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. As soon as Genki starts it, he is transported inside the game, finding a real world of monsters inside. The land is currently in turmoil due to an evil monster named Moo, who turns monsters evil and rules with an iron fist.
Genki joins up with a girl named Holly and her monster Suezo, a pair on a quest to find and unlock the legendary Phoenix, the only known monster that can stop Moo. Genki gains his own monster, Mocchi, from the Monster 200X disk that was transported with him. Soon, the group are joined by Golem, Tiger, and Hare in their uphill battle against Moo and his forces.
After two seasons against Moo, the third season takes place one year later and has the group trying to save the soul of Holly's father, 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 (who was an Elite Mook in the second season, now taking the Big Bad spot here) and his baddies looking to steal the disk and revive Moo.
Much like the games it was based off, the show became a big Cult Classic and today is often regarded as one of the best animated shows based off a video game. The show managed to run for three seasons, two of which aired stateside on 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.
After 14 years, the series got a complete English and Japanese box set release thanks to Discotek Media.
This anime provides examples of:
- 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, battling against Moo and his troops with all she has.
- Actionized Adaptation: In the games most fighting is tournament-only and only monsters battle, while the anime doesn't confine fights to tournaments and has humans battle alongside the monsters.
- 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.
- Advanced Ancient Acropolis: The gang finds one kept orderly by Hengers and a Techno-Dragon.
- An Aesop:
- The anime's main take-away is that War Is Hell. 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. When Moo returns to finish what he started, great sacrifice is required yet again—this time on a personal level, with the Searchers fusing together to become the Phoenix, and their consciousnesses ceasing to exist.
- Episode 73 has Mum Mew screaming that she likes herself just as she is when Moo's soul starts to consume her and the others. After an entire season of buying exercise gadgets and hating being called old, when her life is on the line Mum Mew accepts herself and her body image.
- After the End: In the backstory of the Monster 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, leading to the less-advanced civilization seen in the present day.
- 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.
- Alternative Foreign Theme Song: The Japanese theme song is different from the English one.
- Amusement Park of Doom: Heroic example; the Searchers use an amusement park to their advantage against the baddies.
- Angst? What Angst?: Invoked; Genki has this as a character trait, never letting sad things get him down for too long. Sometimes he combines this with Sand In My Eyes.
- 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.
- Artifact Title: Since the series focuses heavily on travel and combat, the Rancher/Farm part of the title holds little meaning compared to the games.
- 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 alternate universe.
- Ascended Fridge Horror: The games generally ignored the implications of creating monsters from CDs and freezing them in cold storage to be used later, and mentions of a Great Offscreen War in the past were limited to monster data cards and rarely dwelled upon. The anime had the ancient people grow complacent about such technology and turn savage when it was stripped away, General Durahan uses frozen monsters to raise an army, and monsters fighting in wars is a huge part of the anime world's backstory.
- 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.
- Battle in the Center of the Mind: Episode 73 had the Searchers fight Moo's evil soul this way.
- Because You Were Nice to Me: The Searchers gain quite a lot of allies thanks to this. Most notably Tiger and Pixie.
- Somewhat Downplayed with Michelle. She is a con artist who fakes being sick to trick Golem out of this prize money, but she actually ends up being touched by his kindness resulting in her apologizing and giving back some of the money. The downplayed comes in considering she only gives half the prize money back, but it’s more than you’d expect from an otherwise greedy thief.
- Big Dam Plot: Used in "The Courageous Seven" as Evil Hares destroy a dam protecting a town, and the Searchers have to quickly build a new one.
- Big "NO!": Holly upon learning the truth about her father.
- Bittersweet Ending: Season two ends on this note. 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. If one didn't view the third season (which most likely didn't because the dub of it was never aired for some reason), then it certainly would come off like this for the entire series.
- Bland-Name Product: The English dub had to change the names of real-life products as they were not allowed to advertise directly in children's programs, so Monster Rancher became Monster Battle 200X, Tecmo became Mecto. Averted in the subtitled versions, where everything is as it is in real life.
