Culture

Sgathaich: Walking With Digital Monsters

Every Sunday now when I wake up, I put on the laptop head to Crunchyroll and sit down to watch the 2020 Series of Digimon Adventure.

For a while I wasn’t sure if I was enjoying the show genuinely or if it was just nostalgia for the original series… But after Palmon digivolves and then the absolutely amazing sequence for the first appearance of Metal Greymon I was sold, this was a good series (currently waiting for the card game to be on regular release…. the new one – there have been several, and not just because of the lovely art of Lilithmon). During these later months of 2020 it’s been a staple of my routine and I would like to end this year with the story of me and this franchise.

Power Rangers, Pokémon and the late 90s

So let’s head back to the latter half of the 90s (yes that was 20 years ago, feel old yet?). The Power Rangers had killed off a lot of the Saturday morning cartoons and so many of those remaining had lost that fun inventive quality all trying to now chase 90s trends of “being cool” which were all piles of sh**e may I add. But in this bland landscape something came through from Japan, Pokémon. Now before we go, on yes the names are similar as they both contain the abbreviation “mon” referring to monster or monsters, early on there were arguments about which series came first. From my studies Digimon came first in the form of a battling virtual pet while Pokémon the video game came out a bit after. The Pokémon anime came out in the West first though – hence the argument. Neither is really copying the other yet.

With Pokémon breaking down the walls to anime a bunch of the companies that put on TV shows were quick to get some of that Pokémon money. So we got Dragonball Z, Gundam Wing and on Jetix (or was it still Fox Kids back then?) Digimon featured a grand tale as 7 kids were ported to the digital world each getting a Digimon companion as a sort of supernatural best friend/pet kind of deal, each kid also getting a strange object called a Digivice (based a bit on the digital pet).

Digimon

The series involved these kids and their Digimon going through the digital world and fighting evil, usually though digivolving to a more powerful form Agumon to Greymon. The first arc of the story ended up with something I’m amazed to this day got past the censors. The big bad was the Freaking Devil (Devimon to be precise) and was defeated by the youngest child’s playful Digimon turning into Angemon. So yes the finale of the first arc ended with a demon and angel fighting each other (you don’t get stuff like that anymore in the West they would censor it like mad ).

The second arc was mainly them getting these crests that would enable them to digivolve further. For the most part I won’t cover that but there was one episode that was very interesting. Tai the lead child tried force Greymon to digivolve and caused what is now referred to as a Dark Digivolution into Skull Greymon. This was a very cool thing as it showed that unlike Pokémon there was no set path a Digimon could digivolve to but rather multiple ones depending on circumstances. This was much more evident in the video games that I never really got. I got about 2 of them but one is very old and not great the other doesn’t really play like a Digimon game. So anyway we always did wonder what potential other digivolutions the Digimon in the series had (happy to say the 2020 series confirmed one I’d suspected since the original series YAY) The arc ended with Greymon digivolving to Metal Greymon to defeat the arc villain who was basically evil monkey Elvis… yeah kind of a come down after the Devil.

The series continued with more villains, the other kids getting their ultimate level digivolution, even finding out that Tai’s little sister Kari is the 8th and also got a angel themed Digimon before finding out there was a even higher Mega level with War Greyman and metal dog thing that’s not as cool as Greymon.

Compared to Pokémon and its constant endless Ash, Digimon the anime had a beginning and ending, a journey for characters that since it had an ending allowed for them to not just be reset. I admit I did get pulled in, heck I said already I got one of the video games and even a toy digivice. So when a movie and second season was being advertised I was excited. I missed the movie of which only the middle part was any good (so good Summer Wars just outright reuses it). Season two was a proper sequel with the two younger kids now the rest were in the first season and 3 brand new kids… and I didn’t like it.

They come up with ways to combat some new villain and you just wonder why they don’t get their megas to snipe him. The whole season feels like it’s just trying to find a different way to get back to the level we left at (Armour digivolving sucked)….plus the epilogue enraged the fans. There was a good point in the middle of the show where we got Black War Greymon who ended up being a sort of anti villain and we even got a episode later on where he battled regular War Greymon (sadly the new guys interfered then he got a rather poor send off that was undone by the end of the show… yet he remained dead… grumble).

Black War Greymon was my favourite… followed by Machinedramon… yes they all end in mon.

