Picture it. We're astral bodies that have appeared on Cray, a planet very much like Earth.
Aichi Sendou is an Ordinary Middle School Student who owns one of the most powerful cards: Blaster Blade. He then meets Toshiki Kai who challenges him to a game of cards. He doesn't know how to play, but he did collect Vanguard cards. Thanks to Vanguard, he now finds himself making friends.
The anime, originally scheduled for a 65-episode run, is now airing its second season.
There are also two manga series both published by Kadokawa Shoten: one in Comp Ace and another in Kerokero Ace.
Now available on Crunchyroll.
- The Ace: Kai, Ren.
- Arc Words: "Image/picture it."
- Artistic Age: The shop cat is at least 10, Kourin is 15, Gouki is 16, Suiko is 17.
- Actually, this seems to apply all over the board. Aichi is apparently 15, Kai 17, Kamui 13. All of them look and act around two to three years younger.
- Authority Equals Asskicking: King of Knights, Alfred can be quite fearsome when he is together with his nakama.
- Awesome but Impractical: The Megablast abilities in general are this. The effects can be pretty awesome (such as standing all of the player's units or destroying all enemy rearguards), but they require Soulblast 8 (which can be difficult to achieve) and Counterblast 5 (so in most cases the player must not use other counterblast abilities, or has to rely on luck to get a heal trigger). In addition, many of the Megablasts work only if the unit's attack hits, so if the enemy manages to guard the Megablast is useless.
- Badass Boast: Aichi makes a rather dark one to Kyou at the end of Episode 41.
- In Episode 62,
- Battle Aura: Used both for artistic effect when characters make critical moves, and also as a sign of PSY Qualia.
- Badass Longcoat: Kai in the manga. Ren has one also.
- Bare Your Midriff: Misaki in the manga and as of episode 26, the anime as well.
- Beach Episode: Episode 35
- Because Destiny Says So: Morikawa often uses this to justify his losses as a series of ever-more ridiculous twists of fate, such as the planets not being aligned right. In Episode 15, he even goes to the point of calling his horoscope his 'bible'.
- In Episode 73, a team that consists of fortune tellers appears as Q4's opponents in the Asia Circuit, tells Q4 that they will lose, because destiny says so.
- Berserk Button: Kai practically flips out when he catches Aichi, Kamui and Miwa trying to follow him home. By his standards, anyway. Note that this is pretty much the first time he ever seems genuinely angry and not either faking a mean persona or being bored.
- Be Yourself: The message of Season 1. PSY Qualia is shown to completely corrupt those who use it, both of these users having embraced it to impress Kai, and Kai sees it as a false strength compared to Aichi's resolve and courage, his true strength which he always had. Aichi's greatest conflict in the latter half of the season is his struggle between the part of him which wants to embrace PSY Qualia, and the part of him which rejects that power. Ultimately he comes to accept both sides as a part of him, symbolically claiming both Blaster Blade and Blaster Dark as his avatars.
- Big Bad: Ren Suzugamori, for Season 1.
- Big Fancy HQ: According to Kyou's flashback Team Foo Fighter's HQ is huge: several stories high, lots of space, multiple scientists working there, even more players training there, some expensive-looking training equipment... In fact, on the outside it can be mistaken for the HQ of a big corporation.
- Big Brother Mentor: Kamui first starts referring to Aichi as "onii-san" because he has a crush on Aichi's younger sister Emi, but later he seems to start looking up to Aichi as this, even though he's actually a stronger fighter than him for the majority of the first season.
- And interestingly, Aichi seems to show a bit of Big Brother Instinct in return when Kamui walks out on the team right before the nationals after a bad disagreement with Kai. After the arc concludes and Kamui returns to the team, Aichi no longer constantly objects to Kamui calling him "onii-san", which had been something of a Running Gag before. (He could've just been giving in to the inevitable, though.)
- Bishonen: Kai, Kenji from Team Caesar, and Ren. Ren especially. Aichi is more of a cute little boy. An entire team of these also makes an appearance, complete with Bishie Sparkle and the name Team Good-looking Men.
- Black Knight: The Shadow Paladins. Particularly Blaster Dark, given the second opening plays up the contrast between it and Blaster Blade.
- Blessed with Suck: Misaki has a perfect memory, which as Kamui points out, could help the team analyze their opponents' Decks and prepare counters. Unfortunately, this 'perfect memory' seems so perfect she literally cannot forget anything and the memories even force themselves on her at times, including the traumatic ones involving her parents' deaths. Episode 24 details quite nastily the effect this has on her, culminating in an utter emotional breakdown.
Misaki: There are some things I don't want to remember.
- Blue Eyes
- Book Ends: The first two Triggers Aichi checks in the series are Yggdrasil Maiden Elaine and Bringer of Good Luck, Epona. The last two Triggers he checks in Season 1 are also Yggdrasil Maiden, Elaine and Bringer of Good Luck, Epona. Bonus points for checking them under identical circumstances (as his sixth Damage for Elaine, and to break his opponent's guard and win for Epona).
- Also, the first fight which starts onscreen in the series is Aichi vs. Kai. The last fight of Season 1 is also Aichi vs. Kai.
- Butt Monkey: Morikawa. He currently has a zero-onscreen-win record because of his god-awful Deck balance and his purpose is currently comic relief mixed with being the opponent of choice for a main to prove themselves. We're provided with a very entertaining sum-up of Morikawa by Misaki in Episode 3 in one subber's translation: 'Noob'.
