Welcome back to another exciting review of VRAINS, this week featuring dramatically shaky camera effects, realistic dueling strategies, and a character who actually looks noticeably different as a child than she does now. Featuring special guest: female character in distress – definitely a first for Yu-Gi-Oh!
I’d vouch for this being the strongest duel to date in VRAINS. Granted, there are only two other contenders for that title. But the first duel was fairly boring and the second duel felt contrived despite an engaging second half. Both Blue Angel and Playmaker (and Go) in their duel utilize strategies common in real life Yu-Gi-Oh!, such as comboing the Trickstar cards to rack up small increments of effect damage or spamming out Link monsters in succession. The latter, though, is getting quite tedious to watch. Not only does the Link summoning animation take a good twenty to thirty seconds each time, but watching Playmaker just vomit Link monsters onto the field over and over does not exactly make for thrilling TV. I really hope he finds a different way to duel soon, as these plays have already become stale.
Their duel plays out, and of course at one point Blue Angel draws Hanoi’s card and falls under its dark influence. I do wish Specter’s plan had been better explained. He showed up, gave a new (kind of crappy) card to Aoi that just so happened to fit her archetype, and then he expects to defeat Playmaker by…almost dying from mental strain? Excellent plan. Bravo. Not to mention the fact that it’s quite possible her winning would grant Akira possession of Ignis. That might not be the case, but it’s certainly not clear one way or another. Just seems like there are a lot of holes in Hanoi’s plan. An explanation of why she reacted so negatively to the card would also have been appreciated. It will be interesting to see how her televised mental breakdown affects her and her reputation, as the audience was clearly shocked to see its idol act so aggressive.
One has to wonder what happened with Aoi’s whole “justice” schtick. After Playmaker’s first duel, she demanded he turn himself in. She doesn’t bring that back up at all, and her brother was not after Playmaker at that point so her motivation was her own at that point. Guess it can just be chalked up as a discarded character trait.
Let me just say Playmaker’s Skill, Storm Access, is some ole bull. Loathe as I am to do so, I can accept Skills basically being a guise for Action Cards. But Playmaker’s Skill is to literally pull a card out of thin air. Yuma gets a lot of flak in ZeXal for infamously changing the card he draws during his duel with Vector, but Storm Access is starting to make that look like a totally legal and justified play by comparison. Granted, protagonists have always pulled new cards out of nowhere. I mean Yuya created an entirely new summoning method. On one hand, Playmaker’s new cards are at least somewhat explained in terms of where they come from, but, on the other, him actually possessing a game-legal ability to create a totally new card mid-game is nonetheless kind of crazy.
As far as animation goes, this is definitely not a stand-out episode. Or perhaps it is, just in a bad way. First there’s still the repetitive scenery of Link VRAINS, complete with a missed opportunity to have Blue Angel’s field spell card provide a welcome change in aesthetics. To not sound like a broken record, that’s all I’ll say about that before moving on to my next point regarding the episode’s underwhelming visuals. Multiple times during the episode characters faces just look like blotches after a shot zooms out. In addition, there are very few uniquely choreographed shots to offset the more bland character motions like there were during Go’s duel (the wrestling scenes). Encode Talker looks decent, and there is a nice symbolic scene showing Blue Angel plummet into darkness without her wings, but that’s about it. Seriously, let’s give this show a bigger animation budget.
This would be a solid episode if not for some subpar animation and questionable writing regarding Hanoi. Its little details like those that keep this show chugging along at a good-not-great level of quality. If it could just take time to work out a few of these story kinks and apply more effort to its animation, VRAINS would really go places. Next episode seems like another plot-focused episode, which means we likely won’t see any dazzling visual feats, but perhaps the show will take time enough to smooth out its story.
Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS - Episode 7
- Enjoyable duel
- Blue Angel's banter makes the duel more engrossing
- Music is slowly improving
- Hanoi's plan seems flawed
- Lack of explanation for Blue Angel's adverse reaction to Hanoi's card
- Fairly bland animation that often dips in quality
- Link summoning scenes are a pain to watch
- Storm Access