Saturday, October 1, 2011

Character: Kai Toshiki

 "Just watch. This is who I really am! Burn everything in this world to ashes with your apocalyptic fire...Dragonic Overlord!"

Kai Toshiki/櫂トシキ
Age: 151
Birthday: August 285
Voice Actor(s): Satou Takuya(Japanese)2, Ryan Luhning(English)3, Kim Yeong Seong(Korean)4
Anime Biography: Four years ago he was a cheerful boy that helped Aichi cope with the bullying he was facing at school, but Kai moved away shortly after that. Having just moved back Kai now keeps little company, though Taishi insists on being Kai's friend.

Outside of official matches, Kai frequents the battlegrounds of the "underground fighters," intentionally going up against cheating players to make his fights more difficult.

Spoiler warning: Season 1 details follow.
Four years ago, Kai's parents died in a sudden accident. He was in fourth grade, and was taken in by his uncle's family, whom he moved away with. Three years later, in middle school, he befriended Suzugamori Ren and Shinjou Tetsu, becoming a founding member of Team Foo Fighter in a bid to enter the Vanguard national competition. For the duration of spring term they grew to be close friends, but as the autumn dawned on them Ren underwent a sudden transformation.

Suzugamori had been endowed with PSY Qualia, and this power very quickly devoured him at a much faster rate than it would later Aichi--within a day of acquiring it Ren was capable of causing physical harm to others through Qualia, even throwing his Tetsu across their practice room. Once Ren hired the Kashiwagi Construction company to build the Foo Fighter's headquarters, Kai decided he'd had enough; he challenged Ren to a fight, in which Ren used his powerful Shadow Paladins to overwhelm Kai.

While the fight ended prematurely due to Ren's sudden collapse, Kai chose to walk out on the Foo Fighters where Tetsu lingered. Emancipated, he moved out of his uncle's town and enrolled in high school, where he would meet Miwa Taishi and Sendou Aichi again. Having watched Ren become consumed by PSY Qualia once before, and found himself helpless then, Kai initially remains in denial as Aichi starts to develop his own powers. Toshiki ignores repeated warning signs, avoiding people out of guilt, afraid of the incident with Ren repeating.

Come ride 43 Kai fails to stop Aichi from being absorbed by PSY Qualia. Kai confronts his friend in a bout after the elimination round of the national tournament, using Aichi's own discarded Royal Paladin deck against the boy. With Alfred Early as his trump card, Kai makes Aichi realize that real strength comes from oneself and one's friends, not from supernatural forces.

While he keeps away from fighting in the national tournament out of respect for how far Q4 has come, on the night before the final match between Q4 and AL4, Kai makes an appearance at the Foo Fighter headquarters, and challenges Ren to a fight at the very stage where they once clashed one year ago. With the modern Foo Fighter team, Ultra Rare, and Aichi as witnesses, Kai brings out his avatar's crossridden form, Dragonic Overlord The End, in a bid to wrest Ren from Qualia's control.

Kai fails. Thanks to Suiko's prior intervention and Ren's highly evolved PSY Qualia, The End is slain by Ren's own crossride, Phantom Blaster Overlord. Kai walks away from the fight in an emotional valley, pleading on his knees for Ren to come back to his senses--Suzugamori disregards his old friend, stating that this "The End" of their friendship, and that all he needs now is the limitless power of Qualia.

In the finals Kai watches Q4's matches from the stands, and proves instrumental in preventing Aichi's powers from relapsing. Screaming across the stadium for Aichi to stop, he barely pulls the boy back from his other self's control. When the match closes with Sendou the victor, Kai shares a final silent moment with Ren before the Foo Fighters pull out of the competition.

Toshiki's final fight of season 1 is against Aichi, closing the season just as he began it.

Spoilers end here.

Kai encounters Tatsunagi Takuto at the start of the Asia Circuit just as Aichi did. Opening the season 2's first fight with Dragonic Overlord, Toshiki is surprised that a neophyte like Takuto could guard his attack.

