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  • Anticlimax Boss: Ren in the final arc of season 1. Made worse by being a combination of this trope and Idiot Ball--Against Kai he plays very well, but when he goes up against Aichi? He practically throws his hand away on early guard and call maneuvers that don't match up with his established play style, lucks into drawing Phantom Blaster Overlord, and he attacks a unit that Aichi would have had to voluntarily retire anyway for his own strategy to work. Compared to the previous four, incredibly tense and wildly unpredictable fights it comes off as a major letdown.
  • Awesome Music: The openings aside, the soundtrack of the anime is very good until fans are wondering when will the OST be released.
  • Badass Decay / The Worf Effect: Kourin can be seen to suffer from a combination of these tropes. She's initially portrayed as a strong fighter and curbstomps Aichi on their first meeting. She is then curbstomped by Ren, Aichi, and Kai in her following three fights.
  • Base Breaker: Kai. You either think he's Badass or a Smug Snake with obscene trigger luck.
    • Though there is some middle ground where he's likeable, but his portrayal in official material like his profile, and his portrayal in show don't line up. This troper's major issue with Kai is the inconsistency here, but he is still likeable as an elite, cool player.
  • Cliché Storm
  • Complete Monster: Phantom Blaster Dragon.
  • Crowning Music of Awesome: The openings. They're done by JAM Project, what do you expect?
  • Epileptic Trees: Some started growing early in when Shin read out the marketing fluff for the Vanguard Gloves, which stated they had 'crystals mined from the Planet Cray', Cray being the planet on which the Units battle. These trees got a right watering after one of Kai's lines in Episode 40 to Aichi regarding PSY Qualia, said line being 'you're the one who's doing the fighting'. Fans have theorized from this that Cray is real and that PSY Qualia is allowing your Vanguard to take control of the fight in your place.
  • Game Breaker: A Majesty Lord Blaster deck. The deck is obscenely broken. Not only does its ace card have the potential for a permanent extra Critical and 12000 Power, said ace has a dedicated searcher (Wingal Brave), which happens to be the deck's starter Vanguard and can also search out either of the two cards needed to activate Majesty's skill. Then there's Starcall Trumpeter, which can call out Blaster Blade or Blaster Dark from the deck for Counterblast 2. And finally, Solitary Knight Gancelot, which can return itself from the hand to the deck to search out Blaster Blade from the deck. It's a ridiculously efficient Toolbox which creates a monster of a Vanguard, usually by Turn 3 (not coincidentally when you'll tend to Ride Majesty Lord Blaster). Once this combo is fully set up, the opponent may as well just give up there, because bar extremely ridiculous luck, they're pretty much doomed to lose.
    • Subverted with the rest of the game, as Vanguard is noted as an exceptionally balanced card game. However, much much earlier around set 2 there was Barcgal, who wasn't a Game Breaker on his own--it was his ability to unavoidably add five cards to the soul and set up Soul Saver Dragon's soulblast that made him broken. This ruined the Japanese national competition at the time, as the entire senior division was won by Royal Paladin Barcgal-SSD decks(the junior division was considerably more creative.) It's difficult to tell how much of this was actually broken though, and how much of it was the mindset that it was broken encouraging people to use Royal Paladins before the other clans, as Barcgal is now restricted in the Japanese format...and not in the English one. The Majesty Lord Blaster deck was also recently proven in Japan's competitions to still be vulnerable to the other clans' GameBreakers, like Dragonic Overlord The End and Phantom Blaster Overlord, bringing into question if the game was really broken or just broken for those outside the three 12000-13000 power clans.
  • Ho Yay: RAMPANT between Aichi and Kai. Gets a lampshade hung on it in episode 4 when the store manager compares Aichi looking for Kai to looking for his girlfriend. Aichi even admits it early on, by noting that he became obsessed with Kai (whom he had met all of once) and picked up the game just to get a chance to fight him.
    • Ren and Kai have their moments as well. God, their dialogue in Episode 32...
    • Kai has this all over the place. Not only does he have frequent moments with Aichi, but also Miwa and Ren.
    • Tetsu always seems incredibly devoted to Ren...
    • Overlapping with Foe Yay: Ren and Aichi. Just Ren and Aichi...
  • Invincible Rival: Kai. This is partly the reason for his Base Breaker status, that currently only Aichi has beaten him. This sounds fine until you note two things. A) His characterization. And B) Who he happens to beat, including the winner of the shop tournament for the previous year. While commenting exactly the same as he does when beating Morikawa.
