Anime / Duel Masters

GET IN THE BATTLE ZONE!

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Following the original Duel Masters manga, which used cards from Magic: The Gathering instead of the Duel Masters cards (which were created for this series, thus explaining the similarities), the anime is what helped the Duel Masters franchise to hit the mainstream.

As explained on the Duel Masters main article, the anime is completely different whether you are looking at it from the Japanese version or the North American version. While the former is a serious series about a children card game (not unlike the series which inspired it), the latter is the Ur-Example of The Abridged Series in all but longevity.

The story revolves around Shobu Kirifuda, an enthusiast of the titular card game who is exposed for the first time to a higher level of play (referred to in the North American release as Kaijudo, literally "the way of monsters"; in the Japanese series, it was called "Duel of Truth"), in which actual monsters serve the will of their summoners. As his father had mastered the game before him, Shobu feels a certain need to live up to his family's reputation.

The series consists of the following seasons. Note that after the first two seasons, the anime was discontinued in America. The Japanese version, instead, continued to run for many more seasons with To Be a Master as a central point. Shobu was later exchanged as a protagonist with his smaller brother.

Original series

  • Duel Masters
    • Shobu, a young duelist with high prospects, is visited by the mysterious Knight. who introduces him to The Temple, an organization that trains duelists such as himself. Shobu's desire to duel The Temple's top duelist, Hakuoh, leads him to fight against the four guardians and eventually learns a secret conspiracy involving his role.

  • Duel Masters Sacred Lands(Exclusive to America)
    • After his loss against doctor Root, a confused Shobu is troubled by nightmares and his emerging kaijudo abilities, which allow duelists to summon creatures into their plain of existence. After getting out of his funk, he finds his missing father's diary and embarks on a journey to the five civilizations, lands populated by creatures being threatened by the PowerfulLoyalOrderOfPrinces. Due to it's nature, the information presented in this season is non-canon.

  • Duel Masters Charge (The first 26 episodes were edited down and presented as the final 13 of the American series)
    • Shobu and his friends enter the Duel Masters Battle Arena, A regional tournament where they hope to prove their skills after three years of training with Doctor Root. Unfortunately for them, two individuals have their eyes set on disrupting the tournament for unknown reasons...

  • Zero Duel Masters
    • In an alternate universe where Shobu lost against Hakuoh at the end of season 1, he receives a deck that turns out to be an invitation to a tournament. When Shobu and Rekuta enter, they learn that Hakuoh is also participating.

  • Duel Masters Flash
    • A spinoff set in an alternate future where Shobu no longer exists. Teru Yuemi, his older sister Cocoro, and his friends help Rei Kukami and her family guard a mysterious pendant that holds the Great Spirit of Duel Masters. Card battles in Flash are done in an advanced virtual reality system.

  • Duel Masters Zero
    • Continues the storyline after Charge. Shobu continues his fight against the Fua Duelists.
  • Duel Masters Cross
  • Duel Masters Cross Shock
    • Shobu and his friends use new legendary cards to fight against Diabolos Zeta, Temporal Ruler, who wants to destroy the creature world.

Victory

  • Duel Masters Victory
    • The first Duel Masters series to feature Shobu's brother, Katta Kirifuda as a protagonist.
  • Duel Masters Victory
  • Duel Masters Victory V
  • Duel Masters Victory V
  • Duel Masters Victory V

Versus

  • Duel Masters Versus
    • Two years after Victory V, Katta has lost his passion for battling. He gets back in the game after an encounter with Hokaben, an expert baseball player, and reuniting with his childhood friend Lulu Takigawa.
  • Duel Masters Versus Revolution
    • Katta finds himself involved in a conspiracy involving a mysterious team of duelists and a legendary card when he visits the Duel Masters Land theme park.
  • Duel Masters Versus Revolution Final
    • When Katta's V-shaped seal on his head is opened, mysterious events start happening like the appearance of a transfer student group called the Rare Hunters and hamsters like his pet, Hamukata, starting to talk.

A new Duel Masters season will air in Japan in 2017, focusing on Joe Kirifuda, the son of Katta, who made his first appearance in the final episodes of Versus Revolution Final.

Please note that most (though not all) of these tropes are either common to both versions or are otherwise based on the North American version. The original Japanese, while still having comedy, played it straight for the most part.


