Retrospective: How about Digimon?

Posted By EthaNox On October 15, 2011

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Retrospective: How about Digimon?

This is the one show that people always bring up when someone speaks about Pokemon, so why don’t we make a piece on it for nostalgia’s sake? Today won’t be much different from the article we had yesterday. The only major difference is perhaps the show we speak of and the way we do it.

This show was great

Sure, at first glance it appears to be a simple Pokemon rip off with the whole monsters part of the title and the fact that the premise sounded the same. But the fact is that this show was better than Pokemon in several ways (not to mention that it came out at about the same time, so not a rip off, I guess). The biggest one of them being the fact that it was bit more mature and included several topics on Pokemon’s “No no” list such as death and the frailty of life. Not to mention enough angst to fuel all of its future incarnations.

Other things that made it different were pretty apparent from the get go, such as the character design, the way the story played out (so the premise sounding the same is actually bull) and one big thing….

It actually grew with us!

Or it at least tried to. See the first two incarnations of Digimon were probably the best due to the fact that it dealt with the same groups of kids and the way their adventures within the digital world affected them. It had an overarching plot that was better and way more clever than what a “kid’s show” had any right to be.

The overall plot of the first season was that a group of kids in Japan found themselves dragged into a new weird world, a world that seems to have a certain degree of connection to their own and yet is completely alien and populated with creatures known as Digimons. And here is where it became awesome. At first it was “Yay, adventure with cool new pets that we found!” and then their anxiety starts to prey on them. Things like being away from home and their parents’ support, care and love. These were kids and as much as they tried to keep calm at times they found themselves scared and alone in a weird new world where they had to face new challenges and come out as unlikely heroes.

All the main leads were well rounded characters and behaved accordingly, even their Digimon were great. See, they worked differently than Pokemon as they pretty much were sentient beings being raised and cared for by their “tamers” and they each had different set of traits that made them stand out, even though most of the time they were mere projections of the human character they followed.

So, we had a smart show that dared to be different and present a more adult world filled with fantastic creatures and it even had a Matrix-like twist, granted it could be seen from the first episode, but the characters still had to figure it out and it was awesome. So what went wrong?

They tried to go Pokemon on us

The show added so many Digivolving forms to the characters that even the big baddies started to seem substantially more insignificant. The last good season was the third one, where they took the idea of Digimons and humans coming together into a single being and turned it into an interesting premise. One that got subsequently shot to hell by Season 4, the one which counts a butterfly-based Digimon in lingerie as its only highlight (a fact made kinda disturbing by the thought of it being a 14 year old girl).

The show simply started to die after this, as they focused more about sending the new characters on a somewhat generic journey to meet new Digimons, fight them, maybe even acquire new powers and undermine the mythology of the older show rather than expanding it.

Digimon was always about exploring a new world and the way it linked to our own, but then it sold out and changed. The show distorted its formula so badly that it simply became little less than a brand name with new iterations, one more disjointed from the original as the last.

Should I watch it?

Yes, watch up to the third season and enjoy what could very well have been one of the best titles of its time simply due to the fact that it could handle tone, phasing and atmosphere well. Plus, there are some interesting characters and a plot that’s equal parts cheesy and fun.

Just remember NOTHING and I MEAN NOTHING ever happens after the third season. It simply didn’t continue afterwards and all those other seasons are parallel universes, or bad acid trips.

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