic Versus Science: VRAINS has heavier focus on science than the previous entries, even more so than ARC-V.
  • Mega Corp.: SOL Technology Inc.
  • Mêlée à Trois: Yusaku, SOL Technology Inc., and the Knights of Hanoi are competing for control over Ignis.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: The Knights of Hanoi's main objective is to annihilate the VR world, but their reasons are yet to be revealed.
  • Ominous Latin Chanting: Playmaker and GO's Duel is accompanied with one after the former Link Summons Decode Talker.
  • Online Alias: Most Charisma Duelists have one, but there are exceptions. Go for example.
  • Orphanage of Love: Go comes from one, and he continues to be a patron of it.
  • Portmanteau: The title is actually a combination of 3 Acronyms of "VR"note , "AI"note , and "NS"note .
  • The Power of Friendship: In this case, VRAINS deals with how friendship can make a person stand out and try new things.
  • Real Place Background:
    • Part of Den City, the setting of VRAINS, resembles the 109 building in Shibuya.
    • Link VRAINS contains locations based on real life landmarks such as Rome's Colosseum, Canada's Niagara Falls, Croatia's Mali Bok beach, America's Paris Las Vegas Hotel and Casino, and Italy's Florence.
  • Rule of Three: Which also doubles as the series' Arc Number, with counts of three being pretty common.
  • Shades of Conflict: Once again, there are multiple factions with different motivations and resources involved in the central conflict of the story:
  • Signature Move: Duelists in Speed Duels gain access to Skills, once-per-game abilities that can grant them a boon to maintain dominance or stage a comeback. It is not known how the Skill is determined, but it is apparently tailored to the duelist's playstyle.
  • Something Completely Different: The series runs on pure science, has a main character who is a Jerkass, and has two new Dueling rules.
    • There are two Duel types now: Master duel which is the normal duel rules, and Speed Duel, which is a Modified version of the Speed Duel Rules from Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links except deck sizes stay the same. They also retain the Skills system from that game. Speed duels are done on D-Boards similar to Riding Duels on D-Wheels.
  • Spell My Name with an "S":
    • "Cyberse" has also been transliterated as "Cyverse".
    • Crunchyroll has "vullet" transliterated as "varrett".
  • Spinoff: The fifth one in the Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise.
  • Stealth Pun: Originally it was announced that the new Speed Duel format would be replacing the previous standard format for the series; however, it was later revealed that standard dueling rules would still apply to ground-based duels. The new rules only apply to the duels taking place on hoverboards; they really are Speed Duels!
  • Subverted Trope: Continuing where ARC-V left off, VRAINS has the following:
    • The previous main characters of their respective series are introduced as either recklessly Hot-Blooded or empathetic. Yusaku is neither: he acts like a Kaiba archetype instead of a Yugi archetype. Not to mention, he's also The Unchosen One who knows that he has unique powers at the start of the series.
    • The same can also be said for the previous rival characters of their respective series, as they ranged from Jerkasses to Cool Big Bros: Revolver is not only flat-out villainous (even more so than Death-T Kaiba) but also leads a group of Omnicidal Maniacs.
    • The first duel a main character usually fights is usually a recurring or at least named character, but the Starter Villain here is instead an unnamed member of the Knights of Hanoi.
    • Usually a main character loses or is forced to end early in the second on-screen Duel, be it in the moment or via a memory. Yugi had the least have some LP left after playing a timed match with Pegasus, Judai's duel with Manjoume had to be called off before it could be finished, Yusei was shown losing to Jack in a flashback, Todoroki beat Yuma while Yuzu defeated Yuya. Yusaku's second duel shown was a victory against Go.
    • Subverting the tropes set by Yuma and Yuya, Yusaku did in deed start the series with Link Monsters in his deck, even if he did obtain a new one in his first Duel.
    • When Yusaku obtained Firewall Dragon and was set on playing it immediately, Revolver immediately activated a combo to end the duel in a DRAW rather than let the known card creation effect play out and create a situation for Yusaku to win, as opposed to previous villains who would have either not been able to stop it or arrogantly believed they could survive anything that the protagonist could throw at them.
    • It also subverts the debut of the main character's ace monster, as Yusaku's first Link Summoning of Firewall Dragon takes place during his second Duel against Revolver as opposed to Yuya and Yuma summoning their respective ace monsters at the start of the series.
    • Since 5D’s, the main character's first duel with the rival is typically interrupted before the duel can finish (Jack and Yusei’s duel interrupted by the Crimson Dragon, Kaito and Reiji abandoning their duel with Yuma and Yuya respectively), followed by a rematch much later in the story arc. Here, not only does Revolver forces his and Yusaku’s Speed Duel to end in a draw, they have a Master Duel immediately afterwards.
    • Continuing this thread, since ZEXAL, the main character has lost a second Duel with The Rival. Yuma lost his second Duel against Kaito (not counting the one Kaito and Astral had that Yuma came in on the last turn) and Yuya lost to Reiji. In VRAINS, Yusaku defeated Revolver in their second Duel, and became the first main character to perform an OTK against The Rival.
    • There are some cases of special Duels involving The Rival and main character only Duel in those types of Duels. Yusei and Jack only had Turbo Duels (outside of a mostly off-screen flashback in episode two) and Yuya and Rejii only duel in Action Duels. Here, Revolver ends their Speed Duel in a draw because he feels that a Master Duel would be better for Link Monsters to use their effects.
  • Tagline: "Take a step forward and try!"
  • Title Drop: "Into the VRAINS!"
  • There Are No Therapists: Averted for once, flashbacks show that Yusaku had therapy as a child.
  • Transformation Sequence: Some characters undergo a change in appearance in this manner when logging into Link VRAINS. Only Yusaku's/Playmaker's has been shown.
  • Unexpected Character: In-Universe; Firewall Dragon completely takes Dr. Kogami by surprise when Yusaku summons it for the very first time during his duel versus Revolver. Dr. Kogami's reaction borders on a Dull Surprise. Strangely enough, he doesn't seem very upset with seeing Firewall Dragon either, despite working to destroy the Cyberse.
  • Unique Protagonist Asset: Yusaku's Skill is unique in that it also allows him to gain physical copies of cards for future use. This makes the revelation that Revolver has the same Skill even more impactful.
  • Your Mind Makes It Real: Taking too much damage in Link VRAINS will have adverse effect on a Duelist's physical brain that could potentially make them a brain-dead vegetable. An average duel might not cause that much damage, but falling off a D-Board in a Speed Duel could prove to be fatal.

Into the VRAINS!