Term paper 1
Topic – Digimon
121018 Kim sangwoo
There must be a type of sympathy between people who are born around the same age. In my childhood, specifically “the Digimon project” (a concept that includes all commercial business based on the idea of Digimon, such as Digimon TV shows, Digimon card games, and Digimon gift characters) swayed all little boys, girls, juveniles, high-schoolers, and even some adult fans through the world. The spreading effect of Digimon project was magnificent, indeed. Everyone knew about Digimon cards, Digimon games, and the Digimon game instrument named a Damagochi, which allowed one to raise a Digimon creature. Digimon animation features were translated into over 20 languages, and many items related with Digimon project were being exported enormously. For a while, even 40% percent of gift characters in Korea were connected with Digimon project when the animation’s popularity was on at its peak (100). In this way, Digimon project was very powerful, so that it had many kinds of effect on the children who lived in that era. That influence cannot be ignored, because the early age of a person forms his or her elements of fundamental characteristics. In this paper, I would like to think about what consequence did the Digimon project gave to the children of the era and decide whether it was positive or not. Also, I want to analyze certain factors of the success of Digimon project, compare those factors to other animations and confirm whether or not those factors are generally significant.
The main concept of Digimon project was invented by Akiyoshi Hongo, who created the original virtual pets, but many things about him is still unknown. Many people suggest that Akiyoshi Hongo is just a pen name of someone who contributed to invent the main idea of Digimon such as Aki Maita, the creator of the Tamagochi, or Takeichi Hongo, the president for Bandai the toy making firm.
In 1997, Tamagochi, a small egg-like game player was released. With that instrument, users could receive an egg called Digitama on its little square screen, and after a while, a creature named Digimon(Digital monster) came out of the egg. There were a lot of different type of Digimon creatures and the allocation was totally random so users could not expect which Digimon creature would be theirs. To enjoy the game, users had to feed them, play them, cure them, let them sleep, wash them, and clean their Digimon creatures’ room frequently. Then, one unsuspected day, their Digimon creatures will be evolved. By connecting their instruments to wireless communication system, users could let their own digimon creatures fight with another Digimon creature that was charge of another person.
The introduction of Tamagochi toy was successful among elementary school children, specifically boys, and an edited type of the Tamagochi was gradually invented by the toy and game player making company Bandai. Therefore, there formed some popularity about Tamagochi and Digimon project among children in Japan. The Toei animation co., an anime production company, planned to make an animation series being inspired by the concept of Digimon based on the Tamagochi concept, and soon the legendary animation was invented. On March 6, 1999, the ‘Digimon Adventure’, short film for a movie, aired in theaters located in Japan. Unexpectedly, the company could got a huge amount of income, and the company started to make a story board of animation series ‘Digimon Adventure’ that followed the fame of original movie of theater version. After a month, ‘Digimon Adventure’, the television show for children, aired on Huji TV, and the popularity of Digimon project began.
Because there was an amazing plot and background, The Digimon project (in this part, especially the Digimon TV shows) could succeed, earn huge amount of funds, and give a lot of effect on children around the world. I’d like to introduce story and background of the concept of Digimon TV shows briefly, so that we could suggest the reason why the Digimon TV series became a hit by understanding the animation totally.
A digimon (digimon creature) is consist of a group of data. A digimon could be divided into three types- Vaccine, Data, and Virus. Vaccine type digimon creatures have stronger character than those who have Virus type, Virus types are more powerful than Data type, and Data types are usually more intense than Vaccine types. They live in the ‘Digital World’, apart from the Real World, and those two worlds are usually not connected except in the situation when the Digimon World is in some crisis. In the fourth TV animation series of Digimon, ‘Digimon Frontier’, there specifically described D-Terminal which connects the Digital World and the Real World by trailmons, specific kind of digimon creatures that were created based on railroad train. However, at the end of the story, terminal is disrupted by evil digimon creatures. Human could go into the Digital World if there appears a kind of gate between those, but Digimon creatures could not move to Real World. However, if there is some manipulation from an external power, people in the Real World could see Digimon creatures in their world, making a disturbance. As usual, people who saw Digimon creatures in the Real World would think that they are monsters, and only some of them including people who are “DigiDestined” know the exact existence of Digimon creatures. ‘DigiDestined children’ means the main characters who could fight together with their partner digimon to save Digital World in the story, generally were chosen because of their characteristics. When a digimon creature appears in the Real world, electronic devices that were located near by the digimon creature starts to act abnormally. This concept explains very well that Digimon creatures are consisted of digital data.
