Everyone in the world uses smartphone apps. But inside them lurks unknown creatures called "Appli Monsters," or "Appmon." The Appmon are AI lifeforms with the ability to think and act, and exist in the boundary between the human world and digital space. In the vast sea of the internet, the "last boss AI" Leviathan takes control of the Appmon with a virus and begins hacking every system, thus starting to control the human world from the world of the net. Haru Shinkai is led to acquire the Appli Drive, and uses it to materialize Gatchmon, a search app monster.
I will update my review once the series ends (at ep 16). I am committed to finishing this series as it's part of the Digimon franchise. So my critique is as a Digimon fan but also as how this series stands on its own since it diverts from Digimon norm and blatantly is about 'AppMon' and not 'Digimon.' (Note there is an Appli Drive and not Digivice, Deep Web and not Digital World.)
First of all let's talk about the overall impression I've seen people compare it to: Digimon meets Yu-Gi-Oh and Yokai Watch. And... so far that is accurate in terms of designs and some
aspects like: AppMon can be 'summoned' through the Appli Drive using their corresponding App Chips (like cards) and 'realize' into being, much like Duel Disk and cards in Yu-Gi-Oh. Plus clearly the creators are so fair treating this as a 'game' via terminology from 'main character' to 'final boss.' Oh and this takes place in 2045.
Now to be fair folks: This is Digimon Universe, it takes place within the Digimon existence but these creatures are basically Digimon cousins. These AIs are data but not Digimon, living solely in phone apps until they get an App Chip that can be used to realize them through the Appli Drive. So far this show has shown it's heavy with comedy via embarrassment, gags, repeated shots, slap-stick or comedic timing, sure to get darker as the true villain of the show comes into play, but for sure light-hearted because it's obviously for kids!
The main character only looks like a typical Digimon main character via his goggles (exception being Digimon Savers/Data Squad). Everyone else reminds me of designs seen in typical card game anime (I'm looking at you Cardfight!! Vanguard Card and Yu-Gi-Oh) and even some of the Megaman animes. (For those wondering what I'm talking about: crazy hair, unnatural hair colors and blinding colored outfits. No one in any of the past Digimon seasons has had 'natural' green or pink hair. (Mimi from Adventure was even noted to have dyed it and then switched back)) The show is full of bright colors, though the AppMon designs are interesting which is good and sometimes... simple/???? Some designs are the same just recolored (even made fun of in show by going "Are you two related?" "No, we just look alike" despite familiarity with one another) As of episode 6 they reused a Digimon design as an AppMon so, questions there if they're going to borrow more designs. Also they reuse some Digimon names for new characters/designs unrelated to the original versions from previous series (Raidramon). The fusions of the Appmon are done in CG which either can look borderline cool or gaudy.
We have our one female main character, pink-haired Eri, who a pop star (appears in episode 5), and our spotlight goggle boy Haru and another male character Torajirou "Astra" who is an internet celebrity (appears in episode 7), forming a trio with a shady fourth character, Rei who is an edgy/mysterious lone wolf with his own agenda (Rei and Hackmon appear at the end of ep 3, officially debuting to the others in ep 9). Out of the human designs, Rei is the least cringe worthy of outfit colors in my opinion, he wears black unlike his other blindingly clad co-stars.
