First of all, I'd very much like to know what a "ZEXAL" is, but that joke's already been beaten half to death, so I'm going to move past that. Earlier this week, it was confirmed that one of my favorite anime (and definitely the best "children's" anime) of all time, Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's, would be coming to an end.

5D's, despite being stuck with the stigma of being "card games on motorcycles", managed to be geniunely entertaining while simultaneously giving shonen/children's anime fans a new character type in Yusei--someone who could believe in his friends without being a loudmouth that wouldn't shut the heck up. He's even different from the previous YGO protagonists in that he could be cool and calculating without the need for an alternate personality from the past.

But no one kills a money tree like Yu-Gi-Oh for no reason, so of course there's a replacement:

Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL, the fourth series in the franchise. (They make their sequels work for them. >_< Pokemon is like, a year older and it's had HOW many sequels now?)

What you see in the photo, is our series protagonist. I am told, from people who read kanji just a bit better than me (still on Hiragana and Katakana), that his name is Yuuma Tsukumo, and according to the Yu-Gi-Oh! wikia, the school setting returns, because he's "the number one bad boy" at his school.

It does make me a little sad that we appear to be right back where we started in Duel Monsters and GX, with a school boy that no one pays much attention to until he curbstomps some legendary duelist, but hopefully ZEXAL will take things in an alternative direction like 5D's did.

What I'm most interested in, aside from the idea of being able to watch 5D's fully finished, and a brand-new anime series' universe to explore, is the new gameplay mechanic they'll be introducing into the card game itself. Having recently gotten into Yu-Gi-Oh! (TCG) again, learning about new mechanics to the game is more than passing curiosity to me now.

GX tried to place a focus on fusion summoning, but that was a miserable failure (to me), because to implement it properly in your deck wasted spell slots (plus the likelihood of getting the perfect monsters to fusion summon was unlikely).

5D's introduced Synchro Summoning, the idea of taking two monsters, combining their "stars". This turned out to be a far better idea, as Synchro Summoning has almost completely replaced fusion summoning altogether, having the same function but discarding the need for a certain spell, and requiring only that the monsters used in the Synchro Summoning add up to the total number of stars for the new monster. (Fusion Summoning required two exact monsters.)

ZEXAL's new method of summoning appears to be Excess Summon, during which two monster cards on the field of the same level are laid on top of one another to summon a new monster. Until I know the exact details of how this works (does it summon a monster of twice the level, do those monsters come back if your Excess Monster is destroyed, etc...), I can't say what effect this will have on the gameplay, but it does sound pretty exciting.

Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL information hits in the new V-Jump this Saturday, according to ANN. The anime itself is to premiere this coming Spring, which means 5D's itself only has another 12-15 episodes left in its run.


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