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 Kaijudo: Rise of the Duel Masters is an animated series based on the popular Japanese Duel Masters anime and manga franchise, both of which are tied to a trading card game and associated with toys similar to Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh. Expect a lot of bloodless fantasy violence, a number of ruthless adult characters, and summoned creatures that could be scary for younger viewers. There's some racial stereotyping in the series, including an older Asian character who speaks in a stereotypical Mr. Miyagi-type accent while spouting obscure wisdom. Bullying and racist language has clear negative consequences. In fact, the series has an explicit anti-bullying message, and the main characters display loyalty, friendship, and determination.
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What's the story?
Fourteen-year-old Raiden "Ray" Pierce-Okamoto (voiced by Scott Wolf) is a mixed-race kid living in California with his mom and grandfather. Ray and his friends Allie (Kari Wahlgren) and Gabe (Phil LaMarr) are often bullied at school by racist kids. One day, while defending himself and his friends from the bullies, Ray accidentally summons a creature from the Veil, an alternate parallel dimension where such creatures were banished long ago in order to protect the Earth. Ray and his friends subsequently meet a secret order of "duel masters" and are recruited to learn Kaijudo ("the way of the strange creature") and become duel masters themselves.The duel masters summon creatures to protect the Veil from crumbling and unleashing the trapped creatures on the Earth, as well as protecting the creatures themselves from The Choten (Oded Fehr), who seeks to use the creatures for his own ends.
Is it any good?
KAIJUDO: RISE OF THE DUEL MASTERS is a reimagining of the popular Japanese anime and manga franchise Duel Masters. It follows many of the familiar conventions of similar action cartoons, including the main character's previously unrevealed talent for summoning creatures to help him battle bullies and bad guys. But despite its conventional trappings and some ethnic stereotyping, the series manages to wrap the story in positive messages about being open to change, teamwork, and the negatives of bullying. Additionally, there's some depth to the characters, such as when the kids react to their newfound talents with a believable mixture of fear and resignation.
Kaijudo: Rise of the Duel Masters is like Pokemon at its best. It has characters that viewers can care about and root for, as well as interesting creatures that are an active part of the story rather than simply tools for the human characters to use. All in all, the series is a solid entry in the trading card-game cartoon genre.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about bullies and bullying. What is a bully, and how can kids stand up for themselves if they encounter a bully? What else can kids do to stop bullying?
Talk about violence in cartoons and whether a series is more appealing when there's violence. Is it possible to have an exciting series without violence? What are some of your favorite non-violent TV shows?
Is change scary? How can change help improve the way that things are traditionally done? What are some traditions that have been improved upon with new technology or methods?
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