Patamon's World > Tai's Digi-pinions > 4 For 4: Best Season
4 for 4: Best Season
by Mac McFearson
And so… we wind it down. After three previous categories ranking some of the most well known and crucial pieces of each Digimon season, it's now time for the big finish. We'll take a look at, and carefully rank 1-4, each of the first four seasons of Digimon.
First off I'd like to reemphasize the respect for each placing, just because a season gets placed lower than you may have liked, it doesn't mean I'm trying to be negative towards a season. I rank these seasons based on my own not so humble opinions, and I stand by those opinions.
And I assure you placing of these seasons was not an easy task. However based on criteria for a good anime, and on my own personal evaluation of a season I was able to sort positives and negatives that led me to the following rankings. Enjoy.
Somebody has to be fourth. And it just happens to be the latest season in Digimon's on going history. And while I wouldn't base my ranking of a season solely on when it was aired, the fact that Frontier was the last to be made and released does indeed have to do with it's ranking. But again, that alone isn't responsible for it's ranking. Frontier could have been seen last, been refreshingly original, and been ranked higher. That didn't happen. Instead what happened was we got a, 'nice' little run-of-the-mill season of Digimon. The idea of Spirit Evolution was a nice attempt at something new, but it wasn't enough and more importantly wasn't that great. The characters, almost everyone, was nothing new. The same old character clichés. And generally, Frontier just felt like it was missing that one defining aspect to put it over the top. No frosting on this cake. Everything from characters, to plot, to villains was all good, but not great and certainly not anything we hadn't seen before. And that's just it, Frontier was good, but without frosting, not good enough to be placed over the other seasons.
3; Zero Two 
Sequels aren't suppose to be as good as originals. Or really, they aren't suppose to be that good period. False is the latter. Because indeed, 02 was quite good. Was it as good as it's predecessor? Well, lets take a look.
First, the fact that Zero Two is essentially a sequel to Adventure can be view as both a positive and a negative. For one, having the older characters play diminished, yet still significant, roles was nice because it added that sense of nostalgia while simultaneously instilling a feel of "vet" and rookie working together. You see the young talent learn from the older more experienced and develop. Such exchanges are always entertaining. This---old meeting new/sequel feel---is 02's defining aspect.
The characters were good. Nothing terribly original, but good. That is, with the exception of Mr. Ken Ichijouji. Ken was an example of anime character excellence. With compelling inner struggles, deep and detailed background, interesting idiosyncrasies, hesitant courage, a dark side, a soft side, a well balanced character most people could relate in some way or another, yet not cliché in the slightest. Brilliant! And of course those like Tekeru, Cody, Davis, ect all had their moments. Overall not a bad cast.
The plot was moderately original in spots. The first story arc was nice, introducing the dilemma of the Control Spires and the threat of the "Digimon Kaiser" along with the new characters and reintroducing the old characters in a different light. Something like the Digimon World Tour was also nice in that it introduced international Digidestined. That brought a nice bit of diversity.
But of course the curse of the sequel---in some way or another---catches up to you eventually. One of the most common drawbacks of a sequel is that in your quest to find something original one may go so far to be original that what your putting out there is different but not that good. The destiny stones arc of 02 is an example of this. It was somewhat original, but it just didn't seem to… fit. The most evident example of this however is seen in the last episode of Zero Two. The whole idea of "our dreams" saving two planets was incredibly uncreative, leaning far to heavily to something of a fairy tale rather than a good anime, and it just left you feeling disappointed. That's the best way writers can come up with for the finale villain to be defeated? Bah. Pathetic. And as if one would think it couldn't get any worse---it does. One of the most influential reasons for Zero Two being ranked where it is and not higher, is the fact that it did contain what is arguably the worst moment in all four seasons of Digimon. That would be the entire "25 years later" junk. This was cheap. That, along with the "dreams" stuff, really was disappointing. It's like at the end of a great season the writers got bored [*coughfiredcough*] and just didn't put any real thought or effort into a good finish.
Bottom line, 02 finishes better, it's most likely ranked higher. It's not how you start, it's how you finish.
The runner up is… well my format takes away from the suspense so lets scratch that. Starting off the top two we have Adventure, the first season of Digimon. As with some of it's character categories [Goggle Boy & Loner] Adventure has the advantage of being first. It started a lot of the things we've seen in every season since. But honestly, Adventure's order of appearance, while significant, isn't it's most valuable advantage. Adventure did some many other things so well that if it had been shown last it might very well have still been placed where it is.
To start off we have the first parts of the story. The season starts off immediately throwing a bunch of kids, who really don't know each other that well, into incredible circumstances and lets the story develop into a grand mission to save two worlds. It didn't start off like 02 or Frontier where from the beginning the Digidestined knew that their purpose was to save the Digital World. In Adventure it started off more as a survival story which highlighted each individuals different reaction to the situation. That brings me to another added touch I believe only Frontier really had. It was that we knew almost nothing about these kids until their adventure was already underway. Unlike Tamers or Zero Two where we learned something, even it was minuscule, about the characters before they were put into difficult circumstances. What that did was allow us to learn about these characters as the journey progressed. I believe that added depth to the season. The majority of the story wasn't just about completing a goal, but a good deal was about discovering who our main characters are. This is really quite brilliant and often doesn't get the attention or appreciation it deserves.
That particular aspect led to a good amount of episodes focusing on individual characters, as I said that adds depth and enriches the story by establishing a stronger connection between your main characters and your audience. That made an already strong plot even better. The villains in Adventure [with the exception of Machindramon and Apocalymon] all deserve applaud. In my opinion Myotismon is the single greatest villain to grace an episode of Digimon in any season, ever. Down the line of villains---Etemon, Devimon, Piedmon, Puppetmon---you'll find not only good villains, but different interesting villains that weren't just run of the mill. The "bad guys" did almost nothing but good for this season.
