A Reflective Look-Back at Digimon: Part 3-Digimon Tamers (2 of 2)

When I left off in the first part, the Tamers and friends had crashed through the layers of the Digital World and landed smack into digital terra firma. Lost, exhausted and without any of the food supplies they’d initially brought with them, the group quickly realized that this would be a tougher mission than they’d planned. What was worse, their electronic equipment was non-functional, including their only way of communication with the real world, i.e. Yamaki’s com-link. Essentially, they were stranded in the middle of nowhere, a fitting representation of this relatively unimpressive and downgraded middle section from an above-average kid’s show.
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I want to re-emphasize how unimpressive it was: considering the show had come off a 10-episode run of non-stop boss fights, to transition from that to, essentially, a Magoffin chase was definitely a downgrade. It wasn’t bad, it wasn’t even boring, but it was definitely a slump before the inevitable pay-off. The Digital World Arc had much going for it visually and stakes-wise, and it resembled the first two seasons most-directly in tone and creativity, but...yeah, not as exciting as you’d expect. However, I must give credit where it’s due, so I’ll do my best to discuss the pros and cons of these episodes. Here goes.

One of the best parts about this arc was that its Magoffin, i.e. Calumon, was sentient and always on the prowl, making the chase to find him that much more entertaining. See, Makuramon hit a snag on his way into the Digital World, causing his booty prize, Calumon, to slip free and traverse the “Wild West” as he pleased. Factor in the concept of data streams, i.e. streams that indiscriminately transported individuals at will to different parts of the Digital World, and you were left with a Magoffin chase mixed with a roulette table-like game of tag. Even as a kid, this was fun to watch. It also allowed the heightened suspense of being too close for comfort, which was equally as fun.

Anyway, Episode 25 was a game of “go here, go there, see this Digimon, discover that location, learn X about the world, rinse and repeat.” The episode revealed little about the world itself, preferring to keep its cards close to its chest and merely hint at what was to come. For example, their encounter with the short-lived Meramon reemphasized the idea that Digimon could actually die in this season, as demonstrated by his attempt to attack a stampede of wild Jagamon and being flattened when they fled in his direction. The conversation with these Jagamon the next day revealed that The Sovereign weren’t as well known as they claimed, and that information could be as easily misconstrued there as it is in real-life/on the internet. Finally, because of how digital information worked, day and night were as simple as flicking a switch, as the Sun and Moon didn’t transition before rising or setting.

Before anyone could get settled in, a data stream ran straight toward the group. Realizing they were going the wrong way, because they were morons, Rika chased Kazu and Kenta, got sucked up into the stream with them and wound up landing in front of a windy hut owned by two Digimon named Babamon and Jijimon. The two were almost like a geriatric, married couple, constantly blabbering, arguing and fighting with one another. The three spent the night at their house, whereupon Kazu and Kenta sang in the bathtub, had nightmares about Babamon and Jijimon trying to kill them, realized that wasn’t true and asked them to become their partners. Well, at least ATTEMPTED to ask, as they ended up fighting themselves for a bit before Rika grabbed them and took them to find the rest of the group. Thus concluded one of two filler episodes in this show, as well my least favorite (Episode 26) in the entire season.

The story finally went back on track in Episode 27, wherein Takato, Henry, Jeri and their Digimon, during their search for their friends, stumbled upon a village of tribal Digimon under attack by a relentless motorcycle. The two managed to save one of its inhabitants from getting mowed down, but at the expense of the little Digimon’s...sibling? Parent? Relation of some sort? I dunno, it was pretty brutal either way.

The motorcycle had been plaguing the village for a while, never stopping for reasons unexplained. It took some pro-activity from Takato, as well as the only vocal argument he and Henry ever had, to persuade the group to help out. Sadly, they only made the situation worse, as Guilmon knocked a terrified MetalKoromon off of the driver’s seat and became the bike’s prisoner in return. It was here the kids learned that this motorcycle was looking for a true owner, and that it’d never rest until it found one. The good news was that Leomon was able to knock Guilmon off the bike before it could latch on to another host. The bad news was that it was about to find its true owner, and said owner would come back to bite them in the anus in seven episodes.

