Review: Digimon (Season 2)
Following the end of Season 1, Digidestined children old and new are returning for a new adventure through the Digital and Real Worlds, both of which are threatened by new dangers, Digimon and human alike.
Fifty 20-minute episodes.
If you have yet to read the review of Season 1, allow me to make your job easier —> You can read it here.
So. I tried to make the season 2 review just as exhaustive and elaborate as my review of season 1. I really did want it to be that way. But if you read the first review, I’m sure you realized it was kind of… long. Likely too long for the reader, but also as the writer. I simply do not have the time or patience to do that again. As such, despite my desire to keep the articles uniform in nature, this review is going to have a much more standard format with less detail. I apologize in advance and hope you are still satisfied with the result.
If you are not familiar with Digimon as a whole, I will be referring back to information detailed in that first review during the course of this one, as season 2 is a direct sequel of the first (unlike all seasons hereafter). As before, I will also put forth as much effort as possible to be objective in my review and separate my emotion from the material.
**Notice: There is a movie between seasons 1 and 2 with events that are referred to frequently by the S2 cast. You may want to watch that first.**
**SPOILER WARNING: MINOR PLOT SPOILERS AHEAD**
There is a three-to-four year time-lapse between this season and the first. It’s never clear whether the number is three or four, as they are used interchangeably. With problems rising once again, the Digital World has called upon a new group of children to save it from crisis. The now-older duo of T.K. and Kari are joined by Davis, Yolei, and Cody to make the five Digidestined of focus for this season, who are informed that the Digital World is under attack, not by a Digimon, but by another human child going by the lofty title of “The Digimon Emperor.” The Digimon Emperor has created menacing devices to manipulate Digimon into his own sadistic bidding, as well as to prevent any opposing Digimon from Digivolving past Champion level (refer to review of season 1 for details on the standard Digivolution pattern).
To combat the Emperor, these five are granted the power of “Armor” Digivolution, a new kind of transformative ability roughly on par with Champion, which takes form based on each member’s “inherited” virtues (where Tai and Matt respectively held the crests of Courage and Friendship, Davis is able to wield both of the Armors of Courage and Friendship). The majority of the first arc of season 2 involves getting to know the new cast, breaking down the Digimon Emperor’s influence on the Digital World, and old Digidestined mentoring their successors and helping them obtain new Armors to further defend innocent Digimon from the Emperor (who seems to enjoy nothing more than enslaving, torturing, and outright murdering Digimon with joyful satisfaction, establishing him as the most vile opponent the series has seen to date).
The pacing near the start is rather slow, but not has hard to chew as the first season because the Emperor is more interesting than Devimon and his random goons. Things pick up with the introduction of the Dark Ocean, an ominous dimension apart from the Real and Digital Worlds. From there, things continue to grow more interesting as it seems all the bad guys are playing a game of puppets, seeing who can best control whom, with the Digimon Emperor eventually dethroned and replaced by even more vicious threats. A greater story also begins to weave itself together with the arrival of Azulongmon, who takes unexplained pieces of the first and second seasons and begins to connect them into an overarching narrative of astonishingly complex design. From there, things run the risk of confusing the viewer, as the ensuing developments spawning out of Azulongmon’s monologue are fast, intense, and sometimes not as fleshed out as they need to be.
Davis is a relatively boring character, with few exceptions. His relentless enthusiasm is both his greatest strength and most crippling weakness, causing the viewer to often cringe at how ludicrously energetic and brash he can be. But this enthusiasm also feeds into optimism, which is pretty much his only redeeming quality. Yolei is frequently cast as a shallow, argumentative, and petty person, falling into lovestruck fancies almost constantly throughout the series. As she develops, some of this stuff settles down, and in the later episodes (particularly the Digimon World Tour arc) she showcases a level of leadership that surpasses Davis in every way. Cody is alright. He can be stubborn and overly serious sometimes, which might frustrate the viewer, but he has the most level head of the three newbies and his moral compass is the most finely tuned. His history is also the most memorable, and the conversations he shares with his grandfather help develop his character far more than the other two. As for Kari and T.K., Kari is nothing more than an older version of herself, which is fine, as she has one of the most sympathetic and interesting personalities of the bunch; and T.K. is okay, but his level of maturity fluctuates a lot throughout the course of the series, often showing wisdom far past his years, followed episodes later by a demonstration of staggeringly poor judgment, and back again. He does have one golden moment where he decks the Digimon Emperor in the face, though. That was pretty cool.
