Shounen Step-By-Step: Beyblade Episode 1

Beyblade episode 1 screen

Plot: Tyson is a passionate player in the game of Beyblading. He’s one of the best around, and he’s always up for a challenge. When he’s set to challenge Andrew, another top Beyblader in town, he finds that their match is canceled due to Andrew losing his Beyblade in a bet against the Blade Shark, Carlos. Infuriated that Carlos is collecting Beyblades from his opponents, he challenges him to win them back. However, he needs to find a way to beat Carlos’ incredibly steady heavy Beyblade with some ingenuity and lots of practice.

Characters:

Tyson – The later leader of the BayBladers, Tyson is full of spirit and excitement for Beyblading, and he is willing to work his butt off to get better at it. Bit Beast: Dragoon

The Chief/Kenny – A beyblading expert, the Chief usually provides step-by-step analyses of the beybattles of his friends while also providing them with advice in the field. The Chief is not a good beyblader in practice. He does have a beyblade, but Dizzi, his bit beast, cannot be transferred into it due to her being trapped in his computer, and his skills in actually beyblading pale far in comparison to his analytical knowledge on the subject. Bit Beast: Dizarra/Dizzi

Kai – Leader of the Blade Sharks and a very skilled beyblader, Kai is a cold and stoic loner who holds beyblading in great regard. He appears unemotional and distant, but he eventually grows to care about his teammates as friends. Bit Beast: Dranzer.

Bey-Battles:

Tyson (Dragoon Grip Attacker) vs. Billy (Death Driger)

Victor! – Tyson

Andrew (Unknown) vs. Carlos (Kid Dragoon)

Victor! – Carlos

Tyson (Dragoon Grip Attacker) vs. Carlos (Kid Dragoon….huh, kinda ironic.)

Victor! – Tyson

—————————-

Ah, Beyblade. Another nostalgia bomb. I loved Beyblade when I was a kid. I had plenty of Beyblade toys, though they annoyed the living hell out of my mom since they were so loud. Like many shounen gaming anime, I both loved the fact that they were super exaggerated forms of the real thing to make for loads of fun and the fact that you could get a taste of the same excitement with the toys. Like the Beyblades in the show, most of the real Beyblades could be taken apart to the smallest piece and customized with other parts. Sadly, the little bit beasts never emerged from my Beyblades, but I take what I can get.

Beyblade, to me, is still a show that, for the most part, doesn’t stray too far away from just being a fun sport. Sure, ancient beasts emerge from the Beyblades and start wrecking the joint, but that just adds to the fun. Rarely does anyone get hurt or anything severely dramatic happens, and to the best of my knowledge the world’s fate never rests on these spinning tops. In this series anyway; there are many more sequels to cover. There’s even a series airing this year.

Without further ado, here’s the first episode of Beyblade!

==========================

We start out with some blue silhouettes of Beyblades as a narrator tells us that Beyblade is actually an ancient game involving ancient beasts. They must’ve lived next door to Egypt where Duel Monsters was gaining popularity. Now, the game stays popular but the beasts are dormant, ready to be awakened some time soon.

Tyson and his always-trying-to-sound-‘hip’-and-‘cool’ Grandpa are training in Kendo in their family’s dojo when Tyson tries to leave. Tyson’s Grandpa stops him to tell him the legend of the family sword and how an ancient dragon named Dragoon was entombed inside of it. The sword must be passed down to skilled martial artists in the family, so it’s important for Tyson to practice.

Now’s as good a time as any to tackle the concept of bit beasts. Bit beasts are the ancient monsters that the narrator was speaking of before. Nowadays, they take the form of small pieces of plastic that clip into the top of a Beyblade. When called upon, the beasts emerge from the Beyblades and use special abilities like elemental powers or buffs.

Obviously, the beast Dragoon will eventually become Tyson’s bit beast. Dragoon has the power to make tornadoes in battle.

