Thursday, May 31, 2012

News: Cardfight!! Vanguard English Dub to be Hosted on YouTube

In a surprise move, Bushiroad is now making the English-language dub of Cardfight!! Vanguard's first season available on its official YouTube channel. Currently, 12 of the 21 dubbed episodes are available, with more to be expected as the situation develops. It can be inferred that the release of the newest episodes will coincide with their release on NicoNico Douga.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

News: Vanguard Manga English Print

This image, depicting the English-language first volume of the Cardfight!! Vanguard manga overlain over its Japanese counterpart, has surfaced on Doctor O's official twitter. Doctor O provided a caption;
イメージしろ...外国の子供たちもヴァンガードで楽しむ姿を‼〈コシ:3
"Picture it...Children of foreign countries also enjoying Vanguard!!〈コシ:3"
The first chapter of the English manga was made available through the official beginner's booklet, which is given away for free. Whether the manga chapters will be compiled in an independent volume is currently unknown, but is likely.

(the 〈コシ:3 is an emoticon. Left-to-right it shows Doctor O's hat, bangs and smiling face; tilt your head or monitor to the left for the full effect)

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Speculation: Asia Circuit's Alternate Timeline

This article is an unconfirmed theory. Please do not treat it as fact.

One of the earliest speculations regarding Vanguard's second season is that it is an alternate universe to the "main" timeline presented by season 1. This theory provides for the possibility that the characters in season 2 have not just had their memories altered, but in fact are remembering actual events that did take place. Advocates of this theory will generally agree that the Aichi we see throughout season 2 is still the same Aichi from season 1, and therefore not from the Asia Circuit timeline.

Spoiler warning: Season 1 and Asia Circuit details follow.

Outline of the Theory
This theory states that at the beginning of ride 66, Tatsunagi Takuto made an altercation to the timeline during his fight with Kai Toshiki, changing history so that Kai has always used a Narukami deck instead of a Kagerou one. Rather than "erasing" the past however, this constructs a new past that branches off from the old one. If this were the case, the exact timeline branch would have to have taken place at least two years ago (one year before the year that season 1 covered) as that is the first time that Kai is known to use a Kagerou deck, just as he encounters Ren.

In the new timeline, Takuto did not fight Kai, as he already had a Narukami deck exactly as Tatsunagi desired. Takuto instead met up with Aichi at Card Capital, and made an additional change by modifying history further so that Sendou would never use the Royal or Shadow Paladins. In their place, Takuto inserted his own Gold Paladin composite clan. If the alternate timeline theory is true, then the timeline now branches off from the main one five years in the past, when Kai first gave Aichi his Blaster Blade.

