Duel Masters is a Japanese anime loosely based on the original Japanese manga, the story centers around the card game Duel Masters, which revolves around five civilizations (Fire, Water, Light, Darkness, Nature). The first season originally premiered in Japan on TV Tokyo in 2002 and ran until 2003.

The English-language version of the series was produced by Plastic Cow Productions and made a truncated three-episode "preview" premiere on Cartoon Network's Toonami block on February 27, 2004.[1] The episodes then made their "official" premiere, on Cartoon Network's Saturday Video Entertainment System (SVES), showing episodes 1-3 with fewer edits as well as episodes 4 and 5.[1] Toonami then moved to Saturdays on April 17, 2004 and premiered the rest of the series.[2]

The American version of Duel Masters added several things not in the original version, to make it more of a comedy, to separate it from other card battling shows on the market. Added to the American version were jokes about typical anime cliches such as split-screens and a missing father-figure (in this case, Shobu's father Shori). Frequent references are made throughout the show to pop culture phenomenon, such as when one of the characters, Kyoshiro Kokujo, says "I am dark...I am the night...I am Bat-oh wait, wrong show." As such, they recur as running gags during the course of the show. Another common form of humor found in the show is its breaking of the fourth wall. The characters will constantly say things like, "Looks like it's time for a fade-out," "I hope the writers do better next week.", Why is the camera too close on my face?" or "You know, I like it when they use this scene." While the storyline is technically dramatic, most episodes are punctuated by a comedic storyline mixed in with the serious storyline.


Shobu Kirifuda loves to play the trading-card game, Duel Masters. For many, Duel Masters is just a fun game, but for others it is much more. A few elite players can actually bring the card creatures to life. Doing so requires passion and discipline, as well as a type of martial art, Kaijudo, "The Art of Battling with Giant Monsters," which helps develop and strengthen this ability. Shobu is a good and passionate duelist, but has yet to learn his true potential. He quickly discovers that he can tap into the power of an alternate dimension where creatures and the magic in the game actually exist. Shobu learns that, like his father before him, he possesses the power to be a Kaijudo master. As Shobu continues to search for his missing father, who has vanished into the card dimension, he gains notoriety and skill as a duelist and is often guided by memories of his father. What appears to be an ordinary game becomes a very real battle for Shobu. This power brings him in contact with others who share this ability, some good and some evil.


Shobu Kirifuda — The show's protagonist and Knight's apprentice. He aspires to become a great duelist like his father, Shori Kirifuda. Shobu keeps a positive attitude throughout the series, insisting on dueling for fun as opposed to simply winning. Throughout this portion of the series, Shobu must defeat Hakuoh's underlings while he struggles to understand the true spirit of dueling. All in all Shobu is brave, strong, and has the guts never to give up, just like his favorite creatures. He uses a Fire Civilization deck which later becomes a Dragon Deck and even later evolves into a Dragon/Angel Command deck. After being defeated in a later season he loses most of his deck but is guided to his father's deck by the spirits of Bolmeteus Samurai Dragon and Bolbalzak "Sword Flash" Dragon. This new deck is a Dragon and Samurai deck. Soon after he combined elements from the 2 decks and created a Samurai Dragon/Angel Command deck (Fire, Light & Nature civilizations).

Hakuoh — His name literally means "White Phoenix" or "White Female-phoenix" in exact translation. Hakuoh is the Arch-Rival of Shobu Kirifuda. Hakuoh came from a prominent dueling family, and specialized in Light civilization from a young age. At that time, he was a reflection of Shobu, a young kid who loved the game above all else. This changed, however, when a mysterious duelist appeared and challenged Hakuoh to his first Kaijudo duel. Unaware of the dangers involved in a Kaijudo duel, Hakuoh became overconfident and was nearly killed as a result. Instead of being crushed by his opponent's attack however, Hakuoh was pushed out of the way by his mother who was fatally wounded. Since then, Hakuoh has become a cold-hearted villain and Shobu's main rival. Hakuoh no longer sees any fun in dueling and decides that one's value as a human being is determined by their ability to win and will rest at nothing to "be the best." As a result, Hakuoh becomes a dueling champion and the leader of the White Soldiers. To protect his title, Hakuoh is protected by four Temple Guardians. Hakuoh uses a Light Civilization deck.

Kyoshiro Kokujo — A self-proclaimed "evil genius" and another of Shobu's main rivals throughout the series. Other characters make fun of his outlandishly styled long hair and all-black leather outfit (Upon seeing him, Shobu asks if there is a "Matrix Convention" in town). He uses a Darkness Civilization Deck, but later on in the subsequent series, a Darkness/Water deck. He has earned the nickname "Black Death", because of his relentless tactics and masterful use of Darkness civilization. Kokujo claims to have become evil because others said he could not become a kaijudo master.

Rekuta Kadoko — Shobu's best friend and loyal sidekick. Even though he is an expert at the rules, Rekuta is a terrible duelist, often going without a single win during a tournament. He's often seen with his portable laptop to keep track of important duels. As a running joke, he is often accidentally sent flying into the air. In one instance (which only occurred in the English version), he was sent flying into space (against a live-action backdrop) and crashed into a space station. He has almost every card ever released (since his father Maruo owns a card shop) but cannot correctly use the cards.

Sayuki Manaka — Appearing only in the anime, Sayuki Manaka is one of Shobu's close friends, who is also in his class at school. A kind girl with a sweet and usually soft-spoken disposition, she cares deeply for Shobu and is always ready to help him and comfort him when he's down. In addition, she is always present to see Shobu's matches and constantly cheers him on. Sayuki is shown to participate in duels on occasion, but is mainly there for Shobu throughout the series.

