In this episode, we come to terms with the inconvenient reality that Digimon Data Squad is better than season one.
The best way to explain the lack of love for Digimon Data Squad is that it gets caught between two audiences. It's the biggest outlier of the Digimon series, and the changes aren't always appreciated in the fan community. The art's different, the main character is far more extreme than the usual gogglehead (so much, in fact, that he forgoes goggles), and the cast is older. Despite the older characters, there wasn't any of the romantic intrigue that we've come to enjoy in Zero Two, Tamers and Frontier (and pretended existed in Adventure).
Yet for regular anime fans who may not be into Digimon, there's not a lot to differentiate it from the other seasons. It's still about humans and their monster companions using their collective strength and growing relationships to save both of the worlds. And it still suffers from relentless transformation sequences, friendship speeches and being pretty crap for the first several episodes. In fact, given how much Frontier and Fusion change the traditional partnership arrangement, this is a downright standard series.
When you eliminate the petty grievances, it's not hard to see how Data Squad ends up scoring higher than Adventure. Season one started out choppy and uneven, only showing its potential a couple times before taking off when Myotismon arrived halfway in. Data Squad started cooking at the quarter pole. Once Biyomon hatches, the show never takes its foot off the gas. That's pretty damning right there: who's taking Biyomon from Adventure over the Biyomon we have here?
Agumon too, for that matter. While Data Squad doesn't deconstruct the individual partnership to the same extent Tamers did, it does take a global approach to the relationship between the two worlds. It dives into the fear, distrust and unfounded hate that occurs when two cultures collide, but also rewards and praises those willing to put all that aside in order to learn from each other and make each side grow stronger. This emphasis demands Digimon characters who can hold up on their own, and we get plenty of them, including some not tied to human partners like Merukimon and Gotsumon.
One of the biggest keys to the season was the way it never gives up momentum. Rather than slowing down and resetting between one villain's death and another's introduction, the two often happen simultaneously. Many times, the new guy is responsible for the first villain's demise. That's the neat thing about facing threats from both worlds. The scope of the conflict is so elevated that you have very strong players from both sides clashing, with one side at any given moment vying to outright exterminate the other. The Data Squad finds itself simply trying to restore some semblance of balance and control. This is a futile task for much of the series, and it's fair to criticize the team's lack of effectiveness until Burst Mode enters the picture, but there's no let-up in the intensity.
Speaking of intensity, like him or hate him, Marcus certainly breaks the mold with his aggressive philosophy. What you have to credit, however, is the consistency and rationale behind his character. As crazy as he seems sometimes, there's clearly a method at work, and as his relationship with his father unfolds, you can see how he came to be this way. He's an idiot in the same vein as Davis or Takuya, but with a rich history that justifies it.
It may not live up to its billing as a more mature series, but it certainly stands strong as a Digimon series, taking the established format and running with it in a way that doesn't complicate it like Zero Two or deconstruct it like Tamers. It's the only series that didn't have a single episode fall into the D range (it's safe to say Fusion will) and would have had a GPA comparable to Tamers if not for its dull start. If you didn't catch it the first time, look what just came up for pre-order! Once again, using that link (or the one on the right) to order anything on Amazon helps support the site, as does commenting and sharing and all the good stuff you've been doing throughout the project. One season to go!
So simple, yet so sweet. Once again, pretty, fluid animation set to a pretty, mellow song. Sort of goes against the intensity of the series, but there's so much maturity in this. Compare it to I Wish from season one and tell me what looks better. Actually, do that anyway: this is the last ending theme as Fusion did without them. Treat yourself to a retrospect.