Original Run: April 7, 2020 - March 23, 2021 Number of Episodes: 48 Genre: Action, Fantasy Based on the Video Game: Shadowverse
***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Shadowverse. Reader discretion is advised.***
Like all his friends, Hiro Ryugasaki (voiced by Gakuto Kajiwara) lives and breathes the immensely popular digital card game “Shadowverse.” However, he has not had a chance to play it since he does not own a cell phone.
That changes when Ryugasaki comes across an old phone his missing father left behind. Now, he can play “Shadowverse” to his heart’s content. And despite being a novice, Ryugasaki quickly demonstrates he has a knack for the game.
Then, as if by fate, Ryugasaki continues to face more and more powerful opponents. He doesn’t know it yet, but Ryugasaki has begun down the path towards his destiny.
At the time of this review going live, I have not played a second of the actual Shadowverse game. Having now seen the anime, I hope to rectify that soon – no promises, though.
That said, the next question should be, “Is my interest in the game a result of watching its anime incarnation?” Although I can answer with a simple “yes,” there is much more nuance to that conclusion.
Because of the Shadowverse anime, I want to try out its source material. However, what is compelling me to do so has nothing to do with me liking this show. Believe me; such a notion could not be further from the truth. The plain, no-nonsense, honest fact is, I did not like this show. I, very much, did NOT like this show in the slightest.
Shadowverse, the anime, was awful.
As I write this section of the review, I am doing my best to hold back 48-episodes worth of bitter frustration, dullness, and questioning of my life choices.
All that in due time.
For the moment, I wish to express what this series got…right (my god, saying that hurt far more than I expected). Still, there is one thing I can give Shadowverse credit for. From what I can tell, the anime did its best to accurately portray the mechanics of its titular game.
If you were only interested in what a “Shadowverse” battle looks like, I suggest you watch a streamer play the real thing. But if for some reason, that option is not available to you, the anime will get the job done.
Since I sat through this series, I believe I could follow an actual “Shadowverse” match well enough. Could I tell you what certain cards’ abilities are? Probably not, but this show did make an effort to provide detailed play-by-plays on the various card effects, statistics, and attacks.
There is no doubt in my mind that a genuine “Shadowverse” battle can be a lot of fun. Sadly, I have yet to see one since I never thought I was witnessing anything genuine in the entirety of the anime. Despite never having played the game, even I could tell this series took a few – let’s call them – creative liberties to tell its story.
Unfortunately, the story those liberties led us to resulted in the Shadowverse anime.
Where do I even begin?
When we get right down to it, the Shadowverse anime was boring – so very, very boring. Sure, there were moments in this show I enjoyed more than others. But never once did I think, “Hey, this is entertaining.”
And do you want to know something interesting? When I sat down to write this review, I had looked forward to ripping this series apart. However, now that I’m here, I can’t bring myself to do it. Oh, I’m not saying this show doesn’t deserve a good eviscerating. The thing is, though, I am exhausted.
You see, to actually critique this series, that would involve a ton of mental organization. I must take into account proper flow and word choice. I would also have to be, you know, coherent.
Except, I don’t want to do that. Instead, I want to scream and scream and yell and rant and break all the things! I WANT TO BE DONE WITH THIS SHOW!
*It is here where the author lost his damn mind.*
Have you ever seen Yu-Gi-Oh? Well, if you watch Shadowverse – which you shouldn’t – from EPISODE ONE, you’ll be thinking, “What the hell, this is freaking Yu-Gi-Oh. But, like, a version of Yu-Gi-Oh that decided not to be fun or engaging.”
The heart of the cards! The heart of the cards! All you have to do is believe in the heart of the cards! Shadowverse never went so far as to say that verbatim; this series had some decency.
Instead, this show’s equivalent was, “I love Shadowverse.”
“Do you love Shadowverse?”
“Even though you’re trying to bring about the end of the world, you’re smiling, so you must love Shadowverse, right?”
