A new enemy has been revealed - Barian. They wish to gather the "Numbers" and destroy the Astral World to avoid their own world's destruction. As such, Yuma and his friends are their prime target, and the Barian begin to slowly enter Heartland City.
I'll get straight to the point, Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal II (subbed) is one of the best anime I have seen to date. With a top tier engaging story, detailed art that is stylistic yet still a homage to its predecessors former styles, and a truly lovable main cast that viewers will progressively get more attached towards, this second season reinforces the already good first season, and with it, genuinely breathes new life into this ever-changing franchise.
Story - 9
Revolving around the Barian's, Zexal II has arguably one of the eeriest and intriguing plots of the franchise to date. However, this does not come without flaws.
Most find issues in the pacing and execution of this story, and complaints about it can be heard throughout fans of anime and Yu-Gi-Oh! alike. As the story progresses and the plot unravels you realize the series is a lot less predictable than anticipated, and instead, is actually presented quite well.
To put it into laymen's terms for readers of this review, think of Zexal I as Clannad, and Zexal II as the after-story. Simply put, it is essentially the pay off to the big build up that is Zexal's first season, and what a pay off it is.
Art - 9
The art is indeed "candy for the eyes" and furthermore is quite a "treat" to look at. Everything from the "Shonen-esk" characters to the background are well detailed and it results in an incredibly visually appealing animation style. The openings and endings are gorgeously pieced together and executed in such a remarkable fashion that they still remain some of my favorites. As mentioned before, the stylized dramatization, which is readily apparent to returning fans of the franchise, can seem off-putting at first, but rest assured as it serves to intensify suspenseful moments, create remember-able duels, and evidently be a stylistic take that is for the better.
Sound - 10
Zexal II added a completely new soundtrack that widens the large range they had originally, to an unfathomable degree. This, coupled with the appropriate use of Zexal I's OST, effectively puts a perspective on the growth of individual characters and to a larger degree, the change of Zexal II's overall tone. The soundtrack completely compliments every spectrum of mood in the series and is one of, if not the best, in the franchise to date.
Character - 10
This show is packed full of them. From the cameo occurrences of certain disliked characters, to disliked reoccurring ones, it's odd to see so much hate geared towards main and side characters alike. Here's why I think the characters are not just good, but great:
The show relies on a typical trope for Shōnen in that the protagonist starts off as a beginner and slowly but surely get's stronger. No problems there, it only adds to the experience as one notices Yuma not only developing as a character, but also getting better at playing the game. Additionally, they wrote in some of the greatest antagonists ever, which is more than enough reason to deal with certain characters that you inevitably detest, like the ever loved Tokunosuke. Jokes aside, this is no understatement, the characters are all well developed throughout the 73 episode, this makes even Tokunosuke tolerable to a certain degree.
Enjoyment - 10, Overall - 10
Admittedly, the first couple of episodes are quite formulaic and tedious, but as the show passes through its exposition, I began to find myself eagerly waiting on a weekly basis for the next episode as it was that enveloping as a show. If you're a fan of the franchise, I suggest you give it a hearty try, even If you dropped it before. If you're not a fan, I still suggest you give Zexal II a chance as its story is fantastic.
So now you're lean, what's next? You need to make sure you're refueling your muscles and supporting your body by consuming carbs and protean. You start the feel the bulk, those rock solid abs and delicious muscles. Guys and gals both look good with muscles, except when they start to look like they're Graveler, then it's just disgusting. But the good muscle look is what we're going after here, the wonder of Zexal 2. I can't stress enough how good this is, as it's easily one of the best parts of Yugioh. We shall begin the road of the opposite of Zexal 1, the cesspool
Even though the story's objective is still the same, the presentation is significantly better. We get to see the objective and troubles of both the Astral world and the Barian world. While both worlds want to kill the other one, it becomes surprisingly complex with different groups with different affinities have their own objectives and methods. There are a few plot twists, but they honestly make sense. The events that conspire throughout the characters' journey only makes the emotional attachment to them that much stronger. The one issue I have is the numeron code and its existence. To continue any more would spoil some key moments.
The art and sound are pretty much the same as Zexal 1. A new thing though is the design of the Astral and Barian worlds as well as their denizens, and I must say, they did a fine job in their designs.
The characters are significantly better in Zexal 2. Out of Yuma's crew Yuma, Astral, and Shark all get a lot better with Shark being the biggest improvement. Shark's sister Rio also becomes part of the group and is more fleshed out than the other girls in the group. The Barians are all unique and great characters, and in all honesty are the best characters in Zexal 2. Unfortunately they are all surrounded in spoilers, but just trust my word. Kaito is still a great character while Haruto becomes more open and Orbital 7 remains just as witty as ever. To really know how these characters are, watch it. There's only so much one man can say before spoiling everything.
