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Thread: Translated Interview with Tenya Yabuno About V-Tamer and Early Days of the Franchise

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    Translated Interview with Tenya Yabuno About V-Tamer and Early Days of the Franchise

    Time for another translated interview!

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    This time we have an interview with a focus on Tenya Yabuno, best known to Digimon fans as the artist of the manga Digimon Adventure V-Tamer 01 (along with C'Mon Digimon and other early Digimon materials.)

    The interview also features Kenji Watanabe, longtime Digimon designer.

    Digimon game producer Kazumasa Habu conducted the interview.

    The interview was published on 11/12/2017, roughly a month before the release of the game Digimon Story- Cyber Sleuth: Hacker's Memory in Japan.

    The interview was originally published in two parts, with the first part under the title:
    Digimon Production Secrets 4: Tenya Yabuno Interview Part 1
    “I Want to Know More - Let’s Ask the Digimon Staff!”
    Interview No. 4 (Special Interview: Tenya Yabuno and Kenji Watanabe - Part 1 of 2)

    Huge thanks to garm for translating this for everyone.

    Various changes were made for formatting, spelling, etc. from garm's original translation. Changes were discussed with garm.

    In commemoration of the release of Digimon Story- Cyber Sleuth: Hacker’s Memory, we have here today an interview by Hacker’s Memory producer Kazumasa Habu of Tenya Yabuno, the author of Digimon Adventure V-Tamer 01, and Kenji Watanabe, a designer for Digimon, about the production secrets behind Digimon Adventure V-Tamer 01!

    Digimon Adventure V-Tamer 01 was serialized in the magazine V-Jump from 1999 to 2003.

    Among the manga titles in the Digimon series, V-Tamer is a title to be remembered. This manga, set in the Folder Continent, tells the story of Taichi Yagami and V-dramon’s adventures and development.

    “Arkadimon”, who was created to be the partner of Neo Saiba, Taichi’s rival, is set to appear in Digimon Story- Cyber Sleuth: Hacker’s Memory, due to be released on December 14th, 2017.

    In the story, Arkadimon evolved from “Ultimate” to “Super Ultimate” level, driving Taichi and V-dramon into a corner.
    How did this formidable foe come about? Together with Kenji Watanabe, one of the founding fathers of Digimon, producer Kazumasa Habu jumps straight into questioning Tenya Yabuno.

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    Left: Kenji Watanabe (henceforth referred to as ‘Watanabe’)
    Center: Tenya Yabuno (henceforth referred to as 'Yabuno’)
    Right: Producer Kazumasa Habu (henceforth referred to as 'Habu’)

    Another Digimon Adventure - A Story Featuring Taichi and V-dramon

    Habu: To start off, I’d like to ask: Yabuno-san, how did you get Digimon Adventure V-Tamer 01 to be serialized in V-Jump?

    Yabuno: My first experience with working on Digimon was drawing illustrations for the guidebooks. Quite a while before that, I had worked with V-Jump regarding illustrations, so with those connections I eventually got tasked to work on a manga for Digimon.

    Habu: Your one-shot, C'mon Digimon, was published in the second volume of Digimon Adventure V-Tamer 01. It was made before planning for Digimon Adventure had even begun, when the whole concept of Digimon was still new and not fully developed; because of that, the Digimon in that one-shot looked very different from the Digimon we see today.

    The one-shot C'mon Digimon
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    Watanabe: The characters feel very different as well (laughs).

    Habu: Yabuno-san, were these all created by you?

    Yabuno: There were the illustrations that Watanabe-san did up, though he told me that I’m free to change the designs if I like (laughs).

    Habu: So they’re pretty much original designs, then.

    Yabuno: Right. The Digimon names and characteristics had already been established, but since I was told that I was free to change them if I liked, I thought “why not?”

    Habu: In the one-shot, you included original Digimon such as DeathAeromon and DeathMeramon, but a completely different DeathMeramon design ended up being made later on (laughs). [They refer to デスエアロモン/DeathAeromon but that is likely a typo, with DeathAirdramon being the Digimon intended.]

