YMMV: Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL

  • Americans Hate Tingle: The series itself. While it is often looked down upon and berated for not being as "epic" as 5D's, it actually has better ratings in Japan than 5D's did.
  • Angst? What Angst?: Despite all that has happened to Yuma, especially with Vector, but has yet to actually deal with the betrayal. Shark even points out that he shouldn't be so trusting considering what happened but Yuma just says that he can't change his trusting nature. In the end, Yuma never does change his ways and that is what ultimately affords Vector a very small bit of redemption before death.
  • Anti-Climax Boss: For all that V was hyped, he didn't turn out all that impressive in his duel with Kaito. Although part of the problem is how he spent the entire thing acting as Mr. Exposition, his strategy boiled down to tanking behind Dyson Sphere's ability to negate all attacks hurled at it, then direct attacking with its effect to bypass Kaito's Galaxy-Eyes Photon Dragon. Effective, yes, but not on the level of nail-biting what will happen next sort of suspense that his brothers' duels had. Kaito just so happened to have a perfect combo to summon Neo Galaxy-Eyes and win. V had no counter for it despite having seen the same card defeat both of his brothers in their Tag Duel against Yuma and Kaito.
  • Ass Pull:
    • As per Yu-Gi-Oh! tradition, being the main protagonist means Yuma is entitled to as many of these as the plot demands. It's a specifically mentioned power when he's in ZeXal form, Shining Draw, which allows him to create completely new cards out of thin air. ZEXAL II takes it a step further allows Yuma to completely change a card in his hand, though this was done only once.
    • Eliphas demonstrated the ability to perform Shining Draws at will.
  • Broken Base: While ZEXAL is pretty popular in Japan, the fans who receive the dub are divided over whether it's the worst series in the franchise or not.
  • Creator's Pet: By the conclusion of ZEXAL, just about the only people who liked Kotori were the Lolicons, and even many of those seemed to prefer Anna or Rio or Cathy. Many described her as having the personality of a broken tape recorder and about as much use. Despite this, she showed up in every single episode and tagged along on every single mission, under the pretext of moral support, to excuse the fact that she rarely, if ever, contributed to an episode's outcome. She got an ending devoted to her in an arc where she didn't do anything, she was one of the few characters spared by the Barian Emperor arc, and she wound up with a heap of merchandise and even became one of five characters to get her own storyline in Tag Force Special. In said storyline, she even got shilled as a prodigy despite all evidence to the contrary.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: Mostly averted with Vector (whose fans seem to be fine with his sadistic manipulative personality) but played straight for Don Thousand in fandom with an attempt to "justify" his action as necessary to protect Barian World.
  • Ear Worm: Courtesy of 4Kids
  • Ensemble Darkhorse:
    • Haruto, Anna, No. 96 and Gauche.
    • Rio became intensely popular just hours after her design was revealed in the anime, getting dozens of fanarts all over Pixiv.
    • The Tron family (Particulary III and IV) are some of the series' most popular villains.
    • Vector, full stop. He's often praised as one of the finest characters in the series even by those who don't like ZEXAL.
  • Fanon Discontinuity: With the reveal in Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V that there is a Heartland in an Xyz Dimension, many have taken to claiming that ZEXAL isn't part of the main continuity. This theory is dampened by the fact that Fusion Monsters were used in ZEXAL and ARC-V pretty clearly states that the Dimensions are strictly divided by Summoning methods.
  • Growing the Beard:
    • The Duel Carnival arc features more intense duels with less reliance on Xyz summoning, and Yuma stands up very well on his own in a duel.
    • Alternatively, ZEXAL II is viewed a lot better by some, especially from episode 94 onward, though for the fans of the dueling, it ends up devolving into the Magic Poker Equation.
  • Hell Is That Noise:
  • Hilariousin Hindsight:
    • Shark being scared because his sister was returning to school was funny enough and Astral's speculation that he's so worried because of the Barians is funnier. Then it turns out Rio is a Barian.
    • Rei wearing a Dandylion cosplay was funny. Then you realize that this means that The Heavy, the person behind almost 100% of all the characters suffering...was wearing a Dandylion cosplay.
  • Ho Yay: Has its own page.
