Monday, November 14, 2011

Blog is up!

Second day of project, the first one was spent making background images that were too large for the blog. Technical difficulties!

Welcome to Game Set, the unofficial US Vanguard blog. This is your primary source for English-language Vanguard information and analysis; as the author's statements are purely his opinion, they are completely factual.

What is Vanguard?
Cardfight!! Vanguard is a 2011 multimedia series started in Japan. It is an anime currently geared to end at 65 episodes, a manga authored by Akira Ito, and a Trading Card Game produced by Bushiroad. The anime, manga and TCG are each set in their own separate but subtly linked continuity, and each one isn't necessarily telling the same story as its brother.

That's great, but what's an anime? Manga? TCG?
A manga is any of the right-to-left comic books or other artwork that take after the design choices of 1980s Japanese artist Osamu Tezuka. Although each manga artist has his or her own style, Tezuka is considered the codifier for manga artwork. These are sometimes labeled as graphic novels, because their audience has a much wider scope than American comic books; manga can be about anything from card games and urban fantasy to political intrigue or deeply-plotted romance. The Cardfight!! Vanguard manga is written and produced by Akira Ito, a former understudy of the world-famous Kazuki Takahashi.

Anime is manga transferred to the big screen. Typically in full color rather than the black-and-white panels of manga books, anime has a much wider variance in quality than manga, as different studios have different amounts of funding to allocate per episode, and episodes are usually released on a weekly basis with much less time to focus on individual scenes. Cardfight!! Vanguard is noted as one anime with much higher than average production values.

Trading Card Games are games where you assemble your own, entirely unique deck from a pool of hundreds or thousands of different cards. Much of the appeal of TCGs is that cards that may not work in your deck could work in someone else's, so you could trade with them to make building your deck easier. As such, TCGs are inherently social games. Each year different TCGs will hold their own local, regional, national and international tournaments to determine who the best pro players are--usually with scholarships, trophies and other prizes on the line for the winner. Do not mistake TCGs for gambling; they are games of skill, not luck, they require strategic thinking to play, and ante rules are completely forbidden by every currently existing TCG.
In Vanguard, your deck must consist of exactly 50 cards.

How big is this in Japan?
Right now Cardfight!! Vanguard is second only to Yu-Gi-Oh! in popularity, in large part due to its down-to-earth approach and strong storytelling. Vanguard is much more about the people laying the cards on the table than the game itself. The series has become so popular recently that there are Vanguard waterparks, as well as Vanguard shopping bags, pencil boards, clothing and towels available throughout Japan.
And folding fans. It might be autumn now, but they were really great in the summer!

So who are you?
In Vanguard communities I go by the username Matsuro, Matsura or Touya. I analyze the Vanguard anime and manga, highlight interesting artistic choices, how the game is played and I discuss the overarching storyline. Occasionally I edit the Vanguard wiki. Mainly I'm focusing on Vanguard as it pertains to the United States, but I'll also give some briefer coverage on Korea and Singapore.
In real life I'm a Japanese language student and independent writer from Cincinnati, Ohio.