Digimon (Series 3 and 4) Anime Review
US Release By
Serial Experiments Lain for kids
206 25-minute episodes:
54 (series 1)
50 (series 2)
51 (series 3)
50 (series 4)
1999-03-07 - 2003-03-30
What's In It
- Violence: 1 (mild)
- Nudity: 0 (none)
- Sex: 0 (none)
- Language: 0 (none)
It turns out they still hadn't made enough money after the end of Season Two, but because of their stupid ending it was impossible to carry that on any longer. Thus, it turns out in turn that Seasons One and Two were actually just a TV show. Here in the real world, a kid named Takato absolutely loves Digimon. He owns a bunch of cards and draws his own ideal digimon partner during class, and even wears goggles on his head like Tai and Daisuke (the Tai ripoff in season two). One day, after finding a weird device on the ground in Akihabara, Takato discovers a big egg in a sewer. The egg hatches into Guiomon, the digimon he draws during class. Takato eventually discovers two other kids with digimon: Henry, a kid in his school, who has the dog-rabbit thing Terriermon; and Rica, a surly girl with the kitsune-inspired Renamon (a humanoid fox, if you haven't heard of kitsune). Digimon are also randomly showing up around the city. There's a government agency to deal with that, but it's pretty ineffectual, and it's led by a guy who despises all digimon and insists that they aren't real (where have we heard this before?).
Season two was a huge disappointment after season one, but Digimon season three actually manages to carry the pedigree of season one. I thought it was really lame to make the first two seasons just a TV show (they could have just changed it for no explainable reason), but that was pretty much the only flaw. It was directed by the director of Serial Experiments Lain (whose name escapes me), but it takes quite a bit of thought to actually be able to connect those two shows (despite the fact they both deal with computers). Somehow, though, it still falls short of season one, but season three is entertaining in its own right.
The storyline of season three is actually better than any of the others; it's more tightly contained due to a lower number of episodes, and being able to simply build on what was present in season one helps the presentation because it isn't necessary to explain those parts again. In the beginning, Rica makes a traditional "you treat your digimon like a tool!" foe, but like Matt in season one, part of her characterization is how she learns to consider Renamon as a creature with feelings and eventually, a friend. She was my favorite character for a long time, but towards the end falls out of exposure. Takato is the same as Ash (more like Ash or Genki from Monster Rancher than Tai). Henry is a cool, laid-back kid who dislikes fighting, and his big change for the series was to learn both how to have more fun, and how to know when to fight, both aided by his partner Terriermon. Both Rica and Henry are much more interesting characters than Takato. There are some other characters too, but the only important ones are Impmon, a rogue digimon who ran away from his abusive human partners (a young brother and sister), and Juri (called Jeri in the edit), a girl in Takato's class who has a crush on him. Impmon, like Rica, starts as a bad guy and makes a turnaround. Juri is fairly boring, but her part in the plot is definitely important.
The animation is practically identical to season one, and the music is still a lot of the same awful edited tunes. The only difference is that the animation has a lot of fancy computer effects for digivolving and upgrading (done with cards). There also weren't as many totally useless digivolved forms invented for more toys, and you don't have to make a lifetime study of remembering them all like Season Two. There are only one rookie, champion, and ultimate form, and a mega form which is actually a fusion of the digimon and their partner (Renamon's mega, Sakuyamon, was my favorite).
Season Three had a better storyline than Season One, but I didn't like the greater emphasis on bad guys who "treat their digimon like a tool!" or "hate all digimon!" Takato was a whiny kid who went on and on about how Guiomon was his friend, just like in Beyblade and Medabots, and Rica or whoever would always reply with the old standby of "Your digimon is your friend? Ridiculous!" There were also a few too many things to keep track of in the storyline. After a while, my head was spinning with the Yuggoth and Juggernaut and D-Reaper and that guy who hated digimon and those girls who worked for him and Alice. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, it can just be slightly irritating when you hear them talk about something and don't know what it is. It was even less toyetic than Season One, though, which means they put quality before making money (the card bit was stupid and thrown-on, it seemed). I also disliked the ending, because it was purposely left open for more, as if there were another story arc, but to the best of my knowledge there's not and if there is there shouldn't be.
Just like season one and two, I'll now throw in a free review of season four at no extra charge! Well, it had a bunch of kids with even less personality than season two, but instead of having digimon partners they actually turned into digimon. However, all this does is show how little animation was actually created for the fights in the first three seasons, because these fights are the most filled with grabbing and holding on since Kikaider. It's on TV right now, but don't watch it; it might discourage you from seeing seasons one and three if you ever get the chance. Season four scores a 1.
I'm fairly sure season three is in the same boat as season one; rights lost, no DVD, dub-only VHS (if any VHS). However, season three is a lot shorter than season one, so if you've run out of good shows to watch you might actually want to check this one out (unfortunately, I'm not sure if there even is a dub-only VHS). Since Season Three was put on the air after Digimon's popularity in the US was more or less dead, it didn't get the attention it deserved (even though I don't, I could easily see someone liking this one better than Season One).
There is also a corresponding review of seasons 1 and 2
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Notes and Trivia
Digimon Season Three is littered with mythological references. One is the Japanese fox beast the kitsune, which Renamon represents. Her champion form represents the more powerful kyobi no yoko, and her ultimate is a Tao spellcaster (Like the Chinese religion, Taoism). Her mega, Sakuyamon, carries a Buddhist staff. The Devas, digimon fought midway through the series, are from Vedic tradition (as explained in the show). Impmon's digivolved form, Beelzemon, is a reference to Beelzebub, the prince of demons, often associated in Hebrew legends with Asmodeus, the chief of demons. There are also a few references to H.P Lovecraft's stories. I haven't personally read the stories, but I remember hearing somewhere that Juri and Alice's names were references (a reference also in Serial Experiments Lain as the names of Lain's friends). There are probably a lot that I missed, but why don't you try to figure those out yourself?
It's somewhat unusual (though less so among children's series) that Digimon began airing on US TV only a few months after it aired in Japan.
US DVD Review
There is a DVD set of the first 13 episodes, which is to say only part of the first US TV season. It is dub-only and apparently out of print but still available at some stores.
Even less objectionable than Season One, although very young kids might be bored.
Violence: 1 - Digimon in this season just turn into sparkles.
Nudity: 0 - There's nothing.
Sex/Mature Themes: 0 - Even less than Season One.
Language: 0 - Nothing notable.