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  • Alternate Character Interpretation: With the revelation that Jin was given Laser-Guided Amnesia after being freed from Bohman and Lightning, and the implication that it's a result of Lightning taking a portion of his consciousness as a means of surviving his duel with Revolver, it puts Lightning's motive behind this into question. Did he deliberately choose to hold onto the data that had the memories of Jin's trauma as a means of atonement, aware he was gonna lose his life after the duel? Did he just pick the data at random and it was by pure luck said data had the memories? Or was he so assured in Bohman's victory afterwards that he didn't think it necessary to cripple Jin with the trauma anymore and was posthumously Hoist by His Own Petard? The former seems to be supported by how he admits that he overdid Jin's trauma and initially planned on relegating humanity to a small corner of the world rather than destroying it outright.
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  • Anti-Climax Boss: The Commanders of the Knights of Hanoi go down pretty quickly after they're introduced, failing to win a single duel against the protagonists and preventing a look at their plan to accomplish their goals without destroying LINK VRAINS, leaving Revolver and Spectre to do the heavy lifting for the villains for the rest of the season. Even more egregious was Baira and Faust's defeat of an army of AI Duelists in a ridiculous timeframe, particularly since Faust went down in a single episode as opposed to either of his fellows.
  • Arc Fatigue: The second season suffers badly from this. For one thing it's the longest season and arc in Yu-Gi-Oh! to date having a grand total of 56 episodes. Another thing is the pacing for the season was rather poor for most of it. The first half of the season took way too long to properly introduce the plot and while the second half improved pacing, it felt as some duels were way too long or not as long as they should. Also not helping matters is for the entire season using the same opening "Go Forward", but unlike previous series didn't even bother to update the visuals despite them being way outdated by halfway in the season.
  • Ass Pull:
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    • Keeping in tradition with the previous entries the "Storm Access", "Neo Storm Access" and "Master Storm Access" skills used by several characters, most notably Playmaker. They allow the user to access a random card (specifically Extra deck monsters consistent with their deck's theme) from the Data Storm when he has 1000 LP or less. In theory, he should occasionally gain monsters that are not useful for his predicament. In practice, "random" translates to "whatever the writers need to allow Playmaker to stage a comeback". Later episodes have tried to make it a Justified Trope, and it is also implied Ai can see the card before it is picked, and actually decides for Playmaker when to grab the card, allowing Playmaker to always get the right card. Which still makes it an asspull, but at least has a justification.
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    • More traditionally, Playmaker still has an array of situational cards that only appear for one episode in order to counter whatever threatening move his opponent uses. Zero Extra Link from the Season One finale is one of the more jarring examples. It specifically mentions Extra Links in its text; in the TCG/OCG this restriction was removed, making it a more reasonable card.
    • Soulburner's Gate of Fire from episode 60, a Continuous Trap that protects him from 300 or less effect damage, which would be near useless in a game where most burn damage is at least 500... if he didn't just happen to be up against a Trickstar deck, which specializes in doing 200 points of damage at a time.
    • Bohman and Windy can somehow use their Skills in the middle of a Master Duel, with little explanation as to how. However Queen's duel against Ai may give this a simple explanation. They cheated.
    • The end of the duel between Blood Shepherd and Lightning had the latter topdeck the exact card he needed to turn the situation twice in a row which was lampshaded in the episode itself as shown by the quote below. It also doesn't help that two of Lightning's cards, Armatos Lex and Armatos Legio Magica Alcum, had effects which look tailor-made to deal with Blood Shepherd's playstyle.
      Ai: He's really good at drawing.
    • Yusaku's final turn against Go Onizuka in their second duel can definitely be considered this. After Yusaku failed to use his skill thanks to Go's Anti-Skill and his attempt at winning also negated thanks to his trap getting negated, his new skill Neo Storm Access apparently has an additional effect that conveniently lets him draw 1 card and get an extra deck monster only if his LP is 100 or lower and his first attempt to get a card failed which was never hinted at or mentioned before.
    • The result of Revolver vs. Lightning. Lightning opted to go for a DRAW result, but as Revolver gets turned into data, Lightning manages to survive with 1 LP remaining by holding onto one piece of Jin's consciousness data.
    • While Storm Access had already obtained this reaction, as did using skills in Master Duels, Bohman's skills used in his final battle with Playmaker both reek of this: Master Storm Access and the Neuron Link. Master Storm Access is the only skill that can be used more than once per duel, and allows Bohman to add a Cyberse monster to his Extra Deck every turn. The Neuron Link meanwhile is a program he created that fuels his Master Storm Access by absorbing the conscious data of victims in VRAINS. When Akira and Emma manage to disable it at the cost of their own lives, he just wills it back to working. When there are no victims left to power it, he uses the data from VRAINS itself. So just when it appears the protagonists manage to stop the Neuron Link and therefore his skill, Bohman manages to just restart it out of nowhere.
