Any time you have a rebooted series, the first inclination will be to ask what they did differently this time. Introducing a new generation to some beloved media is a worthy goal and all, but if there aren’t changes, why not just introduce them to the original beloved media? But the first episode of Adventure: is so radically different from its predecessor that making distinctions is almost a waste of time. There’s no point about bizarre weather patterns that never come up again, there’s no frantic attempt to introduce 14 characters all at once, there’s no drilling in the names of all the Baby Digimon only to evolve them all in the end. In short, there’s no sense comparing this to the original Adventure opener because this actually knows what it’s doing.
What is a fun comparison, however, are the opening episodes for other Digimon seasons. Broaden out a little and it’s actually quite a conventional format. Sudden problems in town that strike the protagonist personally? That’s Appmon. Hearing the cry of a Digimon in another world as you’re pulled in? Xros Wars. Thrown into action without really knowing what’s going on but enough instinct to start swinging? Savers and Frontier. Frontier’s actually the closest prior here: follow the hero (and pretty much only the hero) through his journey into the new world, see opponent, tap into new power to fight opponent… and at some point the rival character is there judging him in silence.
Featuring only the protagonist paves the way for such a clean introduction. We learn everything we need to know about Taichi right off the bat, without cluttering the picture trying to work out too many other characters. He’s a pretty carefree kid that may have a limited attention span. He loves his mama and especially worries about his sister. He adopts Koshiro on sight and puts his trust in him instantly. First sign of trouble he’s jumping fares and rushing to help while Koshiro tries processing the situation. He’s confused but not terribly afraid of either the Net space he lands in or Agumon. And while he lets Agumon do the bulk of the fighting, he’s ready to get his hands (or gloves at least) dirty to help out, even running alongside Greymon in the final showdown. All of this is now set in our minds as we move on to meet Yamato and eventually the rest of the cast.
Koshiro isn’t the center of attention, but his mannerisms set the tone for both his character and his effective partnership with Taichi. He’s overly polite and a little intimidated by Taichi’s unconditional friendship. He’s wary of getting too enthusiastic about the data on his tablet until Taichi validates him. He’s the first to connect the news to its practical impact, but analyzes too long before taking action. It’s only once he gets his digivice, weird tablet app, and a communication line to Taichi that he steps up and navigates the situation like the rock star he’ll become. For now, these two characters are all we need.
Well, almost. If there’s one failing with this kind of introduction, it’s that pulling Taichi straight into a mess makes it hard to get more than a cursory feel for Agumon. There’s simply no time to get to know him before he’s clearing the room of all the little Algomon pestering the network. Not that his relentless bravery and smooth partnership with Taichi isn’t an important character trait. He goes to town on those guys! That’s our only initial impression of Agumon, and as a partner to the wielder of the crest (or perhaps stone?) of courage, it’s a good note to strike. But these sorts of heroics are standard for the primary partner Digimon, and after being spoiled by all the personality we see in the debuts for Gatchmon, Gumdramon, Shoutmon, and Savers Agumon, this one is rather average by comparison.
All of those examples proved to have stronger characters than the original Agumon, and it’s too early to say whether giving the Digimon characters more depth this time around is on this reboot’s checklist. What is on their list is a stunning upgrade in animation quality, dynamic and extended fight scenes, and a fresh look detached from Adventure’s original debut. Sticking close to the premiers of other Digimon series keep it tethered to the franchise and prevent it from being too unfamiliar, and being comparable to those other episode ones is hardly a bad thing.
My Grade: A-
- Introducing the whole thing talking about the evolution of the internet is a nice and subtle way to prove the need for such a reboot by reminding us how far technology has come. 1999 isn’t all that far from the old dial-up modems we hear at the start!
- Taichi telling mom she should have “taken lessons close by” could just be color for their characters, which is nice, but could plant the seed for something a little more vital to the story, no matter what those lessons entail. On that note, Hikari was particularly… quiet, even more than in her original introduction.
- Koshiro uses Tachikawa system, eh? Big character note for Mimi and we haven’t even met her! Her family’s company is now poised to be everything from victim to unwitting perpetrator to straight-up L-Corp!
- Between the weird app on Koshiro’s tablet (“The Chosen One,” “Wisdom Stone,” and “wiseman,” you say?), Agumon knowing Taichi, and this being the inciting incident that may have dished out up to seven digivices at once, there are some great mysteries we can look forward to having answered this time around.
- We don’t actually know whether the subs will spell the name Algomon or Argomon, but I’m sticking with Algomon this time in the off chance the “algorithm” wordplay ends up being relevant again.
- That evolution sequence to Greymon is pure Tamers horror right there, although it’s drawn out enough you wonder if that’s going to be the norm when we see it again. Especially since it’s in real time instead of a free action in transformation space.