Saturday, October 31, 2015

Mach Gaogamon & Gigadramon Appear in -next 0rder-, Says Jump Magazine

Original image uploaded by Kazu.
During the week of October 22nd, 2015, one of Weekly Shounen Jump's subsidiary magazines published a small page on the upcoming Digimon World -next 0rder-, focusing on the game's emotional portrayal of the player's two Digimon partners. By monitoring the Digimon's expressions as they occur in the field in real-time, the player can accurately judge their condition. Their Digimon will jump up and down when excited, or appear downcast when sad, giving them a strong sense of virtual life.

Although much of the content in the page overlaps with previous leaks, one new screenshot shows Shiki feeding a Gigadramon with a food item resembling one of the meats from Digimon World. -next 0rder- has repeatedly alluded to the return of virtual pet mechanics like feeding, sleeping, and keeping track of public toilets for the Digimon partners to make use of, but this is the first time the items the player uses in the game have been shown. The issue also shows Mach Gaogamon as part of Shiki's party, following up from Gaomon's debut.

The total number of Digimon confirmed for the game so far is 40; the final roster will likely be between 200 and 300 Digimon, more than four times what was found in the original Digimon World. Digimon World -next 0rder- will launch on the PlayStation Vita and PSTV in Japan in 2016. Character designer Taiki did an interview about the game shortly after its original announcement in August.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Digimon Reference Book: Solarmon

The Digimon Reference Book profile for October 30th, 2015, is Solarmon. A translation is provided below; you may use it freely on forums, wikis, etc. so long as you link back to or cite back to this page.

Level: Child/成長期
Type: Machine/マシーン型
Attribute: Vaccine/ワクチン
Special Move: Shiny Ring/シャイニーリング
Profile: A Machine-type Digimon of a rare species among the mechanical series. Although among researchers it is said to possibly be a mutation of Hagurumon, the truth is shrouded in mystery. Because of its Digicore generating heat, its body can become scalding when it gets too hot. Its special move is to fire a gear that emits incredible heat and burn the enemy, "Shiny Ring."


The Digimon Reference Book is Bandai's official bible on the various Digimon species, first launched in 2007 and now comprising over seven hundred different Digimon out of the thousand-plus species that exist. It updates weekly with new Digimon profiles.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

According to Taomon's Profile, -next 0rder-'s World is Being "Distorted"

October 30th, 2015. The official Digimon World -next 0rder- website has updated with an addition to its storyline section, as well as Taomon's profile. The Digimon was previously introduced in last month's issue of V Jump magazine, but this update adds a new piece of information; the sage has picked up on "someone distorting the principles" of the digital world. (Here 理 ri is used, which can refer to both logic and the underlying principles of the cosmos.) The digital world being "distorted" by an outside force is an old idea for the franchise, going back to Digimon World and Digimon Adventure. Direct translations are provided below.

The new story section picks up where last month left off, covering the information from a previous issue of V Jump.

Digimon World -next 0rder- will launch in Japan on the PlayStation Vita and PSTV in 2016. The game currently has no western release date.

"What business have you, defeating me? Human."
Although they have been Jijimon's close friend since time immemorial, at some point they departed the village. Pessimistic and unconcerned with others, they're quiet and have a stubborn personality. Taomon picked up on the interfering will of someone distorting the principles of this world.
Story 1
Wandering the digital world, the protagonist is attacked by Mugendramon.

By a hair's breadth they somehow get out of harm's way, meet Jijimon, and witness the disastrous state the Village of Beginnings has been put in by Mugendramon's frequent raids.

Unable to find a way to return home, the protagonist decides to lend a hand in rebuilding the Village. Meeting Himari and Kouta, it seems the reconstruction of the village is going well, but...

New Official War Greymon & Metal Garurumon Artwork Shown in 4Gamer

October 30th, 2015. Japanese gaming news outlet 4Gamer has published another batch of screenshots and artwork for Digimon World -next 0rder-. Although the majority of the content presented is summaries of already-known information like Himari's official profile, the game's plot, and its battle system, the article does include transparent character art for War Greymon and Metal Garurumon, two of the player's possible partner Digimon that have been heavily promoted as having an important role in the game. Screenshots and artwork are provided below.

Digimon World -next 0rder- will launch in Japan on the PlayStation Vita in 2016.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Trefle's Debut Single Will Be Digimon Adventure's "Butter-fly"

On November 18th, 2015, the all-girl band A&G Girls Project Trefle will be releasing their debut single Butter-fly/One Time featuring their cover of Digimon Adventure's opening theme, Wada Kouji's "Butter-fly." Last August the musical group did a thirty-second preview video of the cover, which was filmed in 360 degrees, allowing fans to freely rotate the camera to see different angles of their performance. The YouTube preview is geoblocked in the United States, but can be heard on Tumblr.

Butter-fly/One Time will retail for 1200 yen (approx. $10) after tax, and will include four tracks;
01. Butter-Fly (Lyrics/Music: Chiwata Hidenori Arrangement: michitomo)
02. One Time (Lyrics/Music: Daiki Naoka Composer: Mutsuki Shuhei Arrangement: michitomo)
03. Butter-Fly ~Original Karaoke~ (Lyrics/Music: Chiwata Hidenori Arrangement: michitomo)
04. One Time ~Original Karaoke~

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Original Monster Makers: A History of the D-1 Grand Prix & Tournament Play in Digimon (1997-98)

Digimon Adventure: V-Tamer 01, Chapter 16. The sign reads "Jump D-1 Grand Prix." Volcano Oota appears in the back.
At birth, Digimon was a fundamentally competitive idea. A fighting Tamagotchi. Consequently the franchise has a long history of tournament organization, primarily centered around the one mode of play that can be described as quintessentially Digimon; the dot matrix toys. Organized competition has evolved over time to encompass a number of media that aren't strictly played on LCD screens, but even those media do generally adhere to the rules and mechanics first established by Bandai in 1997. When you consider the hardware history of the virtual pets, there's a clearly articulated line of descent originating with Tamagotchi and descending on down to the modern Digimon World -next 0rder-. To western fans, the franchise can often be a distant and elusive thing, created and maintained by a team of opaque and faceless foreigners. This is a consequence of the language barrier, of the lack of immediacy between franchise-changing events in Japan and their consequences overseas, and of the number of hands that have repeatedly modified the franchise for the west. I want to eliminate that distance, closing the gap between artist and audience or writer and reader. In some regards that distance is already shorter for Portuguese-speaking and German fans, who have already circulated much of this information in their own languages. So by naming names and telling histories, I hope to bring Digimon closer to the English-speaking fanbase.

My other purpose is cultural transmission. I wish to pass down to newer fans the things that they were not present to see. It seems apropos to talk about them now that -next 0rder- is upon us. Of course, the world is not divided into just Japan versus an abstract "west." There are many more perspectives that could appear here, but I cannot speak from the perspective of the Korean fandom, or of the Puerto Rican fandom, or any of the myriad other groups that exist in this history. I will write this from two perspectives that until recently only existed on the periphery of one another; Japan and the United States. These are the two stories that I feel qualified to tell.

Oota Kensuke in-character as "Volcano" Oota at a 2014 anniversary event. Original image uploaded by totuzenhi.
The dot matrix games were the brainchild of the Digital Monster Series Planning & Development team (デジタルモンスターシリーズ企画開発 Dejitaru Monsutaa Shiriizu Kikaku Kaihatsu). Names to know include project head Oota Kensuke (太田健介) as well as Digital Monster designer and artist Watanabe Kenji (of WiZ). Both of these figures continue to work on Digimon in the present, most recently having a hand in the 2014 Digivice Ver. 15th toys. In the west Watanabe has a small cult following, while Oota is practically unheard of.

