Cardfight Vanguard 44 ~ Shadow Paladin

November 13, 2011

Ren Suzugamori (left) watches in delight as Aichi Sendo (right) loses his perspective.

Cardfight! Vanguard has gone in an interesting new direction lately. We might say that Aichi has been seduced by the dark side. Last episode we saw that, just before the National Tournament, Aichi’s psyqualia had fully activated, and Ren took advantage of it, by convincing Aichi to abandon his Paladin deck for the Shadow Paladin deck. In this episode Kourin, of Ultra Rare, hunts Kai down, and challenges him over his role in activating Aichi’s psyqualia.

A female biker shows up at Card Capitol. Everyone is surprised to see that it is Kourin of Ultra-Rare.

Taishi helps Kourin track Kai Toshiki down to the underground Vanguard fight he has been spending his time at lately.

Despite tracking him all the way to this back alley gaming site, Kourin won't talk with Kai until he proves he's worthy in a card fight.

One of the great things about this episode was that it spent so much time on Kai and Kourin, who are both good players that tend to get side-lined in favor of Aichi’s story. It also has a darker feel, from the opening, in which Aichi is under the influence of the Dark Paladin deck, to Kourin, who has traded in her idol outfit for a leather body suit and motorcycle helmet, to the underground card fight location, which is lit by fires burning in oil drums.

Most of the episode consisted of Kourin's battle with Kai. She was using a normal Paladin deck, but she has several cards that Aichi never used to use when he fought using that clan.

In the end, Kai admits that he is to blame for not stopping Aichi.

We also get confirmation that Kai saw Ren succumbing to the same power — psyqualia. It is his regret that he couldn’t save Ren, and even more his guilt at having failed to prevent the same thing from happening to Aichi that has Kai in a bad mood. He does have a plan, however. He thinks he might be able to beat Aichi, thus showing him that he needs to rely on himself, and not give himself over to the Dark Paladin deck.

Some of this isn’t exactly clear. For example, is Kourin acting alone, AGAINST the wishes of the rest of Ultra-Rare? They seem to be looking for the psyqualia. Perhaps the psyqualia isn’t the problem itself — perhaps Aichi’s problem is in mistaking the source of his power as coming from the deck instead of from himself? Exactly what is Ren’s deal?

Nevertheless, this development has changed the nature of the series in a pretty interesting way. Tsubasa Yonaga gets to play Aichi as not only confident, but kind of an ass. He throws away his Paladin deck, including his precious Blaster Blade card, and acts cruelly to his opponents. This is a big shake-up, and it certainly keeps this tournament from being more of the same.

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