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.
    • Yuma too is not as popular as the other protagonists. See The Scrappy below.
  • Angst? What Angst?: Despite all that has happened to Yuma, especially with Vector, he 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: The Numbers Club in the manga are an admitted example; Miyoshi, the manga's artist, enjoys the characters, so writer Shin Yoshida gives them more screentime as a result. Shadow was another example of this. Kyoji Yagumo ended up being somewhat of an inversion on Miyoshi's part; he was getting tired of drawing him so Shin Yoshida made E'Rah the Final Boss.
  • 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, Kaito's little brother for being The Woobie.
    • Anna, for being a far more Badass female character than Kotori.
    • No. 96, a Creepy Awesome version of Astral who completely steals the scene whenever he shows up and gains points for being an Expy of Yami Bakura.
    • Gauche, and Droite, two of Dr. Faker's Number Hunters, for both being likeable and Badass.
    • Rio became intensely popular just hours after her design was revealed in the anime, getting dozens of fanarts all over Pixiv, and he personality was well-received too, as the first thing she did was call out Shark on his currently poor dueling performance.note 
    • The Tron family (Particulary III and IV) are some of the series' most popular villains for the depth their story added to the series.
    • Vector, full stop. He's often praised as one of the finest characters in the series even by those who don't like ZEXAL due to his sheer competence, hammy personality, and often entertaining and very dark humor.
  • Evil Is Sexy: E'Rah, the Big Bad of the manga. Who knew that the embodiment of despair indulged in Impossibly-Low Neckline?
  • 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.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: Kaito screaming Haruto's name is a meme, but it has become bitterweet since Haruto's ARC-V counterpart was turned into a card along with Dr. Faker's counterpart, serving as a Death By Origin for Kaito's counterpart.
  • Hell Is That Noise:
  • Hilarious in 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.
    • Shingetsu 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.
    • Umimi would later become an Xyz hating, blue-haired Fusion Duelist in Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V.
    • The entire tomato episode is this due to Yuya's fan nickname being tomato. This gets even more hilarious when one of the things seen is a tomato and eggplant hybrid acting as an incredibly early spoiler to Yuya and Yuto's fusion as Yuto's fan nickname is eggplant
  • Ho Yay: Has its own page.
  • I Knew It: The fandom's reaction to the reveal that Shark and Rio are both Barians and that Yuma would duel Astral at the end of the series.
  • It's the Same, Now It Sucks: A lot of people dislike the series for sharing quite a few qualities for the far more well-received Duel Monsters:
    • 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?
      • Worse still, the spirit has some form of amnesia and is on a quest.
    • The World Duel Carnival tournament is almost identical to Duelist Kingdom as well. The Heart Pieces are almost exactly like the Locator Cards from Battle City.
  • Just Here for Godzilla: There are a number of examples, but Shark was the first and the most famous example, with many people watching ZEXAL for him instead of Yuma.
  • Launcher of a Thousand Ships: Yuma.
  • Love It or Hate It: By FAR and away the most divisive entry in the franchise, at least in the West. Contrary to what its haters will tell you, Zexal DOES have a loyal fanbase in the west, they're just in a quiet minority. The fact that it's also popular in Japan shows it really is a matter of opinion on whether you like the direction it took the series in. Some people love it for the very same things others hate about it.
  • 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 Shingetsu, 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 realize 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 quickly reached 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 83 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.note 
    • 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 (particularly impressive in his case since he doesn't have a mouth a lot of the time).
    • 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.
    • "C107 Syndrome" and "Deadly Sin Syndrome". The former has been adopted in the fandom for cards who are revealed, but then dragged out over several episodes, most prominantly ARC-V's Starve Venom Fusion Dragon.note  The latter's effect (if it even has one) has yet to be revealed despite its prominence as Kyoji Yagumo's only non-blank Number, and is jokingly applied by the fandom for certain anime cards.
  • Memetic Troll: Vector. Aside from the abovementioned Memetic Mutation, there's also his stunt in his duel with Nasch, where he pretended to have turned to good and then revealed that it was all a trick. Fortunately, unlike Yuma, Nasch was too smart to be fooled.
  • 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.
