Beyblade - A New Spin on an Old Top
Who would’ve thought that spinning battle tops could enchant kids and adults alike? And that the franchise has more in common with Transformers than meets the eye? Definitely not us -- listen along as we learn about the fandom that shouts “Let it Rip!” with glee.
## Episode Outline
**Topics:** Beyblade as the first anime series that ran up against our budding cynicism, the complexity of the toys, the complexity of the battles, the reality of the tournament scene, Beyblade World Championships, the World Beyblade Organization, adults are fans?, the physical appeal of Beyblades, why does [this guy](https://knowtechie.com/5-tips-and-tricks-that-every-beyblade-player-must-know/) have four apple watches?, Beyblades and bathtubs don’t mix
### Fandom Facts
“Beyblade, known in Japan as Explosive Shoot Beyblade, is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Takao Aoki to promote sales of spinning tops called "Beyblades" developed by Takara Tomy. ... The series focuses on a group of kids who form teams with which they battle one another using Beyblades.
… An anime adaptation, also titled Beyblade and spanning 51 episodes, aired in Japan on TV Tokyo from January 8, 2001, to December 24, 2001. The second, Beyblade V-Force, ran for another 51 episodes from January 7, 2002, until December 30, 2002. Beyblade G-Revolution, the third and final adaptation, also spanned 52 episodes (the last two episodes were released together as a double-length special in Japan) and aired from January 6, 2003, until its conclusion on December 29, 2003.”
—[Wikipedia - Beyblade](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beyblade_Burst)
* Even though the original series only aired between 2001 to 2003, a sequel, [Beyblade: Metal Fusion](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beyblade:_Metal_Fusion) premiered in 2008 and ran until 2012, a Japanese-Canadian spin-off, [BeyWheelz](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BeyWheelz), which aired in 2012, and another sequel, [Beyblade Burst](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beyblade_Burst), which ran from 2016-2017 (though the manga is still ongoing)
* “Beyblade, Let It Rip! The Official Album was released in the UK to coincide with the show's popularity. It featured the anime's opening theme, as well as songs by artists including Nickelback and Busted.” ([Wikipedia](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beyblade))
* Interest in Beyblade is… a little down since 2004 according to Google Trends ([but is really, really variable](https://trends.google.com/trends/explore?date=all&q=%2Fm%2F03hsp2)). There was a huge spike in interest around late 2010 (Release of Metal Fusion in North America, perhaps?), and has since dropped but is on the rise again.
* [The Beyblade subreddit](https://www.reddit.com/r/Beyblade/) only has about 2400 subscribers, and, bizarrely, explicitly prohibits “roleplay, fanfiction, or memes, all of which deserve their own subreddits.”
### First Impressions
It was the first series I remember being like “oh they’re still doing this thing?” about. Just another physical thing to collect and fight, and one that wasn’t part of my growing up at all.
Going to be honest; as a kid, even though I loved anime, I thought it was super dumb (and, given timing, I might have just been outside of the age demographics for it)... and I liked Yu-Gi-Oh (although I also had stopped watching that). Fighting magic tops sounded… stupid, and I don’t think I ever got over that. I am excited to see if my impressions have changed though.
Before starting the research for this one, my strongest memory of Beyblade was that it was one of what seemed like many shows trying to channel some of the hype around Pokemon -- one of those shows about something collectible that battles and has its own personality (or “heart” in the case of Yu-Gi-Oh). In particular, I remember my younger brother being really into the show, though I don’t think he ever got into collecting the tops themselves. I wouldn’t say that I thought it was a pale imitation of Pokemon (kind of like Digimon…), but that it was more a part of the second (third?) wave of that kind of shonen show.
This fandom seems to draw mostly on the physicality of the actual toys and battling them, and the lengths to which fans can customize their beyblades and (at least appear to) use potentially complex strategies to try to overcome their rivals. However, given that this franchise is second only to Transformers in generating income for Hasbro, the apparently miniscule fandom in the English-speaking world doesn’t quite account for what must be a larger fandom. Though we didn’t dig too deeply into it, it seems that the bulk of the fandom is likely in regions where English is not a major language, and so information, opinions, and potential data are hidden from us behind a language barrier.
In a world where so many of our pastimes are found on screens and in virtual worlds of one sort or another, the physicality of a Beyblade battle is incredibly appealing. If any of us come across an open play event, we’ll be stopping in to let it rip right alongside long-time fans.
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## What is "Fanthropological"?
Every week, Fanthropological delivers about an hour of fandom-related "fanalysis" covering a different fandom every week and giving you hard data, history, special guests, and, of course, speculation!
We cover topics spanning the gamut of anime, manga, comics, video games, comics, movies, books, television, and, in general, geek culture.
* All other music and sound for this week's episode were provided by Nick Green!
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