SSBS – Bakugan: Battle Brawlers Episode 2 – Masquerade Ball

Plot: A new mysterious masked brawler named Masquerade is going around and taking the Bakugan of those he defeats. Dan decides to challenge him to stop him once and for all, but the game changes when Drago goes rogue and Masquerade reveals the reality behind the game.

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Alright, Bakugan – we got off to a bad start last time. Let’s see if we can mend some bridges in episode 2.

We finally learn another Bakugan term. The little marble things the players use are called Bakugan Balls…..Pbbbbttttt *gigglesnicker* Balls. Heehehehe. Anyway, this episode starts with Runo bitching and moaning that other people are getting their Bakugan Balls…..pbbbbttt….*cough* to talk, but she can’t.

A mysterious masked boy who calls himself Masquerade challenges Runo to a Bakugan Brawl that is completely skipped over. The only shot we see of it is Runo screaming in terror as a Grim-Reaper-Like Bakugan attacks.

Annoying girl character’s first match is one that is 1) so unimportant that they don’t even show it and 2) is one she loses horribly. *lip smack* Yup. That’s pretty much what I expect of female characters in shounen gaming anime at this point.

Meanwhile, Dan starts showing off his amazing talking Bakugan to his classmates, even though, if the last scene of the last episode was any indication, many many many people have also heard their Bakugan talking so this shouldn’t be a big thing to clamor over. However, I guess Dan just happens to be in a school where, despite the fact that everyone seems to be a brawler, only his Bakugan has reportedly talked.

Dan can’t get Drago to talk, disappointing his classmates, and the topic quickly skews to Dan freaking out because he didn’t remember to do his English homework. Their teacher comes in and I guess she’s meant to be some super imposing and frightening teacher because literally every student fumbles around the classroom screaming trying to get back to their seats when she enters the room.

Legit question – has anyone seriously had a teacher like that? This is a common trope yet I don’t know any teachers who strike such fear into their students. Hardasses, sure, but no terrifying teachers from hell.

She doesn’t even look scary. She looks like a stereotypical librarian.

Drago ends up at her feet in the confusion and demands to see Dan after class for bringing ‘marbles’ to school.

Blah blah unimportant school stuff, parroting the conflict in the other realm blah – hey wait, back up! Dan has Drago back!? Huh!? He’s still in class!….You’re telling me this terribly frightening teacher that has all of these kids shuddering in horror just by thinking about her is so easy going that, despite being angry enough about the toy to demand that Dan stay after class to talk about it, she instantly gives it back to him?

Maybe I did have worse teachers than I thought because so many teachers would take stuff and either not give it back until the end of school or even keep it until the end of the semester. And you didn’t even have to be playing with it half the time – Just knowing you had it was enough to get it taken away.

So of course Dan is going to screw it up. He takes out Drago in the middle of a lecture to take a toothbrush and scrub it because it got kinda dusty on the floor. Drago doesn’t like it, so he opens up and demands he stop. Dan jumps up in surprise and tries to rally his friends to prove that Drago can talk, but before he can do much of anything, his teacher stops him and says, due to his outburst, he’s going to get an injunction for the rest of the semester, which devastates Dan. He even goes so far as to bitch at Drago later saying that his life is ruined now because of the injunction and completely blames Drago since he wouldn’t talk.

in·junc·tion

noun: injunction; plural noun: injunctions
1. an authoritative warning or order.
2. law
a judicial order that restrains a person from beginning or continuing an action threatening or invading the legal right of another, or that compels a person to carry out a certain act, e.g., to make restitution to an injured party.

Sooooooooooooooooo…..Dan’s life is ruined….either because he has a warning all semester….or because he’s being restricted from either screwing around with Bakugan balls (hehehehehehehe) in school or from making outbursts in class. Uh……huh…..I know kids overdramatize stuff, but this is probably one of the most overdramatized statements I’ve ever heard.

Also, Drago’s at fault for this?! Really!? You’re the one who, despite being supposedly scared to death of your teacher (and, hey, she didn’t do anything about the fact that he didn’t do his homework either. What kind of benign ‘evil’ teacher are you trying to pawn off?) decided it would be a good idea to start scrubbing your Bakugan ball (alright, this is just getting silly) in the middle of class just because it got a little mussed up on the floor. Then you decided it would be a good idea to burst out in the middle of the lecture trying to get your friends to listen to Drago, who didn’t even have a chance to try and speak after that.

Not to mention that the first time you tried to get it to speak, you were basically giving him commands like a dog. You’re a douche, Dan…..Hm…If my nickname for Ash from Pokemon when he’s being an idiot is Dumbash, I hereby dub thee DanDaDouche.

Dan logs on to the Internet to chat with his friends and Runo instantly bursts out screaming at him, blaming him for her loss.

Every frame of animation that includes her face and every second of hearing her voice makes me hate her even more. What’s even worse is, while everyone else is mispronouncing Bakugan as Back-oo-gahn, she’s mispronouncing it as Bah-koo-gan (like can). Alice explains that Masquerade is going all around challenging many brawlers and he takes their Bakugan if they lose to him. Runo pathetically admits that he took her Haos Terrorclaw.