- Bloodless Carnage: Zigzagged. There are instances of bleeding shown, such as when Moo slashes Tiger's face in the flashback and a Black Worm's sting grazes Holly. However, there are times there is no bleeding at all. When attacked by the Tainted Cat Brothers, Genki is slashed across his chest, but there is no blood.
- Body Double: Attempted during "Magic Stone Mayhem" with Genki and Holly switching clothes.
- Bowdlerise: Several things were edited out of the dub, particularly overly violent moments.
- Hare defeating Tiger of the Wind using Fartillery was removed, and the fact that he bought the others drinks along with dinner was left out (along with a drunk Tiger getting very buddy-buddy with Hare).
- Blood was generally 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.
- Moo chopping off Pixie's wings was edited out, along with any onscreen instance of him shocking her. That said, they otherwise don’t sugarcoat how she ends up being on the verge of death.
- 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. Briefly happens in the third season again after losing to Knight Niton.
- Breath Weapon: Many monsters have this, the most notable is Mocchi's Mocchi Cannon.
- 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.Suezo: One blizzard, hold the ice.
- Bubble Gum Popping: On the episode "All's Fair in Love and Taxis" A snarky taxi driver named Sandra blows and pops bubbles a lot when working with the heroes.
- Cain and Abel: Tiger and Gray Wolf, respectively, though Tiger is actually the older brother.
- Call-Back: Tiger references Hare's plans and tricks from previous episodes. It adds to the sense of how vitriolically close they are.
- Canon Immigrant: Several ideas from this show were adapted into later games, such as the Phoenix being highly important, and Moo being a Big Bad.
- Cessation of Existence: Becoming a Lost Disk and Monsters fusing together are portrayed as this.
- 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.
- The Chessmaster: Lilim and Durahan.
- Continuity Cameo: Colt, the assistant from Monster Rancher 2, appears as an explorer in one episode. Some of the people running the tournaments in season three are also based off of various npcs in the same game.
- Covers Always Lie: One of the DVD case covers shows the Phoenix seemingly attacking the Searchers. Considering the Phoenix is the Big Good, this is highly out of character. Becomes even more inaccurate when you find out all five monsters on the cover also make up the Phoenix.
- Cross Counter: Done between Mocchi and Most to end their fight in season 3. As Most was a more experienced fighter he kept standing, while Mocchi went down.
- Damsel in Distress: Holly and the Magic Stone are captured for two episodes and rescued by Genki, the Searchers, and Pixie.
- Dark Lord on Life Support: After being weakened by the sun, Moo is in bad shape and is kept alive via life support while he waits for the Magic Stone as a cure.
- Dullhan is reduced to a head connected to a bunch of machinery after barely surviving a plane explosion.
- Death Is Cheap: Played with. Monsters that are killed revert back into disks, but shrines can't revive under normal circumstances, making them "Lost Disks". All the monsters killed throughout the first and second seasons including Mocchi, Suezo, Golem, Tiger, and Hare are revived in the third, as the Phoenix's magic restores all the Lost Disks. Not all of them reappear, however.
- Defeat Means Friendship: A very frequent theme.
- 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.
- Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?: The end of episode 46 has the Searchers trying this to keep Moo from finding the Phoenix.
- 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 smart enough to see through it.
- Does Not Like Shoes: Pixie. Genki claims this in episode 2, but it was more due having a little disagreement with Holly. He ends up getting some later.
- Doomed Hometown: Holly's, which prompts her search for the Phoenix.
- The Dreaded: Tiger of the Wind, as well as Moo.
- Dreadful Musician: Mocchi in episode 58, and Suezo and Horn in episode 62. Their terrible, obnoxiously loud singing is 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.
- Driven to Suicide:
- Naga, after seeing the Searchers willing to help him even after all he's done, lets go of the ledge he's holding on purpose out of remorse.
- Once Moo realizes that he and the Phoenix will never be able to defeat each other and simply fight for eternity, Moo chooses to unleash all his power in a suicide blast and take the Phoenix with him.
- Duel Boss: Gray Wolf insists Tiger fight him one on one.