- Call Back: Episode 65 has several. Aichi catches a falling Ren, exactly as Kai did in Episode 49's flashback. Majesty Lord Blaster impaling Phantom Blaster Overlord with his sword brings to mind Blaster Blade doing the same to Dragonic Overlord in Episode 2.
- The Cameo: The anime has poster cameos of the Pokémon and Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Games in the background in episode 3.
- Also in Episode 3, the Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game poster actually featured official artwork for AIR for some reason, even though AIR isn't geared toward the same audience and doesn't have its own card game.
- The girls of Tantei Opera Milky Holmes appeared in Episodes 13, 14, 15, 16 and 36.
- The 40th promotional card of Cardfight Vanguard is Blaster Keroro: Sgt. Frog cosplaying as Blaster Blade.
- The fact that he belongs to his own Clan makes fans think that there'll be more Cameo Cards in the future.
- Can't Catch Up: A lot of emphasis is placed on Aichi and Ren's attempts to try and get good enough at Vanguard for Kai to acknowledge them, and how they are ultimately led to embrace their PSY Qualia to try and get stronger.
- Caramelldansen Vid: The Cardfight Vanguard version can be found Here. There are spoilers in it, but (with the exception of the three knights used in the final fight of the first season) they are about general character development and not plot events.
- Card Games: Duh.
- Catch Phrase: Stand up, my avatar Burasuta Buredo! for Aichi, as well as Kai's "Burn everything to ashes.". Kai also has 'Final Turn', which is said, well, when he's about to win. Aichi, as of Episode 42, is about to change his catchphrase to: "Final Turn". He also says: "Image it, you _________ <- when the poor fool is about to get crushed ."
- "Imagine/picture it" or some variation by nearly freakin' everyone. Most notable from Kai and Ren since their different inflections of the same phrase are specifically to highlight their character differences.
- Kai and Ren also have "stand up THE Vanguard."
- Cerebus Syndrome: Let's face it, Ren's arrival more-or-less shook up the formula. Particularly since the next episode had Misaki's tear-jerking backstory laid bare, and ended with her suffering what can only be described as a breakdown and abandoning Vanguard, seemingly for good.
- Character Tic: Dr. O has a habit of forming an O symbol with his thumbs and index fingers.
- Chekhov's Gunman: Blaster Blade in his PR card [dead link]. Now check out Blaster Dark who was introduced much later.
- It should be noted that Blaster Blade and Blaster Dark are two separate individuals, meaning the trope is partially subverted.
- Although the TCG lore states that Blaster Dark was Blaster Blade's predecessor who failed to activate the weapon named Blaster Blade(the source of Blade's retire skill), and went rogue out of jealousy, getting his power from Blaster Dragon. Now consider that the PR Blaster Blade isn't just unskilled, he's also walking away from his weapon...
- Child Prodigy: Kamui, kinda.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Mark-sensei hasn't been seen outside of character montages since the first shop tournament arc. This may have something to do with the appearance of a new character with a very similar voice.
- Color Coded for Your Convenience: Each member of Team Q4 has a color associated with them, which is reflected in the cover of their Fight Gloves: Aichi is blue, Kai red, Misaki green, Kamui orange.
- The Corruption: PSY Qualia to Aichi.
- Crippling Overspecialization: Katsumi Morikawa has too many Grade 3s in his deck. That and he might be over enthusiastic for Grade 3s that he would send cards back to the deck even if it was a good hand to get more Grade 3s.
- Cross-Dressing Voices: Kamui.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: At first, Misaki looks like the type who'll get curbstomped by Aichi since she's never played before. Then she proceeds to crush him, revealing that even though she's never played, she picked up the game rules just by watching from the counter of the card shop.
- Miwa is more of a straight example.
- Curb Stomp Battle: Every single Kai Cardfight after the first. Any game against Morikawa becomes one in short course. This rapidly becomes much less funny in Episode 24 when Misaki beats Aichi this way. It should be awesome. Seriously, it isn't, mainly because of the fact that the viewer can see just how screwed-up Misaki is to the point that she's hearing her dead parents' voices in memory announcing her plays.
- Ren versus Kenji Mitsusada, at the final fight of the National Championship. Completely one-sided. In fact, we never saw Ren Ride a Grade 3 unit, just the Grade 2 Blaster Dark. Despite that he won with no trouble at all.
- In episode 49, we learn that after Ren first gained his PSY Qualia, he dealt this out to Tetsu, and Kai of all people.
- Curtains Match the Window: Aichi and Ren.
- Cute Kitten: The shop kitten (whom the shop owner refers to as the "sub-manager").
- Ahem, I believe it's "manager".
- Though the fact it was around when Misaki was around seven or eight may move it out of the 'kitten' age.
- Darker and Edgier:The Link Joker Season is this
- Dark Is Evil: Team AL4 all run dark-themed Clans, Spike Brothers, Pale Moon, Dark Irregulars and Shadow Paladins. Surprise surprise, they're the villains.
- Dark Is Not Evil: Episode 64 shows that darkness isn't always necessarily evil with a single moment.
- Deal with the Devil: While predicting or talking to cards makes you stronger and nearly unbeatable, they also turn the person evil, as seen in Episode 41 where Aichi's personality is seen starting to go down the path of evil.
- Deadpan Snarker: Misaki.
