Episode 42: Battle Royale Begins
Apologies for the delay (because of work at my university), but let’s get started with the fun, shall we?
Episode 42 picks up directly from the ending of Episode 41, with all the cheering and fanfare marking the beginning of the Battle Royale event. Much unlike the last episode, however, Episode 42 takes its time more carefully, slowly moving the story along to set-up for a couple of important duels involving our main characters that are likely to either get resolved or interrupted due to certain intrusions (raises eyebrows) in the next episode.
Starting right off the bat is a 2-on-1 duel between Yuya and the tag team of Takeda and Umesugi, two duelists from Ryozanpaku Duel School who is thirsty for vengeance. Like Kachidoki Isao back in Episode 39, Takeda and Umesugi are purely unlikable, resorting to whatever dirty tricks they can find in order to defeat Yuya and regain the tarnished reputation of their school. Personally, I cannot say I like the handling of these two characters with their basically recycled personalities from a previous character, it should be a relief that they are after all, one-shot characters who are likely to be only around for a couple of episodes.
The duel choreography, oh the duel choreography. I must say that while I’m indeed happy to see Yuya reusing a number of his older cards (a formerly “situational” trap, for instance), the overall writing of this single duel has not been impressive to me. Ryozanpaku Duel School’s aces are essentially carbon copies of one another, only with different designs and slightly altered effects, reflecting how lazy the duel writer is in even considering to design more original boss monsters. Yuya getting saved by what is normally considered a deus ex machina at the very end of the duel leaves nothing but a bad taste in my mouth.
While overall the episode is filled with only decent animation quality (something which I would touch on in a later paragraph), Yuya’s side gets more love overall in my opinion. Umesugi and Takeda’s monsters on the whole have rather appealing designs, and there are quite a few acceptable action sequences involving catching the Action Spells and so on.
On the other hand, dueling at the Iceburg Area are the heroine Hiiragi Yuzu and a new character – the LDS Exchange Student Halil. Halil is introduced in this episode as the usual foreigner who jumbles up English with really, really bad Japanese, has no clue about made-in-Japan advanced technology, and is keen in learning everything about a nation he has never been in. He and Yuzu provides the majority of the comic relief in this episode. It is definitely funny seeing some of the more stereotypical impressions of foreigners by the traditionally xenophobic Japanese, as Halil struggles to get his dueling experience in Japan right and Yuzu has to correct him even as she is the opponent.
(On a serious note, it should be noted however, that the depictions of Halil in this episode may not be to everyone’s liking. In some cases, it might be even offensive. Please do take this into account when viewing this episode)
Halil is voiced by the new seiyuu Ayumu Murase and I applaud the decision made by the producers of the show to hire him for the show. Fun fact: Mr. Ayumu spent his childhood in America, which explains his high level of proficiency in English. This extraordinary language background for a Japanese provides some form of realism with him voicing Halil in the show. Comparing Halil to depictions of foreigners in other shows, I must say that the former is much better in my opinion, despite the number of stereotypes.
Contrary to Yuya vs the Ryozanpaku dudes, Yuzu vs Halil does not receive as much attention in terms of animation. There are frequent off-shot closeups of the characters and the monsters, with not as many action sequences despite being an Action Duel. However, what the animator does do a great job here, is expressing some of the comic relief moments in the cutest ways possible. The above image (chibi Yuzu) is one of the funniest scenes I find in this episode, and it’s so rare to see such moments in the show after the plot took a darker turn.
Overall, I would say that Episode 42 is not as impressive as the previous ones, but it certainly contains some rather memorable moments. Next episode looks to be the one where we wrap up all the duels that has already been set up, before we move back to the main plot of the show.
Animation – 7/10
Sound – 7/10
Duel Choreography – 7/10
Script – 8/10
Overall – 7/10
Episode 43: The Marvelous Exchange Student Dennis! Until Then!