Friday 28 June 2013

Anime REVIEW: Digimon Adventure 02

Digimon Adventure 02 Anime Toei

Note: Once again, this is a review of the DUB version of Digimon Adventure 02. As I haven't seen the original Japanese version, any name/event/dialogue changes shall not be mentioned.

Despite the original Digimon series having a fairly conclusive ending, there were of course plenty of stories that can be told about the Digital World and so Toei quickly put a second season into action. While this series was simply released as the second season of Digimon in the West, in Japan its full title was Digimon Adventure 02. It ran for a total of 50 episodes in 2000-2001, and also had two movie releases.

Digimon Adventure 02 Digi Destined TK Kari Davis Cody Yolei
Meet the new Digi Destined

Set four years after the events of the first series, Digimon Adventure 02 kicks off with the arrival of a new child in the Digital World. Proclaiming himself the Digimon Emperor, he captures and enslaves Digimon, controlling them through black rings and negating digivolution by erecting control spires across the land. Seeking the help of the Digi Destined, their partner Digimon send a message to the real world, with Gatomon and Patamon reunited with a now older TK and Kari. They are joined by three new Digi Destined - Davis, Yolei, Cody and their partner Digimon Veemon, Hawkmon and Armadillomon respectively. The five are presented with new Digivices and their Digimon a new form of digivolution to battle the slaves of the Digimon Emperor. But how will the reveal of the Digimon Emperor as boy genius Ken Ichijouji affect their fighting? Can they defeat another human when in the past the enemies have all been Digimon?

Much like the first series, Adventure 02 is separated in a number of different arcs. Thankfully this series is made up of three distinct arcs rather than four, providing some much needed breathing space and expansion that the original sadly lacked. Unlike the previous adventure, the characters can now travel in and out of the Digital World freely (the time difference strangely gone altogether and completely unexplained) offering a different kind of story telling. The first two arcs take place primarily in the Digital World, while the third brings the action back to the real world.

Digimon Adventure 02 Armour Digivolving Flamdramon Raidramon Halsemon Shurimon Digmon Submarimon Pegasusmon Neferimon
Armour Digivolve!

The childish innocence of TK and Kari is gone, instead replaced by characters that work as a bridge between the old Digi Destined and the new. TK has some interesting bursts of anger (particularly when an old enemy shows up during the first arc) but doesn't do all that much to stand out otherwise. Kari on the other hand continues to be built up as someone who's really important, but this never actually goes anywhere. Yolei and Cody are mostly stubborn and annoying, while Davis represents all the worst aspects of Tai jacked up to 11. He does mellow out a bit with the arrival of Ken onto the team, but the problems are still there. Of course, there are plenty of appearances of the older Digi Destined and their partners. While these start off in mainly a mentor role, they become more significant toward the end of the show when a wider picture of the Digi Destined is painted.

Digimon Adventure 02 Ken & Wormmon
Ken Ichijouji: Villain, hero, a whole load of awesome

Which brings us to Ken, the undisputed star of Digimon Adventure 02. Starting out as the cruel, sadistic and purposely unlikeable Digimon Emperor, his character is the one that receives the most growth and back story. Adventure 02 has a key focus on human weaknesses (something that plays an important part with a later villain too) and their eventual journey to redemption. At first Ken feels guilt for his actions as the Emperor, before gaining the friendship of his fellow Digi Destined and eventually being able to put his past misdeeds behind him. It's quite a change from the first series where all of the villains where evil Digimon who were evil for the sake of being evil, and certainly gives the show a refreshing level of depth.

And to keep things interesting, Adventure 02 introduces two new types of digivolution into the fray - armour digivolving and DNA digivolving. The power to armour digivolve comes from eight digi-eggs (plus one golden egg), each baring a crest of the original Digi Destined. TK and Kari only get one egg each (their own crests, creating Pegasusmon and Nefertimon respectively) while the three new kids get two each. Davis takes the eggs of courage (Flamedramon) and friendship (Raidramon), Cody gets knowledge (Digmon) and reliability (Submarimon) and Yolei gets love (Halsemon) and sincerity (Shurimon). Despite being the first set of digivolutions introduced in the show, these are without a doubt the coolest - taking the core of the new Digimon and powering them up with (in most cases) clear influence of the veteran Digimon.

Digimon Adventure 02 DNA Digivolving Paidramon Imperialdramon Silphymon Shakkoumon
DNA Digivolving: Where two heads are better than one, but two bodies aren't.

Following the fall of the Digimon Emperor, the Digimon are able to evolve to their champion levels. These are completely underwhelming on all accounts (except for Wormmon's champion form Stingmon), serving mainly as a temporary bridge to this series' equivalent of the ultimate level - DNA digivolving. Here two Digimon merge into one, combining the strongest elements of the two. We have the badass Paidramon (ExVeemon + Stingmon), the..gender confusing Silphymon (Gatomon + Aquilamon) and the bizarre Shakkoumon (Angemon + Ankylomon). Of course, much like how the first series went on to become the Tai and Matt show, Adventure 02 becomes the Davis and Ken show with Paildramon the only one reaching the mega level - evolving into Imperialdramon.

So the final verdict on Adventure 02? Its worthy of praise for dealing with much more complex issues and character development than its predecessor, however this development only really happens to one character. The rest of the main cast are boring and/or annoying, and the revelation of the final villain tarnishes the show's interesting exploration of human weakness and redemption. Throw in an INCREDIBLY weak epilogue, and the end result is a show that shows just as much flaw as it does promise.


Unknown said...

you forgot the part that caused an unusual amount of anger from fans. You know, the part where Tai got friendzoned by Sora and she chose to go out with Matt for literally almost no reason whatsoever.

Dinobolt1 said...

I noticed you made a mistake in your review, regarding this line.

"Unlike the previous adventure, the characters can now travel in and out of the Digital World freely (the time difference strangely gone altogether and completely unexplained"

It WAS explained. In the last episode of the first season, it was mentioned that following the final battle with Apocolamon both worlds' times were now synched.

Alex said...

Ohhh yes, I remember that *facepalm*