Most episodes so far deals with an infected Appmon causing chaos. Appmon reside in mobile apps and act accordingly (messenger Appmon deals with IMs, GPS Appmon for navigation apps, etc); when infected by the L virus they become unstable and the one causing the virus, to quote Gatchmon, is 'the final boss, a sinister artificial intelligence: Leviathan.' In order to stop the out of control AI from causing trouble Haru has to team up with Gatchmon to stop it and its minions, like Cameramon. Using the power of the Appli Drive Gatchmon can achieve super forms to take down the enemy by combining/fusing with ally Appmon. It is revealed in ep 3 there are "7 Codes Appmon" with a special code within them that can fight against Leviathan and Haru needs all 7. (This is reminiscent of any Digimon show, a small time villain/challenge per episode before working up to bigger threats. Also the classic 'infected by a virus/controlled by higher and corrupt power' is classic of the Digimon franchise)
Apparently there is one Appmon per app program not per app download, they are one of a kind and can hop to the same function type app as long as it's on someone's device (ie: any GPS app, any IM app). (THOUGH this is questionable as in ep 3 we see many Roleplaymon via flashback, though he was the AppMon of a specific RPG) Also Appmon via their appli chips can be combined together through "Appli Link" and then a much stronger "Appli Fusion," much like what Digimon fans have seen in Xros Wars/Fusion. Appli Link = power boost and combined look similar to Digimon Xros Wars/Fusion, while Appli Fusion is more like DNA evolution seen in Adventure 02 where two compatible Mons become a new entity in form completely, none of this 'added feature/combined like Voltron.' These forms are called "Super Appmon." Also to engage these rogue Appmon Haru enters an AR Field, much like the Quartz Zone from Digimon Xros Wars Season 3 (Hunters). It should be noted that Appli Fusion can fail though, resulting in a wrong and weak fusion.
In episode 3 it is revealed Appli Fusions are done in CGI, which even Haru remarks 'wow he even looks CG!' (I am not kidding). So you have a CGI Appmon on screen w/ 2D characters, something that isn't uncommon in anime now a days or anyone familiar with early 2000s+ shows. Thankfully it doesn't look too out of place but might take some getting used to from jumping from seeing CG digivolutions to CG forms actually fight non-CG forms.
At this point any info about characters we want to know is revealed mainly through Gatchmon via his magnifying glass because he's a search app and can look up any info; he's this show's 'Data Collection/Digimon Database' to provide the viewer insight. *Gatchmon, AppMon of Search Engines, is a curious Appmon who is starry-eyed about the Real World given he only recently exited the internet; he has a "go get 'em' attitude" and supportive of his human buddy. *Haru is suppose to be an introvert with only one best friend and loves books but that so far is only made known via other characters, but he's seen to be very studious with research and pleasure reading. He's a low key guy who 'sees himself as a side character' and doesn't want to stand out, but when prompted by the the Appli Drive and Gatchmon Haru decides he is in fact a 'main character' and becomes more assertive, especially when it comes to the stopping the infected AppMon. (By the end of episode 1, episode 2 he's out of the gate to look for his crush and stop the rogue Appmon.) *Eri using her 'idol persona' is a bit eccentric, haughty, and spouts catchphrases (I'll punch my way into your heart!) but can be calm, awkward and unsure since she's new to AppMon (despite having an AppDrive 6 months before Haru); she's part of an idol group that's obviously inspired by AKB48 (she's member #470). *Dokumon, AppMon of Action Games, and Eri's buddy is a loudmouth but earnest and loyal AppMon who just wants to see people smile. *Torajirou "Astra" is an energetic and almost impulsive kid who is an AppTuber star who spouts "Will I? Or won't I?" catchphrases as he can be eccentric in his videos as an escapism from his obligation to be his family successor. *Musimon, AppMon of Music Players, is supportive and energetic like his human partner, often saying "No Musimon, no life!" and looks for the music in one's heart.
For the record Eri and Astra are eccentric but can be calm, but they contrast Haru with their quirky star personas and huge star egos. (So far Rei's brief appearances have been shady and foreboding.)
The music can get funky at times and rather repetitive. Especially when doing the Appli Link, the voice goes over and over again and there's this sorta clap beat when it happens. Not to mention it gets a sorta eurobeat as the voice starts to get sped up to the point of sounding warped and high: App Link! GACCHI! GACCHI! GA-GA-GA-GACCHI. (Note this happens for all the Appmon, like DOKA! DOKA!) Otherwise there isn't much of a soundtrack past the action sequences and the opening and ending. So far it's only been during App Realize, Appli Link and Appli Fusion. All with the overly dramatic voice that says English words oddly like ATTENSHION PLEEEEZ~
If you stop comparing it to past Digimon Seasons (which can be hard given it has the Digimon name in it and if you're like me and seen all the seasons), it looks like it can be an enjoyable show to just kill time. I wouldn't bank on a ton of character development but one can hope or else this is just 'come as you are for an adventure' type deal. The main character Haru doesn't really standout but can relate to anyone who feels average, just blending in and not standing out. Hopefully given his choice to change to be more proactive in episode 1 is actually impactful; but given we only had like 5 minutes to see his former self before being throw into the Appmon drama and finally make his choice in the end, that might be hard. Also we have a sibling situation reused from Digimon Fusion/Xros Wars which gives one character their motivation to act and act the way they do; which is points down from me since that was just used in the last Digimon series.
