Zatch Bell!, also known in Japan as Golden Gash!, is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Makoto Raiku. It was published in Shogakukan’s Weekly Shōnen Sunday. The series follows mamodo Zatch Bell and his human partner Kiyo Takamine, as they try to win a tournament of Mamodo battles in order to make the former the king of the Mamodo world.
The manga was later adapted into a 150 episode anime television series titled Golden Gash Bell!! by Toei Animation. Konjiki no Gash Bell premiered on Fuji TV on April 6, 2003, and ran until March 26, 2006. In addition to an array of licensed merchandise, the series also spawned a series of video games and two animated films.
The Zatch Bell! manga has over 22 million copies in circulation. In 2003, it won the 48th Shogakukan Manga Award for the shōnen category.
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. The North American English dub has been edited and localized for young children aged 6 to 10 years in America. Viz Media has licensed its individual Zatch Bell! merchandising rights to several different companies, including a new toy line made by Mattel and 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. Thirteen DVD compilations of the English adaption of the anime have been released by Viz Media between November 8, 2005, and December 4, 2007. All the Viz Media home releases of Zatch Bell show only the North American edited English dub episodes and they are rated A for All Ages. 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 North American edited English dub. On June 22, 2017, Starz announced that they would be offering episodes of the series for their Video on Demand service starting July 1, 2017.
All the international dubs of the anime outside of Japan are adapted from the North American edited English TV dub and are aimed mostly at young children between 6 to 10 years in those countries.
The series spawned two films. The first film, “Gekijou Ban Konjiki no Gash Bell!! 101 Banme no Mamono”, 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”, 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.
Both films were released exclusively in Japan until March 27, 2018, when Discotek Media brought both movies to Blu-ray in North America. The titles were localized to Zatch Bell!: 101st Devil and Zatch Bell!: Attack of Mechavulcan, and contained the original Japanese audio with English subtitles. Each movie also received an individual DVD release on April 24.
Kiyo Takamine and Zatch Bell
Kiyo Takamine, known in the original version as Kiyomaro Takamine and his Mamodo partner Zatch Bell, known in the original version as Gash Bell, are the main protagonists of the series. Kiyo is a genius 14-year-old junior high school student with an IQ of over 180. His classmates eventually shunned him due to his high intelligence causing him to develop an introverted and apathetic demeanor to the point where he skips school on a regular basis. One day, Zatch, an overly cheerful amnesic boy, is sent by Kiyo’s father to live with Kiyo. Zatch’s personality slowly influences Kiyo causing him to become more outgoing and friendly and allowing him to befriend many people during the course of the series. Zatch’s past is slowly unraveled and reveals he is the son of the current Mamodo King and sealed within Zatch is a power known as Bao. Also brought to light is the fact that Zatch’s twin brother, Zeno Bell, was the one who erased Zatch’s memory in order to make him suffer. In battle, Zatch’s spells revolve around lightning. His most powerful spell, Bao, allows him to create a huge electrical dragon.
Megumi Oumi and Tia
Megumi Oumi and her Mamodo partner Tia, known as Tio in Japan, are friends and allies of Kiyo Takamine and Zatch Bell. Both Megumi and Tia have expressed romantic interest in Kiyo and Zatch, respectively. Megumi is a famous Japanese teen idol and pop singer who spends most of her time working. Tia is a young girl who believed no one could be trusted in the Mamodo tournament after being attacked by a friend of hers from the Mamodo World. When Kiyo and Zatch save Megumi and Tia from an attack by the same Mamodo, Tia begins to trust others again and allies with Kiyo and Zatch in order to make sure the Mamodo World would be ruled by a kind king. Tia’s spells consist mostly of defensive and regenerative spells which are used to support and heal their allies. Tia’s book is burned while protecting her friends from Clear Note’s spells. She had a crush on Zatch, despite her hobby of abusing him physically. They came in 5th place in the competition.
Parco Folgore and Kanchomé
Parco Folgore and his Mamodo Partner Kanchomé are friends and allies of Kiyo Takamine and Zatch Bell. Folgore is a famous superstar and film hero from Milan, Italy, known for his two hit songs Chichi o Moge! and Muteki Folgore!. Chichi wo Moge! was changed to Hey Hey Let’s Dance all Day by Viz Media and Muteki Folgore to Iron Man Folgore. Although appearing perverted, cowardly, and weak, Folgore is a person with high morale standards and is more insightful than he seems. In the past, Folgore was a short tempered and vicious man who was feared in town due to his ruthless nature. His parents threatened him with a shotgun to leave home out of fear. Folgore later changed his personality after watching a hippopotamus and oxpecker living in mutalism and developed his comedic personality. Kanchomé’s appearance is that of a young boy wearing a blanket sleeper, with large eyes and a duck bill. His personality tends toward childish and abrasive, often crying and whining like an infant. He greatly admires Folgore, believing him to be invincible. Kanchomé’s spells involve transformation and illusions. He later gains the ability to create clones with inhuman strength and a spell that can trap his opponents in an illusionary world giving him full control over their senses. Kanchomé’s book was burned by an attack by Clear Note. The duo came in 7th place overall.
Kafk Sunbeam and Ponygon
Kafk Sunbeam, an engineer from Germany working on projects in Japan. He was introduced much further in the series and was revealed to be the partner of the small horse Mamodo Ponygon, known as Umagon in Japan. Ponygon looks like a small horse but has the personality of a dog, and can only communicate by bleating like a sheep. Because of this, Ponygon is unable to communicate his real name, Schneider, and is given the name Ponygon by Kiyo Takamine. In the Mamodo world, Ponygon hated other Mamodos after watching his father work as a riding animal and isolated himself from others. Zatch Bell eventually befriended Ponygon after they saved Ponygon’s father from a poisonous snake bite. Ponygon’s spells give him armor, increasing his speed and power with each spell. Eventually Ponygon gains the ability to manipulate fire and the ability to fly. During Clear Note’s assault, Sunbeam was forced to burn Ponygon’s book in order to stop his body from breaking down. They came in 4th place in the mamodo fight.
Sherry Belmont and Brago
Sherry Belmont, known in the original version as Sherry Belmondo, comes from an abusive background in a wealthy French family, raised by a mother who only cared about the family name. Sherry attempted to commit suicide by jumping off a bridge, but was saved and befriended by a poor girl named Koko, her first and best friend. During the events of the Mamodo battle, Koko became brainwashed by her Mamodo partner Zofis and destroyed the town. Sherry then meets her Mamodo, Brago and teams up with him in order to save Koko. Brago has a rough, antisocial attitude but is kind underneath. Upon saving Koko, Brago threatens Zofis into erasing Koko’s memories of the time she spent with Zofis in an act of mercy. Gratified, Sherry promises Brago she will make him the Mamodo King. After helping Kiyo and Zatch defeat Clear Note, Brago is defeated by Zatch in the final battle to determine the King. Brago’s spells are based on the manipulation of gravity, giving him the ability to increase gravity in a certain area or fire a gravitational well from his hand. Sherry assists in battle with her flail. They came in 2nd place overall.