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The title for this review is a comment on director Katsumi Ono's twitter, translated from Japanese. Let that set the mood.
Anyone who's followed my edit history can probably guess my opinion: ARC-V is bad. It's frustratingly bad. The kind of bad that makes you wonder how the people who made it got paid. It's the worst YGO series so far, and hopefully ever. Some people say ZEXAL, but ZEXAL can be pretty decent with a watch guide in hand. ARC-V, no matter how you watch it, will have to end on one of the worst final arcs in modern anime.
So let's start with the characters! ARC-V has a lot of characters. Plenty of them are worthwhile. None of those get focus. I'm gonna be frank; all the legacy characters are bad. It was an okay idea, executed horribly, from the point onward of "Let's bring back the one character 5Ds could have used less of!" And while Shun and Sawatari and Yuzu are pretty fun, the main drivers of the plot are Leo, a blithering idiot, Reiji, a worthless cheerleader, and Yuya, a moronic, god-empowered brat with seesawing character development and a strategy based on the show telling you that what you are watching is entertaining, who then turns into an overpowered ugly demon with a preposterously stupid motivation who ties up the show for five straight episodes on one duel.
Which brings me to the duels. There are some standouts early on, notably Sora and Shun or Masumi and Yuzu, but after that point, Action Duels and Battle Royales grow on the show like a cancer. The anime's relation to the game has always been confused, but when you can pull supposedly-random-but-not-really cards out of nowhere and call in any number of allies, then it makes the stakes feel completely arbitrary, with more in common with Calvinball than an actual game.
There are many other things to discuss - the poorly paced arcs, the dubious monster designs, the fact that entire casts of characters just vanish for no reason - but I want to talk about Yuzu. Now, people have defended Yuzu by saying that no other YGO show has been good with its female characters. That's quite true - but no female character had as good of a reason to be important as Yuzu. She's the keystone of multiple arcs, she's a fragment of the universal savior, she's the main character's best friend and love interest. And yet, past a certain point, she doesn't even pass the Sexy Lamp Test. I remember when people were theorizing she would get the Ceremonial Duel, or be the one to beat Zarc, things that would have been mad with Anzu or Asuka, but sounded entirely credible. Yet here we are.
And this is why I can't recommend ARC-V. 5Ds, I can recommend watching the first half and you'll still get a decent show. But ARC-V's first arc will only raise your hopes. The closest I have to recommend is to watch the first fifty episodes, and then either make up an ending or read a fanfic - and if you want to keep watching, just remember that the ending waiting for you is an ending where an evil baby smiles, fifty-two pickup gets played, damage is still taken, and everyone is okay with five innocent people being dead.
Arc-V started out with some promise during season 1, many likable characters, the Main Female Lead Yuzu having a big role rather than being a Faux Action Girl or simple Fanservice, the return of old Archetypes, and many Deconstructions to series staples making it an interesting story. However, once the Synchro Arc came around, they dropped the ball. As much as I love Jack and Crow, they and the other Legacy Characters didn't need to be in the limelight for so long. The fact this season occurred in the midst of Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions production meant many writers and animators were lost, which clearly shows. What should have been a 25 episode arc took up an entire season, which in turn ate into the time needed for Heartland and Academia. This lead to too quick Redemption Stories, superfluous characters taking the screen time of more important characters (Looking at you Shinji Weber), and unsatisfactory payoffs. Not helping matters also is the shafting of both Yuzu and her equally capable, if not more so, counterpart Serena, the wasting of Rin, and to a lesser extent, Ruri, the wasted potential of Sawatari, Gongenzaka, and Tsukikage, the inclusion of the much reviled Captain Solo, Battle Beast, and Parasite Doctor arcs, and the anti-climax of a Finale Duel against Zarc. And don't get me started on the ending. Production Issues ultimately screwed this series over.
Despite all this though, I will defend Arc-V a bit. Despite having a horrid run, Arc-V remains my favorite of the series due to one factor: the plethora of likable characters. Arc-V may have Loads and Loads of Characters, but most of those characters I really like. All of the Lancers (Including Sora, Crow, Yuya and Serena, excluding Reiji), all of the Resistance (Including Yuto, Ruri, Shun, and Kaito), the Tyler Sisters, Tokumatsu, Yugo, Yuri, Rin, Yuzu, the LDS Trio, I look back at this series and remember them fondly. Even if some of them had wasted potential, I still care for them each. Plus, hey, there's always fanfics.