I know these types of shows get flak for taking little toys and games too seriously…but if this is our main conflict for the episode and it’s vital to take down Masquerade and stop him from taking Bakugan…maybe make Runo seem more upset about her lost Bakugan. She’s upset at first just because she seems annoyed, then she seems fine and even somewhat happy then she paints on a frowny face and says her Terrorclaw was taken.

Who cares? I don’t care. I’ve never even seen Terrorclaw or any indication that she gave a shit about it. I especially wish someone else’s Bakugan had been taken away if we’re meant to be sympathetic. Runo, so far, is the most annoying character on the show, going neck to neck with Dan.

Oh and, yeah, how the hell is Dan in any way responsible for her loss? She never once explains her reasoning with this and doesn’t even seem that upset about it after a few lines. He doesn’t ask her either. Who starts screaming insinuations like that without even trying to explain their reasoning?

“That guy over there murdered this man!”

“Why do you think that?”

“Just cuz.”

“Skip the trial and lock his ass up, boys.”

“Next time on Law and Whatever: Really Short Case Unit”

Dan decides to take down Masquerade, which makes Alice and Julie say, I am in no way kidding or exaggerating,

Julie: “Oh Dan, I wish I could hug you!”

Alice: *sultry voice* “Me too.”

Okay, I think we can all agree that we’ve skidded past ‘Gary Stu’ vibes and are firmly in the territory of ‘self-insert jerk-off material’ All that over a promise of a challenge? And what was up with Alice’s voice just then? You’d think he promised something dirtier. Even the mood-a-minute Runo yells out “Awesome!” when he says this.

Then it’s like this scene was forgotten as they are suddenly surprised that Dan is willing to risk his own Bakugan in the matches and share the news that Masquerade is currently in first place in the worldwide Bakugan rankings while Dan is supposedly still at 117. So….why his friends were so excited at his promise makes even less sense now. Especially given that, if he’s in first place, that must mean he’s also defeated Shun.

Also, is Masquerade traveling the world extremely quickly? To have gone from an unknown to number one in the worldwide rankings in that amount of time seems ridiculous.

Of course he owns/plays a damn electric guitar. Is he the star on the football team too?

In order to lure Masquerade to a match, Dan decides to create a challenge vlog. However, Drago calls him out on how pathetic he seems trying to act tough. He explains that Bakugan isn’t merely a game and, even though he’s talking to a sentient marble from another dimension, Dan acts like the idiot he is and, despite stating last episode that he thinks Bakugan isn’t just a game……acts like it is just a game. Then we get our big commercial break dundundunnn moment where Drago repeats that it’s not just a game….which is pointless to make dramatic because we as an audience already knew that.

Dan’s challenge has been posted and Masquerade seems more than happy to meet him.

The next day, Dan heads to the meeting spot only to find Shuji, who wants to challenge him again. Oh goodie gumdrops, a three-peat of stupid pointless nonsense that is not entertaining at all. Even Dan straight out says this match is a waste of his time. No, Dan. It’s a waste of everyone’s time.

Just to get this out of the way, today Shuji’s using Ventus attribute cards, because why not?

You better hope this is a lazy way of teaching us more about the game.

My sentiments exactly, Dan.

They open the time-space field thing and then instantly cut to Shuji saying Dan defeated his Robotallian and Gargonoid. And I mean they instantly cut. Sliced clean through. No transition. Just ‘let’s brawl’ followed immediately with Shuji’s recap.

So, in summary, they’re admitting fully that this match is a pointless waste of time….and then they skip half of it.

Bite me.

Dan summons Drago, who is now able to move more freely outside of his ball. However, when Dan uses a Fire Wall ability card on Drago, he…I guess refuses to battle because he says he doesn’t take orders and his use of the ability card was useless anyway, even if they don’t really explain why. Shuji also explains that Fire attributes are useless against Wind, even though he’s defeated two of them already.

Shuji summons his Falconeer (at least we’re getting more monster names today) and uses an ability card that allows Falconeer to jump over the Fire Wall. So, Fire Wall’s not so much useless against Wind attribute cards as it is susceptible to that specific ability card. Gotcha.

Can someone please explain to me why Fire is trumped by Wind? I get that wind blows out fires, but air also feeds fire. Wouldn’t it make more sense for Fire to be weak to….Oh….I dunno…..Water? Is that too obvious or what?

With the type advantage, Falconeer gets powered up enough to take on Drago, but Drago tries to reason with Falconeer. He says the only reason Falconeer is fighting is because he’s corrupted with negative energy, but Falconeer won’t listen and bites him on the neck.

In retaliation, Drago constricts the Fire Wall around them, and, according to Dan, smothers the wind and defeats Falconeer…..Uh, no. You don’t smother wind. You smother FIRE. Fire needs air to live. If you rob it of oxygen IE smother it, you extinguish the flame. I’d say what you just did there, if logic can even be applied, is that the Fire Wall ate up all of the air and made it so Falconeer, being Wind attribute, could not exist any longer.

