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Haydn’s Digimon Memories

I first came across Digimon in the spring of 2000 on CITV (Children independent television) and I distinctly remember the first episode I saw was episode 2 of the original Adventure series that was entitled “The birth of Greymon”.

For those of you who are not from the UK and therefore not familiar with CITV, it along with CBBC (Children’s British Broadcasting Corporation)  were the two main sources of children’s programmes for kids who did not have access to SKY which had channel’s like Cartoon Network, Fox Kids etc.

A lot of kids had to make do with 5 TV channels where programmes aimed at them was limited to weekday mornings and afternoons along with weekend mornings.

 

When I first saw Digimon I had literally no knowledge of the show. Remember this was before YouTube and my main usage of the internet at the time was to look up information for school projects. It was a different time from now where you know as soon as something is announced.

I was really into the Pokémon anime at the time (original Indigo season) so my first thought was this is a blatant Pokémon rip off. I made the assumption that anyone who has no knowledge of Digimon makes after all both shows end in “mon” and have humans that go around with monsters by their side so they must be the same right (I was 10 at the time so cut me some slack here).

Of course, the reality is that despite both shows sharing “mon” in the title they are actually very different.

I am sure if you are reading this you are already a Digimon fan to some degree so know the differences but I will list the biggest ones anyway just in case.

One of the key differences is that Digimon actually speaks the same language as the humans, unlike Pokémon that just say there name over and over again (before you say it yes I am aware Meowth speaks however he is an exception).

You can guess how Pokémon feel to some degree by the expressions on them but that doesn’t compare to Digimon who can properly communicate with their human partner. This result is a much stronger bond shared between human (Digidestined) and Digimon.

Another thing that set’s the two shows apart is the goals of the lead characters. The world in Pokémon is portrayed as very similar to our own. It is a peaceful world where human’s live alongside Pokémon and Ash’s goal is to catch as many Pokémon as he can and win the league for whichever region he is in at that point.

Whereas in Digimon Adventure the Digital world that the Digimon inhabit is a completely alien landscape to the kids that are transported there. There are forests, mountains, deserts, theme parks along with numerous other interesting places. They have to work together to survive in this world and help each other out.

Going back to when I first saw Digimon, when I turned on the TV it was already a few minutes into episode 2. The kids had just arrived at the embankment after travelling down the river on Gomamon’s marching fish.

I watched the episode to the end and remember thinking at the time it was ok but even though it was a “Pokémon rip off” I would watch the next episode.

The title of episode 1 of Digimon Adventure “And so it begins…” is really appropriate for this moment. Over the next few episodes, I began to like the series more and more and whilst I still watched Pokémon it was Digimon that had my full attention.

I did miss the odd episode as we didn’t have TV streaming services back then if you didn’t watch it at the time it aired and hadn’t put it on to record on tape (god I sound old!) then that was it!

It was so frustrating to get home excited to watch the next Digimon episode only to find out there had been a power cut so the timer record on the video had reset and as a result, you didn’t have a Digimon episode to watch.

One of the other frustrating things that CITV used to do was get to a certain episode of Digimon and then go back and re-air several episodes. This was likely due to them only having access to a certain amount of episodes.

Whilst I can’t remember exactly when this happened, I want to say it happened a few times. Am fairly sure it happened after episode 27 when Myotismon goes through the gate to the human world, I tuned in to see what happened next and we were back at episode 1 or something crazy like that!

From then on I kept watching the first series of Adventure all the way to the final episode where the Digidestined have to say goodbye to their Digimon.

My all time favourite episode of Adventure is episode 37 “Wizardmon’s gift”, it was just the perfect accumulation of the story arc they had been building up with Kari & Gatomon. Not only did you have multiple ultimate Digimon (which let’s not forget was the highest level of digivoulution we were aware of at that point) fighting Myotismon you also had Wizardmon protecting his friend until the very end.

When Digimon Adventure ended I thought that was it. I hoped Tai’s words at the end of episode 54 “That gate won’t stay closed forever” would be true but I had no way of knowing if there would be more Digimon or not.

I saw Digimon the movie at the cinema as well which was an interesting experience as I was the only one in the whole screening! Not entirely sure why this was because at the time Digimon was popular in the UK and I would have gone on a weekend to see it so you would have thought there would be other kids. In case you were wondering about the family with me I didn’t have anyone, by that point my Mum had already sat through two Pokémon movies (The First movie & 2000) & I don’t think wanted to watch Digimon as well so dropped me off and picked me up afterwards. Despite this seeing Omnimon for the first time was still a really cool experience and having the whole screen to myself actually added to the immersion in a way as there was just myself and the Digimon movie!

Luckily for 02, I was able to watch it on Fox Kids or at least the start of the Digimon Emperor arc.

I would visit my Dad who had Sky every other weekend and I actually didn’t discover Fox Kids until the very first episode of 02 aired. I remember looking at the TV guide for kids TV on a Saturday morning and seeing Digimon.

I thought it would be a repeat of one of the Adventure episodes, I clicked on info over the show and the description interested me. I don’t remember exactly what it said but it made me think this could be brand new.

I eagerly awaited for the show to start and when it did, it was such an exciting moment. There in front of me were a new group of Digidestined and a new story was starting!

As this was in the age before you know about things months/years before they are released to me it was a real shock. I am sure Fox Kids had done plenty of promos on 02 prior to it starting but due to me only having access to it for two days in every 14 I had not seen any of them so had no idea it was coming.

I have fond memories of watching 2 episodes of Adventure 02 whilst eating my breakfast in the morning (I would always have 2 slices of bread with butter on whilst watching it). Something that I have started doing again with the 2020 reboot.