Now, the concept itself, to me, is pretty cool. If I can accept that monsters can be shrunk down and captured in little balls by ten years olds, and that monsters live in pieces of cardboard for a children’s card game, the fact that monsters live in pieces of toys is no problem to me.

However, I do have two issues with it.

The first is, if you have a bit beast and you’re going up against someone who doesn’t, they’re kinda screwed. They really have no chance unless the person with the bit beast just sucks that much at Beyblading. I mean, think about it. A normal run of the mill Beyblade going up against something that can, say, create tornadoes, create lightning, create fire, somehow slash at your Beyblade with cat claws and more. There’s no way a normal Beyblade would be able to compete.

The second thing is, these bit beasts are meant to be rare yet by the end of the series they’re everywhere. Everyone and their brother has one. At least the ones that the main characters typically battle, indicating, again, that people with normal Beyblades stand no chance. If you want to get into the Beyblading circuit, you better hope that you stumble upon one of these ancient beasts or you’ll be toast.

It also bugs me how using these things isn’t considered cheating at any point. They give you a major advantage, yet refs usually act like it’s all part of the game.

Beyblade episode 1 2

Tyson pretty much blows off Grandpa again and gets suited up for a scheduled Beyblade battle when he’s cornered in the street by a bully (?) named Billy and his two goons. Billy wants to settle a Beyblading score with Tyson so they set up at a nearby Beystadium (which, on the street, is basically just a wok) and start the match.

One of Billy’s goons conveniently has never seen a real Beyblade battle despite Billy, an avid Beyblader, being his best friend. Being a handy-dandy intro episode, Billy’s other goon explains the game to him. It really could not be more simple; you launch two tops, known as Beyblades, into a Beystadium using a launcher and a ripcord or winder. The two tops smack into each other until one Beyblade either breaks, stops spinning, or flies out of the stadium. The game gets a bit more complicated later on, especially in tournaments, where new aspects such as terrain, specially modified Beyblades and more bit beasts start showing up.

Then there’s the whole thing with it seeming like Beyblades actually obey the commands of their players….Not kidding; they act like trained dogs. They turn when told, go where they’re told, attack when told. It’s weird. I imagine this change was made so that the Beybladers actually seem like they’re doing something in battles instead of just standing there and hoping for the best, but it’s still weird.

In this Beyblade battle, since those factors aren’t in place yet, the battle pretty much goes the same way a real one does; you basically just stare at the Beyblades until one of them is thrown out. In real life, though, it’s usually just a matter of the Beyblade losing rotation power and crapping out in the wok.

Tyson wins, and Billy laments that he was unsuccessful yet again. Tyson gives him a pep talk and says he has a great Beyblade, but the difference between him and Billy is that he’s had his Beyblade forever and is constantly practicing with it and perfecting its design. He even dreams about it. There ya go Billy; you keep losing because you’re not nearly as obsessed with the game as Tyson.

Beyblade episode 1 3

Billy asks for a rematch, but Tyson realizes that he’s late for his scheduled Beyblade battle against Andrew, noted for supposedly being the best Beyblader in town and having a skull design that baffles science to this day, and he runs off. Meanwhile, while Andrew is waiting for Tyson, a Blade Shark named Carlos challenges Andrew and puts up the bet that he has to give him his Beyblade if he loses.

Tyson later arrives to find his beybattle with Andrew canceled due to the fact that he lost against Carlos and lost his beyblade. Enraged that Carlos, the boy with way too many sharp angles in his face, appears to collect the beyblades of all of his ‘victims’, Tyson challenges him to a match next. Carlos states that Tyson was his next target anyway and accepts but is interrupted by the Chief who tries to get Tyson to notice something odd about the patterns left in the wok from Carlos’ beyblade.

Beyblade episode 1 4

Carlos quickly grows tired of the stalling and leaves while telling Tyson to meet him the next day at the river for a match. If he wins, he gets Tyson’s blade. If he loses, Carlos has to give back every beyblade he’s won back to their owners.

