As a new man, barely in his twenties, I find myself looking forward to the future with hope in my heart and ambition coursing through my veins. With a positive outlook and an energetic disposition, day by day my anticipation and excitement of what is to come grows stronger but I constantly catch myself in daydreams of the past. Younger, better days.
Times when the bulk of my focus was centered on a tiny, square, brick-like toy that had to do no more than ‘beep’ to get my attention. The days of the ‘virtual pet’; they were good ones indeed. The original ‘Digimon’ ‘V-Pets’, as they’re called, were basically Tamagotchis with ‘machismo’. You didn’t give your virtual pet a bow to wear or a ball to play with, that’s not how you train a killer! From the moment a ‘Digimon’ hatches it is put into rigorous training; shooting bubbles at punching bags or having to fight it’s own body double. Being a sequence of digital lines on a tiny screen is hard, especially when you’re put to the test on an hourly basis, but that’s what made them strong.
That’s what helped them win! Some time after the ‘Digimon’ craze hit the pinnacle of popularity, our morning television screens were graced with an animated series supposedly based off of what was essentially a real pet ownership training system. It starred eight young men and women who find themselves in odd yet wonderful world populated by creatures the likes of which they’ve only ever seen in their wildest dreams.
These kids, called the ‘DigiDestined’, eventually befriend eight ‘Digimon’ who go onto explain that they have been waiting for these children to lead the ‘Digital World’ into peace seeing as, upon their arrival, a digital war is just on the horizon. The ‘DigiDestined’ and their eight ‘Digimon’ partners must now travel the ‘Digital World’, lending a helping hand to all those in need, fighting off diabolical forces, mastering the art of ‘Digivolution’ and all the while working to uncover the truth inside of themselves. ‘Digimon: Digital Monsters’ season one is pure adventure at it’s finest. The series has obviously been produced with young children in mind with most of the story revolving around acts of kindness, friendship and love.
‘Digimon’ deals with the fundamental attributes that make up what each of us would consider to be a truly ‘good’ human being. Anime does something interesting; it confronts you with mixed world views alongside both tragic and beautiful visions and scenes that can only make an audience feel something along the lines of ambivalence. That’s what a GOOD Anime will do to you. That’s what a memorable Anime will do to you. What ‘Digimon’ does is clearly outline what is good and what is bad, essentially the series has no grey area which is actually extremely effective when dealing with young minds.
This is the reason why not everyone can watch a contemporary Anime series just because they see it as a cartoon. The underlying morals of ‘Digimon’, the themes it highlights so aggressively throughout the series, these are things I honestly believe we’ve forgotten. We now live in a world of darkness and grit where even the ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ are not safe from a dank reboot. Society wants to see negativity in the spotlight but ‘Digimon’, a 90s cartoon based on a virtual pet, only wants it’s audience to see the good in the world rather than the bad.
It teaches viewers that redemption can be attained, forgiveness is a possibility and love can be something you share with everyone, not just those you deem ‘worthy’. It is for these reasons that I absolutely love the story of ‘Digimon’, well…that alongside feelings of overwhelming nostalgia. Unfortunately the season features many things that make this one of the worst Anime series’ I’ve seen in quite some time and it all lies within the audio. Visually ‘Digimon’ is nothing to look twice at but I can accept that seeing as it was a series of the 90s, had this been a recently-developed Anime than we’d have reason to worry but it wasn’t and, much like many other series’, I would consider it more as a classic than simply just ‘old’.
Everything you expect from it is there; recycled animation, constant still frames, distasteful use of CGI, etc. Fact is though, the backgrounds for each of the scenes look great! Each individual environment looks as though they were painted and feature an extremely unique artistic style that I’ve yet to see since so it gets points for being unrivaled in that regard. The colours are fantastic and vibrant, you just can’t look away from the screen on occasion but there are times where you almost cringe because of the terrible animation.
Where the series truly goes wrong is within it’s voice dubbing. Whoever translated and wrote the scripts for each of the episodes clearly didn’t care about what exactly the characters were saying. Laced with tacky celebrity impressions and terrible ‘cartoony’ voices, season one barely had a lick of any real acting within it’s voice cast. There are occasions where the story calls for some really deep moments. Moments where the audience is meant to feel something, but often…I felt nothing, simply because lines were delivered unprofessionally and dialogue was crammed with unnecessary jokes.
I sound somewhat contradictory seeing as earlier I spoke about it’s target audience being children but that doesn’t give writers the right to show a lack of care for what is going on. All the way up until the very final episode, wherein which the lives of the children were in grave danger, the jokes never stopped and it really did take away from the overall experience. To have a character made of pure negativity and hate say things like “why do you get the pizza when all I get is the crust?!” in an act of distress and disconnection from reality is simply…disappointing.
The ‘Digimon: Digital Monsters’ soundtrack is actually quite memorable but I believe it only to be so because there are maybe only ten tracks and they’re played every single episode to the point where I would’ve get physically angry had I not been such a fan of them during my time as a child. Hearing “hey Digimon, hey Digimon, monster friends to the boys and girls” once an episode, despite the scene, be it aggressive or light-hearted…that almost killed me. There’s absolutely no way someone who hadn’t watched the series as a kid could enjoy this as an adult.
I was in my element while watching through the series because I was practically raised on ‘Digimon’ so a lot of my enjoyment came from memories and nostalgia rather than appreciation for an overall good Anime series. I would hate to give ‘Digimon’ a bad grade, simply because I hold it so close to my heart but, once again, that is because it is a part of my history as a human being. Nostalgia is powerful. It can push you to do certain things or act certain ways. Watch different shows and listen to different music. Without this force, ‘Digimon’ is unbearable for an adult but…for a child? Absolutely perfect! Just the way I remember it.
The ‘Digimon: Digital Monsters’ Season One Collection can be found at Madman Entertainment.