Saturday, October 1, 2011

Character: Narumi Asaka

"I have to get strong. [...] So strong that Ren will acknowledge me! So strong that he'll turn around and look at me!"
"And from here on in, the Pale Moon Circus is going to show you an abundance of tricks! Ride, Crimson Beast Tamer!"

Narumi Asaka/鳴海アサか 
Age: Unconfirmed
Birthday: June 111
Anime Biography: Rank 3 in the Foo Fighters. Better known as the "Assassin" of AL4, Asaka won her place by fighting her way up the ranks of Foo Fighter. Fiercely loyal to Ren, she treats her fights as a stage, operating with both strength and grace to fashion the ultimate show for him. Asaka wields a Pale Moon deck, which swaps units in and out of its soul to attack more times per turn than is typically allowed for.2

Spoiler warning: Season 1 details follow. 
One year ago Asaka was scouted for membership in the Foo Fighters. Unexpectedly she encountered a young Suzugamori Ren--secretly, the very man who had scouted her--at the doors of the HQ. That same day, after losing her introductory fight to Yahagi Kyou, Asaka was approached and consoled by Ren, and over the course of the next year she began to grow attached to him.3

Through relentless training, Asaka became one of the top four members of Foo Fighter, promoted into rank 3 of AL4. By accident she learned from Kyou that Ren only had eyes for Kai Toshiki; concerned and left in the dark, she lingered one evening to scour Foo Fighter's database in secret for information on the anomaly.

 
Tetsu intervened however, forcing her to leave with just the knowledge that Kai was the lone person who could defeat their leader.

Following this, Asaka fought on AL4 at the national tournament, assisting Ren with his sweeping victory. It's at the following national that she first encounters Kai Toshiki, briefly panicking before resolving to grow strong enough to defeat him and draw Ren's eyes to her.

In ride 31 Asaka turns around AL4's initial bout against Q4 by breaking Tokura Misaki's Tsukuyomi strategy. Her closing comments on the match prompt Misaki to rebuild her deck and seek a revenge match with the woman.

Following the season's first national tournament, Asaka stands by Tetsu when expelling Yahagi Kyou from Foo Fighter.

Asaka finally sees her master and Kai fight in rides 57 and 58, and as Ren turns the fight in his favor her concern fast turns to glee. During Tetsu's flashback in 58 Asaka is shown as one of the initial Foo Fighters to appear alongside her master. This is corroborated by her own retelling of the past year in ride 61, where she is shown to be one of the first Foo Fighters from one year ago. 

Asaka (front center) and the old Foo Fighters.

In ride 61 Asaka and Misaki begin their revenge match. Asaka carries through the fight believing that she cannot lose, in order to curry Ren's favor. In spite of her Mistress Hurricane tactics, Asaka's Deadly Shadow Beast technique is jammed repeatedly, and she is brought down by a perfect combination of bind and deck arrangement skills.

For her failure Asaka is expelled from AL4. Having aspired to draw Ren's eyes to her and only her, and having gone from the third greatest fighter in the national scene to a nobody like Kyou, banned from even entering a shop, Narumi runs from the arena in tears. Tetsu stops her, bidding her to stay; and watch the invincible Suzugamori Ren crumble.

In the aftermath of Ren's defeat, Asaka is reinvited onto AL4 by a newly-apologetic Ren.
Spoilers end here.

During the Asia Circuit, Asaka remains a key member of the Foo Fighters, fighting in the Seoul Stage of the VF Circuit as part of Team NAL4.

Manga Biography: In the manga Asaka takes a more direct approach to her activities as a Foo Fighter, personally venturing out to hunt. She first appears in chapter 8 to clean up after one of her lesser-ranked Foo Fighters, targeting Card Capital while Aichi is distracted with Kyou. She also uses a Pale Moon deck in this continuity, using unique cards like Luck Pidgeon to guard, and Barking Dragon Tamer as a finishing move. She's shown to be more emotional, falling into Ren's arms and crying when things don't go her way. 

Spoiler warning: Volume 2 and 3 details follow. 
After a lengthy match, Misaki's Imperial Daughter defeats Asaka, forcing her to pull a retreat when Ren arrives to bail her out. She's later shown to be hosting Kai in the Foo Fighter's apartment along with Tetsu, and memorably breaks into tears when she loses, throwing a punch Tetsu's way that he doesn't make any attempt to stop. Anguished, she closes chapter 14 stating that she can't be of any use to Ren this way. 
Spoilers end here. 

