The main cast from left to right: Ray, Gabe, and Allie
Kaijudo: Rise of the Duel Masters is an AnimesqueWestern Animation based on the Duel Masters franchise.The show's history is as follows: thousands of years ago, numerous creatures roamed the earth, each hailing from one of five Civilizations: Fire, Water, Nature, Darkness, and Light. The various myths of this world were given form due to the aforementioned creatures, from dragons and sea-serpents to even UFOs.At first, these creatures lived side-by-side with humans and everything was peaceful. Until eventually, certain creatures began to feel that man was growing too powerful too fast and started pulling for them to be enslaved. Thus began the Creature Wars which lasted for centuries. Said wars would understandably mar the present day outlook on the humans side toward creatures.Seeing the inevitability of the wars tearing the world apart, five shaman warriors joined together. Each representing one of the five Civilizations, they preformed what is called Kaijudo, which means "Way of the Strange Beast/(Creature)". They proceeded to strip the power from the five Creature Rulers and used it to create a parallel dimension know as the Kaiju Realm that is protected from earth by a barrier called the Veil, where creatures reside in to this day.And, just like that, the Creature Wars ended, and life began to evolve into what it is today.These five shaman warriors took the near powerless bodies of the Creature Rulers and, putting them into a deep sleep, hid them deep underground. Henceforth, The Order of the Kaijudo Duel Masters began. Their charge was to make sure the Creature Rulers stayed in hibernation and also to guard the Veil, making sure nothing came out and keeping the earth and its people ignorant that such things as "monsters" ever existed.Fast forward to the present day. The Veil is weakening and creatures are coming through. The current generation of Duel Masters are kept busy sending the wayward beasts back home and sealing the rifts they came through, all the while not aware of what this could possibly foretell…Our hero is fourteen year-old Raiden 'Ray' Pierce-Okamoto, who, along with his mom and grandpa, has just moved into a new apartment. Somewhat introspective and often bullied for his mixed heritage, he often longs for something more, as if he knows there's another whole world out there. This leads him to be on the "dreamy" side.On his way home from school with his best friends, Allison 'Allie' Underhill and Gabriel 'Gabe' Wallace, his encounter with some bullies leads him to summon forth a Rumbling Terrasuar like the one he sketched the previous night from out of nowhere just by calling its name that he didn't even know. One thing leads to another, and the group ends up meeting a mysterious young man named Hector Chavez who then proceeds to rescue them by taking them on a short trip to the dangerous Kaiju Realm. This, of course, leads to the kids being shocked and upset when they get out. Chavez decides that the best way to explain would be to invite the kids to where he works, The Temple of the Kaijudo Duel Masters, of which he is one of those Masters.This in turn leads Ray to his destiny (Gabe and Allie as well, even if they don't realize it yet) and it leads us to this show.Kaijudo: Rise of The Duel Masters is said to be a Continuity Reboot, with nothing in common with the Japanese Animé or the original Gag Dub of the first series. Well, except for many of the creatures, some of which have a "same creature different look" kinda feel and some are borrowed from the newer Japanese cards. Although a tie-in series to the new card game, like the Pokémon Animé or Huntik: Secrets and Seekers this is one of those few Merchandise-Driven series that doesn't go out of its way to advertise its merchandise tie-ins. This frees up space for the show to focus more heavily on its story and characters, and it definitely shows. Kaijudo is one of the more nuanced and well-written shows to come out of Western Animation in quite some time and is definitely worth a look if you're a fan of Mons or action-adventure shows in general.The aforementioned tie-in TCG was released around June 2012, under the name of Kaijudo: Rise of the Duel Masters TCG.
This show includes the tropes of:
Action Mom: Ray's mom in the last episode (episode 26) of season 1.
Episodes 1-3: even though it's seemingly minor, your kid is being hassled for his bi-racial heritage by bullies who are quite willing to be physically aggressive.
ALL the stuff that seems to happen when the kids go into the creature realm.
And last but not least "Betrayal": Janet Pierce-Okamoto is forced to watch the building where she and Ray lived burn down while Ray and his same-aged friends are inside. Then, Saguru finds out that he's really Ken Okamoto, Ray's father...which means he had just used and betrayed his own son as well as putting him in physical danger. To make it even worse, he wasn't immediately able to do anything about it since The Choten imprisoned him.
From a mentor's perspective, Master Chavez must have been devastated by how much damage could have been done to his students, because he trusted Masters Brightmore and Jaha who have now betrayed the council and sided with the Choten. Subverted with Jaha though.
Aliens Speaking English: Although not all creatures can speak a language that the humans can understand, many can. One way to tell if a creature has some importance is if they can speak, Squeaky being an exception.
