(Konjiki no Gash Bell!!)
|Genre||Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy|
|Written by||Makoto Raiku|
|Magazine||Weekly Shōnen Sunday|
|Original run||January 2001 – December 2007|
|Anime television series|
|Directed by||Tetsuji Nakamura
|Music by||Kow Otani|
|Original network||Fuji TV|
|Original run||April 6, 2003 – March 26, 2006|
Zatch Bell!, also known as Gash Bell! and known in Japan as Konjiki no Gash!! (Japanese: 金色のガッシュ!! Hepburn: Konjiki no Gasshu!!?, lit. Golden Gash!!) is a shōnen manga series written and illustrated by Makoto Raiku. It was published in Shogakukan's Weekly Shōnen Sunday. The series follows Kiyo Takamine and his Mamodo (魔物 Mamono?, lit. "demon") partner Zatch Bell as they try to win the tournament of Mamodo battles in order to make Zatch the king of the Mamodo world.
The manga was later adapted into a 150 episode anime TV series titled Konjiki no Gash Bell!! (金色のガッシュベル!! Konjiki no Gasshu Beru!!?, lit. Golden Gash Bell!!) by Toei Animation. The anime was directed by Tetsuji Nakamura. Konjiki no Gash Bell premiered on Fuji TV on April 6, 2003 and ran until March 23, 2006. In addition to an array of licensed merchandise, the series also spawned a series of video games, and two animated films.
One hundred Mamodo go to Earth every 1,000 years to battle to be the king of the Mamodo world. Each Mamodo needs a human partner in order to use his or her spell book, a book that seals the powers of the Mamodo. When read aloud, the spells are cast by the Mamodo producing many effects. If the spell book is burned, the Mamodo is forced to return to the Mamodo world, and they lose all claim to the position of the Mamodo king. While the spells in each book typically are different for each Mamodo, there are Mamodo that share spells, like Zatch Bell and his evil twin brother, Zeno Bell. The human and their Mamodo gain these spells through experience and hard work. The last Mamodo standing without their book burnt is the new Mamodo king.
The story follows Kiyo Takamine, a 14-year-old boy in junior high school. His father, Seitaro Takamine, discovers an unconscious child named Zatch Bell while in a forest in England, and sends Zatch to live with Kiyo. Unlike the other Mamodo, Zatch lost his memory of the Mamodo world. Kiyo learns about the spell book when he reads a spell causing Zatch to fire lightning from his mouth (the spell is mentioned in the first episode). As Kiyo and Zatch begin to encounter different Mamodos and learn more about the Mamodo battles, they discover that there are those who do not wish to fight and there are those who fight for the wrong reasons. After meeting a Mamodo named Kolulu and seeing how this kind Mamodo was forced to fight due to the power of her spells, Zatch decides to become a kind king in order to stop the battle from ever happening again. As the story progresses, Zatch and Kiyo meet other Mamodos that share similar views to them and become allies. They meet allies such as Megumi Oumi and Tia in which they specialize in defensive spells such as different types of shields. Kiyo and Zatch meet Folgore and Kanchomé (Canchome) who are both comic relief characters and they only have transformation spells such as Kanchomé being able to turn himself really big. Zatch met Kafk Sunbeam and Umagon earlier in England. Umagon is a Mamodo who specializes in transformation spells that can put armor around his body. Shery (Sherie) Belmont and Brago who was originally Zatch and Kiyo's rival in the series later becomes their allies and he has gravity type spells.
As the number of Mamodos decreases, Zatch and his allies encounter a Mamodo called Zofis who takes control of several Mamodos who were sealed in stone from the previous battle to decide the king. With Kiyo and Zatch needing more allies, they meet Dr. Riddles and Kido. They helped teach the main allies how to unlock new spells such as Zatch unlocking the sixth spell. Kiyo and Zatch with friends make their way to South America to fight off Zofis and the thousand year Mamodos. Many characters fell and got their book burned. The most notable one was Kido who was sent back to the Mamodo world after fighting Belgium E.O. Ultimately, Sherry and Brago came to help to fight Zofis. Zofis took control of Sherry's friend Koko who Zofis makes her do evil things such as burning a whole town. Sherry and Brago beat Zofis but not without the help of Kiyo and friends. Sherry gets Koko back to normal and the battle in South America is over. After the battle against Zofis, the whole world is put in danger after a giant Mamodo named Faudo is brought to life by a Mamodo named Riou. Riou was looking for Mamodos that have enough strength to help activate Faudo. So he puts a curse on Li-en and Wonrei who Kiyo and Zatch befriend in the middle of the series. The protagonist make their way to Faudo to try to destroy it and to save their friends. The battle in Faudo was the toughest battle for the characters up to that point in the story. Kiyo almost died against Riou, and many of Zatch's friends got sent back to the Mamodo world such as Wonrei. Faudo is then taken over by a Mamodo that looks like Zatch, who turns out to be Zatch's twin brother Zeno Bell. Zatch and Zeno have a big fight inside of Faudo. Through Zeno's flashback, he resented Zatch because their Father King Bell bestowed Zatch the power of Bao, which is Zatch's strongest spell. Zeno at a young age had to train everyday and always got punished while Zatch lived with another family peacefully. Ultimately, Zeno understands Zatch also suffered too and apologizes to what he has done to Zatch. Zeno gets his book burned and is sent back to the Mamodo world.
