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11/08/2018 23:42:28 •••

Nobody's Favorite

The elephant in the room when talking about Frontier is the whole Henshin Hero gimmick, to the point that pretty much every defense starts with "once you get past that..." But the fact is, there's a reason Henshin Hero is a trope; the idea is a well-trodden field. And if you judge Frontier by the standards of a Henshin Hero show... it's not great. Not awful, bar the end arcs. But when you take out the central gimmick of the series, you're supposed to replace it with something.

Frontier's human cast is one of the smallest of any series, and that, combined with the show's gimmick, feels like it should lead to some really good character development or dynamics. But it just... doesn't, really. The characters are bland and archetypal, and most of them don't really change much - or, if they do, change in a manner you could guess at from their first focus episode. Takuya in particular feels like the middle of a Venn diagram between every other protagonist. Character work's always been a strong point for the franchise, and Frontier is just not good at it.

The formula for most of the show is the tried-and-tested monster-of-the-week one, but it goes on just a little too long and the villains just aren't that interesting. The plot of the Ten Warriors and Cherubimon goes on for so long that by the time the Royal Knights show up, it feels like a bizarre postscript - and their arc being entirely wretched doesn't help matters. Lucemon himself is a pretty good villain, but he shows up far too late. And it really doesn't help that the "human/beast" division that the show plays up so much ends up amounting to essentially nothing. There's just nothing to set it apart.

Now, is Frontier a bad show? Not really. But I don't think the dislike it gets stems entirely from its gimmick. A good series can make people love it in spite of breaking from the formula, so long as it proves itself in its own right - look at Beast Wars or Casino Royale. And Frontier doesn't do that. It's a very okay series, with the lackluster fights and animation Digimon tends to have, stapled onto what you would get if you told a computer to make an anime series. "A show about transforming teenagers who fight God? You've done it again."

11/08/2018 00:00:00

That theme song tho.

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