May 25, 2019


(NHK, December 11, 2001-June 25, 2002 JAP
FOX, September 14, 2002-August 30, 2003 US)

Kodansha, Red Entertainment, 4Kids Entertainment

Chika Sakamoto (Japanese) & Tara Sands (as Tara Jayne) – Zen Bakunouchi/Chase
Ted Lewis – Tsukiji Bakunouchi/Chef Jack/Chef John, Frenchy Le Toast, Mayor Slim Rations, Sir Dumpling
Andrew Rannells – Ash/Albert, Fried Ricer
Jin Nishimura (Japanese) - Don Cook/King Gorgeous Gorge, Janbaran, Jikkyo-ana, announcer
J. David Brimmer (as Michael Alston Baley) – Don Cook/King Gorgeous Gorge
Shintarou Oohata (Japanese) - Kima/Cinnamonkey, Customer, Gatten Musu, Gomokuga, Pan’na, Yaki Oni
James Carter Cathcart (as Jimmy Zoppi) – Kima/Cinnamonkey
Hidenobu Kiuchi (Japanese) - Masa/Cole Slawter, Bear, Brightron, BurRed, Gran Beret, Konso Metaru, Mysterious Man, Nikumi Sona, Pizza Ghost, Potato, Shish-Ka-Beast, Steak King
Eric Stuart – Masa/Cole Slawter, Gazmacho, Manhattan Chowderhead, Burnt Meatballs, Sergeant Side Order, Slice
Takeshi Maeda (Japanese) – Grill, Bistron, Guiliano, Ikao, Mayor Slim Rations, Village Headman C
Oliver Wyman - Grill
Kouji Nakata (Japanese) & Scottie Ray - Narrator

            Fighting Foodons began as a manga by Naoto Tsushima serialized in Comic BomBom in 1998. Called Kakutō Ryōri Densetsu Bisutoro Recipe, or Martial Arts Cooking Legend Bistro Recipe, the story followed a world where a king wondered if “tofu surprise or stuffed duck” would be stronger. A chef used magical cards called Meal Tickets that allowed him to turn prepared food into sentient monsters. The living foods were dubbed Fighting Foodons and often pit in combat against each other. What began as entertainment designed to determine what meal would be enjoyed that day became a major competition in the kingdom.

King Gorge.

            When Gorgeous Gorge (Don Cook in the anime, voiced by Jin Nishimura & Michael Alston Baley) became the new king, he decided he wanted to conquer the world. He used his army of Gluttons to kidnap the best chefs and force them to make powerful Foodons for him. He also created elite soldiers that were human/animal hybrids. They included Clawdia (Tamao Hayashi & Veronica Taylor), who was rocket scientist Dia before she was transformed into a pink cat lady; Cinnamonkey (Kima in the anime, voiced by Shintarou Oohata & Jimmy Zoppi), a green monkey that worked with Dia; Cole Slawter (Masa in the anime, voiced by Hidenobu Kiuchi & Eric Stuart), a blue bear who specialized in seafood-based Foodons; Rose Marinade (Chu-Nyan in the anime, voiced by Yoko Sasaki & Megan Hollingshead), a two-tailed fox; and Grill (Takeshi Maeda & Oliver Wyman), a bat-turned-cyborg. The latter four were known as Gorge’s Big Four and often bossed Clawdia around. But their collective boss was Mussels Marinara (Wayne Grayson), a high-ranking member of the Glutton Empire.

Chase, Kayla, Pie-Tin and Oslo with the MAC Cart.

            In opposition to the Gluttons was a group of rebel Chefs. Chase (Zen Bakunouchi in the anime, voiced by Chika Sakamoto & Tara Jayne) was an impatient 10-year-old chef-in-training who discovered that he could make Foodons and trained to eventually become a Master Chef. He frequently travelled with his 8-year-old sister, Kayla (Karin in the anime, voiced by Megumi Nasu & Amy Palant), who often guarded their transport, the Mobile Attack Cuisine Cart (or MAC Cart); Oslo (Haoji in the anime, voiced by Wataru Takagi & Maddie Blaustein), a Grub Guru who was betrayed by his former student, King Gorge, and took up training Chase; Pie Tin (Pi-Tan in the anime, voiced by Yuko Mita & Kayzie Rogers), a 5-year-old boy whose parents were taken by King Gorge; and Albert (Ash in the anime, voiced by Hikaru Tokita & Andrew Rannells), a chef who was a fan of Chase’s father and joined Chase’s group. Chase and Kayla’s father was Chef Jack (Tsukiji in the anime, voiced by Masami Iwasaki & Ted Lewis), who led the Rebel Chefs against King Gorge under the guise of Chef John. He trained Coco (Natsume in the anime, voiced by Chisa Yokoyama & Lisa Ortiz), a ninja girl and member of the Rebels that developed a crush on Chase. Each character had a selection of Foodons that they summoned to do their battling, either in the arena or against their foes, which could evolve into more powerful forms when paired up with certain other Foodons. More advanced 5-Star Meal Tickets and Platinum Meal Tickets, as well as particular ingredients, could also produce more powerful Foodons.

