The anime of the game of the same name. The plot of the series followed the adventures of Genki Sakura, a very hyperactive boy who wins a beta disk of "Monster 200X" (which has the same properties of the real MR game) in a video game tournament. No sooner does Genki start it, than he is transported inside the game, finding a real world of monsters inside. It is currently in turmoil due to an evil monster named Moo, who turns monsters evil and rules the land with an iron fist.Genki joins up with a girl named Holly and her monster Suezo, who are on a quest to find and unlock the monster, Phoenix, which is the only known creature that can stop Moo. Genki gains his own monster, Mocchi, at the start of the series. Soon, the group are joined by Golem, Tiger, and Hare, in their uphill battle against Moo and his forces.The Post Script Season third season, which featured Durahan (who was an Elite Mook in the second season) as the main big bad, takes place a year later and has the group trying to save Holly's father's soul, which is trapped in a dark mystery disk along with Moo after his defeat. However, most of the MacGuffins the crew had before are now prizes in a tournament, forcing the crew to enter it to accomplish their goal. All the while, they continue to dodge attacks from Durahan and his baddies.The show managed to run for three seasons, two of which aired stateside on syndication, Fox Kids and ABC Family respectively. The third never aired on TV in the U.S., but was dubbed, and is available online to watch. The show was also quite different from the other mon shows at the time (Pokémon, Digimon) in that the human protagonists were not afraid to battle alongside the monsters. While not as famous as its fellow mon series, the anime managed to at least gain a cult following. Many even regard it as a hidden gem among anime for its focus on character development and well done story pacing.After 14 years, the series got a complete English and Japanese box set release thanks to Discotek Media.
Abandoned Laboratory: The Searchers come across these a couple of times. Then the Baddies show up and unintentionally make things worse.
Achilles in His Tent: In "Underground Adventure", Hare convinces the others it'd be faster to go through a cave than cross over the mountains. When they get lost, Tiger accuses him of intentionally leading them astray, and Hare promptly quits and storms off. The others get ambushed by Joker, and are saved when he returns. (However, Hare almost leaves again after finding the group, mistaking their reactions to the illusion as them having a great time without him, and only realizes the truth upon seeing Joker.)
Action Girl: Holly is a downplayed version. Most of the time, she hangs back and lets the others fight... but if she has reason to, she will fight. Pixie is a straighter example after her Heel-Face Turn.
Adaptation Personality Change: Colt, the assistant from Monster Rancher 2, appears as an explorer in one episode. Since her game personality was nearly identical to Holly's, the anime made her a snarky, short-tempered explorer.
After the End / And Man Grew Proud: Turns out to be the backstory of the Moster Rancher world. The Pangaeaian civilization was incredibly advanced to the point that they thought they "were like gods". Then disaster struck, chaos and war broke out, and Moo nearly destroyed everything.
All Just a Dream: Subverted, as Genki thinks this at the beginning of the eighth episode, but it turns out that it being a dream was itself a dream.
Aloof Big Brother: Deconstructed. Tiger was one of these with Gray Wolf in a misguided attempt to get him to toughen up. Instead, Gray Wolf became resentful and developed an inferiority complex.
Amusement Park of Doom: Heroic example; the Searchers use an amusement park to their advantage against the baddies.
The Amazon: Our heroes have trouble traveling such a land for several episodes.
Anyone Can Die: Many characters die throughout the show, the main characters have almost died more than once, and in the second season finale the five main monsters sacrifice themselves to become the Phoenix.
Apocalypse How: Planetary/Societal Disruption, perhaps Planetary/Societal Collapse. Humanity once had an extremely advanced civilization that eventually created monsters, stored in CD-ROMs/mystery disks. The monsters were first household pets, then anything that would make life easier, then warriors to fight what became known as the Last War which lasted centuries. Cue the war going too far, ending up in the creation of Moo and in turn the Phoenix when Moo went wild, and what it took to destroy Moo meant destroying virtually everything. Enough humans were left to rebuild civilization, but far less advanced than it had been before.
Artistic License - History: Homo sapiens not only being around when Pangaea was still connected, but being around so long they can develop a high-tech civilization. Justified that the events are happening in a video game or alternative universe.
Back for the Finale: Pixie, Big Blue, Monol, and the Pirate Dragons return for the final battle. Many other named characters are present fighting Moo elsewhere.
Backstory Horror: The backstory has humans who grew proud and destructive, creating Monsters for anything that would suit their wants. Eventually they created Moo in an attempt to end the last war, which ended up nearly destroying the entire planet until they created the Phoenix to stop him—and what it took to defeat Moo involved destroying virtually everything. Enough humans were left to rebuild civilization, but far less advanced than it had been before.
