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Anime / Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS

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Seize the wind, Playmaker!

"Seize the wind - Into the VRAINS"

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

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

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

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

Has a recap page that Needs Wiki Magic Love.

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

  • Adults Are Useless: Zigzagged. Kusanagi helps Yusaku hack but doesn't really duel, the Knights of Hanoi are largely run by adults but their leader is of indeterminate age, and Akira Zaizen runs most of the plot-relevant activity on SOL's end but mostly hires other people (though he later proves capable in a Duel against Playmaker). In short, adults help with everything except dueling.
  • Arc Number: Three.
    • When questioned why he does things, Yusaku gives three reasons for his decisions, which also doubles as a Survival Mantra for him. Revolver does the same.
    • By the rules of Speed Duels, only three monsters can be in play at a time, save for Extra Deck monsters. Additionally, Yusaku's "Code Talker" monsters are a Link-3 monster.
    • SOL Technologies has three main leaders that Akira speaks to.
    • Counting Yusaku himself, there are three groups competing for control of Ignis; Yusaku, SOL, and the Knights of Hanoi.
    • Go Onizuka, playing on wrestling tropes, counts 1-2-3 in his duels.
    • Blue Angel's Skill, Trickstar Fraud, makes the opponent draw until they have three cards in their hand, which also complements her Death of a Thousand Cuts play style.
    • Playmaker is equipped with three Sphere Kuribohs when infiltrating SOL Technologies' data bank, which he uses to neutralise purple security traps.
    • Akira Zaizen's Tindangle deck is based on creatures with a triangle theme, and his Ace monster is Tindangle Cerberus (a monster with 3 heads). Taken further during his deck's debut duel - the duel takes 3 episodes to finish, and during the duel his opponent Link Summons 3 times in a row within a single turn.
    • Hanoi has three lieutenants: Dr. Genome, Faust, and Baira.
    • Playmaker, Go Onizuka and Blue Angel make up what's known as the Three Heroes of VRAINS.
    • Spectre's deck revolves around a Link-1 ace monster that can upgrade itself to Link-2 and finally Link-3.
    • OP2, "go forward", has the 1-2-3 count in its lyrics.
    • Blood Sheperd uses a three count when doing actions. However he also subverts it the first time by firing on two.
  • Arc Words: "Time Stopped Moving" is a recurring theme for the characters, mainly the victims of the Hanoi Project. For them, time stopped moving in that they couldn't move on, often left stuck wallowing in despair or anger. The sole exception being Spectre, as for him, time started moving for him when the Project happened.
  • Anti-Villain: Dr. Kogami. He may be the creator of the Hanoi Project as well as the guy who wanted to destroy the Ignis as well as Link VRAINS itself. However, he is full of regret for doing these terrible actions. He felt all of these had to be done to save humanity as he has just wanted to save it and protect the greater good. His son, Revolver ( aka Ryoken) completely understood his motivations and stayed loyal to his father.
  • Awesome Mc Coolname: Justified, since all duelists with outright unusual names (Playmaker, Blue Angel, etc.) use those names for their avatars in LINK VRAINS. Outside of LINK VRAINS, everyone seen has fairly standard-sounding Japanese names.
  • Captain Obvious:
    • Duelists' AI assistants have a habit of making blatantly obvious statements during a Duel. Justified, as they aren't programmed to do anything more than deliver Dueling-related exposition.
    • As in ARC-V, Duelists feel the need to point out that their opponent still takes damage even though their Monster isn't destroyed by battle due to some card Effect.
  • Central Theme: As the Tagline says: never surrender and keep trying.
  • Cool Board: All the duelists ride floating surfboards named D-Boards during Speed Duels.
  • Cyber Punk: VRAINS appears to be this thanks to its futuristic themes.
  • Cyberspace: VR Duels are set in a cyberspace constructed with the latest technology.