  • Author's Saving Throw:
    • After Yu-Gi-Oh! purists cried foul at the format switching to Speed Duels, it was revealed that the old dueling style, known as Master Duels, would still be in effect for ground-based dueling. Episode 10 confirms the first Master duel in the show, and they remain in use for more pivotal duels.
    • In addition, Link Monsters, the primary Extra Deck monsters for this season, are not fully utilized in Speed Duels (3 markers on a Link monster do not point to anything while in the Extra Monster Zone as Speed Duels remove the left and right most Main Monster Zone) and are shown to be popular in universe because of the fast pace and dangerous element that Speed Duels present.
    • The disliked lengthy summoning sequence of Link Monsters was replaced since episode 14 with a quicker one done on the field, in line with the summons in ARC-V, to the pleasure of the fans. In addition, the replacement of Hosoda Masahiro by newcomer Asano Katsuya is well-received and fans feel the show improves as of that point.
    • Despite the wide use of Summoning techniques in Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V, Ritual Summoning was heavily underutilized. Season 2 has both Playmaker and Soulburner use Ritual Monsters.
    • Another complaint ARC-V (and some of the other series) got were the Loads and Loads of Characters they had which made many of them feel underutilized and made it hard to follow the plot or even remember the characters. VRAINS got around this by making the cast much smaller by comparison, but more plot important.
    • The dub of VRAINS is generally considered a marked improvement over several of the past dubs, even with some questionable choices of names and banters.
  • Badass Decay: Spectre used to be a dangerous individual, fellow Hanoi Project victim alongside Playmaker, and The Dragon to Revolver during the Tower of Hanoi arc, defeating Kitamura, Blue Angel and coming close to defeating Playmaker. Afterwards, he was defeated by Lightning in Season 2 despite having him in a complete Extra Link and was defeated by Ai offscreen alongside Faust in Season 3.
  • Base-Breaking Character:
    • Takeru Homura, aka Soulburner, the Deuteragonist starting in Season 2. While some see him as an interesting and enjoyable character, others accuse him of being a bland Creator's Pet on the same level as Johan and Crow.
    • Bohman is either an interesting take on an AI villain created to unify the Ignis and take over the world, or a tool that cannot find a consistent character and constantly cheats during his duels.
  • Broken Base:
    • Some fans have doubts about VRAINS based on its use and introduction of the controversial new rules brought on by Link Summoning, while others are excited for the series due to its VR theme and interesting character and story potential.
    • Masahiro Hikokubo once again, returning as the duel layout director has caused a stir after his last few showings in both ZEXAL and ARC-V. Having written every duel in all the series up to this point, many feel like he is far too burnt out to write any entertaining duels anymore, often pointing to Yuma's "prep for, then sit on, Utopia for the rest of the duel" strategy in ZEXAL and how wooden some of the duels in ARC-V became as the series went on, with the overuse of Action Cards and the infamous "You still take the damage!" line being uttered every other duel. His defenders, however, point out how Yuma's strategy was in character for him and how ARC-V was a case of trying to focus on all the summoning mechanics made it hard for certain duels to maintain that focus, and are confident with the series focusing on Link summoning, the duels will become a lot more entertaining and natural again now that Hikokubo doesn't have to stress balancing all the summoning mechanics each duel.
    • The recap episodes. Are they justified due to production issues, or does the excess number of them between every few episodes tarnish the reputation of the show?
    • Contributing to Takeru's status as a Base-Breaking Character is his victory over the two major characters of Season 1, Go and Aoi. Some feel that they both deserved their losses for holding the Jerkass Ball and showing needless aggression toward the protagonists in their attempts to obtain the Ignis. Others felt that the losses just hammer in how unimportant everyone other than him and Playmaker are in the big scheme of things.
  • Catharsis Factor:
    • Spectre meeting his end at the hands of Playmaker is a satisfying as hell sight to watch, considering the atrocities he committed in the name of Hanoi.
    • Queen getting defeated by Ai is satisfying to watch especially since she was responsible for the death of his friend Earth as well all the horrible things she did.
  • Character Rerailment: After his drastic change in personality in season 2, Go Onizuka acts a lot more like his old self back in the first season and now fights to protect others as he once did. He even uses his original Gouki Deck in duels rather than Dinowresters.
  • Ear Worm:
    • "With the Wind", performed by Hiroaki "Tommy" Tominaga. It helps that he also sang the first OP to JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, "Sono Chi no Sadame".
    • "Believe in Magic", performed by Ryoga, is a good fit for the series' VR-focused themes.
    • KIMERU didn't disappoint with "go forward", which is catchy just like "OVERLAP" from the original series.
    • "glory", performed by Band-Maid, is very catchy and VERY fitting for the setting of the Ignis Warfare arc.
    • The new opening of season 3, "calling" by KIMERU, is just as catchy as their previous works.
