Synonyms: Digimon: Digital Monsters 03
Status: Finished Airing
Aired: Apr 1, 2001 to Mar 31, 2002
25 min. per episode
PG - Children
L represents licensing company
Score: 7.521 (scored by 26973 users)
1 indicates a weighted score
action adventure comedy shounen
SynopsisTakato Matsuda, Ruki Matsuno, and Lee Jenrya are children who have, by fate, recieved real Digimon, unlike the imaginary ones in the card game they play. Each of the children, or "Digimon Tamers", have their different views on how Digimon should be treated. But when other Digimon begin to appear around Japan, they must put aside their differences to fend off the digital intruders; even though Yamaki, who is the head of a secret organization called Hypnos is trying to eliminate all of the Digimon himself.
Related AnimeAdaptation: Digimon Tamers
Spin-off: Digimon Adventure, Digimon Savers, Digimon Frontier, Digimon Adventure 02, Digimon Xros Wars
Side story: Digimon Tamers: Boukensha-tachi no Tatakai
Sequel: Digimon Tamers: Bousou Digimon Tokkyuu
Characters & Voice Actors
This is the third Digimon series and one that had a very challenging road ahead: after Digimon Adventure 02 essentially failed in the ratings department, another sequel (Adventure 03 if you might) would most likely be unable to deliver the audience the franchise so badly needed. So it was boldly decided that the best way to gain new viewers was to star over, from scratch. And there's no better way to make old viewers watch again that the concept "What if you could create your own digimon?" while also appealing to new ones. As such, Digimon Tamer triumphed and saved the franchise by denying it had a past at all and making a whole new world and timeline from scratch. Sure, there are callbacks and common elements, but Tamers (and so Frontiers, Savers and Xross Wars) decided that it was the best to follow its own path. At its best it is an extremely satisfying, poignant, enjoyable and inspiring journey, but at its worst it is drag, filled with awkward, anti-climatic and filler moments, but luckily it only does that bad for about 5 episodes or so. There are at least 15 memorable ones, 15 averages, and the rest are all good. Now, let's see the hits and miss of the series:
Story wise: We have three arcs in this series and all of them are quite different in themes and quality.
First, the tamers beginning: this is a kind of prologue that goes from episode 1 to 13. Most episodes are just fine, with some really good characters moments. Every single Digimon series have always started a bit slow, but that's only so we can get to know our characters and so it is understandable. Here we are presented the concept of cards, which is an amazing support system so that the human can aid their digimons in battle, as well as we start to understand the dynamic of this series; it is darker than the previous two, we don't have chosen children, we have children who happen to become tamers, so there's no actual deux ex machina to keep them safe and so the danger feels quite real. Even while in this first arc there is not such an extreme danger, the feeling is there in the air and it will pay off later on.
Second, devas: it goes from episodes 14 to 36 and here is where Tamers hit the lowest of its quality (except for episodes 33 to 36 that act as an introduction to the final arc); devas are the worst villains I've seen in any digimon series (and maybe in any given anime). Their motivation is poor, their design is dreadful and they are just plot fodder and not actual characters; we spend so much time with them that they just fall flat to make any impression. The worst episodes of the series features them, they are extremely boring or passable at best. Yet, when you ignore the devas, what happens around is fine or even good to great, as luckily our main characters are treated quite better, and such it is not a deal breaker. There are only 3 or 4 crappy episodes in this long arc, about 2 or 3 memorable ones, and the rest are just fine or slightly good. When you ignore the devas and focus on the rest of the characters everything is fine, but as soon as they appear they drag the show down.
Third and final, D-Reaper: Here is when Tamers shines; it is the best arc of the series and Tamers shows us it's not afraid to go dark. We see the worst of some characters and the best of them; we get to feel fear and despair. Remember how I told you earlier there is no deus ex machina? Well, just 3 episodes before we enter this arc one of our character's digimon dies (permanently) and a digivice breaks, something we've never seen before in a digimon series, allowing us to peek at the darkest of two characters just before it pays off for both of them, showing their best character development. As this arc starts both worlds, digital and ours, enter in such a huge crisis that is almost impossible to predict how it's going to get resolve, and to do so everyone have to work together, not only the children and the digimon, but the adults as well, and so we get into a full set war against the new enemy that is filled with despair, but also some moments of hope to make an incredible smartly shaped finale. Everything we see here has been foreshadow before handed, and as such every moment feels earned, it's not rushed nor convoluted, it's just greatly structured and when you add that to some great characters you get one hell of an anime.
