Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Spotlight: Digimon Tamers

Best Season!

I won’t lie, I have waited for this one.

You could say the entire reason I started these Digimon Spotlights was because I wanted to talk about this season.

Digimon Tamers!

Best. Digimon. Season. Ever.


Subjectively too.

It’s that good. 

I say it; so it must be true.

The Setting

Raise you D-Arc!
Unlike 02, Tamers is not a direct sequel to the previous season. Digimon Tamers is not set in the Digimon Adventure universe.

It’s, however, totally set in the greater Digimon multiverse and quadrants and stuff, but that’s not the discussion we’ll get into right now.

Unlike the previous two seasons, Digimon Tamers sets most of its action in the Real World. The main characters will not set a foot in the Digital World until the latter half of the season and even then they will return to the Real World for the final arc.

This trait is something Digimon Tamers will share with Digimon Savers and (ugh) Time Hunters.

Even then, the Digital World in Tamers is different from that of Digimon Adventure. The inherent weirdness that characterizes the Digital World is still present but it is far wilder this time. The Digital World is a dog eats dog world and there is no Primary Village around.

In case you have not noticed it yet, Tamers has a darker setting. There is no denying that. However, one should not mistake this for a dark series. It has dark moments. However, the overall tone of the story is quite positive.

The Story

The Full Team!
Welcome to Shinjuku!

Takato is young kid with a tendency to daydream about his favorite franchise, Digimon. He plays the card game, has the goggles, and even draws his own fan-made Digimon.

If I had to describe him in one word, it would be normal.

However, Takato’s life changes when he finds a mysterious Blue Card. The game comes to life as his drawing becomes a real Digimon. Takato has stepped into a brand new world and it is not all fun and games. He is not the only guy with a Digimon around and not every Digimon is friendly.

Wild Digimon break into the real world to cause chaos and grow stronger.

Then there are those mysterious government guys.

Get ready for Digimon as you had never seen it before!

How it Manages

How do you think it manages?

Tamers succeeds in several levels.

Seriously, the Card Slash dynamic could have been something really lame, but instead it is used to add another layer to the battles and make the role of the human partner more vital this time around. This is just the tip of the iceberg.

The theme of a Digimon’s desire to evolve is touched upon near the end of Adventure with Apocalymon, but Tamers goes further into this.

Digimon want to evolve. They fight each other to evolve. They absorb each other’s data to evolve.

They go to the Human World to look for Tamers which will help them evolve. Evolve to become stronger. Evolve to protect themselves. Evolve because that’s just the natural way of things.

It creates an interesting dynamic, because these Digimon are not really evil (save a few exceptions). They are wild.

Digimon Tamers like stressing the relativity of good and evil and how those things can vary depending on perspective. From the Tamers’ perspective, the Deva (first important bad guy group) are Digimon that cause mayhem in the real world. 

From the Deva’s perspective, they are warriors on a mission to save the world and the Tamers and their Digimon are not only an obstacle, they are an aberration who have abandoned the natural ways by partnering with a humans.

All that said, Tamers’ biggest strength lies in the character development. Takato Matsuki. Rika Nonaka. Henry Wong. Those are our three main characters. There are more Tamers but these three (plus Jeri) get the lion’s share of the development along with their partners.

Yeah, I made a lion pun in a Tamers’ review. I am a horrible person.

The Biggest Dreamer

Takato is the goggle head of the season and technically the leader of the team. His leadership position is a less defined when compared to Tai or Davis though. He is not hot blooded. He is in many ways an everyman and perhaps because of that he is able to strike a balance between Henry’s logical approach and Rika’s “chew bubblegum and kick ass” persona.

Takato at the beginning of the show is not the guy who will jump into battle with a smile on his face. He dreams about adventure like every other kid, but he finds the reality is not quite like he imagined. His fist meeting with a Digimon involves his initial wonderment fading into fear as he realizes he can get killed. 


Takato’s development involves growing into his role as Guimon’s partner and taking responsibility for the fact kind of holds the leash of a guy that can wreck an army. He love Guilmon, yet at the same time he is wary of the power he possesses and the change that can bring. Through many trials he becomes more courageous and acknowledges being a Tamer is not all fun and games.

All while remaining a guy that can spout totally corny lines and be utterly serious about them.

Takato goes from regular guy from a literal knight in shining armor and it is glorious.

Also, Gallantmon is best Digimon.

If you think I am talking a lot about Takato it is because he is my favorite character. As an aside, though his official song may be Across the Tears, his real song is totally the Biggest Dreamer.

Seriously, listen to it. Read the lyrics. It’s in the name. Biggest. Dreamer.

Henry’s development is a bit less dramatic but it is there. Henry is a pacifist, an event which has its roots in an incident when he was young (er) in which he beat up a kid and ended up hurting him. Then later when he ended up hurting Terriermon by recklessly powering him up and making him fight.

Henry is a guy that is trying really hard to be the responsible, mature one because he is afraid of letting go. He has seen what happens when he becomes reckless. He is the super responsible type. Naturally, he learns to not take on everything by himself thanks for Terriermon's calming influence. He becomes a person that can use force to make his point but can do so with the appropriate control.

He also become a giant, bunny/dog robot that shoot smiley face missiles and beat down a giant turkey with Kung Fu!

Damn, I love Digimon.

Finally there is Rika. Tough as nails exterior. Really wounded interior as a result of her dad leaving her family. Add in the really famous, young model mom that is really busy and you have got yourself a recipe for a rebellious teenager.

Rika is young and already bored with her life. Being a Tamer gives her something to do and she does it well. Together with Renamon she strives to proof she is the best around, something usually accompanied with lots of ass-kicking.

Through the course of the anime, she changes into someone that can actually accept she has feelings. She acknowledges Renamon is her friend and manages to become friends with the other Tamers. She goes from a girl who pushes everyone away to someone that is willing to protect all of them.

It is no coincidence Sakuyamon specializes in barriers.

Though I have not mentioned their partners all that much, that does not mean they did not have any development. On the contrary, the partners and Digimon develop side by side.

Which is one of the reasons I like the concept of Biomerging so much (okay so it’s still called Matrix Evolution in the original, but Biomerging sounds so cool).

I could talk about Jeri and Impmon now, but that would be spoilers.

… more spoilers than what I have given so far that is.

Digimon Tamers remains the best entry in the Digimon franchise. Go on, give it a watch.

You won’t regret it.

One More Thing

Once again, it's my duty to enlighten those who only saw the dub of the awesomeness of the Digimon soundtrack.

Digimon Tamers Opening Theme - The Biggest Dreamer AKA Totally Takato's Character Song:

One Vision - Matrix Evolution/Biomerging Theme - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v2LvE15Kk0o

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