Monster Rancher – the 2000 animated series
Monster Rancher, known in Japan as Monster Farm (モンスターファーム), is a Japanese anime television series based on the popular Monster Rancher video game series by Tecmo. The series initially aired on TBS in Japan for two seasons from 1999 to 2000. In the United States, the series initially aired with an English dub on Bohbot Kids Network, Sci-Fi Channel, Fox Family Channel, and Fox Kids and on YTV in Canada. It was later acquired by Discotek Media in 2013.
The story follows a boy named Genki Sakura, who is a key player in the Monster Rancher video games. After winning a tournament organized by the game's creators, Genki wins a special CD that he can use to unlock a special monster in his home game. However, after using this disc in his game console, he finds himself transported to a world of monsters who, just like in the Genki game, are brought to life by scanning special stone discs in temples. There he meets a girl named Holly and her monster friend Suezo, who are searching for a stone disk containing a legendary Phoenix that will save the land from the tyrant of an evil ruler named Moo. In an attempt to use the disc Genki won to try to free the monster, they bring out a different monster, which Genki names Mocchi. Wishing to free the land from Moo's rule, Genki, Holly, Mocchi, and Suezo set out to find the Phoenix, using Holly's Magic Stone to guide them in the Phoenix's direction. The Magic Stone leads them to Golem, Tiger, and Hare, each of whom has their own reasons for joining the group on their journey to find the Phoenix. It turns out that Moo is actually Holly's missing father, who merged with an evil spirit after being banished from his village. Determined to separate Moo's evil spirit from Holly's father, the group continues their search for the Phoenix, defeating Moo's strongest henchmen, the Big Four – Pixie, Gali, Gray Wolf and Naga. In their travels, the gang befriends and helps many monsters as they continue their quest, unlocking as many mysterious disks as possible in hopes of finding the Phoenix.
At the end of the first season, Moo's body is found and he merges with Holly's father. Shortly thereafter, the body of the Phoenix is found, and it is revealed that the five monsters – Snotlout, Suezo, Golem, Tiger and Hare – are fragments of the Phoenix's soul. Realizing what needs to be done, they take their leave of Genki and merge with the Phoenix body, and begin to fight Moo. As the two creatures fight, Moo realizes that good and evil are intrinsically inseparable, and that the two are destined to repeat an ever-repeated struggle as representatives of the two forces. The two creatures appear to die, and Genki is blown back to the real world in the resulting explosion, comforted by visions of his friends as he returns home. The second season consists of Genki's return to the Monster World to bring back to life and reunite his friends, who were transformed into discs and separated after the fight with Moo. The gang must compete in a series of tournaments against General Durahan's army in their pursuit to find Holly's father. The third season ends with Genki and the others fighting Moo's soul which has possessed Durahan; in the credits of the last episode, in the Japanese version, it is revealed that both Genki and Mocchi are able to travel both in the Monster World and on Earth.
In Japan, under the title Monster Farm, the series was broadcast on TBS for two seasons; the 48-episode first season, The Secret of the Stone Disk, aired from April 17, 1999 to March 25, 2000; the 25-episode second season, The Legendary Path, aired from April 1 to September 30, 2000. The series was brought to the United States by BKN, with an English dub produced by Ocean Studios. It also aired in the United States on Sci-Fi Channel and Fox Kids and in Canada on YTV. In the UK, the series was broadcast on the children's Saturday morning show Live & Kicking, with episodes also airing on CBBC until 9 April 2001. Reruns of the series continued throughout the year and into early February 25, 2002. ADV Films acquired home video rights to the series and released the first twelve episodes on four DVDs.
In 2012, the series was available for streaming on Hulu. Discotek Media acquired the rights to the series in 2013 and released it in three DVD box sets with English dubbing in 2014 and a single box set with the original subtitled and unedited Japanese audio on July 28, 2015. Discotek Media then released the series on a Blu-ray disc set on May 29, 2018. This series has had a large following not only in Japan, but also around the world, with fans appreciating the engaging story and engaging characters. The Monster Rancher series has become a cult classic and continues to be loved by anime fans around the world.