See, Impmon had entered into the Digital World under the guise of a Faustian offer from the dog Deva, Cahtsuramon. After reconfirming to Impmon that his old Tamers, via mirage, had forgotten about him, Cahtsuramon made him a deal: Impmon would be granted the power of Digivolution, but in exchange would have to kill the Tamers and their Digimon because, surprisingly enough, their decision to not upload the data of the eight Devas they’d defeated prior had insulted Cahtsuramon. The offer was nerve-wracking for Impmon, yet, desperate to feel powerful, he accepted. One plunge into the “bowels of Hell” later, and he was a Mega-level demon named Beelzemon, emerging with complete control over the renegade motorcycle from earlier.

I wish I’d seen the entirety of this episode as child, as it would’ve cleared up a lot of confusion come the final arc.

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“They see me rollin’, they hatin’...”

Sadly, the show took a minor turn south come Episode 28. The majority was fine, Rika, Kenta and Kazu arrived where the Tamers originally landed in the Digital World, Rika told them to stay put as she went to go look for everyone, Kenta and Kazu didn’t listen and went looking for her, the three got sucked into another data stream and wound up in another layer of the Digital World and everything culminated in Rika, finally and deservedly, snapping at Kenta and Kazu for being miserable f***-ups who kept dragging everyone down. But then the group fixed a nearby clock, whereupon a wild Megadramon attacked desperate to upload Renamon’s data and go to the real world. Even with Renamon Digivolving to Kyubimon it wasn’t enough to fight off the giant Ultimate, until a mysterious Digimon came out of nowhere and almost single-handedly took the beast down. And it would’ve, had its Tamer not arrived to stop him.

Thus, the first appearance of Ryo “I hate you so much” Akiyama occurred.

Before anyone starts breathing down my throat, I get it: Ryo was a tie-in to the video games. His back-story is fascinating. He’s not even that important. But I don’t care about the video games, the show never dives into his back-story and he still has too little to do for someone who ended up being an unimportant, minor character. Plus, he was perfect, and not in charming or interesting kind of way. He was basically Kari if he were obnoxious instead of creepy, and he wins the vote for being my least favorite character in the entirety of the first four seasons of Digimon. So yes, f*** Ryo.

Ryo fixed the fixed clock, if that even makes sense, and introduced his Digimon, Cyberdramon, to Rika, Kazu and Kenta. The latter two were ecstatic about meeting their idol, but Rika, through a combination of jealousy and a secret crush, wasn’t. And after Kazu decided to be a dick and brag about Ryo beating Rika in the card game tournament, Rika got up and left. And, all the while, my shotgun was aimed squarely at the television set, loaded firmly and ready to pick off both Kazu and Kenta. But seriously, Kazu was a moron.

It was at this point that Henry, Takato and Jeri managed to find Kazu, Kenta and Ryo via a combination of Guilmon’s sense of smell and a weird transportation cube that looked straight out of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. So they spent the night in a weird-looking mansion guarded by a Knightmon, whereupon we got our first inference of Takato being homesick through a letter from his mom. It was a touching scene, but I never understood why it was included here. It’s not that it wasn’t needed, but these episodes were already so heavily padded that-forget it.

Around this time, Calumon bumped into Beelzemon, as if seemingly by chance. The show definitely made it look that way, as the two barely paid mind to one another before they split ways. Regardless, it begged the question: why would Beelzemon not capture Calumon? He knew who he was, even if the reverse wasn’t true, so why not bring him in? Again, a blatant moment of confusion that only padded these already-overlong episodes. Then again, Beelzemon would’ve ended the show almost immediately if that’d have happened, and we still needed to see him waste some Chrysalimon first, so moving on...again!

Seriously, I’m trying to not sound monotonous.

Desperate to find someone to play with, Calumon spotted a loose data packet floating around and decided to follow it. This led to the cutest moment in the entire show:

DAAAAAAAW! (Courtesy of user Tsume92.)

Yes, it’s stupid. Yes, it’s cheesy. Yes, the lines make absolutely no sense in English and completely butcher the original intent. But no, I don’t care. Because it’s Calumon. HIT IT!

“I was having a yucky day,
but now, woot-woot! I get to play!
Other Digimon were so mean,
The nastiest you’ve ever seen!
I don’t need them, not at all,
My brand new friend’s a big, pink ball!
Running here, and running there,
Happy-doodle, oh what fun,
I wish I had a chocolate bun,
or a cookie, or a cake,
or a minty, chocolate shake!
Who needs snacks? I have a toy,
my prancy bally, hah! What a joy!
I’m so happy, I don’t care,
I’m still not wearing underwear!”

