A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this anime series is a parody of other anime programs based on trading-card games. It's very self-aware and self-referential (characters move in and out of the story, talking to the viewer and each other about the "poor writing" or "film-school-dropout editing"), and many pop-culture references -- most of which will go over the heads of kid viewers -- are mixed into the dialogue. The frequent, prominent battles between monsters may frighten younger viewers with their visuals and sounds, as may the somewhat violent consequences if characters lose a game. But as far as anime goes, the humor sprinkled throughout this series' plot makes it stand out from the rest.
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What's the story?
With so many anime series on television today, it can be hard to distinguish between them. Not so for DUEL MASTERS, which manages to both carry the storyline and poke fun at the over-the-top drama found in many of its anime siblings. Shobu Kirifuda is a school-aged kid who aims to be a champion, like his father, of the game Duel Masters, in which monsters are brought to life to battle each other. Shobu wants to win and, at times, seems pretty full of himself, but he's also brave, strong, reliable, and loyal to his friends.
Is it any good?
Even with its humor, Duel Masters has its share of battles between larger-than-life monsters who use weapons and their own bodies to destroy each other. Characters are flung about while dueling, sometimes landing on the ground in pain. Characters are also captured and tied up while their friends must duel for their freedom.
But unlike other anime series, there's levity here, and many of the characters are very relatable. Sho's friend Mimi Tasogare, who initially appears ditsy, inept, and clumsy, is actually a martial arts expert who is strong and a great problem-solver. And one evil villain, Kyoshiro Kokujo, is a self-proclaimed evil genius with rock-star hair and black-leather duds. Clearly, the animators are having fun with this show -- pop-culture references abound, including a character named Boy George, and there are "yo momma" jokes and comments about Hammer-time moves. While kids may not understand all the jokes, the humor breaks up the scary moments. It's a good entry into the world of anime.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the influence of Japanese anime on American television and why anime series are so popular. What is it about the artistry, characters, and plot that's so appealing? For this particular series, what sets it apart from other anime programs? Why is it funny? Also, how can kids relate to the main character, who desperately wants to master this game? How is Shobu disciplined to further his skills, and how is he challenged?
Themes & Topics
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