Chase's primary Foodon: Fired Ricer.

            In 1999, the manga was adapted into two video games for the Game Boy Color in Japan. They were developed by Red 5 Software and published by Banpresto. Similarly to Pokémon, it was a turn-based battle game between summoned creatures. They also made a Wonderswan game licensed by Bandai. Kodansha and Red Entertainment then adapted the manga into an anime that aired on Japan’s NHK network from December 11, 2001 to June 25, 2002 for a total of 26 episodes. It was animated by Group TAC. 4Kids Entertainment acquired the rights to dub and broadcast the show on their new FoxBox programming block; a joint-venture between 4Kids and FOX that replaced Fox Kids. Fighting Foodons, initially to be titled Fighting Feud, began with the block on September 14, 2002 and ran until the following August.

Clawdia with her Foodon, Bearafooda.

            The English dub was written by David Sartorius, Jim Malone, Scott DeSimon and Lewis, with Paul Taylor on translations. A great deal of the show’s humor came from the outlandish situations in the premise, as well as the countless food names (some changed to be more Americanized foods) and puns. The series’ theme was composed by Louis Cortelezzi and Norman J. Grossfeld based on Jacques Offenbach’s “Orpheus in the Underworld” (a song most associated with the French dance, the Cancan). It was performed by Darren Dunstan and Kate Petterle. Dunstan also served as the series’ voice director. The rest of the show’s music was composed by Dan Stein, Greg Kalember, James West, John Angier, Manny Corallo, Ralph Schuckett, Rusty Andrews and Cortelezzi. In 2017, Discotek Media released the complete series to DVD.

“Hey! Omachi!! (Rice to Meet You)” (12/11/01 JAP, 9/14/02 US) – Chase and Kayla set out to rescue their father from King Gorge’s prison while Chase discovers he can summon Foodons.

“With Pipipin and Patan! (Pie Tin Power)” (12/18/01 JAP, 9/21/02 US) – Pie Tin sets out to rescue his parents and Clawdia makes it so that he believes Chase and Kayla are Gluttons.

“Save Haodji! (Mushroom with a View)” (12/25/01 JAP, 9/28/02 US) – Clawdia ambushes the Foodons while they search the woods for a magical mushroom that will restore Oslo’s hair.

“Yokoso Gosuto no Morie (You Wanna Pizza Me)” (1/8/02 JAP, 10/26/02 US) – When Princess Cupcake ate out instead of eating Master Flambé’s masterpiece pizza, his ghost has his mansion and land since.

“Open Foodon Tournament (Ship of Foods)” (1/15/02 JAP, 10/5/02 US) – When Fried Ricer comes out on top of the Floating Foodon contest, King Gorge’s son challenges Chase to a battle.

“Final Battle Foodon Tournament (We Have a Weiner)” (1/22/02 JAP, 10/12/02 US) – When Chase loses a practice match to Chef Albert, he loses all confidence for the Floating Foodon contest.

“Fourth Royal Gourmet King, Ritsuko! (Avast Ye Gluttons)” (1/29/02 JAP, 10/19/02 US) – When Chef Jack is revealed to be Chase’s father, the kids realize the contest was a trap set by the Gluttons.

“Curry Showdown on the South Island! (Battling Banana Island)” (2/5/02 JAP, 11/2/02 US) – Chase wakes up to discover he’s ended up on a mysterious tropical island.

“The Taste of Grandma Is? (Hot Pepper Pursuit)” (2/12/02 JAP, 11/9/02 US) – While searching for his friends Chase encounters the Peppers: secret agents who help people whose loved ones go missing.

“Master the Ultimate Mystery!! (Boot Camp Buffet)” (2/19/02 JAP, 11/16/02 US) – Chase goes to the Gruel Academy to learn the finer points of combat cooking, but the school’s precious scroll is under threat of theft.

“Tears of a Hidden Foodon (El Taco Grande)” (2/26/02 JAP, 11/23/02 US) – The kids end up in a Western town where a rebel Taco Foodon seeks to steal the last remaining jar of salsa in order to free his fellow Foodons from oppression.

“Tropical Food God? (Cinnamonkey’s Secret)” (3/5/02 JAP, 11/30/02 US) – Cinnamonkey sets out to conquer an entire kingdom for the Gluttons.

“Attack! Four Heavenly King Masa (Slaw and Order)” (3/12/02 JAP, 12/7/02 US) – The kids set out to rescue Coco and Chef John from capture, resulting in Cole Slawter challenging Chase to a battle.

“Confrontation! Four Heavenly King Masa (The Comeback Squid)” (3/10/02 JAP, 12/14/02 US) – Chase tries to help some fishermen with their giant octopus and squid problem, but Fried Ricer turns out to be afraid of them.