Ancient Artifact: Each of the five civilizations has one powerful artifact, originally owned by the Creature Ruler Kings themselves. They each seem to be some form of Instant Allegiance Artifact and, as one would expect, The Choten's after all of them. They are as follows:
Ancient Conspiracy: "The Siphon" reveals The 5 Beast Kings WILLINGLY gave their power to the original masters to power the veil for the sake of BOTH worlds, but for yet-to-be-revealed reasons, the masters backstabbed them, buried them alive, and created a myth of them awakening as Eldritch Abominations that exists to present day.
Animesque: Interestingly, the art director, David Coleman, said, among other things, that the main characters were designed with shapes in mind. Triangles for Ray since he's proactive, squares for Gabe since it's balanced like how he prefers things, and circles for Allie with occasional sharp corners to show her general soft and pacifistic nature, unless you get her really mad. Their main creatures, Bob, Gargle, and Squeaky respectively follow the same patterns.
Big Eater: An Extreme Omnivore creature know as a Burn Belly; it consumes anything flammable than belches fire. After being injected with The Choten's mutagenic serum, any time they belch fire, they multiply. When the gang captures them in a container with a vacuum, one of the Burn Bellies eats the rest and transforms into Om Nom Nom, a giant, ferocious version of the Burn Belly.
Midnight Crawler takes the Extreme Omnivore trope to new heights by literally eating everything from plants and other creatures to entire tracts of land.
Black and Grey Morality: Toned down, but this is still visible in the opposition between the two sides; the Duel Masters see the creatures as dangerous weapons and follow a code of conduct when using them. One rule, for example, forbids the duelist from touching a kaiju. Another rule prevents the duelist from befriending the kaiju. (Through their interactions with Ray, Gabe, and Allie, some of Duel Masters have a change of heart.) In any case, the Duel Masters are still better than The Choten, who just wants to control all kaiju to serve his selfish purposes.
The kids seem to be moving the Gray towards the White with their surprisingly effective tactic of befriending their kaiju.
Butt Monkey: Early on, due to her using creatures of types she wasn't experienced with, Allie never seemed to be able to keep a creature summoned for long before it was defeated. This lessens after she partners with Squeaky, but she still does loose her rather quickly at times.
Fingers pokes fun at Alakshmi's many recent failures with The Choten showing great displeasure in them.
Combat Pragmatist: Trickery and deceit are the ways of darkness and those who are aligned with that realm tend to use such tactics. Whether it's Allie disguising herself as Alakshmi to fool The Choten Choten, Razorkinder Puppet attacking his duelist Alakshmi when her back is turned, Megaria taking on the form of Allie's and Alakshmi's mothers to screw with their heads, or Jaha faking a betrayal just to defeat traitor Master Nigel when his back is turned.
Continuity Reboot: For the dub of the original show and the Western franchise as a whole.
The entire council are guilty of this, relying on one monster above all others. The Choten realizes this, and summons them before summoning the Monarchs.
Curb-Stomp Battle: Though Gabe and Allie do put up the best fight they can, Alakshmi and Razorkinder quite frankly owns them. Ray fairs slightly better, but since he squandered his mana summoning Bob for menial labor, he isn't that useful himself. Razorkinder is defeated eventually, but Alakshmi still gets away with Hissiein the end.
Though Hissie is rescued later on and Ray does curb-stomp Alakshmi in "The Siphon" after upgrading his Gauntlet. Its not long after that she falls from The Choten's good graces.
Distressed Damsel: Allie ends up playing this in episode 6 when a summoned creature that was defeated grabs her with its tongue as it is transported back to the Fire Civilization. It isn't long before she's sold to Lord Skycrusher as his dinner.
Something similar happens to Artie, Allie's Dad, in episode 18 "Duel Hard".
Easy Amnesia: Master Nadia's Cyber Viruses, which she uses to control who knows what knowledge. Like erasing memories of the Kaijudo world from people who are no longer potential acolytes…
The amnesia is so easy in fact that the good and bad guys both use Cyber Viruses liberally to control who knows what, especially in regards to regular humans as seen when The Choten has Alakshmi and Heller take over the bank to get the Helm of Ultimate Technology. It happens to Heller at the end towards the end of the episode via the Duel Masters. In fact, Master Brightmore threatened to do the same to Ray, Gabe, and Allie during the episode "Night Moves" after their prank against Portia and Maribel go completely awry. Though Gabe points out in a babble that that's no longer possible thanks to the immunity granted to them by the Cyber Lords as reward for saving the Helm of Ultimate Technology in "In the Deep Part II".
It turns out that the Choten has access to Saguru's missing memories. He uses them to barter (later blackmail) services from him. Unknown to Saguru, he took them in the first place.