  • Jumping the Shark: Widely agreed to have happened in Episode 64 after the revelation of the true purpose of PSY Qualia. Not only was the Plot Twist so bad it entered Shocking Swerve territory, the introduction of Cray put a mass Idiot Ball on everyone on the planey.
  • Memetic Badass: Emi and Morikawa. The latter was taken Up to Eleven after Morikawa got a balanced deck and spent two episodes winning all his fights.
  • Memetic Molester: Around Ren, everyone needs an adult.
  • Memetic Mutation: Quite a few phrases got mutated among the fandom
  • Mind Game Ship: Ren enjoys screwing around with Aichi's already rather shaky self-confidence a bit much, and basically slowly pushing him over the edge. At the very least the guy's good at knowing which buttons to push. While watching Aichi's match with Kenji, Ren's main concern is having Aichi fall to the power of Psyqualia again and show him the victory he desires.
  • Nightmare Fuel: Aichi on PSY Qualia. It starts in episode 41 and then gets worse. As he gets more corrupted by it, his Dissonant Serenity begins to reach Psychopathic Manchild levels, complete with Slasher Smile and Madness Mantra.

   Aichi: I'm strong...I've gotten stronger...

    • Taken Up to Eleven from episodes 48 to 50. Aichi's expressions while fighting look more like he's a character from Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, instead of a card game anime.
    • Suiko's smile with the weird glowing cards reflected in her eyes at the end of episode 58 is pretty unsettling...
    • Ren's extreme Slasher Smiles in episode 63 are rather creepy.
  • Shocking Swerve: Notoriously in Episode 64, the tense fight between Aichi and Ren which the entire series had built up was eclipsed at its halfway point by the revelation that Cray was real and that their fight was effectively deciding a totally stupid and pointless civil war between Royal Paladins and Shadow Paladins.
  • The Scrappy: In the card game, Murakumo. They're seen as a Suspiciously Similar Substitute for Nubatama, and the common belief is that Bushiroad only created Murakumo to avoid following up Nubatama because the latter are too hard to balance (their gimmick being hand destruction in a game where the hand is very important). It doesn't help that in the manga, the first Murakumo cards were Nubatama.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: Several instances:
    • There are early indications that Kourin disapproved of what Suiko was up to, and was going to interfere and become a Spanner in the Works. This... kind of goes nowhere since although Kourin's intervention does help to break Aichi out of his addiction to PSY Qualia, there was no overall interference with the plan.
    • Similarly, there were a few hints that Kai and Tetsu were going to fight at some point. This never happens. The fans particularly seize on this one because Tetsu's fight with Kamui was astoundingly poorly choreographed (the most notorious example being the time Kamui uses a Perfect Guard against Tetsu's 12000 Power Still Vampyr while he had at least one 10000 Shield card in his hand). Said fight also had the issue that Kamui and Tetsu had no real connection whatsoever (this was even highlighted right before the fight when Tetsu doesn't even know Kamui is a member of Q4), whereas Tetsu is Kai's Evil Counterpart.
  • Toy Ship: Between Kamui and Emi.
  • Viewer Gender Confusion: Fans were debating Ren's gender up until the first episode where he got speaking lines aired.
  • The Woobie: Following Episode 24 and her backstory, Misaki may just count. Having her parents die in a tragic accident while she was young is bad enough, but due to her 'perfect memory', any time she gets too involved in Vanguard somehow, all the painful memories come flooding back. She spent whoever knows how long avoiding playing, but ultimately in Episode 24, it all comes crashing down...
  • Wangst: Although she gets over it eventually, Misaki's angst stemming from her parents' deaths falls into this.
    • The angst Aichi was feeling over his loss to Tetsu was kinda unreasonable and handled badly, considering how he acknowledged that he's not that good a Vanguard player and even he volunteered to be the member of the team to sit out of the fights at the nationals. And then he lost to one of the best Vanguard players on a top rated team, and then started angsting about it as if it were the end of the world.
    • This make a bit more sense if you realize that the problem wasn't that he lost, he was a bit disappointed about it, but was otherwise fine. The problem is that he thinks that it's entirely his fault that his team lost. (Which is nonsense, since Misaki lost too, but Ren basically hammered it into his head.) And his team includes Kai, and Aichi is obsessed with trying to get Kai to acknowledge him.
      • Though honestly, a pretty large portion of that is probably Ren's fault. He seemed at least not as bad until Ren decided to rub it into his face.
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