“Eating God’s Lost Things (Swine Dining)” (3/26/02 JAP, 2/1/03 US) – The Rebels try to fight off the Pork Platoon, but end up suffering from a dose of Swine Flu.

“Burger Squadron of Love and Justice (Attack of the Burger Brigade)” (4/9/02 JAP, 2/8/03 US) – Chase and his friends try to cheer up the captured town of Gladburger but soon the Gluttons come for Chase.

“Final Battle!! Ramen Showdown (Use Your Noodle)” (4/16/02 JAP, 2/15/03 US) – While imprisoned, Kayla and Pie Tin eat tainted food that turn them into loyal Gluttons.

“Disappearance!? Tropicana (Assault and Pepper)” (4/23/02 JAP, 3/1/03 US) – Chase enters into an all-out battle with Rose Marinade and her most powerful Foodons.

“Spy and Great!! (License to Grill)” (4/30/02 JAP, 3/8/03 US) – With Fruit Turtle’s destruction, the kids go to find Davy Gravy to create the Foodon Deluxe and get Chase back into a cooking mood.

“A Dangerous Blunder!? (To Catch a Beef)” (5/7/02 JAP, 3/15/03 US) – Clawdia sets out to steal the secret ingredient for the Foodon Deluxe.

“Supai de dai Suppai!? (Hot and Spy’c)” (5/21/02 JAP, 3/22/03 US) – Clawdia attempts to prove her worth to Grill by capturing the Hot Peppers.

“Guardian Robo Start (You Go Grill Pt. 1)” (5/28/02 JAP, 3/29/03 US) – Chase and his friends set out to stop Chef Grill before he unleashes the greatest Foodon ever.

“Machine Cooker Grill!! (You Go Grill Pt. 2)” (6/4/02 JAP, 4/5/03 US) – Chase fails to stop Grill, and now they must face the Butcherbot.

“Rush! Don Cook Castle!! (A Whole Lot at Steak)” (6/11/02 JAP, 4/12/03 US) – Chase and his friends finally defeat the Big Four and set their sights on King Gorge.

“Final Battle! Don Cook (Chase in Space)” (6/18/02 JAP, 8/23/03 US) – Chase and the gang go after King Gorge.

“Magical Cuisine (A Dish Better Served Cold)” (6/25/02 JAP, 8/30/03 US) – Chase has to stop King Gorge from unleashing Devouron.

May 18, 2019


(Fuji TV, March 7, 1999-March 25, 2007 JAP
FOX, ABC Family, August 14, 1999-March 20, 2003 US)

Saban Entertainment, Renaissance Atlantic-Films, Toei Company, Ltd., Bugboy Productions, Inc., Sensation Animation (season 4), BVS Entertainment (season 4)