Evidence For
  • Takuto's disappearances. After his fight with Kai, Takuto has seemingly disappeared and Kai does not recall fighting him. The alternate timeline theory provides that the actual point in the branch is two years ago--as such, if Takuto were to make the change two years in the past, he would never need to confront Kai Toshiki in the present of this timeline. Hence, in the Asia Circuit timeline, their meeting did not actually take place, and Takuto is not at the table. He never "disappeared"--because the changes he intended to make had already taken place, Takuto did not face Toshiki that day, and instead sought out Aichi. He later pulled the same "disappearing" act on Aichi, this time never leaving his office in Singapore. Takuto would go on to announce the VF Circuit the next day. It would be otherwise improbable for Tatsunagi to be able to travel to Japan by plane, have two cardfights at two separate locations, then travel back to Singapore to announce the Circuit in an afternoon broadcast within a span of approximately 36 hours. (Note that a flight between the two countries takes around 7 hours.) When Aichi and company left for Singapore by plane in the morning, by the time they arrived it was only a few hours shy of dusk.
  • Fallible memory loss. Shin, Misaki, Izaki, Morikawa, Miwa, Kai, Kamui and Kourin do not recall Aichi having used the Royal Paladins. If their memories were merely modified, then their version of events could be disproven by viewing reruns or online recordings of the televised broadcast of Aichi's fight with Ren. We know for certain that these broadcasts are rerun after their original air date, because in ride 41's flashback Kyou watched a rerun of Ren's speech following his final match at the first national competition--during a total downpour in the dead of night. That speech was given in the daylight hours during fair weather, meaning it was not a live broadcast that Kyou was viewing. Furthermore, it was mentioned in ride 26 that there are Vanguard magazines which talk about pro cardfighters like AL4's lineup, and these would presumably talk about those fighters' clans and signature cards as well. If the modifications were simple memory rewrites, Aichi could make his case through a multitude of video and print media readily available to him. Some of it would even be stocked on Card Capital's shelves, within arms' reach. As an extension of this, if Takuto were to modify the memories of those associated with Team Q4, he would also have to modify the memories of every Vanguard fan and viewer across Japan who watched any of the national cardfights.
  • Kai remembers limit break. He used his Narukami cards flawlessly in ride 68, showing complete knowledge of their skills and how to make use of Dragonic Kaiser Vermillion's limit break counterblast. This would suggest that he has used the cards at least as long as he had done so with his Kagerou deck. Toshiki shows none of the problems that Aichi has with using his own new deck.
  • Except for Aichi, none of Team Q4 remembers PSY. When entering the card shop PSY in ride 69, Kamui and Misaki behave as if they had never seen it before, and Aichi is the only person to specifically recall having been there. Misaki says that she's interested in checking out other card shops, something that she had already done with PSY on Shin's orders in ride 23. Conspicuously, Aichi is the only character to address the Ultra-Rare members by name, and Rekka introduces herself to Misaki when Tokura should already know the girl's name from ride 45. There are problems with Takuto attempting to modify these specific memories; the least of it being that Suiko herself would be, as is explained in depth further on, immune to his memory modifications. Unless the two are directly working together, her unmodified memory is inherently dangerous to him. Since this shop was where Misaki first noticed Aichi's Qualia hurting him, if she did not remember PSY, then she would be unable to report these early symptoms to Kai in ride 40. If Kai did not get these early warning signs, he never would have left Q4. The false memories create a hole in the characters' lives that they should be fully able to notice.
  • Kourin does not recall the Royal Paladins. As far as has been shown, Takuto can only achieve his goals through a direct cardfight with his target. Aichi and Kai's decks had to be replaced through a face-to-face confrontation with them. If he could simply replace Kourin's deck without her noticing, then it would be a contradiction that he could not do the same with Aichi and Kai. If however, the Royal Paladins never existed because of a branching timeline, then Kourin never would have wielded them in the first place.
Evidence Against
  • Kai remembers Blaster Blade. In ride 68 he can tell that something is wrong with Aichi's deck, and his memories of Aichi's Blaster Blade ride attempt to resurface. However, there are alternate explanations in that the new timeline cannot resolve itself properly without Kai giving Blaster Blade to Aichi. Thus, Toshiki is a walking paradox--he gives Aichi a card that sets off the events of season 1, and so no version of the timeline can exist without that moment, but the card itself and as a result that moment do not exist in the Asia Circuit timeline. This leads to a "yes and no" scenario where the moment must have happened, creating his memories of it, but it is impossible for it to have taken place, at the same time excluding his memories.
  • Kamui does not remember limit break. In ride 69 Kamui and Team Handsome are shocked when Garmore's limit break activates and gives him an additional power boost. On the other hand, this may be countered by the possibility that it was not limit break they were shocked at, but Garmore's limit break. It is entirely possible that the group had never seen Garmore before, and so he did not know that it possessed a limit break despite knowing what limit break is in the new timeline. Ergo, Kamui was not expecting it.
  • Kamui remembers the Royal Paladins. During their cardfight in ride 69, Kamui recognizes that something is wrong with Aichi's deck. He cannot however, recall exactly what went wrong.
Derived Ideas
  • Because the theory provides that Takuto was able to be in "two places at once," by modifying the timeline in his fight with Kai and then meeting Aichi at the same time to modify the timeline again, Ride 66 takes place on a single day. This is an important difference from the traditional interpretation of Asia Circuit--because of how the characters' days are set out, Takuto does not have enough time to go to both the shop that Kai was at and to Card Capital. Normally the characters go to school, then go to their shops, then go home. None of the normal attendants of Card Capital such as Shin, Misaki or any of the shop regulars are present when Aichi and Takuto fight, because of how early in the day it is. Takuto fought Aichi after Kai (relative to how Takuto is experiencing time), and it is doubtful that Kai's shop would open earlier than Card Capital.
  • Since two modifications were made to the timeline, Asia Circuit is actually in its third timeline, not second as would be typically interpreted. The second timeline is the one where only Kagerou is sealed; in the third timeline, Kagerou, the Royal Paladins and the Shadow Paladins are all sealed.
  • Takuto can only modify the timeline relative to the person he is fighting, and only when using Garmore's limit break.
  • There are two probable causes of Aichi and Kai's recessive memories from the first timeline; first, both had prolonged contact with PSY Qualia. Second, each individual with recessive memories had their deck modified.
  • It is unknown if Takuto retains his memories of the first and second timelines, but if the PSY Qualia theory proves true, he may be immune to his own changes.
  • Suiko has not been stated to not remember season 1. As her ability to see Aichi and Ren's visions, as well as sense individuals bearing PSY Qualia suggests that she herself possesses some form of latent Qualia, it is highly probable that she is likewise immune so long as those two are.
  • Because the three clans are sealed in the new timeline, the Royal-Shadow civil war never took place. The Gold Paladins are a solidified clan without internal struggles. Because PSY Qualia now hinges on the breaking of the seals rather than on the outcome of the civil war, there is no need for Earth to be synchronized with Cray until the Asia Circuit; as a result of this, the synchronization of Cray and Earth never took place, and Aichi and Ren's PSY Qualia never became dormant. This idea, while not the centerpiece of the alternate timeline theory, is certainly an important point because it means that Aichi is unknowingly still host to his "other self" and Suiko is likely planning a second (or from the third timelines' perspective, first) synchronization.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

English Extra Booster 03: Cavalry of Black Steel Release Date

VGE-EB03 "Cavalry of Black Steel" has been announced on both the official Cardfight!! Vanguard Facebook page and on the official English website for a worldwide release of July 7th, 2012. Singapore will be getting the release seven days early, on June 30th. Notably, the English booster contains twelve additional cards not found in the Japanese set, 2 R and 10 C rarity cards. These are suspected to be several of the promo cards currently missing from the English scene.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Trial Deck 07: Descendents of the Sea Emperor Announced

In the news lull following BT06's release, TD07: Descendents of the Sea Emperor has been announced. Speculation ran wild across both Japanese and English fansites, over whether the new deck would concern a new or existing clan. With two prime suspects for the latter in Granblue and Bermuda Triangle, the final word came as a surprise that TD07 will focus on Aqua Force, an entirely new clan. Furthermore, word of a possible TD08 has surfaced. Its release would continue the established pattern of trial decks coming out in pairs.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Spotlight: Rikino Sakura/力野桜

Fighter's Spotlight is an ongoing project concerned with tracking real-world professional cardfighters across the globe.

