Ok, so I haven’t watched all the seasons so this may change, but from what I’ve heard of the most recent seasons, it is not very likely. I’ve watched seasons 1-3 in their entirety and half of season 4 and a few episodes of Savers. That out of the way, here is why I think Tamers, aka season 3, is the best season and I really lament the fact that there aren’t any more seasons like it.

1. More Plot Intensive than Previous Seasons

I might be alone on this one, but I welcomed, with open arms, the fact that this season actually had a plot above save the digital world from evil digimon. I love Season 1 too, but it will always feel inferior because there just isn’t much to it above 8 kids being chosen to save the digital world. I thoroughly enjoyed the backstory introduced this season about how Digimon came to be and what exactly the big bad was. I also enjoyed the mystery of the first few episodes when you don’t know why Digimon are appearing in the real world. I also really liked the sci-fi spin on digimon. Maybe I’m just a sci-fi junkie, but I loved that this season actually established the link between the digital and real world via a more technological angle versus the more “magical” angle of the previous seasons.

2. The Three Main Characters Defy Typical Archetypes

The three main tamers: Ruki (left), Takato (center), and Jenrya (right)

I think this may be the biggest reason Tamers is my favourite season. I just loved how none of the characters fit the typical roles. Takato, the hero, wasn’t our carefree hot headed lead. No, he is, in every aspect, the average boy. He’s carefree, but also worries about how he will be able to take care of a Digimon. He’s inexperienced and he’s sensitive, but he also takes fun in the adventure. Then we have Ruki, who is the first (and only) female lancer in Digimon. Unlike previous Digimon girls (and girls in most shounen shows), she’s the best out of the three main characters, the most experienced, and the most cynical. She is also the one that undergoes the most growth. She starts out indifferent and insecure, but you gradually see her come to open up to her Digimon and the two boys. This level of character growth was pretty non-existent in previous seasons. Sure, each character had their moment to shine, usually the episode where they have the limelight and their digimon evolves, but it was rarely ever made a point to show gradual and constant character growth in the female characters. Lastly we have Jenrya, who takes the typical “female character role” in shounen shows (cause you know that girls don’t like to fight and boys do) and is the pacifist of the group. I cannot express just how much this was a breath of fresh air. Jenrya is the character that has the most compassion and is the most against using Digimon to fight. Unlike Takato though, he isn’t inexperienced and is actually shown to be probably the most intelligent of the three. Also like Ruki, he undergoes a lot of character growth and comes to accept that sometimes, you have to fight.

3. There are Actual Digimon Partners

I really don’t know why Season 4 thought it was a good idea to get rid of digimon partners. The whole partner and inter-species friendship angle was what made Digimon so good and what especially made season 3 such a joy to watch. I’m still quite disappointed with this because season 4 is actually not that bad (storywise), but it unfortunately removed one of the best aspects of the digimon anime.

4. The Final Stage of Evolution Involves the Digimon and their Human Partner Becoming One

What better way to show friendship and trust between a digimon and his or her partner than to have them become one at the final stage of evolution. I absolutely loved this about season 3. It is the best way to reinforce the friendship angle and actually makes the human characters more involved in the fights, rather than just standing around and cheering on their monster.

5. There is a Variety of Female Characters

Don’t like Ruki? That’s fine because there are two other female tamers: Juri and Shuichon. Shuichon is introduced as a Tamer rather late, but she is around from the very beginning. I’d say each girl is quite different. Juri is the seemingly kind hearted girl with hidden emotional turmoil, and Shuichon is the little bratty kid. Outside of season 1, I don’t believe there was ever 3 female digimon tamers. Season two had only two: Kairi and Miyako. While season 4 only had one, Izumi. I’m not sure about Savers because I only watched a few episodes in passing.

6. It isn’t Hollowly Preachy

The reason season 2 is my least favourite is because it tries too hard to be all preachy about not using Digimon to fight, yet it all feels so hollow because the main characters solve everything through fights. With Tamers, the idea is that Digimon aren’t only there to fight, but the anime never starts preaching to you that the fighting going on is wrong. In fact, the three main characters all start off with different opinions about this: Ruki thinks it’s all about fighting, Takato thinks fighting is ok but prefers to just have fun with his digimon, and Jenrya is totally against the fighting. Yet all three eventually gravitate to the middle and feel that while fighting alone isn’t all there is to digimon, the fights themselves aren’t necessarily wrong depending on the circumstances. I thought this was a good approach. Nothing wrong with pacifism, I’m very sympathetic to the idea, but if you are going to make that the core idea of a show, you would think fighting wouldn’t be used to solve every single problem. :/

What I didn’t Like:

  • Juri plays the typical damsel in distress. For the season that broke down so many character tropes, it was very disappointing to see this.

This was the climactic ending of tamers …. yeah.

  • Ruki, when merged with Rennamon, rarely has any “action-y” poses. She fights by what resembles praying, whereas the other three boys all fight with very distinct “action-y” poses. Rennamon is also the digimon that focuses on defence in her final two evolutions, whereas it would have made way more thematic sense for Terriermon to be the defensive based digimon, since Jenrya is the pacifist of the group. I guess Ruki realizes the benefits of defence, but it just plays into typical shounen setups this way. The only female is once again the barrier chick. :(
  • The very quickly touched upon (literally only referenced in 1 or 2 episodes and for a few seconds) implication that Ruki’s problems all stem from her parents’ divorce and lack of a father figure. Come on anime, stop giving rebellious girls daddy issues. It doesn’t have very good implications. :/

Agree? Disagree?

–SW

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