Directed By: Masahiro Hosoda (ep. 1-13); Katsuya Asano (ep. 14-present)
Licensed By: Crunchyroll
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Debuting in 2017, Yu-Gi-Oh VRAINS (From here on out call VRains) has a long history. From the Pharaohs of Egypt, The School of Dual, Card Games on Motorcycles, Feeling the Flow, and Dueltainers; this series debuts Dual Surfing in Virtual Reality. This is not the VR of Yu-Gi-Oh Zexal though; Zexal is closer to AR “Augmented Reality”. VRAINS happens in full virtual reality, much like Sword Art Online, Overlord, or Log Horizon these duals happen in an avatar driven system sort of like Tron but 1000% less Daft Punk. In this virtual landscape, duelers are able to use digital cards and battle. The first episode does reintroduce Speed Duals; speed duals are no longer card games on motorcycles and even in one case skateboard, These speed duals are closer to surfing.
As always the show follows a character that sets unrealistic standards for hair color and style, Yusaku Fujiki who also goes by the avatar “Playmaker” as he battles against the “Knights of Hanoi.” The Knights tend to use Hacker sounding cards such as Hack Worm, DDos Attack, and Cracking Dragon. The Yu-Gi-Oh Cinematic universe(YCU) (Can we make that a thing) has a habit using themes in their series. In addition to having the VR aspect, they also introduce AI (Artificial Intelligence) as Yusaku’s dual partner is an AI. VRAINS takes a page from the YCU and has a near deity level dual partner. Yugi had Yami, Jaden had Winged Kuribo, and Zexal had Astral. As always every dual has a moment where it looked like the main character is going to lose and boom Deus Ex Machina they pull the one card they need to win.
VRAINS introduces a new summoning method called Link summon. Basically, the player tributes a number of monsters and those monsters add up to be able to summon a link monster with a link level equal to the number of cards sacrificed except in a more advanced case but first let me give you an example.
You have Summoned Skull, Celtic Guardian, and Dark Magician on the field. Using these in theory you could use these to summon a Link 3 monster. Link monsters do not have a level, but for the sake of example. This would be a Link level 3 monster.
In the harder example say you took a Link 3 monster and one other monster you could summon a link 4 monster since you already have a link
Understand, great! This system of summoning is a little less broken than pendulum summoning which allows you to summon more monsters than should be legal.
VRAINS does break from the typical Dual an episode of Cliffhanger dual in that, not every episode has a dual. Episode 3 actually does not have a dual and instead focuses on character development. This series is still ongoing so you can catch up rather easily, as of the moment of writing there are only 35 episodes. If you are a fan of the YCU you should for sure check out this iteration of the series.