Arc-V had potential, but dropped the ball thanks to production issues and poor decisions made as a result of that.
Contrasting most of the previous complains of the last arc a common opinion held by lots of people is that this arc ended too soon, concluding after only 13 episodes (11 if we don't count the ones happening on the Fusion Dimension) that the arc had so much potential that went wasted because of that.
I do not share this opinion, at all if anything from ep. 1 my only thought was "Am I going to have to sit through a whole arc of this?" but I'll try to be fair and mention first what I did like about the arc:
The most enjoyable parts of this arc where Edo's character arc and his change of heart along with hindsight of the Child Soldiers of Academia thanks of him and the Tyler Sisters, Yuya getting to apply what he learned in the City by catching Grace's interest and swaying Edo to his side were shockingly heartwarming. I particularly loved the way Grace's curiosity for Yuya's entertainment dueling was handled, and how despite being very much The Dividual they still got subtle differences in their characterization.
True the change of heart of the whole Academia kids did felt rushed and it reeks a little of Deus ex Machina and maybe if I didn't knew that these things are known to happen in Real Life battlefield I would not have bought it in the slightest.
Now for the things that the arc did not do right:
If you were hoping for some backstory or insight for Heartland, The Resistance or anything about the Xyz Dimension, I'm sorry to tell you that the Xyz arc is only "Xyz-related" in a nominal way, because with the exception the mention of the Dueling School factions and the introduction of two new characters Allen and Sayaka which quite honestly beyond their Morality Pets role fell flat as characters, everything else in the arc is carried by either Yuya, Edo or the Tyler Sisters.
Oh yeah the Resistance gets a cameo at the end of the arc, nothing about it was noteworthy.
People were expecting some plot-heavy reveals, or hints about the Dimensional Counterparts, and we do have new intro which gives us the Arc Area Project name for the Heartland Invasion... and that's pretty much it, sure Yuto's dragon is given a power up and somehow Yuto is now able to talk with Yuya 24/7 but all of it cames off as mostly inconsequential, and much of it in never again brought up.
And last if we needed more proof that Shun's only role in the series is the Ineffectual Loner which lots of anger issues towards their enemy there is no bigger proof than Kaito, again somehow Shun decides that the Lancers are his comrades after all thanks to bonding with Yuya... off-screen probably since we never got to see any of it, instead the mantle of the Loner is taken by Kaito even with his own Morality Pets (Sayaka and Allen) and his tragic backstory of his family being carded by the Academia.
Given that down outnumber the ups this time. I give this arc a 4/10 and that's only thanks to the people from the Fusion Dimension.
Arc-V is a series I like for a lot of reasons. I like its Deconstructor Fleet treatment of the franchise's tropes, I like its nostalgic references to the previous series and I particularly like several characters. That being said, there is a point where too much of a good thing is bad, and there was definitely too much 5D's Fanservice.
For a good third of the series, the plot was put on hold so Kensho Ono, the series director, could do a rehash of his previous work in this franchise. Now personally 5D's is my favourite spin-off series for just how insane it could be at times, but there's a reason "Are they still in the Synchro Dimension" became a meme. The Synchro Dimension arc dragged the plot to a standstill as effectively as a lead weight and killed the pacing utterly. And in the long run, it's had very few consequences: Yuya hasn't Synchro Summoned since they left City, and the arc's only major impacts are removing Dennis via reveal of his traitor role and Jack turning up to deal with the Battle Beast. This isn't helped by the one time the awakening and dragons plot happened in City boiling down to a horrible tease with the plot being danged like jangling keys then rudely pulled away with no reveal about what the whole 'Become one' thing was about. And this mess resulted in the writers having to scramble out a colossal infodump in 126 and 127 to explain just what on earth was going on. At times it almost comes across as Writing by the Seat of Your Pants, like Ono was so determined to spend an arc rehashing 5D's that the plot of Arc-V wasn't filled out until the last minute.
