ANIME MARKETING SERIES
Full list of the review series can be found on this page, 3rd post from bottom:
Animated by Studio Toei, who knows well how to make nice children’s shows. Directed by Kakudou Hiroyuki, who also directed many other famous children’s shows such as YuGiOh, Transformers, and Super Robot Wars. Not a bad team I must say.
[Agumon! I choose you!]
When I first watched Digimon several years ago, I thought it would be just a Pokemon rip-off; the similarities were simply too many. But after a few episodes I clearly knew it was something different; maybe not so classy and balanced as Pokemon, but still BETTER.
First of all it has an on-going plot and although it is predictable and formulaic to the most part, at least it’s going somewhere, it offers progress and has a build-up. So although the premise is just about a team of children transported by accident into a digital world full of monsters, it played out perfectly with what it had. I mean, sure, they pair up with monsters out of nowhere and have to “save the world because destiny demands it” type of kitsch but it sure does a lot more in-between those overused tropes. First they only want to find a way to go home, which begins an adventure of learning about the world around them and fending of its dangers, then when they manage to return they realize the danger has followed them there as well, so they need to go back and fix things.
The artwork was quite good back when it was made but pretty average by today. The backgrounds were interesting most of the time, since the Digiworld was a very strange place but none were as exotic or eye captivating as in other anime with strange worlds. The human character figures have not much detailing and Digimons look like a bunch of incoherent ideas from every animal, plant or object you can imagine making a creature from. All the special effects are fancy but damn do they repeat a lot.
A thing you must tolerate somewhat is the overuse of the transformation sequences, which repeat in each episode and take up lots of the duration for no reason other than exciting the kids into buying the toys. It gets really annoying, especially when they later on try to blend in crude 3D effects in the otherwise 2D environment. Also, most episodes follow a pattern of the sort of a kid facing a monster of the week and using its own Digimon to beat it, by leveling up in the middle of the battle or even getting extra evolutions if it’s necessary. It makes things predictable but also exciting to see what their next stage of evolution will be like or what if they mess a bit with the formula and do something different from time to time; meaning, there are a few simple plot twists.
I usually don’t like J-pop songs but the ones in the series were very catchy. I consider them and even the voice acting to be above average but way below great. And voice acting was ok, aside from being with silly sounding voices most of the time.
[Digimon! Gotta get them all!]
And then, there is the eternal present comparison and categorization of the Digimons. Since this series is based on a breeding pets/ RPG game, every Digimon has its own element, special attacks, different evolutions and flavor behavior that can hook all of you who like collecting and categorizing things, like trading cards, stamps, coins… or even Pokemons. Major collector’s urge! If you see it from afar, it looks very variable and complicated for the age group it is aimed at.
It is not just about action or monster collections of course; there are lots of messages here, from friendship and trust, up to taking up responsibilities, growing up to be strong and secured with yourself, and never giving up on your goals. It makes things very motivational for the target audience. Of course if you try to see the whole thing from a more mature point, it looks very lame. 10 year olds, destined to protect the world with evolving monsters and convenient power ups exactly when they need them and stuff. But hey, the target audience won’t care much about that and it’s still eons better than Pokemon.
[Who’s that Digimon?]
The series has poor character development (mind that just because the Digimons get new powers and grow stronger does not mean that they become better as characters) and almost non-existent backdrop (kids from Japan and monsters from Digiworld with no story behind them). There is though strong character presence, giving of an average feeling towards them. There are no prevailing personalities and all characters are stereotypes but at least they are well established. They are all quite different from one another. From time to time the story evolves around their quirks and tastes and colorizes them by devoting an episode for each one of them. Their Digimons can be viewed as extensions of themselves and don’t actually count as separate personalities.
And let’s not forget the jokes; light moments that can make you laugh no matter your tastes. And there are several scenes with very subtle erotic humor that spice things up. To imagine how good it was, just think that the American version edited several scenes out. Which can only mean that IT HAS TO BE GOOD!
Anime based on some product are made solely to advertise it and start an addiction to its possible consumers (usually nerdy kids with loaded parents). As such, most game –based anime are quite lame, with childish scenario and carton characters being just an excuse to shovel us flashy techniques or strategies of the soon-to-follow game. Despite this scam, Digimon has a typical scenario, bearable characters and likable situations. It is amongst the good scam-hiding series. Along with Pokemon, this is amongst the most renowned series with kids pairing with monsters and it is still a living franchise. Chances of rewatching it are rather low as there is nothing to expect from a rerun of a childish show.
Pokemon, Monster Rancher, Dragon Drive and Medarot are mediocre series about kids pairing with monsters.
El Hazard, Maze the Mega Burst Space, Haruka Naru Toki no Naka de, Dino Adventure Jurassic Tripper and Kyou Kara Maou are series with a silly story about people transporting to phantasy worlds.
The Vision of Escaflowne, Dennou Coil and The 12 Kingdoms are series with a much more serious story about people transporting to fantasy worlds.
And now for some excused scorings.
ART SECTION: 6/10
General Artwork 1/2 (average production values)
Character Figures 1/2 (generic)
Backgrounds 2/2 (basic but fitting with the feeling of the series)
Animation 1/2 (basic)
Visual Effects 1/2 (basic)
SOUND SECTION: 7/10
Voice Acting 2/3 (corny but fitting with the feeling of the series)
Music Themes 3/4 (not great but fitting with the feeling of the series)
Sound Effects 2/3 (ok I guess)
STORY SECTION: 5/10
Premise 1/2 (typical)
Pacing 1/2 (mostly formulaic but does have its plot twists)
Complexity 2/2 (collector’s urge)
Plausibility 0/2 (none)
Conclusion 1/2 (cheesy)
CHARACTER SECTION: 5/10
Presence 1/2 (generic)
Personality 2/2 (cheesy but well founded)
Backdrop 0/2 (almost non-existent)
Development 1/2 (predictable but it’s there)
Catharsis 1/2 (predictable but it’s there)
VALUE SECTION: 6/10
Historical Value 2/3 (very famous franchise)
Rewatchability 1/3 (low because of too much repeated plot)
Memorability 3/4 (easily memorable thanks to its likable characters and good story for a children’s adventure)
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 4/10
Art 0/1 (looks crude)
Sound 1/2 (sounds ok)
Story 1/3 (good ideas but handled in a childish and predictable way)
Characters 2/4 (typical but likable)
Funny/interesting/cool half the time. Gets boring because of the repeating transformations and the repetitive plot.