Toshiko Fujita (Japanese) – Taichi Yagami/Taichi “Tai” Kamiya (season 1-2), Toshiko Takenouchi (season 1-2), various
Joshua Seth – Taichi Yagami/Taichi “Tai” Kamiya (season 1-2), various
Chika Sakamoto (Japanese) – Agumon (season 1-2), various
Tom Fahn – Agumon (season 1-2), various
Yuto Kazama (Japanese) – Yamato “Matt” Ishida (season 1-2), MetalSeadramon (season 1)
Michael Reisz – Yamato “Matt” Ishida (season 1-2), various
Mayumi Yamaguchi (Japanese) – Gabumon (season 1-2), Jianliang Lee/Henry Wong (season 3), various
Kirk Thornton – Gabumon, Tsunomon (season 1-2 & 4), Takehiro Matsuki (season 3), various
Yuko Mizutani (Japanese) – Sora Takenouchi, Yuuko Yagami (both season 1-2), Kae Izumi (season 1), Kae Izumi, Sora’s daughter (both season 2)
Colleen O’Shaughnessey - Sora Takenouchi (season 1-2), Sora’s daughter (season 2), Angie Hinomoto, Monitamon (both season 4)
Tifanie ChristunPiyomon/Biyomon (season 1-2), Pyocomon/Yokomon (season 1), Miyako Inoue/Yolei Inoue (season 2), Riley Ohtori (season 3), Chiaki, Tommy’s mother, Piyomon/Biyomon (all season 4)
Umi Tenjin (Japanese) – Koushiro “Izzy” Izumi (season 1-2), Mushmon (season 1), Pandamon (season 4)
Mona Marshall – Koushiro “Izzy” Izumi (season 1-2), Terriermon (season 3), various
Takahiro Sakurai (Japanese) – Tentomon, Mochimon, Kabuterimon, AtlurKabuterimon, HerakleKabuterimon (all season 1-2), Fantomon, Anomalocarimon, Fujiyama-sensei (all season 1), Shakomon, Octmon (both season 2)
Jeff Nimoy – Tentomon, Kabuterimon, MegaKabuterimon, HerculesKabuterimon, Gennai/Benjamin, Masami Izumi (all season 1-2), Omnimon (season 2)
Ai Maeda (Japanese) – Mimi Tachikawa (season 1-2)
Philece Sampler – Mimi Tachikawa (season 1-2), Koromon (season 1), Iori Hida/Cody Hida, Anna, Palmon (all season 2), Alice McCoy, Yoshie Matsuki, Jeri Katou, Riley Ohtori (all season 3), Floramon, Shinya Kanbara, Koichi and Koji’s mother (all season 4)
Shihomi Mizowaki (Japanese) – Palmon, Tanemon, Togemon, Lilimon, Rosemon (all season 1-2)
Anna Garduno – Palmon, Tanemon (season 1-2)
Masami Kikuchi (Japanese) – Jo Kido/Joe Kido (season 1-2), Neamon/Neemon (season 4), various
Michael Lindsay – Jo Kido/Joe Kido, Greymon (both season 1-2), Agumon (2 episodes), Gennai/Benjamin (season 2)
Junko Takeuchi (Japanese) – Gomamon (season 1-2), Takuya Kanbara (season 4), various
R. Martin Klein – Gomamon (season 1-2), various
Hiroko Konishi (Japanese) – Takeru “T.K.” Takaishi (season 1)
Wendee Lee – Takeru “T.K.” Takaishi (season 1), various
Taisuke Yamamoto (Japanese) & Doug Erholtz – Takeru “T.K.” Takaishi (season 2)
Miwa Matsumoto (Japanese) – Patamon (season 1-2), various
Laura Summer – Patamon, Tokomon (season 1-2), Lara/Sonya, Noriko Kawada (both season 2)
Kae Araki (Japanese) – Hikari Yagami/Kari Kamiya (season 1-2), Blossomon (season 2), Patamon (season 4)
Lara Jill Miller – Hikari Yagami/Kari Kamiya (season 1-2), Nami Asaji (season 4)
Yuka Tokumitsu (Japanese) – Tailmon/Gatomon (season 1-2), various
Edie Mirman – Tailmon/Gatomon, Salamon/Plotmon, Angewomon (all season -12), Nefertimon, Silphymon (both season 2)
Reiko Kiuchi (Japanese) – Daisuke Motomiya/Davis Motomiya, 3rd Poi Brother, Anna, Gottsumon, Monochromon, Daisuke’s son (all season 2)
Brian Donovan – Daisuke Motomiya/Davis Motomiya (season 2-3), Davis’ son (season 2), Kai Urazoe (season 3), Mushroomon, Teruo (both season 4)
Junko Noda (Japanese) – V-mon/Veemon (season 2), various
Derek Stephen Prince – V-mon/Veemon (season 2), Digimon Kaizer/Emperor/Ken Ichijoji/Ken Ichijouji (season 2), various
Rio Natasuki (Japanese) – Miyako Inoue/Yolei Inoue, Momoe Inoue, Chizuru Inoue, Chichos, Norki’s mother (all season 2)
Kōichi Tōchika (Japanese) & Neil KaplanHawkmon (season 2), various
Megumi Urawa (Japanese) - Iori Hida/Cody Hida, Armadimon/Armadillomon (both season 2), various
Robert Axelrod – Armadimon/Armadillomon, (season 2), various
Romi Park (Japanese) - Digimon Kaiser/Emperor/Ken Ichijoji/Ken Ichijouji, Osamu Ichijouji, Laura/Sonya, Miyako’s son (all season 2), Trailmon (season 4)
Naozumi Takahashi (Japanese) – Wormon/Wormmon (season 2), various
Paul St. Peter – Wormon/Wormmon (season 2), Cherubimon (season 2 & 4), various
Brian Beacock – Takato Matsuda/Takato Matsuki (season 3), Bokomon (season 4), various
Masako Nozawa (Japanese) – Guilmon, Gigimon, Growmon, MegaloGrowmon, Dukemon, Dukemon Crimson Mode, narrator (all season 3)
Steve Blum – Guilmon (season 3), Junpei Shibayama/J.P. Shibayama (season 4), various
Dave Wittenberg – Jianliang Lee/Henry Wong (season 3), various
Aoi Tada (Japanese) – Terriermon (season 3), various
Yuka Imai (Japanese) – Renamon, Pokomon, Kyubimon, Taomon, Sakuyamon, Rumiko Makino, Seiko Hata, Alice McCoy (all season 3)
Mari Devon – Renamon (season 3), various
Hiroshi Kamiya (Japanese) & Steve StaleyKouji Minamoto/Koji Minamoto (season 4), various
Masato Amada (Japanese) - Junpei Shibayama/J.P. Shibayama, Blitzmon, Bolgmon (all season 4)
Sawa Ishige (Japanese) – Izumi Orimoto/Zoe Orimoto, Fairimon, Shutumon (all season 4)
Michelle Ruff – Izumi Orimoto/Zoe Orimoto (season 4), various
Brianne Siddall – Tomoki Himi/Tommy Himi (season 4), various
Kenichi Suzumura (Japanese) & Crispin FreemanKoichi Kimura (season 4), various
Kazuko Sugiyama (Japanese) – Bokomon (season 4)
Michael SorichNeamon/Neemon (season 4), various

