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.
At the time of me writing this there are 4 episodes out. I will update my review when there are more episodes. 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... 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. Oh and this takes place in 2045.
ART: 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)) We have our one female main character, Eri, who is the popular one (a pop star who appears in episode 5), and our spotlight goggle boy Haru with another male character Torajirou, forming a trio with a shady fourth character, Rei, who might be an enemy and then later turned ally but so far seemingly an edgy/mysterious lone wolf (Rei and Hackmon appear at the end of ep 3). The show is full of bright colors, though the AppMon designs are interesting which is good and sometimes... simple/????
From the opening we see that the main character, Haru and his partner or rather AppMon buddy, Gatchmon, will eventually be able to to fuse or combine, something that immediately reminds me of Megaman NT Warrior (Though rightly should be like Digimon Tamers, but so far the former via impression). Whether this is literal or just a dramatic symbolic scene in the opener, it remains to be seen. 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. Also so far this show has shown it's heavy with comedy via embarrassment 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!
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 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. (Again all this is by the end of episode 1, episode 2 he's out of the gate to look for his crush and stop the rogue Appmon). Clearly the creators are so fair treating this as a 'game' via terminology from 'main character' to 'final boss.' The rest of Haru's 'Appmon Gang' have yet to appear so critiques on them have to wait.
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. 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.
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.read more