I recently rewatched Digimon Tamers, and, as always when rewatching a series from my childhood, I notice new little details.
For example, Beelzemon. He is a demon in design and, at first, behavior. But once he is defeated through the power of friendship (made manifest through biomerging), he breaks down, realizing what he’s done and why it’s wrong.
And then, when he returns home to his tamers, and they welcome him back with awkward kindness, he has to go out and save the only other people to be nice to him- the main characters. And because he is now fighting to protect, to save, he changes. He is no longer a mere demon- he is a fallen angel, given his wings by the faith and love of a small child.
And when he’s finally there, trying to save Jeri and at least attempt to make up for murdering Leomon, he knows, in that moment, what true strength is. And he calls upon Leomon’s spirit, and he uses Fist of the Beast King, Leomon’s signature attack, to break through.
There is something very powerful about that- about a character who went from imp to demon to fallen angel, who knows that his sins can never be forgiven, but who still tries to make up for them.
Tamers was honestly an amazing series, largely because it didn’t really have evil digimon, just digimon with different perspectives. The darkness type was a hero in the end, the virus type was the main character’s partner, and the initial villain was literally one of the digimon gods. Oh, and who could forget permanent death?
Compare that to Adventure, which had villains who were almost exclusively darkness-type digimon and virus-type digimon. Which had a main cast made entirely of vaccine-type digimon. Which literally did not allow any character to die even when they died, save for villains, for no given reason. Even Adventure 02 had a cast of only vaccine and data types, and villain digimon who were exclusively darkness types and virus types.