    • One from the Japanese version. While the first time Mizael summons Number 107: Galaxy-Eyes Tachyon Dragon is a huge in-universe Wham Momentnote  his declaration of "overlay" is nothing short of hilarious. Fortunately the ham that he proceeds to devour can negate this somewhat.
  • Nightmare Fuel: Has its own page, despite being the lightest of the franchise, it's still Yu-Gi-Oh!
  • Nightmare Retardant: Vector's gloating can approach this, slightly less so in the dub surprisingly.
  • 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 was never shown using it again, but still.
  • One-Scene Wonder:
    • Semimaru/Erazor 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...
  • Replacement Scrappy: E'Rah in the manga for Don Thousand (who was already disliked in the first place).note 
  • The Scrappy:
    • Yuma is generally seen in the West as the worst protagonist in the franchise's history (so far) due to his deck, lack of dueling skill, hypocrisy, really stubborn nature and his screw ups take up unnecessarily large amounts of screen time. His dub voice, or really any of his voices, definitely don't help his case.
      • In addition, a number of fans are put off by Yuma's duels, self-parodied over-reliance of his ace monster, and Magic Poker Equation + Ass Pull abuse, which is considered to be both overly repetitive and outright intentionally cheating at the same time.note 
      • Thanks to his Break the Cutie moments, especially in the final arc, Yuma would've been The Woobie and smartened up if it weren't for his "Angst? What Angst?" attitude in the finale.
    • It could be safe to say that the Numbers Club are easily the most unsympathetic, bland, and annoying Sidekicks in YGO 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. (Note that none of them are listed under The Woobie). Tetsuo and Cathy are the only exceptions though, since the former did something useful in Episode 20 and the latter is an Expy of Kuroneko.
      • Kotori is widely despised 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 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.note  She also does not duel outside of a single episode. The hate extends to head writer Shin Yoshida, as fans considered her the worst example of his treatment of the series' female characters, and were relieved that he wasn't involved with Yuzu and the ARC-V anime.note  Another problem is that while she actually does have a purpose, which is snapping Yuma out of his snuffs, it happens about four times in the entire series.
      • 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.
      • While not as bad as either Kotori and Tokunosuke, Takashi gets some flak for being a stereotypical combination of a nerd and a Class Representative. His Verbal Tic and Lawful Stupidity makes it worse.
    • 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...
    • 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. In defense, the villains are often just as bad, 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.
    • A common effect later in the series was to have effects that treated a monster as more than one xyz material. This generally didn't sit well with the fandom, as it stunk of lazy card design and was an anticlimatic way to summon an xyz monster, especially when all of the cards with this effect were altered to summon other monsters in the OCG.
  • 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 saving the human world to just destroying both worlds in a single chapter, with no explanation given at the time. 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 (it's at this point that it's revealed why destroying both worlds makes no sense - it's not actually happening). Then Yagumo kills Mr. Heartland in a utterly ridiculous way.
  • Take That, Scrappy!: For those who are getting sick of Yuma and his Utopia monsters, Number 98: Dystopia is designed to be the perfect anti-Utopia monster.
  • 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. It's 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). This one is especially prevalent since Yuma actually did use the other Numbers early on in the series, primarily Shark's former Leviathan Dragon, but Leviathan Dragon got Demoted to Extra.
  • 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 (and he's been cosplayed by girls too) 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 number of episodes.
  • 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 on-going duel instead of abandoning/mistreating him like most other duelists. Yuma gets to keep him, too!
    • Kaito and Shark are Iron Woobie in both the anime and the manga, 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).
    • With Astral's Disney Deaths , Vector's reveal, and the events of the final arc, Yuma came so close into becoming this.
    • 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.
    • Kyoji Yagumo from the manga. Orphaned and separated from his little brother Yuji at a young age he became desperate to become a Duel Monsters champion in order to meet his brother again, and succeeded. This is where it got ugly; turns out his brother got abandoned by his adoptive family and ended up living in a delinquent center with a roommate who happened to resemble him. When said roommate realized that Yuji was related to a "cash cow" he strangled Yuji and took his place. When Kyoji eventually found out he tried to strangle the imposter himself but he was unable to after the imposter repeated the last words Yuji had said as he strangled him. Is it any wonder that being possessed by a deity of despair in combination with those evens turned him into a nihilist?
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