  • Hypocritical Fandom: Yuma is often perceived as a cheater by the vast majority of the fandom of the other series for using Shining Draw to create his various ZEXAL Weapons and Rank-Up spell cards, which is partly why he's disliked as both a character and a duelist. Fair enough, but these same fans have no problem with the other protagonists using equally unfair methods of Asspull to win a duel. Atem's "Heart of the Cards" is using ancient Egyptian magic to topdeck what you want. Judai's insane luck with topdecking is a plot point. Yusei uses the Crimson Dragon to place Majestic Dragon on top of his deck, and that's not even the worst of his asspulling. And even the protagonist coming after Yuuma, Yuya, is guilty of this as well— He always seems to pull out what he needs from supposedly random action cards when he really needs it, on top of creating the Pendulum mechanic out of nowhere to win a duel.
  • I Knew It: The fandom's reaction to the reveal that Shark and Rio are both Barians.
  • It's the Same, Now It Sucks: A lot of people see it that this series is just a freakin' reboot of series 1 examples:
    • A boy, using a golden item that hangs from his neck is able to utilize the power of a spirit to help him duel. sound familiar?
    • Also, the whole World Duel Carnival tournament is almost identical to Duelist Kingdom as well as the heart peaces being exactly like the locator cards from Battle City.
  • Launcher of a Thousand Ships: Yuma.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Vector. He's been behind most of the plot from the show's beginning, but Zexal II has him play near the entire main cast for saps for about 20 episodes as Rei, give no fucks when his plan to turn Astral evil backfires and creates Dark Zexal (he almost wins because of it, too), show his utter dedication to absolutely burying the main cast for beating him last season and eventually obtaining the Numbers in order to destroy the Astral World, and realise that using friendship against Yuma is most likely the best way to beat him. And even after all that, he's still a likeable villain because of the sheer respect you have to have for his dedication to his plans and his hammy, entertaining personality.
  • Memetic Molester:
    • Jin, not helped by his insane stalkerish obsession with Kaito and his general appearance.
    • Kaito himself went memetic on at least one forum after some of his... expressions in Episode 22.
    • IV is also starting to reach this point, mostly because of his obsession with "fanservice" and inflicting it on everybody he meets, whether they want it or not. Tron also raised a few eyebrows with his torture of Haruto in episodes 41-43, which he really seemed to be enjoying far more than he should.
    • Black Mist/No. 96 has definitely earned this reputation, thanks to him using his tentacles to restrain Yuma and Astral on separate occasions, laughing like a maniac, and his wide array of creepy facial expressions.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • I blew it on my bing! - A shoddy google translation of Yuma's catchphrase "Kattobingu" that went viral shortly afterwards.
    • Also tomatoes, thanks to the pre series special focusing on tomatoes and real life actors eating them.
    • The dub gives us "You just summoned your mom" in Yuma's duel against Fuya (Fuya's Number resembles his mother. It Makes Sense in Context.
    • One of ZEXAL's staff members makes posts about the series on his Twitter, and one of these went memetic for what the fans perceived to be Blatant Lies. The post in question?
      98Zexal: Because I'm a person who hates useless things, I try hard to make sure that useless characters do not appear while constructing the story.
    • The bizarre faces made by some of the characters—particularly Kaito and IV—have earned a lot of mockery in fandom. Now we can add Shingetsu/Vector into the mix.
    • A shot of Vector saluting in Episode 96 rapidly went memetic due to being the sum-up of The Reveal, creating what one forum dubbed 'Vectorbombs', namely inserting saluting Vector into just about any image.
    • Between Silent Honor's Dark Knight's name and its Back from the Dead effect, it didn't take long at all for ZEXAL spins on The Dark Knight Rises to start popping up on some forums.
  • Memetic Troll: Vector.
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • Don Thousand in order to ensure his revival, he traveled the world and selected seven humans who had connections to the Legendary Numbers, which had sealed most of his power. Not too bad right? Look at his methods for doing so. As an example, he brainwashed Alito's best friend and the ruling court to execute Alito, something that everyone had managed to notice, and just before Alito was executed, Don Thousand altered his memories to make it seem that he had been heartlessly killed, instead of being framed by a God of Evil. The end result was filling Alito with so much hatred, he was revived as a Barian. Then look at what happened to the other Emperors. Don Thousand essentially ruined their lives all to fuel his comeback, which also ended up tearing up nations and killing large numbers of innocents. Oh, and this includes being responsible from turning Vector of all people from a decent guy into the monster he is now.
    • Vector has finally crossed it in (as if he hadn't already) Episode 133. He heartlessly killed Durbe and Merag in order to increase his power, and during his duel with them, drained Nasch's energy as well. He didn't stop there though, once finding out from Don Thousand that Alito and Gilag were freed from his control, he quickly attacked Gilag after Alito sacrificed himself to save the former, and obtained both their power and Ponta as well. He laughs insanely throughout all of this, and declares himself to be a God quite gleefully.
