Sunday, December 11, 2011

Episode Guide; Rides 1 & 2

Game Set Rides 1 & 2: Vanguard of Destiny & Ride to Victory

Story Summary
Aichi and Kai's first fight. Two years ago, Aichi was facing heavy bullying from his peers; at that time Kai appeared to give him confidence, gifting Aichi with the rare Blaster Blade card. While Kai moved shortly after, his lesson stayed with Aichi, and Sendou went on to seek him out over the next two years to finally have a cardfight with Kai. But when Aichi finally finds his missing friend, Kai has been changed by what he saw in his new town...

Story Analysis
We know that Vanguard is at least eight years old from later episodes, and the flashback with Aichi and Kai is from two years ago. Since Blaster Blade is now considered a rare, out of print card and Kai was just a kid when he had it, it's probably two years old rather than the highly-exaggerated eight that Oracle Think Tank gets. Note that Aichi's deck is not a starter deck; he explicitly says that he made it himself to help shut out all the bad things in his life. Aichi probably knew the basics of play before this episode, but like any new player, had to take time to get familiar with the rules once forced into practice.

These two episodes follow a parallel structure. Two years ago, Aichi is feeling suffocated by the world around him, and faces physical pressure from bullies. And now in the present, Aichi is being put down by the world around him, getting home as soon as possible to avoid the kind of humiliation he deals with in Mr. Mark's class. Aichi continues to face pressure from bullies, in the form of Morikawa. And just as his joy in life was taken away from him by bullies two years past, Blaster Blade, which gave him back that joy, is taken by Morikawa; in both cases it is Kai who gives Blaster Blade to Aichi.

This is the only time Kai explicitly tries to push Aichi away or dissuade him from his hero worship. After this episode, Kai never once tries to convince Aichi that he's a bad person. Kai attempting to push Aichi away also coincides with our first hints at PSY Qualia, an enigmatic ability that isn't well defined, but that Kai is definitely able to pick up on. I had originally suggested that Kai was able to force his initial Dragonic Overlord draw through Qualia, but since ride 44 disproved this, that's out now. However, Kai may have seen Aichi tapping into Qualia when he perceived Aichi as Blaster Blade.

Fight Analysis

Each turn analysis will show which character's turn it is, the current field, the number of cards in each character's hand, and if possible which cards are in their hand. Hand size includes that turn's draw. Shield power is written as Sn while power is simply n. Triggers will be abbreviated using the following standard.
CT = Critical Triger
ST = Stand Trigger
DT = Draw Trigger
HT = Heal Trigger
The battlefield will be represented as three rows, with each side separated by “vs.” [R] indicates a rearguard row, [V] indicates a vanguard row.
[V] Stardust Trumpeter(6000) vs Lizard Runner Undeux(6000)
Kai's hand: Six cards. Contains at least Bahr, Aermo and Nehalem.
Kai's damage: 0/6
Triggers: 16
Aichi's hand: Five. Flogal(ST), Flogal(ST), Epona(CT), Wingal, Marron.
Aichi's damage: 0/6
Triggers: 13
Kai rides Bahr (8000). Kai calls Aermo (6000) and ends his turn. Being the first episode, Kai and Aichi are both making the clear mistake of not starting off with Conroe and Barcgal, but we won't get the luxury of seeing those units for some time now. It would have been better for Aichi to redraw those Flogal and Epona cards so he'd have the chance of drawing them during a drive or damage check.

Kai made the logical choice in calling Aermo behind Bahr instead of as a frontline rearguard. Not only can Bahr get a boost here, but Aichi has literally no way of attacking the back row.


