Kaijudo: Rise of the Duel Masters Review: A Cool Pokemon Alternative

With colorful animation and spontaneous action scenes, this “Yu-Gi Oh!” and “Pokemon” polymerization isn’t a bad alternative for modern day after school shows.

At first glance, “Kaijudo: Rise of the Duel Masters” seems like just another “Pokemon” knock-off. Creatures are summoned from other realms to do battle and keep the planet safe. That concept is great for a ten-year-old, but nowadays, even kids desperately want a little more than that.

“Kaijudo: Rise of the Duel Masters” provides it.

Clever wordplay on the title immediately takes a new-comer to this series through a brain storm of questions — because surely a few light bulbs have already turned on.

Is “Kaijudo” Kai plus judo? Then what’s Kai? Is it Asian?

In fact, most people are familiar with the word — kaiju. It’s everywhere. They have been in books, movies — even in recent pop culture. The literal translation is “strange creature.” However, the word has been universally translated into English as “monster” or “giant monster.” And everyone knows the most famous Kaiju of them all, Godzilla.

But the story is about more than just giant monsters.

Developer Henry Gilroy and Andrew R. Robinson combined the usual story of monsters and dueling with a few more serious elements of friendship, acceptance, and perseverance for the kid growing up in today’s world.

The characters can come off a bit bland at first, but ultimately prove to have a good blend of diversity. The story follows three young Duel Masters: Ray, a half-Japanese fire-user, Allie, the dark-using token girl and Gabe, the chubby water-user.

Recruited by five masters of the elements, they are taught the powerful art of Kaijudo. Together, the Duel Masters use the powers of magical gauntlets and chi to summon creatures from another dimension to protect Earth from a man known at the Choten, a former member of the Duel Masters, now trying to wreak havoc on the world.

The story keeps a good pace and sometimes the plot twists are a refreshing difference. The best part of plot design is that the show tackles some big issues. For example, only a few episodes in, the characters deal with racism. So while this show has you engaged with monsters and dueling, it is also addressing social issues with its audience.

The animation is nothing too extraordinary — it looks like another American attempt at the anime art style. The South Korean company, Moi Animation does a satisfactory job for what the show is. The action scenes are jam packed with vibrantly engaging elements.

The voice acting was also on point. One particular voice that will standout through the show is that of the evil henchmen, voiced by John DiMaggio, who plays Bender in “Futarama.” One of the most enjoyable part of watching the show is hearing Bender screaming through every fight in this show.

If you were ever into the stream of “Pokemon,” “Yu-Gi-Oh!” or any other similar shows, this is a must-watch — and maybe a must play.

Produced by Hasboro Studios and Moi Animation, this re-imagined version of the widely popular Duel Masters franchise comes with a collectible card game as well.

Like others of its kind, this show is produced to sell toys, and more importantly, its collectible cards. In the show, the secret society of Duel Monsters not only protects the world by dueling their monster, they also study, learn, train and become friends with the summoned creatures. All of the above being a great marketing ploy to hook kids into buying a ton of merchandise.

Ultimately the show brings you to a relaxed, nostalgic afternoon — coming home after school turning on the cartoons.

The show’s first season is “Kaijudo: Rise of the Duel Masters.” The second season, “Kaijudo: Clash of the Duel Masters,” premiered on June 21, 2013 on Hub Network.

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