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In order to understand the Duel Masters franchise, one should be aware of how weird bussiness 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. The thing goes like this:
In 1999, inspired by the success of Yu-Gi-Oh series, 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 Magic rather than one actually set in the fictional worlds of the game). For this reason, they never imported the manga to the US, and were reluctant to green light an anime. They did an end run around the problem by inventing a new card game also called "[[Duel Masters", essentially "Magic lite", to be used in the anime.
This new anime prove popular enough that a TCG was actually created after it, again called "Duel Masters". Anything from the franchise from this point on (including later Japanese manga as well as American-created comics) would use Duel Masters cards instead of Magic: The Gathering cards, making the mention of Magic something weird to anyone unfamiliar with this franchise origin.
When the anime and 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 gratingly 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, with 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) following soon after. In Japan, however, both the TCG and the anime series continue to be active, with the later having no less than 10 seasons. Many things changed during its run, including being CGI animated (beginning with Duel Masters Zero) and now being produced in high definition (beginning with Duel Masters Cross).
It's been announced that 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 will be based around Kaijudo, a completely different TCG, which will not be compatible with the original Duel Masters TCG, or so they claim.
The series as a whole provides examples of the following tropes:
(remember, the examples of each series goes on their respective pages)
- Americanitis: The original anime had an American-only "second season". Additionally, the franchise is now being 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 franchise, which is still ongoing in Japan.
- Self-Plagiarism: From Magic: The Gathering.
- No Export for You: American exclusive season, Japan exclusive 8 seasons, Japanese OVAs, Japan-only TCG (after 2005), American-only Kaijudo series and TCG.