I am producing a brand new show called Anime Streaming Showcase (or A.S.S. for short). I take a look at the massive amount of anime scattered among the internet across various streaming site and say if it’s worthwhile. Is it binge-worthy, should you add it to your queue, or should you hide it and bury it?
We’re right in the middle of Digimon’s 20th anniversary, and so it’s only fair I turn my attention to Digimon’s most prodigious series yet: Digimon Tamers.
The Digimon franchise is celebrating its 20th year anniversary, and I’d think it thoughtless to not take the time to discuss my personal favorite of the franchise, Digimon Tamers. Digimon Tamers continues the established trend of kids receiving powerful digital creatures to befriend from the previous Adventure anime, but tweaks it by throwing in completely new characters and world to set itself apart from the more cheery Adventure. Certainly not to take anything away from Adventure and what it laid for a solid groundwork, Tamers is simply an alternative take on the idea of digital monsters.
Digimon Tamers’ standalone universe is much more different and even a tad more subdued than anything else Adventure aimed to present. Adventure introduced its 7 protagonists right from the start, whereas Tamers builds to an eventual group very slowly over its 51 episode run. Our main hero is Takato who lives is a world where Digimon are ‘real’ and are part of a game that many kids play as a hobby or even competitively. He creates his own Digimon who comes to life in the real world and is soon enough learning that his new friend Guilmon isn’t the only real Digimon inhabiting his town or the world. Soon enough Takato has formed a team with fellow tamers Rika and Henry who all understand the greater risks at stake regarding the mysterious Hypnos agency and their world’s safety.
It’s safe to say that Digimon Tamers has a setup similar to many shonen anime that have young kids in charge of saving the world, but when you get deeper and further into Tamers; there are several components that start showing that it’s far from typical fare. Writer Chiaki J. Konaka (Rahxephon, Serial Experiments Lain) wanted to present a more realistic, almost undisturbed actuality of the Digimon’s existence. Morals are essentially tied to humans, and they’re hardly a universal concept among other species, at least not to our knowledge. Konaka sought to demonstrate that Digimon are wild creatures that are uncivilized, primitive creatures only tasked to, well, evolve and survive. Konaka’s visions and desires are more than relevant from the start of the series, but truly gain more traction nearer to the middle of Tamers. Death and tragedy were portrayed too, although not to be dark and somber, but to actually showcase the reality and serious nature of death to children. Of course, it’s still hardly a gruesome scene in terms of what’s shown, but Tamers is an already visceral show that the implication is there.
It’s hard to argue Konaka’s implementations weren’t influential on the genre when so many other series have seemingly followed its blueprints. Next to the more recent Digimon Adventure tri. film series, Tamers has the most mature, and perhaps darkest take on the “children’s-toys come-to-life-and-they-must-then-save-the-world“ genre for that specific demographic. There are certainly other anime or manga out there that go darker or present the same dreary, almost nihilistic themes, like Narutaru, Bokurano, even Evangelion, but Tamers was technically designed for the ‘shonen’ demographic. I haven’t checked out much of Konaka’s other work beside Narutaru however, though I have heard high praise for Rahxephon and Serial Experiements Lain. I actually do enjoy a more nihilistic, slightly pessimistic story sometimes. I occasionally like the antagonist winning or succeeding and causing the heroes to persevere and return to prominence by more than ‘the power of friendship’ that most shonen stories tend to introduce as deus ex machina. Digimon Tamers does have its fair share of this throughout its run, but it’s more subdued and feels more well deserved when it finally occurs.
Digimon Tamers stands atop the Digimon franchise as my personal favorite, as well as being the most recommendable to outsiders. I’d even concede the previous two series before it are worth a go too, but if someone only had time for one of them and asked me ‘which has some teeth to it, which will leave a more lasting impression on me’, I’d easily hand it to Tamers. Digimon Tamers is currently accessible on most streaming services I generally discuss: Crunchyroll, Hulu, and Netflix. Additional Digimon shows are on there too, so if the digital bug bites, there’s an easy way to sate its cravings for more Digimon content.
And, in case you’re curious (since Pokémon and Digimon are almost inseparable in most instances of bringing one or the other up), here’s my advice on Pokémon versus Digimon. You ready? Pokémon is the superior game property, while I personally think that Digimon handles the anime property better. I know that the Pokémon anime is nearing something like a thousand episodes at this point, and has no intention of ever stopping, but I enjoy Digimon’s more structured, less-open-ended structure over Pokémon’s. Again, it’s all subjective, like what you like and enjoy whatever you want as long as you’re happy! And lastly: play Digimon World for the PS1. It’s a mess of a game, but it has such a weird place in my bizarre heart, I can’t recommend it enough.
Like most people here, I’ve been watching anime for many, many years. I owe blocks like Toonami for getting me into the medium. Shows like Dragonball Z and Ronin Warriors shaped my beginning years, while shows like Neon Genesis Evangleion and Cowboy Bebop showed me that there’s some true artistic ability and expression found within anime (moreso than big burly dudes punching and screaming for hours on end). I now try to watch anime showcasing many genres and storytelling. Anime is just another great, creative medium for telling stories, and I’m happy to share my thoughts on the series I enjoy with you!