Maita Aki in 1997, age 30.
Digimon is one of the few 90s monster series that can claim a legitimate line of descent simultaneous to or predating Pokémon. One could say that Digimon indirectly owes its birth to the state of the Japanese housing industry. The franchise originates from the Tamagotchi, conceived of in 1994 or '95 as a solution to apartment-wide bans on pet ownership. Maita Aki (真板亜紀) is the original concept holder and designer, but beyond the initial concept Aki was primarily involved in marketing and had little to do with the actual development process of either Tamagotchi or Digimon. This is one reason why Maita is rarely credited in Japanese sources as having contributed to Tamagotchi; real development was handled by Yokoi Akihiro (横井昭裕) from WiZ and several others from Bandai, while Maita (also from Bandai) focused on the sales and data end.

These days the fact that it was Maita who came up with the idea of a portable pet is often forgotten, and in Japan she's primarily known for the Ig Nobel Prize she was awarded for "diverting millions of person-hours of work into the husbandry of virtual pets." She's presumed to still work at Bandai, and occasionally modern photos of her with new models of Tamagotchi surface.

Takeichi Hongō, Japan Times.
Hongō Akiyoshi is frequently credited with the original concept for Digimon, but this is for the sake of convenience. Hongō is not a real person, but a house name created by Bandai to ascribe an original copyright holder without having to divide the copyright between its original contributors.  The name is often said to be derived from the names of Hongō Takeichi, a co-director at WiZ co., formerly Bandai's chief "Tamagotchi officer," and Maita Aki. (An alternative explanation uses Nakatsuru Katsuyoshi's name, see below.)

Portuguese Wikipedia suggests identifying Hongō Akiyoshi with five people: Hongō Takeichi, Maita Aki, Hiroshi Izawa, Yabuno Tenya, and Nakatsuru Katsuyoshi. Hiroshi is the original writer for the manga Digimon Adventure V-Tamer 01, while Yabuno is the illustrator, and Nakatsuru was responsible for the character designs and animation direction of Adventure, Adventure 02, Tamers, and Frontier. The Hongō name in general is associated with Digimon's evolution into a multimedia franchise.

The reason these five are identified with the Hongō pseudonym is because of how closely the related Digimon properties were being developed prior to their launch in 1998~'99. The preproduction phase of Digimon involved V-Tamer 01, Adventure, and the theatrical film all being developed simultaneously by intercommunicating staff. This is how the decision to make Yagami Taichi the main character of all three works came to pass despite several different companies having their hands in the various works. Regardless, the Hongō group isn't very relevant to where we are beyond their overlapping membership. Its formation took place around the time that Digital Monster Ver. 5 was launched, when the first plans for an anime series were being laid.

The members of DMSPD became the original monster makers. Oota led the team up through 2000. The first Digital Monster virtual pets were patterned after a cage, keeping the monster locked up. According to a 2014 interview with Oota, the original documentation and data from the first run of Digivices no longer exists, and so it's likely that the initial Digimon program as it was created back then met a similar fate. This is a result of poor data keeping practices among Japanese electronics developers up until around 2006. Like with the lost Kingdom Hearts data over at Square Enix, Bandai no longer has any plans nor documentation from these devices. Ironically for a company producing a fiction oriented around a digital world, Bandai failed to digitize their work.

Conceived of as artificial life born in the manmade wilderness of electronic information networks, it seems only natural that Digimon--obeying the law of the jungle--would take years to develop the same level of complexity and nuance as their Game Boy cousins. The original Digital Monsters were brutally simple and strongly chance-based, first launched in five waves in June 1997, December, March 1998, May, and August. Where Tamagotchi saw a 60-40 split in female to male consumers, Digimon took off with elementary boys and junior high students. As a result of its coverage in Young Jump and V Jump magazine, the virtual pets were highly anticipated prior to launch and started off strongly with the public. Digimon World -next 0rder- character designer Taiki once recounted standing in line at a department store on launch day for the virtual pets, a moment that still stood out for him eighteen years later. One month after, Hiroshi Izawa and Yabuno Tenya published the one-shot manga C'Mon Digimon in Shounen Jump NEXT!!'s 1997 summer special. The comic was later reprinted as an omake chapter in V-Tamer 01.

It is important to see Digimon not just as a game played by children, but as the comprehensive imaginary world it cultivated in the minds of those players. On a cosmetic level, the pets had a sense of individuality from the wide variety of colors they came in, and the individual backgrounds each pet had to represent key areas. Also referred to as landscapes (風景 fukei), these are no longer found in modern virtual pets, as the backgrounds were discontinued beginning in July 2002 and were fully phased out in 2004. Digital Monster Ver. 1~5 had five possible areas--plains for Ver. 1, wasteland for Ver. 2, a forest for Ver. 3, mountains for Ver. 4, and a beach for Ver. 5. The areas were not actually electronically projected, but instead created using an old trick developed by the arcade industry. By printing sheets of cardboard backgrounds that could then be cut to fit the screen's dimensions, and inserting them behind the display of each device, the dot matrix characters could be projected in front of the landscapes, giving the illusion of a world in a box. This also had the advantage of making the characters more visible under direct lighting. These environments gave each tamer a specific area to identify with, personalizing the virtual pet experience. For its day this was an immersive look into Bandai's proposed digital world.

Bandai also took in fan submissions during the creation process of these pets, resulting in Hououmon (originally Kujimon), Kabuterimon, Angemon, Yukidarumon, Birdramon, and Veggiemon all being selected from a pool of 50,000 entrants in a December 1997 design contest. There were also seventeen different colors of v-pet: two versions of red (Ver. 1), two versions of blue (Ver. 1), green (Ver. 1), yellow (Ver. 1), black (Ver. 1), white (Ver. 1), smoke (Ver. 2), clear (Ver. 2), purple (Ver. 3), orange (Ver. 3), clear purple (Ver. 3), clear orange (Ver. 3), clear blue (Ver. 4), clear red (Ver. 4), and clear green (Ver. 5). In addition to these, a number of limited edition virtual pets exist.

A Primer on Pendulum Evolution
For various reasons, the majority of the western Digimon fanbase is unfamiliar with the form of evolution used in Digimon's null canon. Nicknamed "Pendulum evolution" after one of the more popular later virtual pet models, unlike the evolution featured in the anime series, these evolutions are permanent changes that take place as a Digimon matures into increasingly more battle-oriented forms. What a Digimon evolves into in the virtual pets is controlled by how well it is raised, just as was true for the Tamagotchi pets that served as the inspiration for the LCD games. A "care mistake," failing to respond to a Digimon's needs like hunger or sleep quickly enough, will impact which of the three or more possible stages it can evolve to. Evolution is not reversible; the only way to go back to the Child stage after attaining Adult, or back to Adult after attaining Perfect, is by dying and raising a new Digimon. If a Digimon has been raised well at the time of its death, it reincarnates into a "traited egg," a Digitama that will hatch into a new Digimon but with improved probability to survive to its subsequent evolutionary stages. (Usually this is a 10% bonus; in the console games it manifests as inheriting a percentage of the deceased Digimon's stats.)

When the pets were brought over to the United States in 1997, the Japanese names for the different evolutionary stages underwent some creative translation. Where the Japanese names reflect the idea of maturation throughout a lifecycle, the American names framed Digimon as competitors and gave a boxing-like overtone to the series.
Japanese stages (Romaji) / American "translations"
Baby I (Younenki I) / Fresh
Baby II (Younenki II) / In-training
Child (Seichouki) / Rookie
Adult (Seijukuki) / Champion
Perfect (Kanzentai) / Ultimate
This later created problems with the official translation of the Ultimate (Kyuukyokutai) stage when it was created in 1999-2000, as a result of Perfect being translated as Ultimate for the United States. The English translation adopted by Bandai US for Ultimate ended up being Mega, which isn't really a translation at all. Kanzen has a meaning of "completeness/perfection" while Kyuukyoku means both "the strongest" and "the last."

