I have been a fan of Digimon since I was a kid. I love the first season, highly enjoy the third, and even the second, for all its flaws, has its charms. I had the opportunity to watch all three of these seasons recently, alongside my nephew, and I could not help but notice a few things.
In particular, I noticed some clear indicators about a certain menacing final villain – the “Big Bad,” if you will – sprinkled throughout the first two seasons.
Or perhaps I should say, they would have been the true and final villain, the ultimate Big Bad, of the original Digimon series, the Adventure saga. The third season, Tamers, departed wildly from what they were planning, and they clearly were planning something. They laid some pretty solid groundwork over the course of two seasons, and just never got to finish building on it. All of their work is directly tied to the Big Bad, the one behind many of the other villains we see, a being so powerful and dangerous that they took two full seasons of other, lesser threats just to indicate his (or her) existence.
I could not help but file a bunch of these hints away, and I believe I have a pretty good idea of what they would have done, and who the Big Bad would have been.
Starting From the Beginning
First, a quick review.
The first season of Digimon had the Digidestined getting swept off to the Digital World, where they found both friends and a multitude of enemies. Both the Digital World and the Real World were in crisis, and most of that centered around the activities of dangerous, villainous Digimon, but there was something much bigger happening: the boundaries between the two worlds was blurring, with Digimon appearing and causing catastrophe all over the Real World. But the Digidestined defeated all the villains, and the Digital World was both destroyed and reborn again, the barriers coming back firmly into place.
The second season saw an expansion in the ranks of the Digidestined as they traveled back and forth between the two worlds freely. New villains arose, as well, yet they were mostly connected, like puppet strings or dominoes, to a single, previous villain who made his return just in time for the finale. Once again, both worlds were devastated, and restored, and this time the story ended with the two worlds interacting freely, instead of being separated once again. Still, the blurring between worlds was a significant problem, and they added in new worlds as well, such as the one that grants wishes and, more infamously, the Dark Ocean.
The ending of these two seasons obviously rushed to tie up the story, but there were plenty of dangling threads that would have been tied up in what would have been a third season.
The fact that the first two seasons were connected, as part of a much larger story, is well-established by the characters of Azulongmon and Gennai.
Azulongmon is a mega-ultimate level digimon, one of four ancient protectors of the Digital World. This concept was recycled in Tamers with the four Sovereign Digimon, but we only got to see Azulongmon in the Adventure seasons. The exposition he provides links the events of the second season with the first, especially by way of mentioning how, “after a long battle,” each of the four were sealed away by the Dark Masters, who were the second-to-last villains of the first season.
Gennai is… well, he has a human appearance, but he’s certainly not human. He and his comrades are disciples of a force of light, one which briefly communicates with the Digidestined via the conduit of Kari, who bears the Crest of Light. In that sequence, we see that he and his brethren helped to create the digimon and sync them with the energies of the Digidestined, after such had been chosen, as well as the crests which proved pivotal to helping them Digivolve. Then Piedmon, chief of the Dark Masters, attacked them and cursed Gennai, when the man stood in his way and got the eggs, crests, and Digivices out of harm’s way.
Afterward, Gennai appears frequently to guide, protect, and aid the Digidestined. He and his brethren are even able to impart a bit of power from Azulongmon, their ally, to the digimon in the second season, to help them digivolve at critical moments.
So, Azulongmon, Gennai, and some sentient force of light are all clearly working together, an alliance of various creatures forming a faction aligned with the light, whose activities span both seasons as well as events set before the story begins, with the chosen Digidestined and their digimon partners standing at the very heart of their efforts. But what are they all allies against?
Azulongmon and Gennai’s brethren demonstrate an ability to enhance a digimon’s ability to digivolve, and this is actually what they do in partnering humans and digimon together. The same ability to digivolve is suppressed by the Control Spires, which Azulongmon explicitly states were created in order to suppress him and his comrades.
The Control Spires were constructed by Ken, when he was corrupted as the Digimon Emperor. Yet, despite building them, he knows next to nothing about them. It turns out, they weren’t even his idea to begin with. He was under the influence of a Dark Spore, which Oikawa planted in him whilst, in turn, under the influence of the spirit of Myotismon. So Myotismon used Oikawa who used Ken to build the Control Spires… but where did they come from?
The answer may be indicated the first time Kari is swept up out of the Real World and onto the shores of the Dark Ocean. There, she meets some wretched, desperate, vile creatures who want her to be their queen, and use her power to lead them against their king, the King of the Dark Ocean. We barely catch a glimpse of that figure, rising from the depths after she escapes, but that only happens after they discover and destroy a Control Spire.
It’s quite a surprise, finding one there. But, then again, Ken only became the Emperor after he, too, had been taken to the Dark Ocean, and his Digivice, a holy talisman of empowerment within the Digital World, had been bathed in its waters, corrupted into a Dark Digivice which did the opposite: it suppressed the digimons’ ability to digivolve. That power was then relayed out through the Control Spires, which he built.
That is both a circular and a straight line between the Dark Ocean, and its king, and the Control Spires which suppress the power of Azulongmon and all other digimon.
The power of the Control Spires and the Dark Digivice are tied straight to the Dark Ocean, but they only came to be through the machinations of Myotismon. Interestingly, he becomes an entity of darkness itself, feeding on people’s misery and negativity. He also states, “It is my destiny to plunge this world (meaning the Real World) into darkness and become king of the Digital World.” That phrasing always puzzled me. How would destroying the human world make him king of the digital one? But it is perfectly explained if the darkness he referred to was that of the Dark Ocean, and rule over the Digital World was some sort of promised reward.