- Elite Four: Moo's top four captains not only command his troops, but are dangerous foes on their own.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: Its takes three whole seasons, but the trials and tribulations of the Searchers pay off.
- Emergency Transformation: Near the end of the second season, Big Blue gives up his life to fuse with a fatally wounded Pixie, turning her into the hybrid Granity.
- Establishing Character Moment:
- Suezo spends his first few minutes griping and snarking, all while protecting a young girl and soon saving a kid he had literally just met.
- Golem's is to straighten a flower Genki had trod upon and shelter it from wind.
- 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. This establishes that unlike some other Mons series, the protagonist is an active participant in battles and fights alongside and against the monsters, as well as how far the heroes will go to protect others.
- Expository Theme Tune: The English dub. "Monsters rule!"
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: The Seed Sisters care for each other, and vow revenge on Genki when the youngest is turned into a Lost Disk.
- Every Episode Ending: Most episodes end with Genki saying his catchphrase "Let's go with hearts pounding and spirits high!", usually accompanied with a Pastel-Chalked Freeze Frame.
- "Everybody Dies" Ending: 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, Holly's father, and the Phoenix.
- Everybody Lives: Season 3 doesn't have anyone die other than Moo unlike seasons 1 and 2.
- 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.
- Eviler than Thou: Lilim to Captain Weed, prompting a Villainous Rescue as Lilim goes to kill the heroes.
- Eye Scream: In his fight with Tiger, Gray Wolf whips his eyes with his tail, blinding him. In the uncut version there's blood.
- Fantasy Keepsake: When Genki gets back to the real world, he's wearing the shoes that he was given earlier.
- 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.
- Final Boss Preview: Halfway through the first season, Moo personally decides to confront the heroes (mostly because he needs the magic pendant) and quickly locates them in his floating fortress. The gang fight admirably but he takes them down with little effort and kidnaps Holly. When the group raid the castle to save her, the second confrontation ends no different and they're only saved when Pixie arrives to break the glass so they can all leap out for their dragon allies to catch them. After which, the group note the urgency they have in finding the Phoenix as Moo was able to locate where his true body is with the pendent. Since if they can't even beat his humanoid form, they stand no chance if he regains his true form.
- 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.
- Frothy Mugs of Water: The English dub has pirate Captain Horn coming to town to raid a supply of... chocolate milkshakes as opposed to rum.
- Glass Cannon: The Tainted Cat Brothers are extremely fast and can make short work of even Golem with their ferocious claws, but they are just as easily taken out after getting hit twice.
- 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 believed themselves to be gods.
- Guest-Star Party Member: After turning good, Pixie and Big Blue show up sporadically to help the Searchers.
- Hair-Raising Hare: The Evil Hares.
- Half the Man He Used to Be: In the third season, Durahan is reduced to this after most of his body was destroyed following being defeated by the Searchers and his ship being shot down. In the final episode, when he goes through a Heel–Face Turn and helps the Searchers take down Moo's soul for good, he regains his entire body.
- Heel–Face Turn: Pixie and in the Post-Script Season the remaining Big Bad 4. This also applies to the Baddies remaining after Moo's defeat in the second season after being shown The Power of Friendship by the Searchers.
- Tiger and Hare also 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.
- Hope Bringer: Genki and the Searchers.
- The Horde: Moo's army of Baddies.
- 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. In the present though this is subverted, truly wicked humans are now rare and the biggest evils around are monsters. Especially Moo.
- I Fight for the Strongest Side!: Lilim's excuse for betraying Durahan.
- If I Do Not Return: Genki tasks Mocchi with finding the Phoenix if he doesn't make it back in "Pixie's Defeat".
- If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him!: Occasionally invokes this, but overall Zigzags this trope. The heroes try not to kill, but often are forced to confront foes who cannot be reasoned which results in them being forced to kill. Overall the concern appears to be less about killing, and more about killing out of anger and malice rather than out of self-defense and protecting others.
- This is the reason Holly tries to save Naga. After seeing this, he ends up letting go of the edge on purpose.