  • Darker and Edgier: Yusaku is the first main character in the franchise who started out as a Jerkass Anti-Hero instead of a Hot-Blooded Idiot Hero or an All-Loving Hero, using Duel Monsters as weapons for his quest of Revenge. The same applies to the series itself too, as the entire premise explores Escapism, Ambiguous Disorders, cyber crime, and the dark side of online gaming.
  • Decomposite Character: Yusaku, Aoi, Go, and Revolver represent a part of Seto Kaiba: Yusaku has his Jerkass attitude, Aoi has his wealthy background and position as an adopted family member, Go has his orphaned upbringing, and Revolver has the rest of him (rivalry with the main character, opposite color scheme, dragon-like 3000 ATK ace monsters, and introduced as a villain).
  • Deconstruction: Similar to how ARC-V deconstructed many tropes found in the first four entries, VRAINS might be considered as this to the ENTIRE franchise, given the Cyber Punk and cynical themes of the said series:
    • If Yuya is a deconstruction of Yugi and the gaming anime heroes, then Yusaku is a deconstruction of the likes of Dark Yugi, Kaiba, and Yusei: First, Yusaku is a skilled Duelist similar to Dark Yugi but doesn't share the latter's ideals of Dueling and instead sees it as a grim reminder of his Dark and Troubled Past. Second, Yusaku is a Jerkass Anti-Hero like Kaiba but most of his bitterness and lack of social skills comes from the Knights of Hanoi ruining his childhood (resulting with him suffering with ASD, PTSD, and PTED) while Kaiba Took a Level in Jerkass due to attempting to get rid of his personal issues over Gozaburo's ideals. And third, Yusaku is mostly The Stoic but what makes him different from Yusei is he's standoffish, cold-hearted, and somewhat unpleasant due to being consumed with rage and hatred towards the Knights of Hanoi.
    • Kusanagi himself is a deconstruction of Kurosaki right down to having the same backstory. However, unlike Kurosaki, who became an easily irritable Jerkass after losing Ruri and wants to get Revenge on Academia for it, Kusanagi is good at hiding it.
    • Akira deconstructs big brother Duelists like Fubuki, Shark, and Reiji, as these three are supportive towards their respective younger siblings. In Akira's case, he's too protective of Aoi to the point of going against her interest in Charaisma and Speed Dueling. He's also Innocently Insensitive, as shown when he unintentionally pisses off Playmaker by telling him to reconsider his Revenge Before Reason during their Duel.
    • Little sister Duelists such as Asuka and Rio are deconstructed by Aoi, who goes into Dueling due to her "Well Done, Daughter!" Girl mentality over her brother, unlike the former two wanting to prove themselves independent and worthy Action Girls. This serves as a major Fatal Flaw for Aoi, as the conscequences are very severe in the form of being humiliated in front of the crowd after losing to Playmaker. And she's a net idol, no less!
    • Go is a deconstruction of Attention Whore characters like Manjoume, Jack, and Sawatari: all three of them are like this either due to their fame, ego, or both. On the other hand, Go's attitude and reputation as a Charisma Duelist stems from his desire to repay his debt to the orphanage who took care of him as a kid. Their characterizations are also opposites to each other: Manjoume, Jack, and Sawatari Took a Level in Kindness after being defeated by their respective main characters, while Go Took a Level in Jerkass out of his Pride and jealousy towards Playmaker.
  • Department of Redundancy Department:
    • The following lyrics for the first ED (Believe In Magic) has "Akiramenai sa (I won't give up), Never Give Up Never!".
    • The summon chant for Link monsters, which involves saying Link two to three times (Link Summon, Link [number], followed by the monster's name, which may also include the word Link).
  • Despair Event Horizon: During Playmaker and Revolver's second Master Duel. Playmaker is overwhelmed by the might of Revolver's Extra Linked Monsters, to the point that it physically wears him out so badly, he's almost unable to get up and continue resisting Revolver's ruthless assault. Lampshaded by Revolver, who points out for the second time that neither of them have a new path to walk towards.
