This review is SPOILER HEAVY and full of ramblings.
This show… So many good memories of it. It doesn’t quite measure up to the first season, but I still loved it as a child and I love it now.
I don’t know how canon everything is from this season to Digimon Tri, but I wanted to rewatch this show to be ready, and I also wanted to watch the original Japanese version, as early anime especially had many changes to it when coming to America.
I love this show’s style of animation. It’s very fun and works well for both comedy and action. I also love the redesign of most of the original cast, and their new designs fit them well. The only one I never liked much was Mimi’s, as hers makes her look like she’s trying to be a generic popstar, but that’s a minor nitpick.
I also loved the designs of Davis, Ken, and Yolei. Cody, not so much, but… I also loved the designs of their Digimon and all of the evolutions, aside from one. That one being Shakkoumon. You take two Digimon that have great designs and turn them into… something really awkward. He just looks too stiff to be able to fight. I realize his design is based on something from Japanese culture, but so is the Pokemon Claydol, and I have no problems with his design. I don’t think Shakkoumon’s look would bother me so much if he had been a random Digimon, but it just didn’t match Angemon and Ankylomon, and it also felt like a letdown because of how hyped I was when the two of them finally managed to Jogress, as it had been very slow going for them. On the flipside, I LOVE Silphymon’s design! While Shakkoumon is awkward and Paildramon does the best at balancing the designs of the two Digimon it jogressed from, Silphymon’s design is the most cohesive while still matching the two Digimon it came from. But now that I’ve rambled about that…
For the plot(s) of this season, I really enjoyed them. In some ways, I liked how they progressed more than first season, as each plot of second season flows into the next and ends up all being connected. In the first season, the villains were pretty much all independent of one another (unless I’m forgetting something, even though I barely watched it…). In 02, everything fits together nicely.
I enjoyed each arc of the show, and I loved getting to know the new characters as well as learn what the old where up to. Whenever one of the older Chosen Child got in on the action, I was always excited. This is the same for when older digivolutions came up with Patamon and Gatomon. Their Armor designs were cool in that they worked so well off of each other, but I like their angel designs better. They were some of the coolest forms of the old show, so I can’t fault 02 too much for not being able to do something better or just as cool.
Also, Ken Ichijouji was my first anime crush, and it was so much fun to be able to revisit this show and be reminded why he’s still one of my top fictional crushes. As an adult, I can better identify with him as well, as we all make mistakes that we have to struggle to move past. Watching him grow and change and be forgiven by those he hurt was one of my favorite arcs in the show.
Now we come to the ending of the show… I’m still torn how I feel about it. It’s a cool idea and it’s easy to see how the show was heading in that direction through the inclusion of more and more Chosen Children, but it felt like it closed the world to any further stories (which is why the third season has the explanation it has about Digimon Adventure and 02). Obviously they have found some way to continue it with Tri, but many people think they might be retconning the ending of 02 (I’m not sure myself. They might just be inserting Tri before the epilogue part, and not changing the ending).
One other element I’m disappointed in is the romance with Sora. The epilogue never states who she ends up with, but near the end of the show there’s a moment with Matt that shows there’s a possibility there (which felt like it came out of nowhere). However, Tai and Sora seem like a great match—so much so I had a false memory of them getting together for years, only to be broken when the Digimon Tri news came out and I came across somebody complaining that these two didn’t get together and that hopefully Tri fixes that. I really hope that Tri does.
One more nitpick is the way this season handles killing villains. I don’t remember it being such a big deal in Adventure when the kids killed an evil Digimon. The Digimon was evil, and that’s just what they had to do to save the world. But in 02, it becomes a HUGE deal for the new Digidestined. I get that their introduction to Digimon was that they were good creatures being controlled for evil, and so they spent most of their time just fighting long enough to free Digimon, while in Adventure the Chosen Children learned pretty quick they would have to occasionally kill, but still… It just felt odd to bring up a problem with it in 02, rather than in Adventure.
I feel like I’ve been nitpicking a lot with this season, but that’s only because I really love this show and I want it to be the best it can be. Watching the finale was very emotional, even though I’ve seen it before. I will admit that I forgot Myotismon was behind the whole thing, but even after all these years, I’ve never forgotten that the Digidestined won because of the million points of light from all of the other children around the world. That was one of my favorite things about this finale, that it shows you are special for being just who you are, and even if you feel like your light is small, it still matters to the world.
