"Three Digimon once met three children. Three children once met three Digimon. They laughed together, fought together, suffered together, and they understood each other... until their hearts became one."
The third anime series of the Digimon franchise, Digimon Tamers was the first installment to set itself in a different canon entirely. It tends to be described as "Neon Genesis Evangelion with mons," or "Serial Experiments Lainfor kids", and for good reason—series head writer Chiaki Konaka was also the man behind Lain and is reportedly a big fan of Evangelion. Distinguished for deconstructing the Mons genre and being Darker and Edgier than every other Digimon canon since (with one possible exception), it is significantly more cerebral, psychological, technologically minded, and becomes one hell of a Cosmic Horror Story by the end. And as a result of all this, it's rather debatable just how appropriate the show is for its "target" demographic, particularly in its last acts.Takato Matsuki is an ordinary kid who is a big fan of the Digimon franchise and the associated Collectible Card Game. One day, a strange blue card transforms his card reader into a Digivice, which in turn brings a Digimon of Takato's own creation to life: Guilmon. But having a fire-breathing red dinosaur as a pet is only the start of Takato's problems: the walls between the Digital World and the Human World are beginning to break down, and hostile Digimon are appearing in the real world to wreak havoc.Furthermore, there are other "Digimon Tamers" who have secured a Digimon as their partners in the real world: Rika Nonaka, a cold-hearted gaming champion who only cares about becoming the strongest Tamer; and Henry Wong, an advocate for non-violence who believes that Digimon should not have to fight. And as the three Tamers clash over their conflicting ideals, a mysterious government organization is monitoring the digital invasion and developing counter-measures that could see the trio's Digimon partners ripped from their side forever.Tamers focuses more on the real world than its predecessors, with the Digimon franchise as a whole a Franchise within a Show that the main cast are fans of. Much as you'd imagine as a result of its alternate canon, Tamers was the first of many causes of dissent among many fans. Though Tamers is certainly one of the most popular Digimon series among the fanbase, it certainly has its detractors who consider the Adventure canon to be the superior works. Even so, it still stands alongside its predecessors as one of the most popular installments in the franchise—if one were to ask on a Digimon board about peoples' favorite Digimon series, the bulk of answers are almost guaranteed to be either Tamers or Adventure.Its predecessor was Digimon Adventure 02, and it was succeeded by Digimon Frontier.The dub is now on DVD in the US.Compare Naru Taru for a similar deconstruction of the Mons genre; Neon Genesis Evangelion, Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Revolutionary Girl Utena, Bokurano and Spec Ops: The Line for deconstructions of other genres; Serial Experiments Lain for similar themes (and a show from many of the same staff); and Digimon Savers and Digimon X-Evolution for other very dark Digimon media. Contrast... well, therestoftheDigimonfranchise.
Digimon Tamers contains examples of:
Abridged Series: An interesting example in the Tokyopop Manhwa Adaptation. The manhwa compressed the series into a small four volumes in which little exists besides accelerated A plots of the episodes. It nonetheless maintains a strong element of humor and self-awareness (at least in the dubbed variation, for the latter) that includes at least one potshot at a violation of physics. The Digipedia has an analysis here.
Absurdly Youthful Grandmother: Rika's grandmother looks rather young to be a grandma. Justified in that Rika's mom was just 18 when she had Rika.
AcCENT Upon the Wrong SylLABle: Unlike most of the main characters, Takato's first name is not changed in the dub. It's just pronounced with accent on the second syllable instead of the first.
All Deaths Final: The only Digimon continuity (except, maybe, the games) where nothing comes back from death. There isn't a Village of Beginnings. Also, Digignomes, Digimon, and humans (military, bystanders, car drivers) die both in the series and in the movies.
There is one exception, though. Vajramon is revived for no apparent reason after he is destroyed the first time, though he stays dead the second time.
All There in the Manual: Ryo only makes sense as a character if you play the games in which he stars. Also, the epilogue, from the CD dramas. Furthermore, Chiaki Konaka's website explains virtually everything that went on over the course of the series. And Chiaki Konaka's short story, Digimon Tamers 1984, a quick little bit about the team that created the Digimon.
And Then What?: The question any Digimon partner who tries to strike out on their own eventually comes to—first Renamon, and then Beelzemon.
Animal Motifs: The three key Mons take their influence from real-life animals (lizard, dog, fox), while the twelve Devas are based on the twelve animals of the Chinese Zodiac. The four Sovereigns are also based on the animals of the Four Symbols in Chinese astrology: vermillion bird of the south; black tortoise of the north; blue dragon of the east; and white tiger of the west.
