Episode 3: Dark Town – The Stolen Pendulum Summon!!
Episode 4: A Ray of Hope!! Block Spider
Episodes 3 and 4 together is what I like to call “Introduction arc to the jerk character in the series”. After the big plot reveal that was Pendulum Summon in the last two episodes, we all know this is going to come: someone like Sawatari Shingo preys on the main character’s shiny cards and steals them, forcing a duel between the two, and eventually the main character would make a comeback and reclaim his cards again. We all experienced this with Jack Atlas in 5D’s and Tokunosuke in Zexal, didn’t we?
And indeed, these two episodes are so far some of the weaker ones in this entire series (as of now, 36 episodes have already passed). Predictable pacing and dialogue aside, Episode 4 has the by far the worst animation directing in the entire series. I would blame this on the fact that we have not one, not two, but a total of four animation directors working on that episode, resulting in the uneven quality between scenes and very awkward transitioning. The result is that Episode 4 is quite uncomfortable to watch, and drags down the overall first impression of this series.
(However, as you might have read from later episode reviews, my opinion of the series still remains very positive)
Another weak point of the episodes is the duel choreography. While I do admire the combination of action and dueling in Episode 3 with Yuya finding frantically Action Cards around the Field, this is dampened by the use of so many situational cards later on in the Duel, with effects such as that of Empty Fishing even appearing. Sawatari’s Dart Shooters monsters serve mainly to showcase that he knows how to Pendulum Summon, and have no other function aside from having some of the worst effects ever.
On the flip side, I do, however see some redeeming qualities of this introduction arc. The episode not only introduces Sawatari, but also give some elaboration on the Reiji character seen in Episode 2. These two episodes establish that he is the cold, calculating, behind-the-scenes character who seems to know about everything in the series. I do love his shining moment in the series when he orders Sawatari to use the Pendulum Cards stolen from Yuya and I felt this serves to expand his personality very much.
Yuya receives some good character development in this duel too. The fact that he searches for Action Cards around the Field only to find Action Traps at the beginning serves as a reminder to not be too reliant on those cards, and this is reflected well near the end of the Duel when he ponders about whether or not to pick up an Action Card. Yuya’s last turn is every bit of entertaining as it can be, and this does show his personality of an entertainer, making a shiny comeback at the end of a pinch.
Episodes 3 and 4 are two of the more disappointing in the series so far, but this does not detract the enjoyment for me. Episodes 5 and 6 look to be another introduction arc with one of the more interesting characters Shiunin Sora. Until next week then!