Kaijudo, on Hub Network
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So I guess this is supposed to be a reimagining of the anime Duel Masters, but this is actually an "animesque" American cartoon. It seems more serious than the original Duel Masters, but that's probably because that show was intentionally made into more of a comedy for the American dub than it was in Japan. (I actually have no idea what it was like in Japan, but I think it was more serious than the dub.) Anyway... there's definitely still some humor in "Kaijudo," but it's a more normal kind of humor, unlike the wackiness, pop culture references, and almost constant fourth wall-breaking of the anime (dub). And like I said, mostly it's serious.
Season one of Kaijudo is subtitled Rise of the Duel Masters
So anyway, there's this 14-year-old boy named Raiden "Ray" Pierce-Okamoto (who is half white and half Japanese). He lives in San Campion, California with his mother, Janet Pierce-Okamoto and his paternal grandfather. (His father, Ken Okamoto, is either missing or dead.) Ray often gets bullied at school, mainly by this kid named Carny, and mainly for being of mixed heritage. (Like, what century is this jerk living in, anyway?) One day after school, Ray and his friends Allie Underhill and Gabe Wallace are accosted by bullies, who taunt Ray about his sketchbook. He tells them the name of one of the creatures he'd drawn, and suddenly the creature shows up in reality, and drives away the bullies. Ray and his friends also run, but then Ray realizes the creature doesn't want to hurt them. And then a man called the Choten shows up and summons another monster to battle the one Ray was on the verge of befriending. After the battle, other people who work for him show up, including a woman named Alakshmi, and they take the creature away. Allie and Gabe would like to forget any of this happened, but Ray is curious. The three of them end up getting involved in the ongoing conflict between the Choten and a group called the Duel Masters. It seems there's another realm, where all these creatures- called kaiju- come from. And using them in battle is called kaijudo, or "way of the strange beasts." There are five different civilizations in the Creature Realm: Light, Darkness, Nature, Fire, and Water, each with its own types of creatures.
The first Duel Master they meet is Hector Chavez (a Fire Civilization expert, whose main dueling partner is a creature called Gilaflame the Assaulter.) Master Chavez takes them to the Duel Masters' temple, where they will become acolytes. (There are any number of other acolytes at the Temple, but we rarely see them, and they generally aren't of importance to the story.) The first acolyte they meet is this guy called "Fingers" (who I think is around their age). But it's not too long before they learn he's actually a mole sent to the Temple by the Choten. Anyway, aside from Chavez, the other Duel Masters include Nigel Brightmore (a Light Civilization expert, whose partner is Ra-Vu, Seeker of Lightning); Benjirou Kimora (a Nature Civilization expert, whose partner is Mighty Shouter); Jaha (a Darkness Civilization expert, whose partner is Black Feather of Shadow Abyss); and Nadia Lobachevsky (a Water Civilization expert, whose partner is Aqua Chaser, Rusalka). Masters Chavez and Kimora turn out to be pretty nice, though the others frequently disapprove of the actions of the new acolytes, especially Ray. And the Master who disapproves most is Brightmore; he's a very rigid traditionalist, very serious (and incidentally, his appearance reminds me a great deal of Sarek, from Star Trek). His main complaints are that Ray and his friends choose to befriend the creatures they summon, rather than using them simply as tools, and the fact that they touch their creature partners, which is taboo.