I just pulled that out of my ass. I have no clue what just happened. Dan/Drago cheated as far as I can see.

Despite not being the one to give the game-winning order, Dan still smirks, flicks his nose with his thumb like a trademark douchecanoe and brags that he won the match…I guess because he beat three of Shuji’s monsters? Screw it, he cheated.

Okay, wait. Let me calm down. Let’s at least check the Wiki to see if there’s something I missed that makes this legit. I don’t want to shout out ‘cheating!’ just because I don’t understand the game.

“Mysteriously, Drago gains the upper-hand possibly due to Fire Wall. But even with its effect active, Drago would still be 10 Gs short of victory. Drago would have needed to boost the power of Fire Wall in some way for this victory, but it is unrevealed how this is done. Nevertheless, Falconeer gets wiped out by Drago’s squeezing fire wall attack.”

Oh, okay, so he totally cheated. Cheers.

I hate you.

After Shuji literally runs home crying to his mommy (and, no, I’m not using ‘literally’ wrong. He legit says, while running off crying “I’m going home to mommy!”) Masquerade shows up and they start their match. Masquerade starts by throwing some weird Darkus card out which activates without proclaiming what it is or what it does.

Dan calls out his Serpenoid while Masquerade calls out Reaper. Dan’s little watch thing explains that Reaper is stronger than Serpenoid with 370g over 320g, but Dan activates his unexplained gate card which powers up Serpenoid to 620g. Masquerade activates the ability card, Dimension 4, which, while they don’t explain what it does, seems to negate the effect of gate cards and reduces Serpenoid back to 320g.

Reaper attacks Serpenoid and….sucks him into a different dimension I guess.

Next, Dan summons a Minotaur-esque creature while Masquerade summons another Reaper. They try to amp up the animation in that weird way again as Dan uses an ability card, which I can’t discern due to Dan’s VA’s inability to enunciate and the poor sound mixing. Like every other one of Dan’s ability cards, it’s a bunch of fire. Like many other of Dan’s cards, it’s never explained what this does.

Masquerade uses an ability card, Double Dimension, which negates the effects of Dan’s ability card. Reaper then defeats the Minotaur thing, sending it to another dimension. Masquerade then mentions that the card he played at the start is a Doom card. When played, it overpowers all monsters and sends the defeated ones into the Doom Dimension and can never return…..

………………The….Doom Dimension. Are you kidding me? How did this not reach even minor league meme status? The DOOM DIMENSION. That’s like something a four year old would make up.

……Or…like….son of a bitch – we actually have another Shadow Realm? Are you for real? Someone melded the Shadow Realm with the Seal of Oricalcos card and threw it into this show. Brilliant.

Drago recognizes the…..Doom Dimension. Ya know, between the Bakugan Balls and the Doom Dimension, I’m getting in more than my quota of giggling. Anyhoo, he states that the Doom Dimension is basically Bakugan….hell? Purgatory? They go there when they di–”meet their eternal demise” Enraged, Dan asks why Masquerade is trying to ruin the game of Bakugan and Masquerade explains, again, that this is not merely a game – every match is very real.

The match continues with Dan sending out another gate card, summoning Drago and Masquerade summoning another Reaper….or the same Reaper. I don’t know. They fight and, again, Drago tries to reason with Reaper. However, Reaper doesn’t want to talk and doesn’t care about what’s happening in Vestroia. He only cares about the immense power he’ll supposedly get by teaming up with a human and battling like the soldier he is.

Reaper, being stronger I guess, attacks Drago, but Dan opens his gate card, Fire Storm, which powers him up to something more powerful I guess. Right before Dan is able to use another ability card to supposedly win, Drago activates something called Ultimate Boost on his own which ends the battle suddenly.

Okay, he’s where I get confused even with the Wiki holding my hand. Masquerade states that he spared Drago for some reason and I’m left to assume that he did….something which ended the match and saved Drago from himself. Why? I don’t know. However, the Wiki states that Drago was so powerful that he destroyed the battlefield and instantly ended the match because of it. I’m more inclined to believe the Wiki, but that just leaves me utterly confused as to what they mean by the dialogue.

Masquerade explains that Bakugan involves many dimensions and powers that could destroy the world. The only way to save the world is for Dan to defeat him.

Oh come on! Two episodes in and we’re already at a point where the fate of the world rests on a kid’s ability to play a game with marbles and trading cards? Get bent.

Oh well, at least Dan technically got defeated.

Wiki – “Conclusion
Battle is interrupted and ends in a TIE.”

Oh, go to hell! He was down by two! Even though they haven’t explained the criteria for winning in the actual show yet (yes, really) I finally broke down and looked up the rules to the damn game, which states that the winner is the first to capture three Gate Cards….Oh sorry. The rules of the anime version are actually changed from the real life game. That makes everything much less confusing /s

In the anime, it’s the first to defeat three Bakugan. Dan lost twice and even in the end, the Wiki states that Reaper wasn’t killed before the battlefield was destroyed so he didn’t even get one Bakugan defeated. Is this like calling a draw in Monopoly if I’m nearly bankrupt and I decide to kick the board to the floor? Why did Drago trigger this anyway? It wasn’t a particularly emotional or intense moment, even after they explained the super scary Doom Dimension.