For years the primary competition in Digimon was Bandai's officially-organized series of tournaments, the D-1 Grand Prix, which was so named to take advantage of public consciousness surrounding the F1 Grand Prix and K-1 karate competition. (The K-1, having originally been hosted in Japan in 1993, had a particular presence at the time.) Billed as a series of battles to determine the strongest Digimon tamer, the tournaments were emceed by "Volcano" Oota, also known for his Digimon Corner columns in both Weekly Shounen Jump and monthly V Jump magazine. Beginning in August 1998, the prize for winning the tournaments was a D-1 special edition Digital Monster Ver. 4. Ten thousand of these special edition devices are known to have been distributed, as well as gold tamer tags. Elementary, junior high, and high school students were all eligible to participate.

According to V-Tamer's Residence--an unofficial but highly respected Japanese source for information on Digimon--the first D-1 tournaments actually began in April (announced on March 26th, 1998) and ended on August 23rd of the same year. At this time D-1 included the Digital Monster Ver. 1 virtual pet (May 1997), Ver. 2 (December 1997), and Ver. 3 (March 1998) bringing in a total of 42 Digimon to the tournament series' roster, though in practice only the nine Perfects were viable for winning a D-1. The tournament series started out with Weekly Shounen Jump & V Jump magazine's Spring Digimon Festival (春のデジモン祭り Haru no Dejimon Matsuri) on March 26th, which took on the title of J D-1 Grand Prix (J・D-1グランプリ J D-1 Guranpuri). A panel from chapter 16 of the V-Tamer manga shows the D-1 labeled as "Jump D-1 Grand Prix," and seeing as the two Jump magazines were the tournament's co-sponsors, this explains the appended J.

These initial D-1 tournaments were acknowledged on the Digimon Channel website (prior to its revamp in 2002) as collectively part of the "D-1 All Japan Tournament." In chronological order the first events were;
D-1 All Japan Tournament
Jump D-1 Grand Prix II
D-1 Grand Prix Regional Tournaments 1998.11
Mac Donald Adventure Digimon Tournament 1999
Sadly, the official tournament reports for every event listed above have been lost to time. The Internet Archive never captured those pages prior to the site's revamp, so the names, ages, photos, and partner Digimon of the winners are presumably gone forever. There's no use dwelling on this; unless Bandai or WiZ still has the old site information on file or someone with archives of the pages magically appears, we'll never know the results. At this time Bandai was also making some efforts to coordinate the Digimon brand through the official website, in their first BBS system "DigiCafé." Moderating DigiCafé proved difficult as both the toy and home internet exploded in popularity, leading Bandai to close the BBS' doors within a few years.

Although the monster Etemon was introduced in the Ver. 3 pet at the beginning of the month, the current personality we recall when we think of Etemon was put together as a promotion campaign for the D-1. "Digimonkey" was a mascot character that first appeared in Shounen Jump's Digimon-centric column Weekly Digiki (週刊デジ聞 Shuukan Dejiki, using the character ki for "to hear"), promoting the D-1 tournaments. Various incarnations of Digimonkey would continue to appear until the mid 2000s.

Oota Kensuke, "WoodWoody" Takabayashi (developer of the Ver. 15th), and Watanabe Kenji in 2014.

Digimonkey was set up in opposition to Volcamon, a Digimon embodying the D-1's emcee "Volcano" Oota, the host personality created by the DMSPD team leader who has since rebranded his character as "Pile Volcano" Oota. Oota is one aspect of the D-1 that would go on to outlive the tournament series; in 2000 the popularity of his personality led to Volcamon's formal debut as a real Perfect-level Digimon, which in 2002 got an Ultimate-level upgrade, Pile Volcamon. Oota has continued to work for Bandai in promoting the series, hosting their events every year since '97, and taking up the mantle of the character once again in 2014 to promote the Digivice Ver. 15th. Exactly why Oota stuck with the brand for so long is unclear, but in a 2002 in-character interview he stated that his final goal was for "Everyone in the world to love Digimon." Was Oota being sincere? As the man who was continually listed as the project leader to the present day, he's always had a vested interest in promoting his creation to the world. And given his enthusiasm for being an entertainer, it seems Oota had a genuine love for the children he worked with.

Several months after the close of the first D-1 tournament, D-1 was used as a supporting element in V-Tamer 01 (Taichi and Neo were both participants) and an "Etemonkey" version of Etemon, based on Digimonkey, was used as a key antagonist. This version of the character comes off as more sympathetic in V-Tamer when you're already aware of Digimonkey's positive role in promoting D-1. In the manga, Etemonkey was an Etemon motivated to go to the real world so he could play with human children, and served as a minion of Demon in hopes of achieving that. Izawa and Yabuno's readership would have been exposed to Digimonkey on the very pages of the magazine that was serializing their manga, creating a media link between the different portrayals of Etemon.

Originally uploaded by Devilixir.
By today's standards, the original Digital Monster virtual pets were highly affordable, retailing for just 1980 yen prior to tax (or $20 in US money). Participation in these tournaments was thus very accessible to Japanese children, and flyers packaged with each Digital Monster alongside V Jump promotions ensured high public awareness of the D-1. This was how I first encountered the Grand Prix years after its conclusion, through a photograph of a flyer for the tournament taken from a mint condition virtual pet. In order to qualify for the national championship finals, participants needed to win regional qualifiers held across Japan. This is a very common model for tournament organization in Japan, especially with regards to children's events, but what set D-1 apart from both contemporaries and present-day equivalents was that the D-1 tournaments were all held inside of high-profile department stores. The locations made an effective marketing strategy for Bandai, as consumers could observe the tournament proceedings within the stores and then go and buy digital pets right off the shelves of the locations.

As a result of the tie in advertising campaign, we have a semi-complete list of tournaments held from June through September, comprising fifteen regional qualifiers and the national finals. The names on this list imply the existence of at least two other tournaments that were held prior to June, in Kantō and Kyūshū. Given that five tournaments per month were being held throughout the remaining season, it's likely that there were at least five tournaments held in both April and May, and only one in March. Hence the number of regional tournaments was somewhere around 26 in total, capped off by the finals. (The April 1997 issue of V Jump magazine should have a complete listing of all D-1 tournaments for '97 and '98. However, scans of that issue are nowhere to be found and it's questionable if any copies have survived to the present outside of V Jump's own personal archives, which have not been digitized.) All of these locations are still in operation today, and in the case of the Sogo department stores this is somewhat miraculous. Sogo collapsed in the early 2000s as a result of poor investment policies, and not all of its locations have persevered under the current Sogo & Seibu management.
06/06/98: D-1 Hokkaido Tournament 1 (北海道) Sapporo Tōkyū, 250 participants
06/07/98: D-1 Hokkaido Tournament 2 (北海道) Toys' Yoshida in Asahikawa, 500 participants
06/14/98: D-1 Naka-ku Tournament 1 (中区) Fuji Grand Hiroshima Shopping Center, 250 participants
06/21/98: D-1 Kantō Tournament 2 (東) Machida Tōkyū Department Store, 250 participants
06/28/98: D-1 Tōhoku Tournament (北) Shirobotan Kids Walker  (白牡丹キッズウォーカー) central plaza 2, 250 participants
07/19/98: D-1 Kansai Tournament 1 (関西) Kintetsu Department Store (近鉄百貨店), third event space, 250 participants
07/26/98: D-1 Kantō Tournament 3 (東) Seibu Department Store (西武百貨店), fourth floor festival space (4階まつりの広場) 900 participants
07/26/98: D-1 Naka-ku Tournament 2 (中区) Hiroshima Sogo (広島そごう), rooftop (屋上) 250 participants
07/28/98: D-1 Hokuriku Tournament (陸) Kanazawa Meitetsu Marukoshi Department Store (金沢名鉄丸越百貨店), 250 participants
07/30/98: D-1 Kantō Tournament 4 (東) Kashiwa Sogo (そごう), rooftop (屋上) 500 participants
08/01/98: D-1 Kantō Tournament 5 () Yokohama Sogo (横浜そごう), second floor pedestrian deck (2階ペデストリアンデッキ), 500 participants
08/06/98: D-1 Chūbu Tournament 1 (部) Matsuzakaya Flagship Store (松坂屋本店), 250 participants
08/09/98: D-1 Chūbu Tournament 2 (部) Meitetsu Pare Department Store (名鉄パレ百貨店), 250 participants
08/16/98: D-1 Kyūshū Tournament 2 (九州) Tsuruya Department Store (鶴屋百貨店), first floor satellite studio, 250 participants
08/16/98: D-1  Kansai Tournament 2 (関西) JR Kyoto Department Store (JR京都伊勢丹), 500 participants
08/23/98: D-1 JAPAN (All Japan Tournament) (全日本大会) Seibu Department Store (西武百貨店), fourth floor festival space (4階まつりの広場) 1000 participants
Each regional qualifier followed a single body of rules. Japanese manuals for the Digital Monster pets identified the preliminary rounds of each D-1 as a best-of-one games Battle Royale format, and the top cut as a best-of-three tournament bracket. This meant that participating tamers only needed to win a single game each round to proceed initially, but anyone that lost a game during the preliminaries would be cut from the tournament entirely. Exactly how many tamers the top cut consisted of is uncertain, but it must have contained at least two. Those tamers would then play a best-of-three set, with the Digimon that won more games coming out the winner.

