Just a few months ago, I’ve decided to rewatch the entirety of the original Digimon Adventure. On the whole it was….enjoyable but not exactly something I could recommend, at least not casually. It has highs, emotional resonance, engaging and also diverse main cast, and the love it receive from its fans are certainly understandable, but half the time its ranging from below average to solid but not remarkable. The entire production doesn’t help either. The background are nice, but the animation is often limited. The direction sometimes capable, sometimes its stale. One of the most engaging moment in the series are only when the episode focused on Digidestined internal struggle and with each other which……only came about halfway point of the show.
But, I’m not here to review Adventure. With the second part of Digimon Tri just came out, I thought this will be a good time for me to personally list my favorite episodes of the show. Spoiler alert, obviously. Although, if any of you who wanted to get into the franchise wondering if several highlight would be worth an entire watch, this would be those.
Also, when I said Digimon Adventure, I left out 02, because…..well, 02 isn’t particularly good. It has highlights, but on the whole it’s kind of a mess.
Anyway, in no particular order, the list!
(For the sake of convenience, I will be using the english title)
Home Away from Home(21)
Among Digimon fandom, this is kind of an easy pick, but its for good reason. It’s one of the episode (and the first) in the series that I thought was legitimately great. One thing that was noticeable straight away that the art style for this particular episode was different. Well, that’s because this episode was directed by Mamoru Hosoda, which sadly also his only direction contribution to the series (although he did directed two movie in the franchise). Fortunately, the episode in which he was placed on couldn’t be more appropriate to the whole series.
After some accident defeating one of the bad guy, Taichi ended up transported to the real world along with his partner digimon, Koromon. He re-acquainted himself in this world, got home, and met his sister Hikari. Initially he thought that their quest was done, only to find out that he’s the only one among seven of them who returned home. Initially reluctant, he went back into the digital world after saying goodbye to his sister.
Digimon on the whole are somewhat capably directed, but for this episode alone it’s really a step up. The use of lighting and shadow sells the atmosphere of summer. The color palette evoke the feeling of unfamiliarity, even though Taichi was supposed to be home free, emphasizing both the fact that Taichi has gone away for quite some time and false comfort, since he’s not supposed to be home just yet. There’s also plenty of smooth animation.
On the narrative front, there’s also quite some meat in it. Now that Taichi has finally returned home but haven’t finished his quest yet, he contemplate whether or not that he should go back to digital world to save it. He has his friends, family and there’s still bunch of things he wanted to do in the real world. However, after knowing the phenomenon on the digital world affected the real world also, he gained the resolve to go back, leaving behind his sister (which was one of the best sequence in the entire series), who symbolically stand as his attachment to his home. The reason why the placement of Mamoru Hosoda in this episode was appropriate was because this mark the turning point for Taichi, who abandoned the comfort of his home to go out and save the world.
The episode is so good, I actually thought this episode something that I could recommend on its own without having to watch the previous ones. Sure, you may lose some context, but the sheer execution alone is pretty worth it.
Flower Power (35) & City Under Siege (36)
It may seems weird to put two episode on the same spot, and it won’t be the last , but the two episode are somewhat similar in terms of content and why I like them. Compare to the other episodes on this list, I like these ones in terms of pure plot execution (which may don’t sit well with some of you but bear with me).
The synopsis goes that when our heroes comes back to the real world in order to search for the eight children, the latest bad guy, Myotismon, decided to put the entire city under lockdown to find that eight children, which more or less also means that it’s a full scale invasion and the kids are separated from one another.
The key phrase here is “the kids are separated from one another.” Which means that during this full scale invasion, the series pretty much juggle their action corresponding to their situation. Sora and Mimi got kidnapped, Joe and Takeru stucked on another island, Yamato protect Hikari, Koushiro search for help, and Taichi went out to rescue his parents. And the one’s acting are not just the kids, but the adults, especially their parents, as well. Couple that with the fact that the battle take place in their own hometown, it gives the whole conflict a real emotional stake. It’s pretty much tense action all around.
Playing Games (43) & Trash Day (44)
Compare to the previous one, I’m putting these two together because the primary reason I like these episodes was it’s all part of Yamato’s arc, whom on my rewatch turns out to be my favorite character, and I couldn’t bring out one without the other.
But, some background first. Yamato was a child of a divorce couple, which also separated him from Takeru ever since they were a little. This led him to have a sort of abandonment issue and lack of self-worth, which he could only dealt by protecting Takeru and play the role of reliable big brother.
So, in Playing Games, now back to the digital world once again, encountered the latest bad guy, The Dark Master, and has just loss one of their friends in the digital world, the kids began to truly learn the weight of their quest. Taichi wants to move forward, but Yamato chastise him for being inconsiderate to the others who is still grieving. But no time for internal struggle however, because one of the Dark Master, Puppetmon, has decided to come out and play with the kids, and he picked Takeru to be his personal toy.
The first part that I like about this episode is something that I stated above, the kids finally learn the weight of their quest, and each had different reaction towards it, some other are still grieving for those who has loss their lives for them, some wants to move forward, some are even calling it quits on this whole saving the world business altogether. This was emphasized by the internal monologue we get by each kids regarding their current situation after Taichi and Yamato argue with one another.
The main part was the fact this was the beginning of Yamato’s personal arc. Now under Puppetmon’s attack, Yamato first priority was, once again, to protect his own little brother, Takeru. However, Takeru questioned if Yamato protect Takeru because he doesn’t believe in Takeru’s own strength and wonders why only Takeru the one he prioritize to protect. Prior to this, Yamato has always been somewhat overprotective of Takeru, but this is the first moment when his motive was called into question.
With Takeru captured to be Puppetmon’s personal toy, Yamato loses it. He lashed out to his friends, berating them from killing the enemies when they could question them of Takeru’s whereabout, to the point where he couldn’t digivolve his partner digimon, Gabumon. When Takeru revealed to have escaped all by himself, Yamato silently separated himself away from the group, knowing that his brother no longer needs him anymore.
This was continued in the next episode, Trash Day, in which Yamato pretty much become angsty about himself. Now that his little brother doesn’t need him and every one else seems to have grown except for him, he really began to question his self-worth.
Another part of this episode that I like was in how Gabumon support Yamato. When Yamato was tricked by Puppetmon’s henchmen, Cherrymon into fighting Taichi so that he could find an answer to his problem, Gabumon gave Yamato his full loyalty, no matter which path decided to take, which prompted Gabumon’s evolution.
Among Digimon pairing, I’ve always find the pairing Gabumon and Yamato was somewhat odd, but I realized that Gabumon, who is shy but kind and loyal, is the type of person Yamato needs to have around in his darker days. Someone who can always support Yamato when he starts to doubt himself.
The problem with this arc, however, was during the following episode in where Yamato confront Taichi, which unfortunately ended in a pretty anti-climatic that doesn’t really solve anything (although Yamato’s arc was quite satisfyingly resolved in episode 53, Crest of Friendshp).
On the plus side however, Trash Day also featured Mimi catching a flying poop, so…there’s that.
- Even though this favorite list is short, Digimon have plenty other good episodes. It just not necessarily make it my “favorite”
- If you want to some good write-ups on Digimon, I recommend the entire catalogue of digimon.firstagent.net which houses analysis on EVERY Digimon episodes in EVERY series. It’s not too in-depth since it didn’t have analysis on art & cinematography side of things, but it is pretty good and I agree with most of the opinions stated.