12 Days of Anime #6: “A Place of Chance Meetings” December 20, 2015Posted by navycherub in 12 days of anime, Anime, Cardfight Vanguard, Essay.
Tags: 12 Days of Anime, Anime, Cardfight Vanguard, Essay
Oh dang not another kids’ show.
The first season of the next generation Vanguard anime, Cardfight!! Vanguard G, had its share of problems at the beginning. It basically didn’t showcase any actual card game playing, and it leaned much more toward a slice-of-life feeling than the plot-intensive seasons that came before. If you ask me, it ended up a respectable entry while walking a very different path than the previous shows, tidying up its narrative and establishing its cast as rightful members of the Vanguard universe, with one big exception.
Despite all its efforts elsewhere, Vanguard G never really gave its heroine, Tokoha, the motivation or importance she deserved as one of the main trio. Where everyone else was saving the world or going places in their lives, Tokoha was just there in the background, supporting TRY-3 but never having any grand character arcs of her own. Everything she did, and all of her motivations, were for the sake of furthering other characters. In particular, it was almost impossible to disconnect anything about her character from the idea that she is simply in her brother’s shadow.
With this episode, GIRS Crisis begins its attempt at making up for shafting Tokoha’s character in the first season of the show. Right from the beginning, we see Tokoha observing her friends, thinking about how they have such important goals ahead of them and seem to be moving forward with conviction. Tokoha, on the other hand, doesn’t have any concrete plans. She knows she likes Vanguard, and would like to do something with it, but she doesn’t want to take over her family’s company like her brother, or become a professional fighter like her friends.
With this conundrum hanging over her, Tokoha visits the store, Card Capital 2, and finds the previous show’s heroine Misaki in a bind as there is a very large tournament that day but she is the only one in the store. Tokoha decides to help to take things off of her mind, and they complete the tournament together. Afterwards, Misaki and Tokoha start talking, which inevitably leads to discussing Tokoha’s current issues. Misaki says she relates.
It turns out, back when the events of the first show wrapped up, Misaki found herself in a very similar situation to Tokoha. Her friends all had specific goals to work toward, but Misaki was left feeling aimless. That is until she witnessed an event one day, where two kids who had bonded over Vanguard moved away from each other, but were reunited as their shared interest in the game led them to seeing each other at a store again. It made Misaki realize that she could find her own kind of happiness by helping to bring people together the same way she found her own friends, which is why she started her own store.
By the end of the day with Misaki, Tokoha may not have actually found her own answer. However, what she has learned is that there is an answer somewhere inside her, and the important thing is keeping her head up and looking for that personal kind of happiness she deserves. By framing her desires this way – not connected to her brother, or a duty to some larger purpose, but for herself – the story begins to deliberately peel away the main issue of everything Tokoha doing being intrinsically connected to someone else, and starts letting her character breathe as her own person.