Sadly, Calumon’s joyous dance had consequences he didn’t intend, as it created a powerful light that Digivolved some nearby Woodmon. No sooner did that happen when Makuramon, riding on the back of dragon Deva Majiramon, spotted the little guy and chased him to a nearby pit, which he fell in and landed in another level of the Digital World. The upside was that the other Tamers, save Rika, spotted the light too. The downside was that they missed Calumon and, instead, were forced to face Majiramon as Makuramon watched from the sidelines. And no sooner did the fight start than Ryo, together with Cyberdramon, unleashed the Goliath card, crushed Majiramon like nothing and ran off to find more enemies.

Bull. F***ing. Sh*t.

For those wondering what I mean, there’s a two-fold problem with this battle...outside of it being incredibly anti-climactic. One, this is a Deva that Ryo defeated. It wasn’t some silly enemy, it was a friggin’ dragon. I don’t care how strong your Digimon is, you treat this enemy with dignity. You DON’T waste him like child’s play with a card that was created to re-emphasize that your user is flawless and perfect, you fight the enemy like a hero. Using that card is cheap and lazy.

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This image alone should be proof enough of how much wasted potential there was here.

Two, and this is an issue I have with the show as a whole, this whole fight re-emphasizes how the different arcs feel like self-contained and incomplete segments that only somewhat connect to the grand story. Considering how there were twelve Devas, and only eight of were fought head-on prior, I get the impression that the writers wrote themselves in a “what do we do with the leftovers” trap that they couldn’t get out of. In other words, Majiramon was an afterthought, which sucks because there was so much that could’ve been done with him. Seriously.

With that baloney out of the way, and Makuramon taking his cue to skedaddle, the show moved back to Rika and Renamon in their, literal, neck of the woods. After a brief search for water that almost drowned Rika, the two of them found Calumon and floated up to the surface of the Digital World, whereupon Renamon, sensing immediate danger, Digivolved to Kyubimon and-

WAIT A MINUTE! First Digivolution could only be accessed via a connection between Tamer and partner. Then it could be activated via a card swipe. Now it’s activated via a connection again? Are you telling me this show can’t make up its mind about how Digivolution-AGH, MY HEAD!

Okay, so the gang FINALLY got back together...and trouble started once more when Beelzemon-formerly-known-as-Impmon took the time to introduce himself to everyone. Also, back in the real world, some a**hole at HYPNOS decided to test out Juggernaut again. As the connection to the Digital World opened up again, the sky blackened and everything started going crazy. At first, it wasn’t a big deal, as the Tamers simply found a hiding spot to wait the storm out while Beelzemon drove off to re-think his battle plan. Fortunately, the storm also allowed the com-link to work, meaning that Takato’s message made its way to Yamaki and Riley and alerted him to Juggernaut’s test run.

FYI, Konaka cliché #55: the workaholic, a**hole of a boss secretly having a relationship with one of his female employees. *Crosses entry off list*

But the mess wasn’t over, as Cahtsuramon took this as his cue to introduce himself next and challenge the Tamers to a fight over Calumon. Of course, that was interrupted by ANOTHER Juggernaut test, this one more serious. Yamaki intervened, but by then it was too late: Takato, Henry and Terriermon were separated from the group via a data stream and Cahtsuramon had snatched away Calumon, concluding Episode 30.

The succeeding episode was another filler episode, except with slightly more relevance than Episode 26. It revolved around the Tamers, while searching for Takato, Henry and Terriermon, stumbling into a forest in the Digital World ruled by a nasty Digimon named Orochimon. It seemed as though Orochimon and another Digimon named Andromon were in a long-standing battle for the peace of a local tribe of music-loving, sak-I mean, milkshake-making Gekomon, who much preferred their servitude over the heroism of Andromon and his ensuing property damage. After his most-recent battle left him battered and scarred, the Tamers used the data packets that kept the sak-I mean, “milkshakes” fresh to heal him, withering him down to Guardromon. Around this time, Jeri was kidnapped by Orochimon and taken to be his slave, so the Tamers figured that they had no choice but to get involved. Only Kazu stayed behind to nurse Guardromon to full health, which quickly came in handy when everyone convinced the Gekomon to defeat Orochimon.

