Cardfight!! Vanguard

Wow! Four years! Yes, The Manga Connoisseur has been strolling along for four years now, and we’re celebrating the only way we know how: Card games!

You may recall that the first manga I’d ever owned was King of Cards, probably the only series to star a girl who is a pro at a card game, despite the ironic title. Although no need to worry, because no one falls in love with their cousin in this one.

When I saw this manga on the shelf, I thought it would be nothing more than a knockoff of Yu-Gi-Oh!, specifically the Duelist series. I mean, it’s a card game manga, and the art looks similar to Yu-Gi-Oh!’s. Heck, there’s even exclamation points in the title!

It’s by the artist who drew Yu-Gi-Oh! R. That was a relief. Now I can throw out half of my “Yu-Gi-Oh!” comparisons. The manga is based off an anime, based off a card game made by Akira Itou (the YGOR artist) and the creator of Duel Masters, somehow. Or maybe all the stuff came out at once. I dunno.

Thing is, as a Jewish kid I couldn’t watch TV or go online. Playing card games was a boon for my brother and I. Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Magic: The Gathering, and a very confused interlude trying to figure out how to play Digimon. Don’t even bother, somehow I ended up beating my brother.

Reading this manga, I feel like I’m a kid again, playing a card game. Digimon, unfortunately. I don’t get the rules, I barely retained what the manga tried to explain.

So get this. Instead of lowering life points based on a set amount of health, the player has to knock out six opposing monsters. Keep in mind, the power of the creatures are usually 6000-10000. Nope, nothing confusing there.

I appreciate that they’re not just trying to rehash preexisting series (and that “shield” is on the side), but it’s just not for me. I bet the kids these days get it like that, though.

So the manga. We get Aichi who is a timid teen without friends, some guy who steals his card, another guy who’s an enemy made into a friend, a woman with an uncanny third sense at card games… Yugi, Kaiba, Joey, Mai. Formula: Complete.

He gets his Blaster Blade stolen, which is like the Dark Magician here. Fun fact: The manga comes with a free card. I got the Blaster Blade. It’s… it’s not that cool. This game, unlike real life, is played for cards, so the thief gives a pro, Kai, the card. Aichi plays Kai for the card, because a childhood friend gave it to him… Kai! Aichi wins, despite never having played, of course. Now they’re friends!

First, there’s no Duel Disk or holograms or motorcycles. The whole game is portrayed through imagination, which is fine. That’s how I like to play.

Second, there’s also no original formula. Nothing’s stolen from other series, but the gameplay is reused over and over. Aichi summons “Grime,” a bland Eevee, then Blaster Blade, then wins. Even Exodia was only used in the one duel.

The only character I particularly like is Misaki, who has a photographic memory, allowing her to remember strategies, rules, and call thieves scum over and over.

A definite step up from Tea. My problem is that she still loses to Aichi, but then again, the only character to beat him in this volume is some kid not even good enough to be on the exterior of the volume.

Oh, and for some reason, like Yugi to Joey, Aichi tries to befriend the guy who stole his card. He tries to join the Cardfight club, but the bully refuses, despite the fact that including him in the club will bring up their score average, letting them keep the club. Nice. Like everything, Aichi challenges him to a Cardfight. Oh, he wins, but before they fight, the bully says, “You think having a rare card makes you a card fighter?!” Um… Kai called you out on that in the first chapter, bully. That’s why you stole the Blaster Blade.

I can see this doing well enough. The characters have their own abilities, and if there’s a supernatural element, I haven’t gotten there yet. It does come off as trying to be another Yu-Gi-Oh! series, but on its own, there’s enough to work.

I say give it a look, at least the manga. Try not to think to hard about the rules and just have a good time.

Well, that’s Year Four for you. Merry Summer, Happy Heat Waves, and a Jolly Surf’s Up Dudes to you all! And here’s to 4444 more years!

Kasumi

Have you ever wanted to be invisible? Like today, I get on the bus, planning to enjoy a nice hour reading, glancing out the window, and not having someone sit next to me an talk the whole way there. So none of that happens, since an older Jewish man sees the one Jewish male on the bus and talks to me about Judaism and his mother and children and the price of my undershirt and how everyone else is inferior and GOD I wish I wore a hat like usual because it would have covered my skullcap although literally everything else would have been a dead giveaway.

My point being that maybe Susan Storm has defensive powers, but they’re not all bad. Kasumi of Kodansha’s “Kasumi” however, well, hmm.

Before we begin, let’s list off all the cliches.

