With the last episode of Yu-Gi-Oh! Arc-V now behind us and the new series (Yu-Gi-Oh Vrains) starting to air this Wednesday with more than a month of delay (with reason), it's time to take a look back on the last of Yu-Gi-Oh series and take a closer look at what went wrong.
Because some things sure went wrong with it. It's weird to see the quality of a YGO series spike AND sink this much as the series progresses. But let's not get ahead of ourselves and go at it step-by-step
V Reviews: Yu-Gi-Oh! Arc-V
What IS the overall story about?
The basic premise of this story is that there are four dimensions (Standard, Fusion, Synchro and Xyz). The latter three have their own specific summoning technique and Standard can basically use all of them. And each of these dimension has a main "Yu-"character and a female lead as well.
- In the Standard dimension, It's Yuya & Yuzu - the POV characters
- And in the Xyz Dimension it's Yuto & Ruri
- In the Synchro Dimension it's Yugo & Rin
- In the Fusion dimension it's Yuri & Selena
The main villain, Professor Leo Akaba, is in the Fusion dimension assembling an army to
kill turn everybody into cards and use that energy to fuse the four dimensions into one. This for a secret purpose.
The first world to fall is the Xyz dimension. Then they try to conquer earth (well, standard dimension Earth)
Our main character (Yuya) somehow unlocks Pendulum summoning for the entire dimension. At first it's him alone. But then quickly more characters obtain these Pendulum monsters.
The son of professor Akaba (Reiji / Declan) becomes the rival character to Yuya and is busy trying to create an army to oppose his father's invasion. He names this group the Lancers.
And then shit happens. A tournament is organized; people are revealed to be traitors; people are (dis)carded, the Main characters from the other dimensions appear, one of the main characters dies and turns into a spirit supporting Yuya, people hop dimensions, unlock achievements and level up.
I could go in way more detail, but since the series is 140+ episodes, that would take me WAY too long.
Overall enjoyment level: Started good, but drops to rock bottom
While the anime did start slow (which is similar to the other YGO series, mind you), it did improve quickly. The big tournament of the first season with some plot twists near the end and the entirety of the second season (the Synchro Dimension) were the highlights of this anime. It was never the strongest of writing, but it sure was entertaining to watch.
But the problems of this anime started showing its head when the third season started. It slowly started becoming clear that the creators of the show had no idea how to properly end this series in about 150 episodes and that problem was getting more and more obvious as the third season went on. Let me give some examples:
- Random new and legacy characters were thrown in and then quickly ignored again or pushed to the sidelines (e.g. Asuka/Alexis). Other legacy characters were hinted to appear, but never really do (mostly Ryo/Zane from GX).
- The entire Xyz arc (with subplot for Yuzu in the Fusion dimension) was apparently scrapped halfway through because both story threads just stop dead in their tracks and everybody is pushed into the next story arc (and dimension). So much that every enemy becomes Yuya's ally and helps him along. The more you think about it, the less sense it makes.
- Henchmen of the Fusion dimension from previous seasons just disappear without proper conclusion (e.g. Barrett or Jean-Michel).
- A weird subplot of brainwashing was introduced and almost as quickly discarded again (really weird).
- Some battles were hyped from the beginning of the third season, but reduced to 1-2 minutes when it came down to the actual duel (most notably: Yugo Vs Yuri). And that is REALLY weird, considering so much time is spent on the subplots of brainwashing and the Battle Beast.
- Allied characters appear out of thin air, sometimes even literally (Jack mostly, but later also the (second) return of Crow).
- And boy, don't get me started on the Zarc fight.
The final boss fight (everybody Vs Zarc) lasted 5 episodes and was probably the most boring and stretched-out fight in Yu-Gi-Oh history EVER! And since that boss fight ended with 7 episodes still left on the counter, we were left with 2-3 "conclusion" episodes being stretched out over the duration of 7 different episodes.
*Sigh* Let's take a deep breath and continue.
