Sunday, November 29, 2015

9/26 DIGIMADO Digivice Tournament Finals Video

November 29th, 2015. Digimon fan tournament organizer DIGIMADO uploaded the tournament finals video from their September 26th Digivice tournament, showing the top 4 cut from the third 2015 All Digimon Cultural Exchange. The video above shows these games;
Top 4: Re:Hirari (War Greymon) vs Gerumon (Jesmon) (Gerumon 2-1)
Top 4: Gaiou (Pendulum Herakle Kabuterimon) vs Sasakani (Ver. 15th Herakle Kabuterimon) (Sasakani 2-1)
Battle for 3rd place: Re:Hirari (War Greymon) vs Gaiou (Pendulum Herakle Kabuterimon) (Re:Hirari 2-0)
Top 2: Sasakani (Ver. 15th Herakle Kabuterimon) vs Gerumon (Jesmon) (Gerumon 2-0)
The tournament regulations allowed tamers to use Digital Monster Ver. 1~5, Digimon Pendulum 1.0~5.5 and ZERO, original Digivice 1.0 and 2.0 models, Digivice Ver. 15ths, and the Digimon DigiBat series of connecting figures. In order to maintain backwards compatibility with past Digimon toys that use two-pronged connectors, the Ver. 15th has the original Digital Monster rules coded in for when it connects to older pets. Versus other Ver. 15ths the Digivice uses similar rules, but some aspects of it remain undocumented. It's presently unclear if the Ver. 15th actually implements the same Vaccine > Virus > Data > Vaccine attribute triangle commonly found on post-1999 toys, but competing tamers have taken no chances, adopting Jesmon as their tournament pick of choice because of his Data attribute having the greatest number of positive matchups versus the huge number of Vaccine Digimon available.

In the Ver. 15th battle system, each Digimon simultaneously fires four shots, one after another. The first three shots are irrelevant; on the fourth attack one of the Digimon fires two shots, and the Digimon that fired only a single shot loses. This is nearly identical to the Digital Monster rules, where the first three rounds have no impact even though visually the Digimon are shown alternatively dodging or taking attacks.

Originally released as an anniversary item to commemorate Digimon Adventure tri., the Digivice Ver. 15th was later reissued in colors based on the anime series. It is currently set to be succeeded by the D-3 Ver. 15th, which will be available for preorder on December 25th, 2015, as a limited-time item that only 6,000 units of which will be manufactured. Earlier this year, the Premium Bandai web shop surveyed its users for what kinds of toys they would like to see created in the future, with other Digivice and virtual pet reprints as suggested options.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Zen and the Art of Digimon: Digimon in Asia and the West (1997-2000)

Both the Tamagotchi and Digimon product packages were redesigned for the US by Bob Nenninger.
As we reach this point in the franchise's history, I find there are significant gaps in the record not addressed by the Japanese sources that would normally be regarded as authoritative. V-Tamer's Residence is precariously unaware of any LCD games not released in Japan, and NHOKO is similarly uninformed. We have our own story to tell.

From the onset, Bandai was invested in expanding its brand to a global scale. Digimon quickly found a foothold in Asia and the United States, and even when American markets would eventually contract, Bandai's audiences in China, South Korea, Hong Kong, and other countries, would continue to be a reliable consumer base for the company to cater to. In the years to come, Bandai would go so far as to cater directly to the Asian market even when Japanese sales were down, tailoring products specifically to Hong Kong, Taiwan, and South Korea.

Originally uploaded by Sarah Colledge, used with permission.
The original Digital Monster pets were exported to the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, and some parts of Asia in 1997, accompanied by promotional materials that tried to capitalize on the Tamagotchi craze by tethering the Digimon brand to it. The press brochure Zen and the Art of Digimon: The Trainer's Spiritual Guide significantly orientalized the franchise in spite of numerous cultural and name changes made to the pets, promoting the Digital Monster series with humor parodying the works of Zen masters in a chopstick-letters font. The brochure was also sprinkled with hiragana and 5-6-4 haiku poetry ("DigiMon are pure... As snow in a country... Which has no dogs") to cement its "Zen" elements, using the nonsense words おなお onao and おなもお onamoo in place of actual calligraphy to give the appearance of being authentically Zen.

Produced by public relations company The Wright Partnership Ltd., Zen and the Art of Digimon played up the pets' connection to Tamagotchi with a literal family tree. The brochure set up Digital Monster as partitioning directly off the first generation of Tamagotchi, with no production relation to Tamagotchi Angel or successive products. (Accordingly, this chart graphed Digimon as an offshoot rather than as part of Tamagotchi's development history.)