- Deconstruction: For once, one that isn't Darker and Edgier.
- Specifically, as this blog notes, PSY Qualia is a very harsh Deconstruction of the concept of 'transformation' in anime and other media. It's very much a Deconstruction of the idea of another self fighting your battles for you, fitting considering what Itou worked on before Vanguard.
- Department of Redundancy Department: Aichi's Gold Paladin attack and the Invocation the comes with it:
- Break the limit... Limit Break!
- Digging Yourself Deeper: An example shows in Episode 24. Misaki is having the memories of her parents' deaths come back strongly, and is literally torn between the game and the memories. All the others, bar Shin (who can tell something's wrong), are doing is talking about how her 'perfect memory' will help them win Nationals.
- Dissonant Serenity: As Aichi falls further under the influence of Psyqualia, his attitude during battle begins to take this stance. What might be worse is that he gives off both a more confident presence than before, but also a sort of "broken" feeling even though he's now more powerful.
- Double Standard Abuse (Female on Male): Nagisa's Unrequited Love for Kamui tends to lead to her chasing and tackling him despite his highly vocal protests. This is Played for Laughs.
- The Dragon: Tetsu to Ren.
- Dude Looks Like a Lady: Aichi is jokingly mistaken as the heroine, not the hero, of the story.
- And then there's Ren...
- Drunk on the Dark Side: Aichi is starting to look like this in Episode 41 due to his PSY Qualia. His opponent, Kyou, is continually reminded of Ren as Aichi plays and talks.
- Elite Mooks: In the fluff for the card game, Kai's Kagero are described as an elite assault unit for the Dragon Empire nation. Note that this perfectly fits how the guy himself is depicted in-show.
- Epic Fail: Everything Ninja Master M does outside of Vanguard. Note his pathetic smoke bomb and absolute failure at disguising himself as a shop wall.
- Evil Costume Switch: When Ren becomes corrupted by PSY Qualia, he starts wearing a Badass Longcoat and a collar.
- Evil Counterpart: Blaster Dark to Blaster Blade, Shadow Paladins to the Royal Paladins in general judging by the few which have been revealed and the name.
- Evil Sounds Deep: Ren, of course.
- Fake Memories: Everyone except Aichi in Asia Circuit-Hen.
- Final Boss Preview: Episode 23, which has Aichi, Misaki and Kamui witnessing Ren defeat one of the PSY trio in a mirror match. It wasn't even close.
- Five-Man Band: Team Q4.
- Foot Focus: The first shot of the first ending.
- Used to reveal Aichi took up Ultra Rare's invitation to Kai and Ren's fight.
- Foreshadowing: Quite a few things in essence foreshadow Episode 24's Reveal about Misaki's parents being dead and thus her aversion to Vanguard. First off, in Episode 4, Misaki drops her Deck, which is excused as her 'not being familiar with handling the cards'. Episode 24 supports this point, and elaborates something, the fact that she's also reluctant to get into a Cardfight. There's also the fact that she knows the Oracle Think Tank so well from the start, which at first seems like a trait of her picking up the rules of Vanguard by listening to games, but actually comes from the fact the cards were used by her parents and she spent quite a bit of time as a child going over those cards.
- Also, if you pay close attention to some of Shin's dialogue earlier, there's a line about him buying outfits for Misaki. At the time, it may seem fairly comedic, but then you realize why he does so, he's Misaki's legal guardian because her parents are dead. The fact that Misaki's parents are never mentioned prior to Episode 24 also counts. Really it's quite clever how the writers seeded these hints in, but kept them seemingly insignificant or Handwaved them in-episode that they only became meaningful once Episode 24 rolled around.
- Gameplay and Story Segregation: Barkgal is banned as a starting Vanguard in real life following the first Japanese nationals, but that has stopped exactly no one in the anime.
- Glowing Eyes of Doom: Ren has shown these. And so has Aichi, as it's a sign of PSY Qualia.
- Good Is Not Nice: Aichi in Episode 41, who declares the card he'll beat Kyou with and starts putting the guy down without a thought. And his final line just screams this. Though, it's because of his PSY Qualia corrupting him.
Aichi: *Slasher Smile* Now, picture this. You defeated before an overwhelming power.
- Gratuitous English: All over the place. Most of the card names are in English, and the characters also say "Stand up, Vanguard!" and "Stand and draw" and so on during games. Then there's also Kai's (and Ren's, and Misaki's, apparently) Catch Phrase "Final Turn," and Kai and Ren's "stand up THE Vanguard" (probably because it sounds cooler, or whatever).
- Hammerspace: In episode 19 after Nagisa beats Kamui during the regionals, she is somehow wearing a wedding dress. Keep in mind that Nagisa made Kamui "promise" that he would marry her if she beat him....
- Hellish Pupils: Ren has slits for pupils, while the PSY trio don't have any at all.
- Heroic BSOD: Episode 24. By the end, Misaki is pretty much staggering away after her cardfight with Aichi, despite the fact she won. It's both shocking and tearjerking to watch.
- Aichi suffers a particularly brutal one at the hands of Ren after he loses to Tetsu.
- Hidden Agenda Villain: The PSY trio. We don't know who they are or what they're doing, but they're set-up as the villains. Although, given his mannerisms and all, Ren is looking much more like a villain and it may be that the PSY Trio will fall victim to a case of Gone Horribly Right.