If you think the anime would use those episodes to end on a high note, think again. The last seven episodes are bad, one after the other. Characters are thrown in and out of episodes with short duels. Those with longer duels all go full derp-mode and don't even know what their cards do (Looking at you, Gongenzaka!).
And the one character that does still remember how to duel properly is given such overpowered cards, you're wondering how the friggin' hell he ever lost (never in my life seen such OP card effects).
"This card allows each of my monsters to fuse, synchro and Xyz with
any other card on the field and become a boss monster by itself.
What do you mean, you don't believe me?"
If you would've asked me for a rating after the end of Season 2, I'd given this anime a solid 8/10. But with everything that happened in the third season, I've dropped it to a 6/10.
Poorly received in Japan
Note: What comes next is best to take with a grain of salt. This is translated stuff from NicoNico that found its way to Reddit. And we've seen in the past that this info "can get wrong".
From the sources I find (and translated posts that end up on Reddit), Japanese Yu-Gi-Oh fans absolutely HATE this anime's third season. On Nico Nico Video, the periodically updated top 10 worst anime episodes ever got completely overhauled and got filled up with many Arc-V episodes. Worst of them being the Battle Beast episodes, with episode 122 taking the cake as single worst.
It's going as far that fans have requested that director Katsumi Ono and head writer Kamashiro Tsutomu would better pack his bags and leave Studio Gallop (the anime studio behind the YGO animes)
And it may have worked, since neither men are to be found anywhere in the production of Yu-Gi-Oh! Vrains. With Vrains, direction is done by Masahiro Hosoda and writing is done by Yu-Gi-Oh veteran Shin Yoshida (who had nothing to do with Arc-V, apparently... or doesn't want to be credited for it at least).
Confirmed behind-the-scenes Issues
You can follow the entire thread if you want, but the schtick of it is: Due to circumstances the higher ups couldn't give clear design directions to the animators of the monsters, leaving it up to the imagination of the animators themselves to create the monsters (who don't really have the time for that, nor are they paid enough to actually do that).
It's thus also not surprising that certain monsters can vary their look and animation, even without "alternate form cards" like 5Ds used.
But it also shows a bigger underline that this animation had. The problems the staff had with creating an interesting story, let alone finishing the story boards in time. This thus caused the character/monster designers to be behind on schedule, thus leaving design work to the animators (who get annoyed in the process).It's a topple-down effect where the final product is mediocre.
Yu-Gi-Oh Vrains Delay
Near the end of Arc-V, people started to notice that the amount of information on the follow-up series, Yu-Gi-Oh! Vrains, was unusually limited. As many people had pointed out, we usually get spoiled to tears about the first 10 episodes like a month or so in advance (via V-Jump). But at the end of March, we basically had table scraps.
And with the first episode supposedly airing on April 5th, people started to get worried it might get cancelled or delayed. So I don't think it came as a surprise to anyone that the first episode of Yu-Gi-Oh Vrains was delayed with with more than a month, all the way to the 10th of May.
What did the anime studio do in the meantime? Fill up the slot with Yu-Gi-Oh! Labo, an "informative" talk show about Yu-Gi-Oh, the behind the scenes work and any preliminary info they could spread to prevent people to completely forget about the series.
But let's face it like it is. The amount of production issues had reached a peak in the past year, so something HAD to be done. A reorganization of the anime studio should be the first, but also re-aligning writers, animators and directors on what direction to take this new series (and hopefully create a buffer of sorts just in case).
Personally, I'd love to be a fly watching what's happening behind the scenes of the anime studio for the past weeks. I think it must've been a hell to reorganize everything and re-motivate everybody to do another anime series that will last for 3 years.
Let's hope for the best for Yu-Gi-Oh Brains... er, Vrains. Let's hope it's it doesn't end up being another trainwreck like Arc-V.
I'm crossing my fingers and hoping for the best
That's it from me now. Until next time, V out.