In ‘Digimon Adventure’, the first TV animation series of Digimon project, there explained life cycles of a Digimon creature. In usual, Digimon creatures live permanently. When they use all of their power, without relation whether they exhaust their energy naturally by time or receive critical damage from outside, they would become a digitama, drift through the air to specific place where digitamas are taken care, and restart there life again. Digimon creature that has become digitama and grown up again, must forget memories from their previous life because they got small injury on their main database. If a digimon creature’s data is completely destroyed by external impact or internal damage of its main database, it dies. In Digimon TV series, there are not described any digimon creature that was totally died to let audience, usually children, notice the dignity of life. Exceptionally in one episode, an evil digimon creature is died by its master, but by making main characters be shocked because of the death, the show could keep its audience from being forgetful of the importance of life.
To explain more deeply the life cycle of Digimon creatures, a digimon creature hatches from an egg called Digitama in Japanese, Digi-egg in translation. There are a lot of colors and patterns on each type of Digitama. However, it is not fixed that some kind of Digimon creature should have certain type of Digitama. After hatched from a digitama, a digimon creature grows by a process called ‘Digivolution’, which gives them more power and changed (generally bigger) appearance, but they could not maintain that digivolved form because it needs energy to digivolve and keep it. Therefore, most digimon creatures live their life with their original appearance. There is the fixed evolution tree of Digimon creatures. Digi-egg – Fresh(Baby I) – In-training(Baby II) – Rookie(Child) (-most Digimon creatures keep their appearance in this stage) – Champion(Adult) –Ultimate(Perfect) – Mega – Super Ultimate and further. Also, there are specific names for each digivolution. Digivolution is a formal name for a process when a digimon creature in child form evolves to adult form. Evolution starting from Champion appearance to Ultimate form is called Super Evolve. A word Matrix Evolution is used to describe Ultimate-to-Mega digivolution.
▲ An example of digivolution tree, especially agumon, partner digimon creature of Taichi the main DigiDestined in ‘Digimon Adventure’.
There are several special types of Digivolution. Dark Evolution is contaminated form of digivolution, appeared when someone let a digimon creature to digivolve forcefully. A digimon creature on Perfect stage made through this procession would be virus type, and act evil. This digivolution was first appeared in ‘Digimon Adventure’, when the main character Taichi coerced his partner digimon creature, agumon to digivolve. When two different digimon creatures evolve together by forming an appearance characterized partially from each side, it is called DNA evolution, jogress in Japanese. It was one of the main ingredients of ‘Digimon Adventure 02’ which were developed from the previous series, ‘Digimon Adventure’, so that more percentage of audition for the second series could be possible. Armor Digivolution is a procession when a digimon creature digivolve with a digimental which gives special power to it. This concept was also the main ingredient of the second TV show series, ‘Digimon Adventure 02’. There described over 10 different digimentals in the show, and each digimental has its own crest that gives elemental power to the user digimon creature on it. In ‘Digimon Tamers’, the third TV show series of Digimon project, showed special form of digivolution that could mix a digimon creature’s soul and its tamer’s soul
to make a greater and stronger power, which was named Biomerge evolution.
▲ Left – an example of Armor digivolution. Veemon, the main partner digimon creature of ‘Digimon Adventure 02’, could armor digivolve with three digimentals.
▲ Right – examples of DNA evolution.
It could emphasize the main concept of the third series of Digimon project that the real consensus between a tamer and his or her partner digimon pet could make ultimate energy for fighting. The fourth series of Digimon, ‘Digimon Frontier’, suggested the ‘Spirit evolution’ as its main ingredient. DigiDestined children of Digimon Frontier don’t have their partner digimon, but could spirit digivolve to Digimon creature themselves using Spirits. Spirits are the relics which have the power of Ten legendary warriors who had saved the Digital World from destruction by the great fight between human form digimon creatures and beast form digimon creatures. There are ten kinds of Spirit scattered and hidden in place after place in the Digital World, each kind have their own characteristic such as fire, light, thunder, wind, ice, darkness, earth, water, steel, and wood, and there are two spirits which have same characteristc, the human form and the beast form. Thus, there are actually 20 numbers of spirits.