  • Eight Deadly Words: A major critique against the series is that, unless a character is crucial to the plot, they will almost never win their duels and are likely to be killed off in the midst of the conflicts. As nearly every duel in VRAINS influences the plot and has lasting consequences, the core protagonists are usually protected by Plot Armor, while the main antagonists will either keep losing to the core protagonists, or keep sweeping through the other protagonists. This was taken Up to Eleven come the series' third season, where only 10 episodes in, all the Ignis sans Ai are dead, and everyone aside from Playmaker, Soulburner, Revolver, Blue Maiden, and Kusanagi have been killed off by Ai and Roboppi so that Ai can proceed with his unknown plans. Because of this, it gets hard to care about any character outside of the main four, and even then it can be hard to care for Aoi since even when she's plot important, she still loses most of her duels and is put through a Trauma Conga Line.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Earth is easily one of the more popular Ignis despite being the least active in the plot, due to his Adorkable relationship with Aqua and his lack of social skills, on top of being the first Ignis to duel in the series. His horrific and sudden death only fueled this.
  • Epileptic Trees: Thanks to the Jigsaw Puzzle Plot, there are several interesting theories.
    • Aoi/Blue Angel is commonly believed to be a part of the Lost Incident and the child that was used for the basis of Aqua, the WATER Ignis. This image of the girl is a dead ringer for Aoi as a child further supports this theory. Episode #76 disproves this theory, however, as Aqua reveals that her Origin is Miyu, a childhood friend of Aoi's, who styled her hair like Aoi's because she misses her after an incident in their childhood. Yes, they actually explain why the silhouette from many episodes ago looks like Aoi.
    • Thanks to Johan, Bruno and Shingetsu, as well as Sora and Dennis, viewers of the previous series are incredibly suspicious of Takeru Homura. This blink-and-you-miss-it shot of Takeru popularized the theory that he may have a split personality, and/or simply used to be a delinquent as a result of the Lost Incident.
    • SOL Technologies Inc. themselves are In-Universe a major mystery, in spite of seemingly coming of as a typical Corrupt Corporate Executive den. This is thanks to the fact that there is practically no backstory yet to any of their higher-ups. We only get insight on the members from the middle and the bottom of their hierarchy, leaving everything about them up to debate and speculation.
    • Windy's partner became a hot topic after it was revealed Windy caused him to be a part of a car accident, but it was not revealed if he actually died. It was also never stated when it happened causing people to link the car accident to other accidents such as the death of Akira's and Aoi's parents or the accident Kengo Dojun/Blood Shepherd and his mother were a part of since they were all caused by traffic accidents. Some even went as far to theorize that Kengo is Windy's partner just like with Aoi above, because the accident that happened to him is similar to what Windy did and because all of his Drone monsters are WIND Attribute. Episode 88 disproves this theory, for Windy's origin is finally revealed briefly in a flashback and he's a teenager around Yusaku's age who seemed to have moved on from his trauma for he had friends.
  • Evil Is Sexy: Revolver a.k.a. Ryoken Kogami was already this to an extent for some thanks to his voice (in the Japanese version only, it's rather husky as Revolver, but it's raspy in the dub for Varis), but especially once his real life appearance was revealed (and in the dub, this time the smoothness of his voice comes through).
  • Fandom Rivalry: Mentioning how VRAINS fares compared to the other series in the franchise is an easy way to get into a heated discussion. Leave it at that, please.
  • Fountain of Memes: This is really the best way to describe the fan response to Ryoken Kogami/Revolver. Just about everything about him is subjected to Memetic Mutation: his Narm-filled New Media Are Evil rant, inspiring obligatory gun jokes, his poses, usage of Mirror Force, and even his departure via boat at the end of Season 1.
  • Growing the Beard: While the second season's first half started with an interesting premise, it suffered from several problems such as several characters being thrown out of focus in favor Soulburner & Playmaker who made a good chunk of the cast seem like fodder as well as slow pacing to the main arc. Come the second half, the focus on Playmaker and Soulburner has been toned down, each of the neglected characters were given their own story lines such as Go implanting an AI chip in his brain to get stronger, Aoi befriending Aqua and getting stronger as Blue Maiden, Ghost Girl & Blood Shepherd's relationship and Revolver reuniting the Hanoi to destroy the Ignis, in addition to improving the pacing substantially. In addition, the duels were far better received up until the final two.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • "Take a step forward and try!" The theme of not being intimidated and giving up when things seem too complicated can be painful to hear after the massive fanbase outcry when Link Summoning and changes to the rules of the game that was set in stone for decades was introduced, easily eclipsing the original vocal complaints Synchro, Xyz, and Pendulum got combined. More than a few prolific YugiTubers ended up swearing off the card game as a result. In other words, instead of taking a step forward and trying it out, several of them ended up quitting at how overly complicated Link Summoning was and how it single-highhandedly seemed to Nerf the other Extra Deck summoning types. The exact opposite of what the show was trying to promote!
    • Back in season 1 Akira offered to take Ai from Playmaker/Yusaku so that he could live a normal life and that he would shoulder the burden of discovering the truth himself. This was a selfless kind offer Akira made to a person he barely knows, but after SOL Technologies killed Earth, it's heavily implied the same would have happened to Ai if Yusaku were to accept his offer or if Akira won the duel.