- Implacable Mon: Some of the baddies who go after the Searchers after these. Some meaner examples include Chariot and the Tainted Cat Brothers.
- Moo himself was one.
- Inevitable Waterfall: Seen in "Suezo's Secret Weapon," though the baddies deliberately diverted the raft to a waterfall.
- Insistent Terminology: The villains are always referred to as "Baddies", and the heroic characters are called "Goodies" to match this.
- Instant Gravestone: Whenever monsters die they instantly turn into a Lost Disk — a stone disk gripped in a dead shrub.
- Intangible Time Travel: Monol's visions work like this.
- Invisible to Adults: The ending of the last episode has Mocchi going into the real world to fetch Genki. Only children seem able to perceive Mocchi's existence.
- Just a Kid: Genki and Mocchi both have to deal with this reaction, but prove themselves over time, Genki by fighting right alongside the others and Mocchi by learning new attacks and showing how he can hold his own.
- 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.
- This also applies to Moo as the Phoenix is the only one who can fight him equally.
- Keet: Genki is aptly-named.
- Kill It with Fire: Undine accidentally burns herself to death.
- Killed Off for Real: Lilim. Even in the third season, she never reappeared.
- Life Isn't Fair: Tiger gives a speech about this to Genki combined with a "The Reason You Suck" Speech.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 has a 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. Things revert back to Darker and Edgier in the finale, especially when Moo fuses with Durahan, though no sacrifices are needed and it's unambiguously happy.
- Lost in Translation:
- 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'.
- 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.
- Luke, I Am Your Father: Holly's father turns out to be the current Moo, or at least his human container.
- Made a Slave: Pixie does this to those who cross her.
- 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.
- Meaningful Name:
- Genki means energy, and he has lots of it!
- In the original Japanese, Muu means emptiness and void. Summing up his dark powers and his heartless nature.
- 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.
- Mirror Character: Tiger of the Wind and Hare started off as a thief/con artist respectfully, and both were very Prideful and stubborn, resulting in their constantly butting heads and arguing.
- 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.
- Monster of the Week: Well, being a Mon series with tons of monsters this was inevitable.
- Mood Whiplash: "Tiger Meets His Match": Tiger abruptly shrugs off Mocchi's hug and reveals why he was being so nice and cooperative earlier: he thought he was getting out of shape and wanted to slim down, hence letting Mocchi ride on his back and volunteering to help. The others are less than pleased.
- Motive Decay: Moo suffers from this big time. He starts off desiring to rule over the entire world. He even wanted his daughter Holly at his side. He sought to liberate Monsters while enslaving Humans. And then... he goes completely insane. He's become an Omnicidal Maniac, who now desires to wipe out all life. Justified as he absorbed so much hatred that it caused his original destructive nature to resurface.
- Mr. Vice Guy: Hare and Tiger are prideful, stubborn, and were originally at odds with the group. They butt heads fairly often.
- Ms. Fanservice: All of the various Pixies.
- 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.
- Mythology Gag:
- In Genki's world, Monster Battle is the premier game and it's played on the in-universe equivalent of the Sony Playstation.
- Mocchi is the monster that comes out if Monster Rancher 2 is used. The fact it wasn't in 1 is reflected in Genki's reaction.
- 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.
- No, Mr. Bond, I Expect You to Dine: Gali feeds the heroes food and water. The meal isn't rigged, but he uses the distraction to sucker-punch them.
- No-Sell: Moo is resistant to pretty much everything, as only the Phoenix has the power to truly defeat him.
- Not a Game: Holly berates Genki for initially acting like Moo's no big deal. Upon seeing some of the long-reaching effects of Moo's evil, it really starts sinking in for him.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: This is partially what allows Hare to get the drop on Tiger in episode 6. He latter attempts this against another foe. Being less merciful, it doesn't quite work.
- Ominous Floating Castle: Moo's. it's also used as a means of transport.
- Parrot Exposition: Done in episode one, where Holly and Suezo explain their quest to Genki. After Holly states one sentence, Genki repeats it word-for-word, as if the audience had forgotten what Holly just said a second ago.