Digivice is the device which connects the DigiDestined children and their partner Digimon creatures, derived from the original idea of Tamagochi. In ‘Digimon Adventure’ and ‘Digimon Adventure 02’, Digivice is used for letting their partner digimon creature to digivolve. Digivices in ‘Digimon Adventure’ have same transparent color, and shaped like the first version of Tamagochi. In ‘Digimon Adventure 02’, however, gave its five main characters different colors of digivices each other. When their partner digimon creatures want to armor digivolve, digimentals that were saved into the digivice of digidestined children comes out of it and applied to the digimon creature. To be new from the previous series, the third series of Digimon TV show ‘Digimon Tamers’ showed D-Arc which have a groove on one side of it so that it could read the special card when DigiDestined children (in this series usually told as ‘Tamers’) use some card to give an effect or extra attacks for their partner Digimon creatures. This action of Tamers is called Digi-modify, Card Slash in Japanese. ‘Digimon Frontier’, the fourth series of Digimon TV shows, had its own concept that the DigiDestined children in this story could spirit evolve to digimon creatures themselves, so the firm made an idea of the D-Tector, known in Japan as the D-scanner, to let DigiDestined children keep their Spirit into their D-Tector and use it anywhere when they want to digivolve. DigiDestined children could take evil character’s Spirit and be taken their Spirit by the enemies, and this concept made the story of ‘Digimon Frontier’ be possible. This show described that the D-Tectors were originally DigiDestined children’s cell phone, but transformed by digital power when they took on a trailmon and decided to go to the Digital World.
- Digimon Adventure (1999)
This is the first TV show series of Digimon story. There are 7 DigiDestined boys and girls who came to the summer camp, and soon whisked to the Digital World, told as a parallel world of the Real World. In the Digital World, Each Digidestine meets their partner digimon, and start the adventure to save the Digital World. Later, each character discovered a crest that each belonged to a person, such as the Crest of Courage for Tai, the Crest of Friendship for Matt, and the Crest of Love for Sora, which allowed their digimon the digivolve into their Ultimate form. The group consisted of seven original characters. The children are helped by a mysterious man/digimon named Gennai, who helps them via hologram. The Digivices help their Digimon allies to Digivolve into stronger creatures in times of peril. The Digimon usually reached higher forms when their human partners are placed in dangerous situations, such as fighting the evil forces of Devimon, Etemon and Myotismon in their Champion forms.
- Digimon Adventure 02 (2000)
With most of the original characters now in high school, the Digital World was supposedly secure and peaceful. However, a new evil has appeared in the form of the Digimon Emperor (Digimon Kaiser). This new villain is different – he’s a human just like the DigiDestined. The Digimon Emperor has been enslaving all Digimon in sight with Black Rings and Control Spires and, to make things worse, has somehow made regular Digivolution impossible. Three new children are chosen to save the Digital World and, along with TK and Kari, make up the new generation of DigiDestined. In this new series, Digital world prepared five Digi-Eggs with engraved emblems and appointed those to five new DigiDestined (with original members T.K. and Kari), which enable the new evolutionary process, dubbed Armor Digivolution. This new form of evolution helps the new DigiDestined to defeat evil lurking in the Digital World. Eventually, the DigiDestined defeat the Digimon Emperor, more commonly known as Ken Ichijouji on Earth, (who is more or less a rival to Davis) only with the great sacrifice of Ken’s own Digimon, Wormmon. Just when things were thought to be settled, new Digimon enemies made from the deactivated Control Spires start to appear and cause trouble in the Digital World. To atone for his past mistakes, Ken joins the DigiDestined, being a DigiDestined himself, with his Partner Wormmon revived to fight against them. They soon save countries including France and Australia from control spires and defeat MaloMyotismon (BelialVamdemon), the digivolved form of Myotismon (Vamdemon) from the previous series. They stop the evil from destroying the two worlds, and at the end everyone has their own Digimon partner.
- Digimon Tamers (2001)
Actually, the ultra fame of the Digimon Project starts to decrease gradually from this series of the Digimon TV show are released. The main concept of this version is ‘the Digimon Card Game’. Also, in this series, digimon creatures could keep their existence in the Real World, because the power of the D-Arc(the form of Digivices in this series) protects the digimon creatures from external evil forces of the Real World.
- Digimon Frontier (2002)
- Digimon Savers (2006)
- Digimon Xros Wars (2010)
Ⅵ. Effects of Digimon
In the first TV show series, also known as the Digimon Adventure, there described a story of Takeru(the littlest boy of the first generation of DigiDestined) and his partner Digimon, angelmon. He becomes a digitama while he protects his partner from the attack of devimon, the chief of evil digimons. The little audiences would notice the importance of self-sacrifice dropping some tears on their little faces while watching this scene.
Like above, Digimon stories gave a lot of positive effects on children globally. I would like to list some of the positive consequences which ‘the Digimon project’ gave to the kids around the world.
 Positive effects to the children
- Helped children develop their susceptibilities
- Cute and creative creatures
Generally, the appearance of a digimon creature is cute. As the digimon creature evolves, its feature gets more creative and complex. Because the basic concept of the Digimon stories is each digimon creature, the audience must be given effect by the appearance of them. By watching various kinds of digimon creatures, children would stimulate their sensitivity.
