– Spoilers Below –
Okay. Now it’s a hat. Or rather, a mask. I can’t keep track.
After his duel with Playmaker, Go realized his dueling style was outmoded and in general just not that entertaining. So what does he do? Adopts a new style by donning a wrestling mask and wig that he pulls out of nowhere to turn himself into a heel, Dark Onizuka.
As Ignis says, it’s tacky. But by god was this a fun episode. Go’s monster’s attack animations reflected his “dark” shift, as we see Thunder Ogre tossing its comrades into Genome’s monsters. Then there’s Go’s “poison mist” attack, at which point I burst out laughing. This is true entertainment, and I’m happy to say Go is finally proving his mettle as a charisma duelist. I’m wondering if he’ll keep up this dark persona for the foreseeable future or if he’ll be changing masks every duel now, which would certainly be interesting.
This episode shows just how far the staff for VRAINS has come. The duel is well-paced, the monster effects are put to good use, the duelists engage in banter during the duel, and Go even makes use of the terrain while dueling, having his monster smash through a building in order to get to Genome. There is a moment where Genome activates a trap card that he didn’t set, which is annoying, though this sort of error is far from unheard of in Yu-Gi-Oh! (I’m not confident enough in my own scanning abilities to say that I’m certain I didn’t just overlook it, though.)
The episode unfortunately appears flat overall, lacking the crisp texture present during the duels against the AIs. However, it does implement a few creative movements for monsters and characters, even if the angles themselves are extremely standard. If the show could consistently mesh the creativity in the animation during Go’s first duel and the sharpness present during the AI duels, this show would see a serious elevation. Right now, though, the visuals are just still kind of lacking, carried more by their content instead of their execution.
There comes a time when one has to review an episode not based on how good it is in a vacuum but by how good it is simply compared to the rest of its show. This is that time. Certainly this episode has problems, especially with the visuals, somewhat contrived plot, and continued reliance on effect damage negation, but it single-handedly restores some faith in the writing and directorial staff. That’s enough for celebration.