[V] Stardust Trumpeter(6000) vs Embodiment of Armor, Bahr(8000) boosted by Flame of Hope, Aermo(6000)
Kai's hand: Four. Contains Nehalem.
Kai's damage: 0/6
Triggers: 16
Aichi's hand: Six. Flogal(ST), Flogal(ST), Epona(CT), Wingal, Marron and Gallatin.
Aichi's damage: 0/6
Triggers: 13
Aichi draws Gallatin and rides Marron(8000), then calls Wingal(6000) behind her. Aichi attacks(14000) and drive checks another Marron. Kai does not guard and damage checks Dragon Monk, Goku(10000). Aichi probably could have called those two Flogal together and supported them for another damage with no ill effects.
[V] Wingal(6000) boosting Little Sage, Marron(8000) vs Embodiment of Armor, Bahr(8000) boosted by Flame of Hope, Aermo(6000)
Kai's hand: Five. Contains Nehalem and Bahr.
Kai's damage: 1/6
Triggers: 16
Aichi's hand: Five. Flogal(ST), Flogal(ST), Epona(CT), Marron and Gallatin.
Aichi's damage: 0/6
Triggers: 13
Kai draws one card and rides Nehalem(10000). Going by where he pulled it from, Nehalem is the second card he drew on the first turn. Kai calls Bahr(8000) and attacks Marron with it. Since their attack power is equal, Bahr will win; Aichi defends with Epona for a shield of 18000, blocking the attack. Kai attacks with Nehalem boosted by Aermo(16000) and Aichi does not guard. Kai drive checks a Wyvern Strike, Tejas(8000) into his hand and Aichi damage checks a Flash Shield, Iseult(8000).
There's a goof at this part. When Nehalem attacks Marron, her defending power is displayed as 18000 when it should be just 8000. Seems the animators didn't quite understand the rules yet.
[V] Wingal(6000) boosting Little Sage, Marron(8000) vs Dragon Knight Nehalem(10000) boosted by Flame of Hope, Aermo(6000).
[R] No rearguardvs Embodiment of Armor, Bahr
Kai's hand; Aermo, Jarran, Monica and Monica.
Kai's damage; 1/6
Triggers; 14
Aichi's hand; Six. Flogal(ST), Flogal(ST), Marron, Gallatin, and one other.
Aichi's damage; 2/6
Triggers; 13
Aichi draws, and then rides the Knight of Silence, Gallatin(10000). Aichi then calls to his left rearguard circle Marron(8000) and Flogal(5000) to support her. Boosted by Wingal, Gallatin attacks Kai's vanguard(16000) and goes unguarded. Aichi drive checks another Gallatin and Kai damage checks Dragon Knight Aleph(9000). Aichi then attacks with Marron, boosted by Flogal(13000) but Kai guards with Hope of Flame, Aermo(S15000).
When Aichi draws this turn, he puts the card to his far right in his hand. Gallatin is taken out as the third card in his hand, so Gallatin is his draw from his first turn that until now we've only seen the back of.


[R] Flogal(5000) boosting Little Sage, Marron(8000)
[V] Wingal(6000) boosting Knight of Silence, Gallatin(10000) vs Dragon Knight Nehalem(10000) boosted by Flame of Hope, Aermo(6000).
[R] No rearguardvs Embodiment of Armor, Bahr(8000)
Kai's hand: Jarran, Tejas, Monica and Monica.
Kai's damage: 2/6
Triggers: 14
Aichi's hand: Three. Flogal(ST), Gallatin, and one other.
Aichi's damage: 2/6
Triggers: 13
Kai calls to his right rearguard circles Wyvern Strike, Jarran(8000) and Wyvern Strike, Tejas(6000) to boost him. Kai attacks Gallatin with Bahr, making a critical error that Aichi nonetheless guards against with Flogal; Bahr's power is 8000. Gallatin's is 10000. Bahr cannot actually deal damage here. Nonetheless, Aichi guards using Flogal(S20000).
Having wasted Aichi's hand, Kai follows up with a Jarran-Tejas combo on Gallatin. When Jarran supports Tejas, Tejas gets an additional +4000 power, bringing the attack up to 18000. Aichi has nothing to guard with and damage checks a Marron.
Kai finishes his turn by attacking with Nehalem boosted by Aermo, and drive checks Embodiment of Spear, Tahr for +5000 and +1 Critical(21000+1). Aichi damage checks a Wingal and Iseult.




