Welcome to a very special Saturday (Err Thursday) Morning Cartoons! This is the series where I go back and watch shows I used to watch as a kid on Saturday mornings and see if they hold up to the test of time. This week we're looking at Digimon! Now last week I know that I said I would be looking at all three seasons that I watched as a kid (the first three) and I still plan on it… buuuut, I started watching the first three episodes, my standard procedure for one of these articles, and I got hooked I couldn't stop watching the show. I went ahead and watched all 54 episodes of the first season O.o Normally I only watch the first three episodes of the show I'm writing an article about because one there are time constraints, I only have so much time in a week, but also because that's usually the number of episodes I give a new show before I decide whether or not to continue watching. Here I started watching and I was instantly drawn back into why I loved this show as a kid. It's aged remarkably well and if you guys get the time I'd highly suggest going back and watching this gem again. Warning, there will be spoilers for a 10+ year old show throughout the article, so be warned, I guess.
Tokomon dem Teeth O.o
Now onto my impressions of the first season! The early part of the show, while a little stiff (it seemed as the voice actors weren't really comfortable at first, so the dialog didn't really flow as well as later parts of the show) was still really cool, these kids didn't seem like the kids normally portrayed in Hollywood, or other cartoons, they were flawed, extremely so. But for all of their flaws they were still likable. The character design of the show was brilliant, it balanced the look between cute and totally badass really well. Tokomon, wtf is up with those teeth?! And TK is just kind of like aww it's cute. I really enjoyed the art style of the show in the early going, everything was bright and colorful and creative, it really brought a sense that it was a fully realized world to the show. I liked that the early parts of the show focused very heavily on world building, it may have been a bit of a slow build but it has a great payoff later down the road. Matt was easily my favorite growing up, and I'm still attached to the character today although I'm finding that I like Joe a lot as well, which is kind of weird because I hated the character growing up. His responsibility and some of the emotional issues he deals with through the show, like seeking the approval of his father and overcoming his fears were great to watch.
One thing that I noticed upon a second viewing is that the kids can all be dicks at some point or another and that the main hurdles for them to overcome isn't the evil digimon that they face in battle, but their own immaturity and emotional issues. The show was truly about growing up and the kid's growth mirrored the strength of their digimon and the path of their digivolution. That it held this depth really surprised me when I was watching this again, when I was a kid I wonder if I could grasp that this is what the show was about or if I was just into the digimon blowing stuff up. I think it was probably a bit of both. The problem with the early part of the season is that the villain Devimon, is just a mustache twirling I'm evil for the sake of being evil type of character, and this extends into the next villain as well Etemon. The show also fell into a bit of a pattern. Wander around, meet the villain, villain beats the kids, separates them all, they all do some soul searching separately and then reunite to kick villain's ass.
The show really started to come into it's own and develop it's really powerful message once it hit episode 20 Earthquake of Metalgreymon! It was when they finally get rid of Etemon and Tai ends up stranded with Koromon back in the real world! It begins to flesh out the dynamic that goes between The Digital World and our own. It was also a total shift in animation, which was really cool I liked the style a lot because it mirrored the movie's animation style. It also introduced the audience to Kari and began the mystery that was to be the arc for a long time to come. Who was the 8th Digidestined? I must not have been to aware of what was going on from week to week because they basically spell it out for you in the 21st episode of the series, but I remember being totally dumbfounded about who it could be for the longest time when I was a kid. I guess there was about fourteen episodes in-between but still. The search for the 8th Digidestined also introduced a new villain Myotismon he was a vampire looking dude and while still a mustache twirling villain, he showed a little more depth than Etemon and Devimon which I enjoyed quite a bit. I also enjoyed thoroughly the journey of gatomon who had a surprisingly sad and disturbing backstory. Her friendship with Wizardmon and his eventual sacrifice also tugged at the heartstrings. But I think that the reason I liked Myotismon was because the final showdown with him was so epic. It involved warp digivolving and some really cool sequences with Matt and Tai's Digi pals fighting him. I will say that while I like Matt best overall Wargreymon has the coolest design in the whole series.
The show really entered it's best episodes near it's close though. The Dark Masters were some of the better episodes in the show. It had intrigue, it had emotional depth in spades, and it had some of the best fight sequences in the whole season. I think the reason I liked this arc the best though is because it finally brought to rest everyone's emotional issues and had the kids really mature. Matt dealing with his angst over the divorce of his parents and his jealousy of Tai made for some really compelling TV. Also it lead to a fight between MetalGarurumon and Wargreymon which was really cool. Tai dealt with his trying to adequately care for his sister after almost letting her die when they were little, Mimi had to deal with the death of all those who had sacrificed themselves so they could save the Digiworld. Sora had to deal with a strained relationship between her and her mother. TK had to face his fears and grow up so that he could protect himself. Joe had to become his own man and not be the man his father wanted him to be. Izzy had to deal with the fact he was adopted and that even though they weren't his real parents that they still loved him. It was some really heavy stuff for a kids show. I think that's why I liked this show so much, it had consequences. Digimon died throughout the show, sure they may have been "reconfigured" and born again later, but they aren't the same digimon so it's the same as death more or less, it dealt with the loss and it tried to handle heavy issues while still being accessible to kids. The show also didn't hand wave and make things just go away. It was great and the writers should be applauded for the effort even if sometimes the comedy seems a little forced or out of place.
My favorite villain of the whole season came near the very end, it had to be apocalymon just because he had a little more depth to him than the others. He was created from all of the digimon who tried to digivolve and died in the process, he's the grief and anguish that's leftover from that. O.o He also asks right as they are about to fight if they would consider co-existing with him. The kids all say yes, but he refuses and begins to fight. Also, his ultimate goal is to destroy both worlds so that he doesn't have to deal with his grief any longer. The way they finish him off by realizing their inner strength and finish him off together was great. The ending was a real Tearjerker, but they'll be back in season 2!
Next week I'll be watching season 2 and comparing the two seasons that I've seen so far. I will also look at the movie that introduces us to the new Digidestined. Let me know what you guys think of the first season of Digimon, did you guys like the show as much as I did? Were you surprised that it held as much depth as it did? Or did you just plain not like the show? Sound off and let me know whatever your thoughts are. :D