The second Naka-ku D-1 qualifier was held here 17 years ago. Photo taken by Kitaro. Bird's-eye-view by tamahata767.
The largest of these regional qualifiers was held at the Seibu department store's Kantō location, while the most exotic was probably Hiroshima's and Kashiwa's tournaments at their respective Sogo department stores; these tournament were held on the rooftop. Sogo is famous for its rooftop playland attractions, which each feature an all-in-one arcade, playground, restaurant, and minor goods shopping center. (In recent times, the rooftop grounds have been repurposed as beer gardens for late-night events. Since a lot of young Japanese men and women have fond memories of the playlands from childhood, it makes sense to market the area to them as adults. Sadly, the Kashiwa location has since fallen into disuse, as outside of said garden events and its hokora Shinto shrine, the rooftop is completely barren today.) Coincidentally one of the D-1 qualifiers was held on Odaiba Day, two years before the day would be recognized as significant. The location was not as spectacular as some of the others, but it was one of the largest tournaments of the season.

Original image by Let's Enjoy Tokyo.
The national championship finals were hosted at the Seibu Department's fourth floor festival space on September 23rd, 1998, over an open-air bridge connecting the store's main building and annex. In addition to the participants invited from the regional tournaments, a number of locals were allowed to participate in order to establish the tournament cap of 1000 participants. The documentation available does not state how many from each regional were invited, but mathematically bringing in the top 4 from each of the 26 tournaments would create a minimum ~100 person competition, with room for the remaining 900 that attended the previous Seibu regional to participate.

By the time of the final tournament, all five of the original virtual pets were in circulation. Unlike today, there were only five standard evolutionary levels, not six: Baby I, Baby II, Child, Adult, and Perfect. Out of the sixty Digimon available for tournament use, only fifteen of them were Perfect-level Digimon, and of those only five were "S-Rank" Perfects likely to go undefeated, what guides have categorized as group L Digimon. To elaborate, each of the sixty Digimon that could be battled were categorized into one of twelve groups, each with a particular base probability to win a battle versus one of the other groups. This probability was internally measured as X/16. The group a Digimon belonged to was visually identified by the type of shot it produced in battle; all group L Digimon shot hearts, all group A Digimon shot triangular fireballs, all group B Digimon shot lightning, and so on. When a Digimon was created, its in-universe special moves were tailored to the type of shot produced on the virtual pet. This is why all of the top tier Digimon listed below have attacks like "Lovely Attack," "Unidentified Flying Kiss," and "Love Serenade." The attacks needed to match the heart sprites.

Group L had the best overall matchups with every other group, having an average 12/16 or 75% chance to win versus any given Digimon. Its worst matchup was with itself, which was only an 8/16 or 50% chance to win. This was the highest probability to win versus a group L Digimon of any group. In other words, the best counter to group L was other group L Digimon, hence there was no real reason to use any Digimon other than these five if one was able to do so. The five group L Perfects were Monzaemon (Ver. 1), Vadermon (Ver. 2), Etemon (Ver. 3), Digitamamon (Ver. 4), and Ex-Tyrannomon (Ver. 5). These five Digimon dominated the competition, and were essentially interchangeable save for aesthetics. Limited access to them came from their obscurity and difficulty of raising them, as each group L Perfect evolved from a group I Adult, the weakest overall group with an average 25% chance to win versus any given opponent, and the only way to guarantee an evolution to Perfect was to have a high win ratio in addition to meeting the basic requirements of having 15+ battles at either the Child or Adult stages. It was a lot of work to raise one of these Digimon because the best Perfects in the game evolved from the worst Adults--Numemon to Monzaemon is the most famous, but for the other pets it was Veggiemon to Vademon, Scumon to Etemon, Nanimon to Digitamamon, and Raremon to Ex-Tyrannomon.

Chinese guide to the twelve groups and their respective probabilities.
The outcome of a battle wasn't purely up to your Digimon of choice. There was another way to increase one's probability of winning, by repeatedly feeding a Digimon protein to build up its chances by a maximum of 20% of the original value, but as a whole these were contests of who could raise the best and not of who could battle the best. The elemental triangle of Vaccine > Virus > Data > Vaccine was not implemented in these pets, but a primitive form of it existed at the Adult level. Group C Digimon (Greymon, Kabuterimon, et al.) had an advantage versus group G (Airdramon, Birdramon et al.), which had advantage against group D (Devimon, Angemon, et al.), who in turn had that same advantage versus group C. Occasionally you'll find the argument that real competition lay at the Adult level rather than at Perfect, because it introduced this type of metagame. But since only one Digimon could be raised at a time, there was no way to strategically capitalize on these triangular relationships. (Note that the terminology changes from place to place. For example, this Japanese evolution guide correctly sorts all of the Digimon into their respective groups, but also places the Baby I and II Digimon that cannot battle into their own categories, which causes group L to be referred to as group N, A as C, and so on.)

We do not know the name of the first D-1 Grand Prix national champion, nor do we know their partner Digimon, or how the final game played out. But we can infer some facts about it. Each Digital Monster pet was essentially a cosmetic reskin of the Version 1 pets, with no gameplay differences under the hood save for one fluke involving Deltamon's care requirements in Ver. 4. Battle thus played out identically across different models; each Digimon spent three rounds firing shots at one another and taking the opponent's blows, then in round 4 the winning Digimon fired a double shot and dodged the opponent's. The influence of protein items really came from how protein influenced power level, a hidden value ranging from 0 to 2. Eight proteins raised power level by 1, and became ineffective after the first sixteen proteins were given. The structure of the D-1 effectively selected for whichever tamers were using group L Digimon, and from among those whichever ones fed their Digimon the most protein. (For additional reading on the first generation virtual pets, With the Will user BladeSabre did some further research, primarily confirming the existence of power level and verifying current knowledge of how protein influences a Digimon's likelihood to win. His data generally matches up with that published by V-Tamer's Residence.)

