Digimon Universe Appmonsters: Opening 1

In this episode, we preview the newest Digimon series scrutinizing artificial intelligence and how much of our lives revolve around mobile apps. Naturally it’s licensed right as we all got addicted to Re:Arise.

At long last, Appmon has an official English release! Guess we have to dust everything off and kick back into high gear! We’ll spend the week refreshing the Amazon marketplace, getting Google to email a password reset, and clearing out all the spam comments that accumulated in the year since tri. ended. In hindsight we were supposed to do a final tri. post processing that whole thing, but that’s what we get for using the “ending” posts to preview the following movie. I guess in summary: tri. was pretty great.

Appmon is pretty great too! But like tri…. and Xros Wars… and Savers… and honestly Frontier and Tamers to some extent… it’s often maligned for being different. Tamers refreshed the cast, Frontier skipped the partners, Savers has a different look and unique protagonist, Xros Wars rewrote the human-Digimon dynamic, tri. incorporated an unfamiliar story structure. Plenty of fans look at each of those and find that season unwatchable as a result. So imagine what some people say about a season that abandons the traditional and familiar Digimon bestiary in favor of monsters generically based on various phone apps. Add in the fact that it was legally unavailable until now and you can see how Appmon is a forgotten little cousin.

None of the prior seasons are unwatchable, and even the weaker efforts like Frontier and the third half of Xros Wars aren’t bad because of the changes. So Appmon deserves its shot. What you’ll find is behind the new smartphone-based monsters, the CGI evolved forms, and protagonist without a “Ta-” or “Da-” name, it feels very much like a Digimon series. Not necessarily Digimon Adventure, but little bits of every season that meld together into a comfortable experience.
What it does take from Adventure is a cast you want to root hard for. Top to bottom this is the strongest cast of heroes we’ve had since season one. They’re not as grounded, but they bring an energy and substance that make you want to root for them. Haru brings a kind, quiet thoughtfulness we’ve never seen in a protagonist before. Eri instantly vaults herself into “best girl” territory alongside Mimi and Ruki. Astra is a harder sell but matches his antics with a stunning sincerity. Rei isn’t the first kid enveloped in darkness, but rather than defeating it or letting it control him, he twists it into something productive.

In addition, Appmon dives headfirst into the contemporary issue of artificial intelligence and our reliance on technology. The villain is a rogue AI program that gains power and control as humans put more faith in it. When the show relies on monsters of the week, they’re often corrupted apps driving unwitting users (particularly one poor fellow) into peril. It doesn’t always explore these themes as hard as it could, but when it does it poses very intriguing questions about what makes people human in a world where computers can increasingly think like one.

As you can gather, I’ve seen this before. This means the blog is back to being retrospective and not trying to work out where the story was going on the fly like it had to with tri. and parts of Xros Wars. On my Tumblr page, I reviewed the series as it aired. These posts will use those as a starting point, but expanding on everything and allowing the full story to help judge the success of certain episodes. In other words, that really intriguing plot twist that was sort of forgotten halfway through isn’t going to fly this time around.

If you haven’t been with us before, welcome! I have seven whole series worth of episode discussions to enjoy: some of which I still agree with! Posts will be every Monday and Thursday, we’ll have filler posts whenever an ending or opening changes to take a break from the routine and maybe summarize how things have been going so far. Based on this schedule, we’ll finish Appmon on April 30, which should be right before the new Adventure movie Last Evolution debuts on this side of the ocean. To support the project, buy me a coffee, shop through our Amazon affiliate link, and follow my Twitter and Tumblr pages. I’ve also got a new fanfic in progress, a sequel to Neverworld called Nexusworld, but be warned it’s loaded with Appmon spoilers.

…and my Re:Arise Friend ID is 399878273.

Digimon Universe Appmonsters Opening 1: Dive!
A little more frenetic than we’re used to in both song and animation but what a jam! The song has just enough beats to sound tailored to the series, and the video mixes random Haru moments with the usual fly-bys from the rest of the cast and ominous villain shots.

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