Rikino is at the center, receiving her trophy from Daigo.
Rikino Sakura/力野桜
Age: Unknown, thought to be eleven at initial crowning; Juniors Division
Titles Won: Nagoya Regional Finalist Third Place (Junior Class), Nagoya Regional Champion (Junior Class), Vanguard Grand Prix National Champion (Japan, Junior Class), Kanazawa Regional Finalist Fourth Place (Junior Class), Nagoya Regional Runner-Up (Junior Class), Fighter's Road 2012 National Champion (Japan, Junior Class), Nagoya Regional Finalist Third Place (Junior Class), Kanazawa Regional Runner-Up (Junior Class)
Current Status: National Champion (Reigning)
Deck Type: Nova Grappler (Asura Kaiser), Kagerou (Dragonic Overlord-The End), Oracle Think Tank (CoCo-Sakuya)
Rikino is the first and currently only female national champion of her class, making herself known during the 2011 Grand Prix. Despite being vastly outnumbered compared to her male competitors, Rikino rocketed to the top spot of the Best Four.

Rikino reappeared in the Fighter's Road 2012 Kanazawa regional, placing fourth with a new Kagerou build. She made a second attempt at breaking into the national scene at the Nagoya regional, placing second behind Chiku Fumiya's Spike Brothers deck. This permitted Rikino to mount a full attempt at the national title, becoming the first professional cardfighter to defend any title in consecutive years, and the first national champion to hold her throne without interruption. Since her original appearance in the 2011 championship, Rikino has unfailingly participated in every subsequent championship.

Decks and Play Style
While Rikino is primarily remembered as a Kagerou cardfighter, at debut she fought with a Royal Paladin-Nova Grappler hybrid deck, based out of Soul Saver Dragon in following with the trend established by the majority of the pro scene at the time. As this was before the institution of a restricted list, Rikino's deck relied on Barcgal and a RoyPala grade 1 setup to prepare for Soul Saver Dragon's skill. Barcgal, Flogal, Llew and Blaster Blade would prepare the soul, Pongal would add the card to hand, and her remaining lineup of grade 1 Royals would act as the catalyst to give Soul Saver's power boost to.

In the meantime, Asura Kaiser and her lineup of grade 2 Nova Grapplers would wear the opponent down to bring them to five damage as quickly as possible and prepare for the soulblast. To maximize her use of Kaiser's skill, Rikino ran only a single copy of Soul Saver Dragon and just one Blaster Blade, striking a very careful balance to bring the best out of both clans.

Note that Rikino signed her name in hiragana during this tournament, not kanji as she would do in following events.

Summer 2011 Regional Tournament, Nagoya Juniors Division (Japan)
Card Pool: TD01-BT02, PR 0001-0018
Grade 0
x1 Barcgal (FVG)
x2 Knight of the Future, Llew CT
X4 Bringer of Good Luck, Epona CT
x2 Margal DT
x1 Pixie Fife and Drum ST
x3 Yggdrasil Maiden, Elaine HT
Grade 1
x4 Little Sage, Marron
x1 Lake Maiden, Lien
x4 Pongal
x4 Soul-Guiding Elf
x2 Twin Blader
Grade 2
x1 Blaster Blade
x4 Genocide Jack
x4 King of Sword
x1 Magician Girl, Kirara
Grade 3
x1 Soul Saver Dragon
x4 Asura Kaiser
x3 Genocide Joker

Rikino would go on to use a hybrid Nova Grappler-Kagerou deck in the Winter championship. In order to cope with the pure Grappler of the time being wholly reliant on the Blau series, Rikino selected Conroe as her first vanguard with eleven different Kagerou grade 1s to activate his skills with. Rather than use Conroe to search out single card Kagerou grade 1s however, Rikino instead relied on him to form a consistent base 16000 line with Asura Kaiser and Genocide Jack. Typical of the time, the Death Army cards were used as a self-standing 16000 line while Asura Kaiser played off of her nine grade 3 count to trigger his own skill to stand the opposite line. Gojo, Bahr and Aermo each provide a different kind of opening ride to suit the situation, whether it be for a strong opening offense, card changing when taking the first move or encouraging the opponent to deal more damage to use for counterblasts. Gojo and Aermo also both help her to change out the grade 3s that Kaiser drive checks after their purposes is served.