If just there was no devas, this could have been just as great as Adventure (or even better)
Characters: Mostly the character work is great; however there are some misses too here. But let's see each character:
Takato: here I just have to applaude the writers. Takato started as a crybaby and a coward, but slowly he became more and more brave, accustomed to fighting, he became considerate, but he never stopped feeling like the same character. Though he changed he still felt like the same Takato. There is a moment when the writers just wanted us to hate him, around episode 32 or so, and though I did hate him quite a lot, I have to say that I loved to hate him, and I also was pleasantly surprised by how they handled it to make a character that came from annoying to likeable to hateable to be likeable again; it's not something any person can pull, and by the end of the series, Takato's character treatment is fairly the best and something that should be praised.
Ruki: A close second for best character treatment, just behind Takato, as she comes from ice cold with an "I don't care about anyone" attitude to someone who cares deeply about her friends, is dependable and never stops being cool and badass. Her changes are slow and gradually made, and as such it's never rushed and feels naturals. As she says by the end "humans don't change that easily" and those words fits her perfectly. Her character is just outright awesome!
Jenrya: Here the writers made many, many mistakes! Though he is never annoying he is never all that relevant. Sure, he has his moments, but he never gets fully developed; we get just a bit of background in earlier episodes and no more, and he just feels like a character that acts as plot fodder rather than being a fully fleshed out one. Still, he will never be bothersome.
Impmon/Beelzebumon: here's another character that started as a broadstroke and got amazingly developed. His background is consistent with his personality and he takes some courses of actions that largely impact who he becomes later and he must endure the weight of the choices he makes. He is by definition the "conflicted character" and when you use a conflicted character right in a show, it adds more layers of deepth to it, and as such this character gets it right!
Juri: I'm amazed that she came from annoying girl to what she became later on. I won't enter on details, but after episode 33 we got to really explore the darkness of her character and shows us how even kids can hold up some very hurtful stuff; by the end of the series these conflicts get resolved, yet it is amazing to see someone who was so cheerful in the beginning (to the point it was outright annoying!) showing her darker self and overcome it. Kudos to the writers!
The three main digimon: It's important to say that all the three digimon have fleshed out characteristics that makes each one feel real. I won't enter into details, but I can tell you that Guilmon is loveable, yet silly in the beginning and he grows smarter and deeper as we progress, while never losing his cuteness. Terriermon is a relaxed type of digimon who learns little by little to take things more seriously and Renamon is a digimon that rather stays on the background, but just as Ruki she warms up to the rest gradually, while never letting go her characteristic self of staying in the background.
Other supporting characters: Tamers have several! It takes focus on others tamers as Ryo, Hirokazu, Kenta, Shuichon, the families of our main tamers and a group of adults trying to save the world, and develops them at their fullest while keeping them at the background. Ok, maybe not Ryo, but the rest all get as developed as they can in the limited screentime they have, and that's something to praise, as not many shows care to do so.
Sound: Outstanding. There was a very well made decision here; some of the themes from the previous series were kept while also adding new ones, more techno that goes along with the sci-fi air this series have. Songs like "Slash" fit that really well, and the opening theme "The Biggest Dreamer" is just amazing and fits the series general theme.
Enjoyment: As I said earlier there are moments that are a real drag, quite bad to just outright awful, while there are also magnificent ones, specially coming from the last story arc. Still, as a whole most episodes are just good, but considering how extremely satisfying the final arc was, I decided to upgrade it from "good" to "very good", ergo the 8 score.
Tamers stands as my third favorite Digimon series behind Adventures and Savers. It made many, many mistakes (I'm looking at you devas...), but as I re-watched it I realized it was worth to keep up with it and to endure the worst of it, because the highlights of the series are extremely good. As such, we can't see this as the masterpiece Adventure was because it is not as consistent as that one, but it surely aimed for the greatest, it was filled with potential and it managed to explode more or less some of it, but not all. Still, it is a great Digimon series, and one worth re-watching. Also, it made possible the herculean task of delivering a finale as good as Adventure did, and that's not a small feat.
Stary observations (funny facts and bits of information I got while re-watching, which might contains some spoilers):
-Juri to Takato (episode 11): "Always talking about Digimon". Well, I'm 21 years old and I'm here writing these reviews so... yes, always talking about Digimon.
-Guilmon (episode 16): "I can do a handstand" Isn't Guilmon the cutest digimon ever made?
-There was a ravel callback in episode 18! It was the ringtone from Nami-sensei! I thought it was worth writing it as it was an important song in both previous series.
-There are multiple foreshadows: for instance Juri becoming a tamers gets mentioned before Leomon appears, the Ark becoming Grani is also mentioned beforehanded, and so the theme of magic vs data in early episodes, among many others. This shows how much thought and effort there was on this series!
-There was a moment in episode 29 where a dog bullied Culumon. I won't even try to understand it.
-Kenta (in episode 31): "Sukamon fits Hirokazu" I thought the same!