    Yabuno-sensei’s DeathMeramon
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    Watanabe: Back then, we couldn’t check each other’s work via email, so I would only see the work in its final form and think “oh, so that’s how it turned out!”. The one-shot was serialized in Akamaru Jump, but I remember my delight when I heard Digimon was to be turned into a manga.

    Habu: Did the serialization of Digimon Adventure V-Tamer 01 begin after the one-shot was finished?

    Yabuno: I did work on another project first, but I started drawing for Digimon Adventure V-Tamer 01 after that was done. I have a rather interesting relationship with the manga’s author, Izawa-san (Hiroshi Izawa, the writer and creator of the manga). I had already been friends with Izawa-san since my early 20s, even though we worked on different projects. When the serialization of a Digimon manga was decided on, the editorial department wanted to introduce me to the author so I waited in anticipation… only for Izawa-san to make his appearance (laughs).

    Habu: That must be fate, then (laughs). So that marks the start of the serialization; Yabuno-san, I heard you were the one who came up with the base design for the protagonist, Taichi Yagami?

    Yabuno: Nakatsuru-san (Katsuyoshi Nakatsuru, an animator and character designer for Digimon Adventure) had done up image boards beforehand, but since the manga would begin serialization first, he decided to use the character I’d designed out of respect for that fact.

    Watanabe: From what I remember, the protagonist design they were considering for the anime at that time felt a bit 'weak’ image-wise. There was some discussion that since the manga would begin first, why not consult Yabuno-san about the design?

    Habu: If I’m not wrong, Yabuno-san, you came up with the idea of giving Taichi goggles too, right?

    Yabuno: When the serialization had been confirmed, I immediately imagined an aerial battle as a highlight of the story; you can see some of the rough sketches of the idea in Volume 3 of the electronic version. That’s when I thought of giving Taichi goggles, since those were indispensable in an aerial battle.

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    (Taichi’s goggles, which were inherited from his grandfather.)

    Habu: And so the tradition of Digimon protagonists wearing goggles started here; all of them wore goggles up until Masaru Daimon from Digimon Savers. By the way, Yabuno-san, did you come up with Taichi’s name as well?

    Yabuno: If I recall correctly, Izawa-san brought up the name and discussed it with Toei staff during a meeting.

    Watanabe: I think Seki-san (Hiromi Seki, Animation Producer from Toei Animation) might’ve been the one to decide on the name. She did do research on name-based fortune telling, in order to decide whether the names were acceptable or not.

    Yabuno: The protagonist having an 'ichi’ [Japanese for 'one’] in his name was a complete coincidence, but I wanted to include a 'zero’ in his partner Digimon’s name, to give a fighter jet sort of image. When put together, the '0’ and '1’ in the protagonist duo’s names had a nice, digital ring to them. However, we couldn’t trademark the name 'Zero’, so I changed the partner Digimon’s name to 'Zeromaru’ instead; from the protagonist’s '1’ and the partner Digimon’s '00’, the '100% Combination’ was born.

    Habu: It’s almost like the stars happened to align while you were coming up with the setting for the manga. Come to think of it, Yabuno-san, you came up with V-dramon’s design as well, right?

    Yabuno: Yes, that’s right.

    Watanabe: The V-dramon line is Yabuno-san’s original creation. Yabuno-san’s V-dramon was so cute, I felt that I had to create something even cuter for Digimon Adventure 02, which led me to create V-mon.

    Habu: I see. But Zeromaru debuts in the manga already in his Adult stage, right? Is there a reason why he didn’t appear in his Child stage?

    Watanabe: At the time, there weren’t really a lot of Child level Digimon who could put up a proper fight. Not only that, the manga only has to focus on Taichi and Zeromaru, but a lot more characters are included in the TV anime. If all the Digimon didn’t revert to their smaller Child forms, it’d be hard to keep fitting them all onto the screen.