Just like with Adventure, words cannot describe how much this show meant to me as a child/young teenager. It was a huge influence on who I am today, and Digimon and Pokemon were the first shows that really captured my imagination and let it soar.
02 does have its issues, but I think it was a good follow-up to Adventure, and it does a great job at further expanding the worlds and how they intersect with one another. I do have to wonder how so many kids became Chosen Children WITH partners when the Gates were closed and could only be open with the new Digivices they didn’t have, but… Overall, this second season was a lot of fun, and had a lot of the spirit of Adventure. It leaves me with such a bittersweet feeling, because it makes me want to be a part of that world.
Story: Blast from the past this show brings back so much for me when I was I kid I got half way with the frist Season and now I have got do seeing that and the season 2 that wraps up this two season together. I am so glad that there kids are now the new DigiDestined, but it suck that we will not beable to see them in action because after this season 2, it goes off in other spinoffs so it is kind of a downer but hey I got to see these to groups all the way to the end, So farewell frist and second true DigiDestined's you will be with me for ever.
Animation: So in the season 2 it looked like the art and animation was about the same as the frist, but again it looked like it got a little better half way though the show with more and better fights and moves
Sound: nice job on the sound clean and smooth
Characters: so of course my fav Characters are Davis, Kari KAMIYA, Ken Ichijouji and
Yolei plus the rest of the group as well
I'm going to do my best to keep this review as objective as possible. Of course, I might have to get a little subjective (though I will try to keep as many personal opinons out as possible) in the Overall section to explain just why I rated it so low.
All in all, I wanted to like Digimon Zero Two, and it was a fun anime to watch...once. However, and I say this all the time, there are just too many plot holes as a result of bad writing. I'm of the opinion that one could fly a 747...no...perhaps the Enterprise, through the rift of plot holes.
Zero Two picks up three years after Adventure left off, but includes most of the original cast as side characters who act more as mentors for the new kids (except in the World Tour arc, where they played an active roll). This is because the digimon can't evolve normally with the appearance of the Dark Towers in the Digital World, which requires the digivice to undergo a transformation in order to include the new evolution (along with a power phrase to activate it): Armor Evolution.
Something is wrong with the Digital World, and this time, it's in the form of not a digimon, but another child; and not just any child, but another chosen child/digidestined.
The anime starts by introducing us to those characters, complete with name bars on the screen, as we follow Takeru (TK), who has just moved to a new apartment, as he meets the soon-to-be new chosen children and reunites with Hikari (Kari).
From there, Takeru and Hikari have to deal with this new wave of kids, fighting an opponent who is human, and then even getting a glimpse of a mysterious location referred to as Dagomon's Ocean (or The Dark Ocean).
Of course, that's not the end, as an old enemy returns to reveal that it had been responsible for most of the havoc wrought on the worlds.
Zero Two has probably the worst character development with the exception of the new chosen child/digidestined. In fact, the only reason why I gave it a higher score than "1" is because of the one character who actually shows the most development, Ken.
Ken Ichijouji is a new chosen child introduced in this season...who oddly enough, has the crest of kindness even though he didn't appear in the first season. Practically all of Zero Two is Ken's story, and his transformation of character throughout the season. He is also the most developed character, and seriously the biggest reason to watch the series.
Takeru Takaishi (TK) is a returning character from Adventure, and one of the two from the original cast who plays an active roll in the adventure. With the exception of a couple times he grows angry at the darkness due to the scar of what happened in the fight between Angemon and Devimon, he appears to be the overall "nice guy" of the series, though until Ken joins them, he's painted as (a failure of) a lone wolf.
Hikari Yagami (Kari) is the other returning character from the original Adventure, and also has next to no character growth or development with the exception of a revelation which occurs within the span of a couple seconds (no joke).
Daisuke Motomiya (Davis) is the new "goggle boy" of the kids, though he literally has no character development at all. Any changes to his character (also referred to as "sage-Daisuke") is done only if the plot needs it. He has inherited the traits of courage and friendship, and gained a partner in V-mon (Veemon).
Miyako Inoue (Yolei) is another of the new kids, and the eldest. She is the hardest to describe, as she also goes through almost no character development and is also just there when the plot needs her. She's hyper, reluctant at first (but quickly amends that). She inherits the traits of purity/sincerity and love, and gets Hawkmon as her partner.
