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When I first watched "Zatchbell!" on Cartoon Network, I admit, I was very skeptical, I was expecting another butchered up anime, ie: "Rave Master", "Pokemon", and "Yu-Gi-Oh!" But to my pleasant surprise, "Zatchbell" was original and definitely entertaining, if not humorous with a touch of warmth.
I'm sure the names were altered to suit American viewing audience but the anime itself is excellent. The voice acting is pretty decent, with resident voice actors like Steven Blum ("Cowboy Bebop," "Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex," "Wolf's Rain," "the Big O!" ), Crispin Freeman ("Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex," "Wolf's Rain") and Debi Derryberry ("Jimmy Neutron") at the helm.
The characters are all pretty well developed. The main character, Kiyo, is the smart, hothead, taciturn, stubborn head who doesn't have any friends (unless you count empty headed Suzy); but when one day his father drops in his birthday gift, Kiyo gets more than he bargained for: his best friend, Zatch, a Mamodo sent from the Mamodo world to do battle with the rest of the Mamodos, also sent from the Mamodo world to earth, to team up with a human partner and become King of the Mamodos. "Zatchbell" is sort of analogous to "Pokemon" except its the Mamodos that are fighting each other to gain "power," plus they can speak the human language. Each Mamodo is assigned a book from which the human counterparts read spells from that allow the Mamodos to perform amazing capabilities like shoot lightening from their mouths or move at lightening speed.
The show's certainly nothing like the anime greats, "Cowboy Bebop," "Trigun," "Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex," and "Fullmetal Alchemist," but it certainly can stand alone by itself with memorable characters and a decent plot.
Overall, "Zatchbell!" is a pretty entertaining anime that shouldn't be missed. I give an 8+/10 B+++
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