[R] Flogal(5000) boosting Little Sage, Marron(8000) vs Wyvern Strike, Jarran(8000) boosted by Wyvern Strike, Tejas(6000)
[V] Wingal(6000) boosting Knight of Silence, Gallatin(10000) vs Dragon Knight Nehalem(10000) boosted by Flame of Hope, Aermo(6000).
[R] No rearguardvs Embodiment of Armor, Bahr(8000)
Kai's hand: Tahr, Monica and Monica.
Kai's damage: 2/6
Triggers: 13
Aichi's hand: Three. Gallatin, Blaster Blade and one other.
Aichi's damage: 4/6
Triggers: 13
Aichi draws and rides Blaster Blade(9000).



Next Episode

Aichi counterblasts 2 and retires Kai's Jarran using Blaster Blade's ability. Aichi calls Gallatin to his left rearguard circle(10000) and attacks Kai's vanguard using a Wingal-supported Blaster Blade. Through Wingal's effect, Blaster Blade gains an extra +6000 power(19000). Aichi drive checks his third Gallatin, while Kai damage checks another Dragon Monk Goku.
Aichi supports Marron with Flogal and attacks again(13000), and Kai damage checks another Nehalem. Finally, Aichi attacks with Gallatin, causing Kai to damage check a Bahr. Things are not going nearly as well as Aichi thinks here.

[R] Flogal(5000) boosting Little Sage, Marron(8000) vs No rearguard boosted by Wyvern Strike, Tejas(6000)
[V] Wingal(6000) boosting Blaster Blade(9000) vs Dragon Knight Nehalem(10000) boosted by Flame of Hope, Aermo(6000).
[R] Knight of Silence Gallatin(10000)vs Embodiment of Armor, Bahr(8000)
Kai's hand: Four. Tahr, Monica, Monica and Dragonic Overlord.
Kai's damage: 5/6
Triggers: 13
Aichi's hand: Two. Stardust Trumpeter and Gallatin.
Aichi's damage: 4/6
Triggers: 13
Kai draws and rides Dragonic Overlord(11000). Kai calls two Dragon Dancer Monicas(5000), one to replace Jarran and one to support Bahr. Continuing with his plan from Aichi's turn, Kai counterblasts 3 to activate Dragonic Overlord's ability, increasing his power to 16000. Kai supports Bahr with Monica(13000) and attacks Aichi, forcing Aichi to defend with Stardust Trumpeter(S19000). Kai supports Moncia with Jarran(11000) and attacks Blaster Blade, causing him to use the last of his hand, Gallatin(S14000).
Aichi's hand spent, Kai boosts Dragonic Overlord with Aermo(21000) and attacks Gallatin, drive checking another Dragonic Overlord. Because a rearguard was destroyed, Dragonic Overlord stands, this time targeting Marron; its power reverts to 16000 and Kai drive checks another Dragonic Overlord. Dragonic Overlord stands, finally targeting Blaster Blade, and drive checks into a critical trigger(21000+1). With Aichi being 6/6 he has technically lost at this point, but Aichi damage checks Gallatin and then Yggdrasil Maiden, Elaine(HT) allowing him to heal 1 point of damage. Aichi goofs a little and heals an unflipped damage card instead of a flipped one.




[R] Flogal(5000) boosting no rearguard vs Dragon Dancer Monica(5000) boosted by Wyvern Strike, Tejas(6000)
[V] Wingal(6000) boosting Blaster Blade(9000) vs Dragonic Overlord(11000) boosted by Flame of Hope, Aermo(6000).
[R] No rearguardvs Embodiment of Armor, Bahr(8000) boosted by Dragon Dancer Monica(5000)
Kai's hand: Two. Tahr and Tahr.
Kai's damage: 5/6
Triggers: 12
Aichi's hand: One. Elaine.
Aichi's damage: 5/6
Triggers: 12
Aichi draws and calls Elaine(6000) to his left rearguard circle. Aichi supports Elaine with Flogal(11000) and attacks Dragonic Overlord, but Kai guards with Tahr(S21000). Aichi then attacks with Blaster Blade boosted by Wingal(19000) and Kai guards with his last Tahr(S21000) but Aichi drive checks an Epona for +5000 and +1 Critical. 24000+1>21000, causing Aichi to actually deal a total of seven damage to Kai across the whole game, a feat that requires two heal triggers to survive. Kai damage checks Nehalem.
Aichi's victory.



