Toei’s Digimon reboot could have easily just been a rehashing of the original story with a fresh coat of present-day animation slapped on top of it. Thankfully, the new series has endeavoured to go for something much more fascinating: a take on the Digital World with connections to the real world that make the Digidestined’s battles have immediate impact beyond the kids.
At the same time that Digimon Adventure:’s first two episodes have introduced a number of the franchise’s most iconic characters, like Taichi, Yamato, and Koushiro, the series has also made it abundantly apparent that the story being told is distinct from its predecessor. Because the show’s set in the modern day, the kids’ relationship to the internet is profoundly deeper, and while they don’t at all have a solid understanding of the Digital World itself, they do understand that data is power in the sense that it correlates to physical things and processes in the real world that people rely on.
Though Tai and his newfound friend Greymon (née Agumon) have enjoyed the brief amount of peaceful time they’ve been able to spend with one another, the fact that the Digital World is under attack from viral Digimon has made it clear that the two of them were brought together in order to put things right.
As more Argoman have swarmed the U.S. military’s computers, the most pressing threat has been the fact that, if left to their own devices, the viral Digimon will trigger the next world war by making ships launch their missiles—something that would signal to other state actors that they were under active attack. Taichi knows this as Koushiro has gotten him up to speed about what’s happening in the real world, but what Koushiro doesn’t fully grasp is how powerful the swarm of Argomon (there’s quite a few of them) are in aggregate, and how the central Argoman can collect the energy of its peers in order to force itself to Digivolve on command.
The series’ second episode properly brings Yamato and his already Digivolved Garurumon in direct contrast to the original show, where all of the Digidestined ended up in the Digital World at the same time and their monsters had the opportunity to grow more or less in pace with one another. But while Yamato and Garurumon are formidable fighters, they’re no real match for the quickly mutating Argomon—despite the fact that Taichi and Greymon give everything they’ve got to take the monster down.
But just when it seems as if Argomon might actually be able to murder the Digidestined and their Digimon, Digimon Adventure: veers into a wildly unexpected narrative space whose gravity can really only be understood by people who watched the original series. Much like Pokémon, there’s a point at which Digimon stop evolving because they’ve reached their final stage of being. At that point, they tend to no longer be cute, huggable animals and often become humanoid creatures with incredibly destructive strength.
For Taichi and Yamato, their Digimon became War Greymon and Metal Garurumon, respectively, in the original series, and those evolutions only came about as a result of how the kids were very legitimately on the brink of losing their lives and letting the worlds sink into chaos. Of course, those versions of the characters ended up saving the day and going on to fight other battles (like the one in the original Digimon movie) that led to War Greymon and Metal Garurumon evolving together to become Omnimon.
In the most on-brand moment of “shit, we’re in a crisis,” Taichi and Yamato—two kids who barely know each other in this telling—channel their feelings into their Digivices. They’re able to trigger the joint-progress evolution that fuses both of their Digimon into a singular being who’s powerful enough to dispatch the threat at hand, and while that’s all lovely and cool as shit to see, Omnimon’s presence is Digimon Adventure:’s boldest statement about how it is its own series.
One of the bigger questions looming over this series was how it would be able to justify itself as something that wasn’t purely driven by nostalgia for what came before it. But by fundamentally pivoting away from the original story’s rather straightforward “everyone’s going to get their power-ups in sequence,” Digimon Adventure: has figured out a way to reflect the true wildness of what it means to be online.
Though each of the children introduced in the opening sequence are all destined to become the saviors of two worlds, none of them have really been connected to one another, socially speaking. At the same time though, they are all meeting one another through the internet, which is the purest take on how it is that so many of us today meet people who become our best friends. If this is the energy that Digimon Adventure: is bringing to the table, it’s already on the right path, but what’s going to be wild to see is how the show handles is proper villains who aren’t just nameless, faceless chaos agents.