Beyblade has always been one of the biggest anime franchises left that I had not seen yet. In fact I would argue that it was by far the biggest franchise I had not started. Not that honor would probably go to Bakugan, Pretty Cure, or Duel Masters. It’s a lot more debatable now though while Beyblade was unquestionably the top spot. Well, it easily lives up to the hype. This initial season was fantastic and really contains everything you could want in such a title. The cast is incredible and you really feel pumped thanks to the excellent action and soundtrack. It’s easy to see why this one hit it big.
There’s quite a lot going on here but the series opens up by introducing us to Tyson. He’s a kid who really likes the game of Beyblade. One day his life is forever changed when a bully shows up and beats the best player in school. Tyson isn’t about to let that slide so he takes that guy down and realizes he has what it takes to compete in the big tournaments. Tyson gradually meets with other skilled Beybladers like Max, Ray, and Kai. Together they form the Bladebreakers and aim to clam the top spot in the world. They’ll have to win a lot of tournaments along the way if they want to reach that title. It means travelling to far off places such as Russia and England and dueling everyone in their path. Not every match is in an official tournament setting either as the Dark Bladers and evil scientists also want to get in their way.
With 50+ episodes you can tell that there are going to be a whole lot of characters and story adventures to cover here so prepare for a pretty long review. There’s so much to cover that it’s always tough to know where to start but lets go with the technical areas here. The animation is quite excellent as you would expect. You really feel the intensity behind the Beyblade battles. It’s all nice and hand drawn which allows the tops to really have a lot of great movement. For the most part the power levels don’t get too crazy but by the end of the series you have dimensional rifts being opened up by the Beyblade’s power so they still shouldn’t be underestimated.
I also have to give the character designs some major props as well. The characters are extremely built considering that they’re just kids. You certainly would not want to mess with these guys that’s for sure since it looks like they could wreck you in a fist fight as well. It helps to add a sense of danger to the series. For example, there’s one episode where Kai has to infiltrate a facility and tape out a bunch of drones and automatic defenses. Between the serious character design and excellent animation in that episode, it got pretty tense. You always knew the series was not pulling any punches.
As for the soundtrack, it’s pretty large. There are a ton of themes here and they’re all pretty great. Sure, there may be one or two songs that don’t land if you were to really go back and listen to all of them but for the most part they’re all pretty fitting and get you into the moment. One song that really sticks out is Kai’s theme. It’s more of a rap song than the others and seems to be about someone underestimating him. It really works well as his “evil” song during part of Kai’s character arc. It just felt like the beginning of a new era and was a perfect way to launch the climax of the series.
The pre arc of the series is really about Tyson meeting up with his future teammates Max, Kai, and Ray. They all get along pretty quickly aside from Kai who’s always pretty aloof. Interestingly Kai is really the team captain for the first tournament which means that he doesn’t get to actually fight much. That’s the only thing that can be unfortunate as until the final tournament Kai is basically on the bench permanently. He only gets to duel occasionally when someone is injured or in a match outside the ring. Since at that point Kai was the big fighter it would have been nice to have seen him duel a little more. Still, we got a lot of different matches this way which was always a lot of fun.
While all the tournaments are leading up to the World Championship you could say that the others are all part of one grand arc. The heroes get to fight Ray’s old team, then they fight Max’s Mom’s team, and then they fight Kai’s team relating to his past. Each team tends to have something to do with one of the members which makes for a pretty good dynamic there. Each arc consistently gives great moments so there’s never an arc that just feels dull. It sort of goes without saying but the final arc is the best one. We get a lot of great character moments with Kai and the final villains just feel like huge threats. Certainly not the kind of guys you can afford to underestimate. It’s also always a good sign for the show to end on the best arc.
The writing with the show is definitely excellent as well. There are countless great moments and one liners. It’s part of what helps make the character cast so great. If I had any issue with the series it would be that the power levels can be a tad inconsistent. It’s hard to see the White Fang being any kind of threat to the All Starz based on what we’ve seen from them. Their feat of busting a boulder was also good enough where you don’t see how Max was able to compete much in the tournament. At the end of the day though it looks like the energy of the Beyblade depends on the owner’s will power so I suppose a lot of that is really subject to change here.
As you can tell I was quite impressed with this series throughout. It really just kept slamming home runs throughout. Same with the character cast and I suppose now is a good time to launch into those guys. First lets go with the Bladebreakers. As the leader of the group Tyson’s a pretty incredible character. For starters he’s never afraid to jump into battle. When the bully attacks his school Tyson is the first person to jump into action. Similarly whenever any opponent shows up disrespecting Tyson or his friends our lead doesn’t take that lying down. He’s always ready to jump in and put an end to that. His skills are also the real deal. Tyson is extremely confident in his abilities but it is absolutely earned. The fact of the matter is that Tyson is always taking care of his business so why shouldn’t he be confident?
