Wednesday, March 10, 2021

The Problem with Digimon Adventure 02

I am the first to advocate for Digimon as a series and I always will be. That being said, during my most recent watch of Adventure 02, I definitely struggled a bit. It’s still in my top three Digimon anime series of all time (and I’ve seen them all), but that doesn’t mean it’s without faults. So here are a few things about the series that irked me--aside from the fact that finding part of the season on DVD seems impossible.... sigh.

My first gripe about 02 is regarding Angemon (and Patamon’s higher forms in general I suppose). He was the trump card of the first season and he was often able to take down Digimon of higher levels than his own. However, in season 2, he was unceremoniously stripped of powers. It made sense at first when none of the others could digivolve to champion level either. But then they had to make an excuse for why his powers couldn’t be used against the control spire Digimon. I get it; Angemon could have beaten all of them and rendered DNA digivolving unnecessary, but still. Angemon and MagnaAngemon are chronically underutilized.

Second and similar to the first, Gatomon basically got stripped of her champion status. Again, I get it; they had to put her on par with the others, since the others couldn’t digivolve to champion. But she went from taking down multiple champion-level Digimon in Myotismon’s castle to basically just making cat puns. And then while everyone else was digivolving to champion, she was stuck with armor digivolving to stay at all relevant.

Now I understand there were various writers and that left some unanswered questions by the end of the season. Honestly, by the end of the season I felt like they wrapped things up pretty well, tying it all together. That being said, the Dark Ocean still bugs me sometimes. We saw the silhouette of Dragomon at the end of “His Master’s Voice” and we all just accepted that it was never going to be resolved. But it would have been nice. We had all of Tri and Kizuna to get some sort of an answer too. And yet, nothing to explain what the Dark Ocean really was.

Again, the various writers for the series probably caused this, but I struggled with the inconsistent use of ultimate-level Digimon. Perhaps some of it was just dubbing errors (I’ve only ever watched the English version), but there was no indication that ultimate level was off the table until it was explicitly stated in “Fusion Confusion”. And yet in “His Master’s Voice” we had Angewomon and in “Davis Cries Wolfmon” it’s implied that Gatomon tried to digivolve again--also we saw Patamon and Gatomon reach all the way to mega level in The Digimon Movie. After the end of the series I guess they got their power back so they could reach ultimate level in Tri and Kizuna. But it was just a little odd with 02.

Now that I have my griping out of the way, I want to make sure I end on a good note: the things I loved about Adventure 02. Having a human enemy in the Digimon Emperor (and later Oikawa) was brilliant. Human enemies were later utilized with Tamers and Data Squad in the form of Yamaki and Kurata, but the Digimon Emperor (and his redemption) were something special. There hasn't been anything else quite like it since.

This season also introduced us to new types of digivolution, besides the linear pattern. As far as anime is concerned, armor digivolution and DNA digivolution were basically never used again and non-linear evolutions weren’t used again until the 2020 Adventure series, but they were a brilliant addition back in the day. But the idea of non-linear digivolution lines have been with the franchise since the beginning, so it was only natural for them to appear in the anime at some point, besides just dark digivolutions.

Finally, one of my favorite things to come out of Adventure 02 was the countless numbers of international Digi-Destined. Those of us watching during season 1 wished for a Digimon partner and the idea of Digi-Destined outside of Japan made that fantasy even better. How many Digimon fan stories have come out of this idea? How much more relatable did this make the series? Seriously, it only increased my love of Digimon to meet Willis, Michael, and all the rest.

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