Kai is the first person in the series to get a drive trigger, and the first person to get a critical trigger. He also draws three consecutive Dragonic Overlords.

In a later episode, it's made a big deal of that Aichi has 'mastered' Blaster Blade by superior calling him and using his ability to retire a rearguard. But here, Aichi uses that same ability in episode 1.

Based on Aichi's draw patterns(Consecutive Flogals, Gallatins, Elaines and Marrons) I don't think his deck could have been shuffled very well. How do you do that anime shuffle, anyways?

Decks used in Rides 1 & 2
Aichi's Deck: Shining Swordsman of the Holy Land(20/50 cards)

Grade 0
x2 Stardust Trumpeter
x2 Flogal ST
x2 Bringer of Good Luck, Epona CT
x2 Yggdrasil Maiden Elaine HT
Grade 1
x2 Wingal (PR/0007)
x3 Little Sage, Marron
x2 Flash Shield, Iseult
Grade 2
x4 Knight of Silence, Gallatin
x1 Blaster Blade

Kai's Deck: Raging Dragon of the Empire(20/50 cards)

Grade 0
x1 Lizard Runner Undeux
x2 Dragon Dancer Monica DT
x2 Embodiment of Spear, Tahr CT
Grade 1
x3 Embodiment of Armor, Bahr
x2 Flame of Hope, Aermo
x1 Wyvern Strike, Jarran
Grade 2
x3 Dragon Knight Nehalem
x1 Wyvern Strike, Tejas
x1 Dragon Knight Aleph
Grade 3
x2 Dragon Monk Goku
x3 Dragonic Overlord (TD02/001)

Play Analysis
Breaking these decks down by grade, there were three options for Royal Paladin starting vanguards at the time of this episode's release; Stardust Trumpeter, Graeme and Barcgal. Trumpeter and Graeme are statistically identical, whereas Barcgal moves to the rearguard when you ride over it, giving you another unit, conserving your hand when doing so, and giving you access to its skill to call yet another unit. This makes Barcgal superior in every way to the other two options--even from an argument of conserving your soul, Barcgal can be used to do a massive soulcharge later on.

Meanwhile Kagerou has two such vanguards to choose from; Lizard Runner Undeux and Lizard Soldier Conroe. While Undeux is a Trumpeter copy, Conroe moves to the rearguard as Barcgal does, and can self-retire to call another unit, giving it far more utility than Undeux.

My apologies to Wingal fans, but as he only has one card he can target, and the boost he gives only rises up to 19000(just 1000 points short of where it needs to be) Wingal's boost is of questionable competitive use when not in combination with Starlight Unicorn's skill. Marron is stuck in much the same department, but is excused by how limited the grade 1 options were in the first booster set. The thing is, there are a series of important numbers; 10K, 15K and 20K. Each one corresponds to an additional card being laid down to guard the attack, so hitting 20K is a serious deal because it absolutely wrecks the opponent's hand. This means that anything between these numbers can be rounded down to the lowest possible 'waypoint' number, i.e. 19K becomes 15K and 22K becomes 20K.

In effect, Wingal and Blaster Blade achieves the same thing as Marron and Blaster Blade; 19K versus 17K. Both of these are for practical purposes 15K, and Marron can target anyone while Wingal can only target Blade.

On the Kagerou side of things, Jarran is much the same deal as Wingal. Its one target has less power than Blade, but ultimately receives the same benefits from having Bahr or Gojo behind it. Meanwhile Joka is the back row card Kagerou has, because not only can she reach 9000 power easily, but her ability stacks so she can also get to 12000 and work in concert with Nehalem to break the 20K barrier.

Aichi is not running a Grade 3, and with only one Blaster Blade in his deck, it's highly unlikely that he would ever draw it in regular games. Kai does not suffer the same Gallatin difficulties that Aichi does, chiefly because Kagerou does not gain an 11000-power grade 2 until the second booster set, and instead uses Joka to make 20K happen. Kai should take out those Gokus as soon as possible--traditional grade ratios contain only 7 grade 3 cards, so he'll only draw another grade 3 17.39% of the time.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

New Links, Censorship Catalog Updated

We have some new friends here at Vanguard US; you'll now find links to the official Vanguard websites, various distributors, other blogs and discussion forums in the sidebar. Today I've added Vanguard Japan and Vanguard English to the official links, as well as links to kumacard and That last link is a great source for current events-type information, while the official sites have listings for all cards currently in their language. Vanguard Rider is at present the best available wiki for the TCG.

