Overview: The first season of Digimon gives us our first look into the digital world and all it holds. We get our biggest group of digidestined made up of seven, (later eight) kids who just wanted to go to summer camp. The seven, Tai, Matt, Izzy, Sora, Mimi, Joe and TK are sucked into the digital world after a freak snowstorm in the middle of summer. They then spend what seems like months to them wandering aimlessly, fighting digital monsters, and getting to know each other and their brand new digital partners, each one a perfect match, or almost. They fight four main villains; two in the digital world, a third in the real world and a fourth back in the digital world, and accumulate two advanced forms, champion and ultimate. This first look into the digital world sets up everything that is to follow. No matter how far the other seasons moved from the original story, they all followed this template.
Tai Kamiya : Known as Taichi Yagami in the Japanese Tai is your classic leader figure. He’s headstrong, passionate and courageous. Plus he’s the one with the goggles. Tai was never my favorite character, but likewise, never my least. He wasn’t nearly as annoying as the other characters could be and he cute, so I could give him some slack when he screwed up. His partner was Agumon, the orange dinosaur, a fire-type digimon. Agumon complimented Tai’s personality perfectly while keeping a little more level head. He knew when something wasn’t right, even if Tai was too stubborn or passionate to see it. Tai sported the crest of Courage and filled his role with everything that he had. His home life is pretty simple, with loving parents and a somewhat fragile little sister, Kari who he feels responsible for.
Matt Ishida: Yamato Ishida in Japan, Matt stole my heart early on. He wasn’t quite the anti-hero type, but he was probably the closest thing season one had to an anti-hero. He played the role of the cool loner and Tai’s foil, as well as protective big brother to TK. Despite his chilly disposition he had a hot temper that would flair up at the drop of a hat if TK was even remotely involved. For some reason, even though he was my favorite, I felt less forgiving towards him when he did something stupid. Maybe I felt he should know better. His lone-wolf attitude was reflected in his partner, Gabumon, who won the position of my favorite digimon of the series. Gabumon was an ice-type wolf digimon with either an airy voice or a half growl. As with most digimon, he could see when something wasn’t right and often advised Matt against rash actions and tried to get him to open up. Matt held the crest of Friendship, much to his dismay, and struggled with it throughout the series. His home life is a little more complicated. Matt lives with his dad while T.K. lives with their mother. They don’t see much of each other, adding to his protective feelings towards his little brother. One of his greatest wishes is for his parents to get back together.
Sora Takenouchi: Was my favorite girl, until Kari came on the scene. She filled the tom-boy roll and general love interest, at least in my overly romantic mind. She and Matt actually become canon in the second season, even though I always pictured her with Tai. Sora was caring, compassionate, and somewhat of a worrier. She was the one to stop the fighting when it broke out, and bring everyone back to the task at hand. I sometimes would get frustrated watching her trying to be passive or attempting to hold back her more passionate digimon partner. She was paired with the pink bird Biyomon, whose base element was hard to pin down. In rooky form I thought she might be lightning, but in champion form she’s clearly a fire bird. Her ultimate form seems to be simply fighting. Unlike Sora, Biyomon doesn’t seem to worry about anything but protecting Sora. She’s always ready to leap into battle while Sora worries about her getting hurt. Sora was granted the crest of Love which she too struggled with at first, though she accepted it much quicker than Matt. Her home life revolves around her strained relationship with her mother who she feels never understands her. We don’t really see her father until the second season.
Izzy Izumi: Koushiro Izumi in Japan, Izzy was another one of my favorites. He played the brainiac of the bunch. He always had his computer on him, often spoke in terms no one else understood and of course, was always more curious than the others about the hows and whys behind everything. He came in handy to the group when they encountered the strange digi-symbols and Gennai, the mysterious digital guide. He was less prone to doing stupid things, but if it involved computers, or mysteries, or solving puzzles, Izzy was on it like bees on honey. His digital partner was Tentomon, the electric bug digimon. Tentomon was less guide-like than some of the other digimon. He mainly just followed Izzy around to keep him out of trouble if danger popped up and to translate for him occasionally for the others. Even he didn’t usually fully understand what the tiny genius was talking about, but he tried his best. Izzy was given the crest of Knowledge, naturally and had no trouble filling his spot. Izzy has two parents who he worries constantly. He once over heard them talking about how he was adopted but chose not to tell him until he was older. This is a cause of inner turmoil for him after they return to the real world.
Mimi Tachikawa: Mimi was the girly girl character and MAN was she annoying! Of all the characters in the first season, she is the only one I truly hated. I could not stand her, even on a good day. Mimi was flighty, self-centered, vain, but occasionally caring and ‘sincere.’ She was also dumb as a post. She didn’t like seeing the others get hurt but she was more worried about herself than anyone else. No matter what the situation she was sure make-up, new clothes, or something cute could fix it. Her partner was the plant-type… plant Palmon. Palmon was pretty much Mimi’s conscience. She liked looking pretty and what not, but it didn’t consume her the way it did Mimi. She would often be the one to convince Mimi to do the right thing and to not act like the spoiled brat that she was. Mimi possessed the crest of Sincerity. Why, I’m still not quite sure. Her family is really rich and just as spoiled as she is, though somewhat out of touch.