I swear to all that is holy; if I have to hear that stupid pseudo-inspirational argument one more GOD DAMN TIME, my fist will be going through a wall!
“But wait,” you might be thinking, “What do you mean by, ‘bring about the end of the world.’ Surely – SURELY – this card-game-based anime doesn’t have an end-of-the-world plot.”
Shadowverse had an end-of-the-world plot. AND BOY, let me tell you, that was an escalation.
This series went from:
Episode 1 – Let’s get back a friend’s cell phone.
Episode 48 – The ultimate battle against a god to determine the fate of humanity.
Trust me; 48 episodes was not nearly enough time to bridge that gap. It also didn’t help that for the first 22 episodes, there were only quaint, fun, and inconsequential “Shadowverse” tournaments as the main threat.
Then there were the characters – sweet Jesus, THE CHARACTERS!
No one in this series was remotely memorable. Everyone had one-note personalities, which were these:
- Kazuki Shindo (voiced by Hayato Taya) – The best friend
- Kai Ijuuin (voiced by Atsumi Tanezaki) – The smart one
- Mimori Amamiya (voiced by Kaede Hondo) – The girl
- Alice Kurobane (voiced by Yui Ogura) – Also the girl, but an idol
- Maura Aberaldo (voiced by Yuuichi Iguchi) – A edgelord
- Lucia Yonazuki (voiced by Junya Enoki) – Another edgelord but with a sister complex
No matter what, if any of those six happened to be the star of an episode – THEY. COULD. NOT. LOSE!
There was never any tension in a “Shadowverse” match because the outcome was always the same. It didn’t matter if an opponent was a professional player, a shadow demon, or an otherworldly spirit. If someone from the main cast was the protagonist of the week, they were going to win.
And that was even before the introduction of the legendary cards.
Again, I have not played the Shadowverse game. Nevertheless, it was always so obvious whenever this show brought out an unquestionably broken card.
This was another factor that took away any excitement that might have come from matches. I lost count of how many times one of our heroes turned a game around despite having a single hit point and their opponent had more than max health. All because someone “drew” their respective here-is-an-automatic-win-card.
At least the legendary cards had a connection to the plot. The same sentiment was not true for the wildly unfair Ignis Dragon. As soon as this thing came on the board, Shadowverse’s primary protagonist suddenly became unbeatable.
Speaking of Shadowverse’s primary protagonist.
Before I continue, I must apologize in advance.
Although I use vulgarity in my writing to emphasize specific points, I censor myself when it comes to more extreme vocabulary. In this instance, I can’t do that. I need to get this out of me, so please excuse my language:
FUCK HIRO RYUGASAKI!
There were many reasons why Shadowverse was irredeemable. And yet, it was Ryugasaki, and Ryugasaki alone, that nearly made this show unwatchable. Everything that was wrong with this series was within him.
Without a hint of exaggeration, Ryugasaki is among the dullest, most irritating, most naïve, most hollow anime protagonists I have ever seen. Because of his awfulness, this series got noticeably better whenever he wasn’t on screen.
I know I have not covered everything. Heck, I’m not even sure I’ve covered enough. Shadowverse was not an enjoyable experience.
If you’ve played the game and have seen the show, how close are the two? Deep down, I want to assume this series was a horrible bastardization of something good. The thought of two awful things bearing the Shadowverse name sends a shiver down my spine.
But though I exhausted my patience to get through this show, that is the whole point of Anime Hajime. I suffer, so you don’t have to.
If you are unaware, this review was the cap-off to an entire Impression series. Should you be interested in seeing my descent into madness, might I suggest starting from the beginning with Anime Hajime Impressions: Shadowverse Episodes 1 to 8.
Other than that, there is nothing more I can say.
Shadowverse is something that some should avoid and others – me – should forget.
But these were just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this series? How would you advise Shadowverse? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.
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For Anime Hajime, I’m Odyssey, and I’ll see you next time.