  • Determinator: Enforced as with ARC-V; the show's main theme is "Take a step forward and try!", the premise being that kids should try things out instead of giving up at the first try due to being overwhelmed by information.
  • Deus ex Machina: Inverted. Revolver's Topologic Gumblar Dragon literally has this trope as its Extra Linked Effect name, but its Effect is the opposite of the trope's definition in that, Topologic Gumblar's Extra Linked Effect destroys all cards its controller's hand and inflicts 3000 damage to them, can't be negated, and thus Playmaker can do nothing to survive said Effect... except by using Drop Frame Wedge to halve damage for every card he sends to the Graveyard.
  • Distaff Counterpart: Along with Spear Counterpart. Aoi and Go use decks with heavy feminine and masculine overtones, respectively. Aoi has Magic Idol Singers and Go has Wrestlers with animal themes. Finally, they have the two major factions setting them up to duel against Playmaker for Ignis, with SOL Technologies recruiting GO while the Knights of Hanoi manipulate Blue Angel.
  • Dramatic Irony: Season 2 reveals that during Hanoi's last ditch effort to destroy the Cyberse, another unknown faction not only found it, but also managed to destroy the world and almost seized the four remaining Ignis.
  • Dull Surprise: Neither Yusaku or Kusanagi bat an eye when AI regains and reveals his true form, and continue analyzing him to see if they overlooked anything. Ai doesn't appreciate not having his attention reciprocated.
  • Dwindling Party: The final arc of the first season becomes this as all who can fight Hanoi go down one by one. First, Ghost Girl is defeated by Revolver and sent to the tower of Hanoi, next Kitamura is defeated by Spectere and sent to the tower as well, its not long before Blue Angel is beaten by Spectere, followed by Akira's sacrifice to ensure Playmaker won the duel. It gets worse as Yusaku regroups with Go while he is dueling and Go is defeated by Revolver, leaving only Yusaku to be the one to save Link Vrains.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus:
    • The Eye of Wdjat appears in the first OP, "With the Wind", for the first time in the franchise since GX.
    • The "source code" Ghost Girl makes a program with in episode 14 consists of text from both cards and the game's rules. This is only shown when she's actually making it, not when Yusaku and Shoichi get her message.
    • In ED2:
      • "VENGEANCE" is graffitied in red on a wall in a tunnel Yusaku is in. Fitting as Yusaku is a character motivated by revenge against those responsible for his Dark and Troubled Past.
      • "Synchro" can also be seen written in blue on the opposite wall of the same tunnel; helped that Katsumi Ono, director of 5D's, did the storyboarding for the ED.
      • "Shining Draw" can be seen on the top left hand side, written in purple.
  • From a Certain Point of View: Akira tells Go several basic facts at least some of which are known to be completely true (and some of unknown validity), but phrases what he says in a way that makes it sound like Playmaker stole something valuable from SOL Technologies.
  • Fugitive Arc: The second season kicks off with Playmaker being a wanted man since the opening of NEW LINK VRAINS, with a bounty on his head worth ₽500,000, and thus is targeted by numerous Bounty Hunters under the orders of SOL Technologies.
  • Fun with Acronyms: Virtual Reality, Artificial Intelligence, Network System.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar:
    • In #4, Ignis recruits Roboppy and convinces her to do... it's never actually said what they were trying to do, but from the noises and their behavior it's pretty clearly meant to be sex.
      • They do it again in episode 14, and reference it in episode 12.
    • In #6, Shoichi and AI convince Yusaku to try to get to know Aoi in order to get information from her brother. They then spend the rest of the episode teasing him about his skills with women and how attractive Aoi is.
    • At one point, Ignis actually suggests that "he (Yusaku) is probably making out with the hot-dog guy." Um...
  • Gratuitous English: "Into the VRAINS!"
  • Gray and Grey Morality: Where as most Yu-Gi-Oh! series would debate the overall morality, this level of morality seems to be constant from the beginning. Yusaku, while not a bad person, is definitely more of an Anti-Hero than Yugi and his successors are. The characters in this series are more complex, making them look more believable and humane.