OVERALL: So if you look at the basics: Kid/boy meets AI made of data, gets device to symbolize and empower partnership, helps AI partner grow stronger via higher/combined forms, fights opposing AI forces (and some humans), saves our/real world AND digital/AI world... you got the typical Digimon set up. Just toss in some non traditional designs, different species and characters, and hip if not questionably annoying music/sound effects and you've got a new show. The tone and silliness of the show clearly show who the target audience is from ages 6-11, the young Millennials since the main Appmon human cast is basically a Youtube star and a young Japanese pop singer and the one who's "ordinary" (meant to be the viewer's intro into the series/world as just a normal person becoming extraordinary) and then the brooding hacker who stands on his own. There is some drama but nothing like in previous series that had light moments and darker, this so far (as of ep 15) it's just "silly and light", "background bad guy", "minor accidental opponents", "one of us is aware of the real threat but doesn't always show up" and "something sinister is a foot but meanwhile we'll deal with malfunctioning apps causing havoc while looking for a way to stop the bad AI, Leviathan."
Digimon Universe is a new anime that is causing alot of hub bub with the whole "its using Digimon's name" thing.
I personally don't think this anime deserves hate like that. I find myself enjoying it and will keep watching it until it ends.
Haru Shinkai is a junior high student who always feels like a 'minor' or 'background character' in his life. He spends his days reading books about main characters and how amazing they are. One day, he finds a device called an Appli Drive in a vending machine. After bringing it home, a small monster comes out of his phone, claiming to be named
The two team up to defeat a powerful A.I. program named Leviathan which plans to take over the Digital and Human world, and only finding the Seven Code applimon will work!
The story is a basic 'we need to find 7 of these' sort of scenario. I do enjoy these concepts so it doesn't bother me. I do look forward to seeing what the Seven Codes will become in the end, though! If anything bothered me, it'd have to be that I think in episode 1, they spoiled who was going to become a major villain and it sucks because I would have loved to have been surprised.
:\/: Characters :\/:
I enjoy the characters in this. Haru is a gentle young man who doesn't see himself full of worth, which is open to so much development. Gatchmon is very childish, which also allows character development for our little search engine friend.
We also got Eri Karen, who may be my favorite. She is an idol who is all "IM THE CENTER" and "Dont like it? I'LL PUNCH YOU OUT" but when they talk to her backstage, she is actually really timid and can't seem to be as tough as she sounds. Her Appmon is Dokamon, who is basically the fusion of Shoutmon and Veemon; childish and very loud.
:\/: Action :\/:
Here is where the anime lacks a little.
It's not Digimon action but more like 'Yokai Watch action'. When there are the first few fight scenes, its actually got more comedy then action, which though made me chuckle, makes me wish someone would just deck someone in the face.
Though recently, the battles have become a little more action. I do hope that we get more fights in the future as their difficult adventure gets more challenging.
:\/: Major problems? :\/:
It would have to be the 'morals'
See, each Virus Appmon is usually based off something (Messemon is spam mail, Roleplaymon is a game with many complaints, etc) but when they use their "Weakness Search" ability, I feel that they use the wrong morals.
For the spam mail, they said the solution was to mark it as read BUT in reality, that would make them send more, since they now know you are reading it. With Roleplaymon, his game was taken down due to being too difficult and people complaining. Except they tell him to ignore the complaints, which is wrong. When people complain about your game, try to fix it.
Overall, nothing bad.
:\/: Final thoughts? :\/:
Digimon Universe is taking its time currently. I am enjoying this series and will love to learn more about these Applimon and how they work! This show has potential and I plan to see what it is!! Especially can't wait for the 3DS game coming out.