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Anime / Duel Masters

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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 younger brother and later his nephew.

Original series (Shobu Era - 1999-2010)

  • 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 plane 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 Powerful Loyal Order Of Princes. 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 (Katta Era - 2011-2013)

  • Duel Masters Victory
    • The first Duel Masters series to feature Shobu's brother, Katta Kirifuda as a protagonist.
  • Duel Masters Victory V
  • Duel Masters Victory V3

Versus (Katta Era - 2014-2016)

  • Duel Masters Versus
    • Two years after Victory V3, 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.

Joe Era (2017-2022)

  • Duel Masters (2017)
  • Duel Masters!
  • Duel Masters!!
  • Duel Masters King
  • Duel Masters G
  • Duel Masters King MAX

Win Era (2022-)

  • Duel Masters Win

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. The show falls under 2D Visuals, 3D Effects otherwise.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Anti-Hero: Kokujo is a Type V.
  • Awesome, yet Impractical: Kokujo's shoes, apparently. But they make him look so cool.
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: Shobu and Kokujo; in a children's card game, no less.
  • Badass Adorable: Mimi - super adorable, super badass.
  • Badass in a Nice Suit: Hakuoh and Kintaro.
  • Badass Longcoat: Kokujo.
  • Bait-and-Switch Comment: Kokujo chastises Shobu for calling him a bad guy due to his evil laugh. Shobu asks in confusion if that means Kokujo isn't a bad guy, and Kokujo points out that of course he is.
  • 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.
    • Mimi gets hypnotized by the Master partway through her duel with Shobu.
  • 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.
  • Canon Foreigner: Sayuki was not in the original manga, and is thus anime-exclusive.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Pardoning the pun, Kokujo is a self proclaimed "Evil Genius" in the dub.
  • Card Games: Of course.
  • 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.
  • Cheaters Never Prosper:
    • In their first duel, Jamira swaps his shuffled deck with a pre-arranged deck that he knows the order of so he'll always get good draws. In their second duel, he tries to hypnotize Shobu so he'll fall asleep and lose by default. Shobu beats him both times.
    • Benny Haha uses cameras to spy on the cards in Shobu's hand and predict his moves. Shobu figures it out and manages to confuse him and get an advantage, then Mimi destroys the cameras. When Shobu is about to win, Benny claims that his sister is sick and that he needs to remain undefeated so that he can pay for her treatments, but Mimi tells Shobu he is lying and he finishes him off. In the dub, Mimi is Benny Haha's sister, and so this ploy works even less well for him since Shobu clearly can tell that Mimi isn't sick.
  • 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 MegaMan 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.
  • Deconstructed Trope: Of Character-Driven Strategy. Shobu largely relies on fire based monsters for the early arc, which allows him to get by for the most part. Once he makes it to the big leagues, however, his strict adherence to this strategy causes him to go on a major losing streak once his deck becomes public knowledge and people start actively making decks to counter his strategy. Part of his Character Development is learning to branch out and not stubbornly stick to one strategy or theme.
  • 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?
  • Disappeared Dad: Shori Kirifuda. It turns out he's the guardian of the Fire Civilization.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Benny Haha claims this when Mimi destroys all of his equipment...all because he cheated at a card game.
  • Distressed Dude: Hakuoh, as shown in 'Duel Masters Charge'. Also Rekuta throughout the subsequent series.
  • 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 Sounds Deep: Mimi has a voice modulator that lets her do this. When the Master hypnotizes her, she doesn't need it to do this.
  • 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."
  • Foreshadowing:
    • The room where Shobu and Kokujo duel in the Temple is pretty large for a basic card game...
    • Scarlet Skyterror being key to defeating blockers.
  • 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 & Manga: Although when Shobu tries soccer after getting depressed over losing, it doesn't work out so well...
  • Girlfriend From Canada: Benny Haha claims before his duel in the temple that he has a girlfriend — but the other characters have never met her because she lives in Canada.
  • Girly Girl with a Tomboy Streak: Mimi, who is super-girly until it's time to throw down, which she does quite proficiently.
  • Gonk: Benny Haha; particularly since the dub has Mimi claim that he had plastic surgery to make himself look the age he thinks he is (in reality, he's a preteen).
  • Gratuitous Japanese: The dub keeps some actual Japanese phrases in the script, presumably because they sound cool.
  • Heroic BSoD: After Dr. Root defeats Shobu.
  • Hope Crusher: Kokujo enjoys handing his opponents such traumatizing defeats that they never want to duel again. This fails to work on 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.
  • Idiot Ball:
    • Kokujo stresses Shobu out so much in their first duel that Shobu makes a horrific misplay that pisses Kokujo off so much that he cancels the duel and leaves immediately.
