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The fourth series in the Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise. (The title is pronounced "zay-al" in the Japanese version and "zek-sul" in the English dub.)The story takes place in the futuristic city of Heartlandnote possibly set chronologically after a previous series, where duels are conducted using the latest Augmented Reality technology. This is the home of Yuma Tsukumo, a thirteen-year-old middle school student who tackles life and dueling with everything he has, despite his lack of skill at either.One day, Yuma is forced to duel the school bully, Ryoga "Shark" Kamishiro. In the middle of their battle, Shark is possessed by a strange Duel Monster known as a "Number" which cannot be destroyed by traditional means. However, Yuma receives help in the form of Astral, a mysterious blue spirit who lacks his memories but is an outstanding strategist.It turns out that Astral's memories have been split into the ninety-nine "Number" cards that have scattered around Heartland, carrying with them the threat of Demonic Possession. As "Numbers" can only be destroyed by other "Number" cards, Yuma agrees to help Astral in retrieving his lost memories and saving the citizens of Heartland. But it's not quite that simple, as there is stiff competition from other factions who wish to amass the "Numbers" for their own reasons, such as "Numbers Hunter" Kaito Tenjo, and the sinister Tron Family.Replacing the D-Wheels of the previous series and Duel Disk models are the brand new D-Gazers and D-Pads, an eyeglass piece along with the new model of Duel Disk for Augmented Reality duels, which allow for more visual destruction of the environment, giant score cards for life points, and an overall enhanced dueling experience. They still use real cards, instead of virtual ones, for some reason.The dub was originally produced by 4Kids Entertainment (later by Konami after 4Kids went bankrupt) and airs on Vortexx in the U.S. Both the dub and subtitled versions are available on Hulu.The anime was rescheduled on September 24, 2012 and was rebranded as Yu-Gi-Oh Zexal II on October 7, 2012. However, it is not a new series - NAS' website lists the series as ongoing, with no reset of episode numbers to go along with the rebrand. Likewise the dub of second season, which began airing on August 17, 2013, doesn't change the title.Taking place shortly after the events of the World Duel Carnival, life seemed to go back to normal for Yuma and his friends. However evil forces from the Barian World seek to obtain the "Number" cards to destroy the Astral World. Now Yuma, Shark, and Kaito along with all their friends must band together and face this new threat.Has the distinction of being literally the last Saturday Morning Cartoon ever broadcast, on September 27, 2014.
Absurdly Powerful Student Council: The Student Council President and the Special Disciplinary Commander have the authority to suspend and even expel students, and even apply arbitrary rules to dueling (monsters whose appearances violate school dress code for example).
Accidental Misnaming: Episode 2 of the anime. Astral refers to his partner as "Tonma" (chowderhead) in a monotone, despite Yuma's protesting. This nickname is picked up by a few other characters, though Orbital 7 uses it the most.
Subverted later though, Dr. Faker is revealed to have the same motivations as his anime counterpart, except he died due to a fatal illness sometime before the start of the manga and that Mr. Heartland had been using video footage to make it appear that he was alive. Mr. Heartland is also revealed to have been a conman who ruined the lives of over 600 people.
Akashic Records: What the Numeron Code is. Recording all of reality and being able to change it, along with being the card all things originate from. Both Astral World and the Seven Barian Emperors seek the card. Surprisingly enough Don Thousand does not seek the Numeron Code and reveals this to Vector after they kickstart the Assimilation Plot. As long as Astral World is destroyed Don Thousand does not care for obtaining it.
Alas, Poor Villain: Tron. He goes out remembering his life with his sons before Dr. Faker intervened, returning their souls to them before falling into something implied to be fatal. It is honestly one of the saddest, most poignant moments in the entire series.
Alternative Foreign Theme Song: The English dub uses a different theme song. And now that Konami has rights to the show, they got a second opening for Zexal II.
Aliens Speaking English: Astral. Subverted in Yuma and Shark's tag duel, when Astral mixes up the Japanese word for "cheating" or "counterfeit" with the word for "somewhat."
This goes for the Barians as well, although the Barians were originally human, meaning it'd make sense that they could speak a human language.
The Astral people.
And the Adventure Continues: The series ends with an entirely new threat to the Astral world, and everyone goes to the Astral world to help.
Anime Hair: Like with the other leads, people are currently debating what animal Yuma's hair resembles. Guesses include lionfish, shrimp, lobster, and spider.
Anti-Villain: Kaito might be stealing Numbers cards and souls, but it's to save his little brother from a mysterious illness. Likewise most of the Barian Emperors are just trying to protect their world, with the exception of Vector who is just evil for evil's sake.
Anyone Can Die: Tokunosuke was sacrificed to the Barian World in Episode 122, followed by Anna, Fuya, Gauche, Droite, Yamikawa, Rokujuro, and Tetsuo in Episode 125 as they lost to the Barian Emperors. The Arclight siblings join them shortly after, IV falls to Nasch/Shark and III and V are slain by Mizael. And now, even the Barian Emperors start getting hit with this after Vector betrays them, starting with Durbe and Merag, and followed almost immediately with Girag after Alito sacrificed himself to save the former. At one point ZEXAL had a grand total of seven characters that were both alive and relevant.
You'd expect Plot Armor to protect the protagonists from death, but nope. Astral has technically died twice, and Shark was revealed to have been killed in a past life. And now, as of Episode 135, Kaito bites it after defeating Mizael and unlocking the Numeron code.
And now, with Mizael dead at Don Thousand's hands, after Episode 141, even Don Thousand, the Big Bad himself, has died, with Eliphas dead not long before him. Shark/Nasch follows not long after that. This season is looking to have a truly massive body count.
The finale however subverts this. The people that were sacrificed, as well as Kaito, the Arclights, Eliphas and the Seven Emperors are Back from the Dead (and Back for the Finale). Even then, Mr. Heartland and the rest of the Fearsome Four do not reappear.
Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: The goal of Astral World. For this reason it removed anything with chaos in it and expelled it, creating Barian World. It also sees no problem with letting weak souls in Astral World die off in order to achieve Rank-Up viewing only the worthy as capable of ascending. Rank Up is also required for ascending to Astral World in the first place, but V and Kite find a way around that, while those who die but have willpower go to Barian's World.
Augmented Reality: Duels in this series are portrayed using AR eyepieces instead of holograms.
Bad-Guy Bar: The BARian, although its appearance is rather brief, and only Girag and Alito are seen ever going there.
The Bad Guy Wins: A subversion: Vector and No. 96's plan to defeat Astral fails due to No. 96 drawing with Astral. However No. 96 gained power through Barian's Force AND still has the Legendary Number. What's more he abandons Vector after the duel keeping the Number for himself so he definitely comes out on top in the end.