To elaborate: Mocchi, Suezo, Golem, Tiger and Hare all sacrifice themselves to become the Phoenix and fight Moo. Moo, though insane at this point, retains enough intelligence to remember the Phoenix and realizes they're destined to battle eternally, so he decides to destroy the Phoenix as well as himself-effectively killing Holly's father and the Monsters that make up the Phoenix. The resulting explosion knocks Genki off a Dragon's back and he seemingly falls to his death right in front of Holly... but is actually transported back to his world, with no way of letting Holly know that he's alright or finding out how the battle ended. However, he's comforted by a vision of all of his friends, who encourage him to move on with his normal life.
Body Double: Attempted during "Magic Stone Mayhem" with Genki and Holly switching clothes.
Bowdlerise: Several things were edited out of the dub; for instance, Hare defeating Tiger of the Wind using Fartillery was removed, and the fact he bought the others drinks along with dinner was left out (along with a drunk Tiger getting very buddy-buddy with Hare).
Blood was edited out, along with moments deemed 'too violent'.
During Captain Horn's introduction, he tries to kiss Holly. Holly blocks with Suezo, causing an accidental lip lock and Love Bubbles. Again, this didn't make it into the dub.
When Joker snares most of the heroes in illusions, Suezo's hallucination is never shown (he sees a bunch of female monsters). His reaction to the illusion breaking was also poorly edited.
The second season was a bit better about this, letting Tiger bodyslam Lilim, for instance.
For all the editing the dub did, it kept much of the Darker and Edgier stuff in, such as Gray Wolf's death and Naga's suicide.
Moo chopping off Pixie's wings was edited out, along with any onscreen instance of him shocking her.
In the third season, a shot of Poison's lower back is edited out.
Break the Haughty: Tiger is humiliated by Captain Dino and Hare, the former in Tiger's debut episode and the latter in Hare's debut episode. He pays them both back for it.
Breather Episode: "Holly's Happy Birthday" was entirely about the gang celebrating Holly's fifteenth birthday, without any battles.
Brought Down to Normal: Mocchi and Tiger end up losing most of their powers in the third season due to being turned into Mystery Disks. Thus have to relearn most of them. Tiger gets particularly frustrated about this, having taken so much pride in his fighting ability before — and Suezo and Hare's teasing doesn't help.
Tiger: We don't need his help. I can handle all the fighting by myself.
Chekhov's Skill: Mocchi's Cherry Blossom Blizzard failed to hit Pixie in episode 10 when she countered with a flame shield. When he tried the attack in episode 11 and it succeeded, it was so powerful it knocked her into some ruins.
Cherry Blossoms: Mocchi's signature attack is the Cherry Blossom Blizzard, and they become a symbol of the young monster. The death symbolism comes into play during the second season finale, and the rebirth aspect comes in with the third season opener.
Delaying Action: After freeing Pixie's slaves, our heroes decide to stay behind and fight to buy time to escape. Subverted, as one slave gets captured and used as a hostage, forcing the Searchers to surrender.
Deployable Cover: Some monster attacks can be used to counteract another. For example, Pixie blocking Mocchi's Cherry Blossom Blizzard with a wall of fire.
Deus Exit Machina: A few episodes see one or two of the Searchers get separated from the others; this happens to Genki the most often.
Disguised in Drag: In "Magic Stone Mayhem", Hare devises a plan to sneak Holly and the Stone safely away from their enemies, by having Genki and Holly swap outfits and then have Genki run interference while Holly slips quietly away with Tiger. Unfortunately, Lillim was Dangerously Genre Savvy enough to see through it.
Dreadful Musicians: Mocchi in episode 58 (season 3, episode 10), and Suezo and Horn in episode 62 (season 3, episode 14). Their terrible, obnoxiously loud singing are Played for Laughs.
Dressing as the Enemy: When the Searchers are captured by some tree-like monsters, Mocchi attempts to sneak in by fashioning a disguise out of a tree. Despite using a yellow leaf as a Baddie emblem, Mocchi manages to get pass the gate. Alas, the bad guys catch on - which forces Genki to alert his friend.
Establishing Series Moment: In episode 1, Genki has just met Mocchi when the latter is threatened by the Black Dino Squad. What's Genki do when their leader threatens to make the young monster a slave? Kick the Black Dino in the face.
Evil Counterpart: Big Blue to Golem at first, Gray Wolf to Tiger, the Evil Hares to Hare, and the Knight Mocchi to Mocchi. Of note are the Knight Moochi, which Genki states he may be hesitant to fight because of the resemblance to his friend. Lilim is one to Pixie as well.