I should explain that kaijudo duelists wear gauntlets that I guess focus their mana, which can be used to create force fields around them, as well as opening the veil between Earth and the Creature Realm, to summon and control creatures. Basically, anyone can summon any creature, though the more powerful the creature, the more mana it requires. And, like the Masters, Ray and his friends predominantly summon one specific creature. For Ray, it's a half dragon, half "beast kin" creature named Tatsurion the Unchained. (His half-breed status, being of both Fire and Nature civilization parentage, makes him an outcast in the Creature Realm, which gives him something in common with Ray.) Anyway, for a ridiculous reason I won't go into, Ray usually calls Tatsurion "Bob." He often rides Bob, a fact which once led the Choten to utter probably my favorite line in the whole series. Allie's main partner is a large mouselike Darkness creature, Scaradorable of Gloom Hollow (whom she calls "Squeaky"). Gabe's is a small Water creature, Reef Prince Glu-urrgle (whom he calls "Gargle"; and Gargle calls Gabe "G-Abriel"). Gargle is very smart, but not really a fighter; while the other creatures battle, Gargle mainly assembles useful devices or weapons out of pretty much any components he finds lying around. I should also say that not all creatures speak a language humans can understand. Bob, Gargle, and Shouter do, but I don't think I've ever heard any of the other creatures I've mentioned talk. Um... I should also mention that Ray is referred to as "The Natural," because of his natural aptitude for kaijudo (the reason for which is explained toward the end of the first season). He's definitely the most eager duelist of his friends. Gabe is very smart (kind of a nerd) and shy and timid, so of course he gets picked on even more than Ray, at school (as well as by his brothers). Allie is a popular girl, though lately her old friends (the other popular girls) have ostracized her somewhat for hanging out with Ray and Gabe. She's probably the most sarcastic person on the show, and doesn't always seem entirely nice, though ultimately she is loyal to her fellow duelists.
Anyway, the Choten used to be one of the Duel Masters (I believe he was their Water Civilization expert prior to Master Nadia), and was apparently a good friend of Master Brightmore. But some time ago, he decided he wanted to take over the world, as well as the Creature Realm, so he left the Temple and started his own group. He has any number of henchmen, though most of them aren't that important (and probably aren't even duelists). Aside from Alakshmi and Fingers, he does have some other important underlings. Actually, his second in command is a scientist from the Water Civilization, a vaguely humanoid creature named Aqua Seneschal (who does talk). I'm not entirely sure why Seneschal took the Choten's side, considering he wants to subjugate all creatures under human rule. There's also a sort of dumb, hot-tempered thief named Heller, who kind of stumbled into dueling, and is later hired by the Choten. And at one point, Ray and his friends travel to the Creature Realm, where they meet a mysterious man called Saguru. Throughout the first season, they occasionally encounter him, and he may be of some help to them, but for the most part he seems to be untrustworthy. Particularly when he turns out to work for the Choten. However, he doesn't do so by choice; the Choten had, years ago, used a Water creature called a Cyber Virus to steal his memories, and now uses it to restore a little bit of his memory at a time, whenever Saguru performs some task for him. Saguru's memories will be fully restored by the end of the first season, which leads to a shocking revelation about his past. (Incidentally, the Duel Masters also use Cyber Viruses, much like Men in Black use neuralyzers, to erase the recent memories of any non-duelists who see creatures, as it's important to keep their existence a secret from the general public.)
Well, so many important things happen throughout the season. We learn that there were these five Creature Monarchs who were long ago allies of the original Duel Masters, before the Veil was created to separate Earth from the Creature Realm. But the Duel Masters apparently betrayed the Monarchs, putting them to sleep for thousands of years. (The present Duel Masters seemed to be unaware of this history; in fact, before the new acolytes began befriending creatures, I'm not sure they were even aware that creatures were truly intelligent. They probably never heard any of them talk; Shouter never did so until after meeting the new acolytes.) But the Choten plans to awaken the Monarchs, and control them for his own purposes (which include destroying the Veil). To do this, he first has to obtain five powerful artifacts, one from each civilization. I also need to mention that at one point, Gabe befriends a Light Civilization "Angel Command" creature named Sasha, Channeler of Light. She will become a potential romantic interest for Gabe, though it's kind of hard because of his shyness, as well as her being not only a Light creature, but also royalty. She will become a powerful ally, though. And... there are any number of surprising revelations by the end of the season, which I don't want to spoil. But I will just say that the show gets progressively cooler throughout the season, as we learn more about all that's really going on (as well as about things that happened in the past). It all leads up to a major battle, and some big changes.
Season two is subtitled Clash of the Duel Masters
(I will be spoiling some things about season one, here, as well as about this season.)