- Pastel-Chalked Freeze Frame: Used during several battles. The Pastel Chalked version also ends a few episodes.
- 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.
- Phosphor-Essence: Monsters and Genki glow when they are charged with power.
- Pirates: Captain Horn and his crew.
- Platonic Life-Partners: Throughout the 73 episodes, Genki and Holly are just best friends, without any hint of a love interest.
- Plot Coupon That Does Something: The Magic Stone may be an Ur-Example; it finds Mystery Disks, points the way to the Phoenix and Moo's body, and can be used to help Moo regain his full power.
- Pokémon Speak: Averted; Mocchi does repeat his own name and variations thereof frequently, but it's more of a very heavy Verbal Tic.
- Golem is also guilty of this. "Gol!"
- 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.
- Proud Warrior Race Guy: The three Centaur Warriors.
- A Pupil of Mine Until He Turned to Evil: The Tainted Cat brothers of "Battle in the Meadow" used to be Kato's apprentices.
- Pursued Protagonist: In-universe, this is how the Monster 200x opens, with Holly and Suezo on the run from moo's troops.
- Quirky Mini Boss Squad: The Big Bad Four are Moo's top enforcers, and the Searchers defeat them one by one over many episodes.
- Ragnarök Proofing: The Shrines for restoring the disks are still standing even after the end of civilization.
- Raiju: The character Tiger (originally known as Raiga in Japan) draws inspiration from the raiju, resembling a blue and white-furred wolf with horns that he can shoot bolts of electricity from.
- Really Dead Montage:
- Allan's Worm and Baku get these.
- Tiger also gets one, though it's revealed he was faking it.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Tiger gives one to Genki in his introduction.
- Redemption Promotion: Pixie is even stronger when she's good than when she was evil.
- Redemption Equals Death: Undine believes this herself, and refuses to let Golem save her from a fire.
- Redemption Equals Life: In the final episode, after he and his group pull a Heel–Face Turn and help the Searchers vanquish Moo's spirit once and for all, Durahan's body is completely restored.
- Relative Button: Moo presses this for both Tiger and Holly at the end of the second season. With Tiger, he taunts him about having to fight and kill Gray Wolf, and for Holly, he says that her father is completely gone and he wishes she could have seen how pitiful he looked at the very end.
- Reverse Cerebus Syndrome: Seasons 1 and 2 take place in a dangerous Villain World where Anyone Can Die is in full effect and themes of violence against humans and monsters are common, capping off the series on a Bittersweet Ending that leans more towards bitter than sweet. Season 3's main focus is a Tournament Arc with a heavier focus on comedy, the villains are less threatening and many have reformed, and while the final episodes bring back the drama it ends on a happy note where Moo is Deader than Dead and no sacrifices are needed to stop him.
- Ridiculously Cute Critter: Mocchi. And Mum Mew, at least when she's not angry.
- River of Insanity: The Searchers attempt riding a raft across one in "Suezo's Secret Weapon". Guess what happens.
- Robbing the Dead: A troop of Jells decide to take all the Lost Disks that Golem was protecting. They learn the price of desecration the hard way.
- Sacrificial Lamb: Allan's Worm was the first friendly character to die.
- Save the Villain: Attempted with Naga; it didn't work.
- 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.
- Sorting Algorithm of Evil: Subverted early on when the group's first major enemies were Pixie (strongest of the Big Bad Four) and Moo himself. Pixie got convinced into a Heel–Face Turn, Moo just ripped them apart and left until the finale.
- 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.
- Speaks Fluent Animal: Happens in The Iron Bird, when Ed is visited by Captain Kuro, the captain speaks in an unintelligible monster language, but Ed understands him perfectly, and proceeds to repeat everything that was "said" for audience convenience.
- The Con: In episode 60, Golem meets an ill girl called Michelle who is in dire need of money for an operation to save her life. Golem swears to get the money she needs by winning the local fight tournament, and delivers it to her father after winning. As it turns out, Michelle and her father were con artists who run away with the money, although Michelle was so touched by Golem's earnestness that she left half the money behind.
