It’s about time we had a proper duel using the standard Master Rules. Spoiler alert: Playmaker and Revolver’s epic clash doesn’t conclude after only one episode. Revolver forces a tie between them after baiting Ignis into creating an immense Data Storm for Yusaku to better use Storm Access (in which he presumably gains his future ace, Firewall Dragon, based on the silhouette). This was all according to Revolver’s plan, as he allows the Data Storm to swallow both Yusaku and himself in order for them to arrive at another field in which they can rematch using the standard 5-zone rules, just as Revolver…you know what? I don’t know. I give up. Data Storm. Duel interruption. New duel. Starting over. All according to Revolver’s convoluted plan. That’s about all I understand. I really can’t tell if it’s just poor writing or the production staff is intentionally being secretive about just what in the heck is going on. (Or maybe I’m just thick-headed…Nah.) The finer points of Revolver’s grand plan to ensnare Yusaku and Ignis are just kind of glossed over as usual, leaving viewers to simply forgive the series on account of it being but a simple card game anime.
I for one am glad that Revolver takes the duel to another stage, even if it is a standing one. (Abridged Yusei screams in the distance.) Somehow this duel manages to be more visually entertaining than one that literally takes place speeding past virtual buildings. I’m assuming it’s because my expectations for visual impact are lowered in standing duels…but whatever the case, at the very least the duel is engaging both in content and visuals AND IS NOT JUST A BORING CYCLING BACKGROUND. That’s not to say the animation itself was standout, because it really was pretty average for the majority of the time, but there at least was not too much that stood out as being poorly animated this week, save for Playmaker’s abomination of a hairstyle.
Regarding the duel itself, it quickly becomes saturated with effects, as Revolver places multiple cards with continuous effects on the field, with their effects mentioned pretty briefly. It gets difficult to keep track of what effects are applying when, especially when the show’s characters just shout out the effects one after another without a breath’s delay. That’s been an issue with VRAINS as a whole so far. This episode circumvents the problem a little by incorporating an increased number of split screens showing off the various monsters applying their effects. It’s not at all uncommon for the franchise to use split screens like this, but there seems to be a particular abundance of them this week, which even if it does make for non-engaging visual storytelling, it at least allows viewers to better keep up with the effect activations and interactions. In the end, I still lost track of everything, but the use of so many back-and-forth split screens at least made me temporarily feel like I was in fact keeping up with the action. And that’s what really matters, right? Considering there were really parts of two duels in the episode, the production team still managed to squeeze in a comparatively impressive number of turns (Read: more than 3). Again, this comes at the sacrifice of any kind of banter or discussion between the duelists, but the duel itself was at least pretty engaging to watch, even if it was a little confusing at times.
Beyond the duel, there aren’t too many plot threads to mention. Dr. Kogami (who I totally forgot about) drops a card into Link Vrains (or wherever they are now) for him to use against Playmaker. You know. Because he is also a hacker and can do stuff like that. Absolutely. Last week we learned Revolver can use Storm Access himself, but there’s not much further mention of this beyond a quick discussion among SOL’s top brass (presumably supplied constant information by Ema AKA Ghost Girl). I’m guessing this plot thread will highlight some connection between Revolver and Yusaku in the future. My bet’s on them being brothers. But my bets have been pretty off the mark thus far with the series.
Toward the end of the episode, Revolver activates an anti-Cyberse effect, effectively sealing off Playmaker’s monsters. The effect also seems to wipe out Ignis, whose commentary throughout the episode slowly shifts from charmingly charismatic to gratingly annoying. It’s less that Ignis is obnoxious and more that it keeps speaking instead of Playmaker and Revolver engaging in any kind of meaningful dialogue instead. I digress. When Ignis essentially vanishes, Yusaku seems genuinely concerned, whether out of worry for the AI or out of fear of losing his leverage. Still, it’s nice to see him with a different expression for a change, so hopefully this duel will have the effect of knocking him out of his Marty Stu nature. For that, I am actually excited.
I feel bad consistently giving all these episodes practically the same score, but they are all about the same in terms of quality. They’re interesting and mostly well-paced but come with sloppy animation decisions and questionable duel and character writing. I can’t say these episodes are bad, nor can I say they are all that great. What I can say is, like the show as a whole, they walk a thin line and can easily plummet with only a couple more missteps.
Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS - Episode 10
- Standing duel is somehow more entertaining than a Speed Duel
- Split screens help viewers keep track of effects
- Revolver puts the brakes on Link spam shenanigans
- Finer details of Revolver's plan are glossed over
- Duel becomes bloated with effects
- Link summoning animations are still dreadfully and unnecessarily drawn out
- Dialogue between duelists still largely avoided