    • Shobu and Rekuta go on a quiz show about Duel Masters cards. Shobu gets nearly every question wrong, even on cards that he owns.
    • In the Sacred Lands season, there's a part where Shobu is extremely reluctant to play Water cards, preferring to stick with his Fire cards, which nearly leads to his defeat. It isn't until he is lectured on how his father made a similar mistake that he starts using them. Earlier in the season, he had no problem using Light cards, and he had used a Fire/Water deck in season 1.
  • Invincible Hero: Averted. Despite the jokes about it, Shobu actually loses quite a lot.
  • Knight of Cerebus:
    • Kokujou and Hakuou both elevate the seriousness of the show rather startlingly.
    • Creature example; Ballom, Master of Death. While Kokujo did previously summon Trox, General of Destruction, into reality, it's this creature that really causes the cast to realize that they're now dealing with real creatures.
  • Laughing Mad: Kokujo descends into this when Shobu beats him for the first time.
  • Lighthearted Rematch: After Shobu defeats Hakuoh.
  • Like Father, Like Son: Shobu and his father Shori. They even have the same spiky hair and clothing.
  • 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, and Sayuki a Knight one.
  • Magic Poker Equation: Jamira using this clues Rekuta into the fact that he's actually cheating. Shobu tries to point out that he does the same thing, but Rekuta gives a Hand Wave since Shobu is the hero. In the end, they use video evidence (and Mimi paying attention) to get proof (sorta).
  • Meaningful Name: Shobu (勝負) means "challenge" or "game"; Kirifuda (切り札) means "trump card".
  • The Mentor: Knight, though the dub lampshades that he's not as good at it as he'd like.
  • 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. Shobu's first clue that Kokujo isn't who he seems and is in fact leading him into a psychological trap is a change in the backing score.
  • 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.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Shobu is so Locked Out of the Loop when it comes to a Kaijudo duel, that he doesn't realize the ramifications of winning one - attacking the opponent directly with a very real creature. It's certainly not helped by the fact that his victory against Kokujo is done with Armored Blaster Valdios. Subsequently, he tries to avoid attacking directly in a Kaijudo duel and convince his opponents to surrender.
  • No Fourth Wall: The Gag dub, of course.
  • No Such Thing as Bad Publicity: Kokujo cites the trope word-for-word when Knight comments that he's been getting a lot of negative attention in the dueling community.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Mimi and Rekuta.
  • Obviously Evil: Kokujo. Naturally, the Gag Dub lampshades it.
  • 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.
  • Poor, Predictable Rock: Shobu ends up on the receiving end of this during an arc where he ends facing off against a bunch of professional players who actively mix up their decks due to them all studying each others decks frequently to make counters for them. Once the cards in his deck became well known, he ends up going on a massive losing streak due to everyone having a counter to his deck. It's ultimately what convinces him to start shaking up his deck and adding new cards on the regular.
  • 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.
  • 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. Haircare is a close second to card games.
  • Shout-Out:
  • So Last Season: Shobu is a chronic deck changer once he's convinced to do so in the first place. Also lampshaded in the dub when an antagonist mocks Mimi's new voice.
  • Stop Copying Me: Mikuni throws Shobu off his game and defeats him by copying both his words and his moves until Shobu gets confused and makes a mistake. During their rematch, Shobu does the same thing to him and throws him off his game.
  • Stylish Sunhats: Karen wears a white sunhat in the Win series alongside her default pigtails.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • You know how the imaginary shields shatter? What do you think happens when they become real?
    • Takeshi uses slow, powerful creatures against Shobu, who uses a speed deck. Shobu baits him into summoning his ace monster, and then breaks all of his shields at once.
    • When Shobu orders his final attack on Kokujo with the bristling Valdios - why of course it opens fire on him in reality.
  • Take That!: From the dub: "That show with that Egyptian guy is so lame!"
  • Terms of Endangerment: Kokujo calls Shobu "sweet boy" and "schoolboy".
  • 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.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Kokujo in Season 1, where he wears a Badass Longcoat open over his chest.
  • 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. Once 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.
  • The Worf Effect:
    • Toru - who had previously lost to Kokujo - flattens Tsuyoshi, who gave Shobu a hard time.
    • Just in case you didn't realize that Kokujo was bad news (after all, he'd beaten Shobu twice), he curbstomps Aizen, the Fourth Guardian.
    • Second Guardian Mimi is beaten to emphasize that Boy George is quite the duelist.
  • You Killed My Father: When Zakira reveals to Shobu that he had fought and killed Shori Kirifuda.


Duel Masters King

They didn't need that kind of wood!

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