This tree lists Tamagotchi Garden as due for a UK release; Garden was ultimately canceled in the west in favor of Ocean.
How true this was is questionable; the meter used to track a Digimon's level of training has similarities to the second-gen Tamagotchi Mothra's (July 1997) Justice Meter, and Angel's (August '97) Angel Point meter. The two-pronged conductors used for Digimon's battle communications are also almost identical to those found on the Mesutchi/Osutchi generation of Tamagotchi toys, which were the first Tamagotchis to connect to one another. Considering that Digital Monster launched six months prior to Mesutchi/Osutchi, a more likely diagram is that Digimon was based on the hardware and software written for Mothra/Angel, and Mesutchi/Osutchi evolved directly from the Digital Monster pets. (No other Tamagotchi would have connector prongs throughout the brand's life, presumably due to Digimon taking over as Bandai & WiZ's multiplayer pet of choice.)

Originally uploaded by Sarah Colledge, used with permission.
Zen and the Art of Digimon is a very questionable work in terms of its relationship to the greater franchise. On one hand, it contained the first accurate translations of Digimon virtual pet profiles, the same Japanese texts that would later be used as the basis for the Digimon Reference Book. Just compare the Airdramon profile above to its Reference Book profile from 2014. But on the other hand, it also went to great lengths to censor elements of Digimon and introduce ideas not found in Japanese language materials. That same profile omitted a line in the virtual pet profile about Airdramon being close to god, and these first materials also referred to Devimon as Darkmon, and Monzaemon as Teddymon. Zen also introduced new locations and setpieces of dubious canonocity, some of which would be adopted into the packaging for the exported pets.
"The traditional method of training DigiMon was developed by the legendary DigiMonks, a group of mysterious hooded figures who inhabit a hidden monastery deep within the Far East End where they dedicate their lives to contemplation, meditation and teaching DigiMon how to beat seven shades of snot out of an opponent. The DigiMonks divide the nurturing of virtual-fighting-machines into three areas: diet, coaching and spiritual well-being."
The international pets were first advertised as DigiMon, a form of CamelCase found on several early English Digimon materials prior to the debut of Saban's anime dub. Unlike the blister packaging used for Japan, in Asia and the United States a box that concealed the interior pet's shape was used to contain it. Like the Tamagotchi series preceding it, this was a result of the packaging artwork being redesigned by marketing illustrator Bob Nenninger.

Bandai's aim when redesigning the Tamagotchi packaging was allegedly to alleviate consumer confusion about the product, but I would approach this idea with a degree of skepticism. Bandai of Japan never tried to redesign Tamagotchi's packaging for the Angel, Garden, or Ocean products, yet the toy's era was ultimately cut short not by a lack of consumer awareness of what they were buying, but a concentrated move away from the toys as a fad.

Regardless of the redesigned packaging's origin, Digimon emulated Tamagotchi's international packaging to maintain a visible connection between the two pets. Like with the Tamagotchi pets, the front cover of the international Digital Monster packaging swung open to both show what the toy looked like and provide a description of what Digimon were. The pet's connectors were a novelty for the time, advertised as "Dock 'n Rock action," a term which may originate from Japanese promotional materials. (The first known reference to the pets as "Docks" was in the C'Mon Digimon manga, but the Japanese pets used "Battle Connect" as their slogan.)
"DIGIMON™ is the unique Digital MONSTER™ from cyberspace. Accessed from the Megalithic Mainframe, DigiMon comes to you to be hatched, raised and trained for the ultimate MONSTER MATCH--a cyber showdown between one DigiMon and another. With the exclusive Dock 'n Rock action, you link up your DigiMon with your friend's DigiMon--only one will win! Who will reign victorious? It depends on how well you raised and trained your DigiMon. Feed him well; train him thoroughly. For when the time comes for DigiMon to return to the Megalithic Mainframe, his ultimate honor is to be the strongest!"
The "Megalithic" idea was just one among several ways in which Digimon tried to capitalize on the 90's dinosaur craze. The initial western commercials for the Digital Monster pets played on the hype surrounding The Lost World: Jurassic Park, which had debuted in theaters only a few months earlier. The side effect of this was that the outside world was exposed to a divergently different version of Digimon than what was being presented back home in Japan, and the description of Digimon given above deliberately contradicted the Japanese language materials from that time. The Megalithic Mainframe itself was invented as an explanation for Digimon not dying, as the tombstone graphic normally displayed upon a Digimon's death was removed for the US, European, and Asian Digital Monsters, replaced by an image of a computer (the eponymous Mainframe).