For forum links, Neo Ark Cradle is a great forum for both Vanguard and Yu-Gi-Oh! fans. It's the place I trust most for translations, and most of its members are pretty friendly as a bonus. Vanguard Rider also has its own forums that tend to be more active in the buying & trading department.

In addition to this, I've gone ahead and updated the censorship catalog. Some of them are pretty minor, like with Lohengrin becoming Demon Slaying Knight(synonym, not even worth the catalog) while others turn out like...Ring Girl Clara. The most alarming change of all is Genocide Jack becoming Brutal Jack; it's fairly obvious that this is because the holocaust, Rwandan genocide and Pol Pot's killing fields are still sensitive issues, but that doesn't excuse the change. A children's card game is the worst place to look to be offended.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Character Names

(Special thanks to my Japanese teacher for explaining the switch between katakana and hiragana)

Note; the following is a combination of etymology, translation and in some cases interpretation. It also contains spoilers up through ride 47.

With regards to character's names, in the anime and manga almost every character's name has a hidden meaning, because they are written with a kanji surname and katakana given name. For the unfamiliar, Japan has three ways of writing; katakana is usually used to write non-Japanese words, like with Mr. Mark's name;


This is just squiggles to most English speakers, but let's break that down a bit. For starters, マ is read as "Ma," ー marks a long vowel, and ク is "Ku." The "·" mark separates first and last names in katakana. So we read マーク as "Maaku." An 'aa' sound tends to represent an R sound, though the only way to really tell is to hear the word pronounced. In this case it's "Mark." ホ is "Ho," ワ is "Wa," イ is "I"(sounds like eee,) テ is "Te," ン is "N" and グ is "Gu." So sound it out! Ho-wa-i-te-n-gu, which comes out in English as "Whiting."

マーク·ホワイテイング = Mark Whiting

Hiragana is used for Japanese words, so normally you could write Aichi as あ(a)い(i)ち(chi). Kanji are imported Chinese characters which can have as few as one or as many as ten distinct meanings based on how they are read--typically, tiny hiragana or katakana are placed above or next to the kanji to indicate pronunciation.

Having three writing systems may seem extraneous to English speakers, but it's actually quite useful. Katakana and hiragana are how a word "sounds"--they're phonetic alphabets. So you can show very easily how a word sounds in Japanese, because レ(re)ン(n) always sounds like "Ren" no matter what kanji is used for it. When we want to know how something sounds in English though, we have to resort to IPA, which no one outside of a graduate school English program actually understands.

For an example of how this system sees use, the Digimon Xros Wars manga had an instance where the kanji for "Melody" was written, but the katakana said to pronounce it as "Life." The result was that the word in question was both melody and life simultaneously.

However, the current situation where hiragana is for indigenous words and katakana for foreign ones is the opposite of the original system. Prior to World War II, katakana was used to write Japanese words and names where hiragana is used today. Computers from before 1990 still used katakana exclusively. And because katakana was used to write personal names, many elderly people still have katakana given names. So writing a name in katakana can make it seem older and more "historic" the way saying "foreby" instead of "beside" sounds older in English.

What I'm getting at is that Vanguard uses katakana given names and kanji surnames. It's not that unusual in anime, but this is slightly more relevant in that most of the main characters have names that tend toward historical places and events, or archaic words. Let's take a look at Aichi's name;


The kanji for his name is 先導 which reads as "Sendou" and means "leadership." An alternate reading is "Vanguard"(as in the soldiers at the front lines.) The katakana アイチ just reads "Aichi"(though on a more humorous note, my Japanese class loved to confuse the katakana チ with the kanji 千, which is 'sen'(thousand) and not 'chi.') I mentioned before that some Vanguard characters have historically-based names, so where did Aichi's come from? Well, it's the name of a prefecture in Japan, which takes its name from the original name of the tidal flats within it, Ayuchi. The Ayuchi flats are significant for being referenced in a poetry anthology, the Man'yōshū, where the poet Takechi Kurohito compares the calling of a crane to the sound of the waves in Ayuchi. These flats are still around as the Fujimae, but have largely been destroyed by cultivation and reclamation efforts that began in the Edo period.