The D-1 tournaments spawned their own culture, legends, and memorabilia in the Japanese Digimon community. Those legends obviously can't be verified due to a lack of any recordings of the event proceedings, but the fact that these stories were circulated at all is perhaps more notable than their veracity. One example is of a Numemon defeating an Andromon in an official tournament on a Ver. 1 Digital Monster pet versus a Ver. 3, which only had a base probability of 6% to happen at all. At each of the D-1 events Bandai began selling tamer tags--also referred to as tamer licenses--each of which featured a unique serial number, the D-1 logo, and a different Digimon on the front. The serial numbers were wholly unique, and like the virtual pets themselves were designed to give each tamer a distinct identity. They were intended to be worn with the keychain pet attached to the chain, and for added security Bandai also produced a line of "cages," plastic hinged cages equivalent to the modern phone case that protected the screen behind another layer and left open access to the buttons.

This type of material culture helped spur the early growth of the Digimon community in Japan, and the tournament series as a whole was pivotal to helping Digimon gain steam with the general public. The virtual pets were primitive, rough around the edges, and very chancey; but they were also wildly popular and captured the public imagination just as Tamagotchi had done a year earlier. Bandai helped foster community further through the internet, using their official Digimon Channel website to host "Digimon Café," a specialized chatroom for tamers. Café would remain in operation until early June 2003.

One month after the end of the first Grand Prix, the lines on what constituted Digimon first began to blur. On September 23rd the franchise's first console game, Digital Monster Ver. S: Digimon Tamers launched on the Sega Saturn, recreating the virtual pet experience in full color and on a home system that allowed for up to four Digimon to be raised simultaneously and battled in a virtual world. The game mimicked the appearance of an advanced home computer at the time, like the then-prominent iMac G3 and its OS9. What's interesting is that the game was launched as if it was just another addition in the Digital Monster lineup; here you have Ver. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and S. The game's Digimon lineup primarily comes from Ver. 1~4, with some game-original additions, and like the Ver. 2 Digimon, three of the five hacker antagonists were originally designed by readers of Weekly Shounen Jump and monthly V Jump; Pirate Hacker, Superhero Hacker, and Funky DJ Hacker. 50 other entrants were chosen to have their names used for the Scrub Hackers (ザコハッカー) the player faces.

Having played Ver. S I can attest to its quality and general faithfulness to the original gameplay mechanics, though it's debatable as to whether it's more or less so than Digimon World. It was also the first Digimon product to feature File Island, and a concrete storyline, pioneering a minimalist BBS/e-mail/system error mode of storytelling three years before Uplink and twelve years before Digital: A Love Story would make this device famous. (And when Ver. S was using these narrative conceits, the technology was new rather than retro.) The story in Ver. S is delivered in chunks of messages read in the player's inbox and seen on simulated webpages, with dialogue only appearing when confronting one of the hackers the player is competing with.

Seeing the massive Digimon sprites plead for food, express anger or happiness, and go head-to-head is a delight. However, as video game Ver. S hasn't withstood the test of time. The novelty of seeing virtual pet sprites done justice as detailed full-body animations on par with arcade tech and rendered on a home console has been done better by later games. The storyline is thin, the music dated, and the controls are made for another era. The game's biggest sin is its lack of multiplayer options, as the core storyline makes for a ~5 hour maingame and the primary appeal of the Digimon pets as opposed to Tamagotchi is pitting your own best work against your friend's best work. Digimon World would remedy this, leaving Ver. S in obscurity.

Screenshot from Digimons World
In spite of its flaws, Ver. S fascinates by how subsequent history articulates it as the first in a long line of console successors to the virtual pets. Chief producers Asanuma Makoto, Inagaki Hirofumi, and Imanishi Tomoaki all went on to work on Digimon World. The majority of Ver. S' staff continue to work on Digimon games today, although part of this is because Ver. S had a very small credits roll. Individuals like director Shindo Takayuki, who seemingly never worked in video games again, were the exception rather than the rule. Ver. S paid homage to its origins, listing the DMSP team in its special thanks; Hongo Takeichi, Oota Kensuke, Horimura Ayofumi (Given name reading uncertain; 堀村有由文), Suzuki Toshihiro (鈴木敏弘), Satou Takeshi (佐藤剛司), and Uchiyama Daisuke (内山大輔). Interestingly, Watanabe Kenji was credited as a shareholder from WiZ rather than as an illustrator, alongside Kitagawahara Shin (北川原真) and the more-familiar Yokoi Akihiro. Digimonkey gets his dues right at the end of the credits roll. (The character allegedly appears in the game using Etemon, but I've never seen him in any recorded playthroughs, and didn't get to a point in my own where he'd appear.)

The simplicity of the Digital Monster pets was a weakness in gameplay terms, but later years would show that it was that very simplicity that made it appealing to a significant audience of consumers in the first place. Having taken off with elementary school children and junior high students, Digimon was well on its way to becoming a major media presence. During the development of the Ver. 3 Bandai began commencing the first major talks with Toei and Shueisha that would branch into the creation of a multimedia franchise. Plans for the second Grand Prix were in the works as the first one was ending. October of 1998 would bring the first major revisions to the digital pet formula, beginning a move away from flat gambles on percentage chances, and towards a more skill-based, tamer-driven system for commanding Digimon.

Monday, October 26, 2015

First 5 Minutes of Digimon Adventure tri. Subbed

October 26th, 2015. Above is Tamer Union's English subtitled edition of the Digimon Adventure tri. movie teaser, which was livestreamed yesterday as part of an official promotional stream for the first film. Readers can compare the translation with another fansub produced by Onkei, and Lyrl's translation of the opening narration. The opening deals with themes of Neoplatonism (and by extension, Gnosticism) and primarily addresses the concept of the Demiourgos (Greek; "Demiurge").

Digimon Adventure tri.'s first movie, Reunion, will premier in Japan on November 21st, 2015. Previously it was prescreened over October 23rd in Japan. At this time there has been no word of an official western release, though the Japanese language DVDs and Blu-rays will be region-free.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

First 5 Minutes of Digimon Adventure tri. Shown in Livestream

October 25th, 2015. In an official Digimon livestream held today over Nicovideo, the first five minutes of the first Digimon Adventure tri. film Reunion were shown to promote the upcoming movie. An unsubtitled recording is provided above; subtitles will be provided later.

Digimon Adventure tri. was prescreened in Japan on Friday, and will premier in theaters November 11th, 2015. While the tri. DVD and Blu-ray releases will be region fee, no actual subtitled or dubbed western release has been announced at this time.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

-next 0rder- Website Promises "High Degree" of Player Freedom

October 21st, 2015. The Digimon World -next 0rder- title site has updated with a new heading "system," which introduces the game's gameplay and world to readers. The website has also added full character art and a proper profile for Luce, the mysterious new character introduced in this month's issue of V Jump magazine. The updates stress the game's ties to Digimon World, hinting at similarly-designed sandbox gameplay through a "high degree" of player freedom. Direct translations of the webpages are provided below.

Discover a New World with Your 2 Partners!
Distinctive of the Digimon World series, you have a high degree of freedom in this new adventure! As time passes the field will change from day to night, and with your partner you can freely explore!

Synchronize your partners' feelings in ❝Ørder❞ battle!
Turn your partners' bonds into power! The series' traditional AI battle evolves!

Raise and train in real time! Training, caring for, and bringing up... The way you choose to raise your partners leads to various kinds of evolutions. To strengthen that sense of "raising" a Digimon, their emotions and expressions have also been added to the game.
"I'll buzz buzz my best!"
A girl who somehow lost her member.  She's always carrying around a stuffed doll that resembles a Numemon.

Digimon World -next 0rder- will launch in Japan on the PlayStation Vita and PSTV in 2016.

Cyber Sleuth Coming to Australia

October 19th, 2015. The Australian Classification Board has officially classified the upcoming role-playing game Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth as PG, rated for "Mild fantasy themes, violence and coarse language, online interactivity." The board's rating makes the English edition of Cyber Sleuth legal for purchase in Australia, and acknowledges Bandai Namco Entertainment Australia on the classification as the applicant.

Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth will launch in English on February 2nd, 2016.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Let's Play Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth: Chapter 06 Akihabara's Serial "Spiriting Away" Case

Kyouko thinks our next step should be to do some information gathering. With the documentation investigation in Matayoshi's hands, we need to explore Kamishiro inside and out. Just then, a visitor arrives...

It's the policewoman from the prologue and chapter 2! Ms. Date is here looking into detective Matayoshi's "secret weapon." She thinks this is a real shady business we have going here; Kyouko welcomes her to the Kuremi detective agency, asking if the Tokyo metropolitan police department's Date Makiko has a request of us. Date is here to investigate our offices, and recognizes us from before. As it happens, she wants us to help her the way we help Matayoshi. Kyouko assures her that we're just an ordinary bunch of detectives, but we naturally have an obligation to help the police where they need it. Kyouko passes this on to us before stepping out; her obligation is our obligation, and vice-versa.

Date: ...Hey. Right now, you ain't thinkin something dirty, are ya? ...Hmmm. Right, yer under arrest.

Chapter 06 Akihabara's Serial "Spiriting Away" Case

Date wants to know if we've heard the rumors about Akihabara's "spiriting away" incidents. (She's talking about 神隠し kamikakushi; missing persons cases in which someone is "hidden by god," disappeared without any logical explanation. This is the same type of spiriting away titular to Miyazaki's Spirited Away.) Already, ten people in Akihabara have been confirmed to have disappeared, and the police are flooded with requests for missing persons. This is a huge case, and she's really frustrated about it--it seems that "again" she won't be of any help to Detective Matayoshi. (This is a play on Matayoshi's name. Here "again" is mata.) So she wants to use his secret weapon to solve the case.

Ms. Date's speech is incredibly casual for a police officer, the complete opposite of what you'd expect--she's really more legit punk than Jimmy Ken. Because of her truncated, rough, slang-heavy, sound effect-laden speech style, she's actually pretty hard to understand. It's one of the few times that phonetics are more difficult than kanji.

Date downloads the case data onto our Digivice, including a list of the missing persons, and information about Akihabara's spiritings-away. We're going to figure this one out, but we're also not going to tell Matayoshi we're helping her. But just as she's filling us in, Matayoshi calls her, and Date leaves telling us to investigate the people on that list.

We get the keyword Missing Persons of Akiba's Spiriting Away.

Kyouko discusses this case that we've taken. Date seems to be a troubling partner to work with, but Kyouko figures this is her karma. Our first step is to get more information about Akihabara's disappearances. As her assistant, Kyouko will be entrusting us with this case, and naturally she'll support us as before.

Before departing, I pick up this five-star rarity Skull Mammon medal.

 This chapter adds Akihabara to our map.

Akihabara has a somewhat-deserved reputation as a nerd mecca. In the aftermath of World War II it became a booming center of the nascent electronics market, and has repeatedly overgrown itself over time into an expansive cornerstone of Japan's tech culture. I've heard anecdotes of certain people that don't fit the mold of its usual customers outright refusing to enter the district. As for what that mold is, the fact that the Toucanmon in Digimon Frontier that were part of Ranamon's fanclub wanted to go to "Akiba Market" to sell their stolen Digivices is pretty indicative of it. (And on a related note, any fan that watched Frontier has some indirect exposure to it; the "Autumn Leaf Fair" is a parody of the city.)

Cyber Sleuth's rendition of Akihabara is filled with the usual suspects, otaku from the countryside on pilgrimages to the "Electric Town," young men obsessed with becoming the Number One Fans of moe anime girls, and regular old video game nerds. The store space is populated by arcades, card shops, and electronics stores; I would not be surprised in the slightest if those Sega banners are true-to-life.

This cat maid is selling recovery items for status effects. The only one we don't already have any of is Dot Recovery, which is going to prove very necessary in the future. Of the six status problems in Cyber Sleuth, Dot is easily the worst because it can't be cured just by waiting; the status effect permanently reduces the afflicted Digimon to an LCD sprite state, soft capping its stats at abysmal lows while the status is active and locking off all options except for Attack and Item.

On the far side of Akihabara is this Golemon medal.

Of all the people we can talk to, we need to use the Disappeared Persons keyword with this Repulsive Young Otaku. (Kimomena Otaku Seinen) He immediately launches into a panic, wondering if we're with the police, but when we say we're just a detective he calms down. This man has some information for us about the disappearances, but it won't come free.

As it happens, the Repulsive Young Otaku is in love, but he's too shy to speak to the girl of his dreams. He needs help communicating his "pure pure love " for her, and wants us to talk to this girl, get her full name, street address, and Digiline exchange for what he assures us is superb and rare information. As for the girl, she wears glasses, is pure and tidy, has long hair, and she was here in this "sacred ground" of Akiba not long ago. She's also an assistant at the florist's.

We get the keyword Flower Shop Clerk.

Tidy Girl with Glasses: ...He's over there again... Hurry and go away...

We need to use the Flower Shop Clerk keyword with this girl.

Tidy Girl with Glasses: That disgusting man, he's a stalker!

Apparently she's been having some trouble with this particular stalker for a while. Him being over there is the reason she's on this side of the street. When she hears that we're a detective, she asks us if we can communicate her feelings to him--that is, chase him off.


(I sat here for a bit thinking about how underprepared I am to render ORAORA KONO KIMOOTOKO GAAA!! into any language)

Disgusting Man: Uwaaaahhh trembletrembleshakeshake!?


Disgusting Man: Fumyuuu, rattlerattleshakeshake!? I'm sorryyy! I'll tell you anything! Aaaa, uh, um, I have friends y'know!? On the EDEN foruuums!?
A friend of the friend of the friend of the Disgusting Man's friend disappeared, and he found out about it through the EDEN forums.

Disgusting Man: Ththth, ththis onnneee!! The Comic Mania Forum! Also known as ComiMani Forummmm!!
Disgusting Man: No, it's no probleeeemmmm!!

 Fortunately, we can just pop over to the access point in the same area to reach the forums

The ComiMani Forum is the fourth level of the initial areas, on the same tier as the EDEN Entrance.

We want to talk to this Kansai-Speaking Girl to progress the story. When she hears we're a detective, she admits that in reality, she has some idea of who the criminal is--and she has reason to believe they're in this forum! The girl wants us to meet with her in the real world to talk, at the secondhand bookstore in Nakano prefecture.

(The Kansai dialect is a southwestern dialect of Japanese, sometimes equated with a Brooklyn accent in English. Some prominent stand-up comedians also spoke Kansai dialect, as did Digimon Adventure's very own Tentomon. This is one aspect of the first series anime that never translated to the west; it's a running gag in Japan that no one understands why Tentomon speaks in Kansai dialect, not even him.)

We run into Arata on the way out, who's wondering what we're doing on this type of forum. He's relieved to hear that we're just investigating a case. Arata's intrigued that the perpetrator behind the Akiba disappearances might be in this forum, and decides to join us on our visit to Nakano. When we ask what's he's doing here Arata gets evasive, insisting he was only interested because he mistook it for a Communist Manufacture (コミュニスト・マニファクチュア) forum.

This scene gives us a bit more insight into what sort of guy Arata is--we're browsing a マニア Mania forum for comic book enthusiasts, something that's not exactly otaku but is exactly equivalent to the Poké Maniac trainer class in Pokémon. Obviously Arata wasn't here for the same reasons as us; he's a comic maniac himself! He's got plenty of incentive to dissociate with that idea.

 We need to head back to the broadway to meet with our informant, and that means...

Digimedal time! This one's Whamon.

