Digimon Data Squad (2006– )

TV Series  |   |  Animation, Adventure, Family
6.6
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Title: Digimon Data Squad (2006– )

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Series cast summary:
...
 Yoshino 'Yoshi' Fujieda / ... (48 episodes, 2006-2008)
...
 Marcus Damon (47 episodes, 2006-2008)
...
 Thomas H. Norstein (46 episodes, 2006-2008)
...
 Agumon / ... (46 episodes, 2006-2008)
Mona Marshall ...
 Frigimon / ... (46 episodes, 2006-2008)
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1 October 2007 (USA)  »

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The type of project for which the saying "too little, too late" was coined
21 March 2015 | by See all my reviews

There is a paradoxical departure from earlier styles with a sense of trite familiarity. Consider the animation, which has a more traditional, smoother anime look. Now, I can understand why the animators would adopt this style, as it does look more refined, for the most part, and thankfully avoids the horrendous plague of recycled footage; the negative side is that this approach also jettisons the spirit of the first four seasons. In other words, it does not "feel" like digimon, no matter how many familiar creatures and concepts are included, instead looking like one of those edgier action cartoons of the early 2000's. Atmosphere is also lacking for about half of the show, making the backdrops less interesting than those in "Tamers", on average. Sometimes with visuals, more detailed is not synonymous with more effective (Persepolis is a prime example of this). Not to mention, the typical rehashing of monster ideas from previous seasons (i.e. a Greymon subspecies and wolf based creature) has really become annoying at this point.

Much like "Frontier", "Data Squad" borrows from the past. While there is nothing inherently wrong with imitation, when done so liberally a sense of weariness is difficult to avoid. The matter begins with the story. Quite a few elements from "Tamers" are revisited, certainly not restricted to a government agency, wild digimon and paranoid human. In fact, a good case can be made that this strays closer to "Neon Genesis Evangelion" than "Tamers" did. Also, just like that other series, the first act is practically stagnant, devoting too much time to introducing new forms and not enough towards getting the story rolling. It's all a shame because by the second act, "Data Squad" begins to come unto its own as a tale of misunderstandings and inter-dimensional relations. There was much potential here, especially when one considers that, for the most part, both sides were trying to do what they believed was best.

Unfortunately, they only scratch the surface with this theme, which is repackaged in the form of a comparatively uninteresting, tacked on world ending crisis involving that stupid marketing gimmick known as the Royal Knights. Sure, we see the digimon leaders eventually set aside their distrust of humans, but consider how much more poignantly the problem was resolved in "Tamers". There, humans and digimon generally fear each other, but following some misunderstandings have to work together to defeat an enemy that threatens both worlds. Here, the same essential idea is redone in an uninspired manner. Both sides just hammer away at each other until some mutual respect is produced; any claims of humanity's propensity for destruction are perfunctory. Furthermore, the route they took to have the primary antagonist defeated in the middle act and show the consequences of his actions in the final act is ineffectual, because these secrets and developments do not enhance other parts of the series by providing a clearer understanding of earlier events. No one is going to be more fascinated by Kenan's life or Merukimon's death after watching the conflict with Yggdrasil. One of the few exceptions is the revelation that Kudamon is actually one of the Royal Knights, which supplements the effort for harmony between the two worlds.

The characters themselves are, again, derivative of previous ones, and after nearly a decade there really is only so many times that familiar character points can be moderately reinvented before feeling humdrum. The writers seem to stubbornly cling to the decision of having the two leads engage in almost constant arguments and having clashing personalities: the leader is impulsive and rash and the secondary character is more calm, rational and responsible. "Frontier" also implemented these characteristics, but "Data Squad" goes a bit further by flat out copying the battle between the two lead characters AND having the lead digimon become corrupted. Marcus, the pertinent "leader", is far more flamboyant and arrogant than his predecessors. Though we learn that this originated with his father, when it comes to parent/child relationships Marcus is no Izzy, and as a leader he is no Tai, hardly providing an uplifting influence for his team. Thomas is just insipid, fundamentally a mere concoction of character points from Matt Ishida, only tweaked to fit a teenage genius. Compared to his "Adventure" counterpart, he may be forced to deal with some more difficult choices, but the series failing to fully convey how these affect him as a person renders that point moot. The others are really not worth mentioning; most of them are forgotten after watching the series, either because they are not important or because you would prefer to forget them.

The only ones that are worth mentioning are actually the villains Kurata and Saberleomon. I think it was a fairly interesting decision to have a human villain that was genuinely evil, although even this asset falls short of its inspiration. The show certainly makes his deviousness clear, and his schemes keep the narrative moving. However, compared to the shadowy and remorseful Yamaki, Kurata is not very interesting as a person. This new Saberleomon had some intriguing developments, particularly with his strained friendship with Merukimon. He's actually more effective than the more prominent BanchoLeomon, whose appearance is not sufficiently removed from that of Leomon to work. "Data Squad" would have ended up far stronger if it had persisted with the plot points set up by these two characters instead of forcing in that, frankly, out-of-place final arc to make room for the uninspired final enemy with an inappropriate voice.

"Data Squad" is merely passable. Out of all the Digimon seasons I have seen, this is probably the one that I have the least amount of feelings for; it would not have made much of a difference to me had it never been made. I admire it on certain levels and may have fully recommended it if not for the combination of its time of release and placement in the franchise.


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