Rave Master, TBS
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Also called "Groove Adventure Rave." Okay... There's a lot of backstory in this series, revealed in bits and pieces throughout the series, in flashbacks and exposition, and sometimes whole episodes set in the past. (Of ocurse, there are also stand-alone episodes that don't really advance the plot, which are mostly for comic relief or getting to know some characters better- though both those things occur plenty in every episode, anyway.) I'd like to try to explain it all in proper, chronological order, except for a couple problems: I've never gotten it entirely clear in my own mind, and also, I don't want to give away too many spoilers (but I'll probably end up doing that, anyway). An important part of this show is the characters trying to learn some of the things that have happened in the past, so you might as well learn along with them. But I'll tell you as much as I think I can....
There are these things called Rave stones which were lost 50 years ago, after a big explosion called Overdrive destroyed one tenth of the world. There's a lot of important stuff you'll learn about all that later. The story starts with a 16-year-old boy named Haru Glory, who since he was a little kid has been raised by his older sister, Cattleya. When they were both young, their father, Gale, left for some reason (you'll learn more later), and their mother, Sakura, was killed (again, you'll learn more later). When the title of Rave Master is passed on to him by Shiba, the first Rave Master (you'll learn more about him later), Haru sets off on his own quest, to find the Rave stones as well as to find out what ever became of his father. Haru travels with this weird looking little carrot-nosed... thing, named Plue, who supposedly sort of guides him to the stones, I guess. (Learn more about Plue later.)
Haru has to fight the Shadow Guard (you'll learn surprising facts about the group's origins later), an evil group of people who rule the land through the power of their Shadow stones. All the stones, Shadow and Rave, are powerful and give their bearers special abilities. Haru wields the Decaforce sword, which can be empowered by a sort of little amulet thing called the Rave (the sword and the Rave were given to him by Shiba). The sword has ten different special powers Haru has to learn to use, as he searches for the Rave stones (and destroys Shadow stones in his various fights).
Anyway, he meets this girl named Elie, who's lost her memory. She's pretty good with a pair of guns she has, called Tonfa blasters, though she can be a bit reckless and destructive with them. She joins Haru on his mission to find the Rave stones and defeat the Shadow Guard, and Haru promises to help her recover her memory. (There's a great deal to learn about her mysterious past, including the fact that she resembles the late Resha Valentine, who possessed a power called etherion, and created the Rave and the Rave stones.) They also meet this guy named Hedara Musica, who is leader of the Silver Rhythm Gang (the only other member of the gang we ever really get to know is a guy named Hebi, who runs things in Musica's absence). Musica is a Silver Claimer, which means he can manipulate silver into any form, as a weapon. He wants to find something called the Silver Ray, and meanwhile joins Haru, Elie, and Plue on their quest. Then there's this weird, annoying little... blue thing... named Griffon "Griff" Kato, who also joins them (along with his weird, pinkish, rabbit-horse type thing, Tanchimo, which pulls a cart they'll all travel in).
The Shadow Guard is ruled by a man called King, who commands the Oracion Six, the most powerful generals of the Shadow Guard. Of course, our heroes will have to face lesser officers of the Shadow Guard, but the first general Haru had to fight was Shuda, who may later become an ally. Another thing I should mention is that 50 years ago, Rave Master Shiba had fought alongside the Knights of the Blue Sky in the war that eventually led to Overdrive. There were four Knights, only one of whom (Alpine Spaniel) survived. The other three died, but their souls were placed in the bodies of animals, to serve as Rave Guardians. Eventually Haru and the gang meet Deerhound, who is in the body of a bear, who gives Haru the Rave of Knowledge.
Another of the Oracion Six (at least I think he was one of them; certainly he was one of the most powerful people in King's service) is an "elemental master" named Sieg Hart, though he has his own agenda, and when it suits his purposes, he leaves the Shadow Guard. He wants to destroy Elie... he'll fail, and eventually he'll return to protect her. (Long story.) After Sieg Hart's failure, one of the Oracion Six named Reina tried to destroy Haru. She's a silver claimer, like Musica, as well as having a Shadow stone, of course. But she leaves before the fight is over, as all the Oracion Six were called to assemble for some purpose which will be revealed later.
There are a couple of filler episodes at the end of season one and start of season two, when our heroes are taking a train to Lyric Continent, and a buffoonish trio called the Big Butt Bandits try to rob the train. But soon the main story picks up again. The gang falls to an underground city, Rabarrier, and meet some people who want the Rave Master's help fighting an army of monsters. The main one of these people is Remi; she claims to be the descendant of Claire Maltese, one of the Knights of the Blue Sky. Haru hears that the leader of the monsters is a man named Gale, and believes it to be his father, so goes to confront him. But it turns out the army is commanded by none other than King, of the Shadow Guard, whose own name is Gale Raregroove. However, Gale Glory also shows up to fight King, who is conducting an annual thing called the Enclaim, in which he creates new Shadow stones. Haru wants to join his father in this fight, but first he and his friends have to fight their way past a group of palace guardians in the Tower of Din. Once he catches up to his father, Haru learns a lot of backstory involving his parents, and King, and the Shadow Guard. Meanwhile, Elie receives the Rave of Combat from Claire Maltese. Claire tells her to deliver the Rave to Haru.