The remainder of the episode was kinda lame. It focused on Jeri trying to get Orochimon drunk in an attempt to escape, eventually realizing that the-I’m calling it sake, okay-sake was making him stronger. So, after a brief speech from Kazu about toughening up, she whipped out an impressive battle technique and made Leomon defeat the nasty snake once and for all. The episode was loosely based on the Japanese tale of Orochimaru, and, save Kazu becoming a Tamer to Guardromon and Jeri showing that she was a competent Tamer, was useless and forgettable in the grand scheme. Besides, Jeri would forget the lesson she’d learned in three episodes anyway, so why have it again? I’m not against filler when it builds characters, but-like “His Master’s Voice” from the previous season-this was merely a time-killer.

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I don’t know about you, but that is an UGLY looking snake!

Fortunately, the next episode had more substance. After Takato, Henry and Terriermon landed in middle of a water-filled cave, they discovered that-surprise-their com-link was working again. Takato used it to send an SOS to Yamaki, only realizing that he was in a hotel room with all the kids’ worried and out-of-the-loop parents (oops.) And as he fibbed his way out of trouble, which involved forging the other kids’ signatures, Henry began wondering if the Digital World’s water could be manipulated via imagination. The answer proved to be yes, and, after encountering an over-protective Divermon in another room, the three made it to an underwater mansion and discovered a strange man sleeping on a desk.

In case you’re all wondering what my thoughts were on this arc as a child, I don’t really have any. Unlike the first-half of the show, these Digital World episodes always blended together as a kid. I remember details here and there, like the whole motorcycle incident in Episode 27, but due to a combination of missing certain episodes, a lack of engaging material and my short-attention span, none of it stuck out. At best, it was entertaining. At worst, kinda boring. But that’s all humdrum now, as my older self was able to piece together the puzzle from full viewings on YouTube and Netflix.

I bring this up, however, because I DO remember Episode 32 quite clearly, so it wasn’t a full loss.

The man revealed himself as the apparition of a Mr. Mizuno, aka Shibumi. Shibumi had long been tinkering with the Digi-Mon project discussed by Janyu in the previous arc, such that he’d somehow gotten sucked into the Digital World as a result. He explained the purpose behind the D-Arcs and how they were used to transform wishes into data via creatures called Digi-gnomes, and used Takato’s drawing of Guilmon as a demonstration. He even mentioned that The Sovereign was actually four Digimon, not one, and that the Devas were more in-tune with humanity than they were led to believe. And then he sent the three of them away in a giant D-Arc to find their friends...except it’d turn out to be a harder trip than thought because of the next episode’s delay in destination.

Yeah, Episode 33 decided to throw a curveball with Suzie, who’d ended up being sucked into the Digital World accidentally while at the park with her dad. After a series of mishaps, she bumped into Antylamon, the rabbit Deva, who was busy guarding the South Gate where the phoenix Sovereign resided. Initially, Antylamon brushed off Suzie as a pest, but after being tricked into helping look for Terriermon, she (yeah, she’s a “she” in the dub) began to grow fond of the kid and even saved her from a desperate Makuramon. Suzie was then rewarded with a D-Arc of her own for bonding with Antylamon, but not before Antylamon was punished for her betrayal by being de-Digivolved to Lopmon. And that’s how Henry, Takato and Terriermon found the two of them, leading to a happy reunion and a chance to find the rest of the group-

Oh right, this was where the show started getting sad.

One little quibble I have: I’ve never liked Suzie’s dub voice. Nothing against Peggy O’Neal as an actress, she did a great job with her other roles, but Suzie’s dub voice always sounded forced and unnatural. Sure, she tried her hardest, but that wasn’t enough. An actor or actress is only as good as the director instructing him or her, and Peggy O’Neal wasn’t given great direction with Suzie. She was a minor character though, so I won’t fault her too much.

Back to the show.

Right from the opening monologue by one of the Sovereign, talking about how Calumon was a “catalyst” for Digivolution, it was pretty clear that Episode 34 was the tone-changer. Sure, it had some silly moments (see Calumon attempting to escape from his beaker,) but for the most part it was bleak, depressing and would only start getting more so in episodes to come. Beelzemon still had his debt to repay, and after a brief conversation over whether or not it was safe to let Suzie join the group, he showed up ready to fulfill it. Of course, Terriermon Digivolved to Rapidmon in an attempt to fight him off, but...yeah, he was a demon lord, so it wasn’t much of a fight. And, sadly, it was only gonna get worse.

