Monday, 23 February 2015

Digimon Marathon: Digimon Adventure: Happy Birthday my two blogs, for your present: time to delve into the Digital World

Two days early? Yes, but still... Happy one year anniversary!!! This Wednesday will mark the launch of Blaster's Projects (pop quiz, who still remembers the original name of the site?) and one day later, the launch of Blaster's Reviews. Cue the dancers:
... Note to self, work on better theme integration...
So yes, almost one year on, I thought it would be fitting to have some sort of celebration, and what better way then to review something I talked about early in the sites life and a clear contrast to what my first review was: Digimon. Ah Digimon, the tabu of my Primary School. Everyone knew about it, but you either hated it as a Pokemon clone, or never looked at it due to several reasons (me being one of that second). I remember watching a few episodes randomly, Australian TV at the time wasn't known for its speedy and consistent arrivals. It wasn't until several years later where I'd sit down to watch them properly, thanks in part to vague memories and a friend of mine randomly mentioning it (good luck conducting the band for Violet by the way). As I mentioned last year, I prefer the Digimon Anime over the Pokemon one nowadays, but I think its about time to go into detail. From today, up until near the end of March, three posts a day, will be nothing but Digimon. I also want to stress that, aside from the last review due to lack of localization to my knowledge, I'll be covering the English Dubs as I can analyze them in greater detail. Time to delve into the past that was late 90's-early 2000's children's television and the generally accepted rival to Pokemon and how it has survived almost 16 years later (in two weeks, it'll have been 16 years since the original run). Time to start the Digimon Marathon, up first: Digimon Adventure.

So what's the premise of Digimon Adventure? Seven kids, eventually eight, are sent into the Digital World, a place made up of... tech based stuff. Its never actually explained, but hinted at this being something similar to the Internet, though that could just be because of its locations including File Island and the Continent of Server... those are quoted, I'm not making that up. In this world, there are creatures called Digimon that make up the population. Imagine a Tamagotchi that you actually care about its life as it can do things more complicated then eating, sleeping and getting sick, only to die a week later because you can't bring it to school... like mine... don't mock me... they were popular at the time... In this world, there are some Digimon that want to take over the world, and one who wants to take over the real world. The seven- eight kids, along with Digimon that are bound to them as kind of a genetic friendship, have to stop them before they can achieve their goals of world domination.
Its an anniversary, besides, there's no written law that I can't reuse old jokes...

Each of the individual episodes focus on one or more of the children and their Digimon as they attempt to either stop one of the several major villains, stop one of their thugs, or help the inhabitants of either the Digital World or the Real World... often leading to stopping said thugs or major villain. Each of the villains have their own set arcs, normally with a connecting theme, almost to the point where they're mini seasons in the one, which is a nice touch as it keeps the series fresh. Nothing in the show unintentionally overstays its welcome, keeping up the pace. However there are points where it feels like useless padding. The worst offenders of this is the final two major villains: The Dark Masters and Apoclymon, the last one even suffers from "killed off in the pilot" syndrome, however its worse here because there is no reason for this. The arc involving Myotismon feels like it was supposed to be the finale of the season, but with the extended ending, I get the impression the higher ups told the team to pad it out.
Not official art, but its a good image of the "Digi Destined"

There are eight main characters in the series, Tai and Kari Kamiya (far left and far right respectivly), Matt Ishida and younger brother T.K Takaishi (fun fact, there's a dubbing issue with the relation between Matt and T.K) (Matt is second most to the left, T.K second most to the right) then in order on the image: Sora Takenouchi, Izzie Izumi, Joe Kido and Mimi Tachikawa. Now I'm sure you're saying "but you said you're doing the English Dubs, those are Japanese names. Well, yes I am doing the English dubs, however one of the few things Fox Kids did that 4-Kids didn't back then was acknowledge that this is actually still Japan (never forget the Jelly filled doughnuts...). Each of them are... the best I can describe it is spiritually link, to their respective Digimon which, in order from left to right are: Agumon, Gabumon, Biyomon, Tentomon, Gomamon, Palmon, Patamon, and Gatomon. Each of the, as they are referred to in the show, Digi Destined (get used to these kinds of digital puns, its going to get worse before it gets better) all have personalities tied to specific crests. Tai's the reckless leader: doesn't always think, a bit of a hot head at times, but cares for his team (... why am I reminded of Tahu...) and, as a result, carries the "crest of courage". While the personalities are basic in comparison to others shows, hell even compared to later seasons of the series. Each of the characters do get enough screen time to get personality arcs and, for the most part it works.
The Digimon on the other hand are really basic. Most of them don't even have a recognizable personality, the exceptions being Gatomon who has a entire arc dedicated to it (I'll explain later in the marathon the wording) and Gomamon for the smart ass personality.

If you don't like Pokemon because of its unrealistic interpretation on evolution, then you're going to loath this. Time for a crash course in Digivolution... as I said, get used to these kinds of puns... There are six main stages: Baby/ Fresh, In training, Rookie, Champion, Ultimate and finally Mega. By collecting more data in some form, often by using the energy expelled by the Digi destined via their "Digi-vice", the main Digimon of the series can temporarily evolve into stronger forms. In the wild, they have to kill other Digimon and absorb their data (don't worry, for now no Digimon actually dies, they get... basically rebooted). That should give you a basic idea of how this series works.

The writing is designed for both children and adults... if you have a sense of humor. There are jokes every now and then that young children won't get due to age and even then, you'll only get the jokes if you read into them. This being a example:
... remember the days where children's television could get away with this stuff and no one would care? Ah the good old days... One big problem though with the writing that people may have is the fact that, to put it simply, its cheesy, its predictable, its a product of the times. If you're used to this kind of writing, like I am, then its not going to bother you, if not, then you're going to hate this franchise.

Finally, I'm not a fan of the soundtrack. Intro theme aside, I find the soundtrack bland or outright awful. I hate the english dub battle theme as I don't think its a battle theme. If I'm in a life or death situation, I don't want to be fighting to a digital based country song. Some of the voice actors also start off awful, but as the series goes on, they get better so its a matter of how patient are you? And with that, we're done with Digimon Adventure for now, up next in the Digimon Marathon, the sequel: Digimon Adventure 02... the zero isn't silent, it is actually called Digimon Adventure Zero Two.

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