This isn't to say that the series is beyond redemption, but I do feel it's an excellent display of why pacing is important. Leaving all of your reveals about important plot elements like the dragons and the Identical Stranger plot until the last sixth of the series tends to end with the audience getting tired of waiting more than two years to find anything out.
Arc Fatigue seems to be the number one complaint that most people have, although this was presumably when we thought that it would just be an arc. Silly fandom, me included.
Nevertheless, it's still a good arc, even if it doesn't seem to be as great as the Maiami Championship. Things are looking up for the next arc though. With the Lancers attempting to find allies in the Synchro Dimension, they get dragged into...another Tournament Arc after the cancelled the last one. All right. Meanwhile, Security Director Jean-Michel Roger continuously attempts to undermine the Lancers in a scheme that isn't revealed full until the next arc, with a Dragon who also doesn't get his due until the next arc.
The good: We've got some excellent duels, and now that we're in the Synchro Dimension, more Synchros than we can handle. Jean-Michel Roger debuts as an excellent and competent antagonist, and the return of Crow and Jack has been handled spectacularly; while Jack pretty much takes over the season with defeating him being the goal, it's really rather Justified. Crow in addition hasn't Spotlight Stolen, and if anything has been underutilized. The plot actually does move along reasonably quickly; it's just that the influx of the problems of the City mean that it has to swell and space out. The climax of the arc will keep the fans in the series; it's episode 34 all over again, and that is in no way a bad thing. Yuya also undergoes some well-done Character Development, and while it seems to come off as Wangst to some, in my opinion, Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped.
The bad: City sucks. The population are very hateable. And while most of the duels are excellent, the fact that others get broken up is rather annoying. In addition, the size of the cast and their separation for most of the arc means that there's hardly any character interaction that we'd been looking forward to. Thankfully when it does happen, it's always good. However, one has to wonder whether City are even meant to be sympathetic, but the problem with that is that one needs to figure out what the point is.
In summation, while one could argue that it's worse or weaker than the previous arc, the Friendship Cup arc is still pretty damn good regardless, and the above cons just build up more expectation for when they happen.
This show is the best Yugioh ever, surpassing even the original. It started off "meh" and then went to "awesome"... and kept going! I felt like I just had to keep watching until I ran out of episodes.
The writing is awesome. There is not a single filler episode in the entire first season. And Yugioh loves its pointless filler, but not here. Every episode either advances some part of the main story, develops the characters, or introduces a new character. It's highly serialized, the tight plotting and good pacing put this season above the others for the writing strength alone. Even the inevitable Tournament Arc, every duel we see has some value to the larger plot going on. Speaking of, the story is good, paying tribute to all that has come before while also telling its own story.
There's character arcs, good ones. The main trio evolve their decks by incorporating new strategies and monsters, and they grow and change as people. We have a female lead that does something! Yuzu gets to duel regularly and has a subplot dedicated to her learning Fusion Summons. Finally, Yugioh gives us a proper female protagonist.
I remember past series where it seemed duelists ran dozens of trap cards to negate attacks and/or draw cards so the writers can keep the duel going. Not here. Action Cards are nothing flashy, they usually just raise stats for one turn or negate an attack. It's the typical Yugioh Ass Pull when Yuya always finds Evade or Miracle just in time to stop an attack, but the trade-off is his main deck isn't saturated with cards for the same, and not every duel is an Action Duel so there's less Ass Pulls, anyway. Pendulum is a good mechanic, it supports existing archetypes instead of being one itself, and it's awesome watching different dueling styles clash, like Xyz vs Fusion. No other series has done this and it's cool.
Duels last only one or two episodes, and for the better. Duels are much more fast-paced and interesting because they don't take four episodes to complete, and we have much fewer gimmicky joke duelists, so duels feel more realistic and are thus more enjoyable.
The music is striking and memorable, sometimes it's happy and upbeat, other times dark and foreboding, and it's used well in the episodes.
Arc-V makes other Yugioh franchises look like a stumbling mess. After five series, they're finally doing everything right
With a year of Arc-V out, I thought it prudent to re-review the series.