List of tropes used in the anime:

  • Action Girl: Mimi. Sometimes even Played for Laughs, see Charles Atlas Superpower.
  • All-CGI Cartoon: Beginning with Zero, the series exclusively used CGI animation until Versus.
  • All Women Are Lustful: The number of times Saiyuki and Mimi don't instantly fall for a hot guy at a drop of a hat can be counted on one hand.
  • Anti-Hero: Kokujo is a Type V.
  • Animated Actors: Appears in a gag dub, particularly in a notable scene where Shobu asks Mimi and Boy George if they'll make any more appearances that season.
  • Anime Hair: Referenced in the dub's theme song and the subject of many a Lampshade Hanging, though Shobu's hair could probably support an actual lampshade. Hair is Serious Business second only to the card game itself, especially among Shobu, Hakuoh and Kokujo.
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: Shobu and Kokujo; in a children's card game, no less.
  • Badass Longcoat: Kokujo.
  • Becoming the Mask: Mimi is The Mole, don't you know.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Yu Fua, also known as Yumama in the Gag Dub. Later, Hakuou in Duel Masters Charge, when he became "White" and joined the Fua Duelists, lead by Yu Fua's older brother.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Being a Gag Dub, it comes with the territory.
  • Breast Expansion: Mimi's breasts get larger from episode to episode in the first season. The American first season actually toned this down. By the way, she's underage. Though the dub did make reference to it in a late first season episode when, as the girls were expressing relief that a possible cancellation of the series had been averted, Mimi commented that she was enjoying her new curves. To a lesser extent, Sayuki also gets noticeably bigger as the series progresses.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Pardoning the pun, Kokujo is a self proclaimed "Evil Genius" in the dub.
  • Card Games
  • Catchphrase: Anything about "owning the zone", as well as a number of overused traditional Japanese phrases.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: Mimi demonstrates on several occasions that she is quite proficient in martial arts and far stronger than she looks.
  • Combined Energy Attack: In the American-only second season, the five creatures Shobu recovers are invoked by his friends to defeat the P.L.O.O.P.
  • Cultural Translation: The Gag Dub, as well as the North American-only second season. Eventually, later card game expansions started using flavor text based on said Gag Dub.
  • Crossover: The Duel Masters movie (Curse of the Death Phoenix) saw a release in tandem with the Mega Man NT Warrior movie (The Program of Light and Darkness) (only in Japan). In Program, Netto and company are at an expo, where they catch Shoubu summoning the Bolmeteus Steel Dragon; in Curse the same crew are in the tournament stadium, cheering him on more directly. While in the movies themselves only contained brief snippets of the other's footage, both Shobu and Netto (as Rockman R) worked together in the opening cinema. Also, Mega Man Battle Network 5 saw a set of Giga Chips with the powers of the Eternal Phoenix (just named "Phoenix" in game) and the Death Phoenix, whereas Forte.EXE got a pair of cards in the DM game. (Same card, different artwork, technically).
  • Deadpan Snarker: Knight and Kokujo.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: Every protagonist except Sayuki and Mimi. Rekuta's been defeated enough times to be Shobu's best friend.
    • Averted hilariously by Kokujo in episode 20
  • Did You Die?: In a flashback, Shobu loses a Kaijudo duel, and possibly dies. In the dub, the person listening to his story wonders if he might be a zombie.
    Shobu: What do you want me to do? Not eat a brain?
  • Distressed Dude: Hakuoh, as shown in 'Duel Masters Charge'. Also Rekuta throughout the subsequent series.
  • Disappeared Dad: Shori Kirifuda. It turns out he's the guardian of the Fire Civilization.
  • Door Roulette: A sequence with Mimi walking through the temple became this type of scene in the dub.
  • Downer Ending: Charge ends with Shobu losing the final duel, Zakira obtaining the awakening cards, and Hakuoh now part of the Fua duelists.
  • Evil Twin: Subverted and lampshaded; both twins are evil, and both try to convince Shobu that the other is their evil twin.
  • Figure It Out Yourself: Lampshaded by Knight in the dub. "That will keep him guessing."
  • Fun with Acronyms: The antagonists of Sacred Lands, the Powerful Loyal Order of Princes
  • Gag Dub: It's hard to tell sometimes, as it does try to tell a story, but still.
  • Gaming and Sports Anime and Manga
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Surprisingly averted for the most part. Other than a moment that mocked Mimi's unexplained breasts, the gag dub was pretty clean, even going so far as to prevent a potential one with the L in the Powerful Loyal Order of Princes