Eye Scream: In his fight with Tiger, Gray Wolf whips his eyes with his tail, blinding him. In the uncut version there's blood.
Faking the Dead: Played for Drama in "Tiger Meets His Match", when the Searchers see what they think is Tiger's Lost Disk. It turns out to be a hapless Evil Hare Mook who tried reminding Jagged Hound of why he was working with them in the first place.
Fartillery: Hare's Gas attack, which is much more potent than in the game, knocking out an entire stadium of people.
Fastball Special: Golem frequently threw Suezo into the air so he could get a better view of their surroundings, but didn't always catch him on the way down; and so, the entire fastball sequence became a Running Gag. The more traditional version also appeared a few times.
Find the Cure: In "Run, Tiger, Run!", Tiger has to find Natsume Berries to cure Holly who has been attacked by Black Worm poison (see Taking The Bullet). Captain Black Worm follows and ambushes Tiger.
Flat World: Discussed in "The Iron Bird". Upon reaching Haven's Canyon, Hare states that it's bottomless and the edge of the continent. Tiger (of all people) thinks it's nonsense, which Genki backs him up on.
Foreshadowing: Throughout the first two seasons, it's heavily implied that Genki is part of the Phoenix — and Holly comes to the same conclusion during the penultimate episode "Tears". Turned out to be Fauxshadowing — while Genki plays a key role in the Phoenix's revival, he's actually one of the only members who doesn't carry part of the Phoenix's soul.
It is played straight in the sense that Genki is connected to everyone who's part of the Phoenix, and he was the one who unlocked Mocchi. Without Genki, the Phoenix couldn't be revived.
Forever War: The conflict that resulted in the destruction of Ancients. It eventually degenerates into a Hopeless War when Moo goes rogue.
Freeze Frame: Used during several battles. The Pastel Chalked version also ends a few episodes.
Frothy Mugs of Water: The English dub has pirate Captain Horn coming to town to raid a supply of... chocolate milkshakes.
Getting Crap Past the Radar: The Pixie race is this. They are all female, wear StripperificFur Bikini, are often very flirtatious, and are also the most human looking of the monsters. Then you remember the history of monsters and that they were created as "Entertainment" for humans. With all that mentioned above, you start to wonder what kind of "entertainment" the Pixies were created for. It also doesn't help they look a lot like a Succubus.
A God Am I: The ancient people of Pangea built a highly advanced civilization, creating Monsters to serve and fight for them. According to Monol, the people were as gods.
Heel-Face Turn: Pixie and in the post script season the entire big bad 4.
Tiger and Hare could both qualify, seeing as both had been thieves or con-artists.
Heroic BSOD: Golem has one during his introduction in "Guardian of the Disks" after going berserk on the Jells.
Hare has one during "Tiger Meets His Match" when confronted with what they think is Tiger's Lost Disk. Unstoppable Rage follows.
Heroic Sacrifice: Near the end of the second season, Big Blue saves the mortally wounded Pixie by merging with her, giving her new life as a Pixie/Golem hybrid. This was immediately followed up by the season finale with five of the Searchers sacrificing themselves to revive the Phoenix.
Heroism Won't Pay the Bills: The heroes occasionally run into this problem. In "Hare's Trick", Suezo notes that all they do is spend money on their adventures. They avert the problem by entering a tournament. In another episode, Hare notes how inefficient going over a mountain is by pointing out the cost. Hare also looks for ways to raise money, such as harvesting oil from nuts.
History Repeats: The Phoenix and Moo are destined to battle for as long as they live. Moo realizes this and destroys himself and the Phoenix.
Hit Flash: Used a couple times, moreso in the dub.
Human Ladder: In one episode, the group piles up so Suezo can get a better view of the area.
Humanity Is Infectious: One Henger grew to think for himself outside of his programming, and was cast out of his city for it. In the end he decides to stay behind and help his fellow robots understand free will and compassion.
Humans Are the Real Monsters: Humanity, at least in the backstory, has done very nasty things to Monsters, including creating them to fight in wars, enslaving a colony of Astros, and eventually nearly wiping out the world by creating Moo.
The Juggernaut: The Melcarba robot. It manages to effortlessly take out a troop of Jaggernauts (not related to the trope), and then relentlessly hunt the Searchers. And none of their attacks nor dropping an entire building could stop the machine. It's only thanks to the lighting storm, a pole and some last minute quick thinking from Genki that manages to stop it. Holly puts it best after the whole ordeal.