- Ren himself isn't very forthcoming about what he's actually up to either. Right now we don't know if the apparent villains are up to anything remotely more threatening than becoming the best players of a popular trading card game.
- Taken Up to Eleven after Episode 50. One of Suiko's comments to Ren implies there's a Bigger Bad Man Behind the Man out there somewhere.
- Hidden Depths: Kai can cook very well.
- Hope Spot: What's that? You've dealt 6 damage to the opponent? Pity that last damage trigger check produced a heal trigger...
- Subverted much later, when Aichi dealt 2 damage in addition to the 5 damage Team Jurassic has. First check: Heal trigger! Second check: No trigger. I lost.
- Done quite nastily in Episode 62. After Asaka loses to Misaki, Ren compliments her, making her think that maybe he won't kick her off of AL4. He then proceeds to comment that a loss is a loss, and as such, she's off the team, which completely crushes her.
- "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: Kai's fights against Aichi in Episodes 49/50 and Ren in Episodes 57/58.
- Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Each episode is called a "ride".
- Imagine Spot: Emi uses hers to picture Morikawa and his friend as delinquents ready to beat up Aichi.
- This is also how the series makes up for the lack of holographic devices/supernatural stuff to provide a visual medium. Essentially Aichi imagines his Units facing his opponent's on Planet Cray, and Kai does so as well (he was the one, more or less, who got Aichi into this habit).
- Kamui gets multiple ones about Emi, such as him teaching her how to play Vanguard and her feeding him. Of course, they never go as planned.
- Informed Attribute: In Kai's official profile, it's stated he's a skilled player with nationals level ability who could take the pro scene by storm if he wanted to. But from his actual games in Vanguard, those that we've seen fully anyway, he seems to win more by gratuitous Trigger pulling then any real skill. The exemplification of this point is his final turn in Episode 20, where he had a perfectly good play combo which was reasonably complex set up to empower his Vanguard to 16,000 Power... and won by pulling two Triggers in a row. Which he didn't even need. It was even called 'overkill' in-universe.
- Innocent Cohabitation: Episode 3 makes it look like it's this with Emi, and doesn't clarify their relationship up until the very end, when Aichi says that she's his sister.
- Invincible Hero: Completely subverted. The best way to maintain a high win ratio in Vanguard is to not fight. Averted hard for Aichi, who has only won slightly over half his fights (even less if you count the training camp's half-offscreen half-on matches). Justified in that he's still a newbie at the game. Played irritatingly straight with Kai due to his unbelievable luck at pulling Triggers, his only onscreen losses being to Aichi in Episode 2 (and it's implied he deliberately wasn't playing at full strength) and Ren in episode 58.
- Ironic Echo: MOVE IT! IF YOU ARE NOT GRADE 3, I HAVE NO USE FOR YOU! NO USE FOR YOU! NO USE FOR YOU! FOR YOU! FOR YOU! YOU! Morikawa: Crap!
- JAM Project: Sings both the 1st and 2nd opening. They're also scheduled to sing the opening of the second season.
- Jerkass: Ren.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: On a level, Kai. Kamui to some extent as well, who can get pretty rude towards people he doesn't respect.
- Kick the Dog: Ren, fullstop. After Aichi's loss to Tetsu, he shows up, initially to talk to Kai, but it quickly turns into the guy pretty much verbally kicking Aichi up and down the street over the loss. And the worst part is, it looks like it's sinking in...
- Another case of Kick the Dogs or World:
MC: Could you say a few words to Cardfighters across the nation?
- Aichi at the end of Episode 47, Kamui's expression in the next episode certainly carries a heavy hint of 'kicked dog'.
- Kick the Son of a Bitch: Ren is implied to do so. It's complicated. After Kyou's loss to Kai after the guy had spent pretty much all his screentime being an obnoxious, arrogant brat, it's very implied that Ren does something to him which leaves the guy a trembling, speechless wreck cowering on a bench. And Tetsu later says that Kyou has been sent back to headquarters for 'retraining'.
- Kicked some more by Tetsu and Asaka: first Tetsu tells him Foo Fighter has no need for losers and revokes his membership, then Asaka tells him he lacks ability and to get out.
- Kicked even more by Aichi, in episodes 41 and 42.
- Large Ham: Katsumi Morikawa.
- Legacy Character: Ninja Master M
- Light Is Good: Aichi's Royal Paladins are the best example, but Misaki's Oracle Think Tank Deck counts too.
- Light Is Not Good: A member of team Foo Fighter Brilliant Stars, Hiromi, also uses Royal Paladins.
- Lighter and Softer: before and post link joker arc vanguard isn't overall dark compared to Yu-Gi-Oh.It is more of a kid friendly anime despite the majority of the characters in their late teens
- Limit Break: Introduced in Asia Circuit-Hen.
- Limited Wardrobe: Not quite, since everyone changes outfits once summer begins... but they're not seen changing clothes on a day to day basis. May also have to do with School Uniforms Are the New Black.
- As of the second season, most of the main cast changes outfits.
- The Little Shop That Wasn't There Yesterday: Card Shop PSY.
- Locked Out of the Loop: Misaki deliberately does this to Kamui about Emi's relationship with Aichi.
- Long-Haired Pretty Boy: Ren.
- Love At First Sight: Kamui fell in love with Emi.
- Magical Girl: Top Idol Pacifica looks and acts a bit like one.
