Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh were originally anime and manga properties that spawned extremely popular collectible card games. Mon Colle Knights, short for 'Monster Collection Knights' was already a popular collectible card game when the tremendous success of the Pokemon anime provided the impetus for the production of an anime version of the Mon Colle Knights game. Produced by TV Tokyo and Studio Deen, Mon Colle Knights may not please hardcore anime fans, but it just might find an audience among kids who are tiring of the puerile didacticism of the various Pokemon series. Saban Entertainment, the company that brought the Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers to these shores, has acquired the rights to 32 episodes of Mon Colle Knights, and Fox began showing the series last Saturday morning in the 11 a.m. ET time slot.
Whether Mon Colle Knights or Yu-Gi-Oh, which recently debuted on the Kids WB (see 'Yu-Gi-Oh Dominates in Debut'), will spawn a Pokemon-like merchandise and CCG boom, is certainly open to debate, but the Mon Colle Knights anime looks like it might be a lot fun for kids who are burning out on Pokemon. The plot of Mon Colle Knights involves two competing teams who enter the 'Mon' world and attempt to collect 'monster items,' which will allow them to control the monsters. The bad guys are led by the time-traveling Prince Eccentro (known as 'Duke Collection' in the original Japanese series), who has the effete appearance of a character from the yaoi subgenre of shojo manga (see the discussion of X/1999 in 'Viz Builds Strong Shojo Slate'. They're constantly foiled by Professor Hirogi, his daughter Rockna, and her friend Mondo, who pilots the Utopian Eagle rocket ship that takes the professor's team back and forth from Earth to the 'Mon' world. The competing teams have computers that spit out 'cards' for all the monsters they encounter in the 'Mon' world. In spite of the frequent, often crass appearances of the playing cards, which are identical to the cards in the MCK CCG, Mon Colle Knights is actually a lot of fun. American audiences have been protected from such obvious commercialization of story contact by FCC regulations and are not used to seeing such 'direct' product plugs woven into the fabric of the show itself, though anyone who has been to the movies in the past 20 years is well aware of the equally grotesque and ubiquitous product placements in American films.
Despite its undeniably crass elements, Mon Colle Knights is a lighthearted adventure anime with lots of slapstick. The Professor is clearly something of a 'doofus' while Prince Eccentro is a bona fide twit and his two female companions, Batch and Gluko, are the source of much of the show's humor. Throw in a few flatulence jokes and a lot of manga-derived facial contortions and you have the recipe for a humorous good time. When and how Saban will choose to implement any plans for a Mon Colle Knights English language CCG or American-produced merchandise remains to be seen. It appears for now that Saban is willing to wait and see if Mon Colle Knights can build an audience in its prime Saturday morning time slot.