            Digimon began as the spin-off to a popular late 90’s fad: the Tamagotchi. Created by Akhiro Yokoi, Aki Maita and Takeichi Hongo for WiZ Co., Ltd. and Bandai, the egg-shaped toy contained a virtual pet that was raised and cared for by the user. Released in Japan in 1996 and worldwide in 1997, it became an instant hit and the biggest fad of the 90s and led to a variety of imitators in the virtual pet market. Even though both sexes enjoyed the Tamagotchi, Bandai decided it skewed feminine and wanted to make a more masculine version.

            1997 saw the debut of The Digital Monster, or Digimon. Much like the Tamagotchi, players raised and cared for their virtual monster. However, there was the added functionality of training the monster to fight and to encourage its evolution (or “digivolve”) into new forms. The game devices could be connected together with another to allow players’ monsters to fight each other; an innovation at the time. The initial monsters were designed by Kenji Watanabe to look cute and iconic even on the devices’ small screens.

C'mon Digimon manga.

            Digimon proved a hit, selling 14 million units in its first year. When it was finally marketed in the west, some changes were made to the overall concept. The notion of death was removed by adding the story that the monsters were made of data and all came from the virtual “Megalithic Mainframe”, where they would return when they were defeated or poorly cared for. Additional versions of the virtual pet were released, and the brand continued to grow in popularity. 1997 also saw the release of a collectible card game and the first manga based on the toy, called C’mon Digimon, which added a narrative to the concept. A serialized manga would follow the next year.


            The next evolution in the series came when Toei Animation was retained to create an anime centered around the concept with WiZ, Bandai and Fuji Television. Initially, Digimon Adventure was going to be a short film, but when the storyboarding was completed Toei was asked to turn it into a full television series. It centered on seven children, known as the DigiDestined (Chosen Child in the anime), who were transported into the Digital World by devices they found while at summer camp. There, they befriended several Digimon that they could evolve with their Digivices into stronger forms to combat enemies. Originally, they were tasked with only protecting the digital world from Apocalymon (Paul St. Peter), a creature born from the jealousy and hatred of Digimon who died during Digivolution. But when the boundaries between it and the human world began to weaken, they had to find a way to protect both.

The DigiDestined and their primary Digimons.

            The DigiDestined were led by Taichi “Tai” Kamiya (Toshiko Fujita & Joshua Seth), who was adventurous, stubborn and thick-headed as well as caring and protective of his friends. His Digimon was Agumon (Chika Sakamoto & Tom Fahn), who was a bit more cautious than Tai but could be just as brash or hot-headed when is friends were in trouble. Yamato “Matt” Ishida (Yuto Kazama & Michael Reisz) was more of a loner and doubted Tai’s leadership, often striving to keep him from ignoring the team’s safety for adventure’s sake. His Digimon was Gabumon (Mayumi Yamaguchi & Kirk Thornton), who was more emotional and loyal than Matt and often allows Matt to do his own thing until needing to bring him back from the edge. Takeru “T.K.” Takaishi (Hiroko Konishi & Wendee Lee), Matt’s younger brother and the youngest of the group who steadily grew from relying on the others to a warrior in his own right. His Digimon was Patamon (Miwa Matsumoto & Laura Summer), a playful and sensitive creature whose advanced forms were extremely powerful. Sora Takenouchi (Yuko Mizutani & Colleen O’Shaughnessey) was a tomboy who also served as the group’s mother figure. Her Digimon was Biyomon (Atori Shigematsu & Tifanie Christun), who possessed limited flying abilities. Koushiro “Izzy” Izumi (Umi Tenjin & Mona Marshall) was highly intelligent and the group’s computer expert, always on his laptop. His Digimon was Tentomon (Takahiro Sakurai & Jeff Nimoy), who had a carefree nature-loving spirit. Mimi Tachikawa (Ai Maeda & Philece Sampler) was a selfish ditz, but over time became kinder and more caring. Her Digimon was Palmon (Shihomi Mizowaki & Anna Garduno), a living flower-like creature. Joe Kido (Jo in the anime, voiced by Masami Kikuchi & Michael Lindsay) was a constant worrier and often tried to be the voice of reason for the group. His Digimon was Gomamon (Junko Takeuchi & Martin Klein), who often tried to soften Joe’s serious side. Although not a full member of the team, Tai’s younger sister Kari Kamiya (Hikari in the original anime, voiced by Kae Araki & Lara Jill Miller) often joined them when their adventure took them to the human world. Her Digimon was Gatomon (Yuka Tokumitsu & Edie Mirman), who often displayed a level of maturity despite her Digivolved state. Katsuyoshi Nakatsuru handled the characters’ designs.

Tai and Matt's crests powering up.

