Podigious! A satisfying, critically thoughtful podcast about Digimon

Disclaimer: Podigious! briefly referenced my blog on one of their episodes which was awesome.  In critically reviewing this podcast, I’ll try to be as unbiased as possible.

Review Summary: Podigious! is a Digimon podcast which critically reviews the entire animated series, arc by arc, and analyzes various aspects of the show.  The hosts’ great chemistry and contrasting personalities liven a podcast that would otherwise be bogged down by its own geeky fandom.  Unfortunately, the fan feedback and Digimon news update that accompanies the beginning of each episode can drag on but luckily, you can easily skip that section and jump into the episode’s stronger portions of engaging debate.  If you cannot deal with people both positively and negatively critiquing Digimon then you should move on.  But if you can realize that not everything in our childhood was perfect then you’ll have a pleasant time listening to this “interesting” podcast.

Full Summary: I’ve listened to Podigious! for more than a year now but it wasn’t until the past few months that I have been able to (mostly) catch up to its latest episode.  I mainly listen to podcasts in the car and since I have done a lot of driving this summer and fall, I was able to burn through episodes rather quickly.  In doing so, I have become rather familiar to the show as if the hosts, Jeff, Ashley, Asher, and Andrew, were right there in the car with me, talking about Digimon while I silently listen to them.

Podigious! is everything I wanted in a nerdy podcast.  The hosts, particularly Jeff, the ringleader of the podcast, are very earnest in their love for Digimon and want to talk about Digimon simply because they can!  I like that.  What’s more, the episode-by-episode discussion of the Digimon anime series is great as you can jump into any podcast episode you want and listen to certain arcs without missing a beat.  I personally did this when I skipped the Devimon Arc and jumped right into the Etemon Arc and it worked just fine.

Of course, a good podcast needs good hosts and luckily, Podigious has them.

Three of the four hosts are very close to my age and in fact, they went to high school the same year I did as well (and the only reason why I know this is that they talked about when Harry Potter 7 came out in one of their episodes).  Because of their age, I highly, highly, identify them as they have the same Digimon nostalgia factor that affected me as well for these past 15 years.  And that actually plays into a big part of their show as they are critically evaluating the show and trying their best not to have nostalgia cloud their reviewing senses.  Sometimes, they’ll even mention how a particular scene has stuck with them for all these years and their reaction to that same scene may now be different due to a more adult perspective on it.

And it basically works.  The hosts point out certain inconsistencies or problems with the show and offer suggestions on how they could have improved the scene and the plot.  A few that stood out to me was the use of prophecies in season 1, how Yolei should have gotten the Digiegg of Knowledge and Cody should have gotten the Digiegg of Love (mind blown btw), and why in God’s name did Tai give Davis’ his goggles and not Kari or T.K.?  These inconsistencies are great as they point out what could have been on a show that surprisingly stuck to certain tropes passionately.

I don’t know what Jeff looks like so here’s Donald Duck from Kingdom Hearts. Image from http://kingdomhearts.wikia.com/wiki/Gallery:Donald_Duck

Of the four hosts, Jeff is probably the one I identify with most and represents the hardcore nerd in a fandom. Jeff is the like the heart of the show as he edits the episodes, he’s in charge of the discussion topics, and he talks, a lot.  Which is unfortunate as he dominates the conversations, especially in the podcast’s early episodes.  Sometimes, he would go on and on for a particular topic, such as, and especially, real life geography, and the other hosts would only respond minimally.  Luckily, the other hosts have found their voice and have been participating more and more in the episodes which is great.  Jeff has certainly relaxed as the series progressed as he used to be a little more uptight but now he’s kind of taking it more easy for the discussion topics and the “Follow Up” portions of the show.  Also, he should get a Word of the Day calendar.

Again, I don’t know what Ashley looks like so here’s Riley from Inside Out. Image from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3suT-csNs9U

Ashley represents the casual fan of a franchise and let me say, it’s nice to hear her be so verbally confused about certain aspects of Digimon as it sometimes takes a sane person to point out the rather weird and contrived world of Digimon.  She’s definitely been more vocal as the series progressed and it’s nice as she points out the gender B.S. that Digimon portrays.  It’s also funny how she can be just so fed up with Digimon at times, especially towards Kari.  Her playful frustrations towards Jeff also add a light touch to a show that can be bogged down at times by its own geekery.

You get the drill, how about Joe and Gomamon? Image from http://hero.wikia.com/wiki/File:JOE_Kido_%26_Gomamon_(ADVENTURE_51).jpg

Asher represents the shipping fan of a franchise and he is just like Ashley in that he points out Digimon’s gender B.S.  Asher also found his voice fairly early on and, again, like Ashley, talked more as the podcast progressed.  It’s always nice to hear Asher tear down Jeff’s nostalgia-filled world and make Jeff verbally uncomfortable with the stark, and let’s face it, unfair, reality Digimon has towards boys vs. girls.  From what I heard, Asher is the favorite host of the four and I believe it (he’s my favorite too).  Asher’s grounded, and sometimes apathetic, nature, contrasts nicely with Jeff’s enthusiastic and almost intense personality.  Jeff would have notes upon notes detailing certain aspects of an episode and then he would ask Asher what he thought about the episode/topic and Asher would respond that he didn’t write anything down (lol).  His shipping knowledge is very humorous as he would gush over scenes involving Davis/Ken or Matt/Tai.  I know appreciate Davis/Ken pairing more thanks to him.

