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Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Editorial: How I Came To Love Digimon.


Just a short-ish one today, since most of today'll be taken up with work.

Editorial: How I Came To Love Digimon.

The politics of Pokemon and Digimon were a big thing at my primary school. Pokemon swept it by storm, at a time where schools everywhere were being swept up in that particular craze, enough so that several of them outright banned Pokemon cards on their premises. My school wasn't amongst them, but the craze was still felt there, enough so that it was moderately serious business that caused more than a few spats between students.

(At one point, I got a book with all 150 Pokemon in it. For a few days, I was their god.)

Digimon was seen with some scorn, as a cheap knock-off, and being very vulnerable to peer pressure, I agreed. I'd never seen an episode, but it was surely obvious. Thus, my catching an episode was entirely by accident, the result of happening to tune in during the last ten minutes or so of Episode 4. 

At which point, I was fairly thoroughly hooked, but I'm not sure that if you asked me now I could explain quite what caught me about that episode. Perhaps that it was epic in a way that Pokemon wasn't, and had a danger that was previously lacking from my mon-based entertainment. This was the episode, after all, that involved a man made of fire skidding down a hill to destroy a village, while screaming about how much pain he was in. That's an image that'll sit in any kid's mind.

Still, I tuned in for every episode after that, right up until Tamers, which was about when ITV, the channel that showed Digimon, took it off air (very early in the series, as I recall). Even when my family was taking weeklong holidays on a boat, I made sure to bring along a tiny, black and white TV that cut out if the boat moved too sharply and sometimes failed to get a signal at all, so that I could tune in to that week's episode (Episode 30 of Digimon Adventure 02, never let it be said that my memory for certain things isn't great). In fairness to ten year old me, those were the days of no way to find TV episodes online, and no way to set something to record while you were away, the only method of recording television shows being to use a VHS with about three hours worth of recording space.

When CITV stopped airing Digimon, it was a rather familiar thing. At this point I was well familiar with the dance of Monster Rancher, which aired on the same channel. Every year CITV would air Monster Rancher in summer, starting with the beginning of the summer holidays, and immediately stop once the summer was done, only to start from the beginning next year, resulting in the same twenty-four episodes being aired every year. I was already aware that CITV had a tendency to cut my lulzy monster shows short, so I wasn't particularly shocked or devastated. I kind of drifted off and did other things.

(Other things being Yu-Gi-Oh GX. I had to get my fix somewhere, and thus began another love affair with a ridiculous children's show that would last me well into my twenties, what are you going to do.)

I didn't really get back into it until the summer before I went to university. That was a torturously boring summer in which, bar a very pleasant trip to perform in Edinburgh, there was only pain and dullness and death and a desperation to get any entertainment from anywhere that led me to taking three hour walks around the rather bland rural area that I lived in. So, I filled some of that summer with Digimon. First Tamers, then Frontier, then Savers, and you'd be surprised just how little time the three of them took up, on balance. I had never really fallen out of love with the show, it had always been simmering at the back of mind, but the abrupt one-hundred-and-fifty plus episode marathon really only cemented it. 

My opinion on each of them varied, and none of them could replace the first series for me, but what drew me back every time is the sense of wonder each series provided. It's the same thing that draws me back to Pokemon games every year, over a decade after the anime has lost my interest. Each series of Digimon provides a sense of mystery, exploration, discovery and just awe that is difficult to replicate elsewhere, along with storylines that are usually quite epic and deep (not, as some people might suggest, especially about Tamers, gritty and grimdark, but deep).

Digimon Adventure Tri is coming up, and I couldn't be more excited. It's the kind of thing I didn't know I needed or wanted until it was announced, at which point I realised that this was definitely something I wanted. 

Let's hope it's good. If it's aught like The Hunters That Leapt Through Time, I will not be happy.

1 comment:

  1. I can relate to this so much. Not the boat stuff but growing up, enthralled by pokemon, looking down on Digimon and then actually watching Digimon and finding it amazing. That said I've never watched anything after Tamers. And it's not that I hated Tamers. I loved Tamers. I've just never got into it again since.

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