- Meaningful Name: One of the meanings for the kanji for Sendou is 'vanguard'.
- Team Foo Fighter AL4 may turn out to have one. 'Foo Fighter' was a term used by WWII fighter pilots to refer to what we now call 'UFOs'. Of course, it's also a Punny Name.
- Mind Rape: Ren to Aichi in Episode 64.
- Minor Injury Overreaction: May overlap with Shout-Out. Morikawa freaks out whenever he takes damage and visibly cringes, in a way that is reminiscent of another card game anime.
- Mistaken for Gay: Kamui and Aichi in Episode 14 because Kamui Cannot Spit It Out.
- Naive Newcomer: Kai explains the rules once to Aichi, but we also get another description of the rules for Emi. For the first few episodes, Aichi's opponents continually give him advice on game features such as the mulligan and when you can use Heal Triggers. Misaki is set-up as one, but quickly proves she knows the game better than Aichi.
- Narrating the Obvious: This happens with great frequency whenever someone takes damage.
- New Rules as the Plot Demands: Averted. Though the animators do make the occasional screw up with power and shield scores, the characters play true to the real life game and there is exactly one card that exists in the anime that does not in real life. Said card hasn't been seen since Episode 11.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: If Kai hadn't constantly been so distant to and dismissive of Aichi, then Aichi wouldn't have become Drunk on the Dark Side. Kourin calls him out on this.
- Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: The Grand Blue Clan are zombie pirates with a couple of Lovecraftian influences thrown in and even a reference to Frankenstein.
- Non-Indicative Name: "Katsu" means "victory", not that it helps Katsumi Morikawa, with his zero on-screen win record and firmly cemented spot as the worst player in the anime.
- The Nose Knows: Team Fragrance can tell people's emotions based upon their scents.
- Not So Different: Episode 9 has Aichi crippled by nervousness in the shop tournament, and thinking everyone else is perfectly fine. Then he notices Izaki (his opponent) make the same mistake he earlier made and realizes that it's Izaki's first tournament, and the guy's nervous as well. He later notices that Misaki also seems nervous (despite having just curbstomped Morikawa, who exists to be curbstomped).
- Rather more darkly, thirty-two episodes later, Aichi is becoming very reminiscent of Ren. Same PSY Qualia, and it seems that like Ren, Aichi is losing himself to the power of PSY Qualia.
- Off-Model: The size of Ren's hair tends to vary from scene to scene. Admittedly, he has a lot of hair to draw, but still...
- Oh Crap:
- Kamui’s reaction in ep. 7 when he realizes that Kai can use Vortex Dragon’s Soulblast
- Mr. Invincible, Soul Blast! Aichi: SAY WHAT?! Kamui: With Mr. Invincible's skill, I stand all units!
- Another Oh Crap used for comedic effect is in Episode 37: Emi: First check! *Critical trigger* I got it, what good luck! Kamui: Bravo! Go ahead, draw one more (critical trigger)! Emi: Second check! *Critical trigger* Look! Two stars! Kamui: C-congrat- *gets hit by Flores [Emi]* ...ulations!
- Kyou gets this in Episode 41 when Aichi starts to remind him of Ren. Especially when Aichi calls a second Young Pegasus Knight to replace the defeated first, having predicted that Young Pegasus Knight would be the card he won the game with.
- All the major characters at the Finals when Aichi plays Blaster Dark, fearing that he'll change under Psyqualia's influence again.
- One Steve Limit: Averted with regards to the game. Because the card-pool is so small, currently several characters run the same cards. This is best shown by Episode 6 where Aichi faces another Royal Paladin player, and the first few turns consist of the two playing off the exact same cards.
- OOC Is Serious Business: In Episode 24, the first clue that Aichi and co get that something is wrong with Misaki is when she doesn't reprimand Kamui and Morikawa for speaking too loudly while she's playing. Unfortunately, they don't take the hint.
- To say nothing of Aichi's behavior in Episode 41...
- All the more aggravating in that Kai takes that exact next episode to push the poor guy over the edge BECAUSE his out of character actions reminded him too much of Ren.
- To say nothing of Aichi's behavior in Episode 41...
- Our Angels Are Different: Soul Savior Dragon looks very much angelic, though it is referred to by Aichi as a god.
- The clan Angel Feather is filled with angels who worked as nurses, and some wield gatling guns. Justified since some of them served as security to the medical team on the battlefield.
- Our Dragons Are Different: Aichi's Soul Saver Dragon looks more like a cross between a knight, a dragon and a (female) angel than a typical dragon. So far he (she?) is the obvious exception, as most of the other dragons we have seen look pretty typical.
- Our Mermaids Are Different: Top Idol Flores is a cross between a mermaid and an idol singer. Arguably the same goes for Top Idol Aqua, maybe for Blazer Pleasures and Girls Rock, Rio looked more like a gill girl than a mermaid. Bermuda Triangle Cadet Caravel seems to be a more usual type of mermaid.
- Paper-Thin Disguise: Aichi more-or-less realizes that Ninja Master M is actually Mr. Mark within five seconds of meeting him. To be fair, the man himself threw out a hint:
Ninja Master M: Have you figured out how you would survive? (This is a Call Back to the first episode where Mr. Mark asked Aichi how he'd survive in a given historical period during a history lesson)
- Kamui, in the first National Tournament, tries to disguise himself with just a pair of glasses. His disguise was immedately saw through by Eiji and Reiji though.