      • Termination could also have been Flame's fate had Soulburner lost to Blue Girl.
    • During Season 1, people had speculated GO was a Lost Incident victim, similar to how people thought Aoi was, since Earth looked quite similar to him. Although the theory has been disproven due to Earth being Spectre's Ignis, in episode 81 Go is now shown to be fused with Earth's decomplied data. So, the theory about them being partners became true in a terrifying way.
    • Ai’s remark that he will become Ai Onizuka in response to the AI chip becomes cringy after episode 80 where it is revealed that Earth was integrated into Go Onizuka, meaning that if Playmaker loses to GO, then Ai will potentially be integrated into GO.
  • Heartwarming in Hindsight:
    • The female Lost Incident victim was shown in a flashback to have a similar hairstyle to a younger Aoi. Later, it's revealed said victim, Miyu, was once Aoi's close friend. Despite the fact their friendship was brief, it had such an effect on her that it's the most powerful memory Aqua gets from her in her coma. Meaning Miyu probably started wearing Aoi's old hairstyle as a way to remember her.
    • Aoi's decision to fight for others back in season 1 becomes this when one considers her friendship with Miyu, a Lost Incident Victim. Aoi didn't know it back then, but when she joined Playmaker's war against the Hanoi, she was fighting the people who made Miyu suffer.
  • He's Just Hiding!: Hardly anyone is convinced that Windy succeeded in killing his own partner. This is because he didn't have a name upon being shown as a partial silhouette, further leading fans to believe he's still alive.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • In Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series there is a Running Gag in which a Jerkass character (Kaiba) tells the Butt-Monkey of the series (Mokuba) to shut up whenever he talks. Now in VRAINS we have a similar Running Gag with Yusaku and Ai.
    • In the dub, Yusaku and Ai have the same VAs as Dumon And Mach, another pairing of an amnesiac with an extraterrestrial being that is part of a set.
    • Fans often cite Decode Talker as Yusaku's ace monster over Firewall Dragon due to its higher number of appearances. Come Season 2, and Decode Talker only had a brief cameo taking out a BitBootnote  before finally reappearing in episode 92 in full, while Firewall Dragon had appeared twice before then, albeit used to OTK a fodder Duelist the first time and received an alternate form in Firewall eXceed Dragon and an upgrade in the Link-5 Firewall Dragon Darkfluid.
  • "Holy Shit!" Quotient:
    • Revolver using a classic card in his Duel against GO, revealed to be Mirror Force, came as a surprise for many. Particularly as a card that was hyped up in-universe.
    • Playmaker performs a Ritual Summon in episode 48. The only other main character who used Ritual Monsters is Yugi from the original manga and Duel Monsters anime.
    • Playmaker Fusion Summons "Cyberse Clock Dragon" in episode 54. Fusion Summoned, just when it seemed like Link Monsters would be the only Extra Deck monsters featured in the VRAINS anime. To top it all off, he managed to raise "Cyberse Clock Dragon's" ATK to 7500 and subsequently take out Blood Shepherd.
    • "Half Shut", a spell card from the 5D's era, was used by Bohman. Unlike many legacy cards that appear in later series, like Monster Reincarnation or Mirror Force, the card was not used by many Duelists (only being used once by Yusei), and is not iconic. To see such a legacy card used, and by a major antagonist like Bohman, wasn't expected by anyone.
    • Continuing the use of legacy cards, Playmaker before he got his Cyberse deck used several of them some of which were included in Starter or Structure decks for his Code Talkers. These cards include "Photon Thrasher" which is the most shocking since it's a Monster card used by Kaito Tenjo from Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL, old time favorite "Marauding Captain", the infamous "Limiter Removal" and a card well known to the meta "Forbidden Lance".
    • Upon Revolver's return in Season 2, he uses another card that caught many longtime fans by surprise Magic Cylinder.
    • Not only did the reintroduction of Synchro Summoning, courtesy of Revolver, wow the fans, it was also accompanied by a unique animation sequence, differentiating itself from the ones used in 5D's and ARC-V.
    • The fact that GO allowed an AI chip to be implanted into his brain to improve his dueling capabilities and give him a chance to defeat Playmaker is quite shocking, especially compared to his first season self.
    • Most people expected that when SOL Technologies captures an Ignis, the Ignis will simply be imprisoned and forced to make Data Material. Nope. In episode 75, it is revealed that SOL Technologies will go as far as to kill an Ignis to harvest data as seen when they dismantled Earth with a laser bit by bit for his data until nothing remained.
    • Like with Synchro Summoning, the reintroduction of Xyz Summoning, courtesy of Playmaker, is also complemented with an entirely new animation sequence, differentiating itself from the ones used in ZEXAL and ARC-V.
    • Fans lost their minds over Episode 92's premise, which has Kusanagi confront Playmaker in a Duel, making the shot of Kusanagi where his face is framed in shadow in OP2 finally relevant.