Episodes 30, 38, 44 and especially the Tamers' first movie (Battle of Adventurer's) were all supervised by Naoyoshi Yamamuro and feature some of the best animation on this series. He also supervised the animation of the Digimon Frontier movie.
Clockmon: (To Renamon) That's why Megadramon is interested in your data. He's a scoundrel, he's a beast, well he's not all that bad.
Ascended Extra: Riley, one of the two virtually interchangeable Hypnos operators is revealed to be Yamaki's live-in girlfriend halfway through the series. Chiaki Konaka has stated that he took the writing staff completely by surprise when he revealed Riley was Yamaki's girlfriend.
Kazu and Kenta, who start out as two Muggle Best Friends, unexpectedly join the gang when they enter the digital world and eventually get Digimon partners.
Ascended Fanboy: Most of the cast. Guilmon was born from Takato's fanart, Rika is known for her DigimonTrading Card Game prowess, Henry had a computer game, Kazu and Kenta would play the card game with Takato every morning before school. Even Jeri is a fan.
Impmon, after killing Leomon, spends the last quarter of the series trying and failing to do the right thing by helping Jeri. She forgives him in the end.
Yamaki starts out insisting that Digimon are dangerous data anomalies that need to be deleted lest they cause irreparable harm to the real world, later specifically citing the Tamers as troublemakers since Digimon, both good and evil, were far too dangerous to be left in the hands of children. After getting fired and having his building collapse around him, he finally rethinks his position and spends a fair bit of time trying to make up for the fact that his obsession with deleting Digimon from the real world may have done far more harm than good—in fact, it may have been his messing around that let most of the dangerous ones in in the first place. He even repeatedly defends the Tamers and insists that others trust them to handle a problem. He coordinates efforts to defeat the Big Bad in the end.
Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: Various Digimon (both good and bad) and several of the D-Reaper's agents fall into this category. Vikaralamon is one of the biggest enemies to attack.
Apocalypse How: The D-Reaper will cause a Class 5 or 6, both on the Real World and the Digital World.
The D-Reaper has already caused either a Class 1 or 2 in the Digital World, where it's reported that at least 60% of the Digimon in it were killed.
Badass: Beelzemon. He starts out as a Bad Ass Biker, but becomes even more badass when he becomes The Atoner, changes from black to dark grey, and later grows wings in his Blast Mode.
Gallantmon/Dukemon in Crimson Mode.
Gallantmon/Dukemon in General.
Megidramon, whose mere existence threatens the stability of the Digital World itself.
Really, any of the three main partner Digimon. They each took on enemies a level higher than them on a regular basis and often won. This when on average the difference in power between one evolutionary level and the next is usually depicted as being about an order of magnitude.
Bait-and-Switch Credits: With two exceptions, they're actually quite accurate to what occurs in the show. So what's missing? Kenta doesn't appear in the opening, but a hundred random kids with Digivices and Digimon partners do. Ultimately, Kenta gets a Digimon of his own, while the only other kids to get a Digivice of their own are Ai and Mako (who also don't appear in the opening).
Barbie Doll Anatomy: Used to its full effect for the Biomerges, because otherwise, that would just have been the last straw.
Impmon is a bundle of issues to begin with and gets worse as the series continues.
Bad stuff happens when Takato's friends are hurt. Remember SkullGreymon? The giant skeletal Dark Evolution of Greymon without a mind with a nuke on his back? Meet Megidramon, whose MERE EXISTENCE causes the Digital World to begin to collapse. The one time we see him is when he's outright ordering WarGrowlmon to evolve to Ultimate/Mega level. He does. And Beelzemon has to absorb so much power to defeat him that he almost explodes.
Beware the Nice Ones: Sweet little Takato might just make it up there on your list of the nicest, most sensitive kids you've ever had the pleasure of meeting... but if you manage to piss him off, you run the risk of him DISINTEGRATING THE UNIVERSE.
Bishounen Line: Gallantmon/Dukemon. Justified by the the fact that Guilmon merges with his tamer to achieve it. Renamon does this twice, with Taomon and Sakuyamon. Given how Digimon work in this installment, most of them should be expected to do it.
Birthday Movie: Run Away Locomon is set on Rika's birthday. She finds out about and bemoans Jeri throwing her a surprise party from Takato. The movie essentially boils down to the Tamers going to Rika's house for the party and dealing with said Locomon on the way. Rika's Disappeared Dad issues are used against her by the Parasimon to control her and attack Takato. She does make it to the party in the end, but she's pretty much the only one not enjoying herself.
Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Subverted by Jijimon and Babamon. In a world where is said that "only the strongest survive", it's obvious that the nice old Digi-couple—who warmly welcome the Tamers in their house, offering food and bed—will just try to kill them at some point. Except that the couple is honestly nice, and sincerely enjoyed the strangers visit.
