Episode 39: Awakening of the Gekirin
Note: There is a major spoiler in this review. While this plot twist could be pretty much predicted based on the preview for this episode, it is still advised that in order to keep the viewing experience of this episode exciting, please read this review after you have finished watching this episode.
Now you realize why the producers hired Ono Kensho to dub the voice of Sakaki Yuya in this series.
Let’s face it: this anime series has been surprising the audience a lot with all its twists and turns so far. In only 38 episodes, we have witnessed for ourselves the resurgence of all the forgotten summoning methods, a duelist who masters all major of these summoning methods, the protagonist having a doppelganger (or should I say, doppelgangers), a heroine with finally some relevance to the plot, a sweet supporting character who made a face heel turn to the antagonistic side, and hints of a great, imminent interdimensional war.
Episode 39 tops all of these with a single 5-minute sequence, which I thought was one of the best executed sequences by far in this series.
This episode starts off as per normal. With Yuya learning that his next round opponent in the Maiami Championship is Kachidoki Isao, a cold, violent, victory-obsessed bastard, logically what follows is Yuya determined to make his opponent smile once again, exemplifying the ideals that he has been holding on for all these past episodes.
As described in the episode preview, the first 15 minutes of the duel are definitely not the most entertaining. Isao embodies every single trait of a one-shot character in this first two-thirds of the episode – bland personality, uninteresting dialogue, boring deck and boring ace monster, with a backstory that simply felt too forced to top everything off. The duel choreography seems to lack the pacing and flow which made the previous four duels beginning from Episode 31 so good. The animation work looks lazily done as well, with frequent off-model shots of the duelists’ faces and some awkward action scenes. Episode 39 appears to be, on the surface, an episode that one can simply skip – in other words, a filler.
Oh, but how wrong was I! This is the second season of ARC-V we are talking about, and I must blame myself for all that negative nonsense I spouted earlier. In what seems to be one of the most surprising twists in the history of Yu-Gi-Oh anime, Yuya did a 180 degrees turn in the last five minutes, throwing off his entertainer persona completely and opting for something that screams of “I am evil”. In an episode that so cleverly disguised itself as a filler.
As someone who has seen each of the previous episodes at least three times and analyzed all of the potential foreshadows, I couldn’t say that I have not seen this plot twist coming, however the execution of it still made me pretty surprised nonetheless. The transformation of Yuya is just haunting, and there is no better word to describe it. Donning those red eyes of doom, with a new voice thanks to the vocal range of the wickedly talented Ono Kensho, this Yuya kept me at a loss of words the first time I watched this episode, and I praise this series for that.
It is difficult to come up with a judgment on whether this episode is actually good, average or bad. On the one hand, the first two-thirds is plain boredom, lacking the usual touch that makes previous episodes so strikingly amazing. On the other hand, the last sequence in this episode exceed every single of my expectations, reminding me why I love this series so much. It is for these reasons that I do not wish to give a score this time round, for I feel that a score would not reflect truly the conflicting views within me regarding this episode.
Next week, Episode 40: The Warrior of Academia! Until then!