Finally, when the number of Mamodos have decreased to ten, an evil and powerful Mamodo named Clear Note appears. With Clear Note's immense strength the protagonists have to train to fight against Clear Note in the King's Festival. The King's Festival is where the final ten Mamodo have to fight to be king. Most notably before the Zatch and Kiyo fought Clear Note, Kanchome got sent back to the Mamodo world when he was ambushed by Clear Note. With Kancome gone before the big fight it Kiyo, Megumi, and Sunbeam vowed to win against Clear Note for Kanchome and Folgore's sake. Past Mamodos who Kiyo and Zatch have encountered in the past came to help out. They helped out in a form of spells because Kiyo's spell book unlocked all of the Mamodo's spells. Kiyo used Kido's strongest spell, Wonrei's strongest spell, and many more spells from their past allies After many sacrifices, Clear Note is defeated leaving Zatch and his ally Brago as the remaining Mamodos. After Kiyo's graduation ceremony, Zatch and Brago battle and Zatch is crowned the Mamodo King. For the prize for helping Zatch become king. Kiyo had an option of two prizes either getting a wish and forgetting about Zatch. The other one was get nothing and but keep his memories of Zatch. So he choose the latter option. Three weeks later, a letter is sent from the Mamodos to their human partners. Zatch's letter reveals that all is well in the Mamodo world.
After Raiku's series in the Shōnen Sunday Super ended, Raiku looked at his old drafts he created in the past for an idea for his next series. One of his ideals was a mercenary who uses a giant sword to defeat enemies. After playing with that idea for three months, Raiku decided to abandon it and go with another idea. His next idea was a story where a middle school student finds an old toy and with the help of a noble knight, combats evil and after taking this up with his agent, he was advised to use a cuter character to fight and thus, Zatch was created. After Raiku worked on the idea for a few months, it was published. Raiku said that he intended to create a "passionate story about a heartwarming friendship" and that he used the concept as a "base" while adding the mamodo, book, and spell concepts. He was inspired by a western magic story that he read to create Zatch's red spell book. The reason Zatch uses lightning spells because his name had the word "Raiku" means "lightning" in Japanese. He mentions he created Folgore with the words "Invincible Italian Man" as a base.
While writing volume five and six which takes place in England, Raiku went to England on a research trip.
Zatch Bell! ended in December 2007. Shogakukan sent Raiku back his original manga artwork. However, five full color pieces were missing. On May 21, 2008, Raiku announced that he would no longer do business with Shogakukan. During the same year Raiku sued Shogakukan over the lost Zatch Bell!-related artwork. Later that year Raiku settled for 2.55 million yen.
The studio in which Makoto Raiku does his series is a unique studio. He has a large collection of autographs from manga artists displayed on the foyer which is the first thing one sees in the building. His studio contains a high ceiling to prevent getting claustrophobic, and he spends all day there for a dead line. Raiku collects figurines and displays them on his wall while he in his studio writing. Raiku does admit that most of his work takes place in a restaurant where he does most of his story boarding. He says there is less distraction since he is just surrounded by people and not games and the internet. Story boarding for a regular chapter of Zatch Bell takes about two days for Raiku to do. When the editor approves of the story board he calls his assistants and they start working. Raiku usually has four assistants but when dead lines are tight he uses a fifth one. Typically, a chapter of Zatch Bell! is released almost every week of the year except for holidays. Such as Golden Week in Japan, and Christmas. Even during those holidays he has to constantly think about the story and have new ideas.
Written and drawn by Makoto Raiku, Konjiki no Gash! premiered in Shogakukan's Weekly Shōnen Sunday magazine in January, 2001. In December 2005, the series was put on hiatus due to the author injuring his hand. The series resumed its serialization on issue No. 11 of Weekly Shōnen Sunday in February 2006. The series finished its serialization on December 26, 2008 with 323 installments. The manga spanned a total of 323 individual chapters and 33 Tankōbon volumes. The series was licensed for an English language release by Viz Media. The first volume of the series was released on August 2, 2005. Viz has discontinued the series, however, having released 25 volumes by June 9, 2009. In March 2011, Makoto Raiku released a one-shot chapter of Zatch Bell to promote the rerelease of the manga in a new bunkouban format.
The episodes of the Zatch Bell! anime series were directed by Tetsuji Nakamura and Yukio Kaizawa and produced by Toei Animation. The episodes were aired on Fuji Television between April 6, 2003 to March 26, 2006 and spanned 150 episodes. Viz Media obtained the foreign television, home video, and merchandising rights to the Zatch Bell! anime from Toei Studio on August 4, 2005. Subsequently, Viz Media contracted Studiopolis to create the English adaptation of the anime, has licensed its individual Zatch Bell! merchandising rights to several different companies, including a collectible card game released by Bandai in the United States and Japan.
