TAICHI “TAI” KAMIYA & AGUMON
DigiDestined of: Courage
Taichi Voiced By: Joshua Seth Wendee Lee
Agumon & His Evolutions Voiced By: Michael Lindsay, Joseph Pilato, Lex Lang, & Dough Erholtz
Today, we get a two for one character review as, like with most of any children involved in the shenanigans of the Digital World and its denizens, one cannot simply speak of the kid alone. Admittedly, Tai was not my first initial choice as far as favorite characters of Digimon Adventure is concerned. In point of fact, he, and by extension Agumon, were about… third or fourth in the list I had compiled. The primary reason that pushed Tai and his partner to the top of the list however is due, mostly, to the… quasi-canon films, specifically Digimon Adventure, whose popularity spawned the anime series and its name in one go, and the aptly named film Our War Game.
Now, to be fair, as I had reviewed Digimon Adventure only, I will only lightly take into account the events of the first two Digimon films and not the one based in its sequel season Digimon 02 or its more recent film/episodic series Digmon Adventure Tri that will hopefully make the ending of the aforementioned sequel season non-canon.
To begin with, let me point out a rather interesting fact about Tai, namely his last name being “Kamiya.” While no reason was outright stated as to why this was changed from the original Japanese’s “Yagami,” there are two highly probable reasons I can guess at being the cause. First, the manga series V-Tamer that featured a version of Tai who was not part of a group of kids and whose chosen partner, while initially an Agumon, had evolved into a Veedramon he named Zeromaru. The manga has not yet been given an official English release
Now, as I’m sure many of you might have noticed, at least not at the time of this post, but was likely in discussions when Digimon was being adapted for English audiences, which leads me to the second, and more likely, reason. The kanji for Kamiya is the same thing as Yagami except they’re in reverse, which means the translator either dropped the ball on Tai’s last name or somebody might have over exaggerated on their job application.
Of the DigiDestined, and yes I’m going to use the Americanized terms as those are the ones everyone is most familiar with including myself, Tai is the de-facto leader of the group. Though this can mostly be attributed to the fact that he is, quite easily, the most courageous, hence his title of DigiDestined of Courage, Tai is also quite the charismatic individual and few, if any, of the other children ever have a problem with him.
However, Tai is not without his vices. His courageousness can devolve into being one part childish impulsiveness and three parts reckless stupidity, oftentimes putting himself and others in extreme danger without realizing it. While he’s not one to shy away from admitting to his mistakes and faults, more often than not, events have to take a near deadly turn for Tai to realize the problem at hand, which I’ll explain in later detail when I speak of his partner Agumon.
Tai is, technically, the first of the DigiDestined insomuch that he was the first to encounter his digimon partner and, surprisingly enough, in the real world to boot. Through circumstances that were never really explained in detail, in film or in the series itself, a digimon egg, or digi-egg, ended up in the Kamiya household and in the arms of a then eight-year-old Tai and his younger sister Kari. It swiftly hatches into a Botamon and later digivolves into a Koromon at an astounding speed.
Whether because of the abundance of energies found in the Real World or because this particular variation of Koromon digivolves into a rather primordial Agumon insomuch that he only speaks to announce the name of his attack and is well over ten times the size of an average Agumon seen before or since. Heck, this incarnation of Agumon, and later Greymon’s, attacks are even more significantly powerful than what they eventually become in the television series but more on that later.
Of the DigiDestined, Tai is the first to achieve something with his digimon partner, oftentimes that achievement being digivolution. His partner, along with Matt’s, were the only ones to achieve the ability to reach the Mega level, at the time mind you, and were the first known digimon to achieve DNA digivolution, which resulted in the first appearance of a member of the Royal Knights.
While Tai is not the one who has grown or even matured the most out of the DigiDestined, I feel that he is the only the most anyone can relate to, especially those who have ever entertained the notion of adventure. As the series progressed Tai learns two very important lessons. Humility and responsibility, the later of which culminates the most in my favorite episode of the series “Home Away From Home.”
Following Agumon’s first digivolution into MetalGreymon and the annihilation of Etemon and his Dark Network, Tai and his partner inadvertently find themselves back in the real world. What makes this episode particularly noteworthy with me is how the real world is shown to be almost entirely lackluster with the colors almost being monotone with no real life or energy behind much of anything. For as dangerous as the Digital World may be, there was no denying that there was fun and excitement that went alongside it.
The point is driven further when digimon start appearing in the real world but, at the time, cannot be seen by anyone save the two Kamiya children and Koromon. The digimon don’t stay for long but do some serious damage before they disappear back into the Digital World save for Ogremon whose fight results in Koromon digivolving back into Agumon and blasting the vile virus with enough force to result in a somewhat stabilized portal back to the Digital World.
Agumon allows the portal to take him willingly, knowing that he is needed there to save Tai’s world whereas Tai himself hesitates for the briefest of moments, torn between staying in the real world, in his home with his family, to going back and risking life and limb for those he’s left behind and for a world that may never recognize him for the deeds he and his fellow DigiDestined have done.