Genocide Joker, while even more counterblast reliant than his cousin Jack, forms stable 21000+ lines as necessitated by the tournament environment of the time, and Deathmetal Droid behaves similarly. This counterblast can be opened up against through riding Gold Rutile, and with the high amount of card changing going on in the deck, it becomes much easier to ride said unit when the situation calls for it. Notably, the deck only ran two perfect defense cards, a hallmark of what the pro scene at the time was like, as perfect defense at that point in 2011 was not considered a four-of. The trigger lineup opts for Clara over Genjo, as she is the only trigger which Rikino would not benefit from in the first drive or damage check, and all of the other triggers are important for those opening moves. Rikino played a very close mirror matchup for the Nagoya finals, but her emphasis on Kagerou triggers and grade 1s, the Genocide series and consistent 21000+ rearguard lines eventually won out over Horikawa Kanata's more Grappler-based build.

Winter 2011 Regional Tournament, Nagoya Juniors Division (Japan)
Card Pool: TD01-BT04, PR 0001-0036
Grade 0
x1 Lizard Soldier, Conroe (FVG)
x3 Embodiment of Spear, Tahr CT
x2 Dragon Dancer, Monica DT
x4 Round Girl, Clara HT
x4 Blue Ray Dracokid CT
x3 Red Gem Carbuncle DT
Grade 1
x4 Embodiment of Armor, Bahr
x4 Dragon Monk, Gojo
x2 Twin Blader
x2 Death Army Guy
x3 Flame of Hope, Aermo
Grade 2
x2 Genocide Jack
x4 King of Sword
x3 Death Army Lady
Grade 3
x4 Asura Kaiser
x3 Genocide Joker
x1 Gold Rutile
x1 Deathmetal Droid

Rikino's first championship deck is characteristic of a long-standing Kagerou build, utilizing the Dragon Monk, Goku as her primary vanguard to mass retire her opponent's rearguards. This demands more cards from their hand on the opponent's attack, which in turn makes it easier to land her attacks when the opponent is unable to guard. The Flame of Hope, Aermo is used to cycle out extra copies of Goku and the grade 3s that it checks, while Dragonic Overlord attacks from the rearguard to further decimate the opponent's field.

These three cards, combined with supporting units like Kimnara for a further offensive and Guard Gryphon to stop the opponent's attacks, allowed Rikino to play against an essentially empty field. What ultimately carried her through the final round was her own skill, as Rikino's opponent was using a nearly identical decklist that turned the match into a prolonged game of continual retire-and-stand maneuvers.

Winter 2011 National Tournament, Juniors Division (Japan)
Card Pool: TD01-BT04, PR 0001-0042
Grade 0
x1 Lizard Soldier, Conroe
x3 Embodiment of Spear, Tahr CT
x3 Dragon Dancer, Monica DT
x4 Dragon Monk, Genjo HT
x3 Blue-Ray Dracokid CT
x3 Red Gem Carbuncle DT
Grade 1
x4 Wyvern Guard, Barri
x4 Dragon Monk, Gojo
x3 Demonic Dragon Mage, Kimnara
x2 Guard Gryphon
x2 Flame of Hope, Aermo
Grade 2
x4 Dragon Knight, Nehalem
x2 Hidden Dragon, Striken
x4 Berserk Dragon
Grade 3
x4 Dragonic Overlord
x4 Dragon Monk, Goku

At Kanazawa and Nagoya, Rikino played a new build that retained many of her old cards, but changed the focus over to Dragonic Overlord and his corresponding crossride, The End. This new build omitted her previous deck's Striken in favor of Burning Horn support for The End. While not playing up to her previous' decks reputation, this iteration did rank well versus opposing decks at Kanazawa.

Summer 2012 Regional Tournament, Kanazawa Juniors Division (Japan)
Card Pool: TD01-EB03, PR 0001-0066
Grade 0
x1 Lizard Soldier, Conroe
x3 Embodiment of Spear, Tahr CT
x1 Dragon Dancer, Monica DT
x4 Dragon Monk, Genjo HT
x4 Gatling Claw Dragon DT
x4 Blue-Ray Dracokid CT
Grade 1
x4 Wyvern Guard, Barri
x4 Embodiment of Armor, Bahr
x3 Dragon Monk, Gojo
x3 Demonic Dragon Mage, Kimnara
x1 Flame of Hope, Aermo
Grade 2
x4 Dragon Knight, Nehalem
x4 Burning Horn Dragon
x2 Berserk Dragon
Grade 3
x4 Dragonic Overlord
x4 Dragonic Overlord The End 

Rikino's succeeding Nagoya decklist was almost identical, only swapping out excess Kimnara cards for more copies of Nehalem and Gojo, increasing the deck's overall consistency and making additional room for The End's persona blast. With a lower focus on Kimnara and a higher overall trend toward draw power and deck searching than at Kanazawa, this version of the deck allowed her to place more highly than in her previous tournament.