    Habu: Yabuno-san, did you have any image of Zeromaru’s Child form in mind, even though he didn’t show up in Child form in the manga? Something like V-mon?

    Yabuno: Oh, I didn’t create any original ideas for his Child level. However, I did design him using C'mon Digimon as a base, so the keyword 'pet dog’ still stuck with me. Not only that, Taichi’s black wristband is a throwback to that one-shot as well.

    Habu: Kenji-san, when did you find out about V-dramon?

    Watanabe: We did hold a brainstorming session before the manga began serialization, so that’s when I found out about V-dramon. That was also when I saw the rough sketches for the manga and read the plot outline Izawa-san had written. The TV anime had already been confirmed at that point, so I remember having to look through the materials quite thoroughly.

    Habu: I’d like to take the opportunity to find out more about how V-dramon’s concept and design came about, if I may?

    Yabuno: The Digimon Kenji-san designs usually sport solid-looking legs, but I designed V-dramon with the image of a small, carnivorous dinosaur in mind. I had initially wanted to design it like a fluffy dog as well.

    Watanabe: Yeah, I had the impression that it looked like a dog-dinosaur hybrid.

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    (V-dramon, who was designed with dog and dinosaur elements in mind.)

    Habu: Kenji-san, did you request for Yabuno-san to keep anything particular in mind as he designed V-dramon?

    Watanabe: I did give little bits of advice like “maybe adding belts would look good”, but nothing more than that. While it’s a different story if I already have a clear image that I want the Digimon to look like in mind, I try not to interfere when others are doing the designing. At that time, we didn’t really have any rules that dictate “Digimon have to look like this!”, so I thought it was good to see each artist’s individuality shine through.

    Yabuno: I’m really grateful to have been given so much freedom in designing him. I can’t remember if this was from Watanabe-san’s advice or not, but I remember being told to try and bring out the unique Digimon feel while using a dog as a base, to which I added dinosaur elements and formed the final design.

    Watanabe: Yabuno-san has designed other Digimon as well. I was the one who designed Angemon, but Yabuno-san designed HolyAngemon, Angemon’s evolution.

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    (HolyAngemon, as designed by Yabuno-sensei.)

    Yabuno: That’s right, I did HolyAngemon too.

    Watanabe: We discussed it with each other while working on the design.

    Habu: Oh right, HolyAngemon debuted in the manga first.

    Yabuno: There weren’t that many Digimon back then, especially at the very beginning, so I was actually given a fair bit of freedom to create new Digimon.

    Watanabe: During the initial stages, there weren’t a lot of 'orthodox’ evolution patterns like Angemon to HolyAngemon.

    Habu: Yabuno-san, was it you who created Demon too?

    Yabuno: The design was done by me, yes; when Izawa-san and I were discussing about creating a final boss, we settled on the name 'Demon’ for its straightforwardness.

    Habu: The fans who followed the series chronologically probably know Demon well, but the same may not be so for fans who entered the series through the anime.

    Yabuno: That’s true. Just the other day, I happened across some interesting reaction posts online; one of them read a synopsis of the manga’s first chapter and wondered “Why is Taichi defeating Greymon?”. I kind of understand their confusion after reading their opinions.

    Habu: Greymon, who evolved from Agumon, is Taichi’s partner in the anime after all. I was also surprised when I saw some of the Digimon who were powerful foes in the anime get treated like small fry in the manga.

    Watanabe: Zeromaru was an Adult level, so we thought we had to make the enemies in the manga stronger, as compared to the TV anime where their Digimon begin at Child level.

    Yabuno: Right. Even though they both share the title Digimon Adventure, the manga and anime are already quite different from the start, since in the manga people who raised Digimon on their V-pet toys would arrive in the Digital World already as Tamers. Since your ability to beat tougher foes proves the strength of your combination as Tamer and partner, the constant taking on of higher level opponent’s is more prominent in the manga than in the anime.