-Episode 45: "Justice Kick" worst ultimate attack ever! xD
-Episode 51 (finale): when the digimon left I couldn't help but cry. Also, I smiled when Takato found the gate to the digital world.
And that's it! I hope you liked this review! There's much more to say about this, but I won't make you endure it any longer. See you!
Next time: Digimon Frontiers took the risky concept of human becoming digimon and failed to keep an audience, almost killing the franchise. read more
I liked the first two seasons of Digimon as a kid, they were the only ones they aired here in Finland. After some years I matured and began looking down on them.
Let's face it, the idea that ENIAC, the world's second computer, was capable of twisting space-time and created parallel dimension where computer data took physical form and gained sentience on its own, and then interacted with human kids' emotions to reconfigure the data to combat monsters, was quite silly, and the show mostly served only commercial purposes. (This creation of the Digital World is explained in the Wonder Swan games relating to Digimon Adventure 02.) The plot of the first season also was quite nonexistent, fighting one big bad with world-domination fantasies after another.
Then, after many years they decided to air Digimon Tamers in the kids' weekday morning program slot. I hadn't seen it back on the good old years because I didn't know Japanese, didn't want to watch English dub and subs were not available, which was quite surprising, considering Digimon is, or once was, very popular franchise around the world. I started to watch it mostly for nostalgy. Digimon Tamers however turned out to be much more actual cyberpunk than kids' show.
Digimon Tamers' plot is built upon the concept of unintentionally created artificial intelligence. It is, too, a bit strange idea, especially given that it's creation is timed in 1984. But then again, Digimon Tamers officially is stated to take place in different universe, so we can assume some technology had advanced asynchronously. Or perhaps the same quantum phenomena that affected the creation of the Digital World played a role here. Anyway, the backstory is not fully explained in the show, there's a novel called Digimon Tamers 1984 which would be a good companion to watching it, but it hasn't been translated either to my knowledge.
Tamers is loyal to the original ideas of Digimon however, and the fact they made them believable, even if eccentric, is one of the things that make it so good. The childrens' ability to interact with the Digimon in unique ways and the fact the main character actually CREATES his own Digimon are justified with the concept of DigiGnomes - programs that were originally intended as a part of a children's toy, designed by a group of programmer students at University of Palo Alto in the 80's, until the project was cancelled.
The art of the physical world is decent, but when we get to the Digital World it's amazing, acidic. We have packets of garbage data running around deserts in coils, our physical world's information networks manifested in the sky as a huge shining globe with greatest data streams arranging around it like debris rings of a planet, and all your classical Digimon weirdness - mansions inside glass bubbles underwater and completely monochromatic old-skool town etc. The CGI and normal animation in this show are in perfect balance. Some evolution scenes (basically those from adult stage to perfect stage) aren't very cool, they could be much better, and that's about the only actual complaint.
I've always considered all incarnations of Digimon to have excellent soundtracks, and Tamers is not an exception. The second ending theme 'Days ~aijou to nichijou~' is so sweet and dreamy I have on many mornings after not sleeping the night (like was the case at the time when Tamers aired here on kids' mornings) listened to it on loop about ten times and got a really good feeling. After that it temporarily loses it's charm, but on the next morning it's restored. The opening 'The Biggest Dreamer' is really groovy too. Tamers has more futuristic and/or digital sounding BGM's than the other seasons, fitting it's themes and atmosphere perfectly. The first evolution sequence music, 'Evo' is probably the coolest Digimon evolution music ever, but the others send chills to the spine too. Try listening those in Youtube even if you don't plan to watch the series.
Characters are better developed than in any other Digimon incarnation, and some have relatively dark backgrounds. Our main hero is way far from typical shounen hothead with big ego and exaggerated goals and bad manners. He's what you'd call an artistic soul, and his development into a sort of knight on a white (though it's really red here...) horse is interesting. The Digimon also have distinquishable personalities that aren't paired with their owners' personalities in any typical - balancing opposites nor overly similar - fashion. We have serious adventuring group drama here where half of the 'people' just happen to be artificial intelligences gained physical creature-ish manifestation via quantum physics.
Also, the Digimon aren't initially friends by default. Wouldn't you be surprised, confused if you just happened to encounter a talking battling mutating video game creature? Their slowly developing bonds are quite serious. And we get to explore the differences and similarities of humans and Digimon. At the beginning, most Digimon are guided by their basic instinct to battle, absorb the opponents data, convert it into utilizable form for self, and evolve, bestowed upon them by humans themselves. Neither is there any over-the-top world-saving premise - the characters become involved with it through pure chance, bit by bit, through their own choices.
Our main villain is, unlike the Digimon, an emotionless program. Originally created to keep the numbers of copies of data files in given limits, in order to prevent viruses from spreading themselves that way and collapsing the budding 80's Internet, he has now gained physical form too, and become what you could call an 'eco-fascist', calmly launching plans to reduce the numbers of humans after calculating there're too many of them for the planet to withstand. This is an interesting, thought-provoking concept really.