This euphemistic return to the mainframe may have been created to prevent any so-called "Tamagotchi suicides," rumored suicides by virtual pet owners over the deaths of their pets that supposedly took place in Japan or South Korea in 1996. I've never seen any source to the rumors, but they were referred to in reputable tech publications like Next Generation magazine's October '97 issue.

The Nenninger packaging was used in Asia as well, while in Europe a mix of boxed and blister packaging (featuring the western-original illustrations on its illustration board) was used. Even at this early stage of its development, FOX was taking a strong interest in the Digimon brand. The Monster Match-Up sweepstakes were conducted through a Fox17 news station in Tennessee, and TV commercials for the pets were produced and aired through the Fox Broadcasting Company.

The international pets changed the patterns found on each Digitama, as well as the colors of the devices themselves. Rumors from the early in the franchise's western launch found their way onto Tamagotchi fansites, pointing to several alternative names for Digimon--"Digital Demon," "Digi Demon," and "Tama-Hawk" among them. While the veracity of this is difficult to confirm, it's interesting that these rumors surfaced in the first place. What kind of image were westerners trying to impress onto the franchise? "Digital Demon" rings of late 90s Christian paranoia about demonic forces lurking in Pokémon cartridges, and invites comparison with the "Webkinz Killer" rumors of 2007.

One can only speculate on this topic, but I've noticed that the general tone of early Tamagotchi sites was ambivalent with regards to "DigiMon." Perhaps such tensions are to be expected; Digimon was an inherently masculine counterpart to Tamagotchi at the outset. One one level, it was threatening to the Tamagotchi fandom that Bandai saw a need to create a toy for a market they weren't already reaching out to. On another, there's always an underlying fear that one brand may replace another when its predecessor underperforms. (Just compare the case of Cardfight!! Vanguard and its child series Future Card Buddyfight. The early animosity from cardfighters was in part motivated by Bushiroad seemingly putting more into marketing Buddyfight than Vanguard.)

While Digimon never reached the same overwhelming popularity as Tamagotchi, the pets proved popular enough in Australia to lead to the creation of a sixth version by Bandai Asia, in clear purple (what the Japanese would think of as a "skeleton" plastic) and grey. Even today, almost no one in Japan is aware of V6. The fukei used for the Ver. 6 was identical to that used for Pendulum 1.0: Nature Spirits, and the game architecture similar to the Ver. 5 Digital Monster, while the actual Digimon present were based on Nature Spirits sans the Ultimate/Mega (US) level. Its Group L/S Rank Perfect was Tonosama Gekomon ("Shogun" Gekomon due to the western release) with Gekomon as its Numemon equivalent. Being exclusive to one country, the Version 6 has become highly prized by collectors, auctioning for $300 to $350 where most Digital Monster pets in 2015 only sell for $60~80 out of box.

Success came with its own challenges. Bootleg Digital Monster pets began to emerge, reverse-engineered from the original models put out to the public. These bootlegs would often have buggy pixels, poorly configured contrast settings, and manufacturing errors, which also served as identifiers for connoisseurs. The most noticeable mistake was found in the corners of the screen's "lock" frame, which were sharp in bootlegs but rounded in official pets.

A more real threat to Bandai's copyright was Digital Monster 6 on the Game Boy Color, an unlicensed and unofficial game created by Hong Kong developer Best Rich. DM6 was a direct translation of the virtual pets to the GameBoy, using a specially-designed cartridge with its own set of two-pronged edge connectors capable of communicating with Digital Monster and Pendulum pets as if it were any other device. In adapting the virtual pets for the Game Boy, the developers of Digital Monster 6 seemed to follow the same trains of thought as Bandai's staff.

Just like in Ver. S and WS, tamers could purchase, hatch, nickname, and raise several Digimon at once from a central shop system, up to eight Digimon simultaneously. And like in those games, the player could also move the clock forward manually to speed up the raising process, and adjust the speed at which time passed generally. One giveaway to its unlicensed status was the use of meat and sweets as meal items rather than meat and protein, and that the Digimon resided in a house rather than a cage. The other features of training, flushing poop, and evolution were spot-on.

