“Bakugan” 2023 Season 1 Review – A Bit Childish But Still Fun

New Bakugan anime Spin Master Netflix September 2023
Bakugan Season 1 anime (CNW Group/Spin Master)

Even though the latest iteration of the Bakugan anime series skewed a bit too childish, I was still able to enjoy it due to the overall story and certain character arcs.

Yet another reboot of the Bakugan anime series was understandably faced with a certain level of hesitancy by the fandom at large. Not only was the fandom going to be introduced to new characters, but the Bakugan game mechanic was also being changed… again.

And while I don’t see some fans ever liking the Beyblade-esque change that has been made to Bakugan‘s current battle mechanic, I’m here to talk more about the anime and what it has to offer.

Bakugan season 1 contained 13 episodes (approximately 20 minutes long) with each episode containing two segments (with each segment being approximately 10 minutes long). So, basically, you’re getting a total of 26 10-minute long episodes, with the short length allowing for the story to be told at quite a fast pace.

Our three initial leads are Dan Kouzo, Mia Ono, and Griffin Tessly. The young teens were friends before the Bakugan crashed into Earth. I would have actually liked to learn how they became friends in the first place due to their different personalities and the fact (revealed near the end of the season) that Mia’s parents had never met Dan and Griffin before.

Anyway, the premise involved numerous Bakugan one day crashing to Earth and bonding with young teens and kids. Due to the Bakugan being intelligent alien lifeforms, they were able to communicate with the government to figure out a way to live alongside humans. The Bakugan’s interest in battling each other helped with such a huge change because said battles very quickly became a new form of entertainment for humankind.

Of course, the show made it clear that Bakugan liked brawling with each other. It allowed for the story to bypass any criticisms of human kids forcing the Bakugan to battle it out for sport. The entire thing kind of reminded me of how the Pokemon franchise also shared that the Pokemon liked to battle and how such fights strengthened the bonds between the Pokemon and the Trainer.

Things changed again for everyone when one day the bond between the Bakugan and the young teens caused the aliens to turn into Kaiju-sized Bakugan. Not only that, but a mysterious occurrence made certain Bakugan go on a rampage and destroy cities.

The government decided to deal with the problem by making Bakugan brawling illegal and that led to an underground brawling community with Bakugan belonging to the same species forming Clans (Dragon, Mammal, Insect, Avian, and such). Due to our human trio not fitting in any specific Clan, they decided to form their own team called the Misfit Clan.

Bakugan Season 1 followed the Misfit Clan’s journey to be respected by the other Clans while uncovering new secrets related to Bakugan evolutions and recruiting skilled members along the way.

I liked how the narrative handled the political aspect of the formation of Clans. Turns out, it was similar to how things used to be in the Vestroian galaxy. The Bakugan stuck to their respective Clans and battled each other, with Nillious (from the Dragon Clan) wanting supremacy over the other Clans. Keeping the Clans divided on Earth was part of Nillious’ plan to one day take over the planet.

The Misfit Clan was a threat to Nillious because it served as an example of how a Clan could be powerful if it contained Bakugan of different species. The first season had Nillious, with aid from some of the other Clans, trying to break the Misfit Clan.

Dan’s Bakugan Dragonoid shared a troubled history with Nillious. I liked learning more about why things grew bad between the two and how it was all connected to the Bakugan being sent to Earth in the first place. Their rivalry didn’t have a lot of depth to it, but it still worked for the overall vibe of the show.

As for the human trio, it was surprising to me that Dan didn’t really go through any major development even though he was supposed to be the lead. However, while Dan remained the same as he was when he discovered his passion for Bakugan brawling, I did enjoy seeing Mia and Griffin come into their own.

Griffin’s character arc involved bonding with Trox and becoming a better Brawler. It was a big step for Griffin because he, unlike the rest of the teens, had yet to bond with a Bakugan until Trox appeared. There was also an episode that had Griffin realize the importance of the friendship he shared with the members of the Misfit Clan.

I think the message in that particular episode was quite nice. You don’t need to share 100% of your interests to be friends with someone. Even though Mia, Dan, and the others weren’t into the type of shows and movies Griffin was a big fan of, they still cared about each other.

Mia’s character arc was the most linked to the overall story. She’s been living a double life by hiding her true passion for brawling and wanting to wear colorful clothes from her parents. Not only that, but Mia’s father worked as a researcher for an organization analyzing Vistroian technology. It wasn’t easy for Mia, but she agreed to stand against her father to help the Bakugan after Dragonoid explained more about the mysterious device that Mia’s father was tasked with researching.

Also, I’m so glad that the fandom has embraced Mia and her Bakugan named Ventri. It’s not often that we get to see the fandoms of boy-centric content being so positive about female characters right out of the gate. From what I can tell, Ventri’s real-life Bakugan design is considered one of the best. So, yeah, Ventri’s cool. And the fandom would like more Ventri!

The other two human characters in the Misfit Clan are Juno and TC. And while I liked Juno, she didn’t have much going on for her except for being a very talented hacker. And here’s hoping the second season dives more into TC’s character. Like, where are his parents and how did he lose his memories?

The first season of the latest Bakugan anime left a lot for a second season to explore. And I have my fingers crossed that it gets renewed. There seems to be someone pulling the strings from the shadows. I really want to learn more about what’s going on. What are the Bakugan that didn’t come to Earth up to?

Talking about the brawling mechanic, the anime introduced new evolutions. The Gold Evolution gave Bakugan special weapons to attack with. The Titanium Evolution gave them armor. And the Gold Titanium Evolution combined the two. I liked how the evolutions did come with certain drawbacks. For example, while the Titanium Evolution boosted the defense stats, the heavy armor also slowed down the Bakugan.

The Brawlers were also made part of the action. So, while the Bakugan battled each other in the specially generated arenas, the Brawlers had the opportunity to run around the obstacle course to collect certain bonuses that helped boost their Bakugan’s Health, Speed, and Attack.

In real-life Bakugan gameplay, the stat boost will be determined by where a player’s Bakugan landed on the 4-card arena. Certain Brawler cards could also be played to offer boosts.

As of right now, it’s a bit tough to talk about what the fandom thought about the new gameplay mechanic. Some fans are just against such a change without trying the gameplay for themselves. So, let’s see what the overall consensus ends up being once more people have played with the new Bakugan toys

Bakugan Season 1 was released on Netflix on September 1, 2023. And I binge-watched the entire season in a day. I just couldn’t help myself.

Have you watched Bakugan Season 1? What did you think of it?

Let us know.

Author: Farid-ul-Haq

Farid has a Double Masters in Psychology and Biotechnology as well as an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Missing in Somerville, and The Game Master of Somerville. He gives us insight into comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.

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