Then look at some of the individual stories like that of Yamato's. Not only were his personal struggles captivating and something that immediately drew in your attention, but they also integrated seamlessly into the main story and had a significant impact on it as well as on the group. Matt's character and his story alone are enough to write an article about. But the thing is, his wasn't the only individual story in Adventure. Throughout the season the audience was given at least a good [if not great] look into a personal aspect of each Digidestined that taught us something about that character while strengthening the story.
Really the Digidestined carried this season above anything else. Truly, the Adventure chosen children were the greatest of any. They nailed almost every key area and then some. Each was different and gave almost every member of the audience someone to relate to. Each had unique strengths, weaknesses, and background. They exhibited courage in the face of peerless odds, yet one of the most notable and exclusive aspects of the Adventure Digidestined is that they never really seemed like the unrealistic heroes we so often see. They stayed true to the characters they were designed to be, kids with real fears, personalities, morals, and convictions. As such they weren't always yelling "lets go save the world". We had hesitant heroes. That's rare. But crucial in establishing these kids as characters that are real and can be related to.
You'd have to nit pick to find negatives. The best I can come up with: the animation was the worst of any of the four seasons. Other than that Adventure was void of any major flaws. All in all Adventure has got the best cast [Digidestined, villains, and otherwise, the whole group], one of the best plots, and it did all of it first. Original. Indeed Adventure was one of the greatest seasons ever. Everything you just read is all the proof you should ever need.
"- Also, by abandoning the detailed "promises" and "understandings" of the previous series, I believe we can gain many merits such as reformatting Season 3 into its own shape."
---Chiaki J. Konaka, Story Developer/Story Editor for Digimon Tamers.
Perhaps no other words properly describe the defining aspect of Tamers. While many things made Tamers great, the words that come from CJK describe what the true essence of Tamers.
First of all the characters in Tamers are outdone only by those in Adventure, and not by much either. They exhibit some the most realistic reactions and emotions seen in any season [again, with the exception of Adventure]. While at times Ruki or Jenrya may have seemed a bit too comfortable with the idea of monsters, they provide a balance to Takato's different [one might say a bit more true to life like] reactions to first experiences with Digimon. We don't see the same reaction from Ruki or Jenrya because they've already had previous experiences with Digimon at the start of the season. This is actually a good thing. This way not every character is at the same level, it provides varying character outlooks on the situation[s]. While Ruki especially and Jenrya as well have a more experienced feel on things, we see through Takato a character who is still trying to grasp the idea of Digital Monsters---from a show he's a fan of now less---being real. Generally the characters in Tamers are above average and start off the season acting in reacting for the most part in ways that you would expect from kids their age. As the season progressed they matured into the heroes that we see more often. That isn't a bad thing, on the contrary it was actually quite brilliant because we saw the maturation process that led to that, thus making it a bit more conceivable. And gave you a stronger sense of connection seeing them grow and mature before our very eyes.
When you think of Tamers you [should] think of an incredible story, a plot and setting that brought a great change of pace to the Digimon series. Tamers was original and it came at the most opportune time. Now despite what many may say, we did not want to see Adventure/02 continued into a third season. The second season had enough trouble with originality, thankfully we only have to imagine what could have happened had that continued. Tamers was just what Digimon needed. After fairy tale endings [in the worst way], dream[s] [or should I say nightmare] scenarios, and a little too much of Jeff Nimoy's secret standup aspirations peaking through in Digimon episodes, we needed something different.Something a little more mature. And Tamers filled the role perfectly. The concept for setting the season in the real world was a nice base to start from. It immediately said, "this is going to be much different." And most importantly it was followed through with great precision. Numerous real life locals [including the Opera Tower-HQ for Hypnos-, Takato's school, Guilmon's hideout, West Shinjuku Park, ect] were rendered beautifully in animation in the season. This was greatly helpful in maintaining the basis that this is all happening in the real world.
The plot was brilliant. It introduced many new concepts to the
Digimon series that had never been seen before, nor since.
Highlighting that list is the idea of "modern" every-day children
seek after their own digimon and their own path to go on their own
adventure. As aforementioned above, the Tamers weren't initially "
heroes" of any kind. They were ordinary kids. Nor were they
involuntarily thrust into an adventure or a situation of having a
partner. They all in some way or another made the choice of having a
Digimon partner. After that decision is made and the idea of Digimon
entering into reality has been accepted, the decision to embark on an
adventure is made by our characters. Once again, it was a choice. It
was a decision---one not made easily---made off of their own personal
convictions and relationship with their Digimon partners. That was a
defining aspect in Tamers. It was a unique beginning, that led to a
maturation process in characters and in plot in a degree that is
equaled by no other season.
So, again, go read the quote from Chiaki Konaka at the top of this Tamers piece. Go ahead, humor me, read it again. And there it is. The willingness to makes changes to something already good led to something great. Tamers was the most unique, original, revolutionary season of Digimon ever. It was the most well though out, sophisticated, season with the best plot and concept along with some of the best characters, and by far the most original, we've ever seen. Really truly there's too much for me to cover, to go into proper detail of each brilliant aspect of Tamers would take more time then I've got. I could write forever, and my words still wouldn't do Tamers justice. It broke away from the norm, for a brief moment took Digimon in a different direction, went away from what was comfortably expected and ended up as the best season ever. That simply must be recognized.
4 For 4 Best Season: Tamers
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