It’s funny how when we are children the majority of what we learn is from cartoons. When we mature, the perception of these cartoons is that they lose value as you age, although they actually transition into your adult life which is quite ironic. We take these values and roles from cartoons and learn upon them and build them in conjunction with our own personalities to mold and structure who we are as people. Let me take it a step further. I learned about being a better human-being from monsters. Well, in this case, the digital kind. Digimon was a break from the overly saturated and somewhat condescending world of Pokemon (please don’t burn me at the stake, I used to love Pokemon) that just didn’t really suit me very well. Digimon on the other hand had a cast of 14 with a variety of transformations which physically and mentally manifested in the children who were involved in its story.
Digimon showed me how to be a better person in my everyday life, teaching me the values of courage, friendship, love, knowledge, sincerity, reliability, light, hope and kindness. Aside from all the action-packed fights, digivolution and shenanigans along the way, the franchise has really taught me a lot which I employ in my adult life and transgresses the social norm of cartoons being for children in the first place. Here are six things that the Digimon anime franchise has taught me:
Being yourself is more important and powerful than trying to be something you’re not, stick to your uniqueness and quirks.
In the first season, Digimon Adventure, eight kids find themselves with crests which pertain to a value which they exude and assimilate within their everyday lives. These values are the catalyst for which their partners can evolve into stronger beings of themselves but only after their human counterparts have realised how strongly their value bonds to their personality. We see this when Sora realises how much she loves her mother; Izzy understands that knowledge is powerful but not all encompassing; Matt learns the value of friendship; and most notably when T.K finds hope after there is none to be found. It’s an empowering metaphor of sticking to what your good at and attempting to be authentic, no matter what the digital world or the dark masters may throw at you. I have a feeling they may have a trump card up their sleeve.
Don’t ever lose sight of being kind to others.
In the second instalment of the Digimon series, Digimon Adventure 02, we have a complex arc unfold where one of the digi-destined, Ken, has become possessed by darkness. He pushes his companion, Wormmon, in an attempt to gain more power, however, he becomes mad with this power and punishes Wormmon for his mistakes and failures instead of seeing the light. When he is eventually defeated and comes to his senses, he realises his lack of kindness turned him against his partner Digimon who adored him so much. However, it was too late and Wormmon turned back to data. An extremely heavy topic for a children’s show but it taught me early on to live in the now and to always be kind to those around you because you never know when they will disappear.
Being strong and powerful isn’t everything, to have love and compassion is power.
Digimon Tamers is well known as one of the darker seasons of the Digimon franchise with death, ptsd and depression being brought to the forefront of the plot for the characters. We see that power isn’t everything when it comes to how we live our lives and react to trauma through both Takato’s darkened heart and Beelzemon’s blindness towards his own pride, greed and lack of confidence. Once Beelzemon kills Leomon, Takato goes into a rage causing Guilmon to dark ‘digivolve’ and engage in battle with Beelzemon. Eventually, Takato sees what his beloved partner has become and attempts to turn him back with all his power realising that his love for both Jeri (Leomon’s partner) and Guilmon should be taking the forefront of this battle, not his thirst for rage which is the catalyst for his true digivolution (biomerging with Guilmon) of Gallantmon. Beelzemon takes a little while longer but soon realises his mistakes in taking Leomon’s life, begging for Jeri’s forgiveness while showing regret and compassion for his actions as he sees Takato and Guilmon fighting gallantly to save Jerri from her eventual demise.
You can become a warrior through what you say and how you act
Spirit evolving was an innovative concept in the Digimon series where humans could become and evolve into Digimon and fight battles. This series truly relied on its smaller than usual cast to be dynamic, and for the most part they were. Each human became more and more like their legendary warrior counterpart as the story progressed conveying that we can truly become warriors in our own right through what we say and how we act towards others.
Friends and family come first (s5)
Marcus Damon lost his father and became a strong figure for his family. Although his father’s disappearance plagued his family, he never lost sight of his mother and sister always vowing to protect him until their father came back. He never lost hope and was determined to see his father again at all costs which is a really cute father-son bond if you think about it.
We are more powerful unified than alone
If there is a lone takeaway from all the Digimon seasons, it is that together we are strong, powerful and happier people. Always include the people around you; be kind, compassionate and caring to your friends and family, and never forget your Digimon partner. I always think back to the first season of this brilliant cartoon where each digi-destined in their respective right had abundant power, but together as a unit could save the world; I feel like that rings true in our current political and social climates. As young people, we can make a difference and should take note from television shows like this, to have no fear and become empowered like children do in these cartoon shows.