Chief introduces himself to Tyson and also introduces his computer’s AI, a quick-witted bit beast named Dizzi, to him as well. Tyson is weirded out that the Chief has a bit beast trapped within his computer, but is very willing to hear what he and Dizzi have to say.

….Wait, bit beasts are already common knowledge in the beyblading world? And seeing one isn’t even worth a few minutes of awe? Did I miss something? (Technically, yes I did. Dizzi is only a bit-beast in the dub. :x)

Tyson, Andrew and the other kids watch a recording of Andrew and Carlos’ beybattle in which Dizzi explains that Carlos’ beyblade is made to be heavy, thus making it very stable and allowing it to spin longer. In order to combat it, the Chief calculates that a faster beyblade is the solution; a beyblade that is four times faster than normal speed to be precise. The other kids simply want to give up, but Tyson will hear none of that and after a quick pep talk Tyson runs off to build the perfect beyblade to beat Carlos.

Beyblade episode 1 5

That night, Tyson gets an idea during dinner to put an extension on his winder to make the beyblade faster. I don’t really get why he gets this idea merely from seeing his grandpa hold a fish with chopsticks, but according to the wiki this is something that merely didn’t translate from Japanese to English (and they really didn’t try);

“In (the) Japanese version, as they’re having dinner, Tyson sees the fish that his grandfather is holding with sticks ‘duplicate’ itself three times, making a longer series of fish. That is what originally gave him the idea to lengthen his ripcord.”

However, even with the extension, the beyblade only spins twice as fast as normal…..I don’t really get how that works. I mean, even with a longer winder, isn’t it the speed in which you’re pulling the winder that affects beyblade’s speed and not the winder’s length? Even if I had a long winder, if I pull it at the same speed the speed of the beyblade wouldn’t be affected. If you rip the thing out of the launcher like it owes you money, it would go faster.

After Tyson gives up in light of his only idea being a failure, he is visited by Dragoon who transplants himself into Tyson’s blade. With a newfound enthusiasm, Tyson goes out for some intense practice to get his beyblade up to speed before his match the following afternoon.

Beyblade episode 1 6

Tyson arrives late to his match and shows up covered in bandaids. As they prepare for their match, Tyson backs away from the beystadium. As the match begins he gets a running start to launch his beyblade. Now, this always confused me as I never understood how merely getting a running start and jumping could affect how fast a beyblade spun…..I still don’t, but watching the scene again and seeing him perform the launch…I’m assuming it’s because he puts all of his body into his launch while in the air and thus allows him to pull the winder much harder? I really don’t see that working very well, but that’s the only way I can add logic here. Also, you could’ve made the beyblade lighter….

I’m not getting why a faster blade is best against a heavy one. The faster speed does make for better power, but if Carlos’ blade is all about stability and lasting power while the faster blade is more unstable and has little lasting power then shouldn’t it just be a matching stand off? I guess it’s an effort to out-muscle the heavier beyblade, but I’d bet on the heavy blade in that match, to be honest.

Also, wouldn’t making a beyblade heavier give it less lasting power? Heavy blades require much more energy to spin because weight makes movement difficult. Being more stable, I can get behind, but lasting much longer than a lighter blade? I sincerely doubt it.

The match seems pretty equal for a bit until Carlos’ blade is shot out of the wok, making Tyson the winner. While Tyson and the others celebrate, Carlos tries to make off with the beyblades only to be stopped by the leader of the Blade Sharks, Kai. He states his disappointment in Carlos and smacks him to the ground. As Kai leaves, Tyson stops him and challenges him to a match. The Chief tries to stop him as the Blade Sharks are the toughest Bey-gang in town (apparently bey-gangs are a thing…), but Tyson won’t listen. Kai accepts his challenge and gives him ample warning about his beyblade as well as his bit beast, Dranzer.

As they start their match and launch their blades, the episode concludes.

Beyblade episode 1 7

=========================

This as a first episode is a pretty good one. It explains the game very well, allows us to get plenty of insight into Tyson as a character and even as a beyblader, plus the development of the strategies, even if they sometimes don’t make much sense to me, was always a part of the show that I really enjoyed. However, this episode has several problems.