1. Dead Mom cliche. I’m so, so tired of this device. From Snow White to Frozen, the mother is usually dead or inactive. Even in Aladdin, which focuses on a guy, there’s no mom. Lion King has a dead father, yet the living mother is no James Earl Jones. And Brave never existed, so that’s out. When a manga focuses on a female character, her mother will be dead or absent, usually. A son’s father dies as well. It’s the bonding between a common gender, and it is so overrated.

2. Hate The New Student cliche. This case it’s about her being mmmmmmm one of those commoner riff-raff barging into our school! I mean, she does magic, and they don’t bat an eye. Okay, they bat an eye when she does literal magic, but I’d probably be a little impressed with simply tricks. This is her class introduction, and the teacher looks sympathetic, so that’s nice enough.

3. Don’t Talk To Our Crush! cliche. I recall praising Strobe Edge because it handled developing romance and relationships well. Most importantly, the girls are encouraging of the lead character’s crush on their collective crush. Meanwhile, in “Portrait of M & N,” the bonus story Birdcage Girl Story I Hate Thing, the girls hate the lead character because she’s being harassed by the Roger monster, who they want. I understand that girls all want one guy so they get jealous at the one girl who gets him, but Kasumi (the manga) already tortures Kasumi (the protagonist) too much by now, not to mention Kasumi doesn’t like the male lead. She just sends a letter to the guy as a favor for some girls that have no taste. It’s overkill, like the ending of UHF. Nowadays, the Big Bad TV Station would be the little guy trying to get everyone back into television.

4. First Name Title cliche. This is more of a pet peeve. Don’t name a book John, because no one will read it or care. TV shows are fine, like Maude, Daria, Ellen, Oprah, basically shows with women’s names work, yet Jerry needs Springer. I don’t know, it varies. Kasumi doesn’t really jump out.

I could go on about how Kasumi’s dad consumes his sorrow by overworking or how when Kasumi realizes she can turn invisible, she does mostly stupid things like pranking her bullies and swiping free samples for a kid, but I won’t. Let’s focus on the positives.

No, sorry. The free sample thing. I’ll admit that Kasumi was fine for stealing the sample. It’s free, after all. Obvious question for those who hadn’t read this manga: Why would Kasumi need to steal a free sample? Because the woman running the booth won’t give the kid any crab, claiming that the crabs aren’t for kids. Then she says if he calls his mom over, she’ll give him one. A few things. One, this girl should be fired. Whether or not both mother and son eat a sample or he eats it in front of his mom, if the boy likes the crab enough, he’ll tell his mom to buy some. Second, she says they aren’t for kids, but offers him one if he’ll get his mom to come over. Which is it? Utterly mixed messages. Third, the lady says no one’s at the booth, and questions why. Maybe because you freak out at little kids, that’s why.

There’s one thing about the manga I like, and it’s certainly not the fact that every side view drawn looks like they smell awful. No, it’s Yuuta Goodwin (Japanese/American name mixture cliche), who loves a Superman ripoff called… sigh… “Superguy”. Played in the movie by David Devene. Hmm, a bit like Reeve, but not quite. Yuuta seems to like Kasumi, but mostly as a friend. He isn’t afraid to express his emotions or interests and ignores the cruel jibes of his classmates. The Mean Girl Leader cliche can’t resist him when he takes off his glasses, although by the end of volume one, she’s built up an immunity, meaning he isn’t overpowered. When he thinks Kasumi is drowning, Yuuta dives in to save her. He stands up to the school president, is the only one to immediately befriend Kasumi, and acts for her benefit with no reward in mind. In short, I love this character.

Kasumi does not thank him once.

Look, I think Kasumi should be a little grateful for his help. That nearly mute girl doesn’t do half as much, and all the school president does is… hug her. So he’s the love interest? He’s nowhere near as interesting! If I may use an unorthodox example, it’s like how in that Cinderella Story (Hilary Duff, not the other billion versions) the lead character ends up with the hot guy instead of the cute nerdy best friend who didn’t act like a jerk.

Oh, and Kasumi and the class president teleport out of the school. End of the volume.

It’s not a good manga, and really, it’s full of rehashed ideas. I can’t recommend this, but I’m sure someone will. “Best manga! It’s like Violet Parr, but a manga! A+Stars!”

It has suddenly dawned on me that being invisible on the bus would be a bad idea. I’m sitting down, invisible, the old man passes me, but a three-hundred-pound man crushes me and nineteen bones. I also hear that being invisible makes you blind. Look it up.