Patamon's World > Tai's Digi-pinions > The Anime Pundits: Digimon Savers, pilot
The Anime Pundits
Digimon Savers - Pilot
words by Mac McFearson and Takeru Yamamoto
one, welcome all. As the title suggests, this is a review of the first
episode of Digimon Savers. What follows are two similar, yet
interestingly distinct, reviews. The first from 11-year-old gamer and
anime fan Takeru Yamamoto. The second from myself, Mac McFearson, a
16-year-old writer and not-so-much anime fan. This unique tandem comes
together first, because we felt no one had produced a review of this
depth, and second because this combination may be able to shed light in
ways one individual could not. Takeru is a younger, optimistic anime
fan, while I'm slightly older, slightly more skeptical and a bit more
diverse in my viewing tendencies. By providing these views side-by-side
we think we can contrast some interesting differences in opinion and as
a result produce a unique outlook.
We hope to produce something that is insightful, thought provoking, and entertaining and in the process gain an excuse to do what we like best - go over board in analyzing and discussing something that intrigues us. Most importantly we hope you enjoy it.
Odd things have been happening to the well-beloved series, the fourth most perused category in the Anime section of FanFiction.net, the series which sparked a massive, conflicted (and might I add: horridly uncivilized) fan-community. First there was Digimon. And then there was a sequel. Then a spin-off. Then an alternate universe. And then... absolute silence. For three years, no hardcore fan ever saw another season of Digimon. There was X-Evolution, which sparked very little attention. There were the three dubbed Digimon movies, which were as discriminatingly well-received as the rest of the translation. And then... a final attempt to save the series.
It's funny how you come to expect something from the continuation of a TV show, but you get something totally different once it finally comes.
And that's not always a bad thing.
Savers is basically, once again, another alternate universe of the Digimon we know and love. Little is known about Savers, as little backstory is provided. It supposedly takes place in the near-future. A secret government organization called DATS (Digital Accident Tactics Squad... odd name, yes) has been created, and it serves to keep reckless Digimon from escaping from the recently discovered Digital World.
One sunny day, a random Agumon escapes, and happens to just as randomly run into a boy whose name is Daimon Masaru and he happens to be a hotheaded street-wise gangster with at least a shred of caring (perfect goggle boy qualifications). We're also introduced to our female lead, Fujieda Yoshino, a member of DATS, who is chasing Agumon. She really doesn't have any outstanding personality quirks yet, so it's not really well-known what she's like. Anyways, as stated before, Masaru finds Agumon, they get into a fight, and they become friends (wtf?). Masaru does very little to acknowledge that Agumon is plainly otherworldly, which is strange, but not unexpected.
That's basically how it starts out, and it sets the basis for the entire show. I'm not going to reveal more than that at risk of spoiling anything. No signs of possibly entering the Digital World yet, which is possibly one of a number of cards taken from Tamers. Another one of those cards is that none of the characters have outstanding clothing styles. No cowboy getups, aviator vests, or annoying giant puffy orange hats with no explanation. Everyone looks quite normal.
Which leads to the first thing I noticed about the character designs. The show looks a lot less like Digimon and a lot more like Generic Anime Number 2 this time around. Characters sport more of a general anime look. Of course, this could simply be the sign of growth, or maybe there's a new artist working for this series. Either that, or it could be an attempt to attract mainstream fans. However, I don't like it. That's just personal opinion, but I miss the character designs that I'm used to.
The presentation is sharp. Everything from lush backgrounds to detailed cityscapes appears here and in full-fledged greatness. While the show itself doesn't have massively major production values, it still manages to look quite pretty. There's very little to complain about. The sound design is good too. The background music doesn't have anything specifically memorable, but it doesn't pervade with inherent horridness. The opening and ending themes are decent for J-Pop songs.
We get the first evolution sequence in this episode, as Agumon evolves to GeoGreymon for the first time (whom, by the way, looks exactly like Greymon; what's with the name change?). [ Greymon and GeoGreymon have slight physical differences including red stripes on the head and more jagged appearance for the latter - Ed.] It's shorter than what we've seen before, but it looks just as good as ever. It also doesn't come with a prolonged dance ala Frontier, nor does it come with a wacko execution saying (like Zero Two with its "DIGIMENTAL UP-A" ridiculousness). It's more... normal. And this time around, it's definitely for the better.
Anyways, the story is interesting, at least. Not the most creative, but it's not cliche and unimprovised either. The voice acting is sharp and strong, the sound design is worthwhile, the overall presentation is attractive. The fact that its further in the future gives a fairly large amount of room for expansion; I'm personally hoping for some cameos of previous Digimon characters. Altogether, Digimon Savers is decent. Not excellent, but good enough to watch and follow.
