Digimon Fusion is the sixth series in the long-running Digimon franchise. The saga featured three season arcs. As with other Digimon seasons, Digimon Fusion features animation from studio powerhouse Toei Animation. Licensed for US distribution by Saban, the series offers audiences a different storytelling approach to other Digimon creations as it combines the main conceptual idea of Digimon with something much more akin to the Transformers saga.
What's the concept of this incarnation? In a nutshell, Digimon meets Transformers sums it up. The focus is no longer on Digimon evolving (like on Pokemon) but rather on Digimon being capable of combining powers by "fusing" into one mega-powerful Digimon. In essence, the concept has the Digimon transforming into more powerful versions, though it does so with the conceptual idea of the Digimon always teaming up.
Directed by Tetsuya Endo (Saiyuki Reload, Saiyuki Gunlock), the series emphasizes action and adventure more than other genre elements. Comedy and character development aren't focused on as much as some other incarnations. The scripts are written by Riku Sanjo (Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger, Kamen Rider W), who brings a decidedly different approach to the Digimon saga with his meshing of multiple franchise-elements.
In this Digimon saga storyline, the series begins with a young boy named Mikey discovering the Digimon Shoutmon in an alley. Magically, a DigiDevice appears to him that allows for Digimon fusion to happen. Before he knows it, Mikey is transported to the digital world and he begins to encounter a new and mysterious journey through the Digimon realm.
The magical device Mikey discovered is called the Fusion Loader and it allows for Digimon to combine and use multiple abilities together as one mega-Digimon. As the storyline starts to be explored, Mikey's other friends are also brought to the digital world. Mikey becomes friends with the Digimon he discovered in the alley. The name of that Digimon is Shoutmon, and he wants to become the Digimon King and help peacefully rule over the Digimon. His special moves include Rowdy Rocker and Sonic Tsunami.
Mikey's friend Angie is brought along the strange journey. She is kind spirited, helpful, and determined individual. She becomes friends with the Digimon Ballistamon: a armored machine Digimon with metallic attributes and more unique Digi-skills. Lastly, the journey wouldn't be complete without the addition of Jeremy. Classmate with Mikey, Jeremy is a big video-gamer friend who works with the Digimon Dorulumon: a lion-like beast Digimon who can use drill moves in action.
Mikey, Angie, and Jeremy and their respective Digimon friends make up the team known as the Digimon Fusion Fighters. Using the Fusion Loader DigiDevice, each member uses Digimon to combine powers with other Digimon. They use Digi-fusion to combine techniques and abilities. In doing so, fusions create more powerful Digimon.
Combining the Digimon can be done at the X2, X3, X4, and Fusion Xtra level. Each level adds additional Digimon to the combination. The more levels and abilities gained the more powerful the Digimon can become when fused. Ultimately, the Digimon Fusion Fighters must defeat the evil Digimon Bagramon and his army as they plan to take over the entire Digmon world: which causes danger for all of the Digimon and for Earth too.
The direction for the show can be a bit action-packed at times and will appeal to fans of other action-animated programs. Endo does a generally reasonable job with this Digimon franchise. Unfortunately, the storytelling by Sanjo is underwhelming (and the translation efforts done by Saban might be part of the problem). The series feels poorly done in terms of characters and is certainly a far cry from the larger-ensemble work done for the original Digimon series.
It seems limiting to just have three lead characters and the focus seems less on the humans than it has been previously and is more on the concept of the Digimon fusing. It's a neat idea that some fans might enjoy but it also feels a bit generic as it's essentially just combining the type of mega power combinations seen on Transformers or Power Rangers. The Digimon franchise wasn't in need of more elements like this. Instead of focusing on telling an exciting new story the series relies much more on the conceptual approach. (Making matters worse, Sanjo's final arc of the season uses a storyline that was previously done on Digimon and its less effective within this incarnation.)
On the positive side, the Digimon animation continues to be superb. This is actually one of the most polished looking Digimon series since the original. The animation looks stellar with the widescreen format and the detail the animators brought to the table. Toei Animation continues to do solid animation work and fans will be happy with the design and implementation of the art.
While Digimon Fusion isn't as enjoyable as previous Digimon series there are still some good elements going for it (especially in terms of the impressive production aesthetics). The series might also play better to young fans who are not familiar with the original series storyline. Unfortunately, longtime fans of the Digimon franchise might consider it disappointing.
Digimon Fusion arrives on DVD with a stellar presentation. The series is presented with strong encoding and each episode is in 1.78:1 widescreen with anamorphic enhancement. It looks very good for a SD presentation with crisp line detail, good color reproduction, and few issues with compression. This is about as good as it can get for a anime series released on the DVD format.
The English 5.1 Dolby Digital is serviceable and should please fans of the series. While the series sonic design isn't the most complex, the dialogue clarity is good. It's unfortunate that viewers cannot view the series on DVD with the Japanese language audio and English subs. However, the English dub is generally pretty decent and this release is consistent with other DVD releases of Digimon seasons from Cinedigm and Flatiron Film Company.
Unfortunately, Digimon Fusion arrives on DVD with little in the way of supplements. The only extras on this set are a 12-page guide-book with brief character/Digimon information and some artwork. On-disc, the set includes 3 picture-galleries of Digimon villains featured on Digimon Fusion. That's all.
Digimon Fusion is not as interesting as other Digimon series and offers storytelling which is less enjoyable than previous entries. The concept is neat but at the same time it feels more derivative than usual as it essentially adds in Transformers or Power Rangers power-combination ideas to the proceedings without focusing as much on what made Digimon cool in the first place. Fans of Digimon Fusion (and the English dub) will appreciate this well-put-together set but everyone else should consider a rental.