Balance Between Good and Evil: Or rather Order and Chaos. As Ena, a inhabitant of Astral World explains it, Chaos brings forth desire and life, without which the inhabitants of Astral World will become sick and weaken since their world denies chaos and desires, while accepting only stillness and order to achieve Rank-Up.
Battle Aura: When ever a Duelist uses a Number monster and gets possessed by its power, a dark purple emits from them.
An aura appears TWICE around Rio in Episode 81 (Though that's probably just the mental effect other people get around her).
This also applies to Astral, who acquires a blue aura whenever he or Yuma engages in a duel, and also when he's inside the Emperor's Key.
Yuma in his ZEXAL forms have this and Alito shows it even after losing his Barian powers.
Kaito, in two flavors: red for Neo Galaxy-Eyes Photon Dragon, and blue for No. 62: Galaxy-Eyes Prime Photon Dragon.
Anyone performing a Shining Draw or Barian's Chaos Draw.
Battle in the Rain: While the rain has slowed to the point of not moving, it still counts during Kaito and Yuma's first duel.
There was also a (very short) rain shower during the first summoning of Shark Drake Veiss.
Much of episode 84's duel takes place in a moody downpour.
The Beautiful Game: Gets the spotlight in episode 27, with soccer playing Kakeru and his own problems with the game.
Later, while Durbe seems to be the recognized leader of the Barians, Vector seems to hold enough significance with the plot to put him on this level alongside Durbe during the Barian Arc. After Shark turns back into Nasch, their former leader, he returns to his former position.
Big Damn Heroes: In the first episode of arc six, almost all of Yuma's friends and allies appear to fight the Barians when he is down.
Bigger on the Inside: The Emperor's Key houses a large mechanism of cogs and wheels. Astral says it's a space ship.
Bilingual Bonus: With Shark Drake Vice. 'Vice' could also be translated as 'Weiss', German for 'white'. Shark Drake Vice is clad in white armor.
Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: The whole point to Tokunosuke Omoteura's character and perspective. Although after Yuma beats and befriends him, he gets better.
IV's public persona is one of a gentle, fan loving champion, as opposed to his true, devilish personality
Broken Ace: Shark was so afraid of losing in a national tournament, he looked at his opponent's cards sprawled out on the table after he left the room. After being disqualified for cheating, his failure there haunted him so bad he quit dueling.
Catch Phrase: "Kattobingu!", a nonsense word that mashes up the Japanese term for "to flare up" with the English word "bing".
"Blind Idiot" Translation: There were at least three alternative translations of 'kattobingu': the most common one being "I'll rise to the sky!", another as "Bring it to 'em!", and the funniest being one sub of the first episode had him saying "I'm pop flying!"
Even the Subtitler Is Stumped: Another fansub group has "I'll do kattobingu! (We have no idea how to translate this. Sorry.)" Even the official subs just leave it as "I'm Kattobing.".
Borrowed Catchphrase: Tetsuo, Charlie, Tron, Astral, and Shark have all used "kattobingu", though Charlie got it from Yuma's dad Kazuma instead of Yuma himself. Cathy mutates it into "Cattobingu", which, while a clever way to work it into her Cat Girl theme, makes even less sense than the ordinary catch phrase.
It seems that Yuma himself borrows this from his father, and it has become something of a family motto. To the point of Akari and Yuma being hilariously over the top by saying to do kattobingu, while giving each other an intense high five, the phrase has importance to both of them.
Now it seems like every one has their own version of kattobingu, most recently Takashi's "Todorobingu!" from episode 77.
The dub just replaces "kattobingu" entirely with "feeling the flow"; and the English manga with "I'm gonna jet!" The dub also adds additional catchphrases; "High-five the sky" and, when starting a duel, "Get set to get decked!"
Also there's Takashi's "To summarize". The dub translates it as "In the end".
Captain Obvious: Astral can be this a lot with his observations. Yuma even calls him this is episode 2 of the English dub.
Chaste Hero: Yuma shows that in a pretty hilarious way. In episode 9 he repeatedly interrupts Cathy trying to confess to him during a duel only to beat her in it. Even Astral notices afterwards: "Observation #11: It seems Yuma still doesn't understand the thoughts of females."
Chekhov's Gun: At first it seems that Galaxy-Eyes Photon Dragon and its upgraded form Neo Galaxy-Eyes Photon Dragon are just there to give Kaito a Non-Number Card to be able to fight on par with Yuma Then it's revealed its most powerful shape is a Number and is destined to clash with Mizael's Galaxy-Eyes Tachyon Dragon in order to show the way to the Numeron Code
The trash robots of the city, which are first seen straight from episode one. One of them called Obomi gets the focus for an episode, however, the most notable part is the robots dump the trash they receive at the end of the day into a large hole like a garbage dump, where the torrents of trash are used to cause destruction to beings in the Astral World)
Shark is probably the ultimate example, at first it seems he seems to just be someone who was drawn into the war by experiencing the number's power first and and being used by Tron as his assassin against Dr. Faker and just got roped into it, then it 's revealed He's actually Nasch, leader of the Seven Barian Emperors
Cipher Language: Astral glyphs for Japanese katakana, and Barian glyphs for the Latin alphabet.note The alphabet used for English, German, Spanish, French and most relevantly Romaji: Transliterations of Japanese words to the alphabet.
Combat Pragmatist: Kaito believes that the Numbers brings out the evil in people's hearts and declares on multiple occasions that anyone who wields them is his enemy. This does not stop him from using them to supplement his own deck, so that he can collect all of them to cure Haruto.
He changes this view after befriending Yuma. Even more amusing is his statement dozens of episodes later, upon revealing Galaxy-Eyes Prime Photon Dragon:
Kaito: This is my Number!
Conspicuous CGI: Used for several monsters, especially during summoning or attack sequences.
Continuity Nod/Continuity Porn: Episode 15 featured nearly every major card used by the main characters of the the original and the GX era as wooden statues. Yuma, Tetsuo, and hardcore duelist fans who had watched the original had a Nerdgasm when the 'statue duel' brought the original ace cards (Blue-Eyes, Red-Eyes, Dark Magician and Dark Magician Girl) to life.
In continuance of tradition, The Hero's ace monster has Attack and Defense of 2500 / 2000 and takes 2 monsters to summon under normal circumstances.note Dark Magician does have 100 more DEF, though.
In the same vein, "Galaxy-Eyes Photon Dragon" has a lot in common with a certain other ace monster. "Blue-Eyes White Dragon" and "Galaxy-Eyes Photon Dragon" share the same stats (3000ATK/2500DEF), level (Level 8), type and attribute (Light Dragons), naming-theme ("X-Eyes Y Dragon"). Both owners, by the way, have names starting with "Kai" (Kaiba and Kaito).
