Reviews: Yu Gi Oh Zexal
I've seen enough to be annoyed.
Heyo, Yugioh fan here. Not super vocal about it as it's one of my lesser interests, but I've seen every current dubbed episode of all the series up to now (aka Ep. 3 of Zexal), so I've been around. SPOILERS. And there's no getting through how annoying Zexal is. Sure, if I was a newcomer, them heavyhandedly explaining the minute rules of the game would be useful, and I may identify slightly with Yuma, not knowing how to play the game and needing to be walked through it. The only problem is Yuma himself, talking high about "going with the flow" when he just totally fails at everything. He doesn't even seem to recognize it, as he disses people's advice in the name of "the flow", mostly just so we could show off the rules of the game and try to paint how awesome Astral must be at dueling! Which brings us to the "Yami Yugi" of the series, who is probably going to be one of the reasons why I actually stick around (other being the hope that Yuma actually gets better). The mystery surrounding him and his purpose, and as to why he tried to take over Yuma in the first place is a mystery I'm waiting to find out. (It's probably to face off against some evil coming post-Numbers collection, I don't know). Something common with the past few YGO series is how they focus on a specific card mechanic. GX focused more on Fusions, 5Ds on Synchros, and Zexal's is on Exceed (XYZ in the actual card game (coughXYZDragonCannoncough)) monsters. Which is fine, you need something new to draw in people. While Ritual seems to have phased out almost entirely (which is similar to Synchro interestingly), you at least saw at least one Fusion monster in 5Ds to show that it was still a part of the game. And yes, I realize I'm making this judgement this early in Zexal, but not seeing any trace of Turbo Duels or Synchro monsters in the show makes me wonder what happened to make EVERYONE ditch the archetype. Sure, you don't need the main characters riding motorcycles/motorboards, but some nod would be nice. Overall, it's a nice series for new people to get into, but it could have been done better to not drive off the old fans. I'll still be sticking around for a little while to see if it does, indeed, turn out better, but it remains to be seen.
Is it the worst?
Now, I intend to become an online Caustic Critic and I'll say more about this when I do, but I have to say right now: Is Zexal the worst series ever? I won't answer that. I think it should be up to the viewer to decide whether it is or isn't and that should simply be your opinion and you shouldn't HATE someone just for having a different opinion. My opinion? I'm actually kind of iffy now on whether it's the worst or not. I will say this, it's definitely the weakest series at least. I loved 5Ds, it was the series I first started watching, and I also enjoyed the original Yu-Gi-Oh series too (well except for maybe Duelist Kingdom). So after finishing both of those I decided to give Zexal a try, even though I absolutely hated Xyz monsters and I knew the series would focus on them. My first impression? I heard Eli Jay's Yuma voice and turned the TV off. But what little I saw intrigued me a bit but not enough to make me want to watch it again. What did make me watch it again? Episodes 13 and 14. I love dragons so when I heard that The Rival this time a round was using a really awesome dragon card which is also a counter for Xyz Monsters I had to see this episode. Truth be told most of the episodes I watch are ones where Kite duels. I think Kite is the coolest character in the show, even when he got Neo Galaxy-Eyes and I still hated Xyzs I didn't lose any respect for him, he's awesome even when using that which I hate. Now about the series itself. It is a pretty standard Gotta Catch 'Em All thing with the Numbers and a lot of it just seems like an exact duplicate of the original Yu-Gi-Oh seires, and to find out Heartland himself is voiced by the same guy that did Pegasus? That was kind of irritating, but Kite made a lot of things better. One really annoying thing about the series is just about every episode is a two-parter. That wouldn't be so bad if it weren't so darn predictable. You can pretty much tell when an episode is going to be a two-parter. In the end I don't hate Zexal anymore but there is stuff I don't like one of which is the Family-Unfriendly Aesop that is the Shining Draw which is really just cheating. I still love 5D's and its Darker and Edgier tone but there are somethings about Zexal that are there to love. Is it the worst? I say give it a watch for a while and decide for yourself.
It's actually amazing. Really.
