|The best offering there is for the Digimon franchise.||3 out of 3 users found this review helpful.|
Surprising what a touch from Lain head writer Chiaki Konaka offers up for what is supposed to be an animated advertisement for a children's card game. Digimon Tamers offers up a number of unique spins on the franchise that make it the best offering of the franchise I've seen. Perhaps the darkest installment of the franchise, Tamers dabbles into elements of cyberpunk and is mostly set in the real world this time around instead of having our human/ Digimon pairings whisked away to the Digital World. Not to mention that Digimon is treated as a popular media franchise within the world of Tamers with our human leads playing a trading card game based on the franchise that is popular within their world and they use trading cards to enhance their Digimon's abilities while in combat.
Tamers has several lingering plot elements that it focuses on involving the kids learning to bond with their Digimon partners, dealing with rogue Digimon that appear within their world and a mysterious government organization keeping tabs on the Digimon invasion. The plots slowly build up to a complicated situation that jeopardizes the fates of both the human and digital worlds. Unlike the two Adventure seasons, the arcs in Tamers are more integrated here as events build up to reveal more about the issues surrounding the Digimon invasion upon the human world and the reasons behind it. The much different mood of the series is also felt with its heavy dabbling into technology, psychological focus on the mental states of some among the major cast and having a decent number of moments that are quite unsettling to see for a children's series such as mental torture and Digimon being killed off permanently (the Digital World in this series has no Primary Village for Digimon to reincarnate in as Adventures had).
With only three main leads for this series in the form of Takato, Rika and Henry, there is more time to focus on the personal lives and mentalities of the trio with how they regard their Digimon partners, their families and the unique situations they have to deal with. Throughout the course of the series, the experiences that the three undergo in understanding Digimon and the complicated situation between both human and digital worlds significantly change them throughout the title's run. Other characters introduced in the series get their focus and many of the major ones have their motivations explored. This is a big plus here as characters that are seemingly villainous with their motives actually have purpose for their actions beyond just wanting to destroy or rule over whatever, a big difference from many of the villains that were encountered in the two Adventures seasons. Also, one seemingly irrelevant character in earlier episodes gets major focus in later episodes as tragic developments with them are exploited for the main enemy's personal gain.
Praises aside, Tamers does have some imperfections and cliches that it carries over from other titles in the Digimon franchise. The series usually resorts to plot conveniences and deus ex machina at points to give characters power upgrades or rescuing a character whenever they appear to be on the verge of defeat. The early episodes can be deceptive at first glance with what the series as a whole can offer as it is somewhat light in mood with its focus on Takuto meeting up with and understanding Rika and Henry's mentalities of raising their Digimon and dropping hints of its darker content to come.
Also while the visuals for this are somewhat improved over the two Adventure seasons with smoother details on characters and background shots not looking washed out, the series still loves to reuse animation frames and resort to shortcuts to attempt covering up its limited budget. Plus, the CG animation for this sticks out like a sore thumb for this series as it is used at points in rendering some sequences involving the final enemy threat confronted by the Tamers.
Issues aside though, Tamers offers up some pretty significant differences with its offerings compared to other installments of the Digimon franchise with its darker story direction and cyberpunk themes implemented by Chiaki Konaka. It also offers up a decent amount of development with a decent number of its major characters and a smoothly integrated plot that doesn't have the typical feel of story arcs that you would expect out of anime promoting trading card games. This is a definite look if you're either a Digimon fan or a fan of Chiaki Konaka's work.