First, let’s address something that’s a problem with the entire series. The art and animation are horrid. It’s not the worst I’ve seen, and you have to take shounen gaming anime art with a grain of salt a la Yugioh, but dear god, this is disgusting sometimes. Carlos’ face looks like it was drawn with rulers, Andrew’s face looks like it was molded with silly putty, and Tyson’s face looks huge. The details are sparse, though they are much better than, say, Metabots, and everything just looks ugly. The animation is stilted and the mouth flaps never match up with the words properly. I know it’s a dub, but this is bad even for dub syncing.

The music is great, and it has one of the most memorable and catchy OP’s of the bulk of shounen gaming anime I’ve watched.

The voice acting is….ech….Everyone is just okay at best (Kai, Chief and Tyson) and laughably bad at worst (Carlos). Also, the line reads are so incredibly awkward due to the poor lipsyncing efforts. There’s so much stalling for no reason in the middle of sentences or saying things oddly just to try to get the line to fit.

The characters….Okay, I’ve always liked Tyson because, despite the fact that we’re starting off with him being a super awesome beyblader who is undefeated, he definitely has plenty of growth and problem areas to work out through the series. He works his ass off to figure out ways to beat his enemies, and he definitely doesn’t end up scoring wins around every corner, something we’ll see very soo—oops spoilers.

However, there’s not a lot to make him stand out much. He’s a hardworking optimist, and that’s great, but I’d never see one anime character and instantly think ‘yeah, he’s a lot like Tyson from Beyblade.’

I’ve also always liked the Chief. I kinda think his role on the sidelines constantly giving advice to the team is cheating a little on occasion, but his role is necessary to both provide the audience with detailed information on what’s going on and why and as technical support for the group. Dizzi is funny and memorable, though I am kinda weirded out that she seems to have a crush on the Chief…

Carlos is just a terrible first antagonist. He’s a laughably bad poorly written thug who just takes beyblades….in a pretty fair manner. He’s not forcing these people to put up their beyblades, nor is he forcing them to battle him, they agree to beybattle and put their beyblades up as an ante if they lose. They could just refuse the terms, but no; they decide to put their precious beyblades on the line against a psycho with a sack of blades. Also, his horrible laugh and bubble gum are just cliché and silly.

Kai is a bit more interesting, though we don’t get much insight into him right now. His kinda-ish rivalry with Tyson is interesting because they are indeed friends and teammates and not sworn rivals like Kaiba and Yugi.

The story as a whole was fine, but not terrible creative. The cliffhanger was also fairly decent especially considering that Tyson is rushing into this mostly blind while relying on modifications he made purely to battle someone else. I also appreciate how beybattles are relatively short instead of going on for ages like how some games do in these shows. However, that won’t last forever. Beybattles will get pretty long and crazy in the future.

Rating: 6.5/10

Next episode, we conclude Kai and Tyson’s match.

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3 thoughts on “Shounen Step-By-Step: Beyblade Episode 1

  1. Ahhh mannn….making me feel old!! I used to get up so early to make sure I didn’t miss an episode of this show. I really wish I could find a subebd version so I can watch it all over. The English OST was the best part of the series imo.

    • Tell me about it. I caught a bit of an episode of Beyblade Burst, the newest incarnation of the franchise, on TV earlier, and I kept resisting the urge to say ‘Back in my day….” Lol.

      Also, there are a few episodes of Beyblade subbed online, but I’ve looked high and low for the full subbed series (wanting to do the series for a sub dub comparison) and no dice. Years ago, a subbing group started the project and had finished the pilot, and there’s one or two stray episodes from the middle of the series out there, but the project was dropped and the full series has never been subbed to the best of my knowledge. 😦

      I believe all of the dubbed episodes are available on DVD, though.

      I loved the English OST. That OP still gets me so pumped up whenever I hear it.

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