Furthermore, they both have an upgraded, 3-headed form ("Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon" and "Neo-Galaxy-Eyes Photon Dragon"), which once again, share most stats. The only exception here is the level and summoning requirements (BEUD is Level 12 and requires Polymerization and 3 BEWD, NGEPD is Rank 8 and requires 3 Level 8 Monsters).
Cool Big Sis: Akari, literally being the hero's older sister.
Tetsuo's sister Tetsuko as well. Compared to Tetsuo and his similarly-statured mom, she looks pretty good.
Crapsaccharine World: Heartland, in comparison to the likes of Satellite and Dark World looks pretty bright and colorful. There's robots cleaning up people's messes, a futuristic atmosphere, and no systematic conflict. Except we've got brainwashings a plenty, cards that warp, distort and outright degrade people's minds into horrifying insanity, a terrifying madman in charge supported by a guy that looks like Dr Weil who is willing to commit omnicide on one universe to save his son, and which we see as junk being dumped into a world and its residents running, screaming. After the Barians are introduced, it gets even worse. They're at first quirky and bizarre, rather incompetent and overspecialized. Then we see that Girag, despite his comedic quirks, basically goes around brainwashing everyone he can in order to make them basically an army of mind control slaves. As if that wasn't bad enough, Misael appears, with a terrifyingly powerful dragon at his beck and call, and he basically terrifies the protagonist out of dueling him. And then Vector returns, and is shown as even crazier, eviler and more disturbing than we already thought he was. He made a lot of squicky moves on Yuma through his disguise of Shingetsu Rei and a multitude of lies, and his duel with him showed his commitment to completely burying the heroes for defeating him that one time. And even then, we get a God of Evil that Vector incarnated into himself, which has further decayed his sanity. And then we get a nice little story about a King who executed his subjects en masse and then committed suicide...shown in an illustration, followed by several other legends with more sympathetic characters suffering from tragic fates. Then we get the world ending followed by several supporting and even main charactersdying! Such a light cartoon, eh?
Crazy Cat Lady: Cathy in her Cat-chan persona is pretty nuts and has an entire herd of cats.
Curbstomp Battle: Yuma and Astral together face one of these when Kaito utterly destroys them, and if not for Haruto falling ill and calling out for his brother, they would have lost.
There's also Yuma and Takashi's off-screen duel where Takashi wins without losing any of his Life Points.
Deal with the Devil: In the Japanese version, Kaito admits that he "sold his soul to the devil (Mr. Heartland, under orders from Dr. Faker, In turn manipulated by Vector, who was just a pawn for Don Thousand) for [his] brother's sake."
In their first duel with each other, Shark's play style is basically summoning a strong monster as quickly as possible, Yuma wins by increasing Utopia's attack points up to 5000. Shark got a lot smarter by their next duel.
One of Yuma's teachers, under the influence of No. 34: Terror-Byte, wants to win as perfectly as possible, said perfectionism is what causes him to lose.
Cathy pretty much overwhelmed Yuma with her cat deck, Yuma uses his own feline monster (Baby Tiragon) to win the duel.
Scorch and Chills spent most of their tag-duel boasting how good their tag-teaming is, Shark and Yuma won by combining the strength of their ace monsters.
Shobee thinks that power is everything and overwhelms Yuma with high attack power monsters, Yuma defeats him with Kurivolt (a weak, 300 ATK monster).
Anna's whole "strategy" is simply doing as much damage to Yuma as possible, Yuma gave her a piece of her own medicine by inflicting 6000 points of damage.
Shuta predicted Yuma would summon Hope in their duel with each other, Yuma did summon Hope...Ray eventually.
III and IV allowed Yuma to pair with Kaito in their tag duel because they thought he would be the weak link but it's through Yuma's cards that enable Kaito to win the duel.
Eliphas was all but trouncing Yuma with high Rank monsters (Including one that was Rank 13) and cards that give advantage based on getting higher Rank monsters than Yuma. Yuma won by Ranking-down Hope and summoning the Rank 1 Hope Roots.
Yuma accidentally wins his duel with Nasch by attempting to lose.
Deer in the Headlights: Prior to a timely Heel-Face Turn on Kaito's part every time he is mentioned, and when Astral sees him in episode 16, he suddenly clams up and finally admits to himself that he is deathly afraid of him.
Defeat Means Friendship: Tokunosuke. This is discussed in regards to Shark. Yuma insists they are friends because people go from being strangers to being friends once they've dueled. Shark is initially skeptical, but the two eventually do become friends through a tag duel. By the end of the series, almost all of the antagonistic but sympathetic characters have received this treatment.
This can be subverted as well on No. 39 it all depends on how you translate Kibō'ō which the example above translates as "king of hope". The Yu-Gi-Oh! Wikia page translates it as King of Wishes, Hope and one of the fansubbing groups translates Kibō'ō as Aspiring Emperor, it all depends on the translation.
In the dub, Cathy gets a last name - Catherine.
Do-Anything Robot: Orbital 7 can slow down time to the point it appears to have stopped, turn into a hang glider, and hold Kaito's duel disk for him. He also can transform into a jetpack, motorcycle, and space suit.
Does Not Like Spam: Yuma does not like tomatoes. To the point he would duel someone to prevent them from making a tomato theme park. Then he eats a tomato and loves it, teaching Yuma about the importance of not hating vegetables he doesn't eat all the time.
Does This Remind You of Anything?: The gate Yuma opened at the end of the first episode releases all of the numbers, most of whom take people over and make them evil, with the exception of the one Yuma gets which is "Hope, King of Hope." Releasing various evils? And Hope being released with them? Now doesn't this sound familiar to the story of Pandora's Box?
Drives Like Crazy: Akari drives like this. Shark is also a little reckless on his motorcycle.
Driving Stick: Episode three had almost everything electronic shut down or BSOD because of a virus started by a hacker Villain of the Week, which included electronic cars. Akari is then shown driving a manual car complete with a shot of the transmission.
Drunk on the Dark Side: Most Numbers holders are varying degrees of this, ranging from exaggerated negative traits to out right psychopathy, because the Numbers plant darkness in the hearts of it's holders. This can be prevented by sheer force of will, or various other methods of handling Numbers cards, such as Photon Hand.
Dub Name Change: This was originally dubbed by 4KidsEntertainment, so of course. The English manga averts this however.
