Toonbarn Spotlight: Dinosaur King
It’s a shame that these days, a lot of people tend to dismiss Dinosaur King as something of a Pokemon or Yu-gi-Oh knockoff. The comparison is understandable, considering that both Pokemon and Yu-gi-Oh bear similarities to Dinosaur King and are significantly more popular. However, the “knock-off” label is horribly inaccurate and hardly fair, as all three franchises had different origins and only started getting point-of-comparisons after branching out into different media and platforms.
Comparisons Between Dinosaur King, Yu-Gi-Oh, and Pokemon
For example, Yu-Gi-Oh! started out in 1996 as a manga series serialized in Weekly Shonen Jump before it was adapted into an anime, and before all the games, trading card games, toys and other merchandise happened.
Pokemon, on the other hand, started out in 1996 as a pair of interlinkable role playing games for Nintendo’s Game Boy handheld device. It was only after it received a modicum of success (okay, that was a huge understatement) did all the anime, manga, trading cards, toys, books, clothes, and other merchandises appear.
Dinosaur King, for its part, came out much later: it first appeared as a card-based arcade game from SEGA in 2005 using gameplay mechanics similar to the Mushiking series of card-based games. The difference between Dinosaur King and the monster-rearing mechanics behind Pokemon is that the former doesn’t require you to capture and train your “pets” while playing what is essentially a top-down Role Playing Game.
Dinosaur King is played using pre-bought creature cards containing stats and info about the creatures, which will be scanned by the arcade machine and used during fights. As expected of any arcade game, there are no exploration or dungeon crawling aspects and the story is bare bones, told only through pre-fight cutscenes. The gameplay itself uses the familiar rock/paper/scissors mechanics.
Dinosaur King Anime
When the brand turned out to be popular and lucrative, Dinosaur King was spun off into new formats on different platforms, including a Nintendo DS game, a Trading Card Game (not to be confused with the cards used for the original arcade game), and an anime series. And since the site is Toonbarn, not Gamebarn, we’re going to focus more on the first anime series, which premiered on TV Asahi on February 4, 2007, and was picked up by 4Kids TV on 2008, before finding its way to CW4Kids a few months later.
Titled Ancient Ruler Dinosaur King DKidz Adventure, the anime’s story is still based on the arcade games’, focusing on a young boy named Max Taylor, who is the offspring of the famous paleontologist Dr. Spike Taylor. Max starts his adventure on the day that he fell out of bed too early and witnessed a meteor falling to the sky, the crash site of which he visits along with his friends Rex Owen and Zoe Drake.
In the crash site, they find 3 stones representing lighting, wind, and grass, along with a card bearing the image of a Triceratops. When Max accidentally rubs the card on one of the stones, the creature Chomp is activated and joins their merry gang. Over the course of the series, the quartet meet their nemesis in the form of the Alpha Gang, which are basically the Team Rocket for the series, in the sense that they frequently clash with Max and Friends over possession of activated dinosaurs.
Differences Between Original Japanese Version and English Dub
The English dubbed version that aired on 4Kids followed the Japanese script closely, although some jokes have had their meaning changed due to the differences between American and Japanese culture, particularly with regard to profanity and materials that are considered appropriate for kids. The visuals suffered more from the translation, as certain scenes had to be edited in order to avoid censorship problems – these include the airbrushing of Ursula’s “fan service,” the removal of nudity and potty scenes. There are also some scenes that were edited purely out of copyright concerns, such as the scene showing Max owning a Sega Dreamcast being removed from the English dub.