In this episode, we take four seasons of traditions and expectations and punch them in the face. It's showtime!
The second gritty reboot- Digimon did it before Superman made it cool.
Here's a deep, dark secret that most Digimon fans have far too much pride to admit: Digimon Data Squad is actually pretty good.
It does, however, rub people the wrong way. The art style is different. There's a gogglehead that doesn't wear goggles. There's an Agumon that is clearly meant to evoke memories of season one despite being a completely different character. There's the gogglehead and Agumon getting into a fistfight in the first episode. There's the idea that Digimon can be stored within a digivice (how much grief would that have saved Takato?). One of the main “kids” is a legal adult; she even drives a car! Finally, there's this whole notion that it's a Digimon series targeting an older audience... yet is still tame enough to air on ToonDisney.
Let's start with that. When people hear the whole “older audience” thing, they think it's going to be for grown-ups. So they see a slightly older cast, most notably an eighteen year old that is the first primary Digimon character that has breasts (a pioneering concept that Fusion takes to the end zone), and they're expecting something edgier, perhaps with more violence and maybe even delving more into interpersonal relationships, particularly concerning this Yoshino gal. What we actually get is something designed for older teenagers instead of younger teenagers and pre-teens.
Not that it doesn't deliver on all of those things. What we end up with is a deviation from the previous concept of a small band of children saving the real world and Digital World from an evil threat. Instead, it's a small organization saving the real world and Digital World from each other. Adding the element of the real world fighting back is huge, building on concepts from Tamers and creating a conflict where Zhuqiaomon has vengeful intentions and nobody's stopping Yamaki from unleashing some true devastation.
Yeah, the mere existence of Akihiro Kurata shows the maturity of this season. It's one thing to point at a big, scary Digimon and label him a genocidal monster. Tonight the role will be played by a human being (granted a human by only the most general of definitions). He is the single most reviled villain in the franchise, and that has to count for something. We certainly weren't hissing and throwing stuff at Piedmon. There are still big, scary Digimon bent on wiping out the human race, but this is the first time the human race tries to return the favor, and they are most definitely not the good guys, nor is Kurata a sad moe girl in disguise like the Digimon Emperor.
While it certainly has its warts, so did all the prior seasons, and grading Data Squad on a level playing field as the previous four will be an interesting venture. There's plenty to critique, but do not be surprised to see some startling results. It's entirely possible that this season will end up with a higher GPA than Adventure, granted that's primarily due to the first half of Adventure being mostly crap.
This is also the first time I'm watching the season dubbed, having only watched it subtitled prior to this. But what could the dub possibly change that I would disapprove of? Well, other than...
My love for this song is a cause of, not an effect of, almost winning a karaoke contest with it at Anime Iowa. It's definitely a departure from tradition (no Kouji Wada?), but it rocks so I approve. I also approve of the end that adds in all the ancillary characters like Miki and Megumi. It's certainly better than that song the dub throws at us... which unlike Frontier I am not linking to.