Frustrated and afraid that Guilmon wasn’t with him, Takato screamed out his name, only for it to reach a now Digivolved Growlmon (yeah, I’ve never understood how he Digivolved without Takato) and friends and send them, via a data stream, to his location. But even with Kubymon trying to reason with Beelzemon, Takato’s somewhat-forced anger outburst and the combined strength of Rika and Takato’s Digimon, they STILL couldn’t take down the crazed demon lord. In fact, Beelzemon nearly murdered Kyubimon in cold-blood, only failing to do so because Leomon intervened. (That can’t be good.)

Leomon argued that true strength didn’t come from Digivolution, and that he’d never let Beelzemon kill the Tamers and their partners. But Beelzemon took this as a threat, and so-in what’s arguably the scariest and saddest moment of Digimon Tamers-he proceeded to impale Leomon with his hand and absorb his data. As we bid our goodbye to the lovable Digimon who dies in every season, the music became somber, Takato became enraged and Leomon spoke some depressing parting words that drove Jeri into the beginnings of a psychological regression. And yes, it was a legit reason for her to snap, haters be damned.

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I wish I were surprised by this development, but it’s Leomon, so...

The next few episodes are difficult to summarize, so I’ll give my thoughts on certain aspects in point form:

-Leomon’s parting words to Jeri were different in the original. In the Japanese, he mentioned how his death was “fate”, a rather disturbing way to say goodbye. In the dub, his parting words were optimistic, probably ruining part of what made Jeri go insane, but...yeah, there was more to her regression than a simple sentence from her Digimon partner.

-Takato’s rage session should’ve begun with Leomon’s passing, not prior. It might’ve made sense theoretically, what with his confused emotions, but execution is more important than idea. Takato’s initial rage, like Ken’s realization in the previous season that Digimon were living creatures, felt forced and rushed. His rage after Leomon’s death, the one where he vowed that Beelzemon should die, was more natural.

-Now that I think about it, Takato’s rage felt a little forced in the dub too. Perhaps one more take would’ve sufficed?

-Takato demanding that WarGrowlmon Digivolve to Mega was harsh on its own, but think of the effect it had on Calumon. The little guy was already worn out when the wish was made, and he almost passed out from the wish itself. Poor guy!

-Come to think of it, and this is something I didn’t realize until JesuOtaku pointed it out, Guilmon’s Mega form being a reference to the Biblical valley known as “Megiddo” makes perfect sense. Guilmon was a Digimon made of wish fulfillment, so extremely bad wishes make for extremely bad end-results. Cause and effect at its finest!

-The side-plot involving Janyu’s wife is a reminder of how awful he could really be to his family. I guess Henry picked a bad role model in him, no?

-Takato’s D-Arc breaking is a fitting, visual metaphor for what he did to Guilmon: he broke him, so he no longer deserved him.

-As for snapping out his rage so easily, it makes sense because Takato’s a caring individual. That said, I once stated on YouTube that it was because this show wasn’t Shonen. Oops!

-Beelzemon absorbing Makuramon so easily was a fitting end for him.

-Beelzemon absorbing Terriermon and Renamon’s Ultimate forms was weird. Did they get “raped” of their energy? Were they now half-dead? It always confused me.

-Three punches to the chest and a side kick were all Beelzemon needed to defeat Megidramon? Wow...Beelzemon’s a nightmare!

-Takato’s reflection all happened in slow motion. We know this because Beelzemon fired his pistols as it started; yet it ended before they’d even reached him. Talk about having superpowers, huh?

-Guilmon whipping away the bullets with his tail is further proof that he was reptile Jesus.

-Gallantmon’s design, resulting from Takato and Guilmon “Biomerging”, was the coolest. I don’t care what the haters say.

-I guess the dub decision to blend Takato AND Guilmon’s voices together was weird, but that’s minor given how awesome it was theoretically.

-I disapprove of Cahtsuramon being absorbed by Beelzemon once Gallantmon defeated him. Considering that Cahtsuramon disapproved of data being wasted, having his data wasted would’ve been poetic. Being absorbed meant that he still won.

-Jeri’s decision to spare Beelzemon made sense. Remember, Digimon didn’t regenerate once they died in this season. Not wanting everyone else to share Leomon’s fate was justified with that knowledge in place.