- Personal conflicts between characters
In Digimon TV shows, the main characters gather their power and ability to defeat the enemies, but sometimes, they fight each other because of small difference in their opinion. While seeing the variance of emotion of the main characters, the audience would be able to understand how to clear up some dispute between friends, and would notice the importance of friendship.
- Gave moral lessons and helped the little audiences build their moral standard
- Anecdotal stories of the Digidestined children
Most of the Digidestined children of successive generations have their specific personal stories.
In ‘Digimon Adventure’, Tai tends to protect his younger sister Kari too much because once he let his sister be at a crisis in the past. Matt, older brother of Takeru, still has the memory of the moment when his parents divorced, so he starts to self-alienate himself as his brother Takeru grows up to be a man. Sora, a boyish girl who is belonged to her school’s soccer club, has traditional and conservative family. She had a lot of disputes with her mom because of her boy-like characteristic, but by facing and experiencing many accidents in the Digital World, she starts to understand her mom and love her. Koshiro, an intelligent boy with less sensitivity, started to have troubles in relationship after he noticed the fact that his parents are not his real parents. Fortunately, by adventuring in the Digital World with his friends, he begins to open his mind to others. Joe, the oldest boy in the first generation of DigiDestined children, was forced to study by his parents in order to become a doctor when he was in the real world. However, after he experienced a lot of things in the Digital world, he decided to be a doctor in the future himself.
The Digidestined child who has the most special personal story in ‘Digimon Adventure 02’ is the Digimon Kaiser. He threatened the second generation of Digidestined children by using black rings at the previous part of the TV show, but he is actually a Digidestined kid too. He had an older brother who excelled in every subject, so he was very jealous of him. One day, his brother died by an accident. After his perfect brother was gone, Joe was caught by the dark power of the Digital World, and became the Digimon Kaiser himself although he was selected to be a Digidestined child.
In ‘Digimon Frontier’, each 6 children have their peculiar stories. Kanbara Takuya went to the Digital World on his younger brother’s birthday. When he is beaten by Duskmon, he regrets his action of coming to the Digital World, and really misses his family. Koji Minamoto has a step-mother, and he doesn’t feel comfortable to her, so that he never called her ‘mom’. But after the fact that Duskmon(Koichi Kimura) is his twin brother and he is living with Minamoto’s real mother was brought to light, he visits his real mother in the hospital and admits that his step mother is also his mother. On the other hand, before came to the Digital World, Koichi Minamoto noticed that he has a twin brother according to his grandmother’s last word, and started stalking his twin brother Koji. He noticed that Koji has affluent house by following him. After that day, he started envying and hating Minamoto and his father who abandoned Koichi and his mother. On the day that the Digidestined children of the fourth generation came to the Digital World by taking on the trailmon in the secret railroad station, Koichi fell on the stairs while he stalk Koji, and his soul went to the Digital World by extraordinary digital force. Junpei tried to attract his school mates by performing magic show and giving chocolates. However, on rainy day, he saw that no one wanted to use his or her umbrella with him, and got discouraged. After he experienced a lot of accidents in Digital World, he found the fact that a real friend is made by interaction and conversation, not by attraction. Izumi, an independent girl who studied abroad, was alienated by her school mates in Japan. On the day of school trip, she helped one of her school mate when she fell down. The girl promised to cook together at cooking time, but at the time, she broke the promise because of her friend’s disagreement. However, she learned a lot of things in the Digital World. Tomoki, the youngest child of the fourth generation of Digidestined kids, was bullied by his friends. The actual reason why he came to the Digital World is also bulling. However, he learned the power of courage and leadership in the Digital World. When the children who bullied him in the Real World came to the Digital World and faced danger, Tomoki digivolved and protected them. After the Digidestined children came back to the Real world, he made friends with the bullies.
Most of the anecdotal stories of the Digidestined children are related to the problems of parents and family. By this, children whose parents have problems could take heart. In order to let the children admit that their parents have a problem, all of the Digidestined children who have step-parents or divorced parents begin to understand their parents after they went to the Digital World.
- Importance of friends
Actually, the main topic of the Digimon TV shows is the ‘importance of friends’, when we consider the relationship between a digidestined child and his or her partner digimon creature as friendship. Partner digimon creatures always fight for their digidestined children. Also, during the adventure, Digidestined children learn how to communicate and cooperate with their friends to survive in the Digital World. If one of the Digidestined children is in danger, rest of the children fight and struggle to rescue him or her.