            Each of the DigiDestined was in possession of a Crest. The Crest were symbols related to the traits of the DigiDestined that allowed them to Digivolve their Digimon from Champion forms to their ultimate forms. Initially, they wore the Crests in tags around their neck, but came to discover that those were just focal points for the power that was always inside of them. Tai possessed the Crest of Courage, Matt the Crest of Friendship, Sora the Crest of Love, Mimi the Crest of Sincerity (renamed from Purity), Izzy the Crest of Knowledge, Joe the Crest of Reliability (renamed from Sincerity), T.K. the Crest of Hope, and Kari the Crest of Light.

Sometimes Digimon can be a handful.

            Digimon Adventure began airing in Japan on Fuji TV on March 7, 1999, and ran for a total of 54 episodes. In case the series was a failure, an alternate ending was planned for the 13th episode that would show the kids being sent back home after defeating their foe. That same year, Saban Entertainment, who had taken over control of programming the Fox Kids programming block, was looking for something to compete with the rival Kids’ WB programming block’s recent acquisition of the English dub of Pokémon from 4Kids Entertainment. Saban quickly snatched up the rights to Digimon and produced an English-language version under the name Digimon: Digital Monsters.

Digimon: Digital Monsters made its debut on FOX on August 14, 1999. Unlike 4Kids, who were notorious for their over-editing of “questionable” content, Saban made very few changes to Digimon. They kept most of the Japanese names intact while Americanizing only a few of them, and edited out cases of extreme violence to keep the series suitable for children. They also replaced Takanori Arisawa’s original soundtrack with one by Udi Harpaz and Shuki Levy; many of the songs being recycled from Masked Rider, Spider-Man: The Animated Series, Starcom: The U.S. Space Force and Princess Sissi. “Digimon Theme” by Paul Gordon was used as the show’s theme. The English scripts were written by Ardwight Chamberlain, Bob Buchholz, Dayna Barron, Eddie Leiner, J.M. Morris, John Ludin, Mark Ryan, Michael McConnohie, Michael Reynolds, Rebecca Forstadt, Sean Abley and series star Nimoy. Grace Anderson handled the translation.

Piedmon, the mini-boss.

When the series debuted, it was quickly dismissed as a Pokémon clone meant to try and cash in on the show’s success. However, audiences became attracted to the way the characters interacted and developed, the complicated science fiction stories and social themes. The dub also improved over time, making fewer changes to the original Japanese production which appealed to an audience that was steadily outgrowing Pokémon. By May of 2000, Digimon began to outpace Pokémon and took first place in the ratings. Encouraged by the success, Saban licensed the second season of the anime, known as Digimon Adventure 02, for translation. Due to the series’ major success, Adventure 02 was put into production before the first season even finished and debuted in Japan only a week after the season’s conclusion.

During the first season’s run, Pokémon had released two successful movies to theaters and FOX wanted to replicate that. However, Toei had no feature-length content ready; what they did have were several short films that were created for their animation fairs held every spring and summer to showcase their current animated titles. These films—Digimon Adventure, Digimon Adventure: Children’s War Game and Digimon Adventure 02: Part I: Digimon Hurricane Touchdown!/Part II: Supreme Evolution!! The Golden Digimentals—were taken, combined and condensed down to an 85-minute runtime as Saban lacked the funds for a full two-hour feature. Nimoy and Buchholz were tasked with writing a new screenplay to unify the plot, change the tone and the dialogue. Nimoy had pushed for the third film to be released separately as a television movie and center the film around the first two, but FOX insisted on its inclusion to promote the upcoming second season. Although further Digimon movies would be brought over and translated, the sheer amount of alteration done to Digimon: The Movie left many considering it as its own original production.

Digimon: The Movie poster.

Digimon: The Movie opened on October 6, 2000. The film was heavily promoted by Taco Bell with the inclusion of collectibles in their kids’ meals, and 12 limited edition Digi Battle trading cards were given out at theaters. Despite generally negative reviews, the film managed to gross over $16.6 million worldwide making it a minor success in light of its $5 million production budget. The film used a remix of Gordon’s theme song called “Digi Rap”, which was performed by Josh Debear under the name “M.C. Pea Pod.”

The second season was set four years after the first, with the Digimon Emperor (Romi Park & Prince) enslaving Digimon with Dark Rings and building Control Spires that negate Digivolution. T.K. (now voiced by Taisuke Yamamoto & Doug Erholtz) and Kari were joined by three new DigiDestined: Davis Motomiya (Daisuke Motomiya in the anime, voiced by Reiko Kiuchi & Brian Donovan), the brave, stubborn and impulsive new leader of the group who had a crush on Kari and an admiration for Tai and Matt; Yolei Inoue (Miyako Inoue in the anime, voiced by Rio Natasuki and Christun), a headstrong and flirty girl who often argued with Davis; and Cody Hida (Iori Hida in the anime, voiced by Megumi Urawa & Sampler), the youngest but very mature for his age. They were accompanied by their Digimon Veemon (Junko Noda & Prince), Hawkmon (Koichi Tōchika & Kaplan) and Armadillomon (Megumi Urawa & Robert Axelrod), respectively.