Iori Hida (Cody) is the final chosen child of the new cast, and is the youngest (at nine). He has a lot of potential to grow as a character, but only shows slight growth during the DNA evolution saga along with his slow coming acceptance of Ken. He inherits the traits of faith/reliability and knowledge, and becomes partners with Armadimon (Armadillomon).
Sound and Animation
I'm going to briefly touch upon the sound here.
I prefer the Japanese version, but the dub actually did a fairly good job...except that it did include some light humor to lift some of the dark themes Zero Two attempted to bring into the series. It also changed some dialogue completely in episode 13. However, the voice actors did a fairly good job, and the English insert songs weren't bad. The intro/exit and insert/evolution songs were also excellent as usual.
The Jogress/DNA evolution, though repetitive like every evolution scene, was awesome to watch, and the CG used on some of it was very well done. However, not all those were done in CG, so I felt I should dock a point for that inconsistency.
The story sounds great from how I worded it earlier, but it's really where the series crashes and burns, because there are more questions raised than they are answered as things progress. The first arc, which spans episodes 1-23 (out of a 50 episode series) goes on for much longer than it needs to be, and from episodes 24+ includes the writers trying to cram in new plot points which just falls flat on their faces because there isn't enough time to truly make a good story out of it.
There is little to no character development for anyone except Ken, and there are dozens of points brought up during the later arcs which needed much more time and episodes to be addressed.
One point was even brought up in episode 13, where Hikari is transported to Dagomon's Ocean. This episode actually features Hikari and Takeru, of whom we should have seen in the spotlight a lot more during the adventure. If the first season could properly give a cast of eight kids and their digimon (making the total 16 plus the bad guys) enough to learn about them, then a cast of five plus their digimon (later on, six) should have been easy-peasy. Now, I'll just say that this episode was actually written by different people who did the rest of the series, and it's unfortunate that these people couldn't have written the entire season.
To me, Zero Two felt like a trial run for Tamers, which succeeded where Zero Two failed in the theme: something which is a lot darker than one would expect/has dark elements to it.
Dagomon's Ocean and the origin of the Dark Towers was something which should have had a lot more explanation, but failed miserably. We also start to wonder where some of the antagonists have been for the first 23 episodes of the series.
It also lacks the survival element, as in Adventure, the kids couldn't go back and forth between worlds as they pleased, and were forced to deal with what came their way. I feel like the series should have either started out like Adventure and trapping the new kids in this strange situation, or done that towards the latter half when things spiral into out of control craziness which makes little sense because all of the "arcs" are too short to really provide enough substance.
Unlike in Adventure, the parents don't have much of a role in Zero Two. There's also the issue with the Dark Seed/Spores, and what led up to that. I had to do research to get information on what all that was about, and came up with a game for the Japanese WonderSwan called "Tag Tamers", which explains the backstory to all of that.
Online Digi-dexes also gave a better glimpse at what the Demon Corp (a group of enemies who show up in episodes 43-45 and really should have been more of a focus) was trying to do, as again, research was required to fill in the blanks which the series failed to explain.
There were at least half a dozen plot points brought up (the Demon Corp included), and only a couple of them actually came to an end. Not a conclusion, as they were wrapped up poorly (specifically, BlackWarGreymon), but ended. That, of course, left the other plot holes wide open even as the worst epilogue possible was shown.
I have a lot of issues with the last couple episodes; I'm not going to go over them because I try to avoid spoilers in these reviews, but let's just say that, though touching the first time around, once it hits the epilogue, all of the questions start coming. Sage-Daisuke also pops up here, when it really should have been Ken or Takeru who gave the lines he did (heck, even Hikari could have done it).
The final boss is actually quite a disappointment, and sort of makes you scratch your head a little at first and go "are you kidding me?". So, besides the entire season in need of a rewrite, the last couple episodes were the worst.
The story had a lot of potential, but because none of that potential was actually utilized, I gave it a low rating. The biggest reason to watch this show is for Ken's story, which is pretty much what Zero Two is about. There are also glimpses of possible story arcs, but unless it's picked up in the 2015 season which was announced, that's left up to the imagination of fanfiction writers to correct.
It's worth watching, but the best thing to do is sit back and enjoy the ride; just try not to think too hard when you watch it, and you'll enjoy it. Re-watching it, or viewing with a keen eye, will bring up many questions which you won't find answered in the show itself.
