Hi, long time no see. It’s been so long now since my last post this must seem like a flashback, and speaking of flashbacks…
As a 90s kid and a bit of a geek, I enjoy revisiting old television shows from my childhood. The original Pokemon is on Netflix, Disney films never go out of fashion and the new Sabrina just gives me an excuse to watch the old Sabrina. But where oh where is the other anime show featuring a squad of children and their assortment of weird looking creatures ending in ‘mon’?
To watch Digimon (arguably superior to Pokemon in terms of storytelling and character development) you have to buy the boxset (or find alternative means of viewing *cough* *cough*) which for me isn’t too big a deal because, hey presto! I have the boxset. And after having watched the gang of (remarkably irritating) kids survive the Digital world (spoiler alert I guess) I realised that my perception of the characters has definitely changed over the years…big time.
So I decided to rank them! I didn’t follow a strict criteria, I’m just taking into account how good a character they were, covering entertainment value, character development, importance to the story and overall enjoyment factor. So without further ado, I present my official ranking of the original Digimon adventure Digidestined.
So maybe it’s not fair to include her since I made a big deal about it being the ‘original’ Digidestined and Kari doesn’t show up until (the brilliant) episode 21 and then disappears again for ages, but to her credit she helps the squad out with the whole saving the world thing and so it really wouldn’t be fair not to include her. I’d actually like to give her a higher rank because in some of her early appearances she’s actually a pretty interesting character.
She’s just the right level of weird and her relationship with her brother Tai is enjoyable. However once she teams up with the rest of the group she becomes a bit of a background character, serving only to be possessed every now and then in order to give us a hefty dose of exposition, or just get sick.
Overall Kari’s a bit of a snooze and something of a wasted character in my opinion, especially when you consider the hype they made about finding the ‘eighth child’ – she does however have a pretty awesome Digimon partner in Gatomon and Angewomon
This may be a bit of a shock ranking for many as Izzy seems to be a bit of a fan favourite but for me, I’ve always found the little genius to be mildly irritating and not that great of a character. Full disclosure, I used to really hate Izzy, his constant tech talk, his habit of disregarding the feelings of those around him (see episode 10) and the fact that he has to correct everybody all the time:
Palmon: *looking into bubbling pool of water* we’d be cooked if we got in that water!
Izzy: Well you’d be boiled
Dude you’d be dead ok?
Izzy is basically the Ross Geller of the Digidestined but whilst Ross is consistently funny throughout the run of Friends, redeeming his character, Izzy isn’t funny nor is he that fun. His character is pretty much the exposition mouthpiece of the series which makes for a pretty bland output. He does have some good qualities though, Tentomon being the main one, and he does have his whole ‘I’m adopted’ issues to deal with (although that sort of gets swept under the carpet).
Overall Izzy is bland and a little on the irritating side and if he were a real person there’s no way he’d have made it through all that time with 7 other kids without one of them yelling “shut up nerd!” at some point.
So the reason TK ranks higher than Izzy is because of his character development. Although TK is an annoying cry baby for a large part of the series, by the time we reach the Dark Masters arc there’s already shades of the character we see in 02.
In fairness to TK, he goes through a lot for an 8 year old. His digimon is the only one to ‘die’ and although Patamon returns after he’s reborn it’s still pretty traumatic. He gets abandoned by his brother in a theme park, Tai leaves him responsible for Sora and a sick Kari, he gets kidnapped by Puppetmon, he has to watch Matt get turned into a keychain and he has to try and keep Kari safe from Piedmon. He comes a long way from worrying about the right way to eat fish.
Sora is such a tricky character. Everything about her is half-baked. She’s a tomboy but not too much, she has issues with her mother but not really and she can’t accept her crest, except for when she does. I suppose it’s the writers fault that every time Sora is faced with a problem or a challenge that should see her grow as a character, it all kind of fizzles out.
Take her situation in the Dark Masters arc. Her loyalty to Tai is continuously tested as he piles pressure on her, asking her to look after Kari when she’s sick and sending her off to find Matt right before the showdown with Piedmon. This could have made for a great storyline where we see how Sora struggles and whether she can cope. Instead we end up with her falling into the same dark ‘cave’ as Matt (which, although the concept was good, wasn’t really executed well) and once he and Joe rescue her she’s all fine and dandy.
Sora is however a pretty well rounded character. She has a good relationship with her digimon and is a good voice of reason without being Little Miss Perfect. It’s a shame so many good ideas were wasted.
Tai is a great character. He’s the hero of the story and gets the lion’s share of the storylines but is perfectly flawed – he’s cocky, arrogant, insensitive and acts before thinking, I’m pretty certain he manages to offend at least one person per episode. But it’s because he’s not Mr Perfect that makes Tai such a great character.
The reason he only ranks in at 4 however is because he has a bad habit of being really irritating. If he were a real person I’d find him unbearable, and the way the series paints him as the ‘best’ character gets old pretty quick. Tai always seems to be the first to be involved in anything, the first to digivolve to champion, the first to find a crest, the first to digivolve to ultimate, the first to get home…it would be nice if for once he’s not the first to save the day.
I also find his storyline in the Dark Masters arc involving Kari being sick a bit out of the blue. Whilst it’s executed well, I sort of feel Matt does the whole angsty big brother routine so much better.