Anyway, Masquerade leaves, Dan proclaims that he’ll beat Masquerade and the episode ends.

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I will admit that this episode has more card and monster names than the first episode and I learned a tiny bit more of how the game is played, I think, but I should mention, as you probably figured out, anything of merit I learned was read from the Wiki. Whoever wrote detailed play-by-plays for each Bakugan Brawl in every episode for the Wiki deserves a fresh pan of cinnamon buns.

Also, I’m going to try to turn a blind eye to what the Wiki says since I’m trying to follow along as a regular watcher of the show. No one should need to read supplemental material to understand half of what’s going on in a shounen gaming anime. It just should not happen.

Everything else about this episode is mostly garbage. Stuff with Runo? Pointless garbage I don’t care about because I care nothing for Runo, nor am I given a reason to. Plus, the scene was so short it’s hard to care in the first place.

Stuff with Dan’s teacher? Don’t care. Also, I learned that this was also completely pointless because this character, according to her bio, is never seen again and the year long detention (She specifically said “Injunction”, Wiki, but your explanation makes more sense.) that Dan got, the one that ‘ruined his life’ is never brought up or enforced. Whoopee.

The battle against Shuji is entirely pointless – not just because it’s a predictable waste of time against a character who has already been beaten easily twice already, but also because Dan and Drago cheated. It’s shameless filler that they deserve to be punched in the face for.

The battle against Masquerade isn’t even interesting. He uses the same monster three times in a row, basically the same tactic twice in a row and there’s little in regards to excitement. The only entertaining aspect was the silly name of the Doom Dimension.

Drago’s final stand came out of nowhere and the finale was ridiculous. Randomly triggering something within yourself that makes you so powerful that the field gets destroyed and forced a draw? If that’s even what really happened. Give me a break.

Why did Masquerade even leave? No time for a rematch? Why does Dan seem so devastated by this? He doesn’t seem to have any emotional bond with what’s going on yet, but he falls to his knees and yells that he’ll beat Masquerade.

I don’t even care about the Vestroia stuff at this point.

Another note is that the Wiki states Dan nearly lost his Bakugan in that match but, since he didn’t technically lose, he kept them I guess. Despite the fact that both Masquerade and Drago said that once a Bakugan is in that dimension, they never come out.

There’s nothing to care about here, and I don’t even get any mindless action fun out of it because even that’s bland and boring. Get your shit together, Bakugan.

Next episode, Dan is confronted by a new recruit of Masquerade’s, Ricky Maru. Oh excuse me, that’s supposed to be Rikimaru. Is it a law of dubbed kids anime to not pronounce Japanese words and names correctly? Also, Dan cleans Drago with a toothbrush again.

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Shounen Step-By-Step: Bakugan Battle Brawlers Episode 1

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Plot: Bakugan is the latest gaming craze across the globe, but it’s not just any old kids game. The origins of the Bakugan are a complete mystery. Cards just suddenly started raining from the sky across the world, and some of the cards contained monsters which could be summoned by the card wielders. A group of kids decided to make a game out of the mysterious cards and monsters, and Bakugan was born. However, the world where the Bakugan originate from is in danger, and it’s up to Bakugan players such as the hotheaded upstart Dan and his friends to save it.

Breakdown: I’m not going to sugarcoat this. Bakugan Battle Brawlers looked like a very dumb show to me from the instant I saw a trailer for it. Hearing the plot synopsis didn’t help. I think I finally understand what parents felt like when we tried to explain Yugioh, Digimon and Pokemon to them. Does that mean I’m a grown up now?

I have a soft spot for gaming anime either way, so I felt like I needed to give it a shot. My opinions ended up…….well, let’s find out.

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Let’s start out with seriously just parroting the opening lines word for word.

Dan: “I know this is going to sound weird, but one day my whole world changed. You see, cards started dropping from the sky; coming down like rain. At first, we didn’t know where they were coming from or who sent them – we only knew they were more than just ordinary playing cards. And it was happening all across the world. The north. The south. They landed everywhere.

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Together with my new online friends from around the world, we invented a wicked new game that we called ‘Bakugan’. That’s when the power of the cards was revealed. Each one of them held their own battling beast which came alive when you threw it down. The battles were intense, and if you chose the wrong card you lost it and the beast inside. But that’s only half the story. An even bigger battle is taking place in an alternate universe called Vestroia. My name is Dan, and together with my friends Runo, Marucho, Mr. Hotshot himself, Shun, Julie and Alice we are the Bakugan Battle Brawlers!”

Did you get all that? Because holy crap that’s a lot of backstory for a first episode plot snippet.

Let’s break this down piece by piece.

Cards suddenly fell from the sky all over the world and instead of being investigated by any government or being confiscated, all the kids just picked up the cards and decided to make a game out of it while the parents and other adults just accepted it. Okay, I guess that’s fine.