-And finally, Beelzemon’s reflection montage at the end was way too long, almost feeling like pointless filler/recap. But at least we got a sense that he’d learned something.

With Beelzemon out of the way, the Tamers spent the next episode convincing Henry, who’d become unbearably self-assertive, that he’d need their help fighting the Sovereign. There were side-plots involving Rika snapping at Takato and Kazu’s relationship with Guardromon, both hilarious, but it mainly focused on the fight with one of the Sovereign, the phoenix Zhuqiaomon, and his near decimation of an already weakened Terriermon. The fight nearly killed him, and it ended in the two Biomerging to MechaGargomon and temporarily stalling the phoenix. Speaking of which, I’ve always felt that Henry and Terriermon’s Biomerging moment was the most rushed. It lacked a visual trigger, making it a “blink and you’ll miss it” moment.

Anyway, Zhuqiaomon came back enraged and ready to fight again, but not before being interrupted by Azulongmon, one of the other Sovereign, and told to cut it out.

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Oh dear...

Azulongmon explained that the Tamers weren’t the enemy, and that they should actually be working together. Also, and this isn’t explained in-show, he was probably mad that Zhuqiaomon had sent eleven of the twelve Devas to their doom for no reason. Considering that each Deva was created by one of the four Sovereign, and that they were shared equally, Zhuqiaomon had actually stolen nine of them, making him a prick. That said, Azulongmon was a bigger prick for not intervening earlier, so the blame here is equal. But I guess the writers didn’t think of that.

Meanwhile, in another part of the Digital World, Ryo was busy watching Baihoumon, the tiger Sovereign, fight off a weird-looking entity below Ebonwumon, the tortoise Sovereign, to no avail. From here, the audience could piece together that this “true enemy” was serious. After some exposition surrounding said enemy’s history, as well as what Calumon really was, Shibumi reappeared and gave context to the enemy’s existence. And this is a line that, even as a kid, I remember so clearly:

“Its name...D-Reaper.”

Shibumi explained that the D-Reaper was originally designed to delete data that “exceeded its parameters,” and that the only way it could’ve become any sizable threat would be if it’d mutated and incorporated the information it’d deleted. As a kid, this was a cool idea, if somewhat confusing. As an adult, it’s merely another way for Konaka to be Konaka, taking something sci-fi and turning it into nightmare fuel. Also, it’s mutating jelly. A weird image, if you’d ask me.

Azulongmon brought the Tamers to the epicenter of the D-Reaper’s most-recent activity, whereupon Zhuqiamon went to contain it and failed. It was at this point that Ryo returned with Cyberdramon, Biahoumon and Ebonwumon to try and help out, so Rika, realizing she couldn’t sit back, decided to go meet them herself. Amidst all the commotion, the show gave up on making its Magoffin elusive and handed Calumon back over to the Tamers via a “chance encounter” (I refuse to believe that her seeing Calumon in the distance wasn’t planned.) And then, in what was probably the most-intense and satisfying Biomerge ever, Rika and Renamon fully-embraced their partnership and became Sakuyamon, temporarily sealed off the D-Reaper’s power and made their way back to the rest of the group.

Now, here’s something I missed on my initial re-watch: Beelzemon giving back his power to the Chrysalimon. It’s interesting because we saw that Jeri was still on his mind, weighing down his thoughts with guilt and confusion over Leomon. He demanded that the Chrysalimon take away his gift, saying that “[he didn’t] want it anymore.” And they did, whittling him back down to Impmon right as Calumon fulfilled the Sovereigns’ request to allow the Digimon to fight the D-Reaper on their own. Also, his scarf flew away, which would save his life in a few episodes.

The kids then received a transmission from Yamaki mentioning that he’d prepared an ark to take them home. However, no sooner did the transmission make its way to Takato’s com-link than the D-Reaper shot out an angry burst of energy at the Earth, disrupting the trajectory. So Yamaki got the Monster Makers to, in a stupidly touching moment, reach out to computers all-around the world and get them to recalibrate it for him. It worked...somehow, and-after a brief “where’s Jeri?” moment-the Tamers made their way to the destination. Yay!