Yet, the Control Spires most directly suppress Azulongmon and his comrades, who were sealed away by the Dark Masters. The Dark Masters didn’t seem especially “dark” to me, for the most part, but they certainly had dominion over the Digital World. That is, first they defeated the four guardian digimon, then they tried to prevent the Digidestined from coming, then they waited until the Digidestined had come and gone (in pursuit of Myotismon), and then they reformed the Digital World into Spiral Mountain, and then, only then, did they challenge the Digidestined… and lost.
So, is there a connection between the Dark Masters and Myotismon?
Well, they both interfered with the Digidestined, trying to corrupt or kill them and their digimon even before they came to the Digital World. Myotismon was the more successful on that score, corrupting Ken, enslaving Gatomon, and trying to kill Kari. He also, through his servant Demidevimon, tried and somewhat succeeded in corrupting each of the Digidestined in turn, suppressing their respective virtues and stifling their strength.
There is one other being who tried to stop the Digidestined when they were still relatively weak: the first major villain, Devimon. He used the power of the Black Gears, as well as his own Touch of Evil, to take control of benevolent digimon all across File Island, trying to destroy them. Much like the Digimon Emperor later used black rings to enslave digimon to do his will.
Devimon appeared only one other time in the series, after his initial defeat. Ken, as the Emperor, found him in the depths of the Dark Whirlpool. This is described as “the source of all evil in the Digital World.” Is it merely a coincidence that both of them are found in the middle of the ocean? Perhaps it is, in fact, a place where the Digital World and the Dark Ocean are connected to each other?
And speaking of second appearances, we see a servant of Piedmon, Ladydevimon, in the second season as well, this time amongst the Daemon Corps. Daemon is leading them to try and obtain the Dark Spore from Ken, on behalf of the “the forces of darkness.” They couldn’t even destroy Daemon, merely exile him to the Dark Ocean, whose king he obviously knows of, and counts as being extremely powerful.
So there are connections running between Daemon, Devimon, Myotismon, and the Dark Masters. They all seek power, seek and become darkness, and try to kill, corrupt, or otherwise stop the Digidestined at various stages, as early as possible. They have similar goals, similar abilities, and similar allegiances.
Even Apocalymon, whose advent is only made possible by the destruction of the Dark Masters because they remade the Digital World. He can purportedly use all the powers of all the evil digimon that the Digidestined defeated up until that point, yet he only uses a few of them. And all of the digimon he mimics are part of this recurring theme of serving the darkness.
One could easily theorize that they are, in fact, all loosely connected with each other. Perhaps they are competing servants of a single, greater power, with Myotismon merely going rogue in due time. Certainly, there is a likely connection between them and the Dark Ocean, as well as its king: the true antagonist of the show.
Yes, who is he, really? And why does he obviously send his servants not only to wage war against the Real World, and the powers which protect the Digital World, but, most specifically, against the Digidestined, again and again?
There is something there, something that could very well be… personal.
Yet, to have something personal against the Digidestined, he would have to have previous experience with them… and there is only one entity I can think of which fits that description.
Gennai tells of a being (a digimon or whatever) that came to the Digital World from beyond its boundaries. This enemy was the very reason the first set of Digidestined were called, long before Tai and the others from the first season. They were called to fight alongside digimon partners, who were empowered by their connection to a human, and they won. But it was quite a long, terrible conflict.
Much like the one Azulongmon refers to having endured before the Dark Masters pounced on him and his friends, sealing them away one by one, they being wearied from the battle, and then actively suppressed by the servants of darkness, via the Control Spires. I almost wonder if the four guardian digimon were the original partners of the original Digidestined, or if they were simply part of the overall struggle.
Either way, all it would take for this ancient enemy to become the nefarious, much-feared King of the Dark Ocean is simply for him to survive. It would certainly explain why he hates the Digidestined, having been defeated by them, or their predecessors, once before. Maybe he, like Daemon, was too powerful to be destroyed, so they exiled him instead, back beyond the barrier between worlds he had crossed once before.
He certainly did come from beyond it the first time. And he certainly had tremendous power. So much, in fact, that his mere presence warped reality, even time and space, and blurred the barriers between worlds.
Which is exactly the real problem that the Digidestined were always facing: the blurring of worlds with one another.
The same, underlying problem persists from the start to the finish: blurring barriers between worlds.
The Digidestined were called to fix this problem, but that only continues to make sense if there is a specific being behind it, one whom they can face and defeat. And that seems to be how it began in the first place.
The original Digidestined were called to fight one powerful digimon in particular. Why should it really be any different now, with the latest crop of them?
The various enemies they face are continually targeting them, trying to kill or corrupt them or simply prevent their coming at all, almost like the enemy knows the true danger they represent, which would be easily explained with previous, firsthand experience.
Many of their enemies are connected to each other, to the powers of darkness, and to the Dark Ocean, whose king is purported to be extremely powerful, and is certainly gigantic.
And how much sense does it make for an alliance of the light, whose activities span both seasons and beyond, to be allied against a king of darkness, whose activities also would span both seasons and beyond?
Thus, I humbly submit that the would-have-been Big Bad is, in true storytelling fashion, the original villain of ages past, returned again as the King of the Dark Ocean.