Manga-ka: Yuen Wong Yu
Rating: Youth (7+)
Released: March 2003
Synopsis: “Seven kids at summer camp are unexpectedly transported by digivices to a colourful and enigmatic world. Lost and alone, Tai, Matt, Sora, Izzy, Joe, Mimi and TK are befriended by small digital monsters called Digimons. In times of crisis, these cute little creatures digivolve to defend the children from the dangerous of the Digital World. Join Tai and his friends (with their Digimon pals) in their fight for survival as they search for a way home!”
For those who missed the smash hit when it was on television, Digimon is the story of seven children who are teleported to the ‘Digital World’ after receiving Digivices while attending summer camp. Upon arrival in the strange new world, they are met by Digimon (Digital Monsters), small energetic little creatures who claim to be their partners. From then on it’s a matter of discovering where they are and why and the power of the Digimon, both friend and foe.
The story wastes no time in getting started. On the first page readers are introduced to the cast of humans and Digimon as they explore their new surroundings and dodge their first attack from an enemy. A quick synopsis by the team’s ‘leader,’ Tai, gets readers up to speed with what’s happened so far. Then it’s encounter after encounter as the humans and their new companions get to know each other in this dangerous new place.
This manga was an adaptation of the popular anime series and it’s very evident by the sense of pacing the book has. It’s very fast, catering to younger audiences and a fan base that already knows what’s going on. Because of this, Digimon may not appeal to people who weren’t already fans of the franchise with a fairly large cast and little time for development of them or the plot, making it a lot to take in at once. It’s one event after another after another, which seems like it could be a good formula for a story that doesn’t get boring, but unfortunately a lack of substance for these events to stand on keep it from being very engaging. However, catering towards readers ages 7 and up, this probably won’t be an issue for the target audience with plenty of action to keeps things interesting.
The artwork is hit or miss. It’s similar to the style of the anime series with a more stylized twist. The characters are easily recognizable and accurately drawn, human and Digimon alike. Everything feels very energetic with lively expressions and often suitably exaggerated reactions, alongside some nicely rendered action sequences. The most appealing artwork in this series is probably the cover artwork and chapter images. Both are very solidly drawn and will appeal to the fans. The colouring of the cover images are very attractive and eye-catching.
Released as part of the flourishing English franchise, the Digimon manga was translated and released by Tokyopop to match with the English dubbed anime series. The names are those used by the dub so it’ll all feel familiar to those first introduced to it by 4Kid’s releases on television, right down to the logo on the cover. Also, unlike Tokyopop’s later releases of children’s manga, Digimon is the same average length as most of TP’s other series so you get a good bulk of story here.
Overall, Digimon is a really fun story with a vibrant cast and interesting plot, one that is only grazed in this first volume. However, the manga isn’t what one would recommend as a starting point for newcomers. Fans of the series will probably find something worth having here, be it the nice artwork or merely the novelty of having it, but for others, there just probably isn’t enough here to get you hooked.