The cards held the spirits of monsters and, when released, the beasts took on the forms of…transformable marbles that you could shoot onto a playing field, allowing you to release them into a more formal beast state, and they conveniently also work with the game that the kids made up?

But wait, there’s more!

These beasts also exist in an alternate dimension called Vestroia where they battle each other all the time and might be at war for some reason.

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And what do these kids being the Bakugan Battle Brawlers have to do with it, besides the fact that they play the game?

It’s just so much to take in in a matter of about 45 seconds. That could’ve been an episode all its own.

Anyway, after our intro narration, we get our theme song which is a really mixed bag. I like the melody and instrumentation, but the lead singer just sounds horribly generic and the lyrics are the exact same BS that plagues nearly every show similar to this; never give up, power’s in your hand, blah blah blah.

Our main character, Dan, arrives home and goes through his little marble things that all look exactly the same yet he can tell them apart somehow. He then runs off to meet a little runt named Akira whom he supposedly had a Bakugan match with, but Akira reveals that he’s switched with his big brother, a towering fat thug named Shuji. I don’t know why they’re keeping in all of these Japanese names, yet they altered Dan’s name to being short for Daniel instead of his real name of Danma.

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Anyway, Shuji states that his specialty is subterra space, something Dan’s never even heard of before, and they start their battle.

They each draw a card and call the field to open, which sends Dan and Shuji into another dimension and slows down time…..Why did the many governments of the world not take these cards again?

While in the weird multi-colored purgatory dimension, Dan and Shuji draw one more card each to set their gate cards, which grow to the size of a soccer field and materialize face down. Shuji throws a brown and yellow marble on the field and calls his Bakugan to stand which prompts the marble to open into a little monster form. Out of the field comes a giant praying mantis monster.

Using his….calculator watch (?) Dan analyzes the field and finds out that his opponent is a subterra mantis with a power level of 270.

Dan selects his Bakugan and throws a marble thing out onto the field, calls it to stand which prompts it to open into a little monster form. This summons some giant red snake that is never named with a power level of 320. They battle or Bakugan Brawl and it looks like Dan’s monster will win because he has the higher power level, but Shuji opens his gate card and changes the playing field to a desert – Egypt I suppose if the pyramids are any indication. This gives the subterra mantis a power boost to 420, which allows him to beat Dan’s monster.

Shuji: “Oh man, that was easy. You fell faster than a deck of cards in a tornado.” Is he meant to be too dumb to realize it’s supposed to be a ‘house of cards in a tornado’ or are the dubbers dumb? Decisions, decisions.

High off his first round win, Shuji sends out another Bakugan. This time it summons a giant enemy crab.

Dan isn’t fazed by this and also sends out another Bakugan, this time revealing a…..Male Garudamon?…..Nah it can’t…..B—huh?

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Anyway, Dan opens his gate card, which changes the playing field into a bunch of fire and Garudamon dude easily hits the enemy crab’s weak point for massive damage.

It’s one to one now and they prepare two new gate cards for the tie breaker. They each release another Bakugan and they summon….one green and brown lizard warrior and one red lizard warrior thing. Shuji’s monster has a power level of 320 while Dan’s has 280. They brawl and Dan activates an ability card (?) which makes fire on the ground and powers up his lizard warrior thing I guess to a point where he can take out the brown lizard warrior thing.

Dan has taken the lead and now Shuji only has his mantis left. They set gate cards again (?) and they launch their Bakugan. Shuji summons his mantis while Dan calls out Mr. Garudamon again. Shuji opens his gate card, which creates desert again, and then uses his ability card to give the mantis some sort of super powered slash ability.

However, Dan’s not sitting back and letting him finish his attack as he also has an ability card, a counter ability card to be precise, that gives Mr. Garudamon a shield of fire to stave off the slash attack. This ability card I guess also gives him enough power to take out the mantis and Dan wins.

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Since we’re at commercial, I think now’s as good a time as any to ask what in the depths of fuck just happened?!

Traipsing into Episode One-derland for a minute, first episodes have a lot of work to do. They need to hook us in, they need to establish the world they live in, what the main character is like etc. It has to set a strong foundation for the series to help us understand the story as it unfolds in subsequent episodes. When it comes to gaming anime, there’s an additional factor that absolutely needs to come into play; explaining how the goddamn game is played.

I have no clue how this game is played right now, even after seeing a full match, and that is a huge problem for this type of show. I know some Bakugan fan is probably looking at this now and rolling their eyes at me for not getting it merely by watching, but it is not set up in any way that explains really anything.

Where is our audience surrogate – the character who explains stuff about the plot to unimportant people as a means of explaining to the audience certain aspects of the story? Usually on the side lines as someone marvels at the game?

For example, in Yugioh, our audience surrogate in the first episode was T’ea and to a lesser extent Joey who explained the game’s basics to Tristan. In Beyblade, a completely superfluous character explained the game to another completely superfluous character. In Pokemon, Ash, Brock and Misty usually doled out that information either straight to us or to Ash as he was also a rookie. You get the point.