Anyway, back to the palace Guardians... most of them are of only passing importance, but one is a dragon guy named Let. After King's defeat, Let will join our heroes on their next mission, to find "the Memory of the Stars," which Haru learned of from his father. Apparently whatever it is, it could answer any questions anyone might have about anything. Of course, Haru still needs to find the remaining Rave stones, Elie still needs to get her memory back, and Musica still needs to find the Silver Ray. In their quest for the Memory of the Stars, Haru, Elie, Musica, Plue, Griff, and Let decide to head for Symphonia, aboard the Silver Rhythm Gang's airship. (Symphonia, of course, has been mentioned throughout the series. It's where Resha Valentine and Shiba were from, and where Overdrive happened, and stuff.)
Um, but I forgot to mention, between King's defeat and the new mission, there are a few filler episodes, including origin stories for Shiba and Plue (actually, Plue's story is just about the time he first met Griff). And there are some other mostly comical stories set shortly after King's defeat. In one story, we once again see the Big Butt Bandits. But we also meet some of the people who work for a major villain named Pumpkin Doryu. His agents, Lilith, Franken Billy, and Wolf, are trying to get money from an odd little creature named Ruby, who is quite rich. He thinks they're friends of his, collecting rare creatures and stuff for him, and also his father, Pearl, had believed Doryu to be a friend. The thing is, with the Shadow Guard gone, there are numerous gangs that are all trying to become the most powerful group in the world, and Doryu believes whoever has the most money will become the most powerful. But Ruby finally learns the truth, and joins our heroes when they go to Symphonia.
Meanwhile, there's someone called the Shadow Master, who had been held prisoner for 10 years, but he's recently escaped, and is wreaking havoc in Symphonia. He's like the Rave Master, but with shadow stones, of course. And he has Sinclaire (which in the anime sounds like "shinclaire," btw), which is the most powerful shadow stone, the only one not to have been destroyed 50 years ago. (Apparently the newer stones which were created by King were not as powerful as the older Shadow stones, and in fact there are only five true Shadow stones, as there are only five Rave stones. So, Haru will have to fight him, and meanwhile, the Oracion Six (or five of them, anyway) watch, hoping the two will destroy each other so they can take over.
Or at least, that was the plan, until the Shadow Master did something that Haja, the leader of the Oracion Six, said would awaken Etherion in Elie, so they decided to kill her. They attacked our heroes after the Shadow Master left, to head for the Memory of the Stars. Haru faces off against Berial, Musica against Reina, and Let against Jegan (who commands a large flying dragon that carried the Eracion Six here). Jegan is another member of the Dragon Race to which Let belongs, though unlike Let, he appears human... and we learn of a history between the two of them, which made them hate each other, because of a woman named Julia, who they both loved (which kinda reminds me of Spike and Vicious from Cowboy Bebop, though the fight between Jegan and Let reminds me more of Dragon Ball Z). Anyway, in the course of the fight, Let performs a dragon ritual that restores his own original human appearance. Meanwhile, Elie, Griff, Plue, and Ruby face Julius, while Haja watches everything.
Finally, Sieg Hart shows up to protect Elie, much to her surprise. And the Oracion Six leave, to make their own plans for the future. Sieg Hart tells his new friends something surprising about the Shadow Master (something that causes the fact that he soon becomes the new king of the Oracion Six to make a great deal of sense). Sieg also tells our heroes that he's made a discovery about where to find Elie's memory, so they all travel there, and... she begins to remember some things, but not very much. Anyway, Sieg Hart goes off on his own mission, though he and Haru vow to meet again, to fight the Shadow Master. But first, Haru still has two more Rave stones to find, before he'll be powerful enough to fight the Shadow Master. So, he and the others still plan to find the Memory of the Stars, which of course the Oracion Six and Shadow Master still want to find (though they also will have to deal with upstarts like Doryu). So um... clearly there's plenty more story left to tell, but that's where the series ends, sadly....
Well, anyway, I think the show is pretty fun, and I like both the opening theme ("Rave-olution," by Reel Big Fish) and the closing theme ("The Power of Destiny," by Jennifer Paige), both of which can be obtained here. Not sure what else to say... it can be a silly show, and some characters can be annoying, but on the whole I like it. It'd be nice to read the manga some day, at least to pick up where the anime left off, but I dunno if I ever will....