    • Bohman summoning a Link-5 monster.
    • Soulburner actually defeating Ryoken Kogami/Revolver, a first in the franchise for characters with these roles.note 
    • Going one step ahead of Bohman, Ai summoning a LINK-6 monster.
    • Meta examples:
      • The artist performing OP2, "go forward", is revealed to be KIMERU, the same artist who performed the final OP, "OVERLAP", for the original series.
      • The band performing ED4, "glory", is revealed to be Band-Maid. This was welcomed by fans of the band, regardless of their familiarity with the Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise, on the grounds that the popularity of Yu-Gi-Oh! will help the band gain increased exposure.
  • Ho Yay: As with all the other titles in the franchise, it has its page now.
  • It's Short, So It Sucks!: The third season and to a greater extent, VRAINS as a whole, gets this for being the shortest season and series in Yu-Gi-Oh! history. To give a comparison, Duel Monsters lasted 224 episodes, GX 180, 5D's 154, ZEXAL 146, & ARC-V 148. VRAINS only has 120 episodes, and Season 3 is only 18 episodes. Not only is that strange considering the anime typically takes 3 years to finish, there was a lot of plots and characters that still needed development. This caused many to view the series as rushed for the seventh anime to avoid the well-known production issues that plagued it.
  • It Was His Sled: Revolver's use of Mirror Force has become pretty well-known given the nature of the twist.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Yusaku comes off as an antisocial jerk willing to do anything to get the information he needs, and will eliminate anyone who gets in his way. All of this though stems from the incident 10 years ago where he was kidnapped and held hostage for an unknown period time and forced to duel AI duelists if he wanted to eat. Every time he lost, he was electrocuted severely and denied food until he won again. Several times he nearly gave up only for a mysterious voice—confirmed to be an eight-year-old Revolver in episode 43—to teach him his "three things" habit as a method of survival. By time he was rescued, the kidnappers had already lost their use for him, and left him with a severe case of PTSD that exists to this day. No matter how much he wanted to interact with others, no matter how much therapy he received, Yusaku was plagued with nightmares and mental illnesses-induced stress attacks. Now he vows to get Revenge on those who ruined his life, and knows the path he walks is one of darkness, one he doesn't want to drag others on.
  • Launcher of a Thousand Ships: Yusaku continues the trend of the main protagonists being this. He has already been shipped with Aoi, Emma, Shoichi, Jin, his Playmaker persona, Ai but especially Ryoken. Just minutes after he was revealed, Takeru Homura a.k.a. Soulburner was added to the list and when he isn't shipped with Yusaku in a more traditional manner, Fan-Art either portrays him as a Third Wheel or uses him to form an OT3 by adding him to almost any of the previous listed pairings, most often ones being Yusaku x Ryoken x Takeru and even Yusaku x Jin x Takeru.
  • Like You Would Really Do It: No-one took Bohman's claim of being the real Yusaku Fujiki seriously, though the episodes sink themselves fully into the cause complete with tragic flashbacks, which would be fine and dandy if Bohman actually looked anything like the character in question and hadn't been stated to have been given new memories prior.
  • Lost in Medias Res: Some viewers find the series confusing and difficult to follow. Both because nobody outright explains how speed duels or Link Summoning works, and because it's clear that the audience knows far less about the plot than the main character does.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Lightning is the true mastermind behind the entire plot. During the Lost Incident he mentally tortured his then 6 years old Origin Jin Kusanagi, and made him the Empty Shell he is today, then he implanted a computer virus on his creator Dr.Kogami and made him think SOL was responsible for putting him comatose, avoiding punishment. Years later he destroyed his home world using Bohman to prevent himself from being suspected and rewrote the pure Windy's program and forced him to become his loyal ally. After imprisoning Aqua he implanted a computer virus on her Origin Miyu so that the former can't join forces with her, he then stole Jin's consciousness and turned him into lifeless puppet and uses him as a meat shield whenever he is in a disadvantage situation. Even after being on death's door from his duel with Revolver, Lightning was able to empower Bohman, his creation, which grants him a desirable outcome despite his condition.
  • Memetic Badass:
    • Mirror Force, for the sheer unexpected nature of the card, and how much in-universe hype it gets.
    • Topologina Nabee, an apparently non-existent card that Ai thought Pandor would use. Ai even claims that she would have won had she used it, despite not knowing if it exists. The fandom have since jokingly hyped it up as the ultimate card.
  • Memetic Hair:
    • Continuing the tradition of crazy anime hair in the franchise, Yusaku's is often associated with that of a wisteria. Bonus points considering the fact that "fujiki" is Japanese for "wisteria tree", too.
    • Ryoken's purple-blue highlights have been compared to Wooper's gills.
    • Revolver's second avatar's hair has been compared to axolotl gills.
  • Memetic Loser:
    • Revolver gets a lot of Butt-Monkey and/or Comically Serious moments in fan comics.
