I give this classic kid's show...a 88/100!
When I was little, around six or so years old, I came across a commercial that looked like Pokemon...but it wasn't. Some time later, I found it on TV. It was Digimon Adventure. I think I saw snippets of it as it was just airing. But since then, I've followed Digimon (unless errands or circumstances forced me to miss various episodes) and have fond memories of it. Yes, like all Digimon fans, this was my first season, and boy am I glad I saw it. Even from a young age, I could tell that it was quite drastically different from all the other kids shows airing around my time and became immersed by it. Recently, thanks to my Digimon high, I managed to find, and watch, all the Japanese episodes with English subtitles, and I finished it! Wow! The memories!..and how different the English dub is from the Japanese!
Basically, the story's rather simple. During summer camp, seven young kids get swept into this new world called the Digital World, which is made up from their communication network. There, they each receive a Digimon partner who either matches or is opposite their personality. They go through various adventures as they have to save both their world and the Digital World from various dastardly villains. They go through trials and tribulations, and they come out as better people because of it.
Considering how old the show is by now (1999), the animation for this IS rather flawed. It's not fluid or totally consistent, but at my age, it certainly stood out, and it does do it's job very well. From what I hear, Digimon was supposed to be 13 episodes long and because of it's unexpected popularity, it became 54 episodes. I don't think the creators were prepared to make a 54 episode series, but they did make good use of their animation while putting in a nice, deep story in the process, even if it's just a kids show. Hey, nobody said that kid shows had to be simple and plain! Despite the animation's slight flaws, it did grab my attention when I was little, and it sure branded itself into my memory.
The music...honestly, I don't remember the soundtracks for either the Japanese or English version at all. I know that the English and Japanese versions had totally different insert songs (and that the English version used it's cheesy "Hey Digimon" insert song, which I remember very well as it used to be one of my favorites when I was a kid, much less than the Japanese insert song "Brave Heart", which I liked a lot). I loved Brave Heart, though I have to admit, I wish they didn't use it for every single episode. This seems to be a thing in all Digimon shows. They seem to LOVE putting insert songs in EVERY SINGLE EPISODE of the show! Digimon Xros Wars, the most recent season, happens to be the worst case as it uses many different insert songs in ONE episode alone, especially when the final half comes in, but I'm talking about the first season so I'll leave that alone until I finish Xros Wars. I didn't really like either ending songs for the Japanese versions of this though.
The characters, while a bit cliched, are charming in a way. I heard a few of them suffered a lot in translation, but my English dub memories are rather fuzzy as I just finished watching the Japanese version. But they're not total stereotypes either. Digimon does a great job in making them play off each other, which results in them showing more than they should. I have to admit, my least favorite out of all of them is Joe, at least in the Japanese version. He just kept on whining and whining about every little thing, and his Japanese voice really made my ears bleed sometimes. Speaking of voices, when it comes to dubbing, I prefer the English dub's casting than the Japanese version. Some of the voices in Japanese really made my ears bleed, like Agumon, Patamon (and Angemon! The Japanese made him sound like a little boy! Thank God the English version gave him a manlier voice!), Palmon, Joe, and Puppetmon! I feel that the English dub did a better job at casting and giving fitting voices to the characters than the Japanese (And yes, this unfortunate tradition still continues to this day for the Japanese. Toei, I will seriously NEVER forgive you for giving my favorite villain the worst voice ever in Xros Wars!!!).
I already stated the main flaws of the show so I don't think I need to go into much detail about it, for both the Japanese and English versions. It is still a kids show, and like kids shows, it does have flaws like adults being useless or not developing it's characters all THAT much, but it does do one thing absolutely right: portray the kids as real kids. I mean, kids are kids! They do stupid things, and they're not always smart. But really, so what?! I often see that in most anime nowadays kids, especially younger ones, are portrayed as too mature or too smart. Digimon portrays children and their struggles almost perfectly. I say almost because of Joe's ambitions and Matt's semi-angst, but those don't last very long so I'll cut them some slack. I do admit, Digimon does have a lot more emotion and is less preachy than Pokemon (though Pokemon will always be in my heart). It's a kid show, but it doesn't talk down to it's audience, and it doesn't shy away from dark themes and subjects either, which I think are imperative to kids shows nowadays considering all the crap we've been getting.
While it's not Pokemon, it doesn't need to be. Digimon is it's own entity, and a great one at that, and it will always have a place in my heart next to Pokemon. It's a shame how low the franchise has gone nowadays (Digimon Hunters. God, someone kill that show already!!!). Now if only someone will re-release this and all the other seasons on DVD!