Kotori Mizuki > Tori Meadows
Tetsuo Takeda > Bronk Stone
Ryoga Kamishiro > Reginald Kastle (though his nickname of "Shark" is retained)
Akari Tsukumo > Kari Tsukumo
Takashi Todoroki > Caswell Francis
Ukyo Kitano > Mr. Kay
Tokunosuke Omoteura > Flip Turner
Taichi > Spencer
Fuya Okudaira > Nelson Andrews
Rikuo > Scorch
Kaio > Chills
Ginji > Weasel
Kaito Tenjo > Kite Tenjo
Haruto Tenjo > Hart Tenjo
Rokujuro > Roku
Yamikawa > Kaze
Jin > Fortuno
Mirai Tsukumo > Mira Tsukumo
Tetsuko Takeda > Brianna Stone
Yone > Meredith
Obomi > Lilybot
III > Trey
IV > Quattro
V > Quinton
Gauche > Nistro
Droite > Dextra
Tron > Vetrix
Kakeru Kunitachi > Striker Crossit
Shobee Yatsu > Cody Callus
Anna Kozuki > Anna Kaboom
Yuya Tsukune > Kumo Tsuyuma
Charlie McCoy > Charlie McCay
Mayumi > May
Hosaku Yasai > Tombo Tillbitty
Shuta Hayami > Cameron Clix
Dog-chan > Pip
Chukichi > Roscoe
Fallguys > Triad of Terror
Wolf > Wolfsbane
Durbe > Dumon
Rei Shingetsu > Ray Shadows
Fuma > Fender
Daisuke Katagiri > Devon Knox
Mamoru Jinguiji > Carlyle Chesterton
Chitaro Ariga > Art Stanley
Aika Hanazoe > Lotus Hanazoe
Mizael > Mizar
Merag > Marin
Nasch > Nash
Umimi Habara > Brook Walker
Tobio Habara > Mayday Walker
No. 96: Black Mist > Number 96: Dark Mist (often shortened to Number 96 in both versions.)
Semimaru > Erazor
Kurage > Chironex
Mosquito Ninja > Scritch
Baria Lapis > Baria Crystal
D-Gazer > Duel Gazer
Legendary Number > Mythyrian Number
Bariarphose > Barian Battlemorph
Xyz Change > Xyz Evolution
Fake Number > Barian Number
Duel to the Death: If Yuma duels against someone with a Numbers Card, Astral's existence is tied to Yuma's life points. The more damage Yuma takes, the more Astral begins to fade out of existence, and should Yuma lose, Astral would die.
From Episode 125 and onwards, this applies to anyone who duels the Barian Emperors due to the merging of the human and Barian Worlds.
Duels Decide Everything: Well, this is a Yu-Gi-Oh! series. Averted in some of the earlier episodes, where reasons to not take more reasonable options exist. Most notable is Orbital 7 attempting to murder Shark. Kaito calls him off when Shark claims he has a Number - which can only be taken via a duel.
Dumb Is Good: Yuma so much. This trope is played straight when he just utterly loses against Shark because of his own stupid mistakes, despite trying to do the right thing.
Early-Bird Cameo: You can see Cathy in the background of the first eight episodes (as well as a small scene in the opening), and notice that she never joins in on anything negative against Yuma, before her introductory episode.
Earn Your Happy Ending: After watching the majority of his friends die and engaging in an intergalatic war, Zexal's finale was one of the happiest in the franchise.
Energy Being: The people of both Astral World and Barian World. Astral World's appearing as blue skin humanoid while the Emperors of Seven Barian World appear as mouthless humanoids of different color. Normal human souls simply take a form similar to the one they had in life.
Enigmatic Empowering Entity: The Door. A mysterious entity that only appears to Yuma in his dreams. It takes the appearance of a gigantic demonic door wrapped in chains binding it shut, and can only be opened by the Emperor's Key. Sealed inside was Astral, along with the 100 Numbers that comprise of his memories. It warns of future events, and bestowed to Yuma the power of Zexal.
Deal with the Devil: To open the Door, Yuma was forced to give up "his most important thing". He speculates what this might be, eventually concluding its the bond he gained with Astral, but later determining its Shark. Finally, he realizes its the loss of who he was as a person. Constant life-or-death dueling has changed him and he doesn't like that.
And in the first ending, Kotori's clothes keep changing: from her school clothes to yukatas to casual wear.
As with 5D's, some monsters are featured in the opening shadowed out, and as soon as they appear in the anime the following episode's opening will show them in full. Examples include No. 83: Gimmick Puppet - Destiny Leo, CNo. 105: Burning Knuckler: Caestus the Comet, No. 106: Huge Rock Palm - Giant Hand, many of the Chaos Xyz monsters, and No. 107: Galaxy-Eyes Tachyon Dragon.
Dwindling Party: Once the Barians invade Earth, a LOT of the cast is killed and sent to the Barian World. This isn't restricted to just the side characters, oh no.
There has been reports of the screen thing on Yuma's wrist having extreme similarities with something from Bakugan.
Zexal II shares similar plot points to Bakugan: Gundalian Invaders: two warring, alien factions that involve humans in their war, the antagonists (Barians and Gundalians) both use human disguises to blend in on Earth, and both have a member "befriend" the main protagonist, only for said member to betray the team. It helps that both those characters - Rei Shingetsu and Ren Krawler - have a purple theme and share similar skin and hair colors (both in their true forms).
Astral looks like Neo-Spacian Twinkle Moss from Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, with a relationship to the protagonist not unlike Yubel.
Yuma's relationship with Astral seems to be intentionally designed to draw parallels to that of Yugi and Dark Yugi from Yu-Gi-Oh.
And it's not just his relationship with Astral, either. He's a boy with an artifact and a legacy deck, who lives with a grandparent and shares a close bond with a female childhood friend.
Flip Turner draws a lot of similarities from Weevil Underwood. They both look similar, they're both viewed as creepy by the female cast and they both have a sneaky nature, such as tricking their opponent's into taking their cards and taking advantage of it during their duels.
Nelson Andrews has a similar concept to Tomoya Hanasaki from Season Zero. Both are hero impersonators who have different characters when they change into their hero persona, and both have problems with the way their parent try to fix this.
Hell, the World Duel Carnival could be considered an Expy of Duelist Kingdom. 5 wins to get to the finals? The man setting it up is after series MacGuffins? Check and check.
After initially being positioned as the Kaiba of this series as the protagonist's first major opponent, Shark is now shaping up to be the JOEY (street punk attitude before befriending the hero, bedridden little sister).
Chaos Number 107 bears much more resemblance to Neo Galaxy-Eyes Photon Dragon than their previous counterparts did to each other.
Fighting Your Friend: Yuma and brainwashed Shark during the World Duel Carnival. Technically, Yuma vs Vector as well, though in that case, Vector intentionally befriended Yuma just to fuck with him. The last arc is almost entirely this trope.
Fire-Forged Friends: Yuma and Shark seem to finally be friends after their Tag-Team Duel, due to Yuma's constant protection of his life points and defense of Shark's own personal failings in front of their opponents. Shark even lets Yuma keep the card he trusted him with to win the duel.
This essentially happens between all three main (human) protagonists (most notably Kaito and Shark, as they'd been at each other's throats earlier) during the duel with Dr. Faker.
