Is finally pushing Naoki Shima into the spotlight this week the formula for an engaging and well-written episode? Apparently not. But I’ll be damned if this episode wasn’t hilarious all the same.
Naoki’s urge to join the fight against Hanoi increases, and with a gift of Cyberse Wizard from PM, he receives the final push he needs to finally log in to Link VRAINS. Of course, he instantly encounters Hanoi, who, after he spouts that he’s Playmaker’s chosen protege, challenges him to a duel. In a twist that real life duelists will certainly get a kick out of, both Naoki and the Knight of Hanoi brick (they draw unplayable hands). To try and rattle each other, they both lie by exclaiming they drew perfect hands. The process repeats when the Knight forces them to both ditch parts of their hand for new cards, and they still draw very subpar. Naoki has been used for comedic relief up to this point, with all of it hit or miss, but scenes such as this and his later bishonen imaginations of Playmaker are the first homeruns for his character. With how serious this show has been, it’s actually a nice change of pace to have such a ridiculous episode.
Beyond his hilariousness, Naoki actually proves to be a character with a lot of potential as well. As Yusaku has pointed out to him, he’s a coward, but he’s trying his best to summon up enough strength to face Hanoi head-on, just a real hero would do. He’s really relatable in that sense, and I am excited to see him develop over the course of the series. He only really pulls out a win in this episode through sheer luck and a big misstep on his opponent’s part (considering even if Naoki could have stomped over one of his smaller monsters, the grunt still would have had 2 left). He stumbles through the duel this time, but in the future it will hopefully be rewarding to see him put more of his own effort into the duel(s).
Now, instead of going into detail about what is wrong with this episode, besides the visuals, which honestly just look undetailed and ugly, I’m just going to list the issues.
- First, Hanoi keeps dueling all these random people while looking for Playmaker. It made sense when they activated the disks in real life to turn people into Anothers, but dueling the randoms is idiotic since they know what Playmaker looks like, and he’s not one to hide his identity. The fodder is simply there for plot convenience. (Not to mention they don’t even use Playmaker’s deck…)
- If it’s so incredibly easy to track down who is who, I have to wonder how Hanoi can’t simply track down Yusaku. I seem to recall him erasing his data from the system, but Hanoi is filled with skilled programmers as well, so it stands to reason they’d be able to trace him somehow. Or at least Blue Angel and Go to get them out of the way. Not that Go hides his identity in real life. Their data is plain to see for anyone.
- Drawing out Playmaker by using Naoki as a hostage is no better than simply waiting for Playmaker to show up and bust some skulls of Hanoi grunts. Playmaker will save practically anyone he can, so it just seems like unnecessary work to kidnap Naoki if that’s all they’re using him for. The only real benefit, I guess, is that they can use Naoki’s life as leverage, but, again, they could do that with anyone.
- Naoki is surprised to see Knights of Hanoi, despite that being the entire reason he goes into Link VRAINS.
While the writing and visuals are underwhelming this time around, the humor of Naoki’s first foray into Link VRAINS is hilarious enough to make for a fun episode nonetheless. I’d rather we continue to get episodes like this as opposed to recap episodes in the future. I still suspect we’re due for a recap after Yusaku inevitably whoops Faust in a duel. Sadly. I’d pay to instead see an episode revolving around Naoki trying to form a Playmaker fan club. At least that’s something new.
Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS - Episode 27
- Incredibly entertaining and hilarious
- Naoki proves he can do something besides annoy the audience
- Outside of Naoki's imagined scenes, the visuals are quite subpar
- Actions of Hanoi don't make sense
- Naoki has to read Cyberse Wizard's effect despite how much of a fanboy he is of Playmaker