A moment passes, and Tai takes the plunge.
That moment right there solidified my admiration for Tai as a kid and makes him well and truly deserving of the title DigiDestined of Courage.
Moving on to his partner digimon, whom I’ll mainly refer to as Agumon as that’s the form he’s in the most, this little guy is the humble version of Tai in every sense of the word. While most of the digimon partners are either polar opposites to their respected humans, Agumon and Tai share many of the same traits though not the same faults. Whereas Tai can be reckless, Agumon is more cautious. Whereas Tai is not afraid to speak his, admittedly sometimes thoughtless, opinions, Agumon tends to refrain from speaking up, particularly in moments that he really should.
Ignoring Agumon’s Baby and In-Training forms, otherwise known as Botamon and Koromon respectively, Agumon is a Rookie level digimon belonging to many different Families but is most commonly considered as belonging to the Virus Busters due mostly to his Vaccine Attribute and Reptile type. His primary attack is Pepper Breath, which is him chucking a small fireball.
What’s really rather interesting is that his first incarnation, as digimon in this setting do not stay dead permanently but have the chance to be “reconfigured” (AKA reborn) into a digi-egg, has a different variation of this attack. Pepper Fire is not Agumon breathing out a small fireball but launching one with all the speed and explosive force of a ballistic missile.
His Champion form, Greymon, is a Dinosaur type digimon and is to the Digimon franchise what Charizard is to Pokémon. Not technically a mascot outright but popular enough that he may as well be. As Greymon, his chief attack is the appropriately named Nova Blast, which is a fireball that has several times the devastating power of a Pepper Fire. Of course, this in turn pales in comparison with Nova Flame, which is a stream of burning blue fire so hot that it outright obliterated another Champion level digimon’s wing from a near complete miss whereas a direct hit vaporized it completely.
As to his Ultimate form… now here is where we get to an interesting development between Tai and Agumon. See, Tai was, at the time, the only one to have found his Crest, which he and the others had been told was the key to unlocking their digimon’s Ultimate forms, and had become a wee bit… arrogant. So much so in fact that he did all he could to force Agumon into digivolving into his Ultimate form by way of force-feeding him to the point of bursting and purposefully putting himself in danger.
Tai got his wish and so became the first DigiDestined two-fold. The first to get their partner to reach the Ultimate level… and the first to have their digimon undergo a corrupted digivolution.
SkullGreymon… a simple name for one of the most terrifying Ultimate level digimon, it is a skeletal monstrosity that knows only two things. Destruction and Death. Having no concept of friend or foe, SkullGreymon annihilates anything in its path through either direct force, i.e. crushing its foes in its bare hands, or obliterating it via the organic missile it grows from its spine in its signature attack, Dark Shot. Of course, this is merely the English adaptation’s name for the attack. The original Japanese has a far more fitting name for it.
Eventually, following a few life lessons from a surprisingly wise if not horrifically adorable pixie of a digimon, Tai and Agumon eventually achieve the proper means of an Ultimate digivolution and unlock Agumon’s true ultimate form, MetalGreymon, a Cyborg Type digimon whose chief attack, Giga Blaster, has twice the destructive force of SkullGreymon’s Dark Shot.
Next is Agumon’s Mega form, the aptly named WarGreymon, a Dragon Man Type digimon that is surprisingly small compared to Agumon’s Champion and Ultimate forms. Because of this WarGreymon is several times faster and more powerful than either form and is incredibly deadly to any digimon that bares the name of “dramon” thanks to his bladed gauntlets, the Dramon Destroyers. WarGreymon’s signature attack is the Terra Force where he gathers all of the energy he can from the atmosphere and condenses it into a high temperature energy ball before tossing it at his enemies.
WarGreymon alone is responsible for the defeat of two of the Four Dark Masters, thanks in part to their belonging to the “dramon” family and thus susceptible to WarGreymon’s Dramon Destroyers. However, WarGreymon is not the most powerful form that Agumon can achieve. When combining his power and code with that of his fellow DigiDestined digimon MetalGarurumon, WarGreymon DNA digivolves into Omegamon.
Omegamon is one of the Royal Knights, digimon who are so powerful and respected that they take their orders from only one being, which is oftentimes the literal god of the Digital World. Omegamon is considered the leader of the Royal Knights as its chosen leader, Alphamon, only appears in times of near apocalyptic situations and is, to this day, the only digimon capable of matching Omegamon blow for blow. Considering that it took a single swipe of his Transcendent Sword to obliterate hundreds of Diaboromon, which are in turn virally corrupted Mega level digimon, that’s saying a lot…
Out of the entirety of DigiDestined, nay, of any human and their partner digimon, Tai and Agumon’s partnership is easily the best. They’ve had their highs, their lows, and yet at the end of the day theirs is a bond that cannot ever be broken by anything that this or any world can through at them.