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Cardfight!! Vanguard, Vol. 5

Welcome to another midweek-ish manga review! Today I’ll be taking a look at Cardfight!! Vanguard, Vol. 5 from Vertical Comics, my first taste of the series no less. First though, have a little news…

And now, onto the featured review of Cardfight!! Vanguard, Vol. 5!

Cardfight!! Vanguard, Vol. 5Cardfight!! Vanguard, Vol. 5
by Akira Itou
Kodansha Comics, 196 pgs
Rating: Not Rated

From the creator of Yu-Gi-Oh! R and Bushiroad, comes Cardfight!! Vanguard, Vol. 5! Created as part of a multi-media franchise spanning CCG (collectable card game) series, video games and even a live action special, Cardfight!! Vanguard follows young Aichi Sendou as he enters the world of competitive card games! This volumes sees him wrapping up one duel, before taking on another challenge in the form of his friend and rival, Kai.

Aichi’s a talented Vanguard player, but he’s got something of an ace up his sleeve in the form of Psy-Qualia, an ability which allows him to see key moments of his matches before they occur. In this volume, we see him finish off a card battle with another Psy-Qualia user named Ren, but most of the volume is given over to Aichi’s match with Kai. While Aichi is clearly the main character of the series, this volume focuses so heavily on Kai that at times I forgot Aichi was the book’s lead. The two card fighters contrast heavily and this is noticeable right from the start. Aichi appears more upbeat and sports a more light hearted attitude, while Kai’s a quiet brooding figure, silently determined to win the match, despite his lack of Psy-Qualia. It seems Kai’s been on something of a losing streak and feels the need to test himself against his friend with enmity, Aichi. The ensuing battle is peppered with flashbacks which expands and explores the history between the two, while also detailing Kai’s own tragic past and the intense connection to Vanguard that he developed as a coping mechanism. The focus on Kai makes this volume feel like a pretty good jumping on point, and Akira Itou even includes a bonus chapter which further explores Kai’s history with Vanguard.

A Page from Cardfight!! Vanguard, Vol. 5

Ninja Dog Thing!

Unfortunately, for the most part, this volume just felt like an off brand Yu-Gi-Oh! Maybe that’s because Yu-Gi-Oh! is my primary exposure to the CCG genre, or maybe it’s because of Akira Itou’s involvement with Yu-Gi-Oh! has heavily influenced his designs sense, but everything about the visuals of Cardfight!! Vanguard left me thinking it was a Yu-Gi-Oh! knockoff. The designs aren’t quite as elaborate or memorable, but it’s hard to shake the feeling when the card hero and monster designs are so heavily reminiscent of that franchise in several places. The dragons, and even the heroic looking knights in Aichi’s deck, all remind me of characters and cards from that franchise. There were a few interesting and fun designs to be found, with my personal favorite being an adorable ninja-like dog who’s got a flappy scarf and even has a dagger and sheath!

Cardfight!! Vanguard, Vol. 5 provides a decent jumping on point for newcomers, despite the first 50 or so pages being dedicated to wrapping up a match in progress. This is thanks to it’s strong focus on Kai, complete with flashback’s showing his deep connection with Vanguard and Aichi. Coming in on the fifth volume of a series is never easy and doing so may skewed my perceptions of it, but ultimately I wasn’t terribly impressed with series. It’s light, it’s fun, but it’s also fairly bland and feels more than a little generic.

Cardfight Vanguard, Vol. 5 is available now from Vertical Comics. Review copy provided by the publisher.

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  1. May 22, 2015 at 10:03 am

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