  • Gratuitous Japanese: The dub keeps some actual Japanese phrases in the script, presumably because they sounds cool.
  • Heroic B.S.O.D.: After Dr. Root defeats Shobu).
  • Hot Blooded Sideburns: Mikuni, later renamed Johnny Coolburns in the dub's third season.
  • Humongous Mecha: Used by Benny Haha. During an escape sequence in Charge, he builds a miniature mecha with a massive drill
  • I Am Not Weasel: In the dub, Fritz the bitter goblin is not a squirrel.
  • Iconic Item: No matter how many times Shobu changes his deck, he is always associated with the Bolshack Dragon.
  • Knight of Cerebus: Kokujou and Hakuou.
  • Like Father, Like Son: Shobu and his father Shori. They even have the same spiky hair and clothing.
  • Lighthearted Rematch: After Shobu defeats Hakuoh.
  • Littlest Cancer Patient: Parodied (like everything else); Benny Haha uses this as an excuse to trick Shobu into forfeiting.
  • Love Makes You Crazy: Mimi is a Hakuoh fangirl.
  • Lucky Translation: The English dub had Benny Haha claim that Mimi was his little sister, completely unaware that they would actually show his sister (possibly unrelated in the original) in a (fake) flashback. As chance would have it, Benny's sister looked exactly like a young Mimi. Word of God from a post on the Toon Zone Forums.
    • The shades-wearing pajama-clad baby is named Jouji in Japan. This was easy to translate to George for the dub, and plenty of Boy George references quickly followed.
  • Meaningful Name: Shobu (勝負) means "challenge" or "game"; Kirifuda (切り札) means "trump card".
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Shobu often draws his big final card with a "flaming hand up in the air".
  • Musical Episode: Dub-specific. Kokujo is nonplussed.
  • Musical Spoiler: The dub is the source of the page quote.
  • The Music Meister: Remarkably for a Japanese work (where Musical Episodes are uncommon in the first place), Duel Masters Victory V3 has an episode about a wannabe singer whose magical companion causes others to break out into spontaneous shouts, and eventually, singing and dancing. The main characters even sing the jingles during the eyecatches.
  • No Fourth Wall: The Gag dub, of course.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Mimi and Rekuta.
  • The One with...: Where Shobu duels Hakuoh, specifically.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: And since Shobu specializes in the Fire civilization, we get to see most of them.
  • Parental Abandonment: Again, parodied in the dub:
    Mimi: We have parents?
    • Despite the heavy use of Disappeared Dad, Shobu's mom and Rekuta's dad are regular characters.
  • Public Domain Soundtrack: In the dub, Fritz's choice of karaoke. Lampshaded in a few episodes, including one instance where he couldn't get the rights to a song he wanted to do.
  • Rapunzel Hair: Oddly enough, it's guys who seem to have this. Hakuoh,Kokujo, and Zakira let their hair grow crazy long. Though, Yu Fua also gets in on the action.
  • The Rival: Redeemed rival Hakuoh, dark rival Kokujo, and wannabe rival Jamira.
  • Serious Business: Especially once the P.L.O.O.P. organization gets involved in the American season.
  • Shout-Out: Even in a Gag Dub, no one expected Greg The Bunny to cameo. Ever.
  • So Last Season: Shobu is a chronic deck changer. Also lampshaded in the dub when an antagonist mocks Mimi's new voice.
  • Take That!: From the dub: "That show with that Egyptian guy is so lame!"
  • Theme Tune Cameo: From the dub when Knight runs across Mimi in her cloak while on his way to help Shobu in a duel.
    Knight: (inner monologue) "She's so mysterious... who knows what is going on inside her head...?"
    Mimi: (thought, singing) "Who's the kid with the spiky hair? Shobu! Flaming hand up in the air, yeah!"
  • Time Skip: Charge picks up after a three year gap. Not that Boy George got any older.
  • To Be a Master: Shobu wants to be the best duelist in the whole world. In the English dub, they translated that as to become a true "Kaijudo" master.note 
  • A Twinkle in the Sky: A running gag with Rekuta. Plastic Cow's localization also takes this to some illogical conclusions.
  • White Hair, Black Heart: During his tenure as the temple champion in the first season, Hakuoh sports bluish-white hair and a very sour attitude. spoilerOnce he undergoes a Heel–Face Turn, his hair shifts to blond.
  • Wild Take: Baby-like George actually has to change his diaper after every surprising twist. Several dub seasons edited this character quirk out.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Hakuoh. Later, his hair color was changed to blond as seen after his first battle with Shobu.
  • You Killed My Father: When Zakira reveals to Shobu that he had fought and killed Shori Kirifuda.

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