Finally, we're up to my favorite little guy from the original series! Growing up with a more limited selection of such, I took all the good-guy arthropods I could get, but I don't JUST love Tentomon for being the insect of the team. Let's learn why!


The first baby stage is an exceptionally good one, since it's just a bubbling puddle of green mucus that makes a lot of bubbles. The official Bandai description actually adds a whole little story in which Pabumon's ability to multiply its bubbles was used for "computer virus development," but that the experiments were unsuccessful due to Pabumon's "weak life force." Obviously, this means whoever was trying to engineer them into a disease noticed that doing so was dangerous to Pabumon and felt so bad they let all of the Pabumon go and decided not to do that again. Whew!



Baby II in this line is supposed to be evocative of mochi, but I always liked how it resembled a little blobby Halloween sheet ghost. It's officially speculated that Motimon was born from dictionary data, because for a baby Digimon it's supposed to be extremely knowledgeable and intelligent.



And then, we get TENTOMON! Look at him! Look at how rad he is! He's obviously supposed to be a ladybug, and that's really interesting to me as a lifelong insect nerd, because a "cute" ladybug is a fairly predictable choice for an arthropod protagonist, but Tentomon does not shy away from a truly insect-like appearance, and while that's not completely unheard of in Japanese media - thanks largely to Kamen Rider - it was novel as hell to me back when the Digimon dub first premiered.

It was pretty much Tentomon who hooked me into the series first, and I tuned in to the first few episodes just to see what the little beetle would say or do next. It helped that I found (and still find) his English voice completely endearing, which you can listen to for almost three solid minutes in this old interactive short from the official Fox Kids website.

That's not to say Japanese Tentomon isn't also lovable, which you can listen to for ANOTHER three minutes of your life in this official song, because oh yeah, tons of early Digimon also have official songs.

Tentomon's dorky voice and mannerisms are part of his characterisation as a "scholarly" digital monster, and this is also a reflection of his human partner, another one a lot of us little geeks related to all too well:

Fascinated by computers, video games and scientific trivia, "Izzy" was probably the #1 person you would want tagging along on an adventure through anything called a "digital world," but as an introvert with niche interests and a lot of difficulty reading social cues, he often came across as cold and distant to the other children.

These days, we all know that a kid like Izzy probably falls somewhere on the autism spectrum, but that was barely a concept anyone had heard of in the mid-90's. Instead, kids like Izzy were just considered "weird" or "antisocial," appearing in countless cartoons as insufferable know-it-alls, comedic sidekicks or even skeevy little villains.

Not Izzy, though. Not Digimon Adventure! While Izzy does have to learn how to show more sensitivity towards the differing needs and feelings of others, he never has to change who he is to be accepted in turn. Instead, Izzy's bug pal encourages him to fully embrace his interests and talents, seeing through Izzy's "weirdness" to a bright kid with a good heart and always willing to stick up for him, just the way he is.



...And when the going gets rough, the brainiac beetle can explode into a freakin' two-story xenomorph. What was I just saying about arthropod protagonists? This was what I meant when I called Birdramon only the second most terrifying hero Digimon. I never witnessed a "good guy" half this monstrous and menacing until this series, unless it was also some kind of antihero or antivillain or villain-turned-antihero or something else with a "dark" twist to excuse a "dark" appearance.

None of that here. Kabuterimon is just a huge, black and blue, eyeless nightmare with a slavering red maw who happens to be the same sweet, virtuous hero he was as a Tentomon. Horned beetles are pretty widely thought of as heroic in Japanese culture, but even other anime and manga rarely make a hero beetle this immediately grisly, and I do believe I mentioned that the lead Digimon designer is a huge fan of Western horror.



Fortunately, these Gigeresque monstrosities happen to have the most consistent evolutionary chain of the original mains, or almost any central hero Digimon for that matter. This is a HUGE sigh of relief if you liked exactly what Kabuterimon already had going on, even if, admittedly, it gives us a little less to talk about.

I do like Megakabuterimon's rib cage and especially its arms a whole lot. Those bendy, many-segmented tubes just look too cool!



Finally, the Ultimate stage is another one we never got to see in the original two series, but it does make a major appearance in the newer Digimon Tri, and is even central to what many assert is one of the most heartbreaking emotional moments in "Adventure" continuity. There aren't a lot of franchises out there where you can watch a thing that looks like this having a tearjerker hero moment, I'll tell ya what.