  • Hollywood Hacking:
    • Credit for showing the viewers that the camera is skipping the long, boring hours spent staring at pages of programming language, and enough appropriately placed Techno Babble to show that the writers have probably skimmed a programming book. The trope still counts due to Shoichi and Yusaku using Extreme Graphical Representation, seemingly for no reason other than to give the kids in the audience a basic understanding of what they're doing.
    • There's no way Shoichi could've broken the block featured in #4 unless he'd done it before against the exact same block and just re-ran the code he created last time.
  • Hostage Situation:
    • Faust abducts Naoki and drags him into LINK VRAINS, so he can lure Playmaker and capture his Ignis.
    • Spectre, disadvantaged thanks to Playmaker's Excode Talker sealing the Main Monster Zones pointed to by Sunavalon Daphne, reveals an imprisoned Akira in front of Playmaker, and gloats that he increasingly risks being infected by the thorny prison's virus as Spectre takes damage.
  • Invisible Parents: Everyone's parents are either offscreen or dead. Conveniently, all housekeeping is handled by Robot Maids.
  • Japanese School Club: The Duel Club, which Yusaku joins against his will thanks to Ignis.
  • Jigsaw Puzzle Plot: Much like ARC-V, right off the bat the audience starts getting clues about major mysteries and dangling plot threads.
  • Love Chart: Non-romantic variant; the official website has relationship charts in the characters page, separate ones for both Den City and LINK VRAINS.
  • Magical Incantation: Unique summoning chants aside, when performing a Link Summon, the Duelist says some variation of:
    "Arrowheads confirmed! The Summoning condition(s) is/are [Link Materials]! I set [Monsters] into the Link Marker(s)! Circuit Combine! Link Summon! Come forth, Link [Number]! [Link Monster's Name]!"
  • Magic Versus Science: VRAINS has heavier focus on science than the previous entries, even more so than ARC-V.
  • Mêlée à Trois:
    • In the first season, Yusaku, SOL Technologies Inc., and the Knights of Hanoi are competing for control over Ai.
    • The second season presents a five-way conflict:
      • Bounty Hunters (composed of GO, Blood Shepherd, Kenmochi, and Yoroizaka) are ordered by SOL Technologies Inc. to target both Playmaker and Soulburner for their Ignis.
      • Meanwhile, an unknown faction (of which Bohman and Haru are known members) has not only laid waste on the Cyberse world, but stolen Jin Kusanagi's soul, prompting Playmaker to target them, with aid from both Kusanagi and Soulburner.
      • There is also a fourth side, composed of Ghost Girl and Blue Girl (previously Blue Angel), working together under Akira's orders to search for the missing four Ignis.
      • And if a four-way conflict wasn't bad enough... the Knights of Hanoi are also back with a vengeance like Revolver promised after his defeat at Playmaker's hands in their second Master Duel, fuelled by Baira breaking out of prison with Revolver's aid, and remain dedicated to their mission of terminating the Ignis.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Den City has a location named Stardust Road, Stardust being the name of an archetype utilised by Yusei Fudo.
    • In ED2:
      • One of the graffitied walls has "Synchro" written in blue. Additionally, Katsumi Ono, director of 5D's (which focused on Synchro Summoning), did the storyboarding for the ED.
      • The top left corner also has "Shining Draw" written in purple, Shining Draw being Yuma Tsukumo's ability to draw whatever card he wants while in ZEXAL form.
    • Cyberse Magician is an Expy to Dark Magician. They are both magicians with 2500 ATK points and their attack names are the first part of their name + "Magic"note .
    • While wearing a wizard's hat and stirring a pot prior to Playmaker's first Ritual Summoning, Ai chants "Du-Du-Duel!", which sounds very similar to that of the original series' English OP.