Unlike with certain names to come(*cough* Kamui and Suzugamori I'll get to you guys in a bit), Aichi/Ayuchi isn't especially relevant to the anime on its own(see below for how it relates to Kai), outside of setting precedents for the other names, but those of you who have watched up to ride 43 or so can certainly see why the destroyed nature of the mudflats could be interpreted as relevant. Sendou of course, is especially on-topic for Vanguard, as it's the title.

Next let's look at Kai Toshiki. And before anything else, listen to the tournament announcer in ride 30; Japanese naming order is surname-forename, so Kai really is his family name.


櫂 refers to a paddle or oar, the kind you use to row a boat. Alternate meanings for Kai are "change," "the action to correct," and "ocean." Kai's surname referring to an oar where Aichi's forename references a body of water, and the first two alternate meanings for Kai, are all too painful when considering rides 40-44. Kai has inspired multiple changes in Aichi, but not all of them are necessarily for the better, and he does have to go back to correct his past mistakes in 44. Consider the following shots, from ride 33:

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Aichi and Kai, both reflected in the water. Kai's appearance in said ride is shown as a ripple moving through the pool's surface, much as an oar makes ripples in the sea. We had a similar lone shot of Aichi in ride 2, minus the ripple, which shows an amazing amount of foresight and planning despite Vanguard originally being approved for just 13 episodes, as it's ride 2 that kicks off his quest for greater strength and ride 33 where he resolves it. Both of these rides use water as a character theme, relating back to Aichi and Kai's names. As an oar spurs water, Kai spurs Aichi to seek greater power, and like a ripple effect sets the stage for the series' plot.

Third, we'll take apart Tokura Misaki's name.


戸倉 contains the kanji for 'door' and 'warehouse/storehouse/treasury.' Misaki's main motif throughout the series is that of the key she lost ten years ago, which is incorporated into her summer and 44-on outfit(she wears it over her clothes in summer and beneath her blouse in winter.) It's therefor fitting that her name would etymologize as something like "door to the treasury1," especially with regards to ride 25, where Misaki finally uses that lost key to open her parents' treasure box.

There are several possible reasons behind ミサキ as a name. When written as 美咲 it means "beautiful blossom," though Misaki never actually used the trial deck of similar name. More relevant, 御先 is an archaic form of Misaki that refers to an animal messenger of the gods(consider two of the Oracle Guardians in her deck, Red-Eye and Blue-Eye2.)This definitely falls in line with her Shinto-themed deck. Interestingly, this form of Misaki shares a kanji with Sendou, 先 and can also be read as the leader in a nobleman's procession...a ceremonial vanguard. Of course, the vanguard meaning only comes out when you translate 御先 to English, but as Vanguard itself is an English word, it's nonetheless a lucky translation.

Katsuragi Kamui;


葛 is the kanji for kudzu or arrowroot, 木 is wood, as in the wood element in Wu Xing. This one I had to sit on for a while, but 木 refers to the growing stage of the five Chinese elements, the "tree" stage. This wood/tree attribute is associated with strength and flexibility, as well as warmth, generosity and cooperation. Now consider that out of the core four, Kamui is the one who does most of the growing. Compare the Kamui we meed in ride 5--a lecherous, self-absorbed and overconfident boy--to the dedicated, earnest fighter who takes over in friends' matches out of concern for their health in ride 44. Kamui initially embodies his attributes the least out of anyone in the cast, being particularly weak in the cooperation and flexibility department. Kamui refuses to work together with Kai and doesn't trust his teammates' judgment, until he finally resolves to be a better fighter in ride 33.