Tamers

Fortunately Season 3 was much better. Referred to as Tamers it was set in a different continuity, which was confusing since they reused some voice actors as in jokes, but as a child you got confused as we weren’t used to the idea of franchises having series in other continuities over here at the time. It had a smaller main cast than the others but had a generally darker tone, not too far but death occurred a fair bit more often. It had a more serious tone and sense of threat than the other two. Also it didn’t try to come up with some weird new alternative digivolution to use instead of the ones we enjoyed. The main change was the leads merged with their Digimon for the mega forms which lead to some good final forms, even had a dark digivolution in the series too, always a good point. I should point out one of the lead characters Digimon Renamon is one of those characters that is now pointed to for making kids of the day into Furries, but on the bright side also has a whole line that is very much based on Kitusne of Japanese mythology… in fact a lot of Digimon took references from mythologies around the world… one of the few good points in season 2 even addressed this.

But anyway Season 3 ended with a somewhat less than optimistic ended (still good just a little depressing). But was still considered a good season, differently held up a lot higher than season 2 was, so we were all waiting for season 4. We even saw clips of it when during Ad breaks they said what was coming next. It never came.

Frontier

The season in question is referred to as Frontier and from what I’ve heard it’s really bad. But once again I was a child at the time, sure a fair few years older than what I was when it started and was starting to notice Angewomon looked kind of nice and thus getting the joke in the fight between her and Lady Devimon ( once again amazed this got past the censors). But with no new series and no internet yet for my childhood that was it for Digimon. Sure I got a PS2 game (one of the two I mentioned earlier) but there were no new episodes on TV and by the time a show did air, I was a fair bit older and was on a channel I didn’t really watch.

Ultimately I grew up, eventually getting the internet and finding out about the seasons or mangas or movies that we never got. I still had fond memories but those were like many shows that I saw as a child and were gone now. Then I heard news of a new Digimon series called Xeros Wars (or Fusions in the West) and… yeah much like season 2 tried to do something that really didn’t feel Digimon in its main premise plus I hear it nearly killed the franchise.

Tri

So much like Doom,it went back to where it began and we got Tri. This featured the Original 8 and would even give those that didn’t get mega forms theirs rather than just Tai and Matt (guy who had the other mega that wasn’t War Greymon). Some of us even wondered if it would do away with that terrible epilogue at the end of 02. While people are divided on Tri it was the kick the franchise needed to get back into people’s attention and evidently it worked. A spinoff series App Monsters came out and a movie sequel to Tri was also made. That movie Last Evolution I despise, I hate the very premise behind it and the “revelation” on the way digivices work. It’s insulting to people and all just so it can try to be a tear jerker. Good thing there’s a reboot 🙂

2020 Digimon Adventure

Back to the beginning now, as this year we got a reboot to the franchise in the form of a reimagining of the original series in the present day, which is a great idea since we’re now even more connected to the internet than we were back then.. By a lot. When it was first on I actually skipped it out. I was weary of how the franchise was being handled of late but I was hearing odd things. Namely the first few episodes were a sort of recreation of the good bit of the Digimon movie, even having Omnimon. Which was odd, we didn’t even have metal Greymon but had Omnimon? So I decided to check out episode 3 and, I kind of was just skipping through it to see what happened. Ending the episode with Tai now entering the digital world and being welcomed by Augumon. And then Japan went into a state of emergency because of Covid and the series went on hiatus.

I basically forgot about the series for a couple of months (you can read about what I did here in my lockdown articles) but when the show came back I decided to check it out, and I enjoyed it. I got rather excited when the mega forms of all the kids Digimon were teased out so we wouldn’t just have the 2. And I loved the insert songs. But I still wasn’t sure about the show, till the Metalgreymon part where I went “yep I’m enjoying this is awesome” complete with a song backup that I hunted and waited for the full version of.  I often use the scene now to try and get people to check out the show, I hadn’t been doing something like that since My Hero Academia. I even realized I was actually analyzing and dissecting the sequence and animation I was so into it.

This year has been a tough one but I have found things to enjoy. As you have read one of those is the return of a show I loved as a child come back in new and exciting ways (its had quite a few surprises) and with the TCG coming out next year I’m already planning to get some of those (who knows who I’m going to play against, maybe see if I can set up some over the internet game). So I think the only thing to end this is with, GO AND WATCH THE SHOW! DONT MAKE ME FISH OUT THE METALGREYMON SCENE FOR YOU TOO!

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