  • Narm:
    • The character design in the series is disliked by many fans. Most notably Yuma's.
    • Yuma's evil laugh in the dub, appearing in episode 20 and 61, definitely counts. Possibly intentional, given that it was false both times.
  • Nightmare Fuel: In the manga version, Yuma and his friends seemed to have no problem with eating what was left of Captain Corn. (Seriously, consider that for a minute...)
  • Nightmare Retardant: Vector's gloating can approach this.
  • Older Than They Think: The idea that Duel Disks can be used for communication actually appeared first in 5Ds as a plot device in Yusei's Duel Disk as a way for him to clear Aki's name for her involvement in Toby's murder by tricking Divine into admitting it and broadcast it to Misty. Admittedly, it was somewhat of an Ass Pull and he never shown using it again, but still.
  • One-Scene Wonder: Semimaru, for being the only one of the Fearsome Four to be a legitimately terrifying villain. Even Mr. Heartland finds his methods over the top.
    • Astral in Dark ZEXAL mode, which is honestly creepy due to how extremely out of character it is for him, and would still be creepy by normal standards anyway.
  • Pandering to the Base: While the franchise is aimed at kids to begin with, the series seems to be deliberately appealing only to the younger kids for having a brighter, more childish art style, a protagonist who's much younger then the previous ones (and acts like it too), a general Lighter and Softer feel and having a quiz show explaining some of the most basic concepts of the game. Oddly enough, the series also featured many Callbacks to Yu-Gi-Oh!: Duel Monsters, which could be seen as pandering to the original fanbase.
    • Of course, following III's duel with Yuma, it goes into much darker content, potentially even deeper than 5D's...
  • The Scrappy:
    • Yuma is generally seen in the West as the worse protagonist so far due to his lack of duelling skill, hypocrisy, really stubborn nature and his screw ups take up unnecessarily large amounts of screen time. His dub voice definitely doesn't help his case.
    • Tokunosuke is also unpopular since he's a slimy cheat who was too easily forgiven and generally causes more harm than good to those around him.
    • Rei Shingetsu became one for many fans, due to his quick introduction, his annoying antics, his relationships with the other characters (especially Yuma) and the fact that he seemed completely irrelevant to the plot. Until Episode 96 came along...
    • Kotori is also despised by a large number of the fanbase for being nothing but Lolicon Fanservice (which sometimes happens in episodes for no reason whatsoever) who does nothing but be The Load whose only lines in an episode are pretty much just shouting "Yuma!" over and over and over. It doesn't help her case that the fanbase think she's reaching Creator's Pet and Spotlight-Stealing Squad status due to her appearing in almost single episode despite contributing nothing but a Mandatory Line, being featured prominently in openings and endings for no reason but the aforementioned Fanservice, and having several merchandise centered around her when other more popular and likable characters hardly get featured. When compared to her predecessor Anzu Masaki/Téa Gardner from the original series, a lot of people actually prefer Anzu/Téa over Kotori despite having similar roles. She also does not duel outside of a single episode.
    • It could be safe to say that the entire main heroic cast members (specifically, Yuma and his friends) are easily the most unsympathetic and annoying protagonists in the YGO franchise history, due to Most Writers Are Adults led to stereotypical characterization and lack of any Character Development - especially in the first series, as well as came off as too much of as Escapist Character and showing signs of pandering to the younger audience, losing many of the elements that made the other series special. The only real exception is Shark and probably Astral but even the latter has some heat for being an Expy of the much cooler and more interesting Yami Yugi. Note that unlike other series, none of the people from the group are listed under The Woobie entry, they are just that unsympathetic.
    • Final boss characters in the franchise tend to be fairly unpopular among the fanbase, but Don Thousand seems to be the most disliked. It mostly owes to his fairly lacking motivation, the fact that he absolved all the Barians of their sins by being behind the Start of Darkness of every single one so they could be Easily Forgiven, and his final Duel, which took the Magic Poker Equation typical to the franchise to heights such that he didn't seem skilled so much as impossibly wanky.
  • Scrappy Mechanic: Shining Draw is massively unpopular amongst the general fanbase, who consider it to be little better than cheating. Defenses of it basically amount to "Well, the bad guys cheated too", but cheating or overpowered villains is nothing new in the franchise, and Yuma is the only protagonist to consistently respond to it by cheating himself. Compounding the issue is that it further fuels his deck's overcentralizing on Number 39, and that almost all of the cards used via Shining Draw (the sole exception being Numeron Force) stayed strictly in the category of "one-off cards he used to win just that one duel and never used again" - contrast to, for instance, Yuya's Pendulum Magicians, which he actually kept in his deck and incorporated into later strategies.