Holly: Even Melcarba's no match for the forces of nature.
Kill 'em All: The second season ends with the five main Monsters fusing together to become the Phoenix and sacrificing themselves to destroy Moo, killing Mocchi, Suezo, Golem, Tiger, Hare, Moo, and the Phoenix.
Tiger: You're a very brave, and very foolish little human. You rush in head first not bothering to even think of the consequences. You don't understand that sometimes, bravery isn't enough. Life can be hard, little human, hard and unfair—and you must know this. Don't. Be. Reckless. You're young, brave, and you have a good heart—but in this world, that isn't enough. I know that better than anyone.
Lighter and Softer: The third season comes off as this with the quick reunion of the Searchers and focus shifting to the Tournament Arc, the fact that neither goodies nor baddies die, and Durahan's Villain Decay. Perhaps Lampshaded with the heroes' confidence, as it's outright stated several times that they think they can just summon the Phoenix at a moment's notice if things get out of control.
Like the games, 'Muu' in Japanese means emptiness or darkness. In English we got 'Moo', like the sound a cow makes.
Mocchi's name is a pun on a Japanese snack food, mochi, with no real equivalent in English. Genki's inspired for the name in the anime by the food his mom gives him. To avert this, the dub calls the food 'sweet cakes', up until Genki names Mocchi when he realizes the monster's name is that 'cake'.
The Magnificent Seven Samurai: "The Courageous Seven" loosely follows the standard formula in one episode. The major difference is instead of defending a small village from attack, it's trying to avert a disaster. Speaking of which, the dub title is probably a Shout-Out to the trope makers.
Lost Technology: The world of Monster Rancher is littered with Lost Disks and Shrines. Occasionally, there may be a robot, flying machine, or even a factory in working condition.
In the original Japanese, Muu means emptiness and void.
Abel, the guy who succeeds Holly's Dad as mayor of her hometown. He, along with most of the village, is killed by the reborn Moo.
The Mole: In the episode "Undine's Lake," Golem befriends a beautiful water nymph named Undine, who offers the gang fresh fish and shelter. Later on, it turns out she's working for the main villains and she tries to kill Genki and co. Luckily she undergoes a Heel-Face Turn, though Redemption Equals Death,
Mons: Along with Pokémon and Digimon, it was one of the first shows in the genre to be imported to the US.
Mutual Kill: The end of the second season has this. Realizing that the two of them are fated to battle each other as long as they exist, Moo determines that the only way their battle will ever end is if both of them die. So he causes both himself and the Phoenix to explode.
Never Say "Die": Justified as Monsters turn into Lost Disks, though the result is the same as death in Seasons 1 and 2. Sometimes it's used to creepy effect, though:
Pixie:Disappear. *turns Captain Clay into a Lost Disk*
Nicknaming the Enemy: Genki and his pals refer themselves as the "Goodies" and to Moo's army as the "Baddies". Moo and his officers call the heroes "The Searchers".
No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: The third season has the gang participating in a tournament and Mocchi is up against a Suezo named Poritoka. Mocchi brutally gets his butt handed to him for a significant portion of the fight and can barely maintain consciousness after it's over.
Naga savagely beats up Suezo when he tries to fight him, slamming him headfirst into the floor several times.
Parrot Exposition: Done in episode one, were Holly and Suezo explain their quest to Genki. After Holly state one sentence, Genki repeats it word-for-word, as if the audience had forgotten what Holly just said a second ago.
People Jars: We find out that a majority of Monsters were born in test tubes. Moo was engineered to be a Super Soldier to end the Last War, but was too strong to control. This ends up disturbing the characters when they eventually find a Monster manufacturing plant, with Mocchi asking if he was born there.
Various other monsters tend to do it too, especially those in large groups. Zillas, Mocks, Dokus etc.
Power Glows: Genki and friends often glow when powered up, and even villains can get this, such as Undine.
The Power of Friendship: The characters' courage, along with friendship, can be used to make themselves stronger. In the last episode of the second season, Genki summoned the courage of every heroic character on the planet to use in a Combined Energy Attack.
The Power of Hate: Moo is empowered by anger and hatred. In the second season finale, when Moo goaded the heroes into hating him to make him stronger, the power of their hatred drove him insane.
Pragmatic Villainy: Moo captured Holly to use the Magic Stone to locate his original body, figuring he could destroy the heroes with it. They rescued her, but by that time he had gotten what he needed to know. Rather than let them find out where he was going or try and stop him in his humanoid form, he simply left them behind so they had no idea where he was.