Our informant is on the third floor, next to the Nakano Mandarake. Mandarake is a real Tokyoite brand of used bookstores, though they're more notable for dealing in less booky products like anime figures, old media, and doujinshi. Like the Tower Records crossover in chapter five, this is an officially-sponsored promotion by Mandarake. As I remember, Mandarake had some sort of partial exclusivity deal in Japan where you could get Cyber Sleuth earlier at their outlets than you could in other stores.

Hey. Would ya look at that. That guy in the top right. Guess who I completely forgot to talk to and thus missed permanently? :V He only has a Demon medal and stat-enhancing item during this chapter, but this might lock me out of getting a certain item in the endgame. We'll see.

The Kansai-Speaking Girl chews us out for making her wait a thousand years. She was getting old waiting for us! Anyway, as she thought the culprit is likely a ComiMani member. The ComiMani forums are for people to gather and discuss, as well as draw manga. A little while before, someone uploaded an original manga to the ComiMani website, but the story and characters gave readers a sense of déjà vu. The forum members started posting nasty comments about the author because she was perceived as unoriginal. That was when the disappearances started happening, and only to the people that posted those comments.

Moreover, only officially registered forum members could upload manga to the website. Considering the obvious relationship between the list of disappeared persons and the members that posted comments, the one that uploaded that manga is likely the culprit. Unfortunately, that manga and all the comments related to it have been absolutely deleted. The Kansai-Speaking Girl is worried that she's also gotten herself in trouble by being involved. The forum space itself has a strange air to it now.

I don't want to go through it line by line, but there's an embedded joke here about the protagonist being boke/funny guy yet not boke and also tsukkomi/straight man, all in spite of his serious face. They're only making the joke at all because there's a character that speaks in Kansai dialect; manzai comedy is associated heavily with it because of the number of manzai comedians that are also Kansai speakers. (There's a similarly-themed joke in Digimon Adventure where Koushirou pretends he was practicing a one-man manzai to hide the fact that he's keeping Tentomon in his room from his parents.)

Arata sneaks up on us from behind, muttering about the idea that data could be absolutely deleted. Certainly to an amateur's eyes, it might appear that way. We should leave this one to him; he'll use the detective office PC to do it.

Arata goes through the site's log, searching for the path of the deleted data. By intruding into EDEN's general purpose server and finding the path data, Arata can repair the original comments. But what he finds there isn't normal; the composition resembles a Digimon program. Arata suspects that this data could be related to the Eater. He tracks the bizarre data's position to the Cron Junk Park, and wants to directly confirm that this dangerous program has a connection to the Eater.

Kyouko thinks Arata's pretty good. He's like our assistant--and the assistant of her assistant is also her assistant.

We need to Cron's first level for this, but as we get to the Junk Park, the scene cuts away...

The Kansai-Speaking Girl thinks she's gotten into trouble, and it would've been better to go to the police. She wonders if that detective's solved this yet...

KSG recognizes her friend, saying it's been an awfully long time since they saw one another. She tried to contact her, but got no reply. She was worried that she might've been spirited away.

Kansai-Speaking Girl: Eh? Whattsa matter? Thas a scary face yer makin'... Go to Akiba? Well,  wasn't planning to but... Well... Why don't we?

(I think this scene may be the cutoff point for Victory Uchida in this chapter, it's either this one or a different one further down.)

Back in Cron, Arata asks if we're prepared for this. The data washed up in the back of Lv. 1, but there's a possibility that it contains a dangerous program.

It's fine, it's fine!
Luck is also one of my abilities!

Arata's Keramon has since evolved to a Chrysalimon, and joins us as a guest character for this dungeon. He has a pretty useful skill that reduces an opposing Digimon's defense for several turns, but otherwise doesn't do a ton for me in this chapter.

The file lies at the broken logout point, and we have to use the Code Scan hacking skill from the previous chapter to get it.

 Arata begins to work on the file, finding a strange link that still leads somewhere.

But we're interrupted, as something accesses this area from the link!

We're immediately thrown into a battle against Wisemon, but he's not even a real boss. This version of Wiseman is fractional compared to a regular one's stats.

He doesn't even get a turn. Bruno using Saint Knuckle II deals 3x damage due to Wisemon being Virus-Dark, and this right here takes out 50-60% of his hit points in one blow.

Wisemon: GU... GIGI... GI. DO...N'T LOOK--
Arata: Uh!?
Wisemon: DON'T LOOK--

Wisemon escapes, but Arata's able to track him back to a Net Café Arahabaki, a back alley property in Akiba. It's beneath an old bookstore; as Arata would put it, we've hit Three Sevens, the jackpot.

Arata: ...Eh? Report it to the police? You mean that lady detective that cosplays a policewoman?

(Arata doesn't have the best impression of Date, huh?)

Back to Akihabara!

 Arata's a little frustrated that we called the police. He'd rather not cooperate with them on this.

 As we approach the café, a familiar effect takes over...

It's just like the Shinjuku Mayohiga! Arata concludes that an Eater must be around, but just which way do we go from here?

(If the cutoff for Victory Uchida isn't after the KSG cutscene above, it's probably here. You can't leave the dungeon until you complete it.)

The gimmick for this dungeon is that the path is periodically blocked by televisions, preventing us from taking the most direct route to the boss. These also use a neat graphical effect that make them a little there and a little not. An entire TV doesn't display at once, instead you see only portions of it in each frame.

Arata: Wait, that's...! Mari!! Mari! Hey, you are Mari!? Get a hold of yourself!

Arata: Why, Mari... Did they get you? Don't tell me... After that, the culprit...!?
We tell Arata to calm down. After getting a breath, he says this phenomenon should disappear as soon as we clean up the Eater in this area. Then, Mari should return to normal.

There are twelve victims spread out throughout this dungeon, and all of them appear to be alive, but don't respond when we talk to them. A neat visual cue is that both in and out of cutscenes they stand completely still, rather than moving slightly the way the protagonist and Arata do. They don't even blink.

 Up ahead, we see a familiar face...

Suedou Akemi! Arata's surprised to see him here, but figures out that Suedou must have predicted the phenomenon would hit this place. Suedou says he's exactly right; this space was created by the digital wave that he's trying to observe directly, in what he's calling a shift. (Written with the Japanese characters 転移 "transition (i.e. phase transition)" but pronounced using the English word "shift.") Suedou's finally named this phenomenon, Digital Shift.

>> No, this is the "Mayohiga" phenomenon!
When you announce it to society, please call it "Mayohiga!"
Suedou: Mai Yoh, Hih Gah? Well, it does have a certain flavor to it, and the sound is somehow nostalgic, but... It's already been decided, I'm calling this phenomenon the Digital Shift!
Suedou confirms Arada's theory that defeating the Eater will revert this space to normal, just like last time.

Something which I forgot to show in chapter 4 is that you can use Suedou as a regular shop when you're in a Digital Shift dungeon.

Further in, we come across the Disgusting Man, who's met the same fate as Mari and the other victims. Arata asks if we know him; he's not on the list of ComiMani forum members. We try to explain the stalking fiasco, but Arata doesn't really get it. If this guy's not from the forum, what's the connection?

Gold Numemon is a rare encounter in this dungeon, and the only one that gets a reasonable number of turns versus our party of Perfects. They're a lot like Ogremon/Delumon/other low-chance encounters in the original Digimon Story in that they drop a huge amount of XP and yen relative to the point where they first appear, and are functionally a random encounter boss, although this is far from the most you can get in one fight.

Gold Numemon drops the Friendship USB on defeat, which can be equipped to increase the probability of a Xros Combo Attack triggering by 10%. The effects of USB items stack, so we could farm multiple Friendship USBs to abuse Xros Combo more often, but it's not going to be worth the time investment given how we're already dominating the game.

Finding and touching the orb seen ~10 screenshots back causes a set of televisions to disappear a little ways from where we began, opening the path to the boss.