Don't make any judgements until you've watched episode 13. Seriously, that's the point where the show gets real, and if you stop before then you are missing out. That said...Zexal gets a lot of flack. Zexal has weird hair? Ahahaha. Yuugi Motou exists, conversation over, and honestly the weird hair in Zexal is on par with the weirdness of every other ygo anime. Don't let the bright colors and silly hairstyles fool you. It's not a childish show, and it's well-animated, and it's as dark as the other three are. Yuuma Tsukumo isn't a good duelist? Yup, he starts out the show as a terrible duelist. And that is what makes him interesting, and compelling, and endearing: he's not perfect. He's striving so hard for his goal, but he still has some way to go. He needs people to help him. But he tries, even when he loses, even when people put him down, and that's what makes him a great protagonist. He feels real. Yuuma's development is amazing, and so is he. There are tons of other great, interesting characters, ranging from friendly rivals to outright evil villains, and all of them all well-drawn and there-dimensional. We have characters like Shark, who looks like he's going to be a standard Jounouchi expy and then turns into a really interesting secondary protagonist instead. We have the Arclights, three villains with ostensibly the same goal but distinct personalities and motivations. We even have guys like Black Mist, who are evil but still nuanced in some way. There's someone for everyone here, and it's the characters and their bonds that drive the plot in many ways. The plot itself looks like a standard collect-them-all quest and them spirals out of control into a complex, high stakes plot with an alien war and blurred loyalties and hard choices. The pacing in the first half of the show is a little whiplash, but Zexal II is much tighter, and honestly Zexal has some of the most hilarious filler of any ygo series ever. It's much, much better than it sounds here. Go watch it, all the way through episode 13. The duels are character-driven and fun and none of them last six entire episodes (I'm looking at you, Yami Yuuig and Kaiba).
Don't judge based off what YGOTAS says
Zexal's a good show, and it's my favorite yugioh series to date; the seasons are all continuous, and pick off where the previous left off. The villains are all amazingly well-developed characters, and their interactions with each other bring out their characters, especially the villains in Zexal II. Yuma's not a good duelist from the get-go, but that's what makes him interesting as a character. You see Yuma grow as both a character and a duelist throughout the series, see him emotionally mature, and you can empathize with him-he screws up a lot in the beginning, but he learns from those mistakes, like any person would. He's human, and that's what's so appealing about him-he's a lot more realistic compared to some of the other protagonists, he struggles with occasionally failing, but gets through his challenges with the power of kattobingu, the phrase his dad gave him-meaning to never give up, and to keep going. It's because of kattobingu that Yuma's the way he is, and it's the way Yuma is that drives most of the show's many amazing character arcs and most of the plot. While the plot in the beginning of Season 1 appears to be a giant fetch quest, it's quickly expanded from this in a matter of episodes-there are multiple characters working to collect the Numbers too, though the bulk of them aren't introduced until at least Season 2. Almost everybody trying to collect the Numbers use the grey morality trope to their advantage, but they use it amazingly well-there's Kaito, who collects them to save his brother, the Tron family who wishes to exact revenge on the one who wronged them, and the Zexal II villains, who are playing for the greatest stakes of all. And then there's Kaito and Shark. Shark, the bully who broke Yuma's precious key episode 1, who continuously rejected Yuma's offers to help, who was kicked out of a tournament because of his drive to help his sister, and who gradually warms up to Yuma. Kaito is originally doing all he can to collect the Numbers to save his brother, to the point where his body is almost falling apart, but it doesn't matter to him, not when his brother could die if he doesn't collect all 100 Numbers. They're both fantastically developed throughout the series, along with the rest of the cast. Zexal's animation, plot, and characters are amazing, and you should give it a shot.
If you have a problem with their hair I direct you to Yugi.
Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL is, first of all, an underrated show. Most people kick it off to the side because “haha card games in space” or “the protagonist is dumb and so is his hair”. I want to clear up that one, they have never, ever played a card game in space (unless you count a Field Spell as actual space) and two, the main reason why ZEXAL is a good show is /because the protagonist starts off dumb/. Yuma Tsukumo is the class clown, the village idiot, the one kid who can’t and won’t take a hint. He barely knows how to duel at even a beginner’s level—and that makes him different. Why? Because he can’t duel well. This show starts him off at the bottom instead of the top, and in the progress of ZEXAL we watch him grow. We become attached to him because he’s stupid and a dork, because as humans it is our nature to root for the underdog. The show isn’t just about card games. It’s about bonds and family ties and character development. The show introduces to us Ryoga Kamishiro: the delinquent. Ryoga was someone who fell into the abyss after his sister was hospitalized and managed to crawl up because of Yuma. Yuma, who himself has lost loved ones, who would have never had such a strong spirit without his kattobingu, who continues to smile and stay strong no matter what. Ryoga Kamishiro goes through so much character development. He evolves from a delinquent to someone who believes in his comrades (later friends), who can go forth into the world with his own kattobingu because Yuma rescued him. Even though Ryoga taunted and bullied him, Yuma went through all of the trouble. It comes to the point where the only reason Ryoga won’t fall into the darkness is because he remembers Yuma and the way he kept holding a hand out to him even though he kept slapping it away ("don’t get involved with me"). Let me say this: the plot kicks in somewhere around episode 12, BUT DO NOT SKIP THE FIRST EPISODES. They are important as well, because we get to see Yuma make friends. Yuma who used to be ridiculed—he makes /friends/. (I want to go on a rant here about the great villains but that would be a huge spoiler.) ZEXAL is an amazing and underrated anime that everyone should at least give a chance (by that I don’t mean “I watched the first episode and…” because I will slap you). It has great characters, breathtaking animation and music, and a plot that stays consistent.