    Habu: An Etemon named Etemonkey appears near the beginning of the manga; was the manga the first to give Etemon that sort of image?

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    (Etemonkey’s appearance in V-Tamer.)

    Yabuno: Etemonkey’s character was established to be 'a Digimon who just really wants to get along with kids", but since the Digimonkey character already existed…

    Watanabe: There was this character named Digimonkey in the Weekly Shonen Jump’s Digimon corner. They would partake in events while in costume and go around the country promoting Digimon enthusiastically, so we made Etemon and included it in the game as a way of saying thanks. That’s where the tradition of creating Digimon versions of Shueisha staff who worked with us.

    Yabuno: The start of this franchise is really quite chaotic (laughs).

    Watanabe: We might be the creators, but we did play our products as we worked on them. We just wanted to create a fun product; we didn’t even imagine it would get turned into an anime or a manga series. Not only did we include the Tamagotchi’s Oyajitchi in Digimon as Nanimon, we also modeled Mojyamon after our former department lead, Hongo-san [Takeichi Hongo]; even the Special Move 'Hang On Death’ was named to sound similar to the phrase “Hongo desu” [meaning “This is Hongo”.] (laughs).

    That's the end of Part 1.

    On to Part 2! This was originally published the same day as Part 1.

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    Digimon Production Secrets 4: Tenya Yabuno Interview Part 2
    “I Want to Know More - Let’s Ask the Digimon Staff!”
    Interview No. 4 (Special Interview: Tenya Yabuno and Kenji Watanabe - Part 2 of 2)
    (Continued from Part 1)

    In commemoration of the release of Digimon Story- Cyber Sleuth: Hacker’s Memory, we have here today an interview by Hacker’s Memory producer Kazumasa Habu of Tenya Yabuno, the author of Digimon Adventure V-Tamer 01, and Kenji Watanabe, a designer for Digimon, about the production secrets behind Digimon Adventure V-Tamer 01!

    Digimon Adventure V-Tamer 01 was serialized in V-Jump magazine from 1999 to 2003.
    Among the manga titles in the Digimon series, V-Tamer is a title to be remembered. This manga, set in the Folder Continent, tells the story of Taichi Yagami and V-dramon’s adventures and development.
    “Arkadimon”, who was created to be the partner of Neo Saiba, Taichi’s rival, is set to appear in Digimon Story- Cyber Sleuth: Hacker’s Memory, due to be released on December 14th, 2017.
    In the story, Arkadimon evolved from “Ultimate” to “Super Ultimate” level, driving Taichi and V-dramon into a corner.
    How did this formidable foe come about? Together with Kenji Watanabe, one of the founding fathers of Digimon, producer Kazumasa Habu jumps straight into questioning Tenya Yabuno.

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    Left: Kenji Watanabe (henceforth referred to as ‘Watanabe’)
    Center: Tenya Yabuno (henceforth referred to as 'Yabuno’)
    Right: Producer Kazumasa Habu (henceforth referred to as 'Habu’)

    The Focus on Battles Between Tamers - a Story Different from the Anime Series

    Habu: I would like to ask more about the story, but back then, Digimon’s worldbuilding had not been that well-developed yet, had it?

    Watanabe: We did have the setting used for the Playstation game Digimon World, but to put it in other words, that was the most complete sense of a 'world’ we had in Digimon at the time.

    Habu: So how did you go about your worldbuilding, with so little to go on?

    Yabuno: I would meet up with the editors and Izawa-san about 2-3 times a month, where we would put our heads together to brainstorm for ideas. The manga’s story would take inspiration from the ideas we brainstormed, but visual-wise, we tried to model it after File Island from the games. I was still young back then and didn’t have a lot of experience, so I still remember rummaging through it to find inspiration and ideas I could use.

    Habu: How did you come up with the story?

    Yabuno: There was a one-shot that I liked, so I remember telling Izawa-san that I wanted to work on a story that went in a similar direction, and Izawa-san gave it some consideration. Izawa-san had done planning for video game scenarios before, and RPGs were the in thing then as well.

