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GET IN THE BATTLE ZONE!
Loosely 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 main stream.
As explained on 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 later 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"; it wasn't given a name in Japan), 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.
There is one America-exclusive season which revolves about out protagonist fighting against a Goldfish Poop Gang. The Japanese version, instead, continued to run for 8 seasons with To Be a Master as a central point. Shobu was later exchanged as a protagonist with his smaller brother.
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.
- Anti-Hero: Kokujo is a Type V.
- 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.
- Back-to-Back Badasses: Shobu and Kokujo; in a children's card game, no less.
- Badass: Kokujo, Mimi, Knight, Hakuou and Shobu.
- Becoming the Mask: Mimi is The Mole, don't you know.
- Brainwashed: Mimi during her first duel.
- 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 noticably bigger as the series progresses.
- Card-Carrying Villain: Pardoning the pun, Kokujo is a self proclaimed "Evil Genius".
- Card Games
- Catch Phrase: 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.
- Combined Energy Attack: In the American-only second season, the five creatures Shobu recover are invoked by his Five Man Band to defeat the PLOOP.
- 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 Mega Man 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).
- Here, educate yerself.
- Deadpan Snarker: Knight and Kokujo.
- 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
- Defictionalization: The card game.
- In Kintaro's introduction episode in the dub, a reference is made to a "www.noveltyflyingcapes.com", which sells, well, novelty flying capes. During the shows run, there was actually a page at that address, featuring a picture of Hakuoh with his cape, and information on where to get the capes--for 50% off, you can tell them Fritz the Bitter Goblin sent you. Unfortunately, the page is long gone. An archived version still exists, but all that's visible is the aforementioned information.
- Did You Die?: In a flashback, Shobu loses a
Kaijudoduel, 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.
- Door Roulette: A sequence with Mimi walking through the temple became this type of scene in the dub.
- 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'll keep him guessing."
- Follow the Leader
- Gag Dub: It's hard to tell sometimes, as it does try to tell a story, but still.
- Gaming and Sports Anime And Manga
- Heroic BSOD: After Dr. Root defeats Shobu).
- Humongous Mecha: Used by Benny.
- 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.
- In Name Only: The trailer for the new American show seems to reveal that it will have nothing to do with the card game, as there are no cards, and summoning is done with gloves.
- Keep Circulating the Tapes
- Kirk Thornton: Knight (English dub, third season)
- Knight of Cerebus: Kokujou and Hakuou.
- Lighthearted Rematch: After Shobu defeats Hakuoh.
- Littlest Cancer Patient: Parodied (like everything else); Benny uses this as an excuse to trick Shobu into forfeiting.
- Love Makes You Crazy: Mimi is a Hakuoh fangirl.
- Lucky Translation: The English dub had Benny claim that Mimi was his little sister, completely unaware that they would actually show his sister (possibly unrelated in the original) in a (fake) flashback. As chance would have it, Benny's sister looked exactly like a young Mimi. Word of God from a post on the Toon Zone Forums.
- The shades-wearing pajama-clad baby is named Jouji in Japan. This was easy to translate to George for the dub, and plenty of Boy George references quickly followed.
- Meaningful Name: Shobu (勝負) means "challenge" or "game"; Kirifuda (切り札) means "trump card".
- Musical Episode: Dub-specific. Kokujo is nonplussed.
- Musical Spoiler: The dub is the source of the page quote.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Mimi.
- The One With...: Where Shobu duels Hakuoh, specifically.
- 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.
- The Power of Friendship
- 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 PLOOP organization gets involved in the American season.
- Shout-Out: Even in a Gag Dub, no one expected Greg The Bunny to cameo. Ever.
- So Last Season: Shobu is a chronic deck changer. Also lampshaded in the dub when an antagonist mocks Mimi's new voice.
- Take That: From the dub: "That show with that Egyptian guy is so lame!"
- To Be a Master
- A Twinkle in the Sky: A running gag with Rekuta. Plastic Cow's localization also takes this to some illogical conclusions.
- What Do You Mean It's Not Awesome?: Shobu often draws his big final card with a "flaming hand up in the air".
- White-Haired Pretty Boy: Hakuoh, though it's more of a silvery-blue. Later, it becomes a faint blond.
- Wild Take: Babylike George actually has to change his diaper after every surprising twist. Several dub seasons edited this character quirk out.
- You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Hakuoh.