Digimon Season 2
7. The contents are pretty much the same, although at this point the original group of characters have all grown up and it’s up to a new group of kids to save the Digimon from an evil real life person that somehow made it into the their world and wants to take it over by force.
Plot and pace
7. A lot of unnecessary episodes, but the way they introduce this evil digimon emperor and how things turn out afterwards is pretty cool.
7. A little bit better than in the previous season. There are more moments of despair in this one.
8. Same as in season one. It’s a good ending that will leave you with the feeling that this is how a story like this is supposed to end.
7. If you’re a hardcore digi-fan, which I’m supposed you are if you decided to watch season 2, you will watch this again. Other people won’t.
6. They’ve spent less time on their characters. This time there’s only five of them, of which two were already in the original group, and the other three are pretty unoriginal if you ask me. Also the Digimon that belong to these characters are a lot less interesting than the first digimon.
7. It’s alright. Nothing more, nothing less.
7. It all looks nice, but there’s still nothing that takes it above the average anime.
8. The settings are still very different. This time the digidestined will spend more time in the real world, which was nearly impossible for the original group.
Music and sounds
8. It has the same music and even the same voice-actors.
If you read my “Digimon Adventure” review, then you know that I consider it an underappreciated gem that managed to make the best out of its premise with both intriguing plot and unforgettable characters. After its success, it was only natural for a sequel to be produced, and it was just as natural for it to fall to the plague of sequelitis and be generally considered not only worse than its predecessor but even one of the worst Digimon seasons period. However, while certainly inferior to the first, Adventure 02 still has its own merits, making it a pretty damn good series.
Three years have passed since the Chosen Children’s battle against the forces of evil, but all is not well in the Digital World. A human, declaring himself the “Digimon Kaiser”, has begun enslaving Digimon through the use of Dark Rings. It will be up to a new team of Chosen Children (Daisuke, Miyako, Iori, and the two “veterans” Takeru and Hikari) to fight for the freedom of the Digital World. But they will soon find out that the Kaiser is but the tip of the iceberg…
Predictably, the anime suffers from what I call “Digimon syndrome”, but it takes much longer to get out of the monster-of-the-week format into “shit just got real” territory, and unlike its predecessor, the crescendo in intensity does let up more than once, with pointless filler episodes and a second round of monsters-of-the-week. Don’t let this make you think it delivers poorly, though: the battles get more and more involving as the series progresses, the emotional moments (death scenes, emotional breakdowns, etc.) hit really hard, the nostalgic moments (with references to the events of the first season, similar situations, etc.) prove once again that the “that one adventure of our lives” feeling is what Digimon does best, and the progression of the plot is more complex and full of well-pulled (if at times a far-fetched) twists. It also shows some very interesting sparks of darker, more adult elements, like the theme of redemption, the sympathetic nature of many villains, demon-like Digimon threatening to destroy a school bus full of children, and even the idea for a plot arc written by Chiaki Konaka (of Lain fame), that unfortunately was later downtoned and mostly scrapped. I can see why, though. Seriously, monsters of darkness implying the intention of gang-raping a middle-school girl to spawn an army for their mysterious lovecraftian deity? When I first watched that episode it crept the SHIT out of me, and I was NINETEEN! (It was AWESOME!).
Despite all of this, though, its biggest flaw lies elsewhere. A textbook Digimon Syndrome case normally leads to an “epic, nostalgic, and ultimately satisfying finale”… and this is where it fails. The final battle is built up in such a perfect way, but then the series ass-pulls a payoff so cheesy that gets facepalms even from children, and then a distant finale with the children pulling dreams and aspirations never mentioned before and having bugger all to do with two seasons’ worth of characterisation from out of bloody nowhere, and even flushing down the toilet the conflict that constituted the centre of one character’s entire development… it is a pretty damn big disappointment. I like to think that finale was but a bad dream, and that Matt and Tai went on to become guitar heroes in a successful heavy metal band. Let me dream, damnit!
The new Chosen Children are much less interesting characters; with the exception of one episode towards the end and some small events concerning Takeru and Hikari, they are mostly underdeveloped, being given just a superficial, if strong, characterisation (Daisuke, in particular, is something of a 20% more annoying clone of the immature Taichi from the first twelve episodes); it is true that they are not in as dire a situation as the first protagonists were, though, and for all the jokes I make about how whiny they are not wanting to kill anyone and how “privileged they are, because back in my days…”, the moment in which they come to terms with having killed a sentient being is pretty well done, which isn’t a small feat considering how forced the whole dilemma felt (come on, would YOU feel sorry for a seven-storey-tall acid-spitting octopus trying to destroy an hospital? AN HOSPITAL?). Still, the result is a bunch of likeable, but mostly bidimensional protagonists (including the main Digimon) who pale in the unavoidable comparison to their predecessors. By the way, the old Chosen Children do make appearances, but mostly as helping hands and mentor figures; still, just seeing them being close friends, having grown out of their previous conflicts and weaknesses, and being generally awesome is very satisfying.