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Physics is not here at the moment, please leave a message.

I just have so many questions like, why send out two gate cards supposedly every turn if you’re not going to just use them immediately or at all? I was under the impression that two gate cards are set and neither player can play more until both of those cards have been used. They don’t send out more gate cards on each turn at first, they just suddenly start doing it. Can you not use two gate cards at once? Gate cards can also be used to weaken enemies? Are gate cards just like field power bonuses in Yugioh? Who or what dictates the power increase or decrease?

What are ability cards? Why can you just grab them and chuck them out whenever you please instead of having a legit deck and a hand of cards?

Why do these monsters seem to have no names? Mantis kinda sounded like it was being pronounced ‘Mantriss’ but, really, that’s it for a name? Just throw a consonant in there and it’s instant name? None of Dan’s monsters were given names. Shuji’s other monsters weren’t given names. I think some of the ability cards had names but I could never hear them because the other sounds drown them out. (Poor sound mixing is yay)

Why do they need to transport themselves to an alternate dimension to do this? Why does doing so slow down time across at least the whole city? And are the parents of these kids just okay that their children play games in alternate dimensions with real beasts that they keep….in…balls….In fairness to Pokemon, they don’t usually go to alternate dimensions to do that. What is that little device on Dan’s wrist and why does it look so….boring?

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I know that Yugioh is justifiably ragged on for constantly prattling on about what a card does and the rules of the game and certain strategies etc. but you know what, I’d rather know too much about what I’m watching than have really no idea. Dan does have slight inner monologue and the little watch thing helps slightly, but the watch thing only popped up a couple of times, same with Dan’s thoughts. In addition, Dan’s analysis was pointing out stuff that was already pretty obvious. Other than that, absolutely nothing.

I have never felt so lost watching the first game of a gaming anime. No one’s explaining strategies, no one’s explaining rules, no one’s explaining card effects, I don’t know what these monsters are called, I don’t know the names of the cards; things happen and then Dan wins.

Medabots, which is probably the worst shounen gaming anime I’ve ever seen to this point, did a much better job of explaining this stuff to us in its first few minutes. Rules, structure and even some strategy.

To make matters worse is how Dan is portrayed so far. He is just very very very typical. That’s pretty much the perfect word for his character. Typical. A kid who loves a game and is so good at it that he’s never lost. The first match we see him in is one in which he seems to pretty easily win, and he even ends the match by saying it was easy. So great, he’s not even a humble type protagonist, he’s a cocky prodigy type.

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I wanna punch this kid in his goggles.

Even his character design, color scheme, element selection and the types of monsters he usually uses are very typical. Red, fire and lizards/dinosaurs/dragons.

As for the battle in just an entertainment aspect, it was still dull as dirt. Nothing at all in this match was unique or cool. Shuji had a mantis, a crab, and a brown lizard warrior thing. His gate cards were deserts and his only ability card was a slashing attack. Dan’s side was equally boring; fire gate cards, fire ability card and a fire counter ability card with a red snake, a male Garudamon and a red lizard warrior thing. Also, how boring and uncreative are you to have the final match be two nearly identical monsters only palette swapped?

Plus, considering the opponent was the also typical easily defeated archetype of fat stupid cocky thug, there was no question about who would win so it’s even more boring.

Well, maybe we’ll get better as the episode goes on.

After the commercial, Dan is seen bragging to his online friends about how awesome he was in his match earlier and proclaims himself the most awesome Bakugan Brawler.

Runo states that Dan is still stuck at 121 in the world rankings, but Dan checks himself to see that he’s now 117. Runo and Dan have a little argument and Runo really comes off as a jealous bitch. I can’t understand why she’s friends with Dan. Julie chimes in to gush over Dan, and apparently she calls him Danny. Ugh. I can tell from her very first line that I’m going to hate this girl even more than Runo.

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Marucho tells Dan that he should set his sights on Shun as he’s currently ranked number one, and if he tries hard enough he could surpass him in a few years. Alice states that a few years is too long to wait, and that he should find some way to challenge him as soon as possible. Wait, what is the rush? A second ago he was excited to just be at 117, now they’re acting like it’s an emergency to challenge and surpass the highest ranking brawler. Slow down, guys.

Dan yet again gets all cocky and says he’d probably beat him easily because no one has ever even given him a challenge before. Why the like for these cocky main characters? Is it just in the hopes that they’ll get that ever sweet ‘humble pie’ arc where they get thrashed and learn to not be such an asshat?

Also, Dan is a 12 year old boy and most of his group of close friends are cute girls his age, one of which obviously has a huge crush on him and another starting a love/hate relationship deal. I’m getting Gary Stu vibes.

We cut to Shun who is lamenting over the fact that defending his title isn’t even hard. As he wishes for an opponent who will give him a real challenge, we suddenly shift to looming narration I think from a Bakugan as he wishes Dan would understand that Bakugan is more than a game.

