Kessenju! (決戦獣!), known as Kessenju!: Ultimate Battle Beasts in the US, is a Japanese anime series based on the manga and trading card game Kessenju, written by Hideaki Terasaki. The anime series was produced by Nippon Animation and broadcast on Fuji TV from March 3, 2002 and ran until July 17, 2005, spanning three seasons.

All three seasons of the series were licensed for English adaptation, broadcast, and release by Nelvana. Nelvana's dub of the series features several visual edits and name changes, in order to better suit an American audience. The series was broadcast on Teletoon in Canada and on ABC Family in the United States.

Kessenju! follows the story of a 12-year old boy named Sendo Tenryu, who aspires to be the best Kessenju duelist there is. The plot of the show centers around the titular card game, which the characters play and battle each other with.


Years ago, during an archaeological expedition in an ancient ruins, led by the multi-millionaire John Atlas Knightingale, the archaeologists had found a set of mysterious stone tablets, each with a scripture on them, as well as a gem embedded inside: a topaz, an amethyst, a sapphire, a ruby and an emerald, respectively. After a while more, they eventually found an equally-mysterious flat stone inside a temple, with slots where the tablets fit perfectly.

Upon placing the ruby tablet into one of the slots of the stone, the expedition team ended up summoning what appears to a giant dragon. The dragon ended up nearly slaughtering the entire expedition team, until one of the archaeologists, Shinsaku Tenryu, managed to find a way to re-seal the dragon into the tablet. This was when Knightingale realized what the team had ended up finding. Later that evening, Knightingale sneaked past the expedition team's bunker, and stole the five cards for himself, with plans to use the tablets' power for his own gain.

Many years later, the card game Kessenju is all the rage, with all the kids in the neighborhood going gaga all over the newest card craze. One of these kids is a 12-year old boy named Sendo Tenryu, who had recieved his cards from his father Shinsaku, before his mysterious disappearance years ago. Sendo is known amongst his peers as an ace of the game, known for his immensely powerful Fire deck, and in particular, his trump card, Ignel, the Flame Dragon.

In the first few episodes, Sendo duels against Ganta Hikari, his long-time rival and a fellow duelist with skill on par as him. Haruto Tsuchida, a self-proclaimed Kessenju genius who claims to be able to beat Sendo using only theory and his Earth deck, and Kyou Mizuhara, a popular school idol who turned out to be a formidable duelist herself, utilizing a Water deck. After defeating them, Sendo proceeded to befriend both of them, and they've been close friends and allies of him ever since.

Great Duelist Tournament Arc

On the other side of town, a mysterious duelist has been hunting down other duelists and defeating them in battle, stealing their decks once they lose against him. Eventually, after one of the victim's, Kouta Hikari, Ganta's younger brother, was attacked and defeated by the mysterious duelist, with his Light deck ending up being stolen by him, Sendo offered to take the mysterious duelist down and defeat him himself.

Once he found the mysterious duelist, which turned out to be a kid named Reito Muragaki, he wasted no time and fought Reito in a duel of Kessenju, which he ended up losing. The first loss in his playing career. A devastated Sendo vows to take revenge and beat him in the upcoming Great Duelist Tournament, which Reito accepts.

Primordials Arc

After defeating defeating Reito Muragaki and winning the Great Duelist Tournament, Sendo goes to celebrate his victory, when he was suddenly attacked by a pair of masked duelists. Sendo was able to fend off the masked duelists, but not before they tell him a cryptic clue. "The Primordials will rise soon", they said.

That night, as Sendo was going to bed, Sendo starts to hear voices coming from his trump card, Ignel, the Flame Dragon. Ignel reveals itself to be a Primordial, a quasi-deity bearing incredible power capable of mass destruction, and that now he must collect all the other Primordials, each representing one of the Realms, in order to avoid a potential catastrophe.

Knightingale Tower Arc

John Atlas Knightingale, the CEO of Knightingale Corp. and the creator of the Kessenju cards, once possessed all the Primordial cards, which he had obtained way back during the trip to the ancient ruins, and plans to use its power for world domination. Shinsaku Tenryu, knowing full well what his boss will use the Primordials for, decided to take the Primordials away from him, but was only able to take four of them with him, and disappearing from the face of the Earth ever since. Since then, Knightingale has stopped at nothing to take back what is rightfully his.

In the present day, knowing that the Primordial cards are in the hands of Shinsaku's son Sendo and his friends, decided to kidnap Sendo's mother, as well as Ganta's younger brother Kouta, Haruto's brother and Kyou's parents, instructing them to go to the Knightingale Tower and challenge Knightingale himself if they want to rescue their loved ones. Enraged, Sendo, Ganta, Haruto and Kyou, along with the help of a reluctant Reito, decided to enter the Knightingale Tower, where Knightingale and his forces are waiting for him.

