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To Be a Tamer

June 28, 2010

The third season of Digimon, entitled Digimon Tamers, is a major departure for the series.  First of all, it is the first season that takes place in a different universe from the established Digimon Adventure universe.  Second, the series takes place in a world in which Digimon is a popular media franchise, and it is implied that the tales of the heroes of Adventure are a part of it.  Third, the story involves an initially smaller cast of only three Digimon Tamers (they are never referred to as DigiDestined).  Finally, the series is darker, focusing a lot more on the problems of the human characters than before.  Matsuda Takato is a young boy who loves Digimon and wants nothing more than to have his own.  One day, he designs his own Digimon, wishing that he could have a partner.  He finds a mysterious blue card, and when he scans the card into his card scanner, the scanner turns into a Digivice.  Then, later, the Digivice scans the drawings of his ideal Digimon and produces an egg, which eventually hatches.  The result is the Digimon he drew, Guilmon, coming to life.  As a result, Takato gets whisked into the struggles between Digimon and between Digimon and humans.  Digimon try to realize into the real world, and a mysterious government agency tries to destroy them.  When they do break through, Takato and other Tamers, like Li Jianliang and parter Terriermon, and Makino Ruki and partner Renamon, have to delete them to protect the real world.  The tamers grow along with their Digimon, and over time, they get embroiled in an even bigger conflict, as mysterious, more powerful Digimon realize into the real world with some dark, further purpose.  And all the while, the cute little Digimon named Calumon has some mysterious connection with evolution…

This was the first Digimon series I ever tried to watch in Japanese.  I grew up watching Adventure in English, so for me, I was used to hearing this stuff in English.  But I did watch it in Japanese.  The main thing I noticed was the large number of female seiyuu.  It’s common everywhere for kids to be voiced by women.  I’m not terribly fond of that, since there are talented enough male seiyuu who can voice male kids.  Besides, you can always find a few kids willing to voice act.  Like Aaron Dismuke.  Anyway, it took me quite a long while to get used to the voices.  In the end, I’d have to say that the voice acting was overall very good.  I especially want to point out Takahashi Hiroki, who did a superb job as one of the series’ best characters, Impmon.  Impmon was the ultimate gray Digimon, and his character arc was most interesting of all.  He was one of the main contributors to this being a darker Digimon.  Likewise, Tada Aoi was adorable as Terriermon.  Terriermon was possibly the only holdover from Adventures, since there was a Terriermon in one of the movies.  And Tada did a great job voicing him.  The only seiyuu I just couldn’t get into was Nozawa Masako as Guilmon.  Masako is also well known for voicing Son Goku in the Dragonball franchise, and she always does it the exact same way whether he’s old or young.  So Son Goku always sounds like an old woman trying to sound like a kid.  As Guilmon, her words are slurred and often difficult to understand, and I sometimes found her attempts to sound cute… just silly.  But she was the only problem I had in the end.  The plot was again, rather dark for what is ostensibly a kids’ show.  But the main characters were all rather likable, even Ruki once she got over herself.  The concept of the true enemy actually not being a Digimon was intriguing as well.  It allowed for a greater alliance between humanity and Digimon that made for a more interesting message and a sadder ending.  I would have liked to have seen some more dark Digimon, but it’s no big deal.  My main problem with the plot was that, with the choices to keep most of the action in the real world and to make the Digital World look like it did, a lot of the magic and wonder of the original series was lost.  The Digital World of Adventure was a place where anything could happen.  The Digital World of Tamers was… rocky.  And barren.  With random layers of… stuff.  The music was, unfortunately, rather kiddy, as you’d expect.  I know a lot of people thought the music for the English dub of Digimon Adventure was silly, but I actually liked a lot of it, and I wouldn’t have minded a little more electric guitar in this series.  The animation was good, like the previous series, if not terribly revolutionary.  But overall, it was a good installment in this franchise.  Sadly, from what I know, Digimon has only gone downhill since Tamers ended.  It’s too bad that the quality of Adventure (first season) and Tamers couldn’t be replicated.  Well, I can always go back and rewatch these for nostalgia’s sake.

Story: 9.0      Animation: 9.0      Soundtrack: 7.9      Acting: 9.2      Overall: 8.9

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