DVD Review: Kaijudo: Rise of the Duel Masters: Creatures Unleashed

Kaijudo: Rise of the Duel Masters: Creatures Unleashed
Studio: Moi Animation
Publisher: Hasbro Studios
Genre: Action/Adventure
Runtime: 110 Minutes
Release Date: 12/04/2012

Hasbro has been putting out all the stops with the “new” Kaijudo franchise. Not only is it a fun trading card game, but it’s also a TV show on The Hub. The show started in June, shortly before the cards started hitting stores, and has been running all year. Naturally, they’ve released a DVD in time for the holidays.

Creatures Unleashed features the first five episodes of the show in chronological order. It also features a short behind the scenes video with interviews from cast and crew alike. Oddly enough, the card game itself isn’t mentioned outside of a commercial that plays before the main menu boots up

The show itself centers on three kids in their early teens. There’s Ray, Allie, and Gabriel. Ray is a half white/half Japanese kid who’s father has recently passed away. Allie is a rich popular girl who shuns the normal popular kid stuff in order to hang out with Ray and Gabriel. Gabriel is an intellectual kid with zero social skills, plenty of extra weight, but also a good kid as well. As it turns out, Ray has a natural talent for summoning monsters from another dimension, which nearly gets the kids killed when a monster he drew gets summoned and goes on a rampage.

After the setup, the kids are rescued by a hooded man who also shows the ability to summon monsters, but also the ability to control them. He introduces them to the world of Kaijudo, or “way of the strange beast”. It seems that man and monster lived together long ago, but that the monsters started to enslave mankind. This led to a war which was eventually stopped when a group of magic users were able to create a magical barrier called the “Veil” which split the world into two different dimensions. The humans got Earth, while the monsters got their own world. The world moved on, and the monsters were forgotten as myths and legends. Meanwhile, the magicians created an order dedicated to protecting the Veil. In addition, they can summon monsters from the other dimensions using special gauntlets that harness a person’s inherent magical abilities. The kids are invited to join this order.

Ray is easily the star of the show. He’s got the most detailed back story, and much of the plot is pushed forward because of his natural abilities plus tendency to break long standing rules. For example, he’s able to summon a powerful hybrid monster named Tatsurion the Unchained pretty much right off the bat. Though unable to control the gruff beast, he’s able to befriend him to the point where Tatsurion (or “Bob” for short) lets the kid ride him. This flies in the face of Kaijudo rules that state that one must never touch a monster, nor treat them as anything less than a tool. Nevertheless, it is Ray’s ability to prove this notion as archaic and wrong.

Now this is a kid’s show, so there are plenty of lessons to be taught. Interestingly enough, the show deals with racism. The school bully picks on Ray for being of two races, and makes some pretty crude jokes in that regard. The show quickly shows other people looking down on said bully for these remarks, and does a fairly good job of handling the topic without getting too preachy or overhanded.

Honestly, this show is pretty decent. As a kid (and a teenager who was probably too old for this kind of stuff), I watched Yu-Gi-Oh, Pokemon, and even some Digimon. I’m very used to the kind of things this show is trying to do. However, I think this show is definitely superior to those, even if it isn’t likely to match their popularity. A good reason for this is that the show is not based on an Anime or Video Game, and therefore isn’t beholden to some of the stalling tactics and/or repetition you see in those shows. For example, in Yu-Gi-Oh, the characters would battle in matches that in real life would take no more than five minutes. These games that last only a handful of turns were often drawn out over two or three episodes. It got boring. For Kaijudo, I’m happy to say that the battles and events don’t feel drawn out in any way. Also, character progression is shown more through events rather than simple monologues that are given while everyone is just standing around. I’m not sure how the show will hold up beyond these initial five episodes, but I’m hopeful.

As a fun bonus, the DVD comes with an exclusive promo card. It’s an alternate art for Kenina the Igniter, and looks pretty good. However, I do prefer the original art to be honest. It’s not a great card or anything, but it fits the DVD well, as Kenina is the first monster the kids try to control.

Bottom line: this is a pretty decent kids show that shows some promise. If you’re a parent with a young kid, this show might be worth watching together. If you want to try getting them to play the card game, the show is a good way to introduce them to the Kaijudo world and get them invested in the creatures printed on the cards. Either way, there are certainly worse ways to spend an afternoon.



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