It's little wonder that nothing of this sort ever manifested officially, as Bandai was actively competing against the Game Boy during the time frame when an official product of this kind could flourish. Any remnants of DM6 are lost to time. No ROM image of the bootleg has emerged on the web. In light of specific prohibition policies against allowing the sale of bootlegs on popular e-shopping services like eBay and Amazon, the only way to buy it would be through a flea market or a seller from Hong Kong. Even then, the question remains of being able to actually bring an item that violates international copyright back into the borders of one's own country. The world has been put under many more locks and keys since these bootlegs were first created.

Unlike in Japan, no D-1 tournaments would ever be organized in the United States. South Korea, China, and Hong Kong were all incorporated into the Grand Prix at least by 2002, but any earlier tournaments are undocumented. Digimon was instead marketed as the next Tamagotchi fad, something played between friends but being deliberately short-lived, and certainly seemed to meet Bandai's short-term goals.

The Pendulum series was also never brought over to English-speaking countries. Instead a two-year gap followed until the launch of the Digimon: Digital Monsters anime dub on the Fox Kids network. Aside from future handheld and console games, another proper virtual pet would never again be distributed in the west. The presence of the anime dub made Digivice toys explosively popular, completely supplanting the pets in the popular imagination. Asia was on the opposite end of the spectrum, with Hong Kong and Singapore enjoying early releases of Japanese pets, and even their own Asia-original pets through 2002, though these did come among Asian Digivice releases.

Left: American poster for Digimon: Digital Monsters. Right: Japanese poster for Digimon Adventure.
As to the quality of the Saban dub, modern fans coming into Digimon now are likely confused by the claims that it was extremely accurate to the original. This is a somewhat complicated situation. For years, Digital Monsters was held up as one of the most accurate anime dubs of all time, and one of the series least ashamed of its Japanese origins. This was true for 1999, but the Saban dub is better remembered in the same way that we remember Don't Ask Don't Tell--"fair for its day." I've seen the differences between Toei's Digimon Adventure and Saban's Digimon: Digital Monsters expressed using their series' respective posters (seen above), an analogy I'm inclined to agree with. The characters, core plot, and scenes are generally similar, but the American dub was saturated with exaggerated portrayals that changed the chosen children from complex personalities caught up in difficult circumstance to a Looney Toons DigiDestined focused more on cracking jokes than growing as individuals.

This isn't the place for an exhaustive rundown, but try comparing just one character. In Adventure, Kido Jo is struggling not to crack under the pressures of living up to his father's expectations to become a doctor (and how much of those expectations are actually his own), being the eldest child responsible for protecting the rest of the group, and keeping his promises to the various friends he makes in the series. His partner Gomamon always speaks what's on Jo's mind, teaching him to be forthright with his feelings and follow his heart. In Saban's Digital Monsters, Joe Kido is a chronically-ill complainer with hyperactive asthma, allergies to every new thing he encounters, and is a general Hall Monitor-type. His partner Gomamon constantly clashes with him, making him lighten up and learn to not worry about everything. Kido Jo's crest is Sincerity, Joe Kido's crest is Reliability.

The Saban dub did less cuts than other anime for the time (it did do cuts; things like the end of episode 42 being moved to the beginning of 43, removing chopsticks, bath scenes being deleted, etc.) and its character name changes were nowhere near the level of contemporary Pokémon. To its benefit the dub--while quite shy of the fact at first--eventually admitted that the series was set in Japan, and conceded to naming the major landmarks of Odaiba. There are Adventure fans that grew up watching the dub, then later traveled to Japan as adults and visited the real-world sites of its most famous scenes. Even so, American viewers should be aware that the outside world gives very strange looks to our dub apologists. Of all the international dubs of Digimon Adventure, the American dub was the least faithful, and the changes made come off as both hypocritical and at odds with our alleged American values. Name changes are the most glaring; while Tai, Matt, T.K., and Kari, are all presented in the dub as nicknames for Taichi, Yamato, Takeru, and Hikari, functionally these names are treated as if the originals never existed. The United States is supposed to be the most culturally diverse and accepting nation in the world, yet while xenophobic Japan wouldn't shy away from portraying Li Xiaochun and her primarily Chinese family in Tamers, we're still driven to turn Izumi Koushirou into Izzy and replace the soundtrack with Kim Wilde's Kids in America. It seems no one on the dubbing staff realized there were children in the US with Japanese names. The fact that this practice has continued well into 2015 is both frustrating and shameful.