  • Off-into-the-Distance Ending: The first season wraps up with Revolver sailing off to an unspecified location in the direction of Stardust Road after he loses to Playmaker in their second Master Duel.
  • Ominous Latin Chanting: Playmaker and GO's Duel is accompanied with one after the former Link Summons Decode Talker.
  • Online Alias: Most Charisma Duelists have one, but there are exceptions. Go for example.
  • Orphanage of Love: Go comes from one, and he continues to be a patron of it.
  • Portmanteau: The title is actually a combination of 3 Acronyms of "VR"note , "AI"note , and "NS"note .
  • The Power of Friendship: In this case, VRAINS deals with how friendship can make a person stand out and try new things.
  • Race Against the Clock: Playmaker, GO, and Blue Angel have six hours to stop the Tower of Hanoi from activating and destroying the entirety of the network world.
  • Reconstruction: Go's duel with Dr. Genome reconstructed a lot of the arguments made by ARC-V. During it his normal entertainment style was temporarily discarded due to the seriousness of the duel, signified by him using a lot rougher tactics and brutality. In Arc-V, this never was a good thing, and any time it was not reigned the duelist in question was shown as heavily damaged or in the process of deciding to destroy everything. In Go's case however, the seriousness of his duel still played into his general disposition (as a wrestler, a Heel is still a type of wrestler), and when the method wasn't shown to be working he simply face-turned from the role and dueled his usual way again without requiring a cool down hug or a friendship speech or a 'remember who you' shout. While it was his regular entertainment style that won in the end, using the rougher style was still shown as a valid tactic, just one he doesn't use normally, but still remains in his entertainment field.
  • Real Place Background:
    • Part of Den City, the setting of VRAINS, resembles the 109 building in Shibuya.
    • LINK VRAINS contains locations based on real life landmarks such as Rome's Colosseum, Canada's Niagara Falls, Croatia's Mali Bok beach, America's Paris Las Vegas Hotel and Casino, and Italy's Florence.
    • In ED2:
      • The graffiti tunnel appears to be based on London's Leake Street Tunnel.
      • The statue positioned to the left of a pondering Yusaku resembles the Atlas statue in Manhattan's Rockefeller Center.
  • Rousseau Was Right: While VRAINS might be bleaker and more cynical than the previous five installments, the villains have some redeeming qualities, The Rivals are not out-and-out bastards, and Yusaku has a legitimately good reason for his cold-hearted Jerkass attitude.
  • Rule of Three: Which also doubles as the series' Arc Number, with counts of three being pretty common.
  • Shades of Conflict: Once again, there are multiple factions with different motivations and resources involved in the central conflict of the story:
  • Shout-Out:
    • The Code Talker Monsters:
      • Excode Talker may be a reference to Xcode, a software application developed and designed by Apple to be used in macOS.
      • Powercode Talker references Microsoft PowerPoint, vaguely supported by the positioning of its Link Arrows in that slides in a PowerPoint presentation can be switched to the left and right, and the options menu is located on the bottom left.
    • Go Onizuka is one giant homage to Professional Wrestling. His Gouki monsters are wrestling-themed anthropomorphic animals, Go himself looks like a wrestler, his debut episodes include a lot of references to wrestling, and his story (an orphan who got into Dueling to support himself, donates his winnings to the same orphanage and is a hero to the kids there) is straight from a wrestler's Kayfabe backstory while also echoing the real life charity work they do. In the second season, Go's Face–Heel Turn mirrors that of CM Punk, since both of them wanted to be respected by many, are willing to do whatever it takes to become the "Best in the World", and Took a Level in Jerkass over their jealousy towards someone else.
    • Topologic Gumblar Dragon alludes to the malicious JavaScript trojan horse file Gumblar (aka Troj/JSRedir-R) from 2009, which redirects a user's Google searches before installing rogue security software.
    • Powercode Talker's attack animation, as well as its finishing pose, resembles the Giga Drill Break attack from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann.