Spoiler warning: Asia Circuit details follow.
In the aftermath of their fight, Kai's deck is replaced with a Kagerou one and his memories are sealed. Tatsunagi, having introduced Kai into a timeline where the Royal Paladins, Shadow Paladins and Kagerou never existed, takes his leave of the boy. Dismissing what he can recall of their fight as a dream, Kai departs, and after Aichi confronts him about the changes to his own deck the next day, challenges Sendou to a fight.

Using Dragonic Kaiser Vermillion and the powerful Limit Break skill for the first time, Kai defeats Aichi but finds nothing in the battle. Unfamiliar with and unwilling to use his new Gold Paladin deck, Sendou has already limited himself too deeply to seize victory. Though his memories of Blaster Blade briefly resurface, they are just as soon shut down and the two of them are interrupted by an announcement for the VF Circuit.

Aichi recognizes the Takuto advertising the Circuit as the same one who stole his deck. Though Kai no longer remembers the Royal Paladins, he trusts Aichi, and tells him to find his own path to Takuto as he will find his.

Kai eventually comes to join Team Foo Fighter New AL4, reforming the team with Ren and Asaka. He participates as a mainline member during the Seoul Stage of the VF Circuit.

Spoilers end here.

Manga Biography: Similar to the anime, Kai helped Aichi out when he was young in the manga, and he is currently a pro player revered for his strength. However, Kai is also much less cold in the manga, and more willing to hang around with the other customers of Card Capital.

Spoiler warning: Details for Volumes 2 through 5 follow.
Unlike in the anime, Kai's parents never died. Instead, Kai's father created a steep financial debt for his comapny, and Kai was abandoned by his parents, to be moved around between different relatives' homes. Meeting up with Ren and Tetsu and forming the original Foo Fighters restored some of his love for life, but Kai became further depressed and isolated after Ren became absorbed by PSY Qualia, from a chance encounter with Suiko. (Although not outright stated, it has been speculated that the company his father worked for was in fact the Tatsunagi corporation.)

Kai eventually chooses to confront Ren directly, allowing Tetsu and Asaka to entertain him in their apartment while he waits for Suzugamori's arrival. Chapter 14 closes with him having broken Asaka in a completely one-sided fight, but in his following match with Ren, Kai is dominated by Qualia, struck down by a rapid succession of The Dark Dictator's and Phantom Blaster Dragon's skills. Kai is completely drained by the battle, and while he tries with all his strength to prevent Aichi from fighting Ren and activating his Qualia again, Sendou goes against his wishes by fighting Ren in his place. Sendou eventually manages to defeat Phantom Blaster Dragon and bring Ren back to his senses, with the Foo Fighters and Team Q4 becoming friends.

The manga's first "season" ends with Kai and Aichi beginning one more fight, which becomes the first chapter of its second "season" (in terms of the plot's development when compared to the anime.) During their fight Sendou shows signs of losing control of his Qualia, being unable to restrain it versus Kai--Kai in turn encourages him to use the power, believing that he'll defeat it even so. However, in the second chapter it becomes readily apparent that Kai himself is developing symptoms of PSY Qualia.
Spoilers end here.

Universal Notes: Kai uses the Japanese pronoun "Ore," a very masculine and casual way of talking. Design-wise, his counterpart is Tetsu, who makes the exact opposite decisions that Kai does throughout the series.

Fan Culture: Kai has acquired a reputation in the English fanguard for his unintuitive name. While this is more obvious to Japanese fans due to how Japanese naming order works, "Kai" is his last name, and Toshiki is his first. Toshiki is a very unusual first name, but this is backed by how his name is written--in Vanguard, all surnames are written with kanji, and all given names with katakana.

Decks and Play Style
Kai's deck is a dragon-based Kagerou clan deck, built around retiring the opponent's rearguards and gaining bonuses from that. For most of season 1 he has no defined playstyle, alternating between different vanguards as necessary to suit each fight. However, this lack of cohesion is ultimately a weakness that goes unexploited by his opponents, and Kai refines his deck with the rest of Q4 in ride 35.