He quickly became the leader of the group and while all of their skills remained fairly equal for a while, by the end Tyson easily surpassed the others in ability. His bond with Dragoon is really strong and helped him unlock a completely new level. Then you’ve got his rival Kai who is the best character in the series. Not only are his skills able to match Tyson’s for a while to the point where he even surpassed Tyson, but Kai is also good at fighting outside of the ring. One of his pretty hype moments was when he infiltrated the villain base as I mentioned earlier. Kai’s definitely more of a loner compared to the others and rarely gets in on the team atmosphere. He does mellow out a bit near the end of course but otherwise he keeps that calm and cool persona throughout.
His Dranzer has to be the coolest Beyblade in the series as well. I also liked the Dark Dranzer form quite a bit. The sheer power level on that thing was insane. Naturally you don’t want to be using an evil Beyblade for long but if Kai had kept that then it’s hard to see him losing to just about anyone. There is a brief moment where Kai turns on the team for power and how much you like the character will likely depend on how you feel about Kai’s heel turn there. I was all for it to be honest. You always want to see the rival turn evil at least once and it was a good excuse to see him take on all of the Bladebreakers.
I would consider Ray to be the third member of the group. In most series you’ve got the big 2 (Main Character and Rival) but then there is usually a third character who is under the top 2 but still considerably stronger to the rest. For example I would say that is Gohan in DBZ, Todoroki in My Hero Academia, Shiryu in Saint Seiya, and T.K. in Digimon. Ray can’t quite defeat Tyson or Kai but he’s still a very intense fighter. He takes a lot more punishment than the others as well as he gets beaten up to the point where his clothes are shredded and his hair comes undone. Nothing is able to take him out of the fight as long as he’s still conscious though. His Drigger is a fitting Bit Beast for Ray as well due to his aggressive fighting style.
I was definitely a pretty big fan of Ray. He’s a lot of fun to watch and you always feel like he has a chance at victory. Then you’ve got Max. From the Bladebreakers who can fight he’s easily my least favorite member although I wouldn’t call him bad. He doesn’t take things as seriously as the first 3 and isn’t really one of the stronger members. That being said, he does get a significant power up near the end which boosts his Beyblade’s defense to an extremely high level. You could make a very strong case that at the very end of the series he actually surpassed Kai and Ray. Not that this is likely to stick for the second season but at least the writers threw him a bone. He gets a big role in the tournament against the American team since his Mom is their captain. It made for a lot of drama that’s for sure even if Max usually ended up getting psyched out in the end.
Then we have Kenny who is more of a coach than an actual fighter. He mostly consults with Dizzi before and after every match as he gives tips to the team. I wasn’t a fan of Kenny. Part of the issue is that since he can’t actually play, it’s hard to really buy into him giving the characters such critiques. He wouldn’t really know how to improve their game if not for Dizzi giving him the play by plays. At least in the Dub version. Kenny also tends to complain an awful lot and doesn’t have fun like the other characters. he would have to easily be the weakest main character and one of the lest interesting ones in the whole show.
Time to talk about the White Tigers. They certainly made for a good threat early on. The leader is Lee and he’s pretty upset with Ray for leaving which you can understand to an extent. It sounds like Ray could have explained things better. Of course once you’re in the ring then there’s no chance for mercy. He was a good villain although it was hard to buy him being able to match the American representatives later on. He must have gotten a lot stronger to compete with them at that point. Mariah gets the biggest role aside from Lee and is also one of the most impressive ones. I still remember how she shattered a boulder with a single swing from her Blade. From the whole show that’s still one of the best feats. It’s why it was hard to buy into her not doing so well in the actual tournament but I could definitely see her getting some good wins later on. She’s a fun Blader and one who is easy to root for. It’s clear that she has honed her skills to a great extent.
The other two members Kevin and Gary don’t get to do nearly as much. Both of them seem to be a lot weaker than the main two members. Gary’s your classic power type fighter while Kevin is more about sneaking around an opponent. The fact that Kevin tried to take down his opponents with trickery outside the ring tells you all you need to know about his skills. He was benched from the team for good reason. Not to say he’s awful or anything but he can’t keep up with the other two.
Then we have the All Stars led by Michael. This team was definitely a lot of fun, I’m always up for seeing an American based team appear and make some noise. Michael was also a solid power hitter even if he didn’t get to duel until pretty deep into the arc. I’d say he’s definitely the strongest member of the team even if they sometimes hint that Emily can keep up with him as well. He has a lot of confidence and is a pretty tough blader. While he is no exception among all the side characters who get surpassed by the end he has a solid road to that point.