    • In the series itself, GO has started to become this. Despite being billed as the top duelist in LINK VRAINS, he's only won once, against Dr. Genome. To his credit, his other opponents have been Yusaku, Revolver, and the newcomer Soulburner. However, in the case of the last one, GO had just undergone a radical character change, even opting to swap for a completely different deck, and it still failed to amount to anything. Keeping in with that, his second deck, the Dinowrestlers. They're still well-liked, but endlessly mocked for being inferior to the self-replacing Goukis. It's later deconstructed since his lack of victories is what caused his inferiority complex and Face–Heel Turn which caused him to become a Bounty Hunter and his loss against Soulburner was one of the reasons why he took part in a deadly experiment at the cost of his health just so that he can win again. He won against Earth after undergoing that experiment and is confident that he will never lose ever again after becoming one with an AI, and even that didn't amount to anything after Go lost to Playmaker in their rematch despite having the duel stacked in his favor, making everything he has done to this point an utter waste.
    • Firewall Dragon, due to being rarely used despite being Yusaku's alleged ace monster and only being used as a Link Material to summon Decode Talker in the finale of the first season. Hilariously, Firewall Dragon has been banned in both formats due to its power.
  • Memetic Mutation: Has a page now.
  • Memetic Psychopath: Thanks to the Darker and Edgier tone of the series, we get a few of these.
    • This shot of Takeru (only appearing for a split second) almost single-handily gave him this reputation among many fans who speculate that he may have developed a violent split personality as a result of the Lost Incident in order to cope with the stress. Though this turned out to be unfounded with The Reveal that this is how he used to look before moving to Den City, and that his personality issues simply extended to mild anger and feeling empty.
    • Due to being an Empty Shell, Jin Kusanagi is seen by many as just about a single step away from Jumping Off the Slippery Slope.
    • Thanks to his sneaky demeanor, Haru gets this treatment as well.
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • It's hard to determine which action of Lightning's is where he crossed it:
      • Mentally torturing Jin as a child, leaving him as the Empty Shell he is today.
      • His first chronological action of implanting the virus into Dr. Kogami and letting him believe it was SOL Tech that was responsible, causing the Knights of Hanoi to target them in addition to the Ignis in the first place.
      • Him rewriting the once innocent Windy into the monster he currently is for the sake of gaining an ally and made him harm his own Origin.
      • Destroying the Cyberse World and framing humanity to justify launching a war on them.
      • Enslaving the consciousness data of Jin, his Origin.
      • The true reason for his enacting a war on humanity being due to a Inferiority Superiority Complex.
    • Queen has two possible points in the same episode. Either when she continues to green light the AI chip experiment on Go despite the effects its having on him for the sake of money, or when she orders the termination of Earth, ignoring his cries that he is alive.
  • Narm: Has its own section on the franchise's page.
  • Narm Charm:
    • Kengo Dojun/Blood Shepherd is ridiculously edgy, but also played completely straight and a Magnificent Bastard. His intro in particular is a case of this. Taken Up to Eleven by the dub, where his voice is edgy as well in comparison to the more subdued Japanese version.
    • Aoi's Magical Girl style Transformation Sequence into Blue Maiden after teaming up with Aqua, while considered a bit cheesy, is also considered awesome as it marks her transition to a full protagonist alongside Playmaker and Soulburner.
    • Every old school Trap Card Revolver uses is rather unexpected and funny, because of how much hype there is for their usage despite being well old cards everyone knows, but at the same time they completely fit with Revolver's personality and they just work!
    • The English dub has this painful exchange after Varis summons Borrelsword Dragon, but considering its notoriety in the TCG/OCG it can seem rather appropriate.
      Gore: Gotta admit, looks intimidating.
      Varis (apparently highly offended by this): It doesn't just look intimidating. (quick zoom) It is intimidating!
  • Never Live It Down: The recap episodes have become this to the point where they have become a meme and a drinking game. It doesn't help that there are so many in just the first season. The second season toned them down, but stalled for a bit until the main plot properly started.
  • No Yay: Playmaker and Brave Max. It doesn't help that one of Brave Max's deluded fantasies of Playmaker features him with exaggeratedly fancy eyelashes, accompanied with white sparkles.
  • Older Than They Think: While Speed Duels were popularized by Duel Links, they were originally made for the Duel Terminal arcade machines.
  • OT3: Where to even begin?
  • Rooting for the Empire: People that are saddened by Earth's demise in Season 2 by the hands of SOL Technologies will be cheering for a rogue Ai during his duels against Queen and Go Onizuka in Season 3.
  • Self-Fanservice: While they are already good-looking, Playmaker and Soulburner are nonetheless often drawn more muscular in Fan-Art, usually a swimmer physique.
  • Ships That Pass in the Night: While Yusaku x Aoi is a popular pairing in VRAINS as it continues the tradition of shipping the MC with the female lead, the problem is that interaction between Yusaku and Aoi is only minimal at most. Even though there's hardly any ship tease between them it won't stop people from pairing them. Episode 105 seems to have subverted this, with her and Akira finding out he's Playmaker, followed by a lengthy conversation where they're both sitting on a bench together. She even moves closer to him.