On the whole though, Tai is pretty great, even if his obnoxious levels hit the roof way to often.
Matt is officially my favourite character. I liked him best when I was younger and still like him best today.
Matt ranks highly for me because he’s a well rounded character whose motives are pretty clear and established early on. His number one priority is TK, and although at times you feel like telling him to lighten up, he consistently remains a worrier for the duration of the series.
Also, Matt puts on a Mr Cool front which he pulls off pretty well for the most part. Disinterested, impatient and prone to the odd witty quip, he could easily have become a pretty one dimensional character but we get to see him freak out and lose his cool on so many occasions, proving he’s not an unemotional robot.
The only issue I have with Matt’s character is the whole Cherrymon storyline. I find the concept fun, but challenging Tai to a fist fight and talking smack to the others is just so out of character that it’s hard to take seriously, even if Cherrymon did manipulate him. The same goes for his dark cave shebang, his is better executed than Sora’s but it all feels a bit ham fisted.
Overall, Matt is possibly the most well rounded character of the group but some badly executed storylines prevent him from making the top spot.
A lot of people dislike Mimi and so this ranking may be a bit of a surprise, but for me, Mimi has so many qualities that just make her a great character, so hear me out.
Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, is Mimi’s evolution. She grows so much as a character and if you compare her in the final episode, overcome with emotion and unable to say goodbye to Palmon to how she was at the start of the series (disinterested and even downright mean to Palmon at times) you can clearly see how far she has come. What’s great about Mimi is she’s the most realistic character of the whole bunch, she moans and complains, she throws tantrums, she overreacts – but this is totally normal when you consider the world she’s trapped in. Tai’s bravado and everyone else’s (bar Joe) casual acceptance of that fact that there are 10 foot talking lions is just unrealistic, Mimi acts exactly as you’d expect someone to react in such bizarre circumstances.
What’s great about her too is that, although she does grow up a little and become less stubborn, she doesn’t become a superhero version of herself. When they face the Dark Masters, Mimi is the only one to make graves for their fallen friends and show any kind of emotion for those who sacrificed themselves for them (except maybe Matt, but you kind of feel he wanted to fight Tai more than defend Mimi). She pretty much becomes an out and out pacifist, refusing to fight and whilst this could come across as over-dramatic, it’s actually a pretty good reflection of her character throughout the series – her Ultimate, Lilymon has Flower Cannon as her main attack for Pete’s sake!
Another great thing about Mimi is the relationship she has with the digital world and the digimon within. She befriends more digimon than anyone else in the gang (Sukamon, Chuumon, Piximon even Ogremon!) which probably accounts for why she was the one so many digimon chose to follow into battle in the final arc.
Mimi is also funny. In a world of Soras and Matts it’s nice to have someone in a pink cowboy hat wondering if an old abandoned factory has a mall. As a result, Mimi is second only to Tai when it comes to being able to hold their own in a solo (or heavily focused) episode. Think Togemon in Toytown, the rest of the kids are somewhat out of action and so Mimi is left to carry the episode, something she does really well.
The only thing stopping Mimi from taking top place is her occasional lack of storyline, which is a shame, the series tends to favour giving Tai, Izzy and even TK interesting plot lines which often leaves Mimi on the sidelines. Despite this, she’s certainly worthy of being the second best digidestined.
The mighty Joe. Mr Responsible. The ‘teenager’ of the group (really?). Joe is the best digidestined because he’s the perfect combination of the rest of the gang’s best qualities. Seriously though, he has – albeit in flashes – Tai’s bravado, Mimi’s humour, Izzy’s sensibility, TK’s cutesy relationship with his digimon, Sora’s #teammom approach and Matt’s good looks – sorry – nice guy demeanor?
But in fairness to Joe, he really is an awesome character. Like Mimi, he develops over the course of the series from scaredy cat to hero, to the point where he is happy to abandon the safety of the group to look after a disenchanted Mimi. But even earlier on in the series we see hints of Joe’s badassery. In ‘his’ episode ‘Ikkakumon’s Harpoon Torpedo’ he resolves the Tai v Matt quarrel by (rather foolishly) climbing Infinity Mountain alone in what I think is the best episode of the Devimon arc. It’s Joe who works out (using brains) how to defeat Bakemon when he and Sora are captured. It’s Joe who saves TK’s life twice by risking his own and nearly drowning/getting crushed in the process. It’s Joe who helps rescue Sora from the cave of darkness and it’s Joe who pushes Izzy to temporary safety when Piedmon is performing his keychain trick.
Joe also has a really interesting relationship with Gomamon. Unlike most of the others, he and his digi-partner don’t always see eye-to-eye and there is the occasional rift between them, but this just makes it all the more realistic, and all the more cool when Gomamon does digivolve and save the day (especially Zudomon, that guy is awesome)
Joe has the perfect balance of funny and serious too. Mimi as mentioned, is funny but rarely all that serious, and whilst Tai and in particular Matt have the occasional wise-crack they both amp it up when it comes to cheesy, melodramatic speeches. Joe’s usually needless panic is good fun as is his constant worrying but he also has a serious and practical side which never comes across as ham-fisted or forced.
Overall Joe is a hero. And a reluctant hero, which makes him the best kind of hero.
So, do you agree? How would you rank the original digidestined? Has this list changed your mind? Leave your comments in the box below!