Kaijudo: Rise of the Duel Masters

| December 4, 2012

Kaiju are monsters.  There are hundreds of different species, each with their own abilities, strengths, and weaknesses.  Kaiju live in a parallel dimension, hidden from our world by a magic veil and controlled by an elite group of specialized warriors.  These warriors practice Kaijudo, which is a martial art centered around the summoning and controlling of the Kaiju.  The series centers around Ray, a half-Japanese, half-American teenager who demonstrates a natural aptitude for Kaijudo and is recruited along with his two friends Allie and Gabe to train with the Kaijudo masters.

The series is eerily similar to Pokémon, with masters instead of trainers, and Kaiju instead of Pokémon.  The sheer variety of monsters here is reminiscent of Pokémon, as well as the concept of having the monsters duel.  Kaijudo also has a distinctly Harry Potter element as our hero, Ray, is elevated above the world of middle school bullying to undertake a grander destiny.  With the parallels to Pokémon so clear, one is pressed to ask which is preferable, and I personally vote for Pokémon.  In this series, few of the monsters demonstrate any sort of personality.  On top of that, few of the human characters are anything more than archetypes.  Pokémon doesn’t suffer from either of these fall backs.  The characters there have clear wants, which they pursue, and the creatures they capture along the way become part of the ensemble rather than just duel fodder.

There are thing about this series that simply make no sense.  These first five episodes alone put a lot of emphasis on the secrecy of this Kaijudo secret order, but episode 4 shows the gang hunting down a rogue Kaiju, each equipped with their own personal monster.  They go to a plant nursery and a factory in broad daylight, and conveniently are never seen by anyone.  It works out and the secret is safe, but it is too unbelievable.

These first few episodes do begin to play with the perceptions of good and evil, which is interesting.  The kids are told never to touch a creature ever because they all have the power to seriously hurt or even kill them.  This rule is immediately broken but with no consequences as the masters start to learn about their own preconceptions of these creatures as more than simply animals.

The only special feature on the DVD is a behind the scenes featurette looking at the series.

Available on DVD from Shout Factory on December 4

About the Author:

Joe Ketchum Joe Sanders is a podcaster, playwright, and college instructor in Kalamazoo, MI. He has a master's degree in playwriting and a bachelor's degree in creative writing from Western Michigan University, where he currently teaches thought and writing, and is the host of the Quote Unquote Guilty podcast, part of the Word Salad Network.
Filed in: TV on DVD

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