Saturday, April 25, 2020

11 Shows to Watch While Digimon is on Hiatus


Well, we all saw it coming. Digimon Adventure:, the latest entry in the long-running series and reboot of the original anime, has been put on indefinite hiatus. I don't think I have to explain why. So if you're looking to get your Digi-fix or put your recently acquired Crunchyroll Premium subscription to good use, read on for some recommendations of what to which during the hiatus.


Digimon Universe: App Monsters

The last full Digimon TV anime series initially aired in 2016 and 2017. The fandom was quite excited for a new take on the franchise, however it took a while for Appmon to leave Japan in any major way. While it never got the full Digimon dub treatment, the series eventually found its way to Crunchyroll in 2019. App Monsters sees a focus on Digimon that originate within mobile apps and features a plethora of characters inspired by search, chat, navigation, and other apps. Out of all of the Digimon anime series, this one deals with real world technology the most.

The complete series is available on Crunchyroll.


Digimon Xros Wars

Another series fans longtime fans might have missed, Xros Wars follows Taiki Kudo who commands an army of Digimon, fusing them together for dozens of combinations in a battle to reclaim control of the Digital World from the evil Bagra Army. After their success with Power Rangers Samurai, Saban Brands reacquired Digimon and adapted Xros Wars into Digimon Fusion, hoping to recapture the golden days Fox Kids. And then it  flopped. Luckily, Xros Wars is still pretty good!

The complete series, including the Young Hunters continuation, is available on Crunchyroll.


Gundam Build Fighters

You don't have to be a Gundam fan to appreciate this excellent series. Build Fighters is set in a "real world" where Gundam is a long-running anime series known for it's plastic model kits - also known as Gunpla. Here, builders craft Gunpla and utilize advance technology to bring them to life and battle in tournaments. Just like the children's card game in Yu-Gi-Oh!, the gunpla battles are serious business in Build Fighters.

Two complete seasons of Build Fighters are available on Crunchyroll, as are two seasons of its spin off - Gundam Build Divers - which is set in an MMO because of course it is. Click here to check out my full review of season 1 and click here for my review of season 2.


Web Ghost PiPoPa!

This isn't quite a battle/collection series. Instead, it feels a bit more like Chalk Zone. Each episode features a real world conflict or mystery connected to the internet. The protagonists transport to the net and team up with cute digital companions called Web Ghosts to solve the problem of the week. Things start off light and carefree but eventually the stakes start to rise and things get a bit more serious.

The complete series is available on Crunchyroll.


Cardcaptor Sakura

The point of this list is to recommend some obscure and unknown titles, which i why the obvious answers like Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh! aren't on here. But Cardcaptor Sakura is an unusual example as it's not one most people would consider. Cardcaptor Sakura is a magical girl series with a monster collection theme and a card gimmick. It's no wonder the US version was marketed to boys.

A bunch of Cardcaptor Sakura is on Crunchyroll, including a dub of the first series that I am 99% sure is a newer dub and not the original English version.


Astra Lost in Space

While not a series about kids battling with monsters, Astra Lost in Space does feature a group of kids who go to camp for the summer and wind up lost in an unfamiliar world. Astra Lost in Space deals a bit more with the survival aspects of the File Island arc as the group deals with finding food on alien worlds. Along the way, the group of strangers become friends and uncover their own connected history. I promise that while it might not look like Digimon, by the end you'll be certain that it feels like Digimon.

The complete series is available on Hulu and Funimation in Japanese and English.


Monster Rancher

Released for the Playstation during the first years of monster collecting hype, the first Monster Rancher game allowed players to summon monsters by removing the game disk and scanning any CD in their parents' collection. A 73 episode anime series followed a boy who is sucked into the game and thrust into an adventure across a massive world, partnering up with monsters along the way. One of the better forgotten gems of the era.

The complete series is available on Tubi and Amazon Prime.


Fighting Foodons

This is one of those things that sounds like a parody of the genre. Like it should've been a MadTV sketch or a background gag on South Park. But nope. This is a short manga, 3 games, and an anime series about magical chefs who bring food to light to battle for them. It's a wild ride and the worldbuilding is all over the place. Like on top of the gimmick of bringing food to life to battler there is a ragtag rebellion against an evil empire and also a catgirl. Some of the Foodons look like tokusatsu monsters, others look like cute plushies, some are just dinosaurs with bowls on their heads. It's weird, dumb, and more Japanese than anything I've ever seen come out of Japan.

The complete series is available on Tubi and Amazon Prime.


Duel Masters

On the surface, Duel Masters seems like just another Yu-Gi-Oh! knock-off. However, the series serves as more of a parody of the subgenre. The English dub especially leans in on this with self-referential humor and references to American pop culture. While the story is humorous and often goes a bit too over the top, however many latter episodes start to take themselves seriously and eventually it settles into a legitimately good card game anime.

The first two seasons of Duel Masters is available on Tubi.


Dinosaur King


Made long after the monster collect 'n battle trend had come to an end, Dinosaur King was a series that mixed animation styles - for better or worse. A bunch of kids partner with cute little baby dinos, but when something to do with cards happens the little plushies evolve into CGI, photo-realistic dinosaurs to battle it out. Otherwise, it's pretty generic with wacky adventures  epic monster battles.

The complete series is available on Netflix.


Magi-Nation

Initially released in 2000, Magi-Nation started off as a card game created to fill in the gap for fans who outgrew Pokemon but found Magic: The Gathering a bit too complex. It was followed by a Game Boy Color game the following year. An animated series was produced in 2007, long after the card game went defunct. Magi-Nation follows Tony Jones, a boy from Earth, who is summoned to a fantasy world to join forces with Dream Creatures to battle evil. It looks like a crappy Flash web series and I'll admit I haven't watched it. But if you've finished the other shows on this list, Chaotic isn't on Tubi but Magi-Nation is. You take what you can get.

The first 13 episodes of Magi-Nation are available on Tubi.

That's over 400 episodes of collecting monsters, battling monsters, and coming of age adjacent to monsters. Hopefully they'll be able to scratch your Digimon itch and help get you through this.

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