The original soundtrack, as well as the now-iconic opening and ending themes Butter-fly and I Wish were all cut for the American release in favor an approximately four-track original OST, later adding Hey Digimon as an insert. The dub opening theme has infamously become the one of the only things popular American culture remembers about Digimon, the other being the incomprehensible March 2000 film. Note that making such dramatic changes was not the uniform practice globally, as the Portuguese edition of Adventure dubbed both Butter-fly and I Wish (though the lyrics had no real relation to the original), and other international dubs were more faithful to the original script. The European Spanish dub was based on the Japanese Adventure script, as were the German, Portuguese, Arabic, and Latin American dubs, whereas the French, Swedish, Hungarian, and Polish dubs were based on Saban's dub script. Most of the international dubs, with the exception the Arabic dub, changed the names of the children to match the American ones, a decision which was mandated by Toei. Ironically, it seems American names were more acceptable than Japanese ones in countries where one would never otherwise encounter a Matt or a Joe.

The US Digivice hit across a string of unknown dates in 1999, in three waves: 1.0, 2.0, and 2.5. On 1.0 all partners except Agumon and Gabumon were capped at Perfect/Ultimate (US) level, while 2.0 and on added Ultimate/Mega level evolutions for all partners. Like with their Japanese counterparts, these were pedometer devices which progressed through a series of areas (seven in total) by counting the steps made through either walking, or shaking the device. The sprites on these toys were greatly truncated from their Japanese counterparts, reverting to 16x16 but using completely original designs rather than simply lifting their sprites from the Digital Monster series.

Battle was somewhat different. Digimon had Life and Attack stats, and every round the Digimon would evolve if it was able to do so, increasing its stats. Area bosses were invulnerable to Child/Rookie-level Digimon, and were encountered by clearing the number of steps needed to progress. The player could only revisit preceding areas after clearing the entire game. In battle, successful evolution depended on a count feature just like in the Pendulum series' attack system, but using actual attacks depended on rapidly mashing the A button rather than on shaking the toy. When connecting to other devices, the Digivice would use either its own American Digivice rules (only versus other US Digivices) or Digital Monster rules (for everything else). The Vaccine/Virus/Data triangle did not exist on American toys, and all Asian-American Digivices could connect with the Digital Monster series, Pendulum, and Japanese Digivice (and later the Japanese D-3). Its compatibility with the Analyzer remains undocumented.

Unlike the Japanese Digivice, the Asian-American variants did not have Tailmon/Gatomon (US) included. The AA devices also didn't have any of the vestigial meal items. Both graphically and in gameplay terms the US/Asia Digivice was a downgrade from the Japanese Digivice and Pendulum series, as it removed the strategic in-game battle system of the Japanese toys, and didn't have any of the careful management aspects of the Pendulum series. Rather than the meticulously balanced count system found in Pendulum, on the US Digivice there was no measure of rhythm, only speed and button mashing. On the other hand, this Digivice at the very least didn't revert to Digital Monster rules when connecting to other Digivices.

Regardless of how we couch it, the question of gameplay will always be subjective. When the two are compared in a vacuum, both the Pendulum count system and the Digivice count system require a level of kinetic skill to play well, the Digivice just asks every tamer to have a uniform ability to hit the same RPM while the Pendulum demands something different depending on which version and Digimon you're using.

The Asian territories this Digivice was distributed in include Thailand, Malaysia, and Taiwan. (Whether or not it was distributed in mainland China is unclear.) Although the various versions came in a myriad number of colors, there were no gameplay differences between them except by version. The Ver. 1 came in orange, dark blue, red, green, and light blue, while the 2.0 came a clear plastic version, black, purple, yellow, and a glow-in-the-dark white. The 2.5 came in clear purple and metallic grey. The lack of product information and clear version identification outside of the Digivice's internal menus makes tracking down all of the colors difficult, so this list may not be exhaustive.