- Parental Abandonment: Misaki's parents are dead and Aichi's father is neither seen nor mentioned. Episode 49 reveals that Kai's parents died a few years before the start of the series, which is the reason he left town (he went to live with his uncle's family).
- Power Glows: Lots of it. PSY Qualia activations, units glow whenever another unit boosts them, the circles on a fight table glow whenever a unit is called, and the cards themselves glow when a Trigger is activated. No one seems to think this is unusual.
- The Power of Friendship: A running theme in the series, and the main theme of Aichi's Royal Paladin deck.
- Preemptive "Shut Up": Kamui to Morikawa after Kamui gets yet another phrase wrong.
- Psychic Powers: PSY Qualia. It allows the user to foresee and control the events of a Cardfight. It also lets the user make their opponent feel like they're really being attacked. Tends to come with a nasty case of Drunk on the Dark Side.
- Though, as explained in episode 64, the ability's true nature is that it synchronizes the user with the Planet Cray, allowing users to act as the "vanguard" of the armies fighting there.
- At the end of episode 65, Aichi loses this ability, with the implication that its purpose had been fulfilled. There's no word yet, however, on whether or not this also applies to Ren, though it's implied.
- Psychotic Smirk: Ren uses these pretty often, when he doesn't go for a straight-up Slasher Smile.
- Pyrrhic Victory: Aichi may have won against Kyou, but he lost Kai after the regionals in Episode 42.
- Red Baron: From Team FFAL4, Asaka is known as "Assassin" and Tetsu is known as "General". And from Team Caesar, Gai is called "Gladiator", Yuri is the "Empress", and Kenji is called "Emperor" (Koutei). Kenji is also called Koutei as a regular nickname. (It's an alternate reading of the kanji for his name.)
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: Zig-zagged, Kamui has red eyes, but while an arrogant brat at times is by no means evil, while Ren, who is set up as the antagonist also has red eyes.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni:
- Hot-Blooded Kamui and The Stoic Kai have this dynamic. In episode 26, this culminates in an angry outburst from Kamui, who quits Team Q4 for the remainder of the tournament because he can't stand to fight alongside Kai anymore.
- Card Shop PSY has the energetic, outspoken Rekka ("blazing flame") and the calm, patient Suiko ("water tiger"). They're Color-Coded for Your Convenience.
- Red Shirt: Wearing black Fight Gloves is a good general indication that you won't be lasting long. Made especially clear with Yahagi Kyou as he is the only Foo Fighter to lose a match. Subverted by Jurassic Army who quickly established themselves as the series' Badass Normal team.
- Red String of Fate: Played with in-universe: In episode 21 Nagisa throws and ties an actual red string on Kamui's pinky (despite the two being on opposite sides of the playfield), and then declares she loves him. Kamui is... not thrilled by the obvious implications.
- Refuge in Audacity: Miwa gets the underground fighters to lay off Kai by saying that Kai's father is a police commissioner, his mother is a Chief Justice, he's the grandson of the prime minister, and between karate and judo, he's at 15th dan.
- Relative Error: Kamui first thought that Emi and Aichi were dating and the next day challenged the latter in order to get his "Goddess" (Emi).
- The Rival: Kai, but with a unique spin in that he's the one who teaches Aichi how to play.
- Royals Who Actually Do Something / Warrior King: King of Knights, Alfred.
- Say My Name: "KAAAIIIIIIIII!" Ren, episode 57 flashback.
- Kai yelling out to Aichi from the stands in Episode 64 to stop Psyqualia taking over him.
- Scary Shiny Glasses: The shop owner makes use of this.
- His eyes are 'finally' shown in a blink-and-you-miss-it moment in Episode 18, and another - just as brief - moment in ep. 22. And then a rather longer one in Episode 24. There's a reason for that.
- School Uniforms Are the New Black: Pretty much played straight at first, but subverted when everyone gets new casual outfits for the summer.
- Sempai Kouhai: Team Caesar seems to take this approach with Team Q4, going so far as to invite them to the Caesar Vanguard Training Camp.
- Serious Business: Card games, what else?
- Averted too, to some extent. When it comes down to it, Cardfight Vanguard is really just about kids playing a card game casually, without worrying about the fate of the world or monsters that actually exist and can hurt players.
- The Underground Fights seem to ooze this though.
- If Kyou's flashback is any indication, cardfights are this for team Foo Fighter.
- For Yuri of Team Caesar, creating a firm image of victory is this.
- Shrinking Violet: Aichi is a male example.
- Shout-Out: Many.
- The Royal Paladins and Gold Paladins are a clear shout out to Arthurian and British heroes. Just to name a few obvious ones:
- King of Knights, Alfred (King Arthur and Alfred the Great.)
- Knight of Solitude, Gancelot (Sir Lancelot.)
- Knight of Silence, Gallatin (Sir Gawain, whose sword was named Galatine.)
- Knight of Godspeed, Galahad (Sir Galahad himself.)
- Knight of Loyalty, Bedivere (Sir Bedivere.)
- Knight of Convenant, Bors (Sir Bors.)
- Knight of Steel Blade, Caradoc (Sir Caradoc.)
- Knight of Blue Flames, Dinas (Sir Dinadan.)
- Knight of Friendship, Kay (Sir Kay.)
- Knight of Determination, Lamorak (Sir Lamorak.)
- Knight of Twin Swords, Marhaus (Sir Marhaus.)