Then there’s Ken, the Digimon Emperor himself. Arguably the best character in the entire season, if only because of how much everything revolves around him. Whether he’s the bad guy or the good guy, each plot development seems to somehow tie back to something that he has either done, or has happened in his past. Without contest, Ken’s personality undergoes the most transformation of any Digidestined. Seeing him in his dark glory as the Digimon Emperor makes the impact of his change far stronger. Knowing that he found delight in hurting others and berating Wormmon (his tenderhearted, natural partner-Digimon) makes his turnaround so much more unbelievable. Thankfully the writers don’t drop the ball on his development either. Even when Ken undergoes his metamorphosis and obtains the seemingly (and understandably) ill-fitting Crest of Kindness, not everyone is quick to jump on board with the change. He’s self-ostracized from the Digidestined, shouldering all aftermath of his past actions upon himself. Some members of the Digidestined are at odds with each other as to whether Ken has actually changed or not, and whether they should work together. After all, why trust somebody who only recently tried to kill you, and has a running record of indulging his every dark desire? Don’t think the Digimon have forgotten, either. Ken faces constant persecution throughout most of the series, mostly from Digimon who are not quick to forgive his recent transgressions. On top of all this, Ken’s home life is wrought with tragedy, and he’s hard-pressed to deal with the emotional mess that is himself, unable to decide if he should be sad, angry, ashamed, or accepting of the friendship that Wormmon and the Digidestined try to offer him. Each of these factors makes you appreciate every good moment of Ken, such as the Christmas episode when he tries to throw a party for everyone. It’s the little things.
Some things are not explained, such as how Ken was able to enter the Digital World as a child when nobody else could, which is rather irritating. Most of the story revolves around alternating trips between the Real World and the Digital World, with various problems being confronted in both. Like before, the Digital World is distinguishable by its odd locations and stippling art-style, which gives the entire dimension a colorful and strange atmosphere. But, as previously stated, there is a new world that periodically interjects itself into the narrative: the cryptic, monotone realm of the Dark Ocean. Some of the best plot developments come from the Dark Ocean, especially regarding Ken and Kari, the latter of whom gets a wonderfully designed sub-plot regarding the Ocean, left completely unfulfilled in the later episodes. This is an impressively poor mistake on the writer’s part, as her dealings with the Dark Ocean’s master and his servants was one of the most promising aspects of the series. Such a shame.
Sometimes the dialogue suffers from gaudy writing, but it’s great for younger audiences, so it cannot be faulted too much for its nature. Considering what they had to work with, the translations are pretty on-key, and the voice actors bring a comfortable confidence into their roles. I’d like to emphasize the performances of Ken, Wormmon, and Kari, which held the best palette of voice acting talent in this season, outside of Ken’s slightly awkward crying scene after his defeat as the Digimon Emperor. All things considered, that was still a pretty riveting moment.
Humor has made an improvement over the bland comedy of the first season. Most of the decent jokes come from the adults in the series, who will say things out of a forced, awkward naivety. I swear, the English writers had to have modified the adults to tell jokes when they originally didn’t in the Japanese script, because sometimes their brand of comic humor feels out of place and is consistently delivered only by the adult characters. This is probably to make them more presentable in the series, rather than a small sub-cast of bland, relatively useless foil characters.
Digimon maintains its child-friendly rating by having no explicit dialogue. Words like “dang” and “heck” are used, but that’s as bad as it gets.
Cartoon violence. Monsters fight monsters, and they will show marks of battle, but never blood. One moment in the series has two of the human characters get into a fistfight to top off their long-building conflict.
