It was at the start of this month that Digimon Adventure had their 15th anniversary and TOEI Animation announced a third series for Spring 2015. I took the chance to search some fanart and found myself fawning over a lot of them, so I decided to make a new column where awe-inspiring fanarts are featured and discussed. Here’s the first installment about Digimon! Enjoy! [2 pages]
The 8 digidestined as teens and as adults.
In the first fanart the sky is the ‘playground’ of the teens, who like the birds want to open their wings. There’s hope in the flattering wings and the light blue of the sky, but I also get an ominous feeling by the shadows in the foreground; a new adventure and new dangers await for them. Taichi is looking back while moving forward steering nostalgia in the viewer. Yamato is a few steps behind him smiling at him with his arms crossed like waiting for Taichi to do something, come back and lead the way again. Further in the background at different distances the teens are paired, chat joyously with one another, tease each other and have fun being in each other’s company. What I really like in this picture is that the characters aren’t simply aligned next to each other, but there’s depth and natural ‘movement’.
The second fanart is more straightforward but it isn’t less dear. It looks like a reunion and damn if it isn’t sweet. Yamato has his arm over Taichi like good ol’ buddies; Izzy is melting for Mimi and Joe is probably grimacing at what Mimi says; Sora is leaning slightly, probably holding Matt’s hand while throwing an affirmative glance to Hikari who shares her news; and TK plays with Patamon. The lights of the city illuminate their happy faces and everything talks about a great evening.
Fanartists have to start considering how much they can improve their works by simply trying out a new angle and experimenting with depth. These works are all pro stuff and as a fandom we couldn’t be more thankful.
The first illustration tries to keep colors as flat as possible while different hues creep here and there and in that aspect it succeeds in imitating the original artwork and at the same time enriching it visually. We get a low angle ‘frame’ which highlights the importance of the digidestined. At the same time the largeness of the block of flats is juxtaposed to the characters along with the orange summer evening sky. Thus the time and place are central to the narrative the illustrator tries to create in their work. First of August and Odaiba are what many fans hold as landmarks for the story after all. The spherized image somehow evoke the heat of the season and sounds of cicadas. Then there’s also the transparent iridescent butterflies that allude to the Digimon OP song. I get quite a strong nostalgia vibe as a result. The happiness and energy exuded by the characters is incredible.
The second illustration has as a setting a desert from digiworld, which is quite rare. This one spherizes the ground instead of the background and in combination with the low angle makes the encounter of the viewer with our heroes inevitable. There are a few clouds around the volcano, the children look forward and there are hints of motion: the digidestined are about to make a decision.
Illustrations 3-10 are just out of this world. Although the angle used is eye level, the artist utilized colors and framing to the best degree possible. The colors of both the sky and the clouds reflect the color schemes of the children’s clothes and badges and are indicative of their characters. For example, Sora’s sky is orange-red and like love seeps slowly into the scenery. It’s all around her and the clouds left and right create an embracing feeling. TK’s sky is full of clouds that are lighted by the sun and make a circle around him. Hope, his badge, is essentially a beacon of light in tough situations. Tai’s sky is blue with a big imposing cloud-tower – what more fitting for the upbeat leader of the digidestined? The poses drawn are quite emblematic, too. Who doesn’t remember Matt playing his harmonica or Izzy with his laptop and Tentomon asking him questions? Or even Hikari’s meeting with Tailmon? The bust cut of the frames makes up for the boring centralization of the characters and gives space to the sky to create mood. Truly great works!
The eleventh illustration is from Digimon Frontier by Drawing Lee I suppose, but I couldn’t find the source, so if you can please let me know. I haven’t watched Frontier but that doesn’t stop me from marveling the great low angle and the V formation of the characters that lead our gaze to the peachy horizon full of hope and lust for journey.
TKG is one of the blessings for the Digimon fandom. She has drawn many Digimon-themed illustrations and she does what she does with lots of love and freshness. The works of art that stay in our hearts are these that can connect with our heart and mind, these that tell stories. Stories about our everyday relationships, eg. about family (ill.1), and about our individual struggles (ill.2). And to tell good stories the creator has in their hands a variety of tools to use. One such tool for a visual storyteller is the light. Body language is another. TGK plays with them here with very good results.
In the first illustration the light is the sun of a sizzling summer, so it’s a white towards cold yellow. The shadows around the siblings and their digimon don’t have concrete edges that remind of the illusion of the air bending in hot days. Both these traits imply the temperature and in combination with the setting -the ever familiar couch in the Taichi household- and the photo date on the bottom right corner trigger nostalgia. Taichi’s body posture is wide open and he places a hand on his sister’s head in a very endearing way. At the same time Hikari leans towards her beloved brother. Koromon is his goofy self and Tailmon is sweating from how asphyxiatingly Hikari squizzes her from her excitement. It’s worth mentioning that this image is part of a collection that is presented as a photo album with pictures of different digidestined and their families.
In the second illustration the light has blue undertones for all the characters but Davis who is bathed in a warmer, yellow light and looks like he’s placed on a different plane than the others. Ken, Yolei, Hikari, TK and Iori are ‘feeling blue’, are collected to themselves (closed body posture) and are trapped in their minds while Daisuke is their light, determined to change things and fight. Most probably the illustrations is a tribute to episode 49, The Last Temptation of The Digidestined, where Malomyotismon has appeared and a horrible fear overwhelms the children and freezes them in their tracks. Malomyotismon uses a strange illusionist power that sends the kids ‘living’ in their wished. Davis was the one who helped them awake again and continue fighting. Another interpretation based on the Jogress concept could be simply that the kids were able to face their insecurities through their jointed efforts: Hikari who periodically got lost in darkness got help by Yolei and Yolei who didn’t like battles was able to face them thanks to Hikari; Iori who didn’t like TK’s agressiveness towards Blackwargreymon came to an understanding with him and TK found a new ally of justice in Iori; Ken who was haunted by his past as Digimon Emperor was able to learn to forgive himself thanks to the kindness Daisuke showed him, while Daisuke matured through his friendship with Ken.