Rides 1-34, 49 & 57: Raging Dragon of the Empire (Anime) 48/50 cards
Grade 0
x1 Lizard Runner Undeux
x1 Lizard Soldier Conroe
x2 Dragon Dancer Monica DT
x3 Embodiment of Spear, Tahr CT
x1 Lizard Soldier, Ganlu ST
x2 Dragon Monk, Genjo HT
x2 Demonic Dragon Mage, Raksha CT
x1 Gatling Claw Dragon DT
x1 Blue-Ray Dracokid CT
Grade 1
x3 Embodiment of Armor, Bahr
x2 Flame of Hope, Aermo
x2 Wyvern Strike, Jarran
x2 Wyvern Guard, Barri
x2 Demonic Dragon Guru Kinnala
x2 Iron Tail Dragon
Grade 2
x2 Blazing Core Dragon
x3 Dragon Knight Nehalem
x1 Wyvern Strike, Tejas
x1 Dragon Knight Aleph
x1 Berserk Dragon
x2 Relentless Sutherland
Grade 3
x2 Dragon Monk Goku
x3 Dragonic Overlord (TD02/001)
x1 Embodiment of Victory, Aleph
x1 Vortex Dragon
x2 Blazing Flare Dragon
x2 Dual Axe Archdragon

Kai's second deck is built around the Amber Dragon line, which guarantees both grade security and hand advantage. Kai makes the dubious choice of using Lava Arm Dragon a rearguard, and brings Aermo in as a holdover from his old deck to help aid with draw power. While this deck has much more intense retire abilities than his old one, Kai mainly uses it to whittle down his opponent's hand in the two fights that it was featured in.

Rides 35-51: Empire II 34/50 cards
Grade 0
x1 Lizard Soldier, Conroe
x2 Embodiment of Spear, Tahr CT
x3 Gatling Claw Dragon DT
x1 Dragon Monk, Genjo HT
x2 Blue-Ray Dracokid CT
x1 Amber Dragon, "Dawn"
Grade 1
x1 Iron Tail Dragon
x2 Embodiment of Armor, Bahr
x2 Demonic Dragon Mage, Kimnara
x2 Wyvern Guard, Barri
x1 Dragon Monk, Gojo
x1 Flame of Hope, Aermo
x2 Amber Dragon, "Daylight"
Grade 2
x2 Dragon Knight, Nehalem
x1 Flame Edge Dragon
x1 Blazing Core Dragon
x1 Amber Dragon, "Dawn"
x1 Lava Arm Dragon
Grade 3
x1 Blazing Flare Dragon
x1 Dual Axe Archdragon
x1 Vortex Dragon
x3 Amber Dragon, "Eclipse"
x1 Dragonic Overlord

Kai's third deck, designed wholly to counter Ren's, is built on crossriding from Dragonic Overlord to Dragonic Overlord The End. In order to take advantage of being able to activates its skill following the drive check, Kai combines The End with the Flame of Hope, Aermo to cycle out cards from his hand. This lets him activate The End's Persona Blast mid-strike. Kai shows some difficulty using this deck compared to his previous ones, as his hand is practically empty by the time he crossrides.

Though not outright confirmed, Suiko implies both during her talk with Kourin in ride 58 and in her contract with Aichi that The End is the card of light she can entrust to fighters. However, Suiko never contracted Kai, so even she isn't sure where he gained his copies of it.