Foreshadowing: Opening sequences often shown shadowed monsters and characters before their first appareance.
The second ending (running during episodes 26-49) is a particular case: during the final seconds, Kotori is seen standing in a ruining landscape and is attacked by Shark with Black Ray Lancer, but Utopia blocks the attack, and the camera shifts to show Yuma protectively standing in front of her with Astral in his side. Two years after, in Episode 143, Yuma and Astral are fighting Shark/Nash, Utopia facing Black Ray Lancer, Kotori is watching, and what remains of Earth are ruins scattered in the Barian World.
Forgotten Childhood Friend: Anna. Subverted, it turns out the guy she was friends with, who she thought was Yuma, was actually some other kid named Yuya.
Forgotten Superweapon: Every so often, Yuma seems to forget about his cards' effects and begin to panic over the opponent's actions, even though he has every card he needs to survive. Most pronounced during his duel with Droite and Gauche, where he finds himself on the brink of despair for apparently having no options left after his last draw, only for Astral to show up and guide him to victory with cards he already had in play.
Freudian Excuse: The reason why Tokunosuke was deceptive is because when he was younger, a group of kids tricked into duels using the ante rule and took his cards. After he found out what they were doing, he used dirty tricks against them and took back his cards. From then on, he thought everything and everyone had a hidden motive.
All of the Numbers cards seem to bring about this sort of mentality, bringing out the darkest emotions a person has and using them to justify crazy actions.
Friendship Moment: Astral wants to surrender so that Yuma may save his friends, at the cost of his own life, but Yuma angrily replies that he would never sacrifice Astral, because Astral is also one of his precious friends.
Something like this happens between, of all characters, Kaito and Astral in Episode 72. After Kaito announces his intention to surrender the duel due to lack of motivation, Astral basically pulls him aside and tells him that dueling isn't just for defending what's precious to you, it's also for making friends - and that Kaito is one of the friends that Astral has made through dueling. He also points out that Kaito must have had some intention to leave the past behind him, or he wouldn't have shown up.
Fusion Dance: Xyz Change ZEXAL, a Type 2 (power booster) Fusion with Yuma and Astral.
The Gambler: Charlie fits this description perfectly, with his charm and incredibly high luck involving dice related cards.
Gambler's Fallacy: Astral commits this fallacy during Yuma's duel with Charlie. He continually points out the low odds of Charlie rolling a six, given that he has already rolled so many in a row. While it is technically true that rolling a high number of sixes in a row is very unlikely, the odds of rolling a single six never change, so his chances are the same as always, barring his ability to manipulate the roll.
Genre Savvy: Kaito knows his opponents will use Xyz Monsters, so his ace card is a tribute monster that counters Xyzes. That card's evolved forms are Xyzes themselves, though they are still designed to screw over the opponent's.
Get A Hold Of Yourself Man: Yuma does this to Astral, despite ending up going through him when Astral says he doesn't want to die in a duel, since he's not 100% he can win, so they should forget about his friends being held hostage. It works, since Astral follows Yuma to the duel.
Kotori does this to Yuma when he starts to break down over not being able to get into the building where they're keeping the Emperor's key.
Shark does this through a duel to Yuma following his duel with Misael.
Heck, Gauche did too after Yuma watched everyone else in the semifinals of the WDC.
Go-Karting with Bowser: Yuma keeps ending up eating meals with people who are technically his enemy, as well as having in depth, and personal conversations with them on more or less friendly terms.
Go Through Me: Shark will not let Kaito take Yuma's Emperor Key without a fight. Sadly, it's a fight that he loses.
In the Emperor's Key, Number 39: Utopia pulls this when Number 96: Black Mist attempts to attack Astral.
Several of Yuma's allies do this in an attempt to block the Barian Emperors from reaching the unconscious Yuma.
Gotta Catch 'Em All: When a Numbers is defeated in a duel by Yuma, Yuma gains it and Astral gains a piece of his memory back.
Gratuitous English: Charlie's "Life is carnival!" catchphrase, which itself is from the gratuitous English motto of the World Duel Carnival. Also many of the card names, attacks, and/or effects.
Handshake Substitute: After Yuma beats Alito for the first time and Alito declares himself Yuma's rival, they exchange a brofist.
Heel-Face Turn: Shark's a far better person then what he was in episode 1.
Then he actually does one to Tron in Episode 62 by losing on purpose instead of using Tron's card to win.
The Tron family and Faker faction towards the end of the first series.
Heel-Face Revolving Door: Shark embodies this trope. He starts off as a bully possessed by a No. 17: Leviathan Dragon, and after being defeated by Yuma, becomes his friend, albeit with some rough patches. He then unwittingly becomes a pawn for Tron, due to his hatred for IV who set him up to be disqualified in a duel tournament and harmed his sister, Rio, as well as being bonded to No. 32: Shark Drake. After Yuma defeats him (again), their friendship is restored and he assists both Yuma and Kaito against Dr. Faker, and the Barians as they become an active threat to Earth. Further down the line, he is actually Nasch, leader of the Barians, Rio being the final of the Seven Barian Emperors, Merag. After discovering all of them were simply pawns to Don Thousand, who has now killed all the Emperors but him, he joins forces with Yuma and Astral to defeat him. Upon doing so and realizing that the Astral and Barian worlds cannot coexist, he once against turns against the pair for the sake of his fallen Barian comrades. He takes his defeat graciously and vanishes, calling Yuma and Astral his best friends, leaving them with all the Numbers. Of course, he is then revived along with the other Barians by the Numeron Code.
Heroic BSOD: Astral and Yuma both have one after Kaito destroyed them in a life or death duel, and suddenly left them alive to go save his brother. Astral starts having one when he realizes Kaito's dueling outdoes his own in every aspect, and quietly just begins to clam up, while Yuma loses it in front of Kotori, screaming about how he can never achieve his goals with his own weakness.
Yuma has another one when it looks like Astral has been killed by Black Mist, to the point where he wants to give up dueling.
Hollywood Hacking: Remember the bit from the original series where Kaiba tries to hack into Pegasus' computer and it ends up looking like "a really boring computer game?" Episodes three and four revisit that idea, with Yuma's sister Akari going through a sort of RPG-style dungeon and even a boss fight as she tries to track down and stop a computer virus.
Hostage for MacGuffin: Kaito Tenjo does this by stealing Tetsuo's soul in the manga to get Yuma's Emperor's Key.
Jin does this by holding his friends hostage over a pit of lava to make Yuma duel him.
Hot-Blooded: What makes Yuma unique among the other Yu-Gi-Oh! protagonists is that he's beyond hot blooded when it comes to dealing with everything, especially dueling. Life better watch out, cause he'll bring it to 'em.
Howl of Sorrow: Yuma has one of these at the end of episode 14, after realizing that even he and Astral together were not enough to stop someone as frightening as Kaito.