Tidy Girl with Glasses: Have to draw... Have to draw... Have to draw...
Arata: N... No way... YOU'RE the one behind these disappearances... !?

Tidy Girl with Glasses: Oh, Sanada-kun...? Eh, is it Sanada-kun? Waa, Sanada-kun! It really is you!
Arata: Nishino-san... Seriously... What are you doing...?
Tidy Girl with Glasses: You mean... You wanted to see? I'm drawing manga! Come... Look, look!

Nishino: Look, look look look look! At this, at that! This manga I put all my thought into! Not a derivative work... It's so original, isn't it!? The perfect, the one and only, my original!!
Arata: Nishino-san...
Nishino: Well!? Well, Sanada-kun!? Aren't I amazing...!? With this flawless manga I drew, am I ready for my debut...!? I can become a pro mangaka now, can't I!?
Arata: You said you drew a manga...? I don't get it at all... Where's your manga? Seriously, this isn't funny.

Nishino: ...Sanada-kun also speaks ill of my manga. It's exactly, exactly as I thought... Isn't it...

Arata: It's THAT Digimon...!? Just because it's the one in charge or whatever, does it have to be that gigantic!?
Nishino: Sanada-kun, you're with them... My works, my nonsense, speak ill of, my dream, a hinder, call foolish, mock, and shame. Everything is also as if it were nothing, so laugh at it, and live.
Arata: Touya, this one's dangerous...

Nishino: I made them stop laughing... With this, anything will be as I wish it to be. The manga I drew... It became real. Sanada-kun, I'll make you stop laughing. But... Do I absolutely have to kill you? Because my manga will become complete. You all... You all, will become my readers...! The captives of my manga...! You will become that! And then, please, will you be silent? Please, and then, don't ever look at anything again? Don't look, don't look, don't look, don'tlook DON'TLOOKDON'TLOOKDON'TLOOKDON'TLOOK


So, Wisemon. His stats are vastly inflated compared to the watered-down version we fought before; his Speed is enough that he can guarantee himself one turn for each of our three unless we engage in Speed boosting (guess what we're doing). He's also able to wipe out everyone in our party in two to three hits with multitarget skills, which makes me tempted to learn just how bad this fight would be with a more normal party.

 Saint Knuckle II still hits for 25% of his maximum HP, and a four-hit KO is good enough for me.

Andiramon's Data attribute makes her horrible for this fight, so for the most part I relegate her to item chucking. A few times we bring out Asipatravana to chip away at Wisemon, mostly at the end.

Wisemon has Hell Crasher II, a multitarget magic Dark skill with a base power of 35 that hits all enemies. This is actually Wisemon's chief means of winning the fight, even though it's not his primary damage dealing move.

Pandora Dialogue is Wisemon's unique skill, which takes off 20% HP from each of our Digimon, but deals 10% in recoil damage to Wisemon. Percentile damage ensures that he can remain a little threatening even to high-level parties, while still being a self-defeating boss for lower-level ones. Because of how it's set up, Pandora Dialogue can't actually finish anyone, but it's very effective at forcing you into a defensive position regardless of how prepared you are. His other abilities are Reflect Mirror (responds with a counter if magical attacks are used) and Nightmare III, a single target Dark skill with 95 base power. Nightmare III can let him easily dispatch a weakened Data Digimon, while his primary combination for dealing with other attributes is alternating Pandora Dialogue and Hell Crasher II.

Wisemon drops a Memory Up on defeat.

Nishino: That... My dream... Without that... I can't draw anymore...
Arata: Nishino-san... I was really looking forward to your manga though...? I got the feeling you really enjoyed drawing manga...I could only read [and not draw], so I could look forward to it, and I thought I envied you. So, seeing you become this... Honestly, I can't believe in you anymore. Sorry for not noticing [how you felt], Nishino-san.
Nishino: Sanada...Kun... I... Just wanted everyone... To enjoy it...But, inside me... Something began to grow... I couldn't stop it... Why... Why did I...

Arata: This's bad, you need to run...!!

Nishino: A, a... AAaAAAAaAAA... !!

Arata: Ni-Nishino-san...!? ...Yyyou! I'll never forgive you!

The main challenge behind this Eater is that it comes right after Wiseman. The Eater actually has very low HP, but incredibly high defensive parameters. Even my Digimon were only dealing ~30 damage to it, which was still a significant portion of its hit points. The Eater's main abilities are debuff skills like Attack Break and Spirit Crash, interrupted by it "Observing" the party. What Observing leads to I have no idea, because it didn't last that long.

After we defeat the Eater, the Digital Shift fades away. The way Suedou explained it before, the Eater is the one that emits the digital waves that eventually condense into a Shift, creating a space that is both digital and real.

Officer Date thinks this is a really weird case. We're reporting that each of the disappeared persons has been returned safely, but with no memory of the disappearances.

The culprit's also been found unconscious, with EDEN Syndrome. Date thinks we know something more, but lets it go this time.

Arata is shocked to hear that Nishino has EDEN Syndrome. He quickly draws a conclusion: The Eater eats data. Humans inside a Digital Shift take on a half-digital state, and the Eater we encountered in EDEN ate our mind data, robbing us of our body in the real world. Therefore, that is EDEN Syndrome. But what should the treatment be? If we defeat the Eater, will it get back our data? Defeating the Eater we encountered today didn't bring back Nishino. Arata decides he needs to ask the old man Suedo for more information, and runs off on his own.

Kyouko has her own theories about our big adventure. For one, that big Digimon we encountered. She seems to recall a man having a particular influence on a Digimon, and conversely, the girl we encountered today also had an influence on a Digimon. The feelings she was holding in the depths of her heart--delusions of grandeur, a deep-rooted desire for approval, and egoism--these inner workings of her mind called a Digimon to her, and it began to control her entirely. Inside the Mayohiga, their bond strengthened to the point of displaying as a paranormal force. Although she was not a hacker, that girl could still use a Digimon. The cause of this incident was the bonding of a Digimon and a human.

This is a plot lifted more or less directly from Digimon Savers. The first arc of Savers follow a general thread of Digimon forming connections to humans with strong emotions and then enabling them to act on those desires, whether that was robbing a bank or rigging horse races. It's also sometimes interpreted as a response by Savers to Digimon Adventure 02's idea of all humans eventually having a partner Digimon, and what that could lead to. You could make the case that picking up that idea again and continuing off of something Savers started, Cyber Sleuth is inserting itself in Digimon's "line of succession," branching off from the fifth season instead of Xros Wars.

Kyouko thanks us for resolving the case, but has her concerns about Suedou Akemi. She wants to know why he was inside the Mayohiga alone, despite being aware of the dangers in entering. His motives remain vague, and anything we try to guess at this point will just be jumping to conclusions.

"You got 1000 CSP."

"Would you like to save?"

The revelation that it was Nishino all along in this chapter is an important swerve because of how it changes the character dynamics initially established. Nishino's feelings that no one appreciated her just because of some comments made on the internet are what called Wisemon out in the first place, enabling her to get revenge. But her feelings didn't reflect reality. Arata, Mari, and the Disgusting Man all appreciated her, but Arata never told her he liked her manga until it was already too late, while the Disgusting Man only saw the pure image he wanted to see in her, and never her real self as an artist. In the end, she turned on all of them, and her obsessive need to be validated as an artist destroyed her emotionally. It could have easily been a "the dog did it" moment to this mystery, but because of how the characters are introduced it comes off as clever because this flips around the dynamics you assume. (Not unlike the role reversal in the manzai act; the Tokyo-raised protagonist is better at it than the Kansai girl.) The stalker is the victim, the flower shop clerk is the "killer," and the seemingly-trivial relationship between the stalker and the informant is actually the basis for the disappearances.