Arc-V is a very strong series. After a holding period of only a little bit of information, the plot starts moving in a big way, and keeps moving. You learn the pieces one by one, and while all of the characters hold a piece of the puzzle, none of them hold all of them.
That 'holding period' I mentioned earlier? Just because it doesn't whack you over the head with plot does not mean that it is useless. Some episodes are slower, or more subdued, but not one of them is a useless one. There is no filler in Arc-V, and pretty much every single thing is going to play a part, have a purpose.
Will the lulls annoy you? Yes. They will. But if you can hold on, know that it not only gets better, but holds its own with the best of the best of Yu-Gi-Oh, then you will be rewarded.
Also- let's not forget that every Yu-Gi-Oh! Series has its ups and downs. None of them are perfect, and we managed to like those ones just fine. ;)
Arc-V had a weak beginning, but it was rarely dull looking at you Eita and Michio. But it is easily shown that it was all set up, while we waited half a year for the set up to finish, the show kept us entertained with foreshadowing, plot devices and interesting characters till finally it burst open at once and refuses. to. stop. ever. Every episode and character had a purpose, unlike a lot Yu-Gi-Oh! shows. What we got wasn't what we expected, instead of a cheesy silly narm filled show, we got a brutal, realistic depiction of war with a few concepts that are out there(its Yu-Gi-Oh!, what do you expect) but one that made sense. There are flaws though, Futoshi's shivers, the reuse of Egao scene(which luckily seems to be going away) and the whole Yuyas and Yuzus look alike thing. But its seems to be fixing all the flaws of previous series, stronger female involvement, Yuzu, Serena, Ruri and Rin are strongly connected to the plot. Deeper character development, Yuya is easily the most complex anime protag we had, more complex plot development and more diversified duels thanks to every summoning type being present.
So, here it is! After some times airing, the anime has reached a point far enough where I can write a review and not just editing articles.
When I watched the first 2 episodes, I thought that, "Seriously? Another Shining Draw protagonist? And what's up with those Action Cards!?"; yes, it's awesome and all but the ass-pull amount was unforgivable...
...At least until I watched the next episodes. Instead of being bored to death, I got a love letter from the creators as I was faced with complex plot, breathtaking duels, parental care (Yes, gotta write that), mysteries and nice series tone. And I like how they deconstruct Yu-Gi-Oh! aspects, have been waiting for that!
Oh, and they also got Fusion, Ritual, Synchro and Xyz! Plus some TCG/OCG stuff! Good Heavens!
The plot is so well-developed in this anime, and if it's not because of #1 and #2, it'd be so much better.
I'm surprised that there are many three-dimensional characters in this series. At first, I kinda expected some people playing children's card game, bonding with card boards and be done with it. Instead, I got a deep protagonist, an actually good heroine, a perfect rival, and good parents, among other things! Many characters are memorable (For good or bad, lookin' at ya Eita!), and I actually love most of them. Lots of the cards also counts. It does help that the new Solid Vision gave them more life and depth.
About the duel choreography... Despite having some of the most kickass duels, several duels used too many A-Cards and some of the duels are kinda boring, such as #16~17 and 19~20.
Visual-wise, lots of the monsters look badass! The summon animations are awesome, and seems like the peeps who do the visuals are going all-out! Special mention goes to Action Duel, which makes dueling both mind game and Parkour.
The music is great, as expected from a "Yu-Gi-Oh!" anime. Some of them can be ear-worms, while some of them are outright awesome. The OP and ED are catchy, and they do deliver the series to the audience.
All in all, I can say that this is the best "Yu-Gi-Oh!" anime I've watched so far. If you're a Yu-Gi-Oh! fan like I am, I totally recommend this anime. Don't give up or judge the anime by episode 1 and 2 (Determination is the show's theme, accidentally), since the rest of the episodes are mostly totally and utterly awesome!
This review has spoilers, so if you're not at this point in Yu-Gi-Oh Arc-V, and want to find out what happens for yourself, stop reading this review.
I personally have some mixed feelings about this episode. Last episode we saw a bit of Sora dueling Yuto before Yuya came in the duel. I was really excited for the next episode and how it would turn out. But sadly, this episode's main focus wasn't on dueling. The duel only lasts 3 turns before getting called off, and the most interesting thing was when it looked like Yuya's dragon was actually fighting Yuto's dragon. Fortunately, it's main focus is on explaining what's going on, so we can finally get some answers.
