You know folks. There’s some animes where you pick them up and try to watch them then you start to question why you even bother doing anime reviews in the first place because an anime like Yugioh Vrains comes along and I got to be perfectly honest with you. I have no idea who this anime was actually made for because I thought this was made for me because I liked 5Ds with its realistic written characters and gritty setting but Yrains is not that at all that, I also thought that Yugioh Vrains was made for people who like tightener plot and characters but once again Yugioh Vrains isn’t that. Finally, I thought Yugioh Vrains was made for people who loved MNORPG games but once again Yugioh Vrains isn’t that.
Even though the series has quote ”sightly has improved towards the end.” with its somewhat interesting third season but when I got to a point I stop caring because by then I wanted this show to end or to a very least get cancelled due to executive meddling or poor ratings in Japan. To be perfectly honest with you. When I watched this anime. When I commuted 2880 minutes of my life to this show the only thing I could think while watching it while experiencing what the anime had to offer from start to finish it only took me about 6 episodes to come to this conclusion.
This is quite simply the most soulless, tedious, broken and uninspired anime I have ever watched in my entire life.
I am not exaggerating when I say that I have more fun watching Darling in the Franxx, Fire Force and Wise Man Grandchild than this because to know what I can work with bad anime because with bad anime I can find some things that I can laugh about or I can see where the anime went wrong and I can point out aspects that could have improved upon but what I cannot work with is something that is soul-crushing boring and tedious and Yugioh Vrains is the embodiment of that.
First and foremost I loathe the writing in Yugioh Vrains.
Not only it was horribly written to the core but it’s embarrassingly cliche. The sci-fi elements in Vrains is what happens when you take the most generic and stock sci-fi story imaginable and shove it in without any context. It was painful to watch and it constantly made me facepalm and roll my eyes out of embarrassment. The same thing can be said for the duels which were predictable as hell especially with that annoying link spam that is on par with Yuya action card asspulls from Arc V in terms of annoyance.
This is only made worse by how pathetic the world-building is if you can call it that. The series is set in a virtual reality space known as Link Vrains, where duelist from all over the world can duel each other for fun or competitive.
If that’s the case so why does Link Vrains feel so empty and lifeless. There’s barely anyone interacts with the world of Link Vrains and the VRMMORPG aspects more often than not feel like a hamfisted plot device for the show soulless writing. In many ways Link Vrains is no different from the virtual reality worlds of Sword Art Online as both worlds were heavily unexplored, and they often used as plot device. There’s no casual to competitive weekly tournaments for players to participate to win prices, no adventure quests, no online store nothing. What kind of competitive VRMMORPG game is this?
The one thing that really infuriated me about Vrains is how it tried to be more epic and deep than it actually is. Compared to any other Yugioh instalments Yugioh Vrains is story focused which was great on paper but it all comes crashing down thanks to abysmal writing which I already mentioned as well lack of self-awareness that exposes its pretentious nature, I honestly hate using the word pretentious when I review an anime that has an inept story but Vrains is a special exception. Vrains tries to tackle serious topics and themes of abuse, victims, survives, virtual reality, loneliness yet not only they were executed badly but the series at many cases shouts out how mature and smart it is when it actually not. Just because you threw away many story elements in the franchise such as a laid back tournament arc in favour of mature sci-fi/virtual reality elements doesn’t automatically make you series mature.
You have to prove yourself that these new story elements are well written enough to justify of removing key aspects that the franchise is known for. Vrains doesn’t do any of that and your left with an insufferable pretentious sci-fi series that barely resembles Yugioh at all. Now I mentioned it Yugioh Vrain doesn’t feel like a Yugioh show at all as it feels like I’m watching a awful sci-fi series that has been rejected by various Japanese TV producers and I believe that the only reason the badly written script even saw the light of day because they had to slap in a well-known franchise in to the mix that being Yugioh. You can tell that from the very first episode that the tone, pacing, character establishment and dialogue were off even for Yugioh standards.
You could say the same thing for 5Ds but it proved itself that even with its mature approach was still a Yugioh show. Vrains feels like an unneeded gimmick just like the link format itself. I can write an essay of how it four of it’s summon methods being Fusion, Synchro’s , XYZs and Pendulums were shut down thanks to the forced link mechanics that effectively killed a big wave of decks and archetypes but I won’t do it here because this review will end up being over 3000 words long.
The kicker of Yugioh Vrains is the atrocious pacing. If you thought Black Clover, Naruto, Tokyo Ghoul re, Index Season 3 and Darling in the Franxx were atrocious in pacing you have not seen an episode of Vrains. I am not exaggerating when say I this but Yugioh Vrains has the absolute worst pacing I have ever seen in my life. It’s so padded, so rushed especially for seasons 2 and 3 I cannot help to notice that the series was going through serious production issues which it actually did because the people who worked on Vrains actually talked about the numerous production issues to the public. I will give the Vrain’s staff credit for addressing the production issues to the public on social media but I wish the Vrains staff had handled its plot, charterers and visuals better because they were garbage.
Season 3 is not much better.
I will give the season some credit for having a interesting final villain and the somewhat decent ending that managed to better than Arc V ending but unfortunately the damage from the poorly constructed first 2 seasons has already been done.