Broken Masquerade: Hypnos tries to be an enforced Weirdness Censor, trying to keep the existence of Digimon out of the public sphere (by killing them on sight). Post-Vikaralamon, however, the Masquerade hasn't just been broken, it's been crushed into a billion pieces under a boar the size of a football field. Contrary to Yamaki's fears, however, once the existence of Digimon becomes public knowledge, people adjust to them fairly quickly.
Canon Discontinuity: The second movie was made without the consultation of the original writer Chiaki Konaka. It gets Retconned in the CD Dramas where the children never got to meet up with their partners, and instead sent out voice messages to them promising to find a way to see them again. Said CD Drama takes place a year after the end of the TV series (the sixth movie takes place sixth months later).
Chiaki has said on his website that although the second movie doesn't fit into the timeline of the series, he is happy with the way the directors and screenwriters stayed true to the psychological nature of the TV show and expanded on Rika's character.
Canon Immigrant: Ryo Akiyama rarely appears in the Adventure universe (not counting the games) but is very important to the story. He literally immigrated to the Tamers universe in Brave Tamer.
Casting Gag: Nami Asaji, Takato's teacher, is voiced by Lara Jill Miller, who voiced Kari Kamiya in the previous two series. Kari became a teacher when she grew up, and Ms. Asaji bears a striking resemblance to her.
Commonality Connection: Takato and Henry got along perfectly fine and avoided the Rule of Drama, the only lead males in the Digimon franchise to do so. On a broader level, all the children were fans of Digimon.
Conspiracy Theorist: In "The Messenger", Professor Tetsuo Uchiharato. While being interviewed by the news, he reveals what he knows about Hypnos, and believes that the program was responsible for the D-Reaper and Digimon. Unlike most Theorists, he's not overtly paranoid (though he should be, as he works at Miskatonic University), is creditable, backs up his reasoning, and is partly right.
A minor example is Beelzemon's Double Impact bullets.
As is series custom, the two main boys' Digimon have their Ultimate and Mega Digivolution sequences rendered in CG. Taomon and Sakuyamon's Digivolution Sequences did not get this treatment, which isn't a bad thing. Sakuyamon has one of the most beautiful evolution sequences ever.
Cool Teacher: Averted with Miss Asaji, Takato's (et al.) teacher at school. She's lazy, barely motivated to teach, dozes off when she should be watching the kids on a school trip, and (voice of Lara Jill Miller notwithstanding) is basically the opposite of Kari. In the original Japanese, it's an explicit character note of hers that she's doing the job because it looks good to the community and when the kids tell her they're going to the Digital World, she tries to stop them because it might reflect poorly on her. She has enough of a change of heart at the end of the series to run out and cheer Takato on during the final arc.
The Shaggai program was renamed to "Juggernaut" in the American dub.
Dialogue concerning Rika and Renamon was changed to make them more suitable as love interests. For example, Terriermon sings about Guilmon and Renamon Kissing In A Tree, and Ryo calls Rika "pumpkin".
Interestingly, the bit where Henry and Takato ask Jeri if she's ever been in love was changed to them asking if she's sure Leomon's her partner and why.
In the original Japanese, the D-Reaper is said to be indestructible and presumably remains in its devolved form forever. In the American dub, Janyu states that it "disappears forever".
Janyu's last line was changed from "It was the only way!" to "It'll be all right!". This turns Jen's head-shake and smile of forgiveness into one of resignation.
Cyber Punk: Most Digimon series tend to focus on Post-Cyberpunk. Tamers is closer to the flip side of the 'punk spectrum, exploring traditional themes of the genre: A government conspiracy is conducting dangerous experiments and monitoring everything. Young people befriend otherwise-dangerousAIs, and do battle in the urban jungle. They end up opposing the conspiracy and other equally dangerous AIs. Society is on the edge of radical change, and questions about "How do we define life?" and "How do we respond if that life turns out to be hostile?" arise. Compared to previous series, Tamers is darker and cynical.
Daddy Had a Good Reason for Abandoning You: The reason Jeri's father acts so distantly towards his daughter is because, after her mother died, he was forced to fill in the role of both parents for her and, try as he might, he couldn't. By the time he remarried, the damage had already been done.
In most Mons works, no one considers sanctioning the possession, let alone the use of monsters to fight proxy battles, especially by children. It's... different in Digimon Tamers.
Yamaki is the first adult to discover that children are controlling digimon. His initial reaction is that of horror and repulsion out of the assumption that they only see it as a game. He's not too wrong.
