Tuesday, May 31, 2016

In Defense of Digimon

I don't know who made this fan-art, but I love it!
So I never did get around to that Once Upon a Time rant. I was calmed enough by the season finale that I let it go… for now. We’ll see how I feel when I watch the most recent season and/or when the next season comes out. For today though I have something else in mind. Time for a trip to my childhood: Digimon. I swear I still hear people commenting on how Digimon wasn’t as good as Pokemon. I love both franchises. They are my childhood. I still enjoy both of them. However, Digimon did not get enough credit. There are probably some things that Pokemon did wrong (I’ll touch on those, but that’s probably a discussion for another time), but there are definitely things that Digimon did right that were underappreciated. I was going to recap briefly the different seasons of Digimon for a quick refresher, but it got too long (nobody has time to read all of that). If you need a refresher, I suggest going to the Digimon Wiki.

One of the biggest things that sets the Digimon and Pokemon animes apart in my mind is the writing. For a children’s show, Digimon was very well written. Using Season 1 as an example, though Tai, Sora, and Matt probably got the most screen time, all eight of the Digi-Destined children got a pretty decent amount of screen time and each of them fleshed out and each of them get character development. This is actually pretty true of each of the seasons I’ve watched.

After he stopped being the Emperor, Ken had to fight the
darkness each day. That's what I call character development
A wonderful example of the character development is Mimi. She started out as a spoiled, annoying princess, but throughout the season she softened up and realized that there was more to life than shopping and keeping up appearances. In fact, she’s the one who in some ways has the biggest heart when some of their friends start dying. We see that continue into Season 2 when she is actually quite mature in how she teaches Yolei about being kind to people. Then there’s Ken in season 2. He started out as the Digimon Emperor, but when he learned that the Digital World was real and he was hurting innocent creatures, who had real feelings, he went through a huge redemption arc, struggling to find forgiveness for the horrible things he had done.

It is possible to age your characters properly, as seen in
Season 1, Season 2, and Digimon Tri (released last year)
Other points on the story-writing. While it’s a little annoying as the viewer to be jumping between
parallel world to parallel Digital World each season, it is refreshing because it’s new. One thing that Pokemon has done wrong is that they’ve stuck with Ash the whole time. Ever since the Pokemon anime started in the late 90s, Ash has been the star. His traveling companions have changed over time, but to this day, Ash looks exactly the same as the day he got Pikachu (am I to believe that almost two decades’ worth of adventures happened in less than a year?). It’s difficult to age a character on an animated show, but they could have possibly done more characters or mixed it up. That’s what my understanding is of the Pokemon manga. They have new characters each generation, like the games. Anyway, we’re not talking about Pokemon. We’re talking about Digimon. I would have preferred it if they kept their story to one world, like they did with seasons 1 and 2 and Digimon Tri (15th anniversary series), but all the same it’s refreshing to see new faces. It keeps the story from getting stale.

Can we just talk for a second about how awesome this was?
I have one more story-writing point: a cohesive plot. To my knowledge, the Pokemon anime doesn’t really have a cohesive plot, other than get badges, catch Pokemon, and the occasional criminal team story arc. On the other hand, each Digimon season has a cohesive story. I think the best example of this is Season 2: The children fight the Digimon Emperor, who reforms and helps them fight Arukenimon and Mummymon, who are working for Oikawa, who was possessed by MaloMyotismon, who orchestrated all of it to get power over the Digital World and the Real World.

Tangent: Seeing the Digimon Movie in theaters was epic
One of my biggest issues with television shows is that they want to go on indefinitely. That’s what was killing LOST in their third season and that’s what’s killing Once Upon a Time right now (that’s a rant for another time). However, while some of its stories are weaker, Digimon delivers what it promises and it doesn’t go on forever. They tie up loose ends almost 100% (other than that one time…). They don’t have near as many seasons as Pokemon, but thank goodness. I’d rather have less seasons with better stories than infinite number of seasons with stories that all feel the same (how many times is Ash going to fall for Team Rocket’s disguises?).

Anyway, that’s all I’ve got. I think this turned into more of a rant than I intended, but it happens. Did you watch Digimon growing up? Give me your thoughts on what you liked about Digimon and/or Pokemon. 

One distinct criticism about Digimon: MagnaAngemon was SEVERELY
underused. Probably because he was too powerful, but still.

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