"I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: How Yuma tries to reach out to brainwashed Shark during the World Duel Carnival. IV does the same to Nash, but Nash anticipates this and counters by attempting to bring out IV's own previous Jerkass personality.
Charlie's niece, Mayumi, which is why he stole No.7 from the museum. He got it so she'd have all the luck in the world to get better from her upcoming operation.
Informed Attribute: We are TOLD that Kaito does not enjoy dueling for people's souls, but we are SHOWN that he has a constant Slasher Smile on his face and seems to go about ripping out souls with a similar glee that a small child would have ripping off the wrapping from Christmas presents. He later shows a lot of remorse and becomes The Atoner, but is convinced that nothing he does will prevent his own "guilty soul" was going to hell.
Ineffectual Loner: Kakeru is this when it comes to dueling and soccer, but he gets better.
Interface Screw: When one of Yuma's monsters, Bite Bug's secondary effect is activated, it bites at the attack point display of the monster it's targeting.
It's Personal: Shark feels this way when it comes to IV. IV, Shark's opponent in the finals of a tournament, is implied to have set up an accident involving Shark's younger sister. Using Shark's emotional instability from promising to win for her, he purposely set up his deck to fall over, so that Shark would cheat.
Kaito has a similar kind of anger towards V, as V was his previous mentor who abandoned him upon finding out that he was the son of Dr. Faker.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Despite Tetsuo being a jerk to Yuma usually, he found the other half of Yuma's prized pendant, after it was broken, and the other half was kicked into a far away bush.
Continuity Porn: Which perfectly mirrors how Jonouchi met Yugi in the manga: Yugi was about to step up to Ushio for beating up Jonouchi and Honda, Jonouchi decided to dive into the school pool and search for the last Millennium Puzzle piece that he had thrown in there earlier.
Laser-Guided Amnesia: The number cards all carry some of Astral's memories, and he will not have them all back until Yuma gets all 100. When he first appears, Astral has only Number 39: Utopia and only remembers Duel Monsters until No 17. Leviathan Dragon comes into Yuma's possession, after which he remembers his own name, and each new Number Card allows him to remember a little more, but we aren't usually shown what he learns.
Large Ham: Dr. Faker shows up for less then a minute and makes this impression with his over the top laughing and speech.
And then there's Black Mist.
Leeroy Jenkins: Yuma's preferred battle strategy, much to Astral's chagrin.
Leitmotif: Alito has some sort of crazy Spanish sounding song in his first episode.
Leg Cling: Explossum does this to a monster it equips to - before it explodes, taking the monster with it.
Matryoshka Object: Housaku Yasai uses a card called "Tomato Matryoshka" which allows him to summon another "Tomato Matryoshka" from his hand or deck when it is Normal Summoned.
The Magic Poker Equation: A series staple, of course, but especially noticeable this time around due to the hoops characters jump through to summon their signature Xyz monsters early in the game.
Particularly odd in the tag duel against Kaio and Rikuo/Chills and Scorch, as the protagonists first suspect foul play because the hands they've played are too good. It's weird because in real life, that would be suspicious; but in this show, that's just Saturday.
Somewhat subverted with Zexal's power, Shining Draw, which allows Yuma and Astral to create new cards to draw, but they can only do so under very specific circumstances. It is featured sparingly throughout the series.
Parodied by the (unfortunately not tournament legal) real-life card Creator of Hope.
Manipulative Bastard: IV intentionally arranged his deck to fall, setting up Shark to peek at him and get him disqualified from the Nationals. Vector takes this new extremes by posing as Yuma's friend and giving him cards to add to his deck, which his own deck has counters for.
Mark of the Supernatural: By virtue of their D-Gazers, everyone gains two eye colors, though in the case of the bad guys, it's usually due to magical powers emulating D-Gazers. It seems like this was intentional on the part of the producers. Astral has them naturally (one gold, one glowing white) after the first episode.
Meaningful Background Event: Watch closely in the duel between Don Thousand and Mizar. Thousand passes, and is shown with the six cards in his hand. Mizar's turn begins, and then suddenly, Thousand has five cards in his hand. It's later revealed that he activated his Field Spell from his hand during Mizar's turn.
In a similar vein Kaito Tenjo. Ten refers to a decimal point in Japanese and the number 10 in English. Note that Illumiknight's Number is 10 and that was the first Number Kaito summoned.
Memento MacGuffin: The Emperor's Key, treasured by Yuma since it was a gift from his parents.
Merchandise-Driven: It exists to advertise the card game, as is the case with every iteration of the franchise now.
Mistaken Identity: Anna thinks Yuma was her childhood love who snubbed her. Turns out he wasn't, and she ended up attacking him over a case of mistaken identity.
Mood Whiplash: The opening and ending themes are starting to become this as of the WDC Finals arc and Zexal II. As a prime example, let's just say it's rather jarring to be pulled out of the sadness of Tron's "death" by the cheerful, bubbly and optimistic ED theme.
Ms. Fanservice: Gagaga Girl is an Expy of the Dark Magician Girl, the Ms. Fanservice of the franchise, and looks just like her, but younger and in a darker outfit.
Myth Arc: This series has always been aboutr Yuma Tsukumo's quest to collect all of the Number cards and save Astral world. However the stakes get progressively higher over the course of the show.
Mythology Gag: There are many of these to Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters, such as Astral's relationship with Yuma paralleling that of Yugi and Dark Yugi.
Many of the ace cards of the previous characters and protagonists of the previous series show up again as statues in the Duel Lodge in episode 15. Yuma even briefly becomes the Black Magician, similarly to Yugi in the duel against Bakura.
When an underwater Field Spell is activated, Yuma thinks he's drowning. This is a reference to Juudai doing the same in episode 38 of Yu-Gi-Oh! GX. Yuma does it again when an outer-space Field Spell is activated.
It seems growing an excessive amount of muscles before playing a card game is rather popular in the sequel series. Kagemaru did it in GX, Goodwin did it in 5D's and now we have Dr. Faker in Zexal. Perhaps coincidentally, these are all the first major Big Bad of their respectful series.
Also the use of Umineko/Higurashi No Nakukoroni faces.
Near Villain Victory: Subverted. Astral and Yuma could not defeat Kaito, and the duel ended not because they turned it around, but because Kaito left them to go to his ill brother's side. Naturally, this shook them up incredibly hard.
Subverted AGAIN when Misael is ready to beat the living crap out of Kaito with his Chaos Number, but the Sphere Field suddenly began to fall apart, forcing him to retreat.
Never Say "Die": All of IV's (aka Quattro's) Numbers had their names changed (like Killer to Grinder). Also played straight in the English dub, as references to death and killing of characters are reworded to "destroyed", for instance.
