Rave Master, created by Hiro Mashima of Fairy Tail fame, was a somewhat prominent manga and anime series in the early/mid-2000s. However, Rave Master never quite achieved the same level of success as its widely loved counterpart -- and for good reason.
While many critics and fans actually prefer Rave Master's manga to later parts of Fairy Tail, the censored dub of the anime was notoriously bad. Here's how it ruined any chance of the series breaking out in the West.
What Was Rave Master?
The protagonist of Rave Master is a young man named Haru Glory, who becomes the second "Rave Master" after the apparent death of the first. Haru's predecessor was a man named Shiba, who once defeated the evil Dark Brings Mother named Sinclair with his powerful sword, the Ten Commandments. This incident scattered most of the mystical Rave Stones across the world and destroyed a huge chunk of the planet.
Now given Shiba's part of the five Rave Stones along with his sword, Haru sets out with the amnesiac girl Elie and the "dog" Plue to find the other parts of Rave and defeat the evil Demon Card organization. Many of the characters and themes in Rave Master are somewhat similar to those seen later in Fairy Tail, as Mashima wanted both series to have good vs. evil themes with well-developed villains.
They also share an adventurous tone, though many consider Rave Master to be more successful at this endeavor. This was especially the case once Fairy Tail began gravitating more toward a generic battle tone. Despite its supposed superiority to Mashima's later work, a poorly done English localization of the Rave Master anime killed any chance of international success.
How the English Dub Ruined Rave Master
Rave Master's anime ran 51 episodes and did not adapt all of the manga. This was mainly because it began in 2001 and ended a year later -- three years before the manga ended. The finale was incredibly abrupt, and it didn't help that the manga's fight scenes were somewhat poorly translated to the silver screen. This was the least of the franchise's problems in the West, however.
The Rave Master dub aired in 2005, part of an era when anime was still considered strictly kids' fare. This meant the show had to be heavily censored for its airing on Toonami, especially once it made the jump to the after-school programming block MiGUZI. The anime's scene pacing was entirely changed for no apparent reason, while the names of weapons and even attacks were also altered. It was similar to the notorious 4Kidz version of One Piece, but far worse.
Rave Master's dub also randomly added silly humor in an obvious attempt to pander to younger audiences, but it didn't appeal to many. The awkward reorganization of scenes also made certain character interactions awkward, making the story as a whole more confusing to follow. The dub was one of the first to be licensed by publisher TokyoPop, which later became notorious among the anime fandom for their questionable Americanization of manga. Rave Master was no different, and the only further demand for the series was the vain hope for an uncut release of the show.
This never happened though, and Rave Master fell into obscurity amid several other shows during the second wave of anime popularity in the West. The series never amounted to anything else after that, as the manga had already ended in Japan. Mashima would create his new series Fairy Tail, which featured a one-episode crossover special with Rave Master. Beyond that, however, Rave Master is forever stuck in the shadow of its much more successful successor.