Universal Notes: Asaka's surname contains the kanji for 'bark'(and general animal noises) which suits her use of the Barking series like Barking Manticore, Cerberus and Dragon Tamer, as well as the kanji for ocean. Her pronoun is "Watashi." Asaka is a counterpart for Misaki, the clearest cut of the series' counterparts, and even shares a leitmotif with her.

Fan Culture: Asaka has earned some notoriety among fans for being, at least in terms of design, a female version of Aichi. 

Decks and Playstyle 
As opposed to Bidou, Asaka uses a Manticore-based Pale Moon deck, first building up her soul using Underworld Manager and Skull Juggler, then breaking out the Manticore to aid her Alice and Midnight Bunny with their attacks. Her favored grade 2 is Crimson Beast Tamer, which gains a power boost from having itself in the soul, helping her push the game.

As a followup strategy to Manticore, Asaka rides Mistress Hurricane, an 11000-power grade 3 which superior calls other Pale Moon units from the soul at will. In this way Asaka can both make up for losses made earlier in the game, and further improve on existing advantages by gaining use of a unit she wouldn't otherwise be able to call without hurting her hand.

Ride 31-80 (36/50 cards)
Grade 0 
x1 Underworld Manager (FVG)
x2 Spiral Master DT
x1 Rainbow Magician DT
x2 Dynamite Juggler CT
x2 Funny Pierrot HT
x2 Sky High Walker ST
Grade 1 
x2 Midnight Bunny
x2 Darkmetal Bicorn
x3 Skull Juggler
x1 Hades Hypnotist
x3 Turquoise Beast Tamer
Grade 2 
x2 Crimson Beast Tamer
x2 Barking Cerberus
x3 Mirror Demon
x1 Big-League Bear
Grade 3 
x2 Barking Manticore
x3 Nightmare Doll, Alice
x2 Mistress Hurricane

Asaka's deck during the Asia Circuit shifts toward Rampage of the Beast King cards, swapping out Underworld Manager for Girl Who Crossed the Gap and introducing a new critical trigger to her deck. This second critical proves instrumental in her upcoming fights, where it gives her aggressive soul swapping the edge they need to push opponents past their limit. Narumi's limit breaker is Silver Thorn Dragon Tamer, Luquier, who like Mistress Hurricane in her previous deck forces a superior call out on-ride. Unlike Hurricane however, Luquier calls three units instead of just one and gains power from each unit called from the soul. She complements Luqui by introducing Purple Trapezist to the deck, creating a chain of superior calls and soul-based abilities that dazzle the stage.

Rides 80-115 (22/50 cards)
Grade 0
x1 Girl Who Crossed the Gap (FVG)
x2 Poison Juggler CT
x2 Dynamite Juggler CT
x1 Popcorn Boy HT
Grade 1
x2 Midnight Bunny
x1 Darkmetal Bicorn
x2 Skull Juggler
x1 Purple Trapezist
x1 Hades Hypnotist
Grade 2
x1 Mirror Demon
x2 Dancing Princess of the Night Sky
x3 Barking Cerberus
Grade 3
x2 Midnight Invader
x1 Silver Thorn Dragon Tamer, Luquier

In the manga Asaka has a more closely refined deck, which uses the grade 1 Starting Presenter to soul charge a greater number of cards at a faster speed than with Skull Juggler. Nitro Juggler further does the Skull's job but as a grade 2, while Golden Beast Tamer gives a continuous +3000 power to the front rearguard. As a finishing maneuver Asaka rides Barking Dragon Tamer, which carries the devastating effect of completely clearing its user's field of rearguards, then removing an equal number from the opponent's field--after which the Tamer itself gains power equal to the number of units destroyed multiplied by 1000.

Chapter 9-Current (16/50 cards)
Grade 0 
x1 Hoop Magician ST
x1 Luck Pidgeon
x1 Underworld Manager (FVG)
Grade 1
 x1 Starting Presenter
x1 Darkmetal Bicorn
Grade 2
x1 Jumping Jill
x1 Barking Cerberus
x1 Nitro Juggler
x1 Magical Box Trimmer
x2 Dancing Knife Dancer
Grade 3
x1 Golden Beast Tamer
x1 Barking Manticore
x1 Artillery Man
x1 Barking Dragon Tamer


1. "Character birthdays." KeroKero Ace Vol. 50 1 Mar. 2012. Print.
2. Cardfight!! Vanguard Ride 31. Crunchyroll, 2011. Web. 22 Apr. 2012. 
3. Cardfight!! Vanguard Ride 61. Crunchyroll, 2011. Web. 22 Apr. 2012.