I find it funny that they decided to cut ZeXal in to two. Must be budget related? Anyway this season of ZeXal has ended and the second season started last October 7 with a new schedule and it's called Yu-Gi-Oh! ZeXal II(: How's that? As probably the worst spin-off of the Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise (not that I've finished the other two), ZeXal never made me like its art, its story or even its main character. The reason I'm probably holding on to this series is my love for the original series. ~oh childhood :3
Now let me get through this review(:
So where does ZeXal revolve? In a simple explanation, it reminded me of Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters during the first few episodes. In a more detailed explanation of the plot, ZeXal revolves around the adventures of Tsukumo Yuma (Hatanaka Tasuku) and Astral (Irino Miyu). Astral is an entity that came from the Astral World; and he has taken Yuma's body as his vessel in order to collect the 99 xyz monsters/cards that came to earth and regain his memories. See the resemblance?
Given the story plot, I'm pretty sure that fans of (or at least those who have seen) the original series have probably noticed the similarities (and there's no way I'll point them out because this might end up being a really long post). This series seems to have an entirely different setting from the previous ones which is Domino City (Neo Domino City for 5D's). I don't know if it's some plot hole but the connection seems to be missing. ZeXal having their own story about duel monsters isn't the least surprising but connecting it to the original series through one episode greatly surprised me (correct me here if I got it wrong because I can't remember that episode clearly now. I'm taking about the episode with duel monster statues).
The progress of the story is very boring. Each episode (or most of the episodes), we get to see Yuma duel one character. The duels don't get exciting because they go by so fast. This has got to be another thing that annoyed me. But this uninteresting duels stop when Yuma deals with major characters such as Kaito, IV, III and more. They aren't as intense as how they go in Duel Monsters but I'd say that they were pretty decent. Although my word won't probably hold up if you're looking for duels similar to what Jounouchi and Varon had in Duel Monsters during the Seal of Orichalcos Arc or the duel that Yugi and Kaiba had at the Battle City Finals.
The ED arc was terrible. Okay, I don't think that this is so much of a spoiler so I'll go at it. The 3 on 1 duel between Mr. Faker (Ogawa Shinji) against Yuma, Kaito and Shark is like a copy of the 3 on 1 duel of Yugi, Kaiba and Jounouchi against Dartz from the DM's Orichalcos Arc or the 3 on 1 duel of Yusei, Jack and Crow against Rex Godwin on the first main arc of 5D's. But this one is done really, really bad… I didn't like it. Heart-eartH is a terrible numbers card. This 'ultimate' numbers is beyond impossible with very laughable effects under its sleeves. The duel itself was bad and the monsters and their effects weren't good. Now for the final duel which was between Kaito and Yuma, it turned out pretty interesting but predictable at the same time. It was almost good but the conclusion was pretty bad. I didn't like how they did it.
The characters had been pretty much the same. Yuma gains lots of friends through dueling and probably each character can have their counterparts on other series which is very disappointing for ZeXal. Character development is very minimal which is very typical in the franchise.
Unlike the previous protagonists of the franchise, Yuma is not a born champion of some sort. He's a typical guy with a dream of becoming a champion. I think that he has the combined characteristics of the franchise's previous protagonists which has got to be one of those pretty annoying reasons why I dislike Yuma. He doesn't have anything distinguishable in him other than his tagline: Kattobingu! and his necklace of course (but the necklace was Yugi's thing && having a tagline like that is Judai's). But behind the complains I have in Yuma's character, what's good about him is that unlike Mutou Yugi, Yuma usually duels and wins by himself. He don't usually rely on Astral for help but Astral still does his part.
Other major characters for me are Tenjo Kaito (Uchiyama Kouki) and Kamishiro Ryoga a.k.a. Shark (Masuda Toshiki). They seem more like Seto Kaiba's persona which was split into two. Both of them had been quite interesting and are probably some of the most interesting characters in the series. Although I think that Shark is suppose to be the Jounouchi-character in this series. For Yuma's friends, it's pretty annoying but there's a bunch of them and they all seem pretty useless other than Kotori (Komatsu Mikako) which seems to be the Anzu Mazaki of the series. She likes Yuma and she keeps on staying by his side which is something they shouldn't have brought back (since Judai Yuki and Yusei Fudo never had an-always-female-companion with them).
|the CG actually looks good|
For the art of the series, I'd say that I was pretty surprised to see a Yu-Gi-Oh! series with this kind of setting - this kind of vivid art and this kind of character designs. When this series got released, I instantly thought of Mobile Suit Gundam AGE because of the more child-friendly art. That's probably the main reason for the style. The character designs has never pleased me. Although it's pretty funny that the hair-style that all the Yu-Gi-Oh! series had has been retained. The vivid coloring and easy going look of ZeXal had its good points since they can easy adjust to the moods of the scenes. The seemingly younger characters also didn't made things good.
One thing that I'd like to focus when it comes to the art is the designs of the duel monsters. I've done some complains about them before in my post so I won't rant so much in here. Anyway, the things that I'd like to point out in their designs has got to be: (1) they're not very original and (2) most of them look very boring. If I must, I'm pointing out a couple of decks to give an idea. Giving a very unoriginal deck has got to be Yuma's. I've also talked about it in this post. Some boring decks has got to be the deck which had power tools. I mean, seriously? They could make something like that but the designs look boring, plain and just boring. If I recall correctly I think that there's a power tool-like deck in 5D's but at the very least it looks pretty good. In zeXal, I think that they also had something like it but they did it really terrible with its terrible special effects and such.
In an overall look of Yu-Gi-Oh! ZeXal, I'd say that it's probably the worst spin-off of the franchise yet. The second season has started its run and I haven't seen any subs yet (x_x) but I'll get into it. If you think that the entire Yu-Gi-Oh! series has been very laughable or a real joke, then I just don't know what you'll think when you see this one. HAHA. I'm pretty sure that even fans of the previous series won't like this (I know I didn't). Now it makes me wonder how the heck I finished this~