Praetorian Guard: A Baddie group of Weeds that accompany Moo. Downplayed that they don't seem particularity badass, but seem to be more ceremonial than anything else.
Quirky Mini Boss Squad: The Big Bad Four are Moo's top enforcers, and the Searchers defeat them one by one over many episodes.
Ragnarok-Proofing: The Shrines for restoring the disks are still standing even after the end of civilization.
Reality Ensues: Genki's excitement at being pulled into the monster world doesn't go over well with Holly and Suezo when he acts dismissive of the very real threat Moo poses. He gets a further wake-up call upon seeing the effects of Moo's actions firsthand.
Genki may be great at rollerblading, but they don't make very good shoes for traveling over unpaved roads and rough terrain. Fortunately, a kindly old couple provides him with some more appropriate footwear, along with a cloak.
Scars Are Forever: Tiger of the Wind has a distinctive scar across his face, which he retained after being trapped in a Mystery Disk and reborn.
Scenery Porn: This show was animated by TMS Entertainment in their prime and is very well-animated. If it's raining, for instance, the characters get a soft, fuzzy outline. Ditto with effects for fire and energy beams.
Schizo Tech: The ancient ruins' technology is a lot more advanced than in the present day. This is justified by Monol's story. And even then for a civilization that could create monsters and explore space, they choose to store said monsters on CD-Roms.
Self-Disposing Villain: In the second season finale, Moo destroys himself and his arch-enemy, the Phoenix, when he realizes they are doomed to fight in an eternal stalemate.
Shown Their Work: Across three seasons, every species of monster from both games was seen aside from the Doodle and living Disk.
Sigil Spam: Downplayed. Though most of Moo's troops wear his emblem, it's not placed everywhere in areas they control.
Similar Squad: Holly's village had a Suezo, a Tiger, and a Hare, though of different breeds.
Snow Means Death: Tiger and Gray Wolf's battle to the death takes place on a snowy mountain just like the one where they grew up.
It's never explicitly stated who the strongest of the Big Bad Four is. The American version of Monster Rancher censored out a lot of the more violent and action-packed scenes. This had the side effect of making Pixie look much more powerful as the group nearly lost to her, pulling off a win at the last second with a single cherry blossom blizzard by Mocchi. In the uncensored version, the gang won a much more decisive victory with Genki head-butting Pixie to knock the wind out of her, Mocchi unleashing his special attack to knock Pixie into the ruins, and Tiger finally body-slamming into her to end the fight. Nonetheless, the sorting algorithm is still subverted because by Season 3, the heroes fight against Durahan, who's far less powerful than Moo.
It could be played straight as far as the Big Bad Four goes, since the heroes didn't have their most powerful attacks when fighting Pixie and were only able to knock her out. For the fight with Gali, Mocchi learned the Mocchi Cannon and outright destroyed him. he didn't get a chance to use it on Gray Wolf, but that battle was personal and harder than if they'd all attacked him. For Naga, Suezo's Teleport and the Mocchi Cannon were used, but it didn't kill him. The Mocchi Cannon didn't kill Durahan, either.
Unintentional Period Piece: Genki is playing his game on a Playstation 1 expy. In the dub, Genki taunts a robot by claiming "I heard your mother was the Y2K Bug!".
Villain Forgot to Level Grind: Happened with End Bringer, who curbstomped the heroes in the first battle with them and literally lost the second time due to their increasing courage levels.
Villain World: For much of the first two series. Moo has nearly conquered the planet and the heroes fight a distinctly uphill battle for a long time.
Villainous Rescue: Pulled off in "Magic Stone Mayhem": after being betrayed by Lilim, the fatally wounded Weed uses the last of his strength to stop Durahan's army before they can execute most of the Searchers via firing squad.
Vitriolic Best Buds: Hare constantly goads and teases Tiger, while Tiger is disdainful and quick to insult Hare's intelligence. Yet when it comes to the clutch, they can pull off a pretty awesome Back-to-Back Badasses.
Illustrated best by the second season episode "Tiger Meets His Match", where Hare lapses into a brief Heroic BSOD when he thinks Tiger was killed, followed by an Unstoppable Rage.
Vocal Evolution: Genki's voice deepened in the second season, going along with his emotional maturity.
It got even deeper in the third season, (as Genki in the dub was played by an actual child actor who went through puberty between the second and third seasons), almost to the point where it doesn't suit his childish appearance anymore.
War Is Hell: Lots of monsters, and a few humans, good and bad, die in this show (with the humans this is mostly off-screen). With friendly characters it tends to affect everyone, even Genki, greatly, and the second season has the main characters sacrifice themselves.