Summer 2012 Regional Tournament, Nagoya Juniors Division (Japan)
Card Pool: TD01-EB03, PR 0001-0066
Grade 0
x1 Lizard Soldier, Conroe
x3 Embodiment of Spear, Tahr CT
x1 Dragon Dancer, Monica DT
x4 Dragon Monk, Genjo HT
x4 Gatling Claw Dragon DT
x4 Blue-Ray Dracokid CT
Grade 1
x4 Wyvern Guard, Barri
x4 Embodiment of Armor, Bahr
x4 Dragon Monk, Gojo
x1 Demonic Dragon Mage, Kimnara
x1 Flame of Hope, Aermo
Grade 2
x4 Dragon Knight, Nehalem
x4 Burning Horn Dragon
x3 Berserk Dragon
Grade 3
x4 Dragonic Overlord
x4 Dragonic Overlord The End

At the Akiba Square finals in Fighter's Road 2012, Rikino completely abandoned Kagerou to use the new model of Oracle Think Tank. This deck uses Little Witch, LuLu as its first vanguard, hiding her skill away until Rikino's endgame. LuLu kicks in when she rides either CoCo or Sakuya--at that point the Little Witch pops out from the soul and soulblasts 2 to draw a card. If CoCo were ridden, then because there are no cards left in the soul, her own skill lets Rikino counterblast 2 to draw two cards while giving CoCo +3000 power for the duration of her attack step. This sudden control of four additional cards with one ride more than pays for Rikino's grade 1-3 rides, typically ending with a hand size large enough to completely fill the remaining circles and still end the turn with seven or more cards in hand to defend on the opponent's turn with.

As an alternative, Sakuya automatically sends LuLu to Rikino's hand after the Little Witch's skill has been used, along with any other cards that have been called up to the ride phase of that turn. This allows her to rearrange the field freely and replace LuLu with a more powerful booster while using the first vanguard as an additional 10000-power shield, effectively adding 5000 more shield than normal to Rikino's control. This also ties back to Sakuya and Battle Sister Mocha's skills, which give them additional power when there are four or more cards in hand. Unlike other first vanguards, LuLu's skill is impossible for the opponent to interrupt, and even if she somehow didn't get it off, the two Luck Birds that Rikino runs in her deck act as backup soulblast for CoCo and additional draw power. These draw skills give Rikino the freedom to run just two draw triggers in her deck, focusing mainly on criticals to score extra damage, while also using Dark Cat with impunity--despite the Cat giving cards to the opponent, the opponent is not operating with the same level of draw power that CoCo carries, and this can easily snowball when used in conjunction with LuLu and Sakuya. Overall, Rikino's fourth deck emphasizes an incredible amount of synergy and forethought.

Summer 2012 National Tournament (Japan)
Card Pool: TD01-BT07, PR 0001-0066
Grade 0
x1 Little Witch, LuLu (FVG)
x4 Lozenge Magus HT
x3 Oracle Guardian, Nike CT
x4 Psychic Bird CT
x2 Victory Maker DT
x3 Battle Sister, Ginger CT
Grade 1
x4 Battle Sister, Chocolat
x4 Oracle Guardian, Gemini
x1 Weather Girl, Milk
x2 Luck Bird
x3 Dark Cat
Grade 2
x4 Battle Sister, Mocha
x4 Oracle Guardian, Wiseman
x3 Silent Tom 
Grade 3
x4 Scarlet Witch, CoCo
x4 Goddess of Flower Divination, Sakuya

Rikino brought a modified version of her previous Nagoya deck to the Fighter's Climax tournament, where she placed third. The primary innovation over previous decks was her running nine critical triggers in all--a strategy taken from her CoCo deck's playbook--and omitting Gatling Claw Dragon in favor of Monica. The logic in this is that both Overlord and The End could form base 16000 lines with Monica in the rearguard, and that Gatling Claw's counterblast is one more than she can afford in a Kagerou deck that does not make use of Bellicosity Dragon. Ultimately the deck did not perform as well as in the previous year, though it brought her farther than in Kanazawa.

Winter 2012 Regional Tournament, Nagoya Juniors Division (Japan)
Card Pool: TD01-BT08, PR 0001-0079
Grade 0
x1 Lizard Soldier, Conroe (FVG)
x1 Demonic Dragon Mage, Raskha CT
x4 Embodiment of Spear, Tahr CT
x3 Dragon Dancer, Monica DT
x4 Dragon Monk, Genjo HT
x4 Blue-Ray Dracokid CT
Grade 1
x4 Wyvern Guard, Barri
x4 Embodiment of Armor, Bahr
x3 Dragon Monk, Gojo
x2 Demonic Dragon Mage, Kimnara
x1 Flame of Hope, Aermo
Grade 2
x4 Dragon Knight, Nehalem
x4 Burning Horn Dragon
x3 Berserk Dragon
Grade 3
x4 Dragonic Overlord
x4 Dragonic Overlord The End

For the Kanazawa regional--her last chance at qualifying for the national title matches--Rikino modified her Fighter's Road championship deck for the current format. Notably, this deck followed through on the model popularized by Tsukuyomi decks of the time, fighting with twelve critical triggers rather than including the draw triggers that she was more accustomed to. Due to having less access to the cards in her deck from the removed draw triggers, the deck also forewent Milk to add in Sedna as a fifth base 8000 units, for ease of forming 18000 lines and supporting Silent Tom, who was now included in as many copies as possible. The switch from Wiseman to Tart as her base 10000 grade 2 may be a stylistic choice, or as a deceptive maneuver; since LuLu is also compatible with the Battle Sister deck and sees occasional use over Waffle, the identity of Rikino's deck is effectively concealed until the turn that she rode a grade 3.

Rikino placed second in the regional, losing to her old rival Eboshida Hiromi, who would go on to seize the Winter championship title.