I continued to follow Digimon up until about July/August of 2002 at which point I had just turned 13 and decided I was “too old” now for Digimon.

At this point, I was watching it again on CITV and the last episode I saw was episode 36 of 02 which if you know 02 is where the Digidestined are trying to stop Blackwargreymon from destroying the destiny stones. The final destiny stone has just appeared and the group confront him one last time to try and stop him.

You may think that’s an odd place to suddenly stop however CITV suddenly stopped showing Digimon 02 at that point. I remember looking for the next few weeks in the TV guide hoping to see the next episode in there but it wasn’t.

When I went back to school in September I forgot about looking and that was me done with Digimon for a good 4 years.

It was not knowing what happened with the destiny stones that actually got me back into Digimon. I was browsing YouTube on the Wii in autumn 2007 for random shows I used to like (at this point I was 18) and suddenly remembered about how I had never finished that series. At this point as YouTube was still new luckily they had all the Digimon episodes on there.

I searched a few things and managed to find episode 37 “Kyoto Dragon” and following that watched to episode 50 which ended the 02 season.

I remember at the time thinking is it ok for me to be watching a “kids” show? I thought well I am only 18 it’s not like I am 30 watching it but here I am aged 31 as I type this and I love Digimon just as much now as I did when I originally watched in back in 2000.

Watching episode 37 reignited my love of Digimon and I set about seeing what I had missed in the time I had been away from Digimon.

I re-purchased the Digimon movie on DVD as I had got rid of my original VHS copy. Jetix had released a couple of Digimon DVD’s in the UK during the mid 2000’s but these only contained a few episodes on each disc.

In 2008 we had a DVD pack release called “Sub-zero ice punch” which contained episodes 9-20 split across two discs. With this release it looked like we would get the rest of Digimon Adventure released on DVD soon however it would take another 8 years before we got a complete season release in the UK.

Keen to own all the episodes I purchased a bootleg version off of eBay that contained seasons 1-4 and some of the movies. As you can expect the quality was not great. Having said that I was a step closer to owning Digimon properly on DVD. I watched Tamers & Frontier both seasons that I had not seen before and wasn’t that fond of either at the time.

In October 2016 Manga UK finally released the first season of Digimon Adventure on DVD which was a big moment for Digimon fans here. Whilst some of the episodes did look a bit dated it was still a step up from my dodgy bootleg version.

After waiting so long for the first series of Adventure it only took a month for Adventure 02 to release as that followed in November 2016.

We then had a two year wait for Tamers & Frontier which were released in September 2018 & November 2018.

Despite me not been particularly bothered by Tamers on my original watch upon watching it again on the DVD release, I really enjoyed it to the point where it is now my 2nd favourite series above 02 but just behind the original Adventure.

In 2017-2018 we had all 6 of the Digimon tri movies released with the English dub and original Japanese with subtitles available. Whilst Tri split the Digimon community with long time fans either loving or hating the series I don’t think there can be any doubt that Tri helped the Digimon brand overall.

It got people talking about the series again as we had new content to discuss instead of reminiscing about episodes that were years old. I really enjoyed the 6 movie tri series overall, I admit it has flaws but there are some really great moments within that.

From the reboot in Part 3 Confession to Tai reuniting with Agumon in Part 1 Reunion along with some really well done comedy elements. There were several points in the Tri movies where I was laughing away (likely as a result of something Tentomon had said) and the more relaxing moments between the Digidestined were done well.

Regarding Digimon Savers, Xros Wars and Appmon they simply didn’t appeal to me which is why I haven’t mentioned them.

Fast forward to 2020 and with the Digimon Adventure: reboot that started in April (and then again in June after the brief hiatus) it really feels like Digimon is back again in a big way.

Digimon Adventure: is airing in Japan in a prime time Sunday morning slot and as far as we can tell appears to be a huge success.

There will be a lot of children where Digimon Adventure: will be the first time they have seen the series. Personally, for me I am loving the reboot, when it was announced I was unsure about it as whilst it had the characters I love in as more recent seasons like Xros Wars etc. didn’t appeal to me wasn’t sure if this one would either. Luckily I was hooked from episode 1 and enjoy watching the new episode each Sunday.

One of the biggest surprises for me with the reboot is how I feel about certain characters. In the original 1999 version my favourites were Tai, TK, Kari & Sora whilst Izzy and Matt were in the middle with Joe and Mimi at the bottom. At this point in the reboot (episode 18 has just aired), we are only just starting to see TK and Kari more but Mimi has been great to watch. She is currently up there with my favourite characters in the reboot which is something I would never have said with the original.

As I write this in October 2020 there are positive signs that the reboot will be coming to a wider audience than just Japan.

The Digimon trading card game that features the updated designs for Tai, Matt, Izzy etc has been confirmed to have a localised version that will be releasing in January.

Whilst a dubbed version of Adventure: hasn’t been confirmed, it would seem odd to release a localised version of the cards with the dubbed character’s names with nothing else to help boost sales.

Whilst dedicated Digimon fans are aware of the card game, Bandai will want to sell them to new fans, not just people who are already interested in the brand.

Releasing a dub of Digimon Adventure: would be the perfect way to introduce Digimon to a new audience and help boost sales.

Who knows maybe the card game is just the start and lots more localised Digimon products are coming?

Anyway, that is my history with the Digimon franchise.

Do you have any memories that you would like to share, are you enjoying the reboot?

Let us know by posting a comment below.

This is an opinion piece from Haydn Davies on his history with the Digimon franchise.

If you are interested in following Haydn you can do so on Twitter. His username is @ninjafox1989

If you want to post a review about Digimon please contact us @TheDigiArchive 

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