Main Cast

  • Sendo Tenryu

Voiced by: Yuko Sato (JP), Andrew Sabiston (EN)

An aspiring duelist with lots of guts and ambition, Sendo Tenryu's dream is to be the best Kessenju duelist the world has ever seen. Sendo was the son of Shinsaku Tenryu, an archaeologist working for Knightingale Corp., who gave him his own Kessenju deck before mysteriously disappearing. Despite this, Sendo maintains a positive outlook, utilizing his will, determination and the power of his cards in order to win battles.

Sendo uses a deck consisting predominantly of Fire cards, using powerful monsters and destructive spells. As the Primoridals arc begins, it is revealed that his trump card Ignel, the Flame Dragon, is one of the five Primordials.

  • Ganta Hikari (Garth Hikari)

Voiced by: Tetsu Shiratori (JP), Paul Haddad (EN)

A determined duelist with a heart as large as his chubby exterior, Ganta Hikari is Sendo's best friend, who he shares a friendly rivalry with when it comes to Kessenju. Ganta first heard about the game of Kessenju through friends at school, after which he opted to save his money to buy himself and his brother Kouta their own respecive decks. Ganta is hot-blooded, strong-willed, and confident of his own skill, sometimes at the expense of his own friends, but this doesn't deter his tight bond with Sendo and the rest.

Ganta uses a deck consisting predominantly of Light cards, relying on gigantic, defense-oriented monsters to safeguard him until he unleashes some of his most powerful monsters. At the end of the Primordials arc, he obtains the Primordial, Lumox, the Lightbringer.

  • Haruto Tsuchida (Harold Tsuchida)

Voiced by: Hirofumi Nojima (JP), Tim Hamaguchi (EN)

A young duelist gifted with amazing intellect, Haruto Tsuchida claims himself to be a "genius" in Kessenju, a claim that's proven by his long list of victories. After his parents divorced, Haruto lives with his older brother Haruki, who, noticing his younger brother's lack of friends, taught him how to play Kessenju. Because of his intelligence, Haruto prefers to be alone, thinking that no one, except for his brother, truly understands him, though he eventually warns up to Sendo and eventually Kyou following his defeat.

Haruto uses a deck consisting predominantly of Earth cards, relying on strategy and theory to decide the outcome of the duel. At the end of the Primoridals arc, he obtains the Primordial, Terrarion, the Earthborn Warrior.

  • Kyou Mizuhara (Chloe Mizuhara)

Voiced by: Kumi Sakuma (JP), Martha MacIsaac (EN)

A cheerful, bubbly and kind-hearted girl, Kyou Mizuhara is one of the most popular girls around her school. Coming from a rich family, Kyou recieved her own Kessenju deck as a birthday gift, and since then, has been playing with others, leading to her meeting with Sendo. While not the strongest in terms of physical strength, Kyou more than makes up for it with her sheer will to win.

Kyou uses a deck consisting predominantly of Water cards, focusing on unusual creatures and equally unorthodox spells. At the end of the Primoridals arc, she obtains the Primordial, Aquaris, Nymph of the Sea.

  • Reito Muragaki (Raven Muragaki)

Voiced by: Mitsuki Saiga (JP), Stuart Stone (EN)

A duelist with a hunger for power, Reito Muragaki recieved notoriety as the "deck hunter". An orphan since birth, Reito never found a purpose in life until he discovered Kessenju, eventually growing up to be a feared figure in the realm of Kessenju. Reito is usually dark and brooding, but when dueling, he becomes ruthless cruel and sadistic, stopping at nothing until he utterly destroys his opponent.

Reito uses a deck consisting predominantly of Dark cards, relying on strong monsters and manipulative spells. At the end of the Primordials arc, he obtains the Primordial, Tenebrus, Lord of the Underworld.

  • John Atlas Knightingale

Voiced by: Nachi Nozawa (JP), Neil Crone (EN)

The CEO of Knightingale Corp. and creator of the Kessenju cards, John Atlas Knightingale created Kessenju using the many mysterious cards that he had found in an ancient ruins during an expedition many years ago. Knightingale once held the Primordials, and plan to use their power for his own selfish needs, until they were stolen by Shinsaku Tenryu in order to avoid a potential apocalypse, and since then, he has stopped at nothing to retrieve the Primordials. Knightingale is a ruthless and manipulative individual, and will pull out all the stops to get back what is rightfully his.

Knightingale uses a deck consisting of cards from all five realms, possessing powerful monsters and an all-around arsenal of spells. He is also the bearer of Dhuxis-Preime, Progenitor of the Elements, the original Primordial, and the most powerful of them all.


These opening and ending themes are for the original Japanese version of Kessenju!; the English dub version uses a different, original theme song for both the opening and end credits.

Opening Themes

  1. "Out of Orbit ~Triple Zero~" by T.M.Revolution
  2. "Mirai no Kakera" by Asian Kung-Fu Generation
  3. "Sunrise" by Puffy AmiYumi

Ending Themes

  1. "Saigo no Toride" by Miho Komatsu
  2. "Love is Forever" by Tommy February6
  3. "1,000,000 Monsters Attack" by Soul'd Out


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