Though the Choten's plans had failed in season one, he's now based in the Water civilization, where he uses a mind control device (the Helm of Ultimate Technology) to control the Water monarch, King Tritonis. The Water Civilization has gone to war with the Fire Civilization (and later the Earth Civilization), and the Duel Masters eventually learn that the Choten is behind all this. And at the end of season one, Master Brightmore betrayed the Duel Masters, and this season works with the Choten (whose attitude about creatures is more compatible with his than that of the acolytes, whose own views have come to be accepted by the other Duel Masters). Also... I think it was in season one that we learned Carny's father was working with the Choten, and Carny becomes a duelist himself, and starts working for the Choten. With Master Brightmore gone, Gabe temporarily becomes the Light Civilization expert, though he's eventually replaced by Ray's uncle Isao, from Japan (who now moves to San Campion). Also, a little way into the season, Ray, Allie, and Gabe get promoted from acolytes to adepts. This means they get more privileges as well as more responsibilities, and start learning to cast some spells (including one that allows them to temporarily evolve their creatures).
In one ep, Ray and Bob become prisoners of Lord Skycrusher of the Fire Civilization, where they discover Alakshmi is also a prisoner. She had turned against the Choten at the end of season one, though she still doesn't like the Duel Masters. Ray decides to rescue her when they escape, which Bob isn't happy about... nor is Allie, who not only hates Alakshmi, she also seems jealous of her. (There are occasional hints that she has feelings for Ray, though so far no proof positive of this.) After the escape, Alakshmi becomes the apprentice of someone who was long ago trapped in mana-dampening armor, which Alakshmi will search for a way to remove. Eventually she does, and it turns out her "sensei" had been lying to her all along. She's actually Master Tiera, former Fire Civilization master, before Chavez, who they all thought had died years ago. Also she was the Choten's girlfriend, so she now begins working with him (though he lies to her when he promises not to seek revenge against Alakshmi for having betrayed him).
Also in season one, Ray had learned that Saguru was actually his father, Ken Okamoto. He has a creature partner, a small spiderlike light/nature creature named Humonculon the Blaster. This season, a spell goes awry and causes Ken and Humonculon to become a hybrid, and Humonculon slowly begins taking over Ken's mind and altering his body. So Ray wants to find a way to reverse this. And eventually he has to reveal to his family that Ken is still alive, since they'd thought he was dead for years. (Oh, and we had learned in season one that Ray's mother, Janet, actually was once a duelist, herself.)
Also in season one, Allie had befriended a girl named Lucy. This season, she becomes an acolyte of the Duel Masters. And there's a Darkness lord named Megaria, the Collector, who wants Allie to become her apprentice. For awhile, Allie's mind was influenced by the Cloak of Dark Illusions, which gave her great power but also made her join Megaria, though she ultimately overcame it and rejoined her friends. (I must say, the whole cloak plotline reminds me of Venom, from Spider-Man comics/shows/movies.) Um... we occasionally see "butterfly effects" in San Campion because of all the ravages the Creature Realm is suffering. And eventually the Duel Masters must convince the Darkness, Light, Fire, and Earth Civilizations to work together against the Water Civilization (while also reminding them that Water is being controlled by the Choten, and it's not really their fault). While we occasionally see some of the Monarchs, we more often see lords who controlled their civilizations while the Monarchs had been dormant, before the Choten awakened them in season one. This includes Sasha (Light), Skycrusher (Fire), Gregoria the Malevolent (Darkness, and Megaria's sister; I'm sure we saw her in season one, but I had forgotten about her until now), and Piercing Seer (Earth; we'd seen him once in season one, but I had forgotten about him until now). Of course, none of them get along, especially Sasha and Gregoria, but they finally realize they must work together. And... lots of other stuff happens. I'm sure I've been saying things all out of order, and I hate to spoil so many developments, but it's kind of important. And even so, there are lots of things I'm leaving out (some of it intentionally, some because I can't remember everything that happens.)
Anyway, by the end of season two, the Choten and his allies launch an all-out attack on San Campion, and things look pretty grim for our heroes. But of course the good guys ultimately win. It was pretty epic, and... I guess it was the series finale. It's kind of a shame, because there are definitely some interesting new developments I'd like to see further explored. But I guess it was a reasonably satisfying ending.