- Swordsman of Flames/Explosive Flames, Palamedes (Sir Palamedes.)
- Knight of Harp, Tristan (Sir Tristan.)
- Knight of Elegant Skill, Gareth (Sir Gareth.)
- Fortitude Knight, Lucan (Sir Lucan.)
- Wonds that blow through the plains/Precipice Whirlwind/Battlefield Storm, Sagramore (Sir Sagramore.)
- Knight of Fury, Agravain (Sir Agravain.)
- As opposed to the Royal Paladins, the Shadow Paladins derive their names from Irish/Welsh/Celtic/Scottish mythologies.
- The Oracle Think Tanks have some Japanese deities within their top ranks. So far, Amaterasu and Tsukuyomi have been featured. Oracle Guardians Nike, Gemini, and Apollon are references to Greek Mythology.
- The Dimension Police are straight shout outs to the Super Robot and Super Sentai genres, complete with a giant hot blooded super robot as their ace!
- The Royal Paladins and Gold Paladins are a clear shout out to Arthurian and British heroes. Just to name a few obvious ones:
- Slasher Smile: Ren can pull one off like the best of them.
- Slouch of Villainy: Has Ren ever even been seen sitting upright in a chair?
- So Last Season: Soul Saver Dragon's Holy Charging Roar, which won the Regionals for Team Q4, fails to defeat Tetsu and in fact the damage Aichi does deal only ends up setting up for Tetsu's game-ending Soul Blast with Still Vampire.
- Spoiler Opening: The first opening shows a lot of characters that appear later in the series. Some appear relatively early (Kamui in Episode 5 and the PSY trio in Episode 6) while others appear (much) later (Gouki and co do not appear until Episode 14, after the Shop Tournament ends, while Ren Suzugamori appears first in Episode 23, after the Regionals end). Averted with the second opening.
- Status Quo Is God: In episode 51, Morikawa receives a well-balanced deck when he forgets his own, and wins every fight he's in. Then at the end of episode 52, he "powers it up" with a bunch of Grade 3's, and goes back to always losing immediately.
- Stealth Insult: Ren Suzugamori's dialog consists of either this or just flat out insults.
- The Stoic: Kai.
- Suspiciously Specific Denial: Mr. Mark in Episode 11, when asked about the bag he's carrying:
Mr. Mark: T-this? Nothing important. It's definitely not a ninja costume!
- Take a Third Option: When Aichi is faced with decision of whether or not to accept PSY Qualia and the personality that comes with it, he finally decides instead that he can accept both sides of himself, without rejecting either PSY Qualia or the part of himself that wants to fight without it. This leads to his riding of Majesty Lord Blaster and ultimate victory over Ren.
- Tears of Joy: Kamui, when Team Q4 finally wins the national championship. May or may not count as Manly Tears.
- Tempting Fate:
- The Worf Effect: Misaki was hit by this hammer, hard, in the Asia Circuit season. Of all the fights she had, she has only one win against a Joke Character. Her other fights pitted her against Limit Break users, which she lost. Fans noticed the writers are using her to showcase how powerful Limit Break is.
- To add to her pain, she had fail to complete the Tsukuyomi ride line in all her fights, and Goddess of Half Moon Tsukuyomi had ended up as her first damage for three times.
- Theme Tune Cameo: An instrumental version of Diamond Star (the 1st ending) can be heard once Team Q4 arrives at the training camp.
- The second ending, "Smash Up" plays during the tournament montage in episode 39.
- The second opening, "Believe in my existence", plays during Kai's Final Turn against Aichi in episode 50.
- Twice in episode 65. "Believe in my existence" plays during the conclusion of Aichi's fight with Ren, and "Diamond Star" plays at the very end of the episode.
- There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Phantom Blaster Dragon is made out of this. It'll be truly epic overkill if two critical triggers are drawn aside from activating Counterblast twice (49000 and 5 damage). The same can be made of Gancelot and Edel Rose.
- And Knight of Godspeed, Galahad, as well. Activating his skill twice and getting a double Critical Trigger gives you a Critical 5.
- Taken to another level with Vajra Thunder Emperor, Indra. It gets a Critical 6 when you have another 3 units of the same name in your Rear Guard and gets a double Critical Trigger. All in the cost of Counter-Blast 1.
- This trope basically works every time a player gets a double Critical Trigger when your opponent is at 5 damages.
- They're Called "Personal Issues" for a Reason: This is pretty much Kai's response to Aichi, Miwa and Kamui following him to find out where he lives and what caused his personality to change.
- This Loser Is You: In Episode 32 after Aichi loses his round, and knocking Team Q4 out of the tournament (for real), Ren proceeds to rub it in has face. Furthermore, the next episode has the team only able to watch as Team AL4 completely pulverizes the competition and not surprisingly win the Nationals.
- Took a Level in Badass: Aichi due to his PSY Qualia in Episode 41.
- In episode 51 Morikawa of all people. He forgot his deck the day of the free-for-all shop tournament and Shin loaned him a structure deck. He spends the rest of the episode curbstomping people while moaning about how the deck ony has one Grade 3 unit. It doesn't last, though...
- As of his victories against Koutei in episode 56 and Ren in episode 65, Aichi is officially Badass even without PSY Qualia.
- Tournament Arc: Six so far: The Card Capital Shop Tournament, the regional tournament, the Nationals, the second Regionals (the second shop tournament was just a brief prelude to the Regionals), the second Nationals and the Asia Circuit.