Zexal 2 was a much more enjoyable experience than Zexal 1 due to its improved plot handling and characters. Zexal 2 is one of the most memorable parts of Yugioh that will leave you at your seat getting exciting, feeling the character's emotions, and wanting more. At the end of the journey through a disgusting swamp is a hidden village of wonder and excitement known as Zexal 2, so what are you waiting for?
Some people say Zexal was the worst of the Yugioh series. They were right.
Way too kid-friendly, way too stereotyped, way too badly written characters, unbelievably stupid character design. None of the above are present in the final 20-25 episodes, but having to endure them for around 130 episodes was truly painful. Noone ever died, every villain repented in the end, Yuma, the retarded protagonist and his gay (for lack of a better word) friend astral went super Sayan and saved everyone with the power of Kattobingu (don't ask, noone ever understood) and everyone always lived happily ever after (again: in the final arc forget all
about that). The character designs were completely lame for the most part (especially Yuma's), with the exception of Astral, the protagonist's friend-spirit, in which case it was more "gay" than "lame" (again, for lack of a better way to describe it).
The anime also tended to have way-too-forced morals, character traits etc. For example Nna... Shark and Kaito always miraculously knew when Yuma was being tricked by his opponents through highly impropable and undetectable means, so they could appear as the "serious" characters. The cat girl never had a serious moment to show her... Goofiness (it didn't work out...). In fact all of Yuma's cheer squad soon makes you want to choke them, with the exception of Kotori, who is bearable (but no more than that). Yuma himself, worse than everyone else, is constantly clueless, confused by everything and constantly overreacts to everything. As a result, even the most retarded of villain schemes are effective.
For the good parts Zexal truly writes the book on what villains should be like. First off, to make up for the retarded good-guys crew, there are always 2-3 different villain factions going around hellbent on killing each other as well as the good guys. This especially shines in the last arc, where almost every battle is literally evil vs evil (after most of the good guys have been wiped out). In fact from the original 50+ cast of Zexal, in the final arc less than 5 remain alive, and that's including Astral seperately from Yuma. For that we have none other to thank that the master of all evil, Hiraga Saito!... I mean Vector. The guy is the absolute definition of psychotic, sadistic, and most of all, evil for the yolo. He is a master of taunting and emotionally torturing his opponents, has no moral qualms whatsoever and up until the very end remains treacherous and completely insane. He loves what he's doing and you will love him for it. (seriously , that guy alone is the reason I gave the show 9 in enjoyment instead of 4, he is THAT evil).
Talking about Vector let me remind the readers again that every complaint I had about Zexal is NOT present in the final arc. The retards you wanted to see dead actually do die, Yuma cries in rage so much that it actually brings a smile to your face, Vector is being himself (aka the most badass twisted scum to ever appear in Yugioh) and the character design of the villains is actually pretty epic. And again, if there is one thing that Zexal did right and can make up for all the horrible lameness at the start of the series, it's that every bad guy has his own agenda that rarely goes along with everyone else's.
I suggest watching Zexal second only, since watching the first season on its own (aka without the motherf$%king Vector) can be considered mental torture.
Oh boy, Zexal, if there is one series in the Yu-gi-oh franchise that nearly everyone love to rip on or mock it is Zexal. And after completing it and looking back, it was highly understandable.
I think the best phrase to describe Zexal was, it was a average kid show (better budgeted than most), but sadly in the entirety of the Yu-gi-oh franchise that just isn't good enough.
Story - 5
Many say that Astral and Yuma are a rehash of Atem and Yugi (the pro and the noob), and that is completely true, with the magic trinket, the final duel and the
spiritual advisor who make the MC grow. All of this is pretty much a carbon copy of Atem and Yugi. Now that isn't necessarily bad (even though it does cause diminishing return), since if done well all this can be forgiven. But it isn't handled that well which is where the problem come from. Yuma's Kattobingu isn't that good of a moral (ridiculous stubborn as some would say), but the story have everyone following it like it can't be wrong. The show is spelling out its Aesop too easily for kids and it ended up making Yuma's development barely noticeable. Let's be serious is there that big of a difference between Yuma of the first episode and the last? Probably not, Kattobingu back then Kattobingu at now (with more friends).
But once again, that is not the most major problem, Yusei suffered the same stagnation of character but 5Ds is still better in the development of the story department.