  • Shocking Swerve: The manga suddenly changes the gameboard around several times. First off, Doctor Faker and Mr. Heartland's motives go from wanting to wanting to destroy the astral world to save the human world to just destroying both worlds in a single chapter, with no explanation given. Then Shark's hitherto-unmentioned Childhood Friend / Rival Turned Evil Yagumo takes over as the main antagonist. Then it turns out that Dr. Faker was Dead All Along and that Mr. Heartland was just controlling his image to manipulate Haruto and Kaito. Then Yagumo kills Mr. Heartland in a utterly ridiculous way.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks: Some people who were fond of Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's' Darker and Edgier tone don't like the characters or plot...though when the series got its dark moments, they hit quite hard. Its only a Sugar Bowl on the surface.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: The concept of Yuma taking the Numbers used by his opponents is never utilized to its full potential; Yuma relies entirely on Utopia and its upgraded forms about 99% of the time. It's particularly irritating since he uses Gagagas, which have the gimmick of highly variable levels, but he almost never makes use of their abilities in favor of going straight for Utopia whenever possible. This is justified in-universe by Utopia being representative of the bond between Yuma and Astral, but it still makes for some incredibly predictable duels (there are only three duels in the entire series where Yuma duels a Numbers user without using Utopia).
  • Viewer Gender Confusion:
    • Astral is largely androgynous, so he can be mistaken for female if someone hasn't seen the series.
    • III is so frequently mistaken for a woman that it's common to call him the best girl of the series (which doubles as a slight ribbing to the generally low opinion of most of the regular female cast). The fact that plenty of fanartists like to draw him crossdressing just makes the confusion even greater.
  • What Do You Mean, It's for Kids?: Thanks to many events in the series, especially in ZEXAL II, many fans have argued that ZEXAL is NOT a kid's show and get angry if someone states that it is one.
    • Events often cited as evidence that ZEXAL isn't a kid's show: Tron being an Abusive Parent towards his children, encouraging or forcing them to hurt or even kill to satisfy his goals, Vector's manipulation of Yuma and subsequent "Mind Rape", Dark/Black Mist/No. 96's tentacles, which have been used to bind both Yuma and Astral, as well as his general personality, especially after teaming up with Vector and episodes 101-102 which feature a story about a king who executed his people and committed suicide himself, complete with illustrations.
    • Then you have 103, where a gladiator is all but shown to have been executed via decapitation.
    • As of Arc 6, it is very clearly no longer a kid's show. Character deaths are being thrown around almost casually, with 17 characters—among them the Arclight Brothers, Durbe, Rio, Alito, Girag, Kaito, Vector, Mizael, Eliphas, and a number of Yuma's friends and allies from the past—getting killed off before the season even reaches the same amount of episodes. And now Kaito, as mentioned in the Tear Jerker section.
  • What The Hell, Casting Agency?:
  • The Woobie:
    • Baby Tragon. Poor critter's been used by Tokunosuke to presumably rig countless duels in his favor. Let's also not forget Baby Tragon is a Rank 1 Xyz Monster (lowest possible rank), has low ATK/DEF stats, and has an effect confined to only supporting allied Level 1 monsters (in other words, useless for the most part). Baby Tragon's card picture even features him having a very sad face. This story ends with a happy ending, though: Baby Tragon jumps up and flies around with joy when Yuma opts to befriend him and properly use him in the ongoing duel instead of abandoning/mistreating him like most other duelists. Yuma gets to keep him, too!
    • Kite and Shark are Iron Woobie, IV is a Jerkass Woobie.
    • Most of the Barian Emperors qualify too, with the revelation that Don Thousand screwed up their pasts and made them Barians just because they happened to be connected to the Legendary Numbers. With Vector's true memories being revealed, he too is a Woobie, but a Jerkass Woobie (emphasis on Jerkass).
    • The manga's original characters include a few, namely in Hartland's three Theme Park mascots. All three are homunculi created from objects that developed some kind of will: Captain Corn was once a kernel of corn that had lodged in a pirate captain's compass, Thunder Spark from an Electron, and Princess Cologne from an abandoned doll. All three antagonize the heroes under threat of losing their human forms if they lose, which they all do. At least Cologne, the Woobiest of the three gets a happy ending courtesy of Yuma.