Elemental Powers: The five masters of the Kaijudo Order each specializes in creatures from one of the five Civilizations:
Evil Old Folks: In episode 25, the two oldest masters are the ones who side with the power hungry Choten. Allie even remarks about this. Subverted with Jaha who was faking.
Evolving Credits: As much as a 30 something second opening can evolve. Certain scene changes start in episode 6.
Face-Heel Turn: Master Nigel (implied) at the end of episode 22 with his suspicious phone call to an unknown source. At the end of episode 23 "Heavenly Creatures," he is confirmed to have called The Choten and has officially joined the villains as well. This betrayal is revealed to the other Duel Masters toward the end of episode 25 "The Rising Part 1". Master Jaha also does this toward the end of episode 25 "The Rising, Part 1" as well only for Jaha to reveal she was faking it.
Fake Defector: Jaha. She pretends to join the Choten and even attacks Master Chavez and Gabe, then later helps them by knocking Master Brightmore, who had fully thought she had actually joined the Choten.
Fallen Hero: The Choten, he was Nadia's teacher and Saguru's friend.
Masters Nigel and Jaha are this as well as of episode 25 "The Rising, Part 1". Ultimately only Nigel was the fallen hero at the end of "The Rising, Part 2".
Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Mighty Shouter's tribe are essentially Magical Native Americans, or at least Thorn-Bringer, and Skycrusher throws Romanesque Gladiator Games.
The Dragon: Nigel seems to have taken up this role in season 2 as well as now being the Co-Dragon to Aqua Seneschal. Alakshmi was this until she betrayed the Choten and Saguru also was once this until his memories were restored. These two were once Co-Dragons to The Choten's main creature Aqua Seneschal.
The Brute: Heller. He's a petty thief who happened upon a Tech-Gauntlet and has a surprising knack for mana control. The Choten hired him to be extra muscle on missions, and he isn't treated with much respect otherwise. Saguru can also double as extra muscle if need be, but he's usually respected beyond just that.
The Dark Chick: Fingers. At this point, he seems to be still around only because The Choten is not one of the most wasteful villain out there. And not for lack of trying.
Sixth Ranger: As of the end of episode 21, "Like Father, Like Son", Carny joins The Choten's faction after learning that his father Alex is The Choten's financial benefactor and silent partner. All to impress dear old Dad…
Five-Man Band: The Order of the Kaijudo Duel Masters sorta fills this out:
The Hero: Master Nigel, even though he's a rigid Jerkass, he's still the leader.
Not anymore given that he's sided with the Choten as of episode 25 "The Rising pt 1".
The Lancer: Master Chavez, he is most opposite Nigel in his way of thinking, and is the most supportive of Ray and his friends.
The Smart Guy: Both Masters Nadia and Jaha fill this role; the former in historical knowledge and the like and the latter in an intelligence sense (i.e. spying).
The Chick: This is likely Lucy, an acolyte. She teaches Ray about nonviolent confrontation in Season 2. This role was originally filled by Joseph, a.k.a. Fingers, but he was The Mole working for The Choten.
Sixth Ranger: Alakshmi, halfway through Season 2, joins the Duel Masters.
Ghost Extras: In episode 25, "The Rising, Part I," Toji and a few temple acolytes are in a group with the heroes preparing to attack The Choten's base. However, there are no scenes where they actually participate in the battle that ensues (they don't summon anything, they are not being attacked, they don't talk, and nobody speaks to them). However, this group of extras is seen behind the heroes when they are all cornered.
Half-Breed Discrimination: Carny doesn't let Ray forget his ancestry. Additionally, Tatsurion is a wanted criminal because of his.
Heads I Win, Tails You Lose: Even though Fingers failed to steal the creature tablets, the creatures he set free for the diversion that weren't re-imprisoned are just more creatures The Choten can add to his arsenal.
Heroic BSOD: Saguru. End of Episode 24 "Betrayal" after the reveal that he's Ray's dad.
He Is Not My Boyfriend: Alakshmi calls Ray Allie's boyfriend. She was about to say that he's not her boyfriend, but Alakshmi doesn't seem to care as she attacks her before Allie could even finish saying this trope.
High Heel-Face Turn: Alakshmi was a female villain in Season 1, but she leaves The Choten's side at the end of Season 1. Eventually in Season 2, through a series of events, she becomes a probationary acolyte with the Duel Masters.
Hollywood Tactics: A person with a duel gauntlet and sufficient mana theoretically can summon a creature (kaiju) if he or she knows the creature's name. After The Choten perfects his kaiju mind control collar, why doesn't he just summon and capture all of the Heroes' and Duel Masters' primary creatures instead of waiting until episode 25 to do it? Prior to episode 24, the Heroes' and Duel Masters did not know where The Choten's base was.
He probably wanted to wait until they were off-guard or something.