When Impmon jumps on cars stopped at a red light, the police arrive and raise their guns at him. The SDFnote Self-Defense Forces, Japan's post-war "non-military" force is called in for bigger digimon and the D-Reaper.
Rika initially sees digimon valuable only for their combat prowess, no different from the card game, and struggles to get Renamon to Digivolve by Level Grinding. Not only is she not the first to Digivolve her partner (that would be Henry), the first thing the new Champion does is destroy a parking garage and nearly shoot her in the facenote Oh, Galgomon shoots, alright. He just misses. By inches..
Impmon easily mocks the idea of Digimon-Human relations. His own Tamers, Ai and Makoto, were selfish children who treated him like a toy that they refused to share; he was left traumatized and began walking the path of murder.
The main characters' parents (and teacher) understandably freak out when they discover their children have been fighting the monsters ruining Tokyo with other monsters, and are planning to venture into an uncharted world populated almost entirely by said monsters.
The main appeal of Mons are their combat abilities. In this respect, digimon are perfect, having been designed solely for battle and not for things like taking care of eggs. Digimon Tamers doesn't hold anything back when it shows how dangerous real Mons would be.
You know what should have been citywide devastation in the first two seasons, how the streets and buildings usually ended up unharmed? Well, the show has no qualms with that, showing and detailing the damage to buildings and entire blocks.
Terriermon needs to have a good fight every now and then. He starts knocking against windows like a fly when he senses strong digimon outside, and if it's been a while since his last, he completely loses it when he finally does get to fight. He makes a point to frequently remind Henry (an avowed pacifist, no lest) that he's not human, and needs to fight.
Ryo left the Real World for the Digital World for a year solely because Cyberdramon's pugnacious tendencies and quest for a worthy opponent made him extremely dangerous and impossible to control in the Real World.
Beelzemon is what happens when Impmon makes A Deal With The Devil. He uses his power to kill things and goes toe-to-toe with two different Megas.
Defictionalization: While for the most part, the cards that the Tamers use in the anime correspond to actual cards in the Japanese card game, there are some original ones. Those cards were then released in an anime-based booster for the card game.
Also, the actual Digimon in-universe. Played not entirely straight in that this continuity's Digital World does not exist as a direct result of the fiction.
Discontinuity Nod: As it says under Canon Discontinuity, Message in the Packet retconned the movie. However, note because the series head writer liked the ideas put forth in the second movie though he outright said that that wasn't the reason why Rika was so cold at the beginning of the series. there's a brief scene of Rika humming the same song she sings at the movie's climax.
Does This Remind You of Anything?: When Sakuyamon gives her powers to Justimon, she ends up stripped of all her clothing, and the sword on his arm grows to twice its size. Really subtle, guys.
In episode 18, Riley was on the phone apparently turning down a date offer because of work. Though, in episode 24, it's revealed she is Yamaki's girlfriend. Maybeshe'sahotwife?
"Destiny" was an Arc Wordfor Jeri. As Leomon lay dying in episode 35, he told Jeri it was probably his destiny. In the American dub, however, he said to her that a part of him would always be with her, and that she had "a lion's heart". Yet the dub still had Jeri say, when she referenced the scene five episodes later, that Leomon had called his death "destiny."
The American dubbers merged the voices of the Bio-merged Digimon and their partners, and their conversations can be heard clearly. However, the rest of the cast failed to recognize Ryo and Takato during their first battles as Megas. Oops!
In the dub, Jeri asked Leomon to tell her father about their trip. Mr. Kato later gets mad at her, claiming that she left on her own and refusing to pick her up. It makes no sense.
In the original Japanese version, the only part of the in-universe Digimon franchise to be explicitly identical to the real world counterpart is the card-game. The American dub, however, made it explicit that the Digimon Adventure series were a show within Tamers. At first this is a nice way to tie the shows together and bring Tamers closer to the real world, but all kinds of continuity problems and Mutual Fictionality questions arise with the appearance of Sixth Ranger Ryo, a character who is the main character in a series of canon games tied into Adventure and even appears on-screen in Adventure 02.
Helps that Chiaki J. Konaka actually writes for the Cthulhu Mythos, which definitely helps cement the D-Reaper's similarities, especially to Shub-Niggurath (it's Mother form spews out upgraded forms of it's stronger Mooks). Bonus points in that it's Mother form has a mask similar to Lillith's.
Eldritch Location: The D-Reaper eventually becomes so massive that it'd probably be more accurate to describe it as this.
The End... Or Is It?: In the final episode, it appears that the kids will be permanently separated from their Digimon.The appearance of a red light in a gazebo for the last few seconds at first suggests that there may be a way to change this, but when they analyze it, they find it too small and not powerful enough to enable the Tamers and their partners to reunite.