The English adaptation of the Zatch Bell! anime premiered on Cartoon Network's Toonami on March 5, 2005 to January 20, 2007 with seventy-seven episodes aired. Canada's YTV began airing Zatch Bell! in September 2005 and ended on December 6, 2008 with episode 104. The series was released in fifty-one DVD compilations by Shogakukan between November 19, 2003 and March 7, 2007 in Japan. As of July 2009, Thirteen DVD compilations of the English adaption of the anime have been released by Viz Media between November 8, 2005 and December 4, 2007. New Video released a DVD box set, "Zatch Bell!: The Complete Seasons 1 & 2", on December 3, 2013 that included the first 100 episodes of the English dub.
Viz Media even had the international distribution rights to Zatch Bell! outside Japan. Every country outside Japan (even Italy) adapts the show from the North American edited version.
The series spawned two films. The first film, "Gekijou Ban Konjiki no Gash Bell!! 101 Banme no Mamono" (劇場版 金色のガッシュベル！！ 「１０１番目の魔物」?, lit. "Movie Golden Gash Bell!! Unlisted demon #101"), was released in Japanese theaters on August 7, 2004 and released on DVD on December 15, 2004. The movie tells the story of a mamodo named Wiseman who steals a mysterious white spell book in order to participate in the Mamodo battles in order to become the Mamodo King. Realizing his evil intentions if he becomes King, Kiyo, Zatch, and their comrades begun their battle against Wiseman.
The second film, "Gekijou Ban Konjiki no Gash Bell!! Mecabarukan no raishuu" (劇場版 金色のガッシュベル！！ 「メカバルカンの来襲」?, lit. "Movie Golden Gash Bell!! Attack of the Mechavulcan"), was released in Japanese theaters on August 6, 2005 and on DVD on January 2, 2006. The movie tells the story of Dr. M2 who travels from the future mamodo world to the human world with his army of mechanical Vulcan 300 look-alikes.
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The Konjiki no Gash Bell soundtracks were composed by Kow Otani. The first Original Soundtrack was released in Japan on August 27, 2003 which contained 25 tracks. The second Original Soundtrack was released on January 7, 2004 and also contained 25 tracks. The third and last Original Soundtrack of the anime was released on March 24, 2006 and contained 28 tracks. The first movie Original Soundtrack titled Gekijôban Konjiki no Gash Bell!! 101-banme no mamono Original Sound Track was released on September 26, 2004 and contained 36 tracks. The second movie Original Soundtrack titled Gekijôban Konjiki no Gash Bell!! Mecha-Vulcan Strikes Back Original Sound Track was released on August 3, 2006 and contained 27 tracks. Konjiki no Gash Bell-Collection of Golden Songs was released on March 24, 2004. It contained the most popular character songs from the first season of the anime. Collection of Golden Songs 2 was released on February 23, 2005 which contained character songs from the second season of the anime. Collection of Golden Songs 3 was released on February 22, 2006 and contained character songs from the third season of the anime. Other CDs including character singles, character song series and character song duet series were released during the period the anime ran.
In 2003, the manga won the Shogakukan Manga Award for best shōnen title of the year. The Konjiki no Gash Bell!! anime ranked twentieth in animage's anime popularity poll in 2005. The anime ranked 64th of the Top 100 anime in 2005 according to a web poll conducted by TV Asahi.
Mania.com's Jarred Pine's review of the first volume said that the art style was odd yet crude. He also mentioned the art style and explosive action scenes with moments of humor save the series from being recycled material. Anime News Network's Zac Bertschy review of the anime adaption described it as "...mind-numbingly over-the-top, so enthusiastically bizarre, that it's difficult to not get sucked into its strange little world" but criticized how it was like a "battle your way to the top while learning important lessons about teamwork and courage" anime. He commented how the "sheer exuberance and energy" saves the show from being a bland anime and how it would be the perfect show for kids. IGN's review of the series was mostly negative. IGN's Jason Van Horn criticized the animation, plot, and dubbed voice acting. IGN's JKB stated the books are more interesting than the animation.
Common Sense Media describes the story as "isn't just about violence". They also say that there is always challenges, adversities, and questions of identity that the characters face especially Zatch and Kiyo. They compliment how the characters often think aloud when talking about their painful experiences or flashbacks. They applaud on how each of the characters problems in the series are not far off on what kids deal with today. They criticized how the battles uses visuals, languages, sound effects, and dramatic effects that often get drawn out and sometimes even hard to watch. Overall, they said with the graphic violence and the internal struggles that the different characters face throughout the series. Some parents may not find Zatch Bell! appropriate for their children under ten years old.
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- [Gash Bell resumes Serialization]
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- Zatch Bell! website at the Wayback Machine (archive index)
- Zatch Bell at the Wayback Machine (archive index) at VIZ Media