Winter 2012 Regional Tournament, Kanazawa Juniors Division (Japan)
Card Pool: TD01-BT08, PR 0001-0079
Grade 0
x1 Little Witch, LuLu (FVG)
x4 Lozenge Magus HT
x4 Oracle Guardian, Nike CT
x4 Psychic Bird CT
x4 Battle Sister, Ginger CT
Grade 1
x4 Battle Sister, Chocolat
x4 Oracle Guardian, Gemini
x1 Mermaid Idol, Sedna
x2 Luck Bird
x3 Dark Cat
Grade 2
x3 Battle Sister, Mocha
x4 Battle Sister, Tart
x4 Silent Tom 
Grade 3
x4 Scarlet Witch, CoCo
x4 Goddess of Flower Divination, Sakuya

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Spotlight: Kakuhara Misaki/角原美咲

Fighter's Spotlight is an ongoing project concerned with tracking real-world professional cardfighters across the globe.

Kakuhara is at the center; at left is Watanabe Genki and at right is Sawada Yuu.
Kakuhara Misaki/角原美咲
Age: Unknown
Titles Won: Osaka Trio Battle Champion (Vanguard Festival 2012)
Current Status: Osaka Trio Battle Champion
Deck Type: Shadow Paladin (Phantom Blaster-Overlord)
Kakuhara Misaki is one of fifteen Shadow Paladin fighters to gain recognition as a Japanese pro, and one of the only women in the Japanese format active in senior class competitions. An Osaka native, she was important as one of the key figures to first introduce the Phantom Blaster Overlord deck as a competitive deck to the Japanese pro scene, reversing the at-the-time typical view of the clan as being outside the bounds of professional play.

Decks and Play Style
Kakuhara's deck is an Overlord-based Shadow Paladin build, characterized by its reliance on the vanguard's self-empowering skills and disposable rearguards. She is not as vested in the philosophy as comparable fighters; Kakuhara eschews reliance on the Blaster Dragon's damned charging lance, in favor of using counterblast-heavy skills like those of Macha and Nemain to superior call her reserves and draw cards to build up a lead over an extended period of time. Aside from the standard Charon, Macha's alternate targets include Javelin, whose own rearguard skill can easily add the original Dragon to her hand, and Nightmare Painter who can add the necessary units to the soul if she misses her opportunity for an evolution ride.

Cursed Lancer is notably absent. In spite of being a PR card, the Lancer was very widely circulated in the Believe in My Existence single, so this absence is likely deliberate. Although he could potentially increase Kakuhara's efficiency by unflipping damage, Lancer would take space away that she already devoted to Masquerade, who could be considered the single indisposable grade 2 of her deck. Masquerade is her only rearguard capable of reaching 20000 power, climbing up to those ranks with Charon's boost. Lancer himself also could not form a line exceeding 17000 base power, when 18000 was the dominant number of Kakuhara's format, a problem which Masquerade answers consistently, due to her grade 3 makeup consisting of entirely of Blaster units to trigger Masquerade's power-gain skill.

The sheer prolificacy of her sacrificial units gives Kakuhara an alternative play style centered purely on her original Blaster, retiring her own rearguards to force a quick finish before she would even need to ride the Overlord. Being able to use either strategy freely makes her deck variable and difficult for the opponent to gauge, which in 2012 brought her an edge in Osaka's otherwise-predictable environment.

March 2012 Vanguard Fight Team Festival, Osaka Trio Battle
Card Pool: TD01-BT06, PR 0001-0054
Grade 0
x1 Fullbau
x4 Grim Reaper CT
x4 Abyss Freezer DT
x4 Abyss Healer HT
x4 Death Feather Eagle CT
Grade 1
x4 Dark Shield, Mac Lir
x4 Black Sage, Charon
x4 Blaster Javelin
x2 Nightmare Painter
Grade 2
x2 Darkness Maiden, Macha
x3 Skull Witch, Nemain
x2 Blaster Dark
x4 Knight of Nullity, Masquerade
Grade 3 
x4 Phantom Blaster Dragon
x4 Phantom Blaster Overlord

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Cardfight!! Vanguard Appears in Otomedia

Otomedia, a Japanese magazine primarily directed at women 18-40, is bringing its readers a surprise in its June issue. A poster insert features Vanguard's three leading men dolled up in tuxedos and holding the series' trademark lilies. The artwork has drawn much attention on tumblr, where the fanservice is driving the magazine's audience wild.

The inclusion may seem unusual for a girl's anime magazine--Otomedia is not the type to normally showcase hobby anime. However, other information suggests that this can be seen as a response to Vanguard's actual viewership.

At the Big Vanguard Fest this May, bracelets, hair scrunchies and T-shirts designed for women were sold; Yonaga Tsubasa and Satou Takuya featured them on their night-time radio program, Tachigare! Bokura no Vanguard, a general-audiences Vanguard talk show.

Yonaga and Satou are Aichi and Kai's voice actors respectively, and are known to go out of their way for their female fanbase, breaking out during certain parts of the program with in-character lines like "You're the one I want!" and "I'll protect you!" (They also designed the joke cards, Takugal and Eternal Wing, based off of themselves. Takugal gains a special power boost from being boosted by EW.)