We don't have big bad guys who are bad just for the sake of it here. Sans the few rogue monsters in the beginning that serve only as ways to initiate character conflict, every villain has understandable motives for whatever they do, and most turn out good after some serious misunderstandings and political or religious differences crossing the border of two different worlds have been cleared. The question whether or not we are gods and masters of our creations is also explored in many episodes - even if our creations believe in gods completely of their own.
And the final battle is on par with Gurren Lagann's. No, I'm not kidding. They have many things in common in fact, as one Digimon's final form is like giant green dog-faced mecha, and both involve quantum physics you actually have to think a bit for them to make sense.
Overall, it's weird, trippy, cool and enjoyable to both children and adult science fiction fans. Not everyone is going to like it of course, mostly probably because it has lots of monster battles, the beginning is slow, and because some things of the backstory are left a bit obscure. Also some have called it Evangelion's child, which in turn has pissed off some fans of Evangelion, which I think is completely justified - indeed it doesn't go to same depths over same subjects. Some have called it a bad Evangelion-wannabe, but I don't think they have much in common. Both are good though, so let's not start an argument over this one.
If you watch Tamers expecting it to be like Evangelion, you're going to be disappointed and probably hate it. So don't do that. Tamers is worth liking it. It doesn't try to be a ripoff of ANYTHING, it's honestly completely its own kind of work.
There simply isn't anything like Digimon Tamers out there.
Well the psychological themes are very similiar. Also, the final enemies in Digimon Tamers, the D-Reapers are VERY-VERY similiar to Angels in Evangelion. The last D-Reaper even has a mask like Lilith did and it's face evolved to a human's one just like Lilith's .. While Digimon Tamers isn't that sad, psychological and fucked up and is targeted more at kids than Evangelion then it's still clearly influenced by it. Also, in both series there is a company that is related to the D-Reapers/Angels. And some of the digimons in this series are based off the Evangelion mechas. (one of them even had that big wire thing coming out of it's back)
Neon Genesis Evangelion is known as a very abstract, philosophic and psychological anime. Digimon Tamers also has these elements, as it deals with psychological character dissections and the meaning of life, among others.
Note that in Digimon Tamers, these elements are presented in a very shonen way, more as underlying elements of the story than the focus, where in Evangelion this IS the case.
Nevertheless, Digimon Tamers DOES have substance, you'll notice it when you're watching. If you've already watched Tamers and liked how that anime kept you thinking while watching it, Evangelion might be your thing.
In a sense, both series tend to explore on the same themes. Some might even go as far as to say that Tamers is a lighter version of Evangelion.
Both explore on themes which deal mainly with the psychological nature of man and its surroundings. As such, terms related to psychology and studies centered on man are portrayed in the show. Such terms present in both series are not limited to:
-Exploring the theory of humans evolving into a higher form of existence.
-Interpersonal relationships of human beings with one another (hedgehog's dilemma, Separation anxiety disorder, etc.)
Tamers is a definite recommend for those who want to watch something that will have the mind thinking. Also recommended for those who want to watch something that will induce feelings of nausea and whatnot.
Believe it or not, Devil Survivor 2 and Digimon Tamers are probably the closest anime in terms of similar themes you'll find.
In both of the shows, creatures are appearing out of no where in Japan and causing havoc. In DS2, the ones who take care of these are the summoners, while in DT they are the tamers. In DS2 they use a variation of demons from folklore, stories and the such, while in Digimon Tamer it gets to the point where the enemies are based on folklore and legends as well. In DS2, you can almost consider the demons to be 'digital' as well as how they were effected by a virus in the system where in DT, it also occurs in and digimon is short for digitial monsters. There are plenty more similarities.
The main difference between the two is the target audience. DT is aimed towards the younger and children while DS2 is more along the lines of teenagers.
In essence, there exists supernatural beings that are from another world/dimension that threatens the people that resides in their respective series. These beings have their special abilities.
Some of the people from both series have partners/summonings of their own and are able to combat these beings.
The main male protagonist from both series strives to make the most of his life and with his partner often tries to help others along with his friends. There is also action, drama, and other strange supernatural phenomenon going on in both series.
Three ordinary kids, two boys and one girl, that all of a sudden have mysterious beasts that they can control and use to fight other mysterious beasts in order to protect their city. Not to mention just the overall feel of it. I would say that Devil Survivor 2 is more mature, but that's about it.
Opening Theme"The Biggest Dreamer" by Kouji Wada
Ending Theme#01: "My Tomorrow" by AiM
#02: "Days~Aijou to Nichijou~" by AiM
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