We get to find out that Sora, Yuto, and Shun are from different dimensions. I had suspicions that it was the case, but it's pretty cool to get confirmation. We also finally get answers on what Academia has done, attacking Yuto and Shun's home city and trapping many people into cards. We also get a hint on who the actual Big Bad is when they show a mysterious man who looks like the headmaster of Academia when Sora is forced back to Academia. And there's some mysterious glow that causes pain when Yuya's and Yuto's dragons meet for some reason.
A minor nitpick of mine is how the dimensions were labeled. They classify the dimensions based off the summoning techniques used there. Sora is from the fusion dimension, Sora and Shun are from the XYZ dimension, and Yuya and the rest of his friends are part of the standard dimension since they use all forms of summoning techniques. Am I the only one who thinks that's stupid? Also we get to see Yugo, the guy on the D-Wheel, with his helmet off for the first time. He apparently looks like Yuya and Yuto, hinting that there are lookalikes for everybody in the dimensions, but I just can't help but focus on how stupid his Anime Hair looks like (even for Yu-Gi-Oh standards) to notice any similarities.
This episode seems to be more focused on getting us prepped for later episodes of the series. The episode wasn't bad, but I personally can't find myself rewatching it since I now know everything it has to tell us. After that, all it has is a short unfinished duel. But it did a good job at getting me hyped and giving us answers making Yuto and Shun less mysterious and more sympathetic.
If you only saw the very first episode, and decided to judge it on that, then it would be fair to call the series out on it. As far as first episodes go, it isn't promising, and in fact, is very confusing. You're thrown in wholesale, without anything to judge.
Episode 2 is where things get stronger. Yuya's creation of the Pendulum mechanic and monsters mid-duel mean that most people consider him a cheat, and those that don't have painted a target on his back. Yuya's self confidence also takes a huge hit, and we can see that he's easily one of the most emotionally vulnerable of the heroes.
The only really annoying aspect of the series so far are the sound effects, such as Yuya's snoring. And that's fortunately dropped for the serious parts.
In short, hold off your judgements until you've seen episode two. This is a series that's worth a second chance.
I try to go into new series with an open mind, but I was pretty certain from the instant I heard the basic premise of this show that everything I disliked about Zexal was going to carry over to Arc-V. And having watched the first episode, I was pretty much right.
In fact, if anything, this is an even less interesting first episode than Zexal's. Pretty much all Yu-Gi-Ohs seem to open with an introduction to the protagonist followed by a card game against a bad guy, but this time the stakes seem nonexistent. The only problem is Yuya's dad is missing, an idea that is not elaborated on much (AND was already used in Zexal). I mean, let's say Yuya loses the duel next episode (SPOILER: He won't). What's the worst that will happen? He'll be very sad? Why should I care about this character? And his opponent doesn't do anything particularly unsympathetic, either, besides some trash talk, but he looks like a generic buff thug, so I guess he's evil or something.
The other issue carried over from Zexal is the zaniness and garish colors. I mean, Yuya is introduced riding on a pink hippo, and before his duel he dresses up as a clown for no reason. That should tell you everything you need to know about the tone of this show.
And speaking of ways this show is exactly the same as Zexal, Yuya has a pendant that gives him a special new type of card so he can win the duel without any actual skill or effort. I'm sure the Number- I mean, err, Pendulum Monsters will be the focus of the plot in the episodes to come, but for now they just seem to inexplicably and arbitrarily appear with no hint or promise of their nature (at least the Numbers got that demon gate dream sequence).
Another minor nitpick: The Action Duels seem cheap. The characters can just grab whatever cards they need from the environment now? That means duels will be even more scripted and fake than before! And it turns it into more of a physical activity rather than a turn-based strategy game.
There are some good things, though. I like the card designs. Despite being too brightly colored, Yuya's circus-themed cards are at least distinct and memorable, and his ace Dragon and Magician cards look pretty awesome. And given the lack of plot in this episode, it's possible the story will actually be interesting whenever it starts happening. I'm just not holding my breath.
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