Impmon looks like a Darker and Edgier version of Mickey Mouse. His white face, gloves, and proportions are all lifted straight from Mickey, though notably Impmon's proportions are actually more child-like than Mickey Mouse's. It makes his backstory more poignant.
Some have pointed out the similarities to Evangelion characters, with Takato, Rika, and Li corresponding (very loosely) to Shinji, Asuka, and Rei respectively. But Hirokazu and Kenta take the cake, whose roles and design are similar to Touji and Kensuke.
Beelzemon's weapons don't look that real but quite clearly fire real bullets, except for his Death Slinger, but then it's an upgraded form of a toy ray gun given to him by Makoto.
Another shot features police officers with realistic looking guns, but dialogue was added stating that they were not loaded. Japanese Self-Defense Force soldiers can be seen later on armed with assault rifles (specifically the Howa Type 89 used by the real-life JSDF), but are never shown firing them on-screen.
Takato and Guilmon have a conversation about Guilmon one day digivolving and becoming a different digimon. Guilmon assures him that will never happen because he will always be the same digimon in the inside. Takato even says he wishes he could digivolve in the same conversation...
Once they reached the Digital World, but even before then, most conversations between Jeri and others takes on new meaning if one knows in advance that Leomon dies and there's an impending Break the Cutie session.example the reason Jeri chases Leomon around like a madwoman is because she is that desperate for a bit of fantasy that would make all her problems disappear. Furthermore, in episode 24 nearly all of Jeri's parental issues are revealed in the way she rudely ignores her mom (who feels noticeably guilty, as if that attitude was justified), shows her brother holding the hand puppet in his sleep (explaining why she first started using the hand puppet) and most importantly, a picture of baby Jeri being held by her real mom thus revealing that the woman downstairs was her stepmom. It really is just not fair.
Gee, Takato sure seems to stress about the possibility of losing Guilmon forever a lot, doesn't he...?
Frothy Mugs of Water: The dub changes sake to "milkshakes" in the tale of Orochi(mon). Orochimon's Sake Breath attack is likewise changed to Inferno Blast. Jeri being a server at her parents' restaurants is left in, as is her knowledge that enough "warm milkshakes" will get Orochi tired. Also, Jeri and Rika can tell milkshakes from a distance by their distinctive scent...
Also, Antylamon the Rabbit Deva. In the episode where he/she first appeared, she was playing with Henry's kid sister, Suzie. Heck, she even defended her from Makuramon, the Monkey Deva. Shiuchon eventually became a Digimon Tamer and Antylamon officially became her companion after being devolved to Lopmon.
All the D-Repaer was supposed to do was delete information that fell under a certain criteria. The only problem was that the human race ended up falling under that same criteria.
Good Parents: For most of the main characters. Even Jeri's dad, who told her to find her own way home since she left on her own, breaks down when he sees what's happened to her and realises his part in it.
Gory Discretion Shot: This series has many of these in order to keep the rating appropriate for kids. Examples can be seen as early as the first episode when the camera pans out before a digimon get crushed alive. The scenes where Renamon rips holes in enemy digimon with tiny white shards are either skipped or out of focus, and the audience is also spared from the sight of military personnel getting sickled by the D-Reaper's agents. Naturally, this makes the few times that the series averts this (like ep 34 and 35) especially memorable.
Gosh Dang It to Heck!: Dukemon got a moment in the dub before soaring off to help free Jeri from the Kernel Sphere. It would have been pretty Badass if he hadn't said it in Guilmon's voice:
Beelzemon: "I'm gonna get you outta here, Jeri, if it's the last thing I freakin' do!"
Gratuitous English: Most of the Digimon shout out their attack names in English, with Renamon and all her (digi-)evolutions being the exception to this.
Gray And White Morality: The worst antagonist the series has is ultimately a corrupt A.I. with no real sense of malice. Most bad Digimon have their reasons and moral codes despite their antagonistic position, and the scary/unapproachable adults are really just paranoid or overprotective at worst.
Hellish Pupils: Whenever Guilmon senses a Digimon or is fighting, his eyes do this. Also happens to Takato on the one occasion that he loses his temper. when Beelzemon kills Leomon. Needless to say, he goes out of his mind with anger.
Jumped at the Call/The Unchosen One: Every Tamer in this season (except Ryo, it's complicated) got a Digimon because they wanted one, but unlike the previous two seasons nothing was expected of them — the kids made the active choice to involve themselves further and ultimately save the world.
Mascot: Calumon can be considered to be this for Digimon Tamers, and arguably the concept of Digivolution as a whole.
