Welcome, one and all, to the second part of my excursion into the 30-day anime challenge. As I said before, this isn’t going to be done in thirty consecutive days, it’s gonna be spread out. Regardless though, day two is … your favourite anime.
My word, this is one of the hardest questions! There are so many anime that I absolutely love. There’s the ever weird Durarara, Masamune Shirow’s Ghost in the Shell and New Dominion Tank Police, the Shonen legend that is Death Note, modern classics like Attack on Titan … the list goes on and on. I’m going to try looking at this from the standpoint of the anime that has had the longest running in my ‘Top Anime’ list though. That can mean only one thing: Digimon Tamers.
Now, that probably seems a little odd when you look at the titles list above. The thing is though, this was a big anime for me for a number of reasons. You see, I bought into the Pokémon vs. Digimon war about as much as I bought into the SEGA vs. Nintendo war; i.e. not at all. I liked both franchises. In the early days, I definitely had a preference for Pokémon though. Red on the Gameboy was better than (the underrated) Digimon World on the PlayStation, for one. On top of that, that first series of the Pokémon anime was in many ways far better than the first series of Digimon. Again, don’t get me wrong here, I liked Digimon. Some of the dub felt off though. The pacing seemed weird, the jokes were fun but random and it took a while for me to grow a love of it. While Digimon Zero Two actually resolved some of my issues with season one, Pokémon still continued to be generally better in my eyes. Then, suddenly, it all changed.
Digimon Tamers was written by Chiaki J Konoka of Serial Experiments Lain fame. As much as I want to, I haven’t had the opportunity to see Lain as yet, but I know enough about it to know that that seems a strange fit in terms of writing for a children’s show. I am so glad they went with him though! While the first two seasons touched on some dark themes, Tamers took things to a new level for the franchise. We’re talking perma-death, depression, childhood trauma, the question of whether a digital creature can be alive, mass genocide, redemption, inner-darkness … this was Digimon, still presented in a kid friendly manner, but for a more mature audience.
Themes aside, there were other changes too. While the first two seasons had seven to eight primarily protagonists (and their Digimon partners), Tamers has three. This reduced cast, at least in the early going, means that the kids can have some more involved character arcs before the secondary leads start interjecting themselves properly. To me, this makes for a far more balanced experience in terms of story, and I felt that I ended up with a much better connection with the characters as a result. This was a show that I enjoyed as a kid, love as an adult, and have shared with my own kids as a result. Oh, and Renamon is the coolest Digimon ever.
The one downside to the show is that it ruined the franchise for me in a way; Frontier and Savers/Data Squad were good, but neither they nor anything that came after could compare to Tamers. Tri is coming close, but even that has yet to scale the heights of Tamers for me. Will that change? Only time will tell.