Fights are a crucial aspect of the Shonen battle manga; therefore, they must be appropriately framed. If the fight is not set up appropriately, then the outcome becomes irrelevant. Zatch Bell has been impressive in handling its fight scenes, and it is disappointing that it does not get the credit that it deserves. Written by Makoto Raiku, the series recounts the story of a teenage prodigy, Kiyo Takamine. He is so unique that he gets bullied at his school by his peers because they envy him. But his life changes when he is gifted by his father, a young boy named Zatch who carries a book written in an illegible language.
Soon, Kiyo comes to know that the little boy is a demon from another world. When Kiyo reads the mysterious book, he can help Zatch use lightning for defense or offense. They are then confronted with the fact that there are 90 other demons already on the planet, and the duo has to defeat them all to make Zatch the demon king. The demon children need a trustworthy book master who can help them call their attacks since they cannot fight without them. This is where Kiyo comes into the picture as he becomes the book master for Zatch.
Kiyo is not like most Shonen protagonists who usually act before thinking. He is a genius who looks at the enemies and deciphers their weaknesses and strengths before making his move. His strategies are impenetrable, and his calm composure during fights makes him the ideal book master. Zatch is powerful, but it is Kiyo’s genius that makes him so effective in his fights.
Whenever two book master and demon pairs confront each other, the rules of the fight are straightforward. The duo is supposed to burn the book of their adversaries, which sends the demon back to the demon world. So, whenever Zatch and Kiyo encounter another human-demon duo, they know the stakes are high since one mistake is enough for the book to go up in flames. However, this is also a good thing since no matter how powerful the opponent is, there is always some weakness that can be exploited, and with Kiyo’s genius, Zatch always has an advantage.
Zatch and Kiyo learn quickly to understand each other’s strengths, which helps them immensely in their encounters. They also realize that Zatch can neither be too far away from Kiyo nor too close. Although many factors can go against them, they show their competence by working together flawlessly. One of the best examples of their teamwork is their fight at the greenhouse, where Zatch fails to aim at the opponent. Kiyo quickly responds and comes up with a solution. He tells Zatch to aim where his hand is pointing, which helps Zatch in attacking and winning despite his poor aim. It is only one of many examples when they come together to work as a team in a critical scenario.
It is not only the teamwork in the fight scenes that make them unique. Zatch Bell takes excellent advantage of the location, and the duo is often attacked out of nowhere. They find themself in desperate situations with no option but to attack after being ambushed. It creates a sense of urgency to fight, but it also adds a tinge of paranoia. The fans have no idea when the next attack might come, making their adventures even more fascinating. Once Kiyo and Zatch are attacked at their homes, which indicates that the duo is not safe anywhere.
Unfortunately, Zatch Bell was never able to get the attention that it deserves. It is criminally underrated and deserves as much success as One Piece or Dragon Ball. However, even after so many years, it is still struggling to get the recognition that shows similar to it have. Zatch Bell is not rated as high as it should, must not be a reason for anime and manga fans to be hesitant in giving it a shot; both are exceptional and one of a kind. So, if you too are yet to watch or read this criminally underrated anime/manga, don’t think twice; you are in for a treat.