Meaningful Echo: In the original Japanese, when Rika goes out right after coming home, she says she's coming home soon. Her mother asks, "When is 'soon'!?" When Renamon reverts to her baby form and leaves for the digital world, Rika asks the same.
J-Reaper partially succeeds using her "mind scan" attack on Takato, just before deploying her wings in the park, in episode 45.
Mood Whiplash: Despite the dark tone, the series can sometimes skip over into jokes, normally involving the characters snarking.
Mukokuseki: Zigs and zags all over the place. Henry and his dad are drawn with obviously chinese features, but his sister has... purple hair. Hirokazu and Kenta look Japanese enough, and Takato is even passably - but there's no telling what Jeri and Rika are supposed to be. The adult secondary characters don't help swing it one way or another, either.
Beelzemon, after having his life spared in a lost battle, has a Heel-Face Turn and spends a good long time stuck in a stunned state of regret.
Jeri's father, after discovering that his daughter has been taken by the D-Reaper, feels terrible guilt for treating her coldly ever since he lost his wife, and then makes a very desperate attempt to save her.
Mythology Gag: In an early episode of the dub, a couple mistakes the digital fog for the Northern Lights. The original DigiDestined of Digimon Adventure mistook the lights they saw before being taken to the digital world as the Northern Lights as well.
Kari/Hikari from Adventure and Adventure 02 wanted to be a teacher (and became a Kindergarten teacher in the epilogue). In Tamers Takato's teacher bears a striking resemblance to an adult Kari, and in the American dub is even voiced by her actress Lara Jill Miller.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: With the exception of Antylamon, Zhuqiaomon and the Devas, particularly Caturamon, are responsible for the D-Reaper's empowerment and rampage in the real world. Indramon's curb-stomping of Impmon leaves him so desperate he accepts Caturamon's bargain to kill the Tamers in exchange for power, which led to Leomon's death and Jeri's ensuing breakdown, which fed and accelerated the D-Reaper's evolution after it captured her. Worse yet the combined assault on Hypnos by Makuramon, Vikaralamon and Zhuqiaomon crippled Hypnos's system, leaving them unable to help the Tamers while they rebuilt their infrastructure, and ultimately left them wide open to the D-Reaper's initial attack on the real world.
The Nicknamer: Ebonwumon, Mr. Analyse McTroperton (in the dub, anyway).
No Antagonist: For the first 13 episodes. One of the reasons this series is unusual; the protagonists initial struggle is in how to deal with the fact that Digimon are real, and this may have been one of the reasons why the start is widely considered to be slow.
No Biological Sex: All of the Digimon, although the more human-looking ones often have gender identities.
And, in the dub, all of them do, since English doesn't have any gender neutral pronouns that wouldn't sound disrespectful.
No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Guilmon, Renamon, and Impmon get one each at some points in the series. The cast as a whole gets it even more.
Non-Serial Movie: As stated above the second movie was made without the involvement of the original staff, and aired in theaters weeks before the last episode aired on television in Japan.
Not Quite Dead: Vajramon manages to hold on after what looked like death.
Makuramon: What are you doing? If you continue this fight, not only will this domain of our gods be destroyed, but the whole world! Beelzemon: Shut up... Makuramon: Foolish Chatsuramon... Why did he allow you to evolve? Beelzemon: I said shut up! *Grabs Makuramon's head and crushes it*
Off Model: In general, the animation of Tamers is more off-model than the others where faces are concerned. In particular, out of the nine animation teams, the one directednote in most anime, the animation director is responsible for all drawing all key frames with in-betweens being left to the other animators by Toshio Deguchi (also responsible for many off-model One Piece episodes) consistently pumps out subpar animation. The most glaring examples are episode 15 as well as the last episode. This is especially obvious when compared to the best animation teams, which are noted for smooth animation and having realistic shading everywhere (see Animation Bump above).
In the last episode, the left half of Takato's face visibly wobbles.
In one episode, Beelzemon was missing his tail twice.
Oh Crap: The Chrysalimon against Beelzemon after the latter fires a few shots at them.
Older Sidekick: Yamaki, Riley, and Tally (Post Heel-Face Turn), and the Wild Bunch/Monster Makers. Hilariously enough, once he's convinced of their maturity, Yamaki seems to get along better with the kids than most other adults.
Older than They Look: For Rookie level digimon, Renamon and Guilmon are much larger and developed than the norm. They could be easily confused for Champion-levels. Guilmon of course was born at a higher level than most other digimon.