    • In Episode 30, while drawing a card from Ghost Girl's deck, Ai gives a speech referencing Domon's Shining Finger speech from Mobile Fighter G Gundam.
    • Decode Talker's final attack in Episode 46 is a dead ringer for Saber's signature attack.
    • Jin Kusanagi getting his soul sucked away by an unknown figure in yellow is reminiscent to that of a Dementor sucking the life out of its victims.
  • Signature Move: Duelists in Speed Duels gain access to Skills, once-per-game abilities that can grant them a boon to maintain dominance or stage a comeback. It is not known how the Skill is determined, but it is apparently tailored to the duelist's playstyle.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: While the first four entries are mostly idealistic and ARC-V zig-zags it, VRAINS is very bleak and cynical. With that said, the series is slowly going towards the optimistic end.
  • Something Completely Different: The series runs on pure science, has a main character who is a Jerkass, and has two new Dueling rules.
    • There are two Duel types now: Master duel which is the normal duel rules, and Speed Duel, which is a Modified version of the Speed Duel Rules from Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links except deck sizes stay the same. They also retain the Skills system from that game. Speed duels are done on D-Boards similar to Riding Duels on D-Wheels.
  • Spell My Name with an "S":
    • "Cyberse" has also been transliterated as "Cyverse".
    • 4K Media has "vullet" transliterated as "varrett". While 4K Media usually use names that will be used in the TCG version of the card game, "varrett" here is an exception - the TCG name for the archetype is "rokkett", meaning this one time, 4K Media translated the name on their own.
    • Prior to its TCG release, 4K Media transliterated Bitrooper as "Bitlooper".
  • Spinoff: The fifth one in the Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise.
  • Stealth Pun: Originally it was announced that the new Speed Duel format would be replacing the previous standard format for the series; however, it was later revealed that standard dueling rules would still apply to ground-based duels. The new rules only apply to the duels taking place on hoverboards; they really are Speed Duels!
  • Tagline: "Take a step forward and try!"
  • Title Drop: "Into the VRAINS!"
  • There Are No Therapists: Averted for once; flashbacks show that Yusaku had therapy as a child.
  • Transformation Sequence: Some characters undergo a change in appearance in this manner when logging into LINK VRAINS. Only Yusaku's/Playmaker's has been shown.
  • Unexpected Character: In-Universe; Firewall Dragon completely takes Dr. Kogami by surprise when Playmaker summons it for the very first time during his duel versus Revolver. Dr. Kogami's reaction however, borders on a Dull Surprise. Strangely enough, he doesn't seem very upset with seeing Firewall Dragon, despite working to destroy the Cyberse.
  • Unique Protagonist Asset: Yusaku's Skill is unique in that it also allows him to gain physical copies of cards for future use. This makes the revelation that Revolver has the same Skill even more impactful.
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee: Revolver's first two instances of successfully using Mirror Force are because nobody, not even the audience, saw it coming. The third time he uses it, he is shown drawing and setting the card on top of deliberately baiting Playmaker into attacking, and Playmaker carefully arranges his monsters to minimize his losses. This ultimately gets subverted when Revolver uses an unmentioned effect of his own to render Playmaker's efforts moot, resulting in the trap resolving properly and blowing him out.
  • White and Grey Morality: Playmaker and Akira's Duel in a nutshell. Akira stands in Playmaker's way, promising to bring a closure to the Lost Incident/Hanoi Project and attempts to convince him to give up on the idea of revenge, let go of his past hurts and enjoy his present, normal life in happiness. Playmaker, on the other hand, bears no mal intent towards Akira and doesn't hold it against him for being dismissive of the idea of revenge, but refuses to relent regardless and will do anything to get back at those responsible for said ten-year old incident.
  • Your Mind Makes It Real: Taking too much damage in LINK VRAINS will have adverse effect on a Duelist's physical brain that could potentially make them a brain-dead vegetable. An average duel might not cause that much damage, but falling off a D-Board in a Speed Duel could prove to be fatal.

Into the VRAINS!