  • Tainted by the Preview: Shin Yoshida's reveal as series writer again (not director, mind you, that title belongs to Hosoda Masahiro) sparked this reaction for some, especially after his work for ZEXAL.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!:
    • Onizuka changing his deck from Goukis to the comparatively worse Dinowrestlers in Season 2 wasn't well-received.
    • Few will argue Playmaker acquiring the old summoning methods to be a bad thing at all, but his eschewing of Firewall Dragon (bar a duel against a fodder duelist) and the code Talkers (save Shootingcode Talker, which got Demoted to Extra) in Season 2 in favor of those cards has not been well-received. Firewall Dragon is at least considered understandable due to its powerful effects and notoriety in the TCG/OCG, and yet ironically has had more appearances in Season 2, including a notable appearance in Playmaker's second duel with Go alongside its Xyz counterpart, "Firewall eXceed Dragon". The code Talkers themselves only appeared in Playmaker's final two duel.
    • Although better justified with the plot, due to Aoi teaming up with Aqua and needing to have a deck that wouldn't immediately alert SOL who she was, replacing the Trickstars with Marincess has not been well received by many fans, as Trickstars were the first female protagonist deck to sell and play well, whereas Marincess has been accused of having boring appearing and features that simply could have been added to the existing Trickstar deck. Not to mention switching from a LIGHT deck to a WATER deck made her much more vulnerable to Bohman's deck, whereas adding WATER attribute monsters to the Trickstars would have given her more coverage.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character:
    • Haru gets this as he is portrayed as a sneaky character but gets less focus every time he appears and the only episode where he does get focus, he loses and dies.
    • Aoi's Blue Girl persona is heavily underutilized, only appearing in a couple episodes before the transformation to Blue Maiden and only dueled once against Soulburner, which ended in her loss. But people wouldn't really know that with the huge amount of focus she has on the opening and endings. And it is not helped at all by the Off-Model problems with Blue Maiden that her previous appearances didn't have.
    • Season 3, due to being less than 20 episodes long, wastes many of the characters as Ai and Roboppi proceed to erase them like flies, including all of the Knights of Hanoi bar Revolver, Spectre included, and every other character only gets a single duel. It's taken to the extreme with Aoi, who is spared after dueling, but then doesn't do anything for the rest of the series.
    • Believe it or not in Season 3, Yusaku and Revolver of all characters. They don't get a proper duel until fifteen episodes into the season, having only each had an offscreen duel with one of the Ai clones, and each only get one onscreen duel. Soulburner fares better than them, receiving two lengthy duels against Roboppi and Revolver.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot:
    • The Another/Deleted virus is resolved within four episodes, leaving the Tower of Hanoi to take up the mantle of giving consequence to Duels.
    • Baira and Faust hint at an alternative to Revolver's plan and the potential for division within the Knights of Hanoi, but as mentioned under Anti-Climax Boss, both of them are defeated before this can be explored.
    • Despite dueling him four times, Playmaker barely uses his multi-Attribute code Talkers against the Attribute-countering Hydradrives used by Bohman.
  • Uncanny Valley:
    • Revolver's character design in Season 1 gives him yellow eyes that lack pupils, landing him right into this trope. Tropes Are Not Bad, however, as it allows him to be more unsettling.
    • Go Onizuka's new design that was revealed in episode 74 is rather unsettling as well. He looks rather malnourished, his eyes look rather lifeless, and he looks almost like he's been taking drugs. Which turns out to not be that far off the mark... He only gets worse as of his next encounter with Playmaker after Earth was terminated, he's even skinnier, his eyes are sunken, and the skin of his lips is tight.
  • Unexpected Character:
    • Prior to its anime debut, the last thing you'd expect Cyberse Magician (the cover card of Cybernetic Horizon) to be is a Ritual Monster.
    • Fusion Monsters were expected to appear in the series at one point given the booster name "Soul Fusion" (which comes after Cybernetic Horizon). On the other hand, however, it was Playmaker, and not Soulburner as people anticipated (due to the "Soul" in the booster name), who reintroduces the Extra Deck Summoning method in the second half of his Duel against Blood Shepherd, where he Fusion Summons "Cyberse Clock Dragon". Blue Girl and Soulburner, too, both follow suit in their Duel two episodes later, Fusion Summoning "Trickstar Band Sweet Guitar" and "Salamangreat Violet Chimera", respectively.
    • Xyz Monsters were also expected to appear since the summoning methods before it were already used, but no one expected the Xyz Monster, Firewall eXceed Dragon, to be a counterpart and support to Firewall Dragon especially since Firewall Dragon is not only severely Out of Focus for an ace monster of The Protagonist, but is also banned in both formatsnote .