The next episode and a half dealt with the race to get home in-time, a process that was briefly halted when Guilmon requested that the ark stop because Rika had gone to rescue Impmon and Takato hadn’t made it in time. They all arrived in Shinjuku Park and, in another touching scene, met up with their concerned folks for tea and hugs. Except Jeri, whose father was a prick and insisted she go home on her own. I’ll try not to retread too much with Jeri, since I’ve covered her extensively on ScrewAttack, but the gist was that Takato escorted her via train, leading to a really heart-wrenching moment where he confessed his true feelings to what he assumed was her. Also, Jeri reading off the ingredients to her bento box was nauseating:

Protein = 26.4g?
Saturated fat = 17.4g?
Carbs = 102.2g?
Sodium = 4.6g?

What, did Takato buy food for an elephant? That’s the kind of sh*t that gives fully-grown adults heart-attacks!

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Honestly, what?!

Unfortunately, the D-Reaper had followed the Tamers home, leading to the ten-episode fight for humanity and the show’s best-written arc. To paraphrase JesuOtaku, it’s the part of the show everyone remembers, it had plenty of memorable moments and the game was always changing because of the D-Reaper’s unpredictability. Sadly, I also think that this “best-written” arc had its pros and cons: on one hand, it was the highest stakes arc, complete with intense drama, fear and moments of high risk. On the other hand, it also felt most like Konaka’s other work, with relentless nightmare fuel, a damsel in distress and a proud and brave hero whose optimism and honesty saved the day. The dialogue was also pretty hammy at times, and the idea of “saving the world” was hammered in ad nausea. I’ll try to do justice without retreading, which will be hard since I’ve covered most of this in my Jeri piece, but it might still happen on occasion because of its focus. Here goes:

Initially, the Tamers, thanks to the information gathered by The Monster Makers, had an advantage and a disadvantage. On the plus side, they knew the D-Reaper’s weaknesses: its core wasn’t evolving much, it wouldn’t absorb anything organic and it was more focused on growing before it could “delete” humanity. On the negative side, it couldn’t be analyzed directly, it wouldn’t stop growing, any digital matter it came in contact with would dissolve instantly and it’d even taken over the HYPNOS building and was using it as its alpha centre. Also, because of the limitations of the real world, as well as the connections Rika, Takato and Henry shared with their Digimon companions, they both couldn’t Biomerge to fight the D-Reaper and took physical damage whenever their Digimon got hurt. The remedy to their problem would come in a few episodes, but for now they were forced to rely on a fully-reformed Beelzemon, who’d regrouped with his Tamers in a touching scene and had come to help fight the D-Reaper.

Perhaps one of the more interesting subplots in this arc was of a Jeri-clone named ADR-01. It turned out that the Jeri who’d come back from the Digital World wasn’t the real one, but a near-likeness clone with beady eyes, a monotonous voice and a desire to analyze the real world to gain information for the D-Reaper. Much like a spy, ADR-01 played the stealth card and tried to keep a low profile, but when it wandered out of Jeri’s home barefoot and started messing with Takato’s mind from a distance...well, it was about to get uncomfortable. ADR-01 would prove to be both terrifying and disturbing before and after its transformation, and it’s a source of many scares even as an adult. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The answer to the Biomerging conundrum came in Episodes 44-45, when a mysterious girl named Alice, and her Digimon Dobermon, met with the Tamers to give them a gift from The Sovereign. In a heart-breaking scene, Dobermon gave his life and converted himself into digital energy for the Tamers to Biomerge. The end-result was cool, but I’ve never liked the self-reflections that led to each Biomerge. They’ve always felt like padding, and-save for Henry-we never learned anything about the leads that we didn’t already know. Still, I can’t complain too much when the end-result was awesome, so I’ll chalk that up to nitpicking and move on.

With our three leads now in Biomerged forms, they stood a chance against the D-Reaper’s agents. Unfortunately, the D-Reaper was a fast learner, so it kept sending out more advanced agents to brawl with them. The first of them even grabbed Gallantmon and pulled him into the blob’s core, whereupon we got our official introduction to ADR-01 and its freakish personality. The near-identical clone of Jeri kept using her shared memories with Takato to weaken him emotionally, all the while slowly changing into a more hideous form. It eventually took the combined efforts of Kenta and MarineAngemon to shoo it away, but the nightmares wouldn’t leave so easily.

Back on the outside, the Tamers met with Justimon, a Biomerge of Ryo and Cyberdramon. This further proved how much I hate Ryo, as it wasn’t earned-okay, I’m getting off track. Justimon would be a valuable asset in the fight against the D-Reaper, so I’ll put aside my grievances for the rest of this piece. Besides, Justimon looked cool enough. Yay!

