by Dustin P. Anderson
Our series follows Mikey and his friends as they thrown into the digital world while trying to save a strange creature from certain death. This creature is a Digimon that leads him to encountering a strange, intangible voice which gives him the choice of saving the hurt Digimon or walking away. Mikey chooses to save him and in turn receives something known as a Fusion Loader, and is transported into the digital world. Once there, it is revealed to Mikey that the hurt Digimon is seeking to become the ruler of the Digiverse so he can protect all of his fellow Digimon from the evil overlord, Lord Bagra, conquering lands one by one. Facing insurmountable odds, it is revealed that Mikey has one thing the evil conqueror doesn’t: his Fusion Loader. This Fusion Loader is capable of fusing together all types of Digimon to create one new, more powerful being. With the Fusion Loader in hand, and his friends by his side, Mikey sets off to right the wrongs caused by the overlord.
So I have apparently committed some sort of sin for someone in my age group by never watching the original run of Digimon when it first came out over fifteen years ago. Unfortunately, in the area where I was growing up there was an alliance that had to be made, you were either with Digimon or Pokémon, and I chose Pokémon. I didn’t know both were an option. So needless to say this is my first experience with this series, and I probably should have started from the beginning. Now that we have that unpleasantness out of the way, let’s continue.
This series leaves a lot to the imagination. Like how I imagine the name choices for these creatures had to have the writers really stretching their use of nouns and verbs with subsequent -mon at the end of everything. For example the main Digimon is called Shoutmon, and another character is called Starmon. I could also imagine some better names for a fused Digimon than Shoutmon X3, Shoutmon X4, Shoutmon X4k, and Shoutmon X4B. Maybe an amalgamation of the names of the involved Digimon, like Balistashoutlumon with Star Sword. I also had a problem with the main character as a whole. He was loud with an annoying voice, pushy, and he had this weird sense of entitlement. The character’s pushiness and entitlement come out of nowhere, as in he just came up with the idea to rule the Digiverse as benevolent king; there is no actual set monarchy, so what makes him the best choice? He explains that he just wants to help make sure his friends are safe, but why can’t anyone else do this?
The voice of this character was provided by Ben Diskin, and let’s just say I would have like more of his voice for number 1 in Codename: Kids Next Door and a lot less of his voice for number 2. Sometimes the voice used here fits in other series, like when he used it for WAC-47 in the Star Wars: Clone Wars series; this time it just started to kill my eardrums, like listening to a child’s temper tantrum for 20 minutes. His voice wasn’t the only bad one involved here; many of the supporting cast were just using their best impressions of famous people instead of trying to bring some originality to their characters. In this fifteen-episode run alone there was a Christopher Walken impression and an Arnold Schwarzengger impression, not to mention an impression of Elvis used throughout the series with a recurring character. I understand that many influential character voices are created by trying to emulate a famous discernable voice (i.e. Brain from Pinky and The Brain being an attempt at Orson Welles), but this was a little too on-the-nose, and happened way too often.
The story was bogged down as well by a lot of easily avoidable traps. This story doesn’t try to distinguish itself from any of the competing children’s collectible shows out there. They use the red vs. blue trope from Pokémon. They hint at a lesson about Digimon being used as weapons as opposed to Digimon being friends like the main lesson in Yu-Gi-oh. There is also a bit of inconsistency running throughout the series; like when a Digimon won’t have a problem beating another Digimon when fused, then they will have a problem beating this Digimon all of a sudden; for instance, the fight with Madleomon at the beginning of the series. Madleomon is pushed back constantly by the Fusion Fighters, but all of a sudden he starts beating them; incidentally, after he is beaten again he transforms into something that could have crushed the team this entire time. The final thing that really bugged me about the story is that the team picks up a new member with each zone they visit, but this leads to a lot of characters getting forgotten about. Blastimon, for example, has been the other half of fusion since the beginning of the series, but is only used for comic relief. The attention is almost all focused on Mikey, Shoutmon, and Darulomon, with some episodes that try to pay special attention to certain characters. There is no balance.
There are some things that I liked about the series’ storyline. I liked that they gave Darulomon more of a purpose for fighting the enemy than “I need to defeat evil.” Darulomon used to be a soldier in the enemy army, and even though you may have heard of this backstory before, it gives his character twice as much depth as any of the other characters we see here. I like how this series is very “new-person friendly”; someone like me who has never seen an episode of Digimon can jump in and not be lost. There is one reference to legendary Digimon that you would have to see the old series to understand fully, but even if you take that into account this is basically a clean slate for the series. Since I never saw the old show, I’m not tied to any of the things that are considered sacred by fans, like the theme song. I am a fan of Pokémon, so I can understand the appreciation for a classic theme song, but I can also understand that this series is trying to reach a new age group, and the theme song might need to be a bit more contemporary. This new theme is very catchy and has a nice beat; I can’t really ask for much more. The last thing I liked about this series was the small explanation of certain Digimon provided at the end of each episode. It gives me more of a familiar relationship with the characters that they highlight, and helps me to understand Digimon better as whole.
The last episode of this ends on a cliffhanger, as I would expect, since this is only the first part of season one. It does everything the end of a DVD collection should do. It leaves me wanting more, and gives me a better appreciation for the series than what I started with. We leave our heroes after they transform into the most powerful Digifusion thus far, and they defeat a would-be cop in the most interesting zone that I have seen in the past fifteen episodes, the sky zone. This ending keeps me hooked and leaves me with hope that many of the problems I have had with the series thus far will be addressed in the coming episodes.
If you love Digimon, I can’t really say whether you will like this series or not, but if you are a newcomer, like me, it could be worth your time. At least as something to put on in the background as you clean your house or something like that.