Indeed, they both collect Numbers for another person's sake: Yuma to restore Astral's memory, and Kaito to cure Haruto's illness.
Even their dueling styles are similar: boost their respective light-attribute aces (Hope and Galaxy-Eyes, or their upgrades) to high attack levels and pummel the opponent. They both also respect their cards as more than just mere monsters to be used as tools.
Interestingly, in the Japanese version, when summoning Galaxy-Eyes, Kaito often refers to it as a "light of hope," just like Yuma's light-attribute No. 39: King of Wishes, Hope.
Numerical Theme Naming: III, IV, and V are all brothers and are named after Roman numerals. Oddly enough, Tron, their father, is not named for a number.
It's later revealed that those are code names. Tron's name is Byron Arklight, V is Chris Arklight, IV is Thomas, and III is Michael.
Oblivious to Love: Yuma doesn't seem to understand Cathy is in love with him and that she's trying to get his attention. Even Astral, an alien, notices this.
Astral: Observation #11: Somehow Yuma doesn't seem to be able to understand girls' feelings.
Offscreen Moment of Awesome: In episode 75, Kaito and Shark are both individually confronted with an entire biker gang. As they prepare to duel, the auras of their aces, Galaxy-Eyes Photon Dragon and No. 32: Shark Drake, respectively, appear behind them. A cut is shown, and later on, we see the biker gang pummeled into the road, unconscious among their wrecked motorcycles.
The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Kaito and Gauche towards Yuma although they're both more interested in defeating Astral. Alito becomes this to Yuma himself, to the point of interfering with Girag's plans, which would have won the war for the Barians.
Order Versus Chaos: Revealed to be why both Astral and Barian World's seek to destroy the other. They were also originally one world before Astral World expelled those with Chaos, which lead to Barian World's creation. This lead to Astral and Don Thousand fighting in the past and now the Emperors and Astral continue seeking the others destruction in the present.
Our Dragons Are Different: Before the universe, there was a single dragon. He was lonely, so he created the universe. Such an action drained all of his energy to the point of death. Saddened by the fact he would be unable to witness his creation, he shed a single tear. This tear became the cosmic object that impacted a primordial Earth which resulted in the creation of the moon. The tear also contained the essence of the dragon, including the Numeron Code and all of the Numbers. This is the creation of the universe according to Yu-Gi-Oh. The dragon itself manifested as No. 100: Numeron Dragon, the key to the Numeron Code, which could in turn only be claimed by the victor of a duel on the sacred grounds on the moon. The duel itself required the dragons of light and time, No. 62: Galaxy-Eyes Prime Photon Dragon and No. 107: Galaxy-Eyes Tachyon Dragon, respectively, as well as No: 46: Draggluong to clash.
Out-of-Genre Experience: Episode 27 is more like a soccer anime then a show about trading cards, complete with everyone wearing uniforms. Even the monsters wear them.
Heck, the whole Duel Sports Tournament in Episode 81 is entirely built on this!
Parental Abandonment: Surprisingly averted, Yuma's parents are adventurers, so despite being away, they are still mentioned and Yuma keeps a picture of them in his room.
Protagonist Centred Morality: Tokunosuke makes fake Heart Pieces out of candy and trades them with an innocent bystander for the real thing, then makes up the difference in numbers with more fake pieces in an attempt to make the second round. Why does he escape being expelled from the tournament for life? Yuma, his friend, jumps in and champions his cause, regardless of the punishment both being appropriate for the crime and sounding rather similar to the one used in real-life tournaments.
Psychic Powers: Jin. V shows them to a varying degree with his crest as well.
Put on a Bus: Despite starring prominently in the first opening, Fuya largely disappears after his first episodes.
The literal power of Friendship gives Yuma and Astral the ability to summon Number C39: Utopia Ray.
The Tenjo brothers' bond creates Neo Galaxy-Eyes Photon Dragon.
The Power of Hate: After seeing IV, and having some darkness put in his heart from dueling III, Shark is running off pure hate for IV, and dueling very violently. Yuma puts a stop to that. When IV attempts to pull a I Know You Are In There Somewhere Fight, Nasch counters by attempting to bring out IV's previous hateful personality.
The Power of Love: In episode 9, Yuma's concern for Kotori allows him to duel competently without Astral's help.
Discussed by Tron in Episode 54, to explain how powerful a duelist Droite is because of her love for Kaito.
Repetitive Name: Yuma's deck theme is monsters with various forms of repetition in their names, from Gogogo Golem and Achacha Archer to Cardcar D and Damage Mage. Even Utopia counts, as its original Japanese name is Kibo-Oh Hope.
Ridiculously Cute Critter: Baby Tragon, if only for it being the most expressive monster in any of the series so far by reacting to everything the duelists said and did.
Robot Buddy: Obomi is Yuma and friends buddy, and lives with Yuma after her introductory episode.
Rule of Cool: Neo Galaxy-Eyes Photon Dragon's summon sequence runs on pure Rule of Cool. It involves no less than threeexplosions, a wormhole (which explodes), another wormhole (which explodes), and a galaxy(which explodes). One can only imagine how much of the special effects budget got poured into this sequence.
Shark Fortress's summon is almost a complete rerun of the first segment. Thankfully, Shark decides only ONE explosion will do.
Sacrificial Lion: Invoked by III and V, who want to show Yuma and Kaito that the Barians are playing for keeps, by dueling Misael. The massacre over the previous episodes also provided a number of Lions.
Misael in turn becomes one by dueling Don Thousand, for Yuma and Nasch's sakes.
Say My Name: Kotori: "YUMAAAA!!!" Kaito: "HARUTOOOOO!!!" Shark: "RIOOOOOO!!!" Yuma does this for just about every character.
Series Continuity Error: In episode 43, Kaito's Photon Pressure World did not activate when he summoned Photon Kaiser, even though it was established in the card's text that it was not an option. Dr. Faker's Battle Route card vanishes between episodes with no explanation.
Shout-Out: Episode one has many to the Yu-Gi-Oh! Card Game itself. The cards themselves look near identical to the cards printed in Real Life, using the brown-and-black spiral vortex instead of the previous series' brown-with-black-dot (though the dub photoshops these into the latter version, presumably due to the anti-advertising laws that demanded the card fronts not look like the real thing in previous series). In Episode 2, Yuma's Monster Reborn card seems to have come from a Gold Series pack, judging by its distinctly dark yellow border.
Speak In Unison: Yuma and Astral have done this. The best example of this is when Yuma and Astral finish the duel against Jin completely speaking in unison. This tends to happen at the end of Tag Duels in general.
The Spock: Astral. He is clear-minded person and a highly intelligent duelist. Being from another universe, he doesn't quite get human emotion and thus has a hard time understanding Yuma. He continually makes observations about humans, much to his partner's annoyance.