Mimi Tasogare — Another member of Shobu's posse, Mimi first appeared to be both ditzy and inept at dueling, but was later revealed to be the second of the Four Temple Guardians at the Junior Duelist Center and an expert player. Mimi also has an undisclosed amount of super-strength which enables her to bring down walls and other obstacles. As the first season closes with the duel between Shobu and Hakuoh, Mimi reveals that Hakuoh was not always a heartless duelist, and her personal connection to Hakuoh has developed into a slight crush throughout the series. Mimi is also an expert at martial arts and is incredibly strong. She mostly uses Nature Civilization cards, but tends to use Shield Triggers from all 5 civilizations

Shori Kirifuda — Shobu's father and world famous duelist. Shori left home to continue his training, but continued to miss his family every day. He reappeared in Season 2 but disappeared again after the defeat of P.L.O.O.P. He makes an appearance in "Duel Masters the Movie" to assist Shobu, only to disappear at its end. In "Duel Masters Charge" he was believed to have been dead in a Kaijudo duel protecting the "Duel Master's Proof" from Zakira. However, as revealed in Duel Masters Cross Shock, he entrusted Extreme Bucket Man with a deck case to be given to Shobu. It wasn't until later that he was discovered to be alive (only previously 'deleted') and free from exile where he reunites with his son. He plays with a deck similar to, but more advanced than, Shobu's, with Bolberg Cross Dragon acting his trump card.

Mai Kirifuda — Shobu's mother and Shori's wife. To help Shobu on different occasions, she has occasionally taken on the persona of a second "Dragon Mask (with the persona being first used by Knight) and challenged him.

Knight — Shobu's mysterious and soft-spoken mentor. In the English "dub", his inner monologue is a source of much of the show's mature and subtle humor. Despite being Shobu's mentor, he is usually unable to assist his student in times of need due to either Shobu's stubborn attitude or Knight being unable to show up at the scene (Such is the case in Shobu's duel with Hakuoh, when Knight reveals he never taught Shobu about dueling against the Light Civilization). Knight does not appear in the manga, although the manga character NAC is similar to him. On one occasion, Dr. Root had Knight take on a "Dragon Mask" persona to duel Shobu in order for him to reclaim his tournament pass. Knight character is loosely based on the manga only character NAC.



The "Sacred Lands" or "P.L.O.O.P." storyline is not based on the manga and was created specifically for the American market. The third season, with a tournament storyline, began production in September 2005 and was produced by Howling Cat Productions (featuring some of the former Saban Entertainment VA's, such as Brian Beacock, Philece Sampler, and Wendee Lee).

Some episodes of the series were released on DVD in the U.S. but they have since gone out of print.

Color Season Episodes U.S. Season Premiere U.S. Season Finale
1 26 March 13, 2004 September 4, 2004
2 26 March 26, 2005 January 28, 2006
3 13 February 4, 2006 June 17, 2006

Broadcast HistoryEdit

The first season originally premiered in Japan from October 21, 2002 to April 4, 2003. The English-language version of the series was produced by Plastic Cow Productions and made a truncated three-episode preview premiere on Cartoon Network's Toonami block on February 27, 2004.[1] The episodes then made their "official" premiere on March 13, 2004, on Cartoon Network's new action animation block, Saturday Video Entertainment System (SVES), with fewer edits.[1] Only the first five episodes aired on SVES before SVES was cancelled and Toonami moved to Saturdays, where the rest of the series premiered. It also aired early weekday mornings on Cartoon Network during this time. The second season of Duel Masters was produced by Elastic Media Corporation and premiered on Toonami on March 26, 2005.

  • Japan (TV Tokyo) — October 21, 2002 - April 4, 2003
  • United States (Cartoon Network) — February 27, 2004[1]; March 13, 2004[1] - May 13, 2006
  • Canada (YTV) — April 17, 2004[10] - 2006
  • United Kingdom (Toonami) — 2004 - 2006[11]
  • Australia (Cartoon Network) — August 2004[12] - 2004
  • Latin America (Cartoon Network) — 2004[13] - 2006
  • India (Cartoon Network) — November 2005[14] - 2006

Toonami Broadcast HistoryEdit

External LinksEdit


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 "Duel Masters On Cartoon Network ". February 10, 2004. Retrieved on March 31, 2015. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Toonami Saturday Schedule ". March 22, 2004. Retrieved on April 16, 2015. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Line Of The Night 1/29/05 ". January 29, 2005. Retrieved on July 24, 2018. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Toonami's Symphony - March 5, 2005 ". March 4, 2005. Retrieved on July 24, 2018. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Line Of The Night 6/18/05 ". June 18, 2005. Retrieved on July 24, 2018. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Duel Masters "In Deep Duel-Duel" Talkback ". September 23, 2005. Retrieved on July 24, 2018. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 "Duel Masters 2.0 "Duel-ercise" Talkback ". March 4, 2006. Retrieved on July 24, 2018. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 "Duel Masters 2.0 "Triple-Threat" Talkback ". April 22, 2006. Retrieved on July 24, 2018. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 "Duel Masters 2.0 "Makeover" Talkback ". May 13, 2006. Retrieved on July 24, 2018. 
  10. "Duel Masters on YTV ". March 11, 2004. Retrieved on December 14, 2016. 
  11. 11.0 11.1 "Shows ". April 6, 2005. Retrieved on August 1, 2016. 
  12. 12.0 12.1 "CN Schedule ". August 10, 2004. Retrieved on August 6, 2016. 
  13. 13.0 13.1 "CN Schedule ". October 14, 2004. Retrieved on August 3, 2016. 
  14. 14.0 14.1 "Cartoon Network Schedule ". November 23, 2005. Retrieved on December 14, 2016. 
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