One of the small marvels of Digimon's history is that it somehow survived while Tamagotchi died off. 36 million Tamas were sold in from 1996 to 1997, nearly half of the franchise's 80 million life-to-date sales from 1996 to 2013. By 1998 the Tamagotchi craze had gone the way of the pet rock, with the holiday-themed Santaclautchi as the eleventh and final Tama in the original series. Yet at this time Digimon was a gold mine for Bandai, and for a period through 2000 the company was unable to end its international toyline because of the strong public demand. The sudden failure of Tamagotchi in March 1998 severely hurt Bandai, as they overproduced for a market that no one quite realized was disenchanted with the Tama fad, and made the company cautious about future investments. In 1998 another recently launched joint Bandai-WiZ franchise, Magical Witches, failed to penetrate. Having come at the tail end of the virtual pet craze when the world was finally forgetting about Dogz, Galapagos, Fin Fin, and Tamagotchi itself, Witches ultimately only survived through its setting Witchelny, a parallel Digital World from which Wizarmon, Piccolomon, and some later Digimon like Witchmon were all said to originate. Tamagotchi was consigned to a similar fate until the mid 2000s, living on through Nanimon, but the mystery is that Digimon managed to persevere for so much longer.

Given the global success of the various Digimon anime series--even if short-lived--and the Digivice toys, it seems clear that Digimon outliving its parent franchise is partially owed to it moving away from the very elements of nurturing and raising that longtime fans lament the loss of. This isn't uniformly true, as later years demonstrate the series thriving as a virtual pet even when other products perform poorly, but building up an audience through the anime series and quest-based Digivice toys made it possible for Digimon to acquire a consumer base that wouldn't otherwise be interested in it. The franchise was at its strongest when it appealed to multiple intersecting interests that gave it a strongly diversified audience.

After it first took off internationally, Digimon could no longer remain a strictly Japanese franchise. The future would see increasingly close product launches in multiple countries annually, and over time Bandai of Japan would come to absorb some of Asia's Digimon terminology into the main franchise. With Bandai and Toei fully aware of the international power Digimon was beginning to muster, the year 2000's Digimon Adventure 02 would see the franchise presenting itself as a globalized space for children of all nationalities.

Next: The 2000 Grand Prix and the Year of the Digivice

Over 3,000 Tamers Preregistered for Digimon Heroes

November 28th, 2015. Mobile application preregistration platform PreLaunch.Me has put up a page for the upcoming Digimon Heroes, the English-language localization of Digimon Crusader. At the time of this writing the Android version of Heroes is currently leading at 3,130 preregistrations, while the iOS version has just 19.

At present Heroes is only available in Australia, New Zealand, and Romania. Bandai US has indicated that there may be news on Heroes during their December 1st Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth livestream on Twitch.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Ishida Yamato & Garurumon Figure Announced at Mega Hobby 2015 Expo

Original image uploaded by @figsoku_b
November 28th, 2015. At today's Mega Hobby 2015 Autumn Expo, anime figure production studio MegaHouse unveiled a new official Digimon figure, featuring Digimon Adventure's Ishida Yamato and Garurumon, his partner's Adult-level evolution. Yamato & Garurumon are the next entry in the G.E.M. Series, a line of high quality figures aimed at young adult women, featuring characters from popular anime and manga series.

The G.E.M. Series has most recently featured Wizarmon and Tailmon from Digimon Adventure, which has been one of MegaHouse's most popular G.E.M. Series franchises since it became a part of the line in January 2014. Past Adventure G.E.M. figures include multiple versions of Takaishi Takeru and Yagami Hikari with the various forms of their Digimon partners, repeated reissues of Yamato and Taichi, and other members of the Chosen Children. Of the entire G.E.M. Series figures, Ichijouji Ken is the only Digimon character to hail from Adventure 02 rather than the first season.

An exact date and price for the Garurumon figure has not yet been given, but past Digimon figures were priced at between 4,800 yen and 11,000 yen (approx. $40~$90).

Original image uploaded by @mega_girlshobby

Digimon Reference Book: Valvemon

The Digimon Reference Book profile for November 27th, 2015, is Valvemon. A translation is provided below; you may use it freely on forums, wikis, etc. so long as you link back to or cite this page.

Level: Perfect/完全体
Type: Machine/マシーン型
Attribute: Data/データ
Special Move: Mad Pump/マッドポンプ
Octagon Attack/オクタゴンアタック
Profile: A Machine-type Digimon which boasts the greatest size among all vehicular Digimon. Within its body it can transport a load of as many as 40 Digimon, carrying them to strategic points. While in transit, it only has the power to repel enemy attacks. Its special move is to send out one soldier after another, "Mad Pump."


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. Last week's profile was Nise Drimogemon.  