Supporting these recent developments, several women's-only double-elimination tournaments are being launched in Japan, with the most recent one currently reaching across 14 of Japan's 47 prefectures. As this is coming about in the wake of female pros like Kakuhara Misaki and Asano Ami rising to prominence in regional events, the push to expand Vanguard's target demographics is likely no coincidence.

Spotlight: Shitakawachi Kouta/下河内広太

Fighter's Spotlight is an ongoing project concerned with tracking real-world professional cardfighters across the globe.

 
Shitakawachi, center, holding the first place trophy.
Shitakawachi Kouta/下河内広太
Age: Unknown; Seniors Division
Titles Won: Okayama Regional Champion (Senior Class), National Champion (Japan, Senior Class)
Current Status: National Champion (Reigning)
Deck Type: Royal Paladin (Alfred-Soul Saver)

Initially the fifth regional champion reported, Shitakawachi is today considered one of the original pros. Between his victory at the Okayama regional and his crowning as Japan's first national champion, Shitakawachi's decklist changed very little. Furthermore, his final deck list in the national competition laid out what would become the most prominent set of grade ratios for every fighter regardless of their clan, and while he is not the originator of Royal Paladin strategy, he is certainly the codifier of it. Shitakawachi is not known to have participated in the Grand Prix.

Decks and Play Style
His original deck was an irregular Paladin build featuring slightly off-base trigger ratios intended to confuse the opponent. The deck's lone draw trigger fills this role, as well as as an additional soul charge to fuel Soul Saver Dragon. Leading out from the standardized Barcgal strategy, Shitakawachi abandoned the Akane combo that had been made so prominent by his time in favor of running four copies of Pongal--understandable, as his deck relied on the counterblast-heavy Alfred and Bors.

Shitakawachi originally had very little reliance on especial intercepts, and grade 2 units had a higher overall presence compared to his second deck. Randolf was used as an attacker that could strike high-power units without a booster to aid him, albeit one that did not survive the transition between regional and national events. His deck used a single copy of the powerful Soul Saver Dragon, running only the barest minimum needed to bring her out, while Alfred set up the field on the turn preceding her ride, then going on to cooperatively occupy the rearguard alongside Bors.

Summer 2011 Regional Tournament, Okayama Seniors Division
Card Pool: TD01-BT02, PR 0001-0018 
Grade 0
x1 Barcgal
x4 Future Knight, Llew CT
x1 Margal DT
x4 Bringer of Good Luck, Epona CT
x4 Yggdrasil Maiden, Elaine HT
x3 Flogal ST
Grade 1
x4 Flash Shield, Iseult
x4 Pongal
x2 Soul Guiding Elf
x4 Little Sage, Marron
Grade 2
x2 Knight of Truth, Gordon
x4 Knight of Silence, Gallatin
x3 Blaster Blade
x2 Covenant Knight, Randolf
Grade 3
x4 King of Knights, Alfred
x1 Soul Saver Dragon
x3 Knight of Conviction, Bors

Unlike in the regional, Shitakawachi chose to pull no tricks for his final match and instead loaded his deck with as many critical triggers as were currently printed for his clan. As at Okayama, Shitakawachi used a maximized count of perfect guards and eschewed Akane for Pongal. The general train of thought can be seen that, since Alfred can superior call Pongal from the deck anyway, it would be easier for him to simply call Pongal upon riding the King of Knights and then move into his Soul Saver final turn. Seeing as this brought the dragon into his hand easily enough, and his final deck did not run any copies of Margal, there was no real reason for him to include the High Dog Breeder.

One major difference between this and his Okayama deck is the omission of Soul Guiding Elf in favor of Lake Maiden, Lien. This allowed for Shitakawachi to make use of his grade 1 vanguard even if taking the first turn, searching the deck for needed cards. Outside of this his deck did not undergo major changes, being a more perfected form of his original strategy.

Summer National Championship 2011, Seniors Division (Japan)
Card Pool: TD01-BT02, PR 0001-0018 
Grade 0
x1 Barcgal
x4 Future Knight, Llew CT
x4 Bringer of Good Luck, Epona CT
x4 Flogal ST
x4 Yggdrasil Maiden, Elaine HT
Grade 1
x4 Flash Shield, Iseult
x4 Little Sage, Marron
x4 Lake Maiden, Lien
x3 Pongal
Grade 2
x4 Blaster Blade
x4 Knight of Silence, Gallatin
x3 Knight of Truth, Gordon
Grade 3
x4 King of Knights, Alfred
x2 Soul Saver Dragon
x1 Knight of Conviction, Bors

Sunday, May 6, 2012

News: Vanguard Season 3 and EB03EN Announced, DAIGO to Appear in the Anime

Today at the second day of the Big Vanguard Fest in Japan, it was announced that Cardfight!! Vanguard has been confirmed for a third season. While details remain sketchy at this time and the season has no official title as of yet, Aichi has been confirmed to remain as the main character. Furthermore, DAIGO was stated to be voicing a new character in the anime, though as to whether this is connected to Season 3 or Asia Circuit remains unclear.


In other news, the English release of Extra Booster 03 - Cavalry of Black Steel was leaked through retailers today, and is currently available for preorder on Gamers' Haven. Trial Decks 03 and 04, Maiden Princess of the Cherry Blossoms and Golden Mechanical Soldier are likewise available through Toywiz, and are slated for an August release.