- The Starscream: Durahan to Moo, and Lilim to Durahan.
- Stern Chase: Seen in "Melcarba", with the titular monster tirelessly pursuing the heroes.
- Super Soldier: Moo was created to be this.
- Tail Slap: Suezo's primary attack. Gray Wolf also used this, whipping Tiger in the eyes.
- Take My Hand!: Holly tries to save Naga when he's almost thrown off a cliff. He lets go of the edge himself.
- Taking the Bullet: Holly pushed Tiger out of the way of a Black Worm's poison dart, but was poisoned herself.
- Tertiary Sexual Characteristics: The Seed Sisters wear lipstick to differentiate themselves from other Weeds.
- Tomato in the Mirror: Mocchi, Suezo, Golem, Tiger and Hare turn out to be the Phoenix's soul split into five pieces. Once brought together they manage to reawaken him.
- Took a Level in Badass: Mocchi, Suezo, and Holly.
- Due to being the main participant in the Tournament Arc of the third season, Mocchi went through this big time in the third season, surpassing even Tiger as the strongest monster in the group, although the reason for that is because he was released from his Disk before Tiger.
- That Man Is Dead: Moo says this to Holly in the second season finale, saying that her father had been consumed by his soul.
- This Is Your Brain on Evil: Moo feeds on hatred. Too much drives him insane.
- Gray Wolf's hatred and resentment were magnified by Moo, turning him against Tiger.
- Tournament Arc: A backdrop of the third season. The Searchers have to enter it to get Holly's magic pendent and a dark mystery disk back if they wish to save Holly's father.
- Thou Shalt Not Kill: The Searchers prefer to defeat them and there are even times where they try to save them. They believe in giving them another chance no matter how evil they are. The only exception was Moo, who they believe was beyond any sort of redemption.
- True Companions: The Searchers.
- Unexpectedly Dark Episode:
- Episodes 8 and 12 are Whole Episode Flashbacks that detail, respectively, how Holly's village was destroyed by Naga's forces and how the entire Monster Rancher world was nearly destroyed, first by a series of natural disasters, and then by the Big Bad Moo when the people of Pangea warred with one another.
- Much later, episode 40 shows a monster manufacturing plant from the ancient times, with Kid-Appeal Character Mocchi wondering if he was born in a test tube like other monsters seen there.
- 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 No Longer Idle: Early on, Moo captures Holly and takes on the heroes to obtain information, then spends a lot of the series excavating his original body for use against them. When he achieves it, he goes off to kill them, and nearly succeeds before the sun drives him away, necessitating life support and sending in Durahan to attack them while he recovers.
- 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.
- The Voiceless: Alan's Worm and Baku.
- Walking the Earth: The heroes spend the entire series travelling from place to place in search of the Phoenix (and challenging tournaments in the last season)
- 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.
- Wham Episode: Episodes 12 and 13 contain the horrifying backstory of the Monster Rancher world, followed up by Moo kidnapping Holly and revealing to her that he's her father.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: The third season starts with Genki finding a lived-in house containing a console and a version of the Monster Rancher game he has never seen before (the disk's face is styled like Mocchi's face), which allows him to get back into the game world. Said house and game are never explained. In the series epilogue, Genki has not only inexplicably returned to his world but now also has ownership of the disk so that he can go back to Holly and co. whenever he wants. Because the English version omitted that epilogue, the final scene is the Searchers admiring the sunrise after Moo's soul is destroyed for good and Holly's father regains his memories... but what happens to Genki?
- Whole Episode Flashback: The episode "After the Rain" fleshes out Holly and Suezo's Backstory.
- "Monol's Story" gives out the backstory to the Monster Rancher world. It's very dark.
- Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: After the Jells that attempted to get Tiger's Disk failed due to losing the tournament, one wonders why they didn't just steal the disk instead of participating in the tournament. The leader yells at him for not coming up with that sooner.
- Year Inside, Hour Outside: Genki was inside the Monster Rancher world for about a year, but only three hours had passed in his world.