Many kids in the early 2000s grew up with the Beyblade franchise in some way, be it the toys or the anime series. The line of toy battle tops came in all manner of colors and style, and their accompanying media were just as over-the-top and exciting. While Beyblade is very much of its time, it's a bit unfair to write the franchise as a whole off as a turn-of-the-century fad.
The series was in the same vein as Yu-Gi-Oh! and Pokémon, making some place Beyblade in the same second-tier as Digimon or Duel Masters. Like those franchises, however, it's still alive and well, both in the toy aisles and on the silver screen. Here's how Beyblade went beyond being "big in Japan" to an enduring children's franchise.
The Origin of Beyblade
Beyblade began as a toyline and accompanying manga series back in 1999, ending the '90s by combining elements of some of the decade's most popular franchises. Based on traditional Japanese beigoma tops, Beyblade's toy line involved players using "Rip Cords" to unleash metal-bladed tops at high speeds. The tops then spin and knock against each other inside a ring, with the last top spinning declared the winner.
The manga was soon adapted into an anime, which featured the concept of "Bit Beasts," which were nigh-magical creatures that resided within the tops. This made the franchise's obvious influences from Yu-Gi-Oh! and Pokémon even more obvious. The fact that Tyson Granger/Takao Kinomiya looked and acted so much like Ash Ketchum also didn't help. These beasts included beings such as the monstrous Dragoon and the vegetable-like Bump King. The anime would be how the franchise broke through in the West in the early 2000s and was most well-known for its hard-rock theme song and soundtrack. There was even a soundtrack released for the show, featuring songs from bands such as Nickelback.
The original anime would have three iterations: Beyblade, Beyblade V-Force and Beyblade G Revolution. There was also a movie released titled Beyblade: Fierce Battle, which was a non-canon retelling of events between the second and third anime series. For many people, this is where the franchise is thought to have ended, and for a while, that was actually the case. But the series would return after many of its former fans had grown up.
Beyblade Throughout the Years
The series would return in 2009 with the release of Beyblade: Metal Fusion, premiering ten years after the franchise began. The new Beyblades for this revival put more emphasis on metal construction and customization, with Beyblades being available in more exciting designs and color schemes than ever. The new manga also received several anime adaptations, though both did away with the Bit-Beast concept in a likely effort to differentiate the franchise from its inspirations.
The new anime lasted for four seasons and a movie of its own before gaining a spinoff in the form of BeyWheelz. This toy line and accompanying animated series was a joint Canadian-Japanese production, though it went unaired in Japan. BeyWheelz' toyline featured tops that were rounder and thicker than Beyblades, but otherwise pretty similar. The show, like its predecessor, featured a plot of a top game involving world-dominating syndicates, but it certainly proved popular with the youth.
The franchise's current iteration is Beyblade Burst, which just began airing its most recent entry, the original net animation Beyblade Burst Dynamite Battle. Time will only tell what form the franchise will take next, but it's inarguable that Beyblade has proven to be far more than the 2000s fad many accused it of being.