Spoiler Opening: The first opening of Ze Xal II spoils the existence of Over-Hundred Numbers a good few episodes before they're revealed specifically by having Tachyon Dragon's purple glowing 107 number flash up right before a initially silhouetted Galaxy-Eyes Tachyon Dragon.
It also spoils the return of the Arclight family many months before they show up.
Stalker with a Crush: Cathy would regularly break into Yuma's house and mess with his wardrobe, as well as watch him during the day. She gets better though, after Yuma finally pays attention to her.
Jin to Kaito, who then promptly steals Jin's soul and last Numbers card.
V's ace card, Number 9: Dyson Sphere. Can't be attacked when it has overlay units, can use those overlay units to attack directly, (it has 2800 attack) and can regain said overlay units whenever it runs out. Thankfully the opponent needs a monster with higher attack out for it to attack directly. And this is before it gets Ranked-Up...
Even worse is Rank-Up-Magic The Seventh One, which Rank-Ups the Barian Emperor's Over-Hundred Numbers from the field, graveyard, or Extra Deck to summon their Chaos forms. And all the Barian Emperor's can use their Barian Chaos Draw to draw it whenever they want (except Vector, but he really doesn't need to as his entire Deck is a Story-Breaker Power).
In grand Yugioh tradition, the Big Bad, Don Thousand, runs an even more broken version of Z-ONE's hand traps thanks to his field spell Numeron Network, which enables him to activate the effect of any Numeron cards in his deck during his and his opponent's turn. Said other Numeron cards so far have the ability to negate your card effects and then allow him choose another from your deck (so long as they are the type of card mentioned in the Numeron card's effect). Example: During Mizar's very brief duel with Don Thousand, Mizar activated a magic card so both players would take damage based off the dragons tributed to activate the card. Thousand activated Numeron Rewriting Spell which negated said magic card and activated another magic card from Mizar's deck which instead caused just Mizar to take damage based off of that same damage.
Super-Deformed: Happens to several characters in the 1st ending of Zexal II.
Takes One to Kill One: The "Numbers" monsters can only be destroyed in battle by other "Numbers". They can also be destroyed by card effects.
Also subverted during Shark's second duel with Yuma, where the former uses his new ace monster Black Ray Lancer to negate the latter's Numbers monster, including its "can only be destroyed by another Numbers" effect.
Kaito's Neo Galaxy-Eyes Photon Dragon also subverts this with such an effect, allowing it to destroy Numbers, in addition to using their overlay units to empower itself. Mizael appropriately refers to it as a "Numbers Killer."
Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: In the beginning, Yuma didn't want to hear anything Astral had to say during a duel, but after spending some time together and noticing that if he were to lose during a duel with a No. card, that Astral would die, they work together more easily.
Thousand-Yard Stare: After the duel with Kaito, Astral just sort of stares into the distance as Yuma begins screaming his head off after realizing they essentially lost a life or death duel, and only got away alive because Kaito decided to leave the duel before he won.
Time Stands Still: Kaito's robot, Orbital 7 has the ability to do this when Kaito wants to battle for a Numbers Card without interference.
Title Drop: A voice tells Astral in the Emperor's Key that he must obtain the power of Zexal.
TV Never Lies: After watching Different Dimension Esper Robin/The Sparrow, Astral wants to meet the guy thinking he really is a fellow dimensional traveler.
Unspoken Plan Guarantee: True to form, characters are frequently punished for revealing their strategies to the audience, especially when they go into detail about what trap they have set and how it should protect them. Gogogo Golem in particular gets this treatment a lot: Should Yuma or Astral think to themselves that their defense-position Gogogo Golem can't be destroyed by a single attack, you can bet that Gogogo Golem is about to get wiped out.
Utopia Justifies the Means: In episode 13 we see the trash robots dumping the trash of the Sugar Bowl-like city of Heartland into inter dimensional portals causing pain and suffering to the beings on the other side.
Verbal Tic: Tokunosuke ends his sentences with "-ura."
Victor Gains Loser's Powers: Whenever Yuma beats another person with a Number Card, he adds it to his collection, though the real reason for this is Astral regaining his memories.
Villainous Rescue: Kaito activates his time dilation powers a fraction of a second before Yuma and Kotori would have been hit by a truck and later uses Orbital 7 to stop a jet from crashing, as the disaster would have stopped the WDC and thus stopped his Number hunting. Alito later saves Yuma from Girag, despite that the fact that Girag was about to win the war for the Barians. Alito wants to do it himself.
Wax On, Wax Off: Rokujuro knows that Yuma is sincerely taking his lessons to heart when he lovingly cleans all the Duel Monsters statues and comments on how horrible it is one of them has received a scar from something.
What Is This Feeling?: Astral seems to not recall having emotions before, and struggles with what he's feeling toward Kaito until he realizes he is absolutely scared to death of him.
When Yuma shouts to Astral that he's his friend too, he suddenly realizes that he really enjoys his friendship with Yuma, and thanks him for the strength their friendship is now giving him.
What the Hell, Hero?: Tetsuo refuses to duel with Yuma anymore because Yuma lied about not using Numbers in his duel with Shark. He gets over it though.
Another one comes in a later episode after V tells Yuma his father is alive in the Astral World. Yuma wants to rush off to find him despite the fact he has no idea how to get to the Astral World, and he'd be abandoning his friends, dueling and the hunt for Astral's memories to do so. After his master makes him wise up and tells him to find his path he goes back to focusing on the tournament.
Umimi and Tobio call out Anna on her incredibly rude and unsportsmanlike behavior during their tag duel, which included using Yuma's monsters as Xyz Materials and tributes without asking for his permission. She takes it to heart and sacrifices her own life points so Yuma can win.
When All You Have Is a Hammer: Yuma. Lampshaded in the dub. "Monster with massively powerful effect and stats in the way? Just call 1-800-Utopia!"
Brutally subverted in the duel with Don Thousand. He brings it out immediately, and its summon is negated. This means that he can't revive it from the graveyard by normal means.
Yin-Yang Bomb: It's hinted that the power of Zexal comes from two souls represent Order and Chaos joining as one. The light Eliphas saw as both Don Thousand and Astral fought in the past seems to imply this as well.
Michael, Thomas and Chris Arclight named themselves III, IV and V respectively (Trey, Quattro and Quinton in the dub).
You Didn't Ask: Astral's response to Yuma after he mentions that someonenote later revealed to be Cathy had been sneaking into his room at night and messing with his wardrobe.
Your Soul Is Mine: Kaito not only takes a Numbers card when he defeats an opponent, but their soul as well. Anyone defeated and killed in the Barian Invasion arc had their soul sacrificed to empower Don Thousand.
Except with Shark, where he ends up just taking his soul because he thought Shark had a Numbers card.