At least the first few seasons anyway. That’s what I’m talking about here. The Bladebreakers. The OG’s. I may have been perfectly within the target market and age demographic when Beyblade came out, but I promise you, the anime, and the culture surrounding it, is one of the strongest memories from my childhood.
The manga, and later anime, was created to sell toys. It has no right to be as good as it is. This was an anime about spinning tops. If somebody asked me whether I would enjoy a show created for marketing purposes featuring spinning tops, I would tell them to politely leave me alone. Here’s the crazy thing though. It’s actually incredible. LISTEN TO THE THEME TUNE.
The anime basically revolves around a young kid called Tyson on a quest to become World Champion. Yep, it’s almost exactly like Pokemon, and Tyson is unquestionably similar to Ash in every way. Tyson eventually gathers a group of friends and they form a team named The Bladebreakers. This team features a great collection of edgy characters, and also… Max. We’ll talk about Max later.
So here’s why this show is so entertaining: the tournament arcs. Think Dragon Ball tournament arcs. Think Pokemon League episodes of Pokemon. It’s that hype. This isn’t just a case of watching two toys spin around in a small bowl, or just on the floor (Beyblade waits for no one). These battles took place in HUGE DOMES, sometimes with obstacles built in. These domes were surrounded by crowds who were just as invested as me, and boy was I invested. OK so a dome doesn’t impress you much?
Two words. Bit Beasts. Beyblade’s house these incredible creatures, that basically, on command, come out of the spinning top and do actual, physical battle. It’s like Pokemon AND Yugioh but imagine every Pokemon is a legendary. These things do WORK. But more importantly, they’re designs are SO cool. You can get an idea of the type of Beyblader you’re up against by his Bit Beast. Tyson has Dragoon, a powerful dragon that always came through in the clutch. Kai, an edgelord, had Dranzer, another one of the 4 SACRED BIT BEASTS. Dranzer is a huge red fire phoenix, and it does massive damage. Seeing two Bit Beasts duke it out is a sight to behold.
Here’s a fun fact, due to the power of these Bit Beasts. Beyblade’s have almost cataclysmic power potential. According to the lore, Moses used a Beyblade to part the red sea. I’m not joking about this, here’s proof:
Add in shounen level character power up moments that somehow also effect the Bey, Bladers being able to command the direction of their Bey on command, and characters feeling pain from Beyblade attacks (like Yugioh) and you have an incredible mix that is sure to entertain.
As with all light, there has to be a dark though. In Beyblade, that comes in the form of Max. Max is a loser. He uses a defensive Bit Beast, and plays incredibly defensively, he basically just tries to outlast the opposition instead of attacking. Any time he’s involved, it’s boring. Skip it. I can’t defend his antics, you have the power to part oceans in your grasp, and you choose to play the long game? Get outta here.
It’s good to remember that these shows were made to sell toys, and they sold. Lots. My school was obsessed. It was probably the most serious game that existed during my schooling time, above Pokemon or Yugioh cards. This meant something. I think the difference was that in those games, you have a collection. With Beyblade, you have YOUR blade. I had my Bey, with my Bit Beast. It was a Dragoon of course.
I would consistently look for new parts to customise my Bey with to increase performance, I would actually practise Letting It Rip to provide the optimum start. I felt like I was progressing over time. Of course you would get the rich kids who had loads of Beyblade’s, or the ones with the magnets in them, or the engines. Those guys sucked.
I started from humble beginnings with a normie launcher, basic arena, and poor parts. Over time, I swapped out parts, got a new arena that featured some hazards to catch the opponent off guard, and replaced my Bit Beast. Yes, it may have been a plastic sticker in this case, but it still held cataclysmic power, trust me. The scene eventually got pretty scary near the end of it’s reign on the playground, we would be pink slipping Beyblades and trading weight rings in a strange form of black market, but it still felt like a community of people, trying to better themselves, just like the show.
I miss Beyblade. I know it’s still ongoing in a husk of it’s former glory, but I miss the Bladebreakers. I miss upgrading my Bey, getting a fancy new launcher, and knocking my opponent clean out of the arena. I would still play it today, if it was socially acceptable, and I had people to play it with. The depth of customisation could be really something.
Beyblade, I love you, and I miss you.
Did you love Beyblade? Please do talk to Zac about it on Discord right here: https://discord.gg/ZSV6pWG
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