Monday, February 17, 2014

Tooniversary: Monster Rancher (1999)

The sudden success of Pokemon in American syndication led to WB acquiring the series in February 1999. This, in turn, led Fox to counter by buying up as much anime as possible, at the expense of shows previously ordered by the network for the fall season.

One of these anime was Monster Rancher, which was added to the schedule early in the 1999-2000 season, two years after the namesake CD-Rom game had been introduced in Japan. There were only two seasons produced, which aired almost concurrently in Japan and the US. Bohbot distributed the series here, as opposed to Saban or 4Kids, the latter of whom had imported Pokemon. To those of us who weren't familiar with the game, we wondered why Fox would abruptly pull comics-related toons that Saban was doing, Avengers: United We Stand & Spider-Man Unlimited, both of which had been delayed anyway, along with Sony's adaptation of Frank Miller's Big Guy & Rusty the Boy Robot, then yanked when their ratings couldn't dent Pokemon's. It's not that Monster Rancher or Digimon were any better performers, it was simply a case of counter-programming anime with more anime, which actually can be counter-productive.

As the series marks 15 years this year, let's take a look back at the series opener, "In The Beginning":

No rating. Didn't watch the show.

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