Mad Scientist: The Choten's ambitions to make creatures stronger through evolution makes him this.
Magical Security Cam: Nigel's aptly named "Stalker Spheres" which are totally not spy cameras. Possibly justified by the Stalker Spheres being mobile rather than stationary… They can be hovering anywhere, so what's to say they wouldn't see the same things the audience does?
Master Jaha's Ghost Spies serve a similar role.
Meaningful Name: Many of the creatures' names as well as nicknames have some kind of meaning behind, obvious or otherwise.
Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: Alakshmi betrays The Choten for finding out The Choten's real plan ( Alakshmi thought The Choten was going to tell the town about his triumph. Instead, The Choten launched Cyber Viruses to brainwash the townspeople and prepare them for the new world order.) and later being hurled off the elevated platform for failing to retrieve the Sword of Fiery Cataclysm from Allie. Being thrown off the elevated platform was the more likely trigger for the betrayal.
Moorna, Gatling Dragon bullied Tatsurion all his life and then tricked him into raiding his own mother village and had him arrested for defending his mother. Later, Moorna broke up her engagement with Brutalus after he lost his wings.
Monochrome Casting: Averted. The cast, both heroes and villains, are ethnically diverse. It was also brought up as a plot point regarding half-Japanese/half-white main character Ray and a racist bully.
My God, What Have I Done?: Saguru in "Betrayal" where it is revealed through a memory swarm that he is Ray's father. This came right after he A) lured Ray and his friends into an area that weakens creatures under the guise of helping them escape a fire, B) stole the Heart of Light from Sasha, rendering her unresponsive, C) broke Ray's ability to trust in him (though he may not be aware of that) and D) left the kids tied up in the creature realm. Needless to say, after Saguru learned who he really was, he was very...displeased.
New Season, New Name: Season one having the subtitle "Rise of the Duel Masters" changed in season two to "Clash of the Duel Masters" which comes from a new booster set from the card game.
The Reveal: Different things, both major and minor, are revealed about both worlds and the characters that inhabit them as time goes on.
Secret Keeper: At the end of "The Rising Part II," the Council offered its condolences to Ray for his father being lost in the creature civilization (and possibly dead, although the last minute of the episode indicates otherwise). Ray's friends asked Ray what he would say to his mother and grandfather. Ray chose to tell them nothing and let them remember his father for who he was.
Ship Tease: Master Nadia to Master Chavez considering the frequent slips of calling him Hector, using his Gilaflame without his awareness/permission and being the one to call him out of his meditation in "The Siphon." The two get more moments like this later, when Master Chavez tackles Nadia down to save her from an impending attack. Later on, when Nadia needs to take Allie's dad back to Earth, Chavez calls Nadia by her first name. Also, there's Ray and Allie when they go to the school dance and summon creatures from the same civilization simultaneously and remark about it. Later on, we get the pairing of Gabe and Sasha, Channeler of Light. At the end of episode 26, Master Chavez and Nadia kiss, and Ray and Allie hold hands: a tease no more. At least until the second season where Ray is oblivious to Allie's feelings.
Shout-Out: Several of the course of the series (Allie's "Get away from her, you witch!", for example). The school dance in "The Unbearable Being of Lightness" is a massive homage to Carrie. Put together a couple of lines between Allie and Gabe in "Extracurricular Activities" for a shout out to The Subtle Knife
Tagalong Kid: How Gargle comes off towards Gabe when they first met. Additionally, Donald and Ronald are this to Gabe in "A Light in the Darkness" when he ends up essentially baby-sitting them. Never mind the fact that his immature brothers are 1 year older than him.
Taking the Bullet: Saguru and Homunculon do this for Bob with disastrous results for them; made worse by the fact that it was in vain.
Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Nigel and Chavez's relationship seems to be this more often than not. Ray and Carny in episode 21 "Like Father, Like Son" after becoming trapped together in the Fire Civilization and are forced to work together to survive.
Wham Episode: "Betrayal". Ray's mom is an ex-Kaijudo duelist, Ray's father was a Duel Master, Ray himself was born in the Kaijudo realm, Saguru obtains the Heart of Light, and to top it all of, he's Ray's father.
Quickly followed by episode 25 "The Rising pt 1" where the Choten deprives ALL of the heroes of their signature creatures, Tatsurion is mutated by the Choten and Masters Brightmore and Jaha defect to the Choten. In episode 26, Jaha had faked her defection.
In "Unmasked" when Tiera and the Choten kissed and were revealed to be lovers.
You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: After one too many failures, The Choten has Fingers tossed into the Darkness Civilization to fetch one of his lost creatures. In episode 26, The Choten throws Alakshmi off the elevated platform where he was summoning the Creature Civilization Kings after she failed to retrieve the Sword of Fiery Cataclysm from Allie.