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Franchise / Duel Masters

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Duel Masters is a multimedia franchise centered on the Duel Masters Collectible Card Game, and the Duel Masters manga and anime series.

In order to understand the Duel Masters franchise, one should be aware of how weird business relationship between two countries (in these case, US and Japan) working separately on the same product can get. One audience liking one product while the other hates it, localizations, etc.

In 1999, inspired by the success of the Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise, Wizards of the Coast licensed Magic: The Gathering for a manga series called Duel Masters by Shigenobu Matsumoto. The company was not, however, entirely happy with Matsumoto's take on the concept (a series based on people playing the game rather than one actually set in the fictional worlds of Magic). For this reason, they never imported the manga to the US, and were reluctant to greenlight an anime.

Eventually, the creators of the Duel Masters manga, with the help of Wizards of the Coast, developed a new card game known as Duel Masters for use in the manga, replacing Magic as the central game of the manga. The gameplay of Duel Masters was derived from Magic but significantly simplified to suit the target audience of the manga. The use of Magic cards in the manga became an Early-Installment Weirdness, and from that point on Duel Masters became the new focus of the show.

The manga proved popular enough that it was expanded into a multimedia franchise. In 2002, the card game used in the manga was defictionalized as the Duel Masters CCG, and an anime adaptation of the manga was also released in the same year.

When the anime and the card game were released in the U.S., Hasbro, the parent company of Wizards of the Coast, looked for a company to dub the anime. Somehow, they ended up choosing a dubbing company called Plastic Cow, previously best known for their Star Wars-themed COPS parody TROOPS. Originally featuring a serious, more straightforward plot, Plastic Cow's sense of humor permeated the dub process of the show, resulting in a Gag Dub, complete with edited scenes played for laughs establishing a completely different tone that the show would be known for in America.

That being said, some viewed it as a fresh change of pace in comparison to the dramatic nature of that certain other show about card games. In addition, this show tried the Gag Dub approach long before Yu-Gi-Oh! GX started lampshading itself and before Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series was created, helping it built up a sizable fanbase.

Said popularity supposedly convinced the creators to produce an American-only anime season, set before the actual, Japanese second season, but its fame was not to last. Hasbro started shopping around to other companies and demanding similar output at a lower cost, which annoyed many employees. As a result, no two seasons had the same voice cast or dubbing studio; Elastic Media was brought in for said American-only season and Howling Cat (perhaps best known for their dub of the Battle B-Daman anime) for the third (based on Duel Masters Charge, the actual second season, but called "Duel Masters 2.0").

Afterwards, the American version of the anime ceased to exist. The American version of the TCG, which by this point had changed the flavor text on newer cards to reflect the Gag Dub of the anime, followed soon after. Over at Japan though, both the TCG and the anime series continue to be active, with the latter having over 10 seasons. Many things changed during its run, including being produced in CGI (beginning with Duel Masters Zero and ending with Versus) and now in high definition (beginning with Duel Masters Cross).

Meanwhile in North America, a new Continuity Reboot Western Animation series called Kaijudo: Rise of the Duel Masters was picked up by The Hub for the Summer 2012 season, with no connections to any of the original anime. It was based around Kaijudo, a completely different TCG (still made by Wizards of the Coast) that wasn't compatible with the original Duel Masters TCG.

Original franchise

Reboot franchise

The entire franchise provides examples of the following tropes:

(Note: The examples pertaining to each iteration go on their respective pages.)

  • Foreign Remake: The franchise was rebooted in North America under a different name, Kaijudo (a term that doesn't exist in the Japanese franchise), with no relation whatsoever to the original one, which is still ongoing in Japan.
  • Regional Bonus: The original anime had a "second season" exclusive to North America.
  • Self-Plagiarism: From Magic: The Gathering.