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The unknown Bakugan then explains Vestroia to us. The dimension is separated into several sections based on the elements. The earth section is called subterra, and considering this seems like a very basic aspect of the game it seems kinda dumb that Dan is where he is right now in rank and yet never heard of it. Unless it’s just insanely unpopular as an element.

The light section is called Haos. The dark section is so creatively named Darkus. The water section is called Aquos. The wind section is Ventus. Finally, the fire section is Pyrus.

The narration suddenly ends in the Pyrus section as a red dragon, named, again so creatively, Drago, confronts a white dragon named Naga as he tries to stop his relentless pursuit of power. Drago accuses Naga of being responsible for someone named Michael, and Naga reveals that he has a card that opens a portal to Vestroia….wait, I thought they were in Vestroia, just the fire area of it. Oh whatever. Naga escapes and we cut back to earth where Dan is being challenged to a rematch by Shuji.

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Oh joy, a reprise of a boring match. I can’t wait. But hang on, Shuji’s now using Darkus attribute Bakugan. Oooh. Wait, if he was best at subterra attribute Bakugan then shouldn’t this match go even worse? Oh hang on again, apparently now Shuji’s calling himself the master of Darkus. This guy’s an idiot and is obviously going to lose again. Why am I here?

Anyway, he summons a black and purple turtle thing while Dan summons the same red lizard warrior thing from earlier only he summons him behind the turtle thing. Okay, so now we’re adding stuff we didn’t see in the last match as you can apparently summon Bakugan on various areas of the field as long as you have decent throwing or bouncing capabilities. What this does is beyond me. They don’t bother to tell you anything about it.

Shuji throws out another Bakug—What? Since when can you summon more than one Bakugan per round? That never happened once in the first game. Anyway, he summons a Darkus Stingslash, in front of the red lizard warrior thing. The little calculator watch thing explains that the Stingslash has a power level of 330 while his red lizard warrior thing apparently called a Saurus has 280. They brawl and Dan, seeing he’s in trouble, opens his gate card which is just the same fire. This increases his Saurus’ power level to 310.

Class, can you tell me which number is higher? 330 or 310? You’re right! It’s 330, the power increase wasn’t enough and Saurus goes down…..Which means….Dan’s an idiot? I mean, he had to have known that the gate card wasn’t powerful enough to save his Saurus so why even bother using it?

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Oh wait….he wasn’t destroyed….but….yes he was. I saw it happen. He was hit, glowed and then turned into his little marble form. That’s defeat isn’t it? It was before. Why is Dan saying, after the fact, that he needs to increase his Saurus’ power level by at least 20 more points if he should be out of the running? Again, this didn’t happen when the monsters were defeated in the first match.

…..And what was the point of the turtle in that battle? For that matter, what was the point of summoning the Saurus behind the turtle?

We cut back to Naga who is now in the center of the universe as he stares at the two conflicting forces of infinity and silence. The two forces keep Vestroia in balance, and he wishes to absorb their power to, say it with me everyone, RULE THE WORLD!

Of course

He also needs to do this to unite with someone named Hal-G. *shrug* He starts the absorption while prattling on about how much power he’s feeling when something goes awry. Apparently he had an overload of negative energy, which threw the balance that is required off. Without enough positive energy to counteract it, he is absorbed into the silence force as it is corrupted by darkness. Then all hell breaks loose as Vestroia starts falling apart. The various elemental sections that were once separated from each other are now open and collapsing.

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As a Darkus Bakugan attacks Drago, Dan gets a vision of the battle, mistaking Drago for a Bakugan of his as he is confused by what is happening to the dimension. The vision ends and Shuji, using his Stingslash, attacks Dan’s giant red snake thing. However, the snake thing counters him and constricts Stingslash as Dan opens his gate card called Quartet battle. This prompts Drago and the Darkus monster to be transported through Shuji and Dan’s ability cards as marble things. The marble things both roll onto the field, stand and summon themselves as Dan’s ability card turns into a Dragonoid card.

Why do you need a special card to have a quartet battle when you can seemingly summon Bakugan whenever you want?

Drago tries to get the Darkus monster, called FearReaper, to snap out of his rage since he has been influenced by the influx of negative energy. The power builds and FearReaper won’t listen so Drago kills him….and…that’s the end of the match. I guess Dan somehow won because of that. I’m just now realizing that they don’t explain the scoring system either.

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You know what really gets me though?

Dan: “I don’t get it. I thought Bakugan was just a game. But there’s more to it, and I gotta find out what.”

You thought it was just a game…Cards rain over the skies of earth. These cards act as dimensional portals which slow down time in the real world. They also act as portals for one specific Bakugan, in marble form, to emerge, and while in the alternate time-slowing dimension you create, the monsters become real and are under your control. All the while you possess the ability to create elemental powers and other abilities.

You are the dumbest person—nonono, these are the dumbest….entire human population to ever exist if they truly thought there was nothing more to all that than merely a game….that THEY CREATED FROM IT.

This isn’t like Yugioh where magical stuff happened through a legit game that was merely based on magical things originally. You created a game from interdimensional cards and marbles that turn into monsters yet you’re surprised that it’s not merely a little kid game? There’s not enough dumb to go around.

