Digimon Frontier: Opening

In this episode, before we deconstruct this season's massive flaws, we stop to appreciate its awesome opening. 


Twincest- Digimon did it before Ouran Host Club made it cool.

The ability to approach Digimon Frontier begins and ends with accepting its most drastic change: instead of a child having a partner Digimon, the child becomes the partner Digimon. That's a big deal, and if you can't handle that, you're not going to get very far.

The idea of a Digimon series without Digimon is not as fatally flawed as it sounds. One thing Tamers exposed was the rather superfluous nature of the monster partners in the first two seasons. They weren't deep characters on their own, so why have them around? It's not all that necessary to have these extra voices crowding the conversation, and likewise the kids often did little more than shout and get in the way during action sequences. A Digimon partner had frequently been a reflection of the child, so why not take that literally this time around?

As it turns out, the answer is personality. The Digimon partners in Adventure may not have been particularly rich characters, but they had the personalities to liven up drab scenes. One may have added little, but seven or eight certainly made things fun. While Frontier forcing its cast to discover their inner strength is no different than what the digidestined in Adventure had to do, the lack of Digimon means that the kids have to carry the whole show on their own.

When taken on their own, none of the characters are particularly weak. They all have their strengths and flaws, develop throughout the series and come out better people. The problem they run into is that, with the exception of Koji and Koichi, their major sources of grief are more subdued than we're used to. This is the only season with no dead parents, and that's actually kind of a bad thing. The angst instead is stuff more people can relate to (bullies, fear of being alone, difficulty adjusting to new environments), but the series struggles to work off of stuff like that for the whole run. Koji and Koichi's issues are great, but can't carry the load completely.

Speaking of carrying the load completely... remember when Tai and Matt gained the ability to go Mega? Adventure was very shrewd in ensuring that the other six kids remained relevant through the Dark Masters arc. Frontier makes you appreciate that as the spirits are gradually consolidated to the point where only Takuya and Koji matter. The other kids end up... well, doing little more than shouting and getting in the way, undermining half the reason to ditch the Digimon in the first place. It's rough, and makes for possibly the only season that limps to the finish line rather than builds to a crescendo.

This isn't the outright failure of a season that some fans purport it to be. The unique mythology of this Digital World is unmatched, the Trailmon are a pleasing aesthetic and there's plenty of goofy moments that take us back to the happier times before D-Reaper made us all uncomfortable. That said, the writing and plotting is probably the worst out of any season and it stands at the bottom of my list... at least until I get through all of Hunters.

That said, our tickets are booked and I will make sure to show off all the pretty sights on our journey before the inevitable derailment. For starters...

This song alone made me eager for this series as much as anything else. My second favorite of the Japanese openings behind Butterfly, eclipsing the Zero Two and Tamers openers by a wide margin. The random lip synching in the middle is a nice touch.


And since it must be acknowledged:

When the Digimon property went to Disney, the music did not go with. That meant that a whole new score needed composing, including a brand new opening to replace the one we're all familiar with (which, nostalgia aside, is grating and terrible). This is a proper song with proper words and a proper melody. Data Squad got its own opening too, but it doesn't come close to this plateau.

10 comments:

  1. Actually, didn't 02 have no dead parents too? I suppose a case for dead relatives could be made, considering Sam.

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  2. No, adventure 02 has far worse writing overall than frontier, despite it's shinning moments. Frontier's only problem was lack of content, it's clear that the writers didn't know what to do with the characters or with the plot several times, even though the characterization a plot that there is is surprisingly robust.

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    1. That sounds more like 02's problem to me. If Frontier had that problem as well, then what differated it from 02 was weaker direction I guess. With 02's trainwreck writing, I couldn't look away. With Frontier's, particularly when it came to the Royal Knights arc, I DID look away, it was so boring.

      I concurr with what Pulver said towards the end that it was the weakest season of Digimon plotting and characterization-wise when it was around. I say WAS because yes, Hunters is worse. MUCH worse.