    • While the Extra Link was foreshadowed by episode summaries, few people saw the Link-5 monsters in the climax of Season 2 coming.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic:
    • Dr. Kogami. While he has agonized over his decision to destroy the Ignis (to the point of comparing it to killing his own children), he has not once showed any regret over kidnapping six children and subjecting them to torture so horrific that his own son briefly betrayed him, unlike the others that were involved.
    • Starting with Season 3, Ai. Their main motivation behind their actions in Season 3 involves being the Sole Survivor of the Ignis and that they are ultimately lonely and broken. However, in their quest to complete their unknown plans, they proceed to kill most of the cast and act needlessly cruel to anyone trying to sympathize with them. When Aoi tries to point out he wasn't the only one suffering from the loss of the other Ignis, as she had been partners with Aqua and Takeru with Flame, Ai ignores her and says they could never understand him, even proceeding to Kick the Dog by sparing Aoi as a form of Cruel Mercy, so that she could suffer not being able to protect Akira. It makes them come across of being so wrapped up in their own pain they don't care about the pain they are in turn causing, and only care about how the tragedies affects them instead of how it affected everyone.
  • Viewer Gender Confusion: Roboppy's gender has been up for debate since their debut. Due to their high pitched voice, their being a robot maid, and a scene they shared with Ai, most were under the assumption Roboppy was female. That said, they always used the Japanese pronoun "Oira" (オイラ), which is an unambiguously male pronoun. After they and Ai received human forms however, and Roboppy's was shown to be an androgynous child, the debate arose again. After the official translation suggested they were referring to themselves as male, many began assuming Roboppy was always male. The actual line used the gender neutral term "ii ko", which can refer to both "good boy" and "good girl", but it was adapted as male to match Roboppy's use of "oira". Roboppy's gender is still unofficial.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome: Since Episode 14, the quality of the animation has shown remarkable improvement. Episode 39 in particular features absolutely beautiful animation.
  • What an Idiot!: Viewers were flabbergasted that GO failed to use Gouki Poison Mist against Revolver, which would not only inflict 700 damage, but also prevent Revolver from activating his Set Mirror Force on the same turn, and allow GO to deliver a One Turn Kill.
  • Win the Crowd: The first episode of the dub that was shown during the re-run of Pyramid of Light received rather positive reactions, and the announcements by several of the voice actors have been praised too, given that half of them clearly enjoy being associated with the series.
  • The Woobie:
    • Ai. The poor thing just can't catch a break after getting hunted by the Knight of Hanoi and being treated incredibly poorly by Yusaku despite just saving his life just a few moments before. After he finally returns to his home after five years of running and hiding, instead of seeing the paradise he and the other Ignis have created, all he could see was a wasteland there, his fellow Ignis are nowhere to be found and the only shown survivor is Linkuriboh. It only gets worse during the second season, as all of his fellow Ignis are killed during it, prompting his Face–Heel Turn. He tries to be an Iron Woobie in Season 3, but it's not fooling anyone.
    • Jin Kusanagi is probably the biggest Woobie of the series. Just like Yusaku he is a kid who got kidnapped and tortured during the lost incident, but unlike Yusaku he is only an Empty Shell after the incident. And after learning the truth of the incident and starting to make a recovery, he gets his soul stolen after his brother Shoichi asks him to come live with him. Not only that, his consciousness data was made into Lightning's slave; he is forced to abide by Lightning's will and while he can still see and hear, he cannot speak nor control his own actions. Mercifully, the third season gives him a break.
    • Aoi lost her parents at a relatively young age and was forced to constantly move from one place to another with her brother, suffered from what looked to be anxiety and depression throughout Season 1, been brainwashed by the Knights of Hanoi and put into a coma, and been brutally defeated by Spectre, the one responsible for putting her in a coma in episode 34, which ended with her landing face first into the ground and put into another coma. Season 2 isn't any easier on her, as she has to deal with learning that her childhood friend Miyu was a victim of the Incident, and though she forms a partnership with Aqua, she loses her pretty quickly and is quite horrified by the loss. And then in Season 3, rather than losing while Akira is Forced to Watch again, Ai specifically spares her after he defeats her and Akira and tells her that he'll make her feel the pain he's feeling before erasing Akira in front of her.
  • Woolseyism:
    • In the dub, Charisma Duelists are known as Celebrity Duelists, which is a less ambiguous term that more easily establishes who they are meant to be in-universe.
    • The Anothers are known as "the Deleted" in the dub, which fits the setting more.
    • Aoi Zaizen's first name probably wasn't going to as appreciated overseas due most people not knowing that Ao is Japanese for the color "Blue". To remedy this, it was changed to Skye, and what color is the sky associated with?
    • Yusaku's Character Development kicks in earlier and more gradually in the dub, whereas in the original version, he remains roughly static until his final duel with Revolver. He claims that he's also fighting for the allies he lost, specifies the effects that Varis's actions will have on the world as reason for stopping him, while still maintaining his desire for revenge, and his words to Ai when he finds out he lied to him are far less harsh than in the original.

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