Monster Rancher Anime Review
モンスターファーム - 円盤石の秘密 / 伝説への道
Monsutaa Faamu - Enbanseki no Himitsu / Densetsu e no Michi
Monster Farm - Secret of the Disk Stone / The Road To Legend
US Release By
Fantasy; Video-game based; Alternate Universe
48 and 25 25-minute episodes
1999-04-17 - 2000-03-25, 2000-04-01 - 2000-09-30
What's In It
- Violence: 1 (mild)
- Nudity: 0 (none)
- Sex: 0 (none)
- Language: 0 (none)
A boy is transported into his video game, where he teams up with "monsters" and aids them in their search for the ultimate good.
Monster Rancher is the type of series that you either think is boring, or you love it. I fall into the latter category. Of course, I'm a little biased, for MR was the anime that got me into this whole mess, making me the otaku I am today. Oh, and as another note, before I begin this review: many people may compare this to Pokémon, Digimon, Yu-Gi-Oh etc. It's not. Not at all.
Well, anyway, when you begin watching the series you are instantly introduced to Genki (for those of you who are Japanese-illiterate, the word genki means energy, but it is actually the main character's name here). Genki is a hyperactive (go fig), annoying, and ultimately unlikable 10 or 11 year old person. He does poorly in school, falling asleep and daydreaming frequently, is rather obnoxious, and is absolutely obsessed with the Monster Rancher videogame series.
When Genki gets home from a great day at school (sarcasm alert), he is overjoyed to find that his mailbox contains the newest Monster Rancher video game: Monster Rancher 200x. Genki immediately rushes to his apartment and pops the game into his machine. Genki eagerly starts watching the game's intro. While he's doing that, the camera cuts to a young girl and what appears to be a yellow hopping eyeball running from dinosaurs towards a building. While we have no clue what relevance this has to our hyperactive little friend, the camera quickly cuts back to him, as he inserts a CD into the PSone.
Now wait a second, if you've ever played the Monster Rancher videogame series, you can skip this paragraph. In MR, you raise "monsters." You put these monsters, which are basically pets, through drills, train them to fight, and win money to update you ranch and feed your monsters. But to get these monsters, you must put CDs into your PSones when the game prompts you to. The game will read the info on the disc, and you will get a certain type of monster depending on what CD it is. So that's what Genki's doing. Back to the synop.
While Genki's doing this, the two running people sprint into the building. The girl (who will later be introduced as Holly) tosses a circular disk she was holding to the eyeball (who will lated be introduced as Suezo). The screen splits, and both Holly and Genki simultaneously unlock the disks. Genki is immediately sucked into his TV screen and, to his confusion and distress, is transported into the Monster Rancher world, where an equally confused Holly and Suezo await him. They stare at each other for a moment until a little pink ball that resembles a Japanese cake (a mocchi) falls out of the sky onto Genki. The ball opens up to reveal itself to be a weird duck... thing...
This is when the evil pursuing dinosaurs decide to burst in the door. Genki, Holly, Suezo, and the soon to be named pink ball thing quickly escape to a remote hiding place where they're sure the evil monsters (or "baddies") won't find them. All the introductions are made and Genki appropriately names the little monster Mocchi. Holly tells Genki that she and Suezo are searching for the mystery disk (in their world, THOSE unlock monsters) that contains the legendary Phoenix. The Phoenix has the power to turn all the baddies good, and destroy the ultimate evil leader (try not to laugh): Moo. Holly and Suezo do this by way of the magic stone Holly has around her neck, that points out mystery disks. Genki, seeing no way to get home, joins their quest.
Well, Genki along the way Genki and the others meet up with Golem, a giant made of stone, Tiger, a whoop-ass wolf with horns, and Hare, a smooth-talking con artist who resembles a rabbit that stands erect. The first season is pretty basic, and much more geared towards kids. Genki and his team of seven defeat two of the "Big Bad 4," Moo's elite soldiers, and gain experience along the way. The second series is much more serious, though generally still geared towards kids.
During the second series, which IMO is much better than the first, Tiger must face a personal battle as he battles his brother, who is the 3rd of the Big Bad Four, and so must Holly, when they go against the final Big Bad baddie, Naga, who destroyed Holly's village when she was young, murdering everyone in it, except (obviously) her and Suezo. Then in the later half of the second series, the crew goes against and ultimately vanquishes Durahan, who tried to undermine Moo, even though Durahan still worked for him. The second series comes to a dramatic close, and Genki ultimately... well, you'll find out.
Though I've never seen the show subbed, the dubbing is rather good, and especially shines through in Tiger and Hare. Hare is voiced by Sam Vincent, who some may recognize as the voice of "Double D," in Edd, Ed, and Eddy. Brian Drummond voices Tiger, and also Vegeta in DBZ. The extras in the series, as most anime for kids, are WAY overacted, but most of the voices are good, though Tiger and Hare's are great. Just listen to Tiger in the first episode he was in, when he screams "Tigers RUN!!!" and you'll know what I mean.
The characters may seem to be obnoxious at first, but do grow on you. Genki especially. Annoying in the beginning, he seems to have matured over time. Most of the "baddies" are pretty one-dimensional, but some are actually pretty deep. Pixie and Grey Wolf shine out in my mind. Overall, rather good.
I thoroughly enjoyed Monster Rancher. I just wish that all of the seasons were available on VHS, for (like most anime) the series just gets better over time. Recommended to everyone.
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Notes and Trivia
Only part of the series (56 episodes) of Monster Rancher aired in the US. ADV only released the first season on VHS/DVD and the second on VHS. This review pertains to the VHS and TV versions of the show.
There were actually two consecutive series shown in Japan; the 4-season "Secret of the Disk Stone," which was followed immediately by the 3-season "Road to Legend."
The anime is based directly on a lengthy series of video games by Techmo, originally for the PlayStation, various sequels were also available on the Game Boy, PS2, and Nintendo DS.
US DVD Review
The DVDs parallel the VHS versions, three episodes per disc, but only through volume 4 at this point. They are also dub-only.
Anyone over five should be able to handle it. Only a few eps are seven and up.
Violence: 1 - Some episodes have some blood in the unedited versions... monsters killed rather frequently.
Nudity: 0 - Nothing of note.
Sex/Mature Themes: 0 - Nowhere even close.
Language: 0 - I'm pretty sure there is none.
Staff & Cast
English Dub Cast
Genki (1999-2000): Andrew Francis
Genki (2001-): Saffron Henderson
Genki (2001-): Doc Harris
Holly: Maggie "Blue" O'Hara
Suezo/Grey Wolf/Capt.Black Dino/others: Scott McNeil
Golem: Richard Newman
Tiger: Brian Drummond
Hare: Sam Vincent
Mocchi/Pixie: Janyse Jaud
Durahan: Lee Tockar
Moo: Paul Dobson