Friday, June 6, 2014

Spotlight: Digimon Xros Wars

If you look carefully, only one guy has a digivice
Welcome all to the penultimate installment in this series of Digimon Spotlights. Technically this season is two seasons, but it’s easier to treat them as one big season.

Now let’s dive in.

The Story

Time for Giant Digital Robots!

Taiki is a young kid with a thing for helping people in trouble. One day he hears a voice calling for help and is unable to ignore it (which will become a thing). Together with his friends Zenjiro and Akari they find and help Shoutmon. 

This meeting unleashes a series of events that will lead them to the Digital World, which is on the brink of being taken over by the evil Digimon Bagramon and his army. In order to defeat him and save the world Taiki and Shoutmon must fight together with the power of DigiXros.

This is a time for Generals!

The Setting

The "Second Season"
The Digital World is still the Digital World. The biggest change here lies in the people and the Digimon.

For one, and this is a big one, Levels aren’t a thing anymore. This is something pissed off a lot of people. Rookie. Champion. Perfect. Mega. Those were the Digimon levels. They were a thing. The Digimon evolved to fight bigger threats by the power of the bond between human and Digimon.

Xros Wars does not acknowledge levels at all. Shoutmon (who should be a Rookie) was never even given a level.

Instead, Xros Wars uses DigiXros. A General (The new term for kid with a Digivice/D-3/D-Arc/Etc) can fuse any number of Digimon he commands with his Xros Loader. The fusions range from DNA-type evolutions to ‘X becomes Artifact for Y to use’.

As you may guess this means a General can and does have a number of Digimon working for him. Taiki and Shoutmon are the main pair but Taiki has a lot of Digimon in his Xros Loader.

Wrong Neighborhood 
Real Evolution only appears at the mid-season point, but even then levels are not a thing. Shoutmon in base form can beat Perfect level Digimon with impunity, because in Xros Wars, well, levels don’t matter. That said the “enemy” bosses will usually be Mega Digimon, even if they are never called that.

Another aspect that changes is that Taiki’s two friends, Zenjiro and Akari, don't get Digimon. The opening makes it seem like they will become partners with the other two main Digimon, but that doesn't happen.

During the mid-season, they stay beind in the human world and are replaced by Nene and Kiriha (who are both Generals) as part of the main trio.

How it Manages?

For Better or Worse, the Big Bad

Xros Wars elicits mixed feelings from fans.

Some people love it and hold it among the best seasons of Digimon.

Others dislike it due to the radical changes it makes in structure.

Personally, I feel Xros Wars is both over and under rated.

Now, let’s be honest, some changes were rather needless. Doing away with the levels was pointless and took away from the mythology of the show. It also made things a bit awkward when you had the leader of the Seven Demon Lords working as a flunky of another Demond Lord who wasn’t even the Big Bad.

Digimon has a mythology. At least try to keep track of it. Keeping the levels and adding DigiXros as yet another type of Evolution would not have been all that hard.

The ‘one kid, many digimon’ idea was, if anything, underutilized. Probably because at one point there were too many Digimon. Taiki had tons of Digimon that were not given much in the way of spotlight. This is not just him. The same goes for many of Nene's and Kiriha's digimon. 

Zenjiro and Akari not having any partners was another misstep. It made them rather useless (except for the times Zenjiro used his Starmon Sword. That was badass). It is really no surprised they were traded in favor of the Kiraha and Nene who both have partners.

The Best

On to the good parts, Taiki is a good character. He’s not hot-blooded but he’s not really meek either. If anything he might the most sensible goggle-head. The hot blooded Shoutmon makesa good partner for him. Their dynamic as partners is good but sadly not as good as it could be due to the structure of the show.

Nene and Kiriha are both interesting character in their own right. Kiriha's character development in the second half of the show is specially good.

Sidenote: Nene is beautiful. Seriously. Look at the way they draw her in certain episodes

On the bad guy front, DarkKnightmon has to be my favorite antagonist of this season. It’s sad he loses relevance in the latter half of the show. Bagramon and his 7 Death Generals, while fun, don’t compare.

Ultimately, Xros Wars is good. It’s not bad and it’s a bit better than average. However, it can’t really compare with the better seasons.

So it’s just good.

Xros Wars contains a lot of the strengths of earlier Digimon Seasons. Make no mistake there. However, it also brings some brand new flaws. 

If you are really into Digimon, this is a tentative recommendation. Watch some episodes to get the feel of the anime and continue if you like it. If you aren’t the sort who knows all the extensive Digimon mythology, then give it a try. It’s a fun show. 

No comments:

Post a Comment