Many Digimon have human/humanoid bodies. Two in particular are Angewomon and Ladydevimon, both of whom are dressed in mildly scandalous material. Between the two of them, there’s exposure to some cleavage, bare legs, and midriff. Outside of this, there are no suggestive themes.
Some Digimon are modelled after angels and demons, such as the two named under the above “sex/suggestive themes” section. One of the major adversaries later in the season is named “Daemon,” which is not even trying to hide the fact it’s derived from the word “Demon.” Daemon is a Digimon that utilizes various forms of black magic to do damage.
The “ghost” of a Digimon that passed away in the previous season appears in order to warn the Digidestined of trouble. This ghost causes disruptions in the Real World and is seen frightening various humans, whether intentionally or otherwise.
A mind-altering seed known as the Dark Spores is utilized throughout the narrative. The Dark Spores act as parasites and will steal the morality of their children hosts, turning them into violent, selfish, evil characters against their own desires. This sort of thing, while not necessarily spiritual, could be perceived as resembling demonic possession.
None of this material is present.
As with the first season, there is a constant return of virtuous traits and developments within the characters based on their specific “Crests” (Courage, Friendship, Hope, Love, Sincerity, Reliability, etc.). These moral items manifest themselves in situations throughout the narrative, leading to positive character development. In addition to the above traits, there are themes of overcoming, affirmative self-image, hard work, accepting defeat, and, in the case of a few season 1 characters, maturely accepting declines of romantic affection and not being jealous when the subject of interest shows interest in someone else.
This season of Digimon suffers from the same repetitive plague as the first, in that it abuses its Digivolution sequences and battle animations. Sometimes it will deviate, but you should get comfortable with this pattern early on, or you’ll find yourself frustrated. The animation as a whole shows its age, too. There are no noticeable improvements from the first season, and nearly everything is slow and staggered. That being said, at least the battle sequences look cool, or this series would have nothing going for it in terms of action.
The soundtrack is almost exactly the same as the first season, with only a few new tracks added to the mix. Fortunately, these new tracks are some of the best. Two of them are often utilized in scenes of reflection, sentimentality, or sadness, while another is frequently used in moments of intense triumph or inspiring confidence.
Overall, season 2 is generally regarded as one of the least impressive Digimon seasons, to which I would agree. There are many confusing elements and plot-holes. At the same time, there’s arguably more worthwhile dialogue, with multiple strains of philosophy touched upon by various characters such as Ken and Blackwargreymon. This season also has the advantage of an ultimate ending, where it shows every character decades into the future, all together with their respective husbands, wives, children, and partner Digimon. Many relationships have formed between the characters we know, so it’s heartwarming to see their children playing with one another, certain to carry on their own legacies in the Real and Digital Worlds, inheriting the adventure of their parents and free to grow into a stronger, better generation because of it. A better ending than anyone could have asked for, and one that is certain to move audiences, old and new alike.
God bless, have a wonderful new year, and always remember to smile.
VERSE OF THE DAY – Romans 8:31
“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?”
SONG OF THE DAY – “It’s Not Enough” by Dustin Kensrue (lead singer of Thrice)
I’ve been absolutely obsessed with the message and tone of this song the last couple of days. Nothing in this world will be enough to make us whole. “I could right all wrongs or ravage everything beneath the sun. It’s not enough, it’s not enough. Though all could bow to me ‘til I could drink my fill of fear and love. It’s not enough, It’s not enough.”
+ Improved soundtrack
+ Plotting is more advanced
+ Several positive themes and morals
+ Powerful redemption story
+ Cool creature designs
+ Less characters means more character development (usually)
+ Humor upgrade
+ Older characters show signs of maturity from season 1
- Plot-holes everywhere - some are fixed with time, some aren’t
- Main cast has some annoying characters
- Typical anime cringe-inducing dialogue/expressions
- Attack and Digivolution animations are recycled
- Some developments just don't make any sense
- Movie takes place between seasons 1 and 2 that viewers may not know about