Only Known by Their Nickname: In the Japanese version, Impmon calls Makoto "Mako-chan." The dubbers must not have realized it was a nickname/term of endearment because everyone, even people who don't know him (like Henry's sensei), calls him "Mako" in the dub. Impmon even introduces him as "Mako" to Takato and the gang.
Out-of-Clothes Experience: The Tamers were completely naked when merged with their Digimon and during a soul-searching experience before Biomerging in the real world for the first time. The dub, surprisingly, retained these moments.
Out of Focus: Ai and Mako show up in person in a total of four times in the show, two times without dialogue.
Powered by a Forsaken Child: The D-Reaper is scary enough even before you realize that it runs on the misery of a depressed little girl. And it does everything in it's power to increase said misery, going (arguably) beyond NGE levels.
Red Eyes, Take Warning: When Beelzemon first appears, he has red eyes and is bent on eliminating the tamers and their digimon (though later gets green eyes after his about-face). Somewhat subverted with Takato; while he's generally the kindest and most innocent of the three main tamers, God help you if you do make him mad...
Red Herring: Impmon factors ominously in the early promotional material (as seen above), but proves to be rather pathetic as a villain...until he Takes A Level In Badassand became Beelzemon.
Further justified by the fact that Impmon as Beelzemon was originally planned to become the Big Bad of the series.
Redemption Demotion: When Antylamon turns against her master, the Sovereign, she de-digivolves to Lopmon. However, in the face of a mutual enemy, she is allowed her digivolution back. In the midst of getting over Honor Before Reason, when Andromon becomes Kazu's partner, he de-digivolves to Guardromon.
Redemption Equals Death: Almost for Beelzemon. While desperately trying to save Jeri to atone for killing Leomon, he suffers a fatal attack to his back. His data disintegrates, and he plummets into the D-Reaper mass. Grani manages to save him, and he instead reverts to Impmon.
Then he gets a true Promotion after making amends with his Tamers.
Refuge in Audacity: How does Takato take Guilmon out for walks around the city? He just does, he walks around with him. Right next to him. In plain view. He tells a couple of curious kids that Guilmon's actually just a really good cosplayer; other then the occasional odd stare, nothing ever comes of this.
Subverted in the case of Jen and Terriermon, due to the latter's insistence on being a Head Pet. In one episode Jen remarks that people are giving him weird looks due to Terriermon being on his head.
Sadly Mythtaken: Renamon's Ultimate(Japanese) / Mega(English), Sakuyamon, is named for Konohanasakuya-hime, the cherry blossom princess which keeps Mount Fuji from erupting. Sakuyamon takes the form of a humanoid clad in fox themed garments that makes use of Onmyodo magic, neither of which Konohanasakuya-hime was associated with.
Show Within a Show: The American dub explains the new universe by implying that the first two seasons were in fact just a TV series watched by the kids in this show. The original Japanese just mentions that Digimon is a card game and a series of video-games, never confirming a TV series based on.
The lead writer, Chiaki J. Konaka, has stated that he felt that linking Tamers to Adventure would be a disservice to both long-time Digimon fans and children just introduced by Tamers, and that giving into these requests would be dishonest of the creators. And now, Xros Wars implies this to be the cause, both in the Dub and Sub versions.
Spoiler Opening: Everyone's evolutions are previewed—Gallantmon, MegaGargomon, Sakuyamon and Beelzemon (even worse, Blast Mode) all appear in the opening of the very first episode, but they're obscured by shadows until the start of the Digital World arc at which point, all bets were off. Jeri, Kazu, and Suzie are shown with Digivices—again, this would eventually happen; Beelzemon is teased as a major threat—and boy-howdy is he ever; right after his appearance the D-Reaper is shown taking over the Hypnos building. It even correctly predicts Jeri and Kazu getting Leomon and Guardromon as Digimon partners—even when Konaka had no intention of involving them in the story beyond bit parts.
Spoiler Title: The Japanese title of episode 34, "The Kind-Hearted Hero, Leomon Dies".
The images behind the titles also spoil new developments every few episodes. With the help of the spoiler opening you can figure out which of the main characters' digimon will be reaching the next level that episode.
Swirly Energy Thingy: One episode featured an anomaly of the Hypnos mainframe that manifested in a tunnel and abducted Guilmon, keeping him bound in web-like strands in a white void inside itself.
Tactical Rock-Paper-Scissors: You know how Digimon are supposed to have either vaccine, data, or virus attributes that behave this way? In most of the TV shows they're completely ignored, but in this season it actually makes a noticeable difference in battles, though it's only obvious if you're a really dedicated fan. For example, when vaccine attribute Rapidmon uses an attack against two devas at once, virus attribute Pajiramon is deleted instantly, while fellow vaccine attribute Vajramon is only badly injured and is able to reform later. Soon after, data attribute Taomon proceeds to defeat him with ease.