Rides 57-66: His Life As Fuel (31/50 cards)
Grade 0
x1 Lizard Soldier, Conroe
x3 Dragon Monk, Genjo HT
x2 Gatling Claw Dragon DT
x1 Embodiment of Spear, Tahr CT
x3 Blue-Ray Dracokid CT
Grade 1
x3 Embodiment of Armor, Bahr
x1 Flame of Hope, Aermo
x2 Flame of Promise, Aermo
x2 Demonic Dragon Guru, Kimnara
Grade 2
x2 Berserk Dragon
x3 Burning Horn Dragon
Grade 3
x3 Dragonic Overlord
x4 Dragonic Overlord The End

At the start of Asia Circuit Kai is given a new deck, this one filled with Narukami units. Geared toward all-out attacks on the vanguard and making use of counterblasts in exchange for power, his deck's trump card is Dragonic Kaiser Vermillion, which attacks the opponent's front row equally, blocking their intercept while clearing their field in the same move.

Rides 66-Current: Resonance of Thunder Dragon (36/50 cards)
Grade 0
x1 Lizard Soldier, Sisin (FVG: Ride 67)
x1 Lizard Soldier, Saishin (FVG: Ride 77-on)
x2 Old Dragon Mage DT
x1 Yellow Gem Carbuncle CT
x1 Demonic Dragon Nymph, Seiobo HT
x1 Malevolent Djinn CT
Grade 1
x2 Red River Dragoon
x1 Lightning Stone Jinn
x1 Thunder of Hope, Helena
x2 Lizard Soldier, Riki
x1 Wyvern Transport Corps
x2 Wyvern Guard, Guld
x1 Photon Bomber Wyvern
Grade 2
x1 Gale Thunderclap Jinn
x3 Thunderstorm Dragoon
x1 Shield Blade Dragoon
x1 Bright Jet Dragoon
x2 Demonic Dragon Berserker, Garuda
x3 Dragonic Deathscythe
x2 Hex Cannon Wyvern
Grade 3
x2 Dragonic Kaiser Vermillion
x1 Thunder Break Dragon
x1 Plasma Bite Dragon
x2 Djinn of the Lightning Flash

Like in season 1, his manga deck is also a Kagerou deck meant to clear the opponent's field of rearguards, but it supports the counterblast-heavy clan better with Bellicosity Dragon. This dragon's skill lets him unflip damage previously used to pay costs, allowing Kai to last in prolongued fights. Meanwhile, Hidden Dragon Striken is unable to attack, but confers additional power and critical on the vanguard that rides it. Kai demonstrates considerably more skill than his anime counterpart, combining Striken's skill with superior ride cards like Cruel Dragon to simultaneously gain the effects of Striken while also avoiding those superior ride's drawbacks; he faces and holds his own against multiple Qualia cardfighters throughout the manga, always pushing them to their breaking points before they can make any kind of comeback.

Chapter 1-Current: Raging Dragon of the Empire (Manga) 11/50 cards
Grade 0
x1 Lizard Runner, Undeux
x1 Demonic Dragon Mage, Raksha CT
x2 Embodiment of Spear, Tahr CT
x1 Lizard Runner, Nafud ST
x1 Red Gem Carbuncle DT
Grade 1
x1 Embodiment of Armor, Bahr
x1 Flame of Hope, Aermo
x1 Guard Gryphon
x1 Lizard Soldier, Raopia
Grade 2
x1 Dragon Armored Knight
x1 Bellicosity Dragon
x1 Hidden Dragon Striken
x2 Dragonic Gaiearth
x1 Berserk Dragon
Grade 3
x2 Dragonic Overlord
x2 Vortex Dragon
x1 Dragonic Waterfall
x1 Cruel Dragon

Citations and External Links
1. "櫂トシキ." KeroKero Ace Vol. 45 1 Sept. 2011: 8-9. Print.
2. Cardfight!! Vanguard Ride 1. Crunchyroll, 2011. Web. 14 Mar. 2012. 
3. "Cardfight!! Vanguard English Version - NicoNico Channel." NicoNico Channel. NicoNico Douga, 11 Mar. 2012. Web. 14 Mar. 2012. <>.
4. "Kai Toshiki." MyAnimeList. CraveOnline Media, LLC., n.d. Web. 14 Mar. 2012. <>.
5. "Character birthdays." KeroKero Ace Vol. 50 1 Mar. 2012. Print.