Later that night, Dan tries to get the Bakugan to talk again, but to no avail. He gives up and names Drago, of all things, Drago. Thank God both whomever named Drago initially and Dan are both incredibly uncreative. Come to think of it, I guess the same can be said of Bakugan.

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Dan: “Well, time to hook up to the web.”

When was this show made again?….2007? Yeah, stop that.

Dan enters into a video chat with his friends and explains his experience with a talking Bakugan when Runo reveals that the chat rooms and forums are flooding with people who experienced the same thing. Dan concludes that the Bakugan did indeed talk, though it’s never established that the Bakugan can’t talk to begin with so this revelation really isn’t impacting to us as an audience…actually, why can’t the Bakugan that they’ve been summoning this whole time talk? Why are they different from Drago, Naga and the others?

Dan: “Maybe there’s more to the Bakugan world than we thought!”

You’re still all really dumb.

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

This….is awful. Just…terrible. It’s not the worst show I’ve ever seen by a long shot, but it’s definitely the worst shounen gaming anime so far. Congrats, Medabots. You’ve been bumped for now.

What a huge mess, especially as an intro episode. The premise is very dumb, even by gaming anime standards, but it could have been very acceptable had….anything been properly explained or explored.

I have no clue how to play Bakugan even after watching one and a half matches (the second match has a big gap in it and seems to end abruptly). The rules seemed to change in the second match, and I am just completely lost on how it really works. It’s also frustrating that cards, Bakugan and the items for the game like the marbles and Dan’s watch are not given names, at least not now. This fails on multiple levels as a first episode and as an advertisement.

Face it, gaming anime are meant to sell toys or cards or what have you. I know I saw a slue of Bakugan toys in stores when this show was popular. Why would a kid want to buy Bakugan toys if they have no clue what most of the stuff is called nor how to friggin’ play it? I mean, obviously a lot of them did because it was a pretty successful gaming anime, but it really just seems like, basing it from the first episode alone, you’re either focusing on the lowest common denominator who will just want the toys and watch the show because of mindless action and monsters or you’re aiming the show at people who already know how to the play the game, which only exists because of the show….

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The other storyline involving Vestroia, while having more explanation and focus, is also not really given much explanation outside of the elemental areas of the dimension and the forces of infinity and silence being sent out of balance. If Drago was narrating that part where we first get a scene in Vestroia….does that mean Drago knows who Dan is? And why is he so important if he does? I swear, if they turn Dan into some ‘chosen one’ or messiah character I am dropping this series like a hot rock soaked in acid.

Character-wise, we’re also really scraping some barrel bottom. Dan is just blah at best and annoying at worst because he’s such a cocky kid who keeps winning, thus giving him fuel to continue being a snotrag.

Shuji is an idiot who was never a threat, making both battles boring and predictable.

Shun, even though we only saw him for a minute, is the very typical silent loner sitting at the top of his game and will obviously be the rival of the main character. Runo’s a bitch, Julie’s an annoying little Dan fangirl, and while Marucho and Alice are fine so far they also show zero personality in the couple of scenes that they’re in.

Drago is also very typical. As if his name weren’t generic enough, you can tell right off the bat that he’s some largely noble creature trying his best to protect everyone and do the right thing.

Naga is about as generic bad guy as you can get. Two things are revealed about him so far; he has a great thirst for power and he wants to take over the world. Even the destruction of a world due to a lack of balance is overdone.

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Design-wise, the Bakugan are largely uninspired. Even the ability and gate cards are boring. You can’t really tell any of the Bakugan marbles apart except by attribute, which makes me wonder how the Brawlers can make accurate selections without opening them. The summoned monsters are just animals mostly. Snakes, scorpions, praying mantises, dragons, turtles, etc. What is slightly different from just animals is usually just an animal slightly altered like Saurus or Garudamon guy thing.

The character designs are fine, and I will admit that I like the color selections as well as Julie’s design, but Dan’s design is really cut and paste – he even wears goggles on his head.

Animation-wise, it really seems like there are some instances where it’s painfully obvious that they’re trying to make it look like it’s of much higher quality like when Dan throws the Bakugan out on the field. Sadly, these moments just spotlight how bad the animation really is. It juts, they reuse shots like there’s no tomorrow, and even the shots where they make a big effort to look well-animated just look bad. It looks like Dan is trapped in the same dimension that the guy from the Maxell VHS head cleaner tapes is from. Every part of him is just moving so much and so fast, except for his limbs which are purposely animated to be slow to make the animation look better.

While I will continue with this series just because, this really is a terrible first episode. I hope this series gets better over time, and I really hope with every fiber of my being that they start explaining this game more so I can actually follow along. At least become a mindless shounen gaming anime that I can understand and follow without having an aneurysm.

Next episode, Dan brings Drago to school to continue his attempts at getting him to talk, but he gets in trouble with his teacher because of it. Meanwhile, a mysterious guy named Masquerade is challenging Brawlers.