Take to note, however, this is only one episode, and will most likely not reflect the rest of the season. The series could get better from here on, with lots of story twists and excellent character development like Tamers, or it could become a monotonous, uninteresting monster-of-the-day marathon like Frontier. Who knows? We'll just have to find out.
By nature I am cynical, sardonic, saturnine, skeptical or whatever other negative adjective pleases you. My melody is a cacophony of discontent entreaties imploring that which I observe to transcend itself to reach something more, something better. It is a noble calling bastardized by contempt methods. It should come as no surprise then that my reaction to a confirmation of a fifth season was skepticism, and my reaction to skepticism refuted being simple surprise. It is seldom seen instances such as these in which what started as skepticism evolves into tempered joy.
Irony has its way in that my cynicism may have been what allowed my interest to be educed, particularly by one Daimon Masaru, Savers lead character. It is only appropriate that any summation of Savers begin with Masaru as obvious is not a strong enough word to denote how much this series is about its protagonist. Being as undisguised as always, I'll say that were it not for the presence and performance of Masaru this review would not have been so much as a concept. With respect to the promise I saw in the first episode as a whole, Masaru makes this series worthwhile. His strength is inspiring, his tactlessness endearing, his inclination to violence as a means of expression sobering.
Unlike my younger counterpart, I do not feel Masaru is a classic "Goggle Boy" - not in the slightest sense. He is just reluctant enough not be a hero, just courageous enough not to be an anti-hero. I'm nearly tempted to use my favorite adjective, cynical, to describe this one. His initial interaction with Satsuma, leader of Digital Accident Tactics Squad, is certainly indicative of this. Masaru didn't seem the slightest bit interested in learning about the DATS when an explanation was provided to him; he was concerned with himself and his, nothing more. Even his motivation for fighting Kokatorimon was indignation over Agumon being accused of a crime he did not commit. In Masaru we don't see a hero, we see simply someone who gets what he wants at any cost, and if justice or heroism is along the lines of what he wants, then so be it. Some may argue this has been true of other Goggle Boys; 'some' would be wrong.
The plot, if it can be truly be called such, in the first episode is, to my dismay, lacking. Looking through a dictionary one would be hard pressed to find a word more accurate than 'lacking' to describe the plot in Savers inaugural episode, save for perhaps gaunt. Save for the luminous of Masaru's character, the first episode of Savers had as much substance as a marshmallow. I do not note the story telling prowess of an 18th century American novelist as requisite for the first episode of an anime series, I do however require that sufficient back-story and setup be present. The beginning of the first episode of the first series of Digimon that we've witnessed in years started with all the distinction of a twelfth episode of Frontier coming back from commercial break, and unfortunately the rest of the episode held true to this. Worse yet is that we were not even offered the consolation prize of subtlety for an opening. While the fight scene between Masaru and Agumon served as an effective teaser(something that, may I add, is a distinctly American method and something an astute viewer will view as "cheap"), it left no more than indifference being fought off by nostalgia in the battle to keep me watching. Were it not for the entertainment provided by Masaru calling Agumon a "bastard" I may not have continued watching after that weed thing started spitting sunflower seeds. Needless to say, as the episode went on enjoyment began to creep up on me.
The scene I enjoyed the most was Masaru and Yoshino conversing in front of the fountain just before Masura is taken to the DATS headquarters. My appreciation for this scene owes not only to the masterful depiction of silhouettes against a soft cityscape and fountain backdrop, but because it contained perhaps the only instance of back-story. And while a government agency dispensing information about a character to that character is asinine, lazy, trite, and the most common example of an "info dump" -- an error reserved for only the most amateur of fan-fiction writers -- it is the only real expansion on story we have and for that I appreciate it. Complaining about any such expansion in this episode is like murmuring about impure oxygen; polluted air is always better than suffocating.
The voice acting was appropriate. Masaru's sound fitted his persona well. Likewise Agumon settled perfectly between sounding too childish and too monstrous. Voice acting is not one of my areas of expertise and I hold no command whatsoever over the Japanese language, but the fact that I could decipher what was going on in any given scene even while covering the subtitles with my hand speaks volumes about the skill of the voice actors.
At the mention of subtitles I must take this time to comment on the subbing job done by With the Will forums. Considering most of us do not speak Japanese and rely on subbing to watch these shows, WtW would deserve our appreciation regardless of the quality they produced in this endeavor, considering the efficient excellence they graced us with they deserve our unmitigated praise. Perhaps I don't have much to compare it to(I don't watch subs often), but all I require is that subtitles be pleasant aesthetically, legible, and unobtrusive - the subbing job in this case meets all of those standards without except and thus garners my highest praise.
Overall, this first episode was not rich enough to incite true excitement, but novel enough to provide hope that it one day will. If Masaru stays as good as he's been early, if Yoshino gets better, and the plot fills out then we may just have a winner on our hands. Who knows, they may even get this cynic to remember his happier childhood days.
Copyright © 2006 Mac McFearson.
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