Now we have the characters who are somehow even worse than the lifeless plot.
Yusaku is the main protagonist of the series and my main problem with him is that he is a Gary sue brick. He has zero personality just as he barely has any facial expressions other than a straight face. He also has little to no character development as by the time you get to season 3 he’s still the same brick character from episode 1.
Let’s not forget he is a complete dick to he’s friends as well the fact he’s an overpowered duelist who never loses. One of the main reasons why I liked Yusei a character from 5Ds is that the cool and relatable character. Sure he never lost a duel in the anime, but he’s character chemistry towards the cast as well he’s well-written backstory and collective personality completely make up. Yusei is a character. Yusaku is an emotionless sack of shit husk who has no friends, no personality and no ideals. That is why he is the worst protagonist I have ever encountered in an anime.
When I was binge watching Yugioh Vrains with a friend he mentioned that the supporting characters are nothing more than soulless archetypes, and he couldn’t be more right.
The supporting characters like with Yusaku don’t develop at all and unlike the protagonist they are utterly useless with a few exceptions like Ai, Shoichi, Roboppy and Revolver which were the saving graces of this travesty of a show.
The Yugioh franchise has always lived with diverse and colourful cast of characters. There’s a reason why both anime and Yugioh fans grow to love characters like Yugi, Kaiba Ryo, Joey, Zane, Aster, Jaden, Akiza, Sheery, Jack, Leo, Kaito, Anna, Ryouga, Rei, Shun, Yuto, Sora, Dennis Serena etc..
They have personality and are interesting to watch, regardless of if they’re playing card games or not. Characters from previous Yugioh series all have good to great character chemistry with each other due to amazing character interactions that play each other well E.g Sora and Shun, Sora and Yuya, Zane and Aster, Jack and Yusei, Jack and Carly, Jaden and Chazz. Rei/Vector and Yuma.
Yugioh Vrains doesn’t do any of that as every single character apart from Revolver, Roboppy Shoichi and Ai are lifeless husks that barely do anything worthwhile other to be plot devices and cannon fodder. How pathetic.
Now I mentioned before the visuals in this show were garbage, and I still stand by that. I can forgive the inconsistent character designs, the choppy animation, the crappy CGI and the messy shot composition since this is a long-running series and long-running series tend to have lower budget compare to seasonal anime but I cannot forgive is the consistent still frames, camera shake and motion filer that were heavily abused throughout the 120 episode run. It just makes an already poorly constructed series even more painful to watch.
The music is nothing to write home about. The soundtrack features a generic score of sci-fi, electronic and forte tracks that while fit the anime is not all that memorable.
The opening themes are pretty good especially the first one With the Wing, the ending themes are fine, the voice acting are fine. Overall the sound aspect of Vrains is the most harmless thing about it.
For the first time I will be suggesting improvements for series that I hate.
I know that’s a bizarre move on my part especially when I just tor this show apart but I believe that with the rights tools and staff. Yugioh Vrains could have been just as great if not better than 5Ds.
First off give Yusaku a likeable personality. Until the end of the series Yusaku had little to personality as he was a Stoic guy just pulls a straight face. Not to mention he was a complete dick to everyone. I understand he was abused as a child, but he has no reason to take his frustration on others. My suggestion for Yusaku personality is to be cool and friendly individual who tries to move on with his past while occasionally having PTSD from his dark past that causes him to have a change of personality.
Also, have him lose a duel please…
Establish the world of Link Vrains. There should have been some downtime where the characters are just hanging exploring Link Vrains doing in-game activities It could help spice Yusaku characterisation early on as he mostly Stoic. Even Gundam Build Divers did that and that show was more unfocused than Fallout 76.
Have a tournament arc. Having an arc like that in the show could have not only brought the world of Link Vrains to life but it could have fleshed out it’s supporting characters. This is something that Cardfight Vanguard and Future Card Buddyfight did as it made many of the supporting characters for those shows are just as memorable as the mains.
Feature a child character like Leo (5Ds) or Sora (Arc V)that accompanies Yusaku on his adventures in Link Vrains. Having a kid character could have made the plot more interesting. It could have showcased the lighthearted side of Vrains with the added comedy. Finally, the kid charterer could have helped Yusaku come out of his shell as well paralleling Yusaku’s old personality from childhood before the abduction that caused him to be an anti-social individual.
So that was Yugioh Vrains. A broken, soulless, half fast, insufferable mess of a show that has some of the worst characters, production values and writing I have ever seen. It is a series that tries to be different compare to any other instalment yet it lost its own Yugioh identity along the way it devolved into this boring and uninspired sci-fi series that barely resembles Yugioh at all. On top of all that there’s no passion whatsoever.
Everything that Yugioh Vrains did were done better in different anime. This is not only my least favourite Yugioh instalment but its also one of the worst animes I have seen in long while and that is sad because as much I hate to admit it Yugioh Vrains had the potential to be great.
It had a lot of great ideas that could have made Yugioh relevant again in the main stream side of anime but instead we get a broken, unpolished and soulless mess an anime that will be remembered for the wrong reasons.