Shadowverse – 1st Episode Review
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Synopsis: The hottest battle is about to begin! While attending Tensei Academy, Hiro Ryugasaki ends up acquiring a mysterious smartphone. It comes installed with the popular card game, Shadowverse! Meeting new rivals, facing major tournaments, forging bonds with friends… Shadowverse leads Hiro to all sorts of new experiences, all that serve to “evolve” him…(Official Crunchyroll Synopsis)
1st Episode Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: Shadowverse is best summed up as off-brand Yu-gi-oh. It borrows so heavily from the genre Yu-Gi-Oh birthed that it could honestly be mistaken for a companion piece to any of the franchise’ vast number of follow ups. Unfortunately, Shadowverse can’t even be considered a particularly inventive off-brand. What’s presented is fairly bog-standard card game anime type stuff, playing out exactly as anyone might expect, leaving little room to surprise viewers with something new.
Linny: Shadowverse is predictable without a doubt. In true Shounen style, Hiro, the hero (geddit?) is obnoxiously positive, always smiling and laughing no matter the situation. He’s just so gosh darn happy to be able to play, even against a starter villain who might take away his recently acquired phone for good, preventing him from ever playing Shadowverse again. In true card battle show style, everything is dialed up to a 100. The lines being tossed around are really dramatic for what is just two kids playing cards and the battles are depicted with over the top flair. There’s nothing groundbreaking here, which makes the show a solid choice for anyone who really loves the staples of these kinds of stories but it also means the show is likely never going to rise to any level of brilliance.
Tom: What’s perhaps more interesting about Shadowverse than its attempts to ape Yu-Gi-Oh is how wildly different this anime is from the game it’s based on. Hiiro, his friends, all this Yu-Gi-Oh-esque presentation? None of that is in Shadowverse the digital card game. In fact Shadowverse is really just the card game as presented in this anime. Rather than expanding on the characters in the game, fleshing out a story, and crafting a fantasy world to match the genre of the game’s imagery, the game itself has instead been wrapped up in this off-brand Yu-Gi-Oh facade. It’s very blatant who CyGames is targeting with this anime in an attempt to give their game a sales boost and makes me cynical about us seeing anything new or worthwhile as the show moves forward.
Linny: I will point out that Shadowverse does do at least one thing that’s unique. It doesn’t waste time explaining how the Shadowverse card game works at all. We never see the hero being taught how to play, like we have to sit through in similar card game anime. Hiro already knows how to play, even so far as he’s very familiar with how the more powerful cards work, despite only having acquired a smart phone, which is required to play, that very day. The expedited dive into actual gameplay is novel but it also means that this is probably not the show for anyone who isn’t that familiar with how card games like these work in real life. Not that the show is hard to follow mind, it just means it probably shouldn’t be someone’s introduction to the world of card games and card game based anime. Other than that, Shadowverse supports its plot with good animation throughout and should do the job just fine for anyone starving for more card battle animem even if it doesn’t break the mold.
Tom: We’ve come across pretty hard on Shadowverse, but in truth for something likely created as a marketing gimmick, more so than seeking to present honest entertainment, it’s doing a passable job. It won’t make Shadowverse fans happy. You’re not going to see your favorite cards fleshed out into actual characters. But for the audience this anime has been strategically crafted for, it’s a passable offer.
Shadowverse is available for streaming via Crunchyroll.com