Zatch Bell (Konjiki no Gash!! (金色のガッシュ!!, Konjiki no Gasshu!!?, lit. Golden Gash!!) is a manga and anime seres about a young man, Kiyo Takamine, who partners with a Mamodo (demon) to win battles against other Mamodo, and eventually be the last one standing to win Kingship of the Mamodo World.
It's a very formulaic series, using the tried and true story elements of Pokemon along with a traditional Shonen Manga action series. Action is typical, where characters discover things about themselves or their friendships. A variety of spells and rules about the Mamodo begin to emerge and the characters progress through increasingly powerful enemies.
The series is, in short, very formulaic, and some might say unoriginal -- BUT (There was a "But" coming), despite this, the series is wonderful and charming, with an abundance of memorable wacky characters and very original and exaggerated art work and character design. It's really what saves the series from being mediocre. I simply can't help but enjoy the smiling faces of the characters, and funny and exaggerated artwork often times switch to character's eyes bulging from their faces when rushing. It's utterly unique and wonderful artwork, and I've now found myself quite a fan of Makoto Raiku's artwork.
The characters in Makoto Raiku's series are as unique as his artwork. The Mamodo are usually diminutive in stature, and are partnered with equally funny and bizarre humans. One of the standout characters of the series is Ponygon. He's basically a horse, not talking, who behaves like a dog. His dog like personality is also helped by his diminutive stature, since he's the size of an average dog. He's an incredibly cute and funny character.
The manga series ran for 33 volumes, and had an Animated series. Both where ported over to America, though I don't know how well they did here. The Anime series didn't last long on the air, and even the Anime never completed in it's home country. There's a lot of competing Manga for shelf space, but this series is a nice and fun gem that I'd encourage anyone to read. It's formulaic, but utterly enjoyable.
I think a lot of people just over looked the series, and perhaps also dismissed it because of it's formulaic storytelling, repeated in many other similar Manga. I in fact would never have bought the series myself, but was lucky enough to have won it in a Free Manga in a contest. Now I think I'd definitely like to see more of it.