Most fans of the Digimon franchise remember the first two seasons of the anime, known as Digimon Adventure, very fondly. I’m definitely one of the many who have a lot of nostalgia for those two glorious seasons. The storylines were heartfelt and well written, the action was intense, the monster designs were incredible, the world building was well thought out, and the soundtrack was catchy and memorable enough that I still listen to it today. Digimon Adventure even received a theatrically released movie in the United States (that was comprised of three short films from Japan) simply titled Digimon: the Movie, and it was awesome. However, because of the love and praise of Digimon Adventure, most of those fans looked down on Digimon’s third season, Digimon Tamers.
Digimon Tamers did not feature any of the same characters that we grew to love in the first two seasons and the movie. It technically did not even exist in the same cannon as them. In fact, there is even a scene where one of these new characters refer to characters from Digimon Adventure as being in the Digimon card-to-video game they play. Digimon Tamers also only lasted one season, giving the viewer less time to be invested in the story and relationships. When people rewatch Digimon in recent years, they often stop after finishing Digimon Adventure since that wraps up the story that they care about more. With all that being said, Digimon Tamers is much better than you remember.
I absolutely have more nostalgia for Digimon Adventure like most others do, but I also admit that Digimon Tamers is equally as great. The two are just great for different reasons. They both have the cool monsters, their fun Digivolutions and exciting battle scenes, but that is primarily where the similarities end.
While Digimon Tamers does have several characters, including seven or eight who become tamers (the equivalent to Digimon Adventure’s “Digidestined”), the focus is heavily on three of them. They are Takato, Rika, and Henry with their partner Digimon Guilmon, Terriermon, and Renamon. By only really focusing on these three and their Digimon as a smaller group, more time was able to be dedicated to developing them and their relationships. The relationships actually end up being more realistic. We see Takato’s friendship with Guilmon grow gradually throughout the series rather than them just being best friends when they meet.
Focusing on fewer characters also allowed them to be more fleshed-out. We see each of their home lives and how their personalities are affected by it. We see that Takato is picked on by his two friends who he plays the Digimon card game with because of his head always being in the clouds and wanting to create his own Digimon. We also see him gush over his crush. Rika has a strained relationship with her mother, which causes her to act cold and lonely until she bonds with Renamon and the others. Henry is essentially responsible for raising his little sister because of how busy their father is, which makes him more patient and mature. He learns to relax more because of his friendship with Terriermon and the others gets him to relax and act like the ten-year old he is.
In Digimon Tamers, we see a lot more of the real world. We also get more of an insight as to how the Digimon phenomenon impacts it. The characters and the viewers are gradually introduced to the Digital World. When they do get there, it’s super satisfying. We already know and care about these characters, so it’s exciting to see what happens with them once they get the the Digital World. Overall, the storytelling has a better pacing, which makes for a relatable and emotional experience. Adding to the great storytelling were the equally great subplots, like Impmon’s development from an obnoxious punk to a hero willing to sacrifice himself for his new friends.
Digimon Tamers also gives us a deeper look into how the Digimon and the Digital world came to exist. This was always something that made this particular series of Digimon stand out to me when I was younger. The creation of this artificial life and what to do with it led to some extremely interesting philosophical themes about playing God and the intimidating ideas of what the technological boom that came with the creation and accessibility of the Internet could lead to.
Throughout this series, we see many types of Digimon that we’ve seen in the past and are introduced to even more new ones. The new additions were just as awesome as the familiar faces. Renamon certainly has a huge following on the Internet. Terriermon, with his adorable “momentai” catchphrase, actually became one of my favorite Digimon. Not only is he adorable and sarcastic, but he Digivolves into a freakin’ rabbit with machine gun hands. This season may not have been as heavily focused on Digivolving in every episode like the previous seasons, but the creative Digivolutions it did have lead to some incredible, unique action. The final fight against the D-Reaper that the season builds up to is one of my favorites in all of Digimon.
Digimon Tamers featured “Biomerge Digivolutions” where the tamer and their Digimon fused together to become one super-powered being that shared one mind. This had only been previously seen once before in Digimon: the Movie, so seeing it happen in several episodes of a TV series was extraordinarily exciting.
Digimon Tamers may not have had the huge amount of well-developed main characters, awesome soundtrack, or the longer amount of time to dedicate the story. However, it did manage to tell a beautiful, relatable story in just the course of a single season. It had interesting characters, cool monsters, and epic battles. Their use off the card game actually made me more interested in collecting Digimon cards in real life. It was also the first season to imply that literally everyone in the world had a compatible Digimon partner waiting for them in the Digital World, which also excited me as a kid because it made me feel like I could go on these adventures too. Just because Digimon Adventure came out first, it doesn’t mean that Digimon Tamers wasn’t equally as great. If you don’t believe me, I highly recommend going back and watching it through.
If you are someone who agrees with me that Digimon Tamers was as amazing as Digimon Adventure was, then I also recommend watching the series that come after it as well, Digimon Frontier and Digimon Fusion. There’s something that makes each series of Digimon stand out in their own ways.