Digimon was a staple of my late childhood ever since I first found out about it near the end of 1999. Though the series was already near half way done, FoxKids would continuously show previous episodes on the weekdays which allowed me time to catch up and become familiar with this great show and its characters. Though I can write all day about Digimon and my childhood, I want to focus on the best thing and the worst thing about Digimon Season 1.
The Best Thing:
This was hard to pinpoint what exactly the best thing about Digimon Season 1 was. It could have easily been the music, Izzy and Tentomon, or the digivolutions. However, after thinking about it, I have to say it was probably the Myotismon Arc. This was a series of episodes that really took the show to a whole new level.
The arc starts off strong with the kids trying to reunite again eventually culminating to them returning to the real world. Once they’re back, they have to deal with Myotismon and his henchmen while trying to keep a low profile. The arc builds and builds and peaks in the finale with Gatomon and Kari reunited and defeating Myotismon with an all-powerful Celestial Arrow. However, Myotismon, in true vampire fashion, rises from the grave and reaches his Mega form which brought about the mega evolutions in Agumon and Gabumon.
There are a lot of things that make this arc great. For instance, one-by-one the digidestined’s digimon digivolves (say that three times fast…) to their Ultimate form, taking on any foes that stand in their way. This brings about new digimon foes that can challenge the kids and push them to become even greater.
The real world element is also used very well. The kids have to guard their secret and make sure no one knows about their partners. Also, we see what kind of effects the digimon have on the real world, something that season 3would later expand upon. Electronic devices don’t work and most of the time, destruction happens. But probably best of all is that we see the kids in their homes, interacting with their parents. It is relaxing to watch them get a break after being chased by monsters for many episodes.
The best part comes near the end of the arc as episodes build to the climatic showdown. Everything important happens in one day. As such, the usual standalone episode format is cast aside and embraces a more connecting narrative. Partners who have digivolved in the previous episode stay digivolved in the next one. The digidestined, once scattered, slowly find their way to the television station where everyone, save Angemon, has digivolved to the Ultimate form to face Myotismon.
And then, death! Wizardmon dies saving Kari and we see one of the first, real emotional blows in Digimon that struck us hard. A kind character, who was Gatomon’s only friend, was dead and his passing catalyzed Gatomon into digivolving to her final form, Angewomon. Then, everyone lends her their power and she strikes down Myotismon in one blow.
As such, one of the real disappointments in the series is when we found out Myotismon is not dead but still alive and in his Mega form meaning Wizardmon’s death was (almost) for nothing. The arc should have ended there but they continued it on for two more episodes and those two episodes brought down the importance of finding the 8th child. Speaking of arcs…
The Worst Thing:
Many shows usually have a rough start in trying to find themselves and who they really are. Poor writing, actors unsure of their character motivations, and untested people can really stagger a new show. Digimon Season 1is no exception to this.
When I got my Digimon Season 1 DVD Boxset more than a year ago, the first thing I watched was the Etemon Arc and I just went from there. I skipped the entire Devimon Arc because I just don’t like it! There are a host of reasons why I just don’t like this part of Digimon.
The first 14 episodes or so are slow, awkward, and formulaic. The usual one or two digivolutions per episode means that the fights don’t happen often and when they do they are pretty short.
Also, with seven protagonists a lot of character establishment had to be developed, something that the later seasons’ far fewer main characters didn’t worry about. As such, episodes two through seven were focused on a particular protagonist and that can be a chore to get through.
To be fair though, when File Island split up and we had a lot more personal time with the characters, their mini-adventures were amusing, especially seeing their now established personas bounce off of each other.
But at this point, the characters are still too annoying and the voice acting is…ehhhh. That’s why the Etemon Arc, and especially the Myotismon Arc, was a hit as we don’t have to go through character establishment and we can have good action and story development. Plus, you’re not really missing anything from skipping the first arc except for an angel dying or whatever.