Thursday, November 26, 2015

-next 0rder- Website Adds Executor's Profile

November 27th, 2015. The Digimon World -next 0rder- title site has updated with a blank profile; that of Executor (執行者 Shikkousha), the black knight Digimon previewed in the most recent issue of V Jump magazine and teased at the end of the game's TGS2015 trailer. Now that it can be seen more clearly, his design appears to be based directly on Omegamon, but starved and with both Metal Garurumon's and War Greymon's heads bound. Executor is designed by the Digimon series' main illustrator Watanabe Kenji.

Uniquely, Executor does have profile text embedded in his section of the page, but if it was anything legible to begin with then it's been deliberately garbled to prevent reading:

Full Crimson Mode Art Shown in Dengeki Online, New -next 0rder- Screenshots

November 27th, 2015. Dengeki Online published an article today discussing Dukemon: Crimson Mode's appearance in the 2016 game Digimon World -next 0rder-. The article introduces a new "Story 2" section ahead of its debut on the game's title site, following up from the previous Story 1, and also reiterates Luce's and Taomon's official profiles.

Story 2
The reconstruction of the village they met Kouta and Himari at is progressing smoothly, but they still haven't found a way to counter Mugendramon's threat.

During this, Jijimon asks them to bring back the Digital World's leading sage, Taomon.

The protagonist who goes to Taomon now learns just what happened in this world...
Rather than an original blurb, Dengeki pasted Dukemon: Crimson Mode's Bandai Digimon Reference Book profile (translation taken from Wikimon):
A hidden form of Dukemon whose body is clad in armor that shines crimson. Because it has fully released its power, its armor portions possess the heat to dye them red. For that reason, it is unable to maintain Crimson Mode for a long duration. Within its chest is its Digicore, which sealed the "Digital Hazard", and when it discharges all the power in its body, a pinnate energy emission can be distinguished coming from its back. It wields a divine lance of light, "Gungnir", and a divine sword of light, "Blutgang", energy weapons that have no physical form. Its Special Moves are cutting the opponent to pieces with its divine sword "Blutgang" (Invincible Sword), and disintegrating the opponent into electrons with its divine lance "Gungnir", then consigning them to oblivion within another dimension whither thou canst not follow (Quo Vadis).
The article also expands on the batch of November 6th screenshots with new images, and gives a clearer view of the meal items seen in Jump magazine last October. All non-repeating screenshots are given below.

Ambiguously, Dengeki stated that the "exact details" of the game's linked content with Digimon Adventure tri. had not been announced, even though Maicoomon's status as DLC has already been confirmed in an official stream. This could imply that there is more to the tri. crossover than has been announced.

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

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Adventure tri. Movie 1 "Reunion" Opens at Almost 60 Million Yen

November 25th, 2015. Japanese anime news outlet AnimeAnime reported that the first chapter in the Digimon Adventure tri. theatrical films, Reunion, opened at over 59,000,000 yen during this preceding weekend. Reunion made the currency equivalent of approximately $480,000, but was shown at a relatively small number of theaters compared to other films. Only ten theaters nationwide screened tri., with total attendance at 36,000 viewers. The film's overall budget and the amount spent on marketing is unclear, but official Tweets from Toei and related companies have described it as a "big hit."

The second film, Decision, will premiere on March 12th, 2016.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

More than 50,000 People Have Preregistered for Digimon Linkz

November 25th, 2015. Japanese gaming news outlet Inside Games reported than more than 50,000 people have registered for Digimon Linkz, Bandai Namco's 2016 iOS/Android app. In September 2015 Bandai implemented the Start Dash Campaign to reward players for the number of registrations, promising a V-mon gift at the 10,000 registration milestone, and later 20 Digistones once the app hit 50,000 preregistered.

Digistones are an in-game item used to recover a Digimon's stamina, allowing the player to continue training their Digimon past the normal limit for one day. Linkz takes cues from the Digimon Story series in giving the player a DigiFarm they can train and raise Digimon on, before taking their monsters into dungeons or battling other tamers.

A Digistone
Originally announced for Autumn 2015, Linkz was later moved to a 2016 launch date for development purposes. According to Inside, Linkz deals with a "disaster" in the Digital World--the first anything has been said of the game's plot.

Digimon Linkz will launch in 2016 on Android and iOS. The game will be free-to-play, with microtransactions. Watch the trailer here.

P-Bandai Puts Monzaemon Fluffy Pouch on Sale

November 25th, 2015. The Premium Bandai shopping site updated tonight with a new fashion item for sale, the Monzaemon Fluffy Pouch. (もんざえモンもこもこポーチ Monzaemon Mokomoko Pouchi) Priced at 2160 yen (approx. $18) the plush toy uses Monzaemon's zipper to convert the Digimon into a storage pouch, which can be attached to a bag or backpack. The entire plush measures 210mm x 160mm, and will be distributed in January 2016.