The villains, however, are something else. With one exception, they are all given exploration, a path of redemption or at least a redeeming quality, with Ichijōji Ken being one of the deepest and most moving characters I’ve ever seen in this kind of show (you know the child genius à la Yagami Light with a delusion of grandeur who thinks he's infallible?). No kidding, I think the whole series is worth watching because of his character alone; there’s even one whole episode dedicated to the psychological exploration of his backstory and guilt-ridden acceptance of his sins that I swear is the closest thing to a Neon Genesis Evangelion mind trip I’ve ever seen and Angemon all-powerful was it intense (of course it was cut out of the American and European broadcast, being watchdogs the bloody wankers they are). Of the other villains, one is an abomination gaining consciousness and searching for the reason of his existence, two have great dynamics and a surprisingly emotional payoff, one has one hell of a moving backstory (Oikawa, truly one of the most tragic characters of the franchise), and the final one’s a surprise.
The art in this anime follows the same style as its predecessor, so I’ll repeat myself and call it "average", nothing exceptional but by no means bad. It keeps the style of the backgrounds as in the first season and thus it keeps its pros (it’s a particular, distinguishing characteristic I still haven’t seen anywhere else) and cons (the fact that at times the characters may not blend in well). The character design of both the humans and the Digimon is still fairly strong, although it lacks the unquestionable awesomeness of a WarGreymon. The DNA Evolutions are pretty sweet, though. As a side note, I’ll add that I’m ready to bet my balls that the direction in episode 23 was meant to be a reference to the last episodes of Evangelion.
The soundtrack is again composed by Arisawa Takanori (already composer for Sailor Moon), who once again crafts a varied collection of beautiful pieces of music, ranging from jazz to rock to electronic to some really intense orchestral tracks including another set of effective character themes, always very effective in their use. The OP (the forgettable Target) is again provided by Wada Kōji, as the two EDs (Ashita wa atashi no kaze ga fuku and Itsumo itsudemo, both catchy upbeat pop numbers) are again sung by Maeda Ai. Besides Brave heart, occasionally making a return from the first series, Miyazaki Ayumi sings two more pumping insert songs for the evolution and battle scenes, Break up! and Beat it.
The seiyū from the first series reprise their roles (with the exception of Takeru, now older and voiced by Yamamoto Taisuke), and they all do their usual great job (Fujita Toshiko as Taichi also fittingly makes her performance a bit more “masculine” to reflect the character’s age), with Araki Kae as Hikari deserving special mention. The new Chosen Children also work pretty well, with Urawa Megumi deserving special mention for voicing both Iori and his Digimon Armadimon, although I can’t say I really like Noda Junko’s Veemon. All the villains do a great job in making their characters sympathetic, especially Hiyama Noboyuki as Black WarGreymon and Morikawa Toshiyuki as both Oikawa and Mummymon. And lastly, there’s Ken, voiced by Romi Park, who pulls off an unbelievably deep, memorable performance that manages to convey perfectly all the various nuances of her character’s development, from the most insane and evil to the most Ikari Shinji-esque.
In conclusion, I can understand what such a big part of the fandom hates about this sequel: filler episodes, lame main characters, aborted story arcs, and its infamously stupid finale, and certainly the fact that many western countries never broadcasted or heavily censored some of its best episodes didn’t help. However, while not as good as the first season, there's something that it hadn’t: three-dimensional villains, the theme of redemption, and sparkles of darker cues that Konaka will then bring to full development in Digimon Tamers. In the end, if you enjoyed the first one don’t be afraid to try this, it still accomplished much, much more than many of its “timeslot brothers” did. If you watched it back in the days, whether you liked it or not, I’d suggest you to give a try to the original Japanese (there’s both a fansub and an official Hulu sub, though of questionable quality, available), it’s much better without the censoring and childish adaptation it suffered. I think it’s a worthy, if flawed, successor to the previous masterpiece.