Gundam! Okay, I’m done. Image from https://sddude.wordpress.com/tag/sd-gundam/page/3/

Unfortunately, Andrew, Asher’s brother, is the weakest of the four hosts.  Briefly mentioned in the podcast’s season 1, he became a part-time host in season 2 and unfortunately, he does not add a lot to the other hosts’ great chemistry.  It seems to me that Andrew barely mentions anything, even when compared to Ashley and Asher’s initially reserved nature, and does not fully pay attention to the conversation at hand.  I wouldn’t mind it as much if he had anything worthwhile to say but a lot of times he would just react awkwardly to the other hosts’ sometimes personal interactions or he would mildly insult Jeff and his nerdy nature.  He is kind of…stiff I want to say?  It doesn’t bode well with the more playful side of this show.  I shouldn’t be too hard on him though as a lot of times, he can contribute to the conversation by incorporating his Japanese and anime knowledge.  His status as a hardcore nerd can match Jeff’s knowledge which is nice that it’s not just Jeff talking in-depth about some esoteric thing about Digimon.

The weakest portion of the show is by far the aforementioned “Follow Up” which is Jeff and Ashely responding to reviewer feedback and questions, talking about Digimon news, and revealing who won the Ridiculous Dialogue Draft (RDD).  This section is at the beginning of almost every episode and man does it drag ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooon.  This is the part of the episode that I usually let my mind wander.  And, truth be told, the Digimon news update kind of hurts the “timelessness” of the show as the main portion of the podcast episodes focuses on things that happened 15 years ago while the news update tells us things that we already know by now.  Sometimes, this scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail would play in my head during the Follow Up:

I shouldn’t be too hard on the Follow Up though as you can skip it easily.  It kind of begs the question why I even listen to it in the first place.  Good Question.

I have no reasonable answer.  Maybe I just like hearing Ashley and Jeff talk (it does get lonely in the car at times when you’ve been driving 4+ hours by yourself).  Although, I have to say that it’s nice to hear Jeff and Ashley go out of their way to respond to reviewer feedback and respond to questions viewers may have about the previous episode’s content.

If the Follow Up is the weakest portion then by far the strongest is the RDD that is at the end of every episode and I love it.  God, listening to how…ridiculous…the DUB could be is amazing although I wish they threw in the occasional “touching” line since there can be a few in the show.  Maybe they’ll throw some in when they get into the heart of season 3 cause man, that season is an emotional roller coaster.  Anyway, I appreciate Jeff editing in the original lines of the show and give us the full (no) context it deserves.

The gender studies portion of the show is perhaps the most (in)famous section of the podcast.  Here, emotions can run a little high as the hosts break down Digimon’s less appealing gender aspects.  Ashley, and in particular Asher, go at the show strongly and tear it apart while at the same time offering constructive criticism on how the show could have made it better.  Although the hosts dominantly talk about the role women have on the show, they do occasionally focus on the guys and the show’s conservative take on what it means to be a man.  I admit, I was at first frustrated at listening to Asher and Ashley criticize one of my favorite childhood animated shows but I soon could not help admit that a lot of Digimon’s take on gender is indeed, Bullshit.  It definitely makes the podcast not just a simple fan gushing and instead, treats it like an actual show that has its flaws.  In general, I just love how Asher is so unapologetic about her opinions and it sharply contrasts Jeff’s desire to try and offend the least amount of people as possible.

Also, and on a side note, the hosts sometimes talk about the Legend of Korra and other cartoon shows during the gender segment which is nice as Korra is particularly strong when it comes to gender representation.  One show that they have surprisingly left out of the conversation is Steven Universe and it got to the point that I finally tweeted them and asked if they had seen the show.  I am relieved that they have (that show is great in all aspects of animation, plot, and, of course, gender representation).

This is actually a nice segue to my last point about the podcast in that the hosts are very responsive (well, Jeff is at least, Asher just doesn’t give a shit) to fan feedback.  It actually makes up a large portion of the Follow Up.  Jeff and Ashley respond to feedback whether it’s on twitter, reddit, or itunes.  I like how they bring up critical feedback and admit when they are wrong.  It’s nice for creators, of any kind, to respond to both negative and positive feedback and it shows they are not afraid to change things up and try to constantly improve the show.

As for the future of the show, I’ll definitely continue listen to them for their Tri and Tamers segments but after that, it’s hard to say as I really don’t like Digimon Season 4.  Regardless, Tamers is, and will be, fun to listen to as it’s Jeff’s favorite season and it has a super crazy plot that is neatly combined with its more mature vibe.  I’m hoping for more endless driving so I can become reacquainted with them once again.

Oh yeah, and I’m looking forward to this scene.

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