The new DigiDestined with their predecessors.

The DigiDestined possessed a new Digivice called the D-3, which allowed them to enter the DigiWorld through any computer. Their new D-Terminals also gave them access to Crest-themed Digi-Eggs that allowed their Digimon to undergo Armor Digivolution to counteract the Control Spires. Eventually, the Digimon Emperor was revealed to be boy genius Ken Ichijoji who was infected by the Dark Spore and driven mad. He joined the DigiDestined with his own Digimon, Wormmon (Naozumi Takahashi & St. Peter) to battle against the true villain: Myotismon (Toshiyuki Morikawa & Richard Epcar) and his minions, the spider-like Arukenimon (Wakana Yamazaki & Mari Devon), the mummy-like Mummymon (Morikawa & Kirk Thornton) and Yukio Oikawa (Morikawa & Jamieson Price), who was possessed by Myotismon.


Once again, the original music was replaced by music from Harpaz and Levy, with additional songs by Gordon and Jasan Radford. The second season was written by returning writers Nimoy and Buchholz, as well as Sorich, Forstadt,  Alan Smith, Charlotte Fullerton, Craig Doyle, Seth Walther, Steve Rollman and Terri-Lei O’Malley, with Anderson again on translations. In light of the success of the first season, the producers asked the writers to add more North American jokes to the script. This, along with their disappointment with the movie, led to Nimoy and Buchholz leaving the writing team near the end of the season. Digimon and fellow Saban property Power Rangers were killing it in the ratings, despite Fox Kids’ overall decline in comparison to the other networks’ programming.

The third season, Digimon Tamers, took a different approach to the series. Original Japanese head writer Satoru Nishizono was against the idea of continuing the series and quit. His replacement was Chiaki J. Konaka, who also wanted to leave but was enticed to stay with the promise of allowing him to create his own unique concept. Konaka wanted to get away from the cute kind-hearted Digimon presented before and explore the “monster-like spirit” of Digimon, where they would instinctively harm other creatures to increase their strength and learn morality from their human partners. To diminish the repetitiveness of Digivolutions, a new Digivice called the D-Power (D-Ark in the anime) was introduced that ran on a card system. Digimon were now Digivolved via the cards and were limited to one time per card, making the characters more responsible for the evolutions and their overall adventures. A new stage of evolution was introduced called “biomerging”, which allowed the Digimon to achieve their final Mega forms by merging with their human partners. Konaka also wanted death to be portrayed more realistically, getting rid of the notion that the Digimon could be reborn. Digimon was also represented as an actual franchise in the real world, which is where the majority of the action was set rather than the DigiWorld.

The Tamers are flipping everything around.

Along with the changes to the show’s format came a new group of characters, called Tamers. The primary ones were Takato Matsuki (Matsuda in the anime, voiced by Makoto Tsumura & Beacock), who created his own Digimon, Guilmon (Masako Nozawa & Steve Blum); Henry Wong (Jianliang Lee in the anime, voiced by Mayumi Yamaguchi & Dave Wittenberg), the voice of reason for the group who chose his Digimon, Terriermon (Aoi Tada & Marshall), from a video game; and Rika Nonaka (Ruki Makino in the anime, voiced by Fumiko Orikasa & Melissa Fahn), a tomboy who was a champion Digimon card game who acquired her Digimon, Renamon (originally to be named Lunamon, voiced by Yuka Imai & Mari Devon), after a tournament. Initially, it was believed that Digimon was merely a game until swiping their cards in their D-Power Digivices and learning that they were, in fact, real. The Tamers would be later joined by classmates Jeri Katou (Yoko Asada & Bridget Hoffman), Ryo Akiyama (Jun-ichi Kanemaru & Staley), Kazu Shioda (Yukiko Tamaki & Brad MacDonald) and Kenta Kitagawa (Touko Aoyama & Blum), and Henry’s sister Suzie (Ai Nagano & Peggy O’Neal), as well as young siblings Ai and Mako (Haruhi Terada & Forstadt and Matsumoto & Lee).

The D-Reaper virus.

While the Tamers fought against a secret government agency called Hypnos, whose job it was to keep Digimon out of the real world, and evil Digimon called Deva, who believed Digimon shouldn’t partner with humans, the main villain of the third season was the D-Reaper. It had an uncertain origin as either an antiviral program created in the 1970s by the United States Department of Defense to combat the Creeper virus, or as part of the security program for the  National Security Agency’s ECHELEON project in the 1980s. D-Reaper’s only goal was to purge the DigiWorld once the number of lifeforms located within it passed a certain number. However, it was able to mutate and began to affect the Real World as well. Konaka wanted a final enemy to be neither Digimon or human. D-Reaper’s various forms were developed by original Digimon creator Watanabe, human character designer Katsuyoshi Nakatsuru, and CG designer Shinji Aramaki. To help accomplish its goals, the D-Reaper employed ADRs, or “Agents of the D-Reaper”. Although they looked like individuals, they were all actually part of the D-Reaper’s consciousness and were connected to it via red wires. Only by severing those wires did ADRs become weaker and easier to defeat.