(via matibari, Gamers' Haven and Toywiz)

Update: Bushiroad.fm has confirmed that the EB03 information is real. However, the official word is that this trial deck release is false, as the English trial decks are still awaiting approval. EB03 is tentatively slated for a July release, barring any manufacturing problems.

Toywiz has since removed the trial deck preorders from their website.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Episode Guide: Asia Circuit, Ride 70: The Curtain Rises! The VF Circuit

This article is under construction. 
Spoiler warning: Asia Circuit details follow.

Story Synopsis: The episode opens at the airport, where Team Q4 is taking photos before their plane takes off. Emi is still worried about Aichi being in another country for the first time, but the plane does finally take off for Singapore.

Once in the country, Shin begins taking photos of the group, although Misaki refuses to participate--only to covertly take her own after the others have moved on. The team spends some time trying Singapore's food before checking out a nearby card shop, where they find Mitsusada Kenji of Team Caesar being called a history otaku. (Note that the posters in Singapore are for the English card game rather than the Japanese one) With the two teams meeting up once more, Team Caesar shows their juniors around, bringing them to Singapore's own cardfight university, where students majoring in Vanguard studies go to begin their careers.

Inside Kamui meets several of the students, some of whom are his own age. Chris, a Great Nature cardfighter and the leader of Team Genius' three grade-skipping 12-year-olds, quickly befriends him. As Caesar and Q4 part ways to go to their respective hotels, Aichi catches sight of Tatsunagi Takuto in his limousine, and breaks away from his friends to chase the boy all the way to the Tatsunagi corporation headquarters. He pleads with the receptionist to let him past as Takuto slips into an elevator, but as he doesn't have an appointment the security guards stop Sendou at the desk.

At the Hotel Marina, the rest of Team Q4 worries over Aichi. Kamui is surprised to find that the two individuals running the place bear an extreme resemblance to Gouki and Nagisa.

As rain becomes to come down outside the Tatsunagi spire, Kourin appears to share her umbrella with Aichi. He explains the situation with Takuto to her, after which Kourin assures him that so long as he wins at the circuit, Aichi will be able to speak with Takuto directly. As the weather clears and the two part, Kourin presents Aichi with a new card, the Incandescent Lion, Blond Eisele.

When Aichi finally rejoins the team at Marina, he immediately spreads out his deck to rebuild it in preparation for the upcoming tournament. Thinking back to her defeat in the previous episode, Misaki joins him, prompting Shin to finally bring out his briefcase of cards to help strengthen their decks.

Meanwhile at Ultra-Rare's hotel, Rekka is surprised that Kourin assisted Aichi.

The following day, Team Q4 is shocked to see that Team Genius is also in the Circuit. MC Miya announces the start of the VF Circuit on live television. Miwa watches on from Card Capital, while Shizuka and Emi see the broadcast in their own home. Takuto wonders how far Sendou will get in the tournament.

The next episode preview shows Misaki riding Goddess of the Full Moon, Tsukuyomi, Kamui riding Divine Beast, Azure Dragon, and Spirit Exceed facing off against one of them.

Today's Card was Circular Saw, Kiriel. Rekka described the unit's limit break skill.

Followup: Season 1 is Set in Fuchū

In his twitter feed on April 9th, Cardfight!! Vanguard series creator Ito Akira talked about the Fuchū City Park, a public park located in western Tokyo. Specifically, the park is relevant because of its pond and model displays, which line up almost perfectly with both the anime and manga's depiction of Aichi's city. As one of the cities inside Tokyo, Fuchū is also a part of Kanto, which supports the city's status through MC Miya's announcement in rides 16-22 that Aichi and his friends are participating in the Kanto Regional. Incidentally, real-world regional tournaments are based on city, not region as the anime has it.


The park's pond can be clearly seen in rides 2, 33 and 68. Aichi frequently visits this location when depressed or needing to think through recent events.
Tetsu and Kai meet up by this monument to discuss Ren and the Foo Fighters in chapter 10 of the manga.









Finally, the station that Aichi uses to travel to PSY in rides 6, 23, 43 and 69 is Fuchū Station. By train it would take about an hour to travel between Fuchū and Shinjuku, so there's no discrepancy between these locations and the timing the anime presents.

Fuchū has a primarily service-oriented economy, which makes it an ideal location for a merchandise-based anime like Vanguard. It would not be at all difficult to imagine Card Capital having set up shop here. Ironically, the store that Card Capital is based on is actually located in Akihabara.

(via vg_akira, matibari)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Vanguard Novel Illustrations Leaked

The image below, showcasing the soon-to-be-released Cardfight!! Vanguard novel's illustrations by artist Adachi Yousuke, appears to provide the first look at the novel's new character, Hamane Hiro. Visible at the top left in a sweater vest and collar, his design appears to be deliberately reminiscent of the protagonist. All else that is known of the character is that he is a lonely and withdrawn boy, similar to the Aichi of years past.

As the novel will come packaged with a Blaster Keroro PR card, speculation abounds that Hiro will use an Etranger deck, to contrast Aichi's Blaster deck. This is unconfirmed. The scan itself originates from Kero Kero Ace magazine.


(Source)