Joe Kido: Called Jou Kido in Japan, Joe was the nerd of the group. He was the one to try and think rationally and be drowned out by everyone else and their radical ideas. He was the responsible one, always trying to think things through before acting, which is hard to do with Tai and Matt around. He didn’t really stand out to me but, like Tai, I did like him a considerable amount. Almost half the things he did were worthy of a face-palm, but I let him slide because he did what he had to. His partner was the spunky, seal-like water-type Gomamon. Gomamon was pretty much Joe’s opposite. He was loud, outspoken, fun loving and carefree. He was there to lighten Joes, weight of the world attitude and help him get through the traumatic events they encountered on their journey. Joe held the crest of Reliability, which fit him splendidly, seeing as he always came through for the group, no matter what. He wants to be a doctor like his father, though he faints at the sight of blood. His father expects him and his older brothers to follow his profession and Joe as the youngest is eager to please his father.
T.K. Takaishi: Full name Takeru Takaishi, T.K. was Matt’s little brother and the kid of the group. He thought most things were fun and found a way to make a game out of almost everything. He was light hearted most of the time but always looked to Matt for protection when danger came lurking. His childish innocence proved to be the most powerful tool against the dark forces they faced on their journey. T.K. wasn’t one of my favorites in the first season but in the second, he definitely took Matt’s place. His partner was the air/light digimon, Patamon. Patamon played the little protector for T.K. he tried his best in rooky form to protect T.K. but usually could do nothing compared to the others. However he always seemed to be the strongest of them all when it came time to digivolve and was usually saved for last. T.K. got the crest of Hope referring, I suppose, to his hopeful attitude. He lives with his mother while Matt lives with their father. He too wishes, even more than Matt, that their parents would get back together and is more hopeful that it will happen.
Kari: Kamiya: Called Hikari Yagami in Japan, Kari doesn’t actually come in until about half way through the season when the group of seven goes back to the real world. Kari is Tai’s little sister who stayed home from camp because of a cold. She’s my favorite of all the female characters. She is smart, level headed, and willing to do whatever it takes. She probably has the most common sense out of all of the characters in the group. Her partner is Gatomon, the light-type cat digimon. Gatomon was separated from the other digimon long before the digidestined came to the digital world and thus grew up alone and abused by one of the main villains. She fights the digidestined until she finds Kari who seems to bring out the good in her even before she realizes that they are meant to be together. Kari’s crest is the crest of Light. Her name makes that kind of obvious as in Japanese, Hikari means light. Kari fits her crest perfectly, shining light on even their darkest situation. Kari lives with her parents and older brother Tai in a fairly happy little apartment.
Story: The story for the first season of Digimon was made up of four parts made up of episodes. Almost every episode contained its own story that helped build on the story at hand. Most episodes revealed something new about one or more of the characters. In the beginning it was discovering each digimon’s champion form while trying to get home. After they discovered Devimon, the first villain, their goal shifted from getting home to defeating Devimon and then getting home. Mostly the kids had one goal for the section and one for the episode. Sometimes they were the same, sometimes not. For instance, in one episode their only goal be finding a crest that’s nearby, the next episode they could be completely focused on saving Mimi or helping a digimon village. The line between filler and important episodes was very thin.
Systems: One thing I will never understand. Most things have some sort of elemental system. Water is good against fire, electricity is good against water and so on. But in Digimon, that doesn’t seem to apply. Fire digimon beat water digimon, fire digimon, dark digimon. As long as a character needs development they can pretty much beat any enemy that pops up, regardless of type. In later seasons this little problem gets somewhat worked out, but for the first season the elements were pretty much just for show.
When and why digimon can digivolve was also something that didn’t seem very well thought out. Again, it seemed more based on who needed character development at the time. If we needed to learn something about Matt only Gabumon could digivolve to whatever level was required. They claim it’s based on who is in trouble, or the kids’ emotions or something, but I’m not entirely sure I believe it. The kids also never seemed to learn that when fighting digimon of higher levels, they should probably bypass the champion forms and go straight for the ultimate. I would often find myself yelling at the computer screen “Will you just digivolve already?!” But I suppose they had to build suspense somehow, right?
Dialogue: Naturally the script for this show was aimed for little kids. Still often times I would be watching and thinking to myself, “It can’t possibly be this bad in Japanese. It just can’t be.” I guess as I kid I didn’t have a problem with it. They were supposed to be funny, or punny or something and I laughed when I was supposed to. But as an “adult” I kind of wanted to smack them around and tell them to STFU. I know they’re kids too, but really? I have very few qualms with this series but this is one of them. It was worst when they either weren’t doing anything and just chatting or exchanging banter when they should be more concerned with the giant flaming digimon coming towards them. Mimi was naturally the worst with the dialogue. I wanted to smack her every time she opened her mouth. I’m pretty sure they were all counting on the kids watching the show being too little and dumb to notice.
Ending: This season wrapped up really well. While some animes end right after the main conflict is finished, Digimon Adventures gave us almost a whole episode of wrap up. The kids were sent back to the real world with an explanation on why they couldn’t stay or come back. They each got to say good bye to their digimon, (except for Mimi who is an idiot anyway) and then they were sent home. The Digiworld was at peace and everything was good. We weren’t left with any need for a next season, which is funny since this is the only one with a sequel, and without any questions. Of all the seasons thus far, this one has to be my favorite.