In ‘Lord of the Flies’, a novel written by William Golding, drifting children in the island gradually lose their reasons and kill each other. Comparing to that story, plots of the Digimon TV shows are very nice and moral.
- Moral lessons from many battles against the enemies
In every episode of fighting against the enemies, there’s always some kind of conflict between the children. When the conflict is dissolved and the children unite their efforts, the enemy would be beaten. By watching the procedure of reconciliation, the little audience would understand how they could keep their social relationship with others.
- Crest, Digi-eggs, and Spirits
There are always appeared some special objects that represent different characteristics of each Digidestined children of each version of the TV shows.
In ‘Digimon Adventure’, 7 different crests are given to the children. The crests of courage, friendship, love, sincerity, knowledge, reliability, hope, and light represents traits of Tai, Matt, Sora, Mimi, Koushiro, Joe, Takeru, and Kari. The crests enable the partner digimon creatures to digivolve to the Ultimate form.
In ‘Digimon Adventure 02’, 9 different digi-eggs appear and are given to the children. The Digi-eggs of courage, friendship and miracle is given to Daisuke. The Digi-eggs of love and sincerity is given to Miyako. The Digi-eggs of knowledge and reliability is given to Iori. The Digi-egg of hope appeared for Takeru, and the Digi-egg of light appeared for Kari. At the latter part of the show, the Digi-egg of kindness is given to Ken. The Digidestined children’s partner digimon creatures could armor digivolve using the Digi-eggs.
In ‘Digimon Frontier’, 20 different Spirits exist in the Digital World. Ten Spirits (fire, light, ice, wind and thunder spirits. Each kind has two types – human type, and beast type. For example, there are two types of fire spirits – human spirit of fire, and beast spirit of fire. The rest are earth, wood, water, steel, and darkness) are given to the Digidestined children. Fire Spirits(both human type and beast type) for Takuya, Light Spirits for Koji, Ice Spirits for Tomoki, Thunder Spirits for Junpei, and Wind Spirits for Izumi. The Digidestined children could digivolve to the specific digimon creatures by using those Spirits. The Spirits are scattered in the Digital World, and each Spirits appear when each Digidestined child find his or her courage or their genuine characteristics through dangerous situations.
- Form a large sympathy between children of the era
Specifically, ‘Digimon Adventure’ made a hit with a huge range of sympathy. It also made a perfect topic of conversation between children in the world, and gave a fantastic dreams and hopes.
Although Digimon project gave a lot of positive influences on children, some people say that the project had bad effects on children. They say, the great fame of the Digimon project keeps giving evil consequences to their kids, so the broadcasting station has to stop carrying Digimon TV shows on their channels now. I would list the causes and reasons that they use to support their opinion, and refute those with reasonable rebuttal.
- Strange symbols
Some people urge that strange symbols that represent satan or evil appear in digimon creatures, such as pentagrams, and emblems of satan. However, that theory really does not make any sense. It is the fact that some strange alphabets appear in several part of the show, but the meaning of the letters are not evil. They are the ‘digicodes’. Each digicode represents each Japanese and English alphabets.
- Violent fights
As a said before, the Digimon TV shows are based on a life-respectful idea. Even though the digimon creatures fight each other by using physical violence, the purpose of fighting is to protect their human friends from the enemies. Also, no digimon creature dies in the show. They are just ‘revived’ to the other good digimon creatures. When a digimon creature vanishes all of its power, it becomes a digitama, and revives to another digimon creature.
Ⅶ. Factors of success
Following success of Digimon, a huge amount of related gifts, character items, game players and disks, CDs of anime OST and extra drama of Digimon series, doujinshi, comic books, and card game cards were made and spread all around the world. This also made much more people to notice the existence of Digimon, its popularity as well.
Until now, I explained about the contents and effects of Digimon. I believe that those could help us to analyze the factors of Digimon’s success. To categorize the causes, I want to let them become more reasonable.
- Stories about adventure of unknown world and importance of friendship
- Concept about digital devices
- Anecdotal stories of DigiDestined
- Creative creatures, Digimon
- Same concept, but totally different contents for each four series
- Related items
The great hit made by the Digimon project gave nice and cool effects on children. It helped children develop their sensitivities by showing them a lot of cute and creative digimon creatures. Also, it gave moral lessons and helped the little audiences build their moral standard by putting diverse kind of personal conflicts between characters and various anecdotal stories of the Digidestined children. Therefore, the audience could notice the great importance of friends, earning moral lessons from many battles against the enemies. I believe that many violent action TV animations which promote children to be violent must follow desirable aspects of the Digimon TV shows. When animations make positive effects on all of the children in the world, the children who have nice moral minds in their heart would build ‘the Real World’ on this society.
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