Hypnos HQ.

While the season received the usual changes from Saban when it was brought to North America, it was by far the darkest and most serious of the show to that point. Initially, the season received mixed reviews due to its total departure from the established format and characters, and from what was considered a slow start, audiences warmed up to it as the season progressed. English writers for the season included Smith, Wittenberg, Forstadt, Walther, Blum, Sorich, O’Malley, Adele Lim, Mary Elizabeth McGlynn, Karen Wilson, and Chris Allen Weber, with Anderson again on translations.

During production, Saban sold their properties and holdings to Disney, which meant Digimon also simultaneously aired on the newly-christened ABC Family channel. As part of the deal, Disney also acquired the rights to the fourth Digimon season, Digimon Frontier, which would become the final season of Digital Monsters. Frontier, originally announced as Scanners, saw the return of the DigiDestined as unusual phone messages summoned five children from the real world to travel to the DigiWorld via a subway train. There, the knowledgeable Bokomon (Kazuko Sugiyama & Beacock) and the dim-witted Neemon (Masami Kikuchi & Sorich) acted as their guides and informed them that they were tasked to save the DigiWorld from Cherubimon (Ryûzaburô Ôhtomo & St. Peter) and his Legendary Warrior servants. Cherubimon was a fallen member of the Celestial Digimon, the original protectors of the DigiWorld. However, the DigiDestined came to learn that the real threat was Lucemon (Kumiko Nishihara & Marshall), who was operating from the shadows and controlling Cherubimon’s actions. He was able to consume the fractal code of the DigiWorld and to infiltrate and begin the conquest of the Real World. The concept was conceived of by Fuji TV’s Go Haruna, Yomiko Advertising’s Kyofaro Kimura and Hiromi Seki.

The return of the DigiDestined.

            Like the Tamers, the DigiDestined merged with Digimon forms to become warriors through a process called Spirit Evolution. Each was in possession of two spirits: the human spirit, which gave them more humanoid-looking forms, and the beast spirits, which gave their hybrid forms more bestial appearances. Those spirits were held in their D-Tectors (Scanners in the anime), which their cell phones transformed into. The new DigiDestined were Takuya Kanbara (Junko Takeuchi & Reisz), the headstrong leader who used the Spirits of Flame; Koji Minamoto (Hiroshi Kamyia & Staley), the quiet and reserved loner who used the Spirits of Light; J.P. Shibayama (Junpei in the anime, voiced by Masato Amada & Blum), the oldest member and a practical joker who used the Spirits of Thunder; Tommy Himi (Tomoki in the anime, voiced by Kumiko Watanabe & Brianne Siddall), the youngest and most immature who used the Spirits of Ice; and Koichi Kimura (Kenichi Suzumura & Crispin Freeman), Koji’s long-lost twin brother who used the Spirits of Darkness. Nakatsuru handled the character designs.

Cherubimon, the season's big...bad?

            Digimon’s final season aired on ABC Family and the Disney co-owned UPN as part of their Disney One Too programming block. The English dub was produced by Sensation Animation (who also worked on the end of season 3) and recorded by Studiopolis. Lim, Wittenberg, Sorich, Walther, Blum and O’Malley were retained for scripting duties as was Anderson for translation. An all-new theme was composed by Chris Horvath and the rest of the series’ music was done by Deddy Tzur and Inon Zur.

            The Digimon franchise would continue on in Japan in anime and merchandise forms. Disney would continue adapting future installments of the anime, as would Saban when they reacquired their properties later on, but independent of the Digital Monsters series. Reruns of Digital Monsters would continue to air on ABC Family, the Jetix programming block, and Toon Disney. UPN would stop airing the series in 2003 once they severed ties with Disney.

The complete Digital Monsters collection.

            In 2001, Dark Horse Comics published an adaptation of the first 13 episodes of the first season. Overseas, Panini Comics would handle the publication of different types of comic adaptations that varied by country. Germany received their own adaptation of episodes. In the United Kingdom, the Dark Horse and German comics were reprinted before they gained their own unique stories in Digimon Magazine and Wickid. The season 2 adaptations only loosely followed the canon of the show, but once it switched to season 3 it was a lot more faithful and even expanded on details not covered by the show. In a cost-saving measure, the magazine began running translations of the German adaptations of season 3 until both magazines were cancelled. 2001 also saw the release of The Movie onto DVD by 20th Century Fox. In 2012, Flatiron Film Company released the complete first season to DVD. The second season came the following year, as did the third season as both a complete set and in two volumes. The complete fourth season and a full series collection was released later in the year under Flatiron’s new name, New Video Group.