As a note into the 'historical name' idea, 葛木 is a heterograph for both a World War II aircraft carrier and a corvette that was in service during both the Second Sino-Japanese War and the Russo-Japanese war. The aircraft carrier bit is particularly amusing, as the Katsuragi carrier never embarked with her intended aircraft, and spent the entire war being shot at while in various ports, before taking on a brief repatriation stint and being quietly retired in 1946. Thus, even more extensively than the Yamato before her, Katsuragi was quite the paper tiger; Kamui himself is built up as an incredibly strong opponent in ride 25, with 29 off-screen victories at the season's start, and yet up through ride 47 he only has 6 full fights, just 3 of which are wins.

As for Kamui's forename, the primary meaning behind カムイ are the kamuy/kamui deities worshiped by the Ainu people, the indigenous population of Japan and Russia. Kamuy were the forerunners of the kami worshiped in the Shinto religion, and were accordingly multitudinous. The Ainu religion is even more specific than Shinto in its deities' areas of expertise, with specific kamuy devoted to undertow and abstract thresholds. This divine etymology fits with Kamui's perception of himself as the one of the strongest fighters, though it's certainly more humorous than some of the other names here.

From the pool of antagonists, Suzugamori Ren;


This is where I first noticed a trend in the names. Out of the core four characters, three of them(Aichi, Misaki and Kamui) have names that relate to the "old" Japan. Ren continues this trend. His name shares its kanji with the Suzugamori execution grounds, a place historically used for the execution of criminals, conspirators against the Tokugawa Shogunate and Christians. Popular methods of execution included crucifixion and immolation at the stake. Over 100,000 people were executed at the Suzugamori grounds over the course of 220 years, so it's quite the ominous name for Vanguard's chief antagonist.

On a lighter note, remember the Megacolony player from ride 8? His name was Kishida Osamu;


His family name contains the kanji for beach and rice paddy. Japanese family names often use a location-based naming structure. Osamu's given name comes from "osamushi," ground beetle, to go with Osamu's bug theme and Megacolony deck. It's a neat touch.

Since this took a couple days to write, I'll close this post with a break down of Morikawa's name;


Morikawa Katsumi. 森川 is another location-based name, referring to a river running through a forest. Katsumi is most probably from "勝つ (katsu)," to win. Here it's intended ironically, as Morikawa has the single worst win ratio in the entire cast; 20 fights and 20 losses.

Game Set!

1This is really flowery and like saying that Alexander comes out as "Defender of Men" or Ariel means "Lion of God" because it's not at all an obvious meaning to a native speaker. Of course, that means exactly nothing to writers, who are wont to know as many etymologies and use them as they please.
2Red-Eye and Blue-Eye are themselves taken from the Shinto pantheon's kitsune, a type of fox spirit that fulfills many different functions based on the particular mythology behind a given tale, but primarily work as messengers of Inari, a god of rice, fertility, agriculture and industry. Inari is still worshiped today as an important deity central to everyday life.

New Pages, Thoughts on Censorship

Now that my image hosting is up again, I've been able to post the under-construction character pages. Vanguard has a huge cast outside of the core four members, so it'll take a while to complete that. I've also started a catalog of censored cards and episodes, listed by country.

To elaborate a bit, I'm conflicted on the issue of censorship. As someone who was born into a family that has always been deeply involved in the arts, any censoring of someone's work, be it painted, written or sung, is appalling to me. However, the censoring of Vanguard cards is bringing some alternate arts that were originally featured only in the anime, before the official art had been decided on, to life. It's a treat to see the alternate artwork for Silent Tom and Demon Eater.

On the other hand, we have terribly sloppy jobs like Lozenge Magus and Cheer Girl, Tiara. These censored releases are really bad and I'd much prefer the original artwork to them. Having taken classes in art history, I feel terrible for every artist who has their work adjusted for the values of a different culture. Vanguard is fundamentally a game, so it has to be modified to become marketable in each area of its release, but that doesn't make censorship right. I'd prefer that society adjust to accommodate art, rather than adjust art to accommodate society.

Obviously, this view is from an artist's perspective, so it's going to be at odds with the beliefs of others. Right now, there isn't a clear answer to the issue of censorship but to judge for yourself, so I've made this comparison gallery for everyone.

Game Set!