The pouch is likely based on a similar Monzaemon toy carried by Etemon.

Mynavi Interviews Hanae & Hosoya on Digimon Adventure tri.

Original image uploaded by Mynavi.
November 20th, 2015. In an interview done in advance of Digimon Adventure tri.'s Japanese premiere on the 21st, Japanese news outlet Mynavi conducted an interview with voice actors Hanae Natsuki (Yagami Taichi) and Hosoya Yoshimasa (Ishida Yamato). In the interview, Hanae discussed his shock at the original cast being replaced for Digimon Adventure tri., and the challenges he faced in becoming the voice for one of his childhood heroes. Hanae saw Taichi as being Fujita Toshiko, his original voice actress, and went into the audition believing he would never be chosen for the role of Taichi. For his own part, Hosoya had no knowledge of Digimon prior to being asked to audition for Adventure tri., but felt the need to portray a Yamato that Kazama Yuuto (the character's original Seiyuu) could never perform as. A complete translation of the interview was published on the 24th by fan translator Onkei-kun.
"When I attended the Digimon event and saw the bright, shining eyes of the fans who anticipated this series, I felt over again how much love these pure-hearted people have for this anime, and how I'm going to be voicing in such a cherished series."
—Hosoya Yoshimasa
Many fans both in Japan and abroad have remarked on similarities between Hosoya's and Kazama's voices when used for Yamato, with several theatergoers initially mistaking Hosoya for the original actor by the sound of his voice alone. The similarities in the film are reinforced by Yamato's character in the film, which of the cast displays the least amount of change since Adventure 02. In contrast to this, Hanae's Taichi has been immediately singled out for the differences both in portrayal and tone when compared with Fujita's presentation. Hanae is normally chosen to portray very youthful and boyish characters, and his more mature version of Taichi is somewhat surprising to the industry as a whole.

The second chapter of Digimon Adventure tri., Decision, will premiere in Japan on March 12th, 2016, and be simulcast overseas by Crunchyroll.

Bandai Publishes Digimon Linkz Trailer

November 24th, 2015. Bandai Namco Entertainment has published a trailer on their official YouTube channel for upcoming smartphone game Digimon Linkz, identical to the video uploaded by V Jump for TGS2015 earlier this year. The game's farm system is derived from the Digimon Story series, with a gashapon machine replacing the standard shops, while its 3-on-3 battle system is partially borrowed from Cyber Sleuth.

Instead of SP, Digimon in Linkz are shown to have AP gauges divided into a fixed number of bars, and the battle menus read (clockise) "ATK, AP2, Activate, AP3" rather than the normal Sleuth menu. The player is also given the option to set the speed of animations in the game while in-battle, while in Sleuth they could only turn the animations on or off in the field.

Digimon Linkz will be available on Android and iOS phones in 2016. Those that preregister for the game will be eligible to receive a special V-mon in-game.

Digimon World -next 0rder- Will Be at Jump Festa 2016

Makuhari Messe, the site of Jump Festa.
November 24th, 2015. The Digimon World -next 0rder- title site updated today with an announcement that the 2016 game will be featured at this year's Jump Festa, held on December 19th and 20th at Makuhari Messe. The official Digimon games Twitter account confirmed this, asking readers to come play at JF2016. -next 0rder- will likely be hosted at Exhibition Zone 2 at the Bandai Namco Entertainment/Banpresto booth.

Some Japanese fans have responded to the announcement negatively on Twitter, demanding instead to know if the smartphone game Digimon Linkz will be present at JF2016. Very little information about the mobile game has been given since its TGS trailer. While past issues of V Jump have featured small splash sections encouraging users to preregister for Linkz to receive a V-mon in-game, the lack of information has been frustrating for some.

Jump Festa is an annual media expo first formed in 1999, and promoted through a collaboration of several Jump brand magazines, including Weekly Jump, Shounen Jump+, V Jump magazine, and Jump SQ. Formed through a coalition of Shueisha and associated companies, Bandai's Digimon was a foundational work for the expo, having its own booth at the first event, Jump Festa 2000. Although in the past Jump Festa was held at the Tokyo Big Sight convention center in Tokyo Bay, beginning with JF2004 the event was relocated to Makuhari Messe, where it has stayed ever since.