Another valuable asset came via Grani, a refurbished version of the ark from earlier that turned into Gallantmon’s “trusty steed”. Armed with a weapon of his own, The Yuggoth Blaster, the two were an unstoppable fighting duo that’d help clear he D-Reaper’s agents. Grani also ended up showing images of the Digital World in ruins to everyone, leading to some heavy reactions and one of the corniest lines in the entire season. But the latter’s me nitpicking again.

What also led to heavy reactions was the world realizing that the Tamers had Biomerged with their Digimon, a fact that hadn’t been disclosed to their parents and friends. Even as a kid, this was a heavy moment. It, again, led to a pretty corny line involving Takato’s teacher, but the realization definitely raised the stakes: no longer were these simply allies, they were the kids themselves. They could die at any moment, a real fear for the parents. It’s something you don’t realize when you’re younger, making for real shock value upon re-watch as an adult.

But perhaps the two biggest reactions came from the most unexpected of places. The first was when Mr. Katou, realizing where Jeri really was, went to bargain with the D-Reaper in Episode 47. The show doesn’t explain why he did it, save a line about consequences, but I think doing so would dumb it down: it’s clear that Mr. Katou was neglectful of his daughter, and he knew this. So he figured that he, as a parent, had a responsibility to make everything right. His bargaining proved futile, only confusing and angering the D-Reaper further, but points for trying.

 photo dtdvd12-05_zps3c013ca5.jpg
“Conflict encountered! Attempting to remedy the inconsistency! Attempt failed!”

The second, and arguably the most major, came from Episode 48. In it, Beelzemon, long trying to fight for Jeri by this point, made his way to Jeri and delivered this whopper of a scene:

0_0! (Courtesy of Dante1016996.)

I won’t repeat my thoughts on this controversial moment, but, sufficed to say, it didn’t bode well for Beelzemon. Grani coming to his aid at the last second minimized his fate, but he was out of the fight for good. Not to mention, the failed attempt made the D-Reaper furious, so it raised its defenses even further and figured that it’d overheat the Earth if it was to win this fight. So the Tamers were forced to retreat and regroup as of Episode 49. They had to find a way to defeat the D-Reaper from the inside, but how?

Surprisingly enough, the answer came in the form of an American cohort who determined that the D-Reaper’s weakness came from its inner core. Using Star Trek-esque logic, the Tamers, Monster Makers and HYPNOS workers deduced that the only way to defeat the entity was by reversing its growth rate. So they created a special algorithm to allow the Tamers to fight inside the D-Reaper, scanned Terriermon with a special device to win the fight and had the Tamers gather together once more for a final confrontation. Once inside, the Tamers were introduced to the D-Reaper’s dual entities, (it also had an entity from the Digital World, after all) and managed to fight them off long enough for Grani to merge with Gallantmon and save Jeri from the D-Reaper’s core. And, all the while, MechaGargomon used his secret weapon, later revealed to be Juggernaut, to reverse the D-Reaper to a primitive state. Thus concluded the ten-episode battle with the D-Reaper.

Sadly, using Juggernaut had negative consequences. No sooner did the Tamers congregate in the park the next day when their Digimon began to de-Digivolve and end up forcibly ripped from their partners forever. It turned out that using Juggernaut had meant losing their Digimon, so-in a heartbreaking conclusion-the Tamers bid a tearful goodbye and went back to their regular lives. The show then cut to an epilogue where Takato mentioned that he wished he could spend more time with Guilmon, which was one day granted when Guilmon’s old hideout opened a potential portal to the Digital World. And that was where the show ended, which was more than enough for me even when I was younger.

Overall, Digimon Tamers was, and still is, the quintessential season of Digimon. Admittedly, most of my affection for it is in hindsight, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it as a kid too. Was it flawed? Was it silly? Yes to both, but it holds a special place in my heart to this day. In fact, the only place the franchise could go from here was downward, but whether or not it fell that far down from here is a topic for another day...


  1. Will you cover Frontier or any other seasons anytime soon?

    1. I was originally gonna cover that one, but it's not on Netflix at the moment. Plus, these retrospective entries were really draining to write, and they were written as a stress release when my dad was recovering from a massive heart attack, so I'm kinda trying to take a break.

      I might go back in the future, but if I do only Season 4 will be covered...


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