Now, when Yu-Gi-Oh Zexal started, like many fans of 5D's, I was horrified. The main character was unlikable, the Monster Of The Week plot sucked, the villains were a joke, Yuma spammed Hope all the time over his other Numbers, and Ze Xal seemed doomed to go down in history as the worst Yu-Gi-Oh series ever. And then we got the introduction of the Tron Family and the plot suddenly was interesting. III, IV, V and Tron were all interesting characters with engaging personalities, goals, and deck themes. They really heralded in Cerebus Syndrome to Ze Xal, with the plot turning from Yuma's kiddy, annoying antics while hunting Numbers into a surprisingly dark story of Tron's quest for revenge against Dr. Faker. Tron himself is a maniacal, nightmarish villain who keeps you watching just to see how much he'll Kick The Dog while laughing as creepily as possible. And the thing is, it's working. The Tron Family has given this series a dark, interesting plot which somehow clicks and works. And that's just the problem. The Tron Family (and Shark) are about the only reason to watch this series. Yuma is still as idiotic as ever, and the writers keep using him for comedy in moments where the tone should be as serious as possible. Kaito is a Villain Sue and while his story with Haruto is engaging and heartwarming, his Curb Stomp Battle run makes it impossible to really feel any suspense in his duels up until his duel with Tron. Dr. Faker and Mr. Heartland both sit around cackling and looking imposing, but that's just it. They sit around. They never really push events forwards, while Tron and his family actively pursue their goals, albeit in a roundabout way. All in all, Ze Xal has potential, especially where the Tron Family plotline is concerned. But most of the rest of the show is entirely forgettable, and everything before Episode 32 is dull, boring and even irritating. Afterwards, though, Tron, III, IV and V all add an interesting aspect to Ze Xal which allows the anime to improve. In other words, watch this series for them, and Shark. Everyone else is either Out Of Focus, annoying, or uninteresting.
Yugioh for the pre-teen crowd
Yep, it's completely obvious- Zexal is Pokemon with Yugioh cards. Not that that is bad by itself- sure it might be beneath the dignity of older fans, but we had three shows starring teens with really dramatic stories, it's fair kids get one too (though the show was already watched by many.) However, I find that the show is Better Than It Sounds. Oh sure, the cast is mostly annoying kids and even the adults come across as goofy, but the basic concept is interesting and there probably will be a more dramatic shift in tone sooner or later. I like the way portable virtual reality has become part of regular life, I'm sure this will happen some day for real, though it's inconsistent, for example they still use flat-screen computers. Astral is very obviously a Yugi rip-off, but I find him interesting enough even if his lost memories becoming cards is too farfetched for me. And of course, the best part is the gaming itself. The card designs are wonderful as are the battle FX. My only problem is with the excessive exposition- yes I get that the rules must be explained to the audience but do the players have to repeat what they are going to do OVER AND OVER? We heard the first time! This has always been an annoying part of the Yugioh series. Finally, I want to point that, while of course the purpose of the show is to pimp the cards, so far they've made some clever stories out of it. I especially liked the episode with the actor kid who was forced to play a superhero on TV by his Stage Mom but was unhappy about it (another note: the people who get "possessed by the cards"do not really become evil, instead they have their traits increased to the point they sound like villains, but so far we haven't had a really evil person. This might be intentional since its aimed at little kids, but its always been tradition in the series to have a really spooky villain at some point.) Overall, I find Zexal to be fun and well done, enough so that the kid-oriented humor doesn't scare me off. I intended to watch the whole show.