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    2. To sum it up, 02 had many ideas and possible directions it could have gone, which is why it was never really boring, and then made bad decisions. LOTS of bad decisions, not just the epilogue and shipping, the sheer amount of plot holes is ridiculous. It's so large I won't even bother to write it down, you can check this site: (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Headscratchers/DigimonAdventure02). And that of course doesn't even touch the problems in pacing characterization, themes, etc, so even in terms of direction it's worse, even if more entertaining.

      Frontier's problem is that what it had to tell was good for maybe 26 episodes of content, and then had to fill out the rest... except the writer's couldn't come up with anything so nothing happens in several episodes, making it the most Fillerish series until Xros Wars as a whole (not just Hunters, although that was the worse of it). So it's not bad writting per say, just incomplete or not enough of it.

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    3. This is the season I know the least about so I am really looking forward to reading these and learning more about the dark-horse of the franchise. I feel like it had some good concepts and ideas but failed in delivery. The no partners and spirit evolution is a minor difference (or annoyance) to get over. Kind of feels like it has other more major problems. Like how the 2 main characters reach a way higher level then the rest.

      What I want to know and hopefully your blog will answer this: Without digimon partners what investment do the protagonists have in the Digital World? They are risking their lives and for what? It seems like they would be likely to just ditch the Digital World and not care about what happens to it. Plus with all that power what stops them from being corrupted by it and just ruling as the next digimon emperors?

      Now I want to watch Kouki, Nanami, and Ivan be totally awesome evil human-digimon hybrids in Savers!

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  3. I didn't mind the fact that there were no human/digimon partner bonds this season cause it made the cast less crowded & as viewers people gravitated toward the children anyway. There's nothing particularly wrong with the mythology itself & its ironically very similar to Adventure in a lot of ways.

    Like you said though two of the main flaws of this season are Takuya & Koji getting the most interesting evolutions while everyone else is pushed to the side & Koji & Koichi being the only character arcs with weight to them.

    A personal problem I kind of have is while that the universe & mythology is big it never feels utilized all of the way. There was always mentions of the ten legendary warriors but I don't ever remember them being explored as much as I think they could have & a cool alternative would be for the children to have them be their mega forms in my opinion. Overall though this season isn't horrible like most make it out to be.

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  4. Everyone I talk to says I'm nuts, but I love Frontier...and I LOOOVE it's opening. I have to agree that, nostalgia aside, the original English opening is....grating, especially if you're marathoning the show. I do agree that Frontier had it's...weaker moments, but I was always interested in the main concept behind the show. What kid who grew up a geek didn't dream of being able to be a super hero?

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  5. Frontier's an odd one for me. On the one hand, large chunks of it are painful to watch. Even discarding the Royal Knights arc, a discouraging number of episodes are bad (the Zoe episodes, a couple of Grumblemon episodes, the filler prior to getting to the Dark Continent, that Trailmon graveyard episode, and even good chunks of the Lucemon battle). Throw the Royal Knights arc back in, and that means roughly a third of the series is bad in my eyes.

    On the other hand, I like what they did with Koji and Koichi, the action in the Dark Continent was great, and the series had an awesome start and an awesome climax. And yeah, even bits of the Grumblemon and Arbormon arcs (within the first twenty episodes) were entertaining enough. I still enjoy the series, though that's because technically most of it is still good and entertaining. I certainly enjoyed it more than 02, which I felt just descended into a mess between Ken's defeat and Oikawa's appearance.

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  6. Way back when, in the forgotten days of Yore, I devoured Adventures, 02 and Tamers (mostly...the TV kept going on the fritz back then) yet there were none of the usual commercials advertising any new seasons of Digimon coming up. So it was by pure, blind luck that I was flipping through the channels one day and caught the season premier of Frontier just as it was starting! And like its predecessors I devoured it whole too.

    Perhaps I was just an edgy kid but this was my favourite season out of all of them. The grand mythology, the fact that the Digi Destined transformed, the symbolism and of course that kick ass theme song just blew my mind. For various reasons I fell off the Digi wagon for some years so this was the last season that I saw. Though after stumbling across your blog (someone quoted you on TvTropes), and the advent of the age of the Internet, I'm going to have to get up and start exploring my sense of nostalgia again!

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