That brings us to the real problem, the plot. Anyone would tell you that Zexal season 1 was terrible, cause it is, the beginning few episode was pokemon with cards, highly boring and kiddy. But later on when Tron, Faker and Kaito came in did it get that much better? Yes and No, the introduction of more continuity did improve the show, but it is still not good enough. First of all the forced bad guy turn good routine is pretty terrible, when IV and Faker were introduced they seem so evil, but all of a sudden they get an excuse and turn good. And when I say sudden I mean sudden, like within 2 episodes (a ridiculous short amount of time for a yu-gi-oh show). To make an example, in 5Ds to make Aporia sympathetic, they had him beaten twice, showed a shit ton of background, had reasonable build up and finally had him killed. Faker and Tron gets a flashback and poof they are now good guys (IV didn't even get much of a flashback). So weak villains combined with pretty generic beat the bad guy plot with barely any mystery, makes season 1 very dry.
Season 2 is where the opinions are really split, some call it good, other say it is overrated. Season 2 brings back the save the world using card game element that is in all Yu-gi-oh series, and go more into the conflict of the Barian and Astral world. Personally I would say that this season was average just like the first season, the Barians are pretty bad villains as well, 2 are flat out jokes, 1 is obsessed with dragons (average villain, OTK'd himself in front of the big bad), Durbe and Merag was pretty useless, so all that is left is Shark and Vector. The final boss Don Thousand is even more anti-climatic, just a generic evil overlord (who doesn't even seem that active or do much or give you a feeling of intimidation), after Z-One this is clearly a downgrade. Hell he doesn't even look as cool as Zorc or Darkness even though those two are just as flat.
Some claim that Shark and his sister being Barian and Vector betrayal was good, that I agree, but a few good point isn't enough to save an entire season. For example the Zexal asspull/super-saiyan thing got worse this season and end up making Yuma look even more ridiculous. The only people that mattered were Shark/Kaito/Yuma (which 5Ds, GX also suffers). Most of all, the ending basically meant everything is back to the status quo, nothing changed and no one died (except don thousand), that is ridiculously cheap (DM had Atem die, 5Ds had the future group die). Vectors turning good, which removes the best part of the character and makes Yuma seem like a Gary-stu in terms of moral.
I can find a lot more problems here and there for both season 1 and 2, these scratches pile up and since the plot of the two seasons are average, it is death by a thousand cut for Zexal. I guess the reason for it all is Zexal is aimed at a younger audience, therefore they hoped that kids wouldn't mind and just be distracted by the pretty colors.
character - 3
Yuma is a hilarious joke through and through, the preacher of the Kattobingu religion that never failed once. People complain about Yusei being card game Jesus, but between card game Jesus and moral Jesus, I think I choose the card game Jesus. Yuma never doubts, never go down the wrong path, and for all the lose fun in card game thing, that is bullshit, cause unlike Judai, Yuma barely showed it. His highly energetic actions also makes him annoying, and despite mellowing out a bit later, he is still pretty much the same. The problem with Yuma is he hits so many annoying traits (that appeals to kids), yet he never fully grow out of it.
Astral's development is a "become a real boy" plot-line, straight and simple, a smart person who gradually become kind and believing Kattobingu. The thing with Astral is that, this is Yuma's story, so while his development is kind of interesting, it just doesn't carry the entire weight of the show. He became kinder and now believes in Kattobingu, that is all I can say for his development.
Kaito, the rival, not much to say, a nicer kaiba clone.
Shark, the other rival, not much to say either, a meaner Jounochi clone. His "development" is pretty much the same as Kaito with a reset. Basically get nicer, become the bad guy, get nice again.
Kotori, useless load.
Vector, the character many love, which is easy to understand. He is hammy, he is comically evil, he makes faces so ridiculous and kick the dog so ridiculously hard that it is hilarious to watch. The main thing is Vector is a over the top villain with some pretty good background, so the seeing contrasting him with all the other characters make him feel stand out. He is actually a pretty good character, besides the fact he gets redeemed by Yuma so easily.
Colorful and kiddish
Zexal had some very good track
Enjoyment - 5
Zexal was made for young kids, the magic revival, super saiyan power up, moral Jesus all points to this fact. It's not as bad as most say, cause if you turn off your brain and skip to episode 80 or something, you can still watch it through no problem and probably enjoy it. But that is the problem with it, there are so many filler episodes, episodes that are pointless and generally useless plotlines. It just doesn't measure up to the others in the franchise and that is a damn shame.
P.S. Hope is a terrible archetype, Yuma's duel is so bad.
The opening theme to an anime, or any television show for that matter, is a crucial element to the show's success. This will often be the first thing that an audience sees, and for Yu☆Gi☆Oh! Arc-V that means it's the first chance to introduce audiences to the majesty of Pendulum Summoning!