Emily is the next strongest member of the group and she’s pretty solid as well. She’s more about analytics than high energy and just pushing her way to the top. That said, it’s an effective tactic which seems to work out pretty well for her. She certainly enjoys messing with Max. Then there’s Steven, the Football member of the group. I like his direct, no nonsense style of blading. He goes all in on trying to take these guys down for the count. Steven definitely had a lot of great moments here. Then you’ve got Eddy who is good friends with Steven. Both of them seem to be pretty equal in strength and both have a lot of confidence. Again, you can see why the All Starz are such a great team. Pretty much all of their members are on point.
Judy is the coach of the team and as Max’s mom she gets a pretty big role here. Naturally she is a bit torn on who to root for and at times it seems like she is rooting for the Bladebreakers. It was good to have a parent who is actually here and contributing to the story though. Tyson’s Dad could learn a thing or two. Even Kai’s grandfather to be honest. The guy seems to be a villain with some big plans but he really has almost 0 impact in the series. You could blink and miss the guy’s scenes to be honest. Boris has a much bigger role as a villain. Now that’s a guy who makes his presence in the series felt and has a lot of pretty good master plans. You don’t want to mess with this guy.
We can’t forget Tyson’s grandfather Ryu. This guy’s pretty fun. He definitely loves being the center of attention and at the same time doesn’t care if people think he looks kind of crazy. He’s just determined to have a good time. Ryu can’t fight in the world of Beyblades but he does teach Tyson how to fight hand to hand which is still very helpful. Nobody will get the best of Tyson in the real world. As for Mr. Dickenson, he’s good for scheduling fights but doesn’t really come through when it counts. I wouldn’t say that I’m a big fan of the guy although I do like how occasionally he’ll launch a secret plan. It shows that he is at least fairly cunning.
There’s one group known as the Dark Bladers who to me seem like the most pointless characters in the show. No offense to these guys of course, but in their very first big appearances in the “New World” they all get wrecked by the European champs. There’s no point where you can take them seriously for the rest of the show. None of the characters were all that interesting either. It’s a cool name too so it kind of feels wasted on these guys. They’re like B leaguers thinking that they can actually take on the real characters and naturally that does not go over well.
If anything the big villain team led by Tala should have been called the Dark Bladers. Tala was a great villain. He didn’t get to do a whole lot at times but he has a terrific character design and is definitely a real threat which is what you want to see here. He can definitely hold his own with the other characters even if you feel like he wouldn’t stand a chance at all against Kai and Dark Dranzer. His only chance was with Kai in his normal form. Tala really took away the character chances from his teammates though. For example Spencer seems like a pretty tough guy. In fact his water battle was really good and solidified him as a true threat. He never got to duel again after that though so it was a very brief appearance. Same for Bryan. He’s clearly hooked on fighting and is like a battle machine. A lot of potential there but he never really got to take advantage of it.
Finally we have the European fighters. Oliver is pretty interesting since he seems very two faced. He acts nice to the Bladebreakers most of the time and then suddenly he’ll be insulting them behind their backs. As a result I definitely got to give this guy a thumbs down. The fact that the team did not participate in the tournaments because they were unable to work as a team was also pretty interesting. He is a good fighter though. Then you have Enrique who fights in a Colosseum which is a pretty nice power move. How many people can say they’ve done that in the past right? He’s definitely more of a flirt than the others but he hasn’t let his skills waiver so he clearly still practices. I’m not a big fan but he’s okay.
The other two players are a lot better. Johnny is a pretty tough fighter and he is always ready to rock and roll. From the 4 characters he probably gets the smallest role but he’s always a lot of fun. His skills are the real deal and he’s probably the strongest on the team aside from Robert. Robert is the best of the 4 of course. He’s very emotionless so it can be a bit jarring when he tries to be one of the gang and have some fun at the end. In general the European group is pretty interesting because they are all supposed to be top tier fighters but they spend a lot of their time getting wrecked or dodging the big fights so it’s hard to take them seriously.
The show did a great job of having the power levels slowly go up though. Tyson started out as a local fighter who wasn’t really ready to take on any of the bigger members to being a world champion class fighter by the end. At the end Tyson was taking on multiple fighters at once with no real effort which is impressive. Of course the power scaling means that nobody should ever be able to keep up with him again but I suppose with new technology that helps even things out as the excuse can be that new Beyblades have been created which just have better specs.
Overall, Beyblade is just a great series. You can easily get into it and just watch at any time. It’s got the right balance of action and solid character moments. There are a ton of duels here and the replay value is quite high as a result. These episodes really hold up to a rewatch and have a lot of replay value. I look forward to seeing if season 2 can match this one. After all here we got all of the hype initial meetings but of course sequels are always pretty nostalgic when you get to see all the characters return. Either way this is definitely a must watch anime.