- True Companions: Team Q4, eventually.
- Used to Be a Sweet Kid: Kai and Misaki. Not to mention Ren Suzugamori.
- The Underground Player Is A Cheating Bastard: Subverted. The underground player cheated a couple of times (drawing from underneath and having extra cards), but Kai beats him and he mentioned that after.
- The Unexpected: Ride 50's key card came completely out of left field, seeing as it was supposed to be a manga exclusive; "Together with the knights, open a path...and look upon the young king! Ride the Vanguard! Alfred Early!"
- Unfortunate Name: Toilette.
- Unstoppable Rage: At the end of Episode 24's Cardfight, Misaki is more-or-less suffering a complete breakdown due to be flooded with memories of her dead parents, and seems to go into this state, seeming more aggressive than before. Naturally, the moment is heralded by a Critical Trigger making itself known for her final blow.
- Villainous Breakdown: Kyou in Episodes 30 and 42. Ren in Episode 65 after Aichi uses Majesty Lord Blaster and claims to accept him.
Ren: I don't want your acceptance! Go ahead and reject me! I don't accept anyone, either!
- Warrior Therapist: Kai is this to Aichi and Ren. In the latter case, it doesn't work, and the task falls to Aichi.
- We Can Rule Together: Gouki offers Kamui a place on his team. Ren does the same to Kai.
- Wham! Episode: Episode 32. Aichi loses and Team Q4 are out of the Nationals.
- Followed immediately again in 33. We get the first view of Blaster Dark, the Shadow Archetype to Blaster Blade, in Ren's first true fight. Demoralized by how powerful he is and his personal loss, Aichi falls into despair, and Kai barely pulls him out. Shaken by these events, Shin enrolls Q4 in a training camp to fight on even footing with AL4 in the future.
- Episode 41 seems to be shaping up to be one too, judging by the fandom's reactions. Turns out Aichi's PSY Qualia is corrupting up much faster than anyone expected....
- Episode 42 is now the Wham Moment: "No, Aichi Sendou, you have gotten weaker."
- Episode 49. The destined fight between Aichi and Kai begins, with Kai using Aichi's former Royal Paladin deck, and we finally get Kai's backstory.
- Episode 64. We finally learn more about the person the PSY trio is working for. It turns out to be an entity from Cray (which in turn confirms Cray as a real place) and “borrows” Rekka’s body to watch the fight between Ren and Aichi (the effect is similar to when someone is using Psyqualia, just not as dark). We learn what is going on on Cray and that users of Psyqualia actually sinchronyze with Cray (something that was only hinted at in previous episodes). And in addition to all that, Aichi uses Psyqualia again and calls Blaster Dark, to everyone’s shock.
- Episode 66, the first episode of Asia Circuit. It ends with Aichi's deck either transformed or stolen, and the Royal and Shadow Paladins, as well as Kagerou clan, erased from living memory. No one can recall them except Aichi. Made all the worse since this episode effectively eliminated the card that symbolically tied Aichi and Kai together.
- Wham! Line: Delivered by Aichi in episode 43: "I'll keep you company. This is my Shadow Paladins' first battle."
- Suiko delivers an absolute shocker in Episode 50: "You should give your gratitude to him."
- Episode 63, Ren gives what could easily be the two most horrifying lines of the series to Aichi. "As long as I have this power, I can do what I want with you". (Inwardly) 'It's boring to just humiliate you, I think I'll transform you into the very thing you hate the most'. The preview for 64 really doesn't help the unsettling feeling.
- What Do You Mean It's Not Awesome?: Misaki's finger gun in Episode 62.
- Morikawa defeating Aichi, Izaki, Miwa and almost everyone in the shop, with just an unmodified Trial Deck.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Kourin delivers one to Kai in episode 44 over his role in Aichi developing PSY Qualia and subsequent abandonment of him.
- When She Smiles: Misaki in 29. And especially Kai in the first season's finale.
- And we get, perhaps, Ren's only non Slasher Smile -esque real smile in the same episode after the final match.
- White-Haired Pretty Boy: Kyou. Kinda.
- White Knight: Aichi's Deck-Type, Royal Paladin, is this, mostly.
- The Wise King: From Alfred - Early's flavor text, it can be reasonably assumed that this is King of Knights, Alfred's character.
- Yin-Yang Bomb: Majesty Lord Blaster, which Aichi uses to defeat Ren. It can only reach its full power by using both Blaster Blade and Blaster Dark together.
- Yin-Yang Clash: Ren delivers an ominous speech describing this just before riding Blaster Dark for the first time, though he appears to favor the darkness over the light.
Ren: Where there is light, there is darkness. That is one of a pair of truths. And light can only be swallowed up by darkness. That is a truth too.
- You Can't Fight Fate: Ren and Aichi's belief and the reason for their absolute confidence when channeling Psyqualia. However, as Aichi points out, this doesn't apply when fighting another Psyqualia user.
- You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Aichi, of course, and Asaka. Misaki has lilac hair, while Shin has green hair.
- Your Mind Makes It Real: One of Ren's lines in Episode 63 after he sends Aichi to Cray to be attacked by Blaster Dark strongly implies this.
Ren: It feels like I actually just swung a sword. *Slasher Smile*
- Zettai Ryouiki: Asaka is a Grade B.