Take My Hand: Culumon, when Takato is struggling to get on the Ark.
Then later, Beelzemon to Jeri, in one of the most emotional scenes in the whole season.
In the dub version of episode 21 ("Jeri's Quest"), both Jeri and Takato make comments on how over-designed and bizarre-looking Kumbhiramon looks. Since these lines were not in the original version, we can assume it was the translators poking fun.
Tail Slap: Mihiramon's Samurai Tiger Tail, which he nearly kills Renamon and Terriermon with.
Renamon does this to a Flybeemon, and as Kyubimon she does this to Vajramon
Also Allomon does this to Renamon.
And Horn Striker does this to Justimon as well.
Tender Tears: In the first act or so, Takato can barely go two episodes without crying for one reason or another. He toughens up a bit after Character Development, but still remains the series' most sensitive major character.
They Look Like Us Now: Happens twice. The first time is Makuramon's human disguise—it doesn't really pass muster, and falls into Uncanny Valley territory, even in-universe. The Tamers know there's something wrong with him, they just don't catch onto what is wrong until it's too late. The second time is even worse. The D-Reaper's copy of Jeri was perfect except for being very pale and having creepy mannerisms, which are written off as her simply being broken with grief. Takato doesn't clue into what's really going on until she sprouts wings and nearly Mind Rapes him.
This Is Something He's Got to Do Himself: Renamon will routinely cite this reason for not participating in some battles. The most plot-relevant example is her standing back and letting Impmon fight Indramon alone. Rika has to goad her into intervening out of concern for Impmon's life.
Turned Against Their Masters: One of the underlying themes of the show (particularly in regard to the adult characters) is the responsibility that comes with creating life, and what happens if that life you created turns against you, of which Zhuqiaomon and the D-Reaper are examples.
The Unfought: Technically speaking, although he plays the largest villainous role of all the Devas, the Tamers never fight Makuramon, aside from Leomon charging after him and taking the force of his attack, and Antylamon fighting him off to protect Suzie (before she becomes Suzie's partner). The only damage Makuramon ever receives before Beelzemon kills him is when Suzie bites him.
Unwitting Pawn: The Monster Makers to Yamaki. The Makers think they're being brought together to help study the Digimon, and find a way to contain them. What they don't know is Yamaki is using their knowledge to wipe all Digimon out.
Wham Episode: "Lionheart". The kids are on an adventure in the Digital World! Jeri's even got her own partner, Leomon! They've fought some bad digimon along the way, but everything always turns out all right. Then Beelzemon kills Leomon, Takato's rage causes Guilmon to digivolve into a mindlessly destructive Megidramon, and Jeri suffers an Heroic BSOD that will take her the rest of the series to snap out of. The group's innocence is quite violently lost.
In the American dub, Guilmon adds "-mon" to everyone's names. Lampshaded by his voice actor, Steve Blum. Guilmon drops the -mon bit after one scene in the Japanese version. Instead, he speaks in childishly in third-person and occasionally makes sounds like "giru".
In the original Japanese, geko.
Victor Gains Loser's Powers: Beelzemon could perform the attacks of the Digimon he absorbed, including Leomon's Fist of the Beast King, which he uses to try to break Jeri out of the D-Reaper Kernel Sphere.) It's implied that any Digimon could do this, but Beelzemon's the only one who does it on-screen.
Villainous Breakdown: Yamaki gets closer and closer to this as the series goes, culminating when Juggernaut does not work as planned and he actually grabs Henry by the throat before stumbling away and yelling at himself. He does not, however, go through one when he's fired after his building is destroyed. Instead he mopes in his apartment until Riley says something that snaps him out of it enough to do a Heel-Face Turn.
Villainous Rescue: Makuramon shuts down Hypnos when Juggernaut is about to destroy WarGrowlmon, Rapidmon, and Taomon. Granted, his intent may have been to save Vikaralamon, who was also under attack from Juggernaut, but WarGrowlmon killed Vikaralamon shortly after.
Wicked Stepmother: Inverted; Jeri's stepmother is actually an extremely kind person, it's Jeri who doesn't want anything to do with her.
"World of Cardboard" Speech: The Tamers reflect upon their histories and adventures before their first biomerges in the physical world. All three speeches have elements of this trope, but Henry's speech in particular has him come to the realization that he has to stop holding back if he wants any chance of winning.
Yank the Dog's Chain: After Dobermon's sacrifice, Alice begins to feel glum. The light show that was once Dobermon reforms into its head, licks her face, and sticks around long enough to hear her say "Oh Dobermon, you came back?" before exploding again.