    Habu: I agree, I did have the impression that the manga’s storyline resembled something you’d find in a video game. Defeating strong enemies as you travel around an unknown world, and even meeting a human rival, Neo Saiba, during those travels.

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    (Neo Saiba, who debuts as Taichi’s rival.)

    Yabuno: You’re right. There’s the Gomamon chapter, where the story played out like the story of a hero saving a village from crisis, and the Vamdemon chapter, where they struggled to escape the castle alive, which we planned to resemble an escape game.

    Habu: The atmosphere of the story really started to take a turn when Neo was introduced; all of a sudden, so many more human characters were being introduced.

    Yabuno: My initial idea for the battle with Neo in Volume 3 was to have a climactic scene where Taichi rides atop of AeroV-dramon as they engage in an aerial battle. When it was confirmed that the manga’s serialization would be continued, I was trying to think about how to move the plot from there. That’s when Izawa-san came up with the idea of the Alias III, the three Tamers who shared the same ideals as Neo.

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    (The debut of the Alias III, three new human Tamers.)

    Habu: The ongoing anime series at the time featured mostly battles against Digimon, so it’s refreshing to have a story featuring battles with human Tamers. What did you have in mind as you decided to increase the number of human characters?

    Yabuno: I wanted to expand upon the battles between Tamers. Even at the start of this manga’s serialisation, I wanted to capture the essence of the V-pet toys in the story. The way you fed Digimon, took care of them, and raised them… Through Tamer battles, you could see how the Digimon you raised fared in battle. I didn’t want to deviate from that core idea, which led us to going in the direction of Tamer battles.

    Habu: May I ask, which of the scenarios you helped create for the manga left the deepest impression on you?

    Yabuno: (after thinking for a while) I think the chapter that left the deepest impression on me would have to be Chapter 22 of Volume 3, Butter-Fly. Zeromaru doesn’t devolve, unlike in the anime series, so he didn’t really have any chance to evolve, but he finally does in that chapter. It was a huge occasion, so I racked my brain trying to think of how I could incorporate as much drama as I could into the designs. In the end, the scene where Taichi put on his goggles for the aerial battle was like a realization of one of the initial ideas that I had, so I felt really glad that I was able to work on this manga long enough to make that idea a reality. Not only that, I still remember working on the scene while keeping the anime series’ opening theme, Butter-Fly, in mind, while trying to portray that moment of growth and evolution. I think some readers might have noticed by now, but I tried to make the panel where you see Zero’s silhouette resemble a butterfly.

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    (Taichi, wearing his goggles, together with AeroV-dramon during the aerial battle.)

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    (Zeromaru’s evolution into AeroV-dramon.)

    Habu: (while rereading the manga) You’re right, the silhouette does look like a butterfly! I never noticed.

    Yabuno: I felt that it was important for the evolution scenes to be staged well, so even in Arkadimon’s case, I tried to position its tentacles so that the scene where it evolves to Ultimate level would resemble a skull. The same goes for the Super Ultimate level as well.

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    (Arkadimon’s evolution scene – the silhouette on its chest resembles a skull.)

    Habu: Sorry, I didn’t notice that either…

    Yabuno: I paid lots of attention to the evolution scenes, so I was honestly anticipating what Arkadimon’s evolution sequence would look like in-game (laughs).

    Habu: The in-game evolution scenes are the same among all the Digimon… we had put more attention into animating each Digimon’s Special Moves, but now that you mention it, I should look into evolution scenes too…

    Watanabe: Looks like you’ll need to pay more attention when reading next time (laughs).

    Yabuno: (laughs) Well, it’s true that I didn’t make any mention of my fixation with the evolution scenes all these years, so I’m glad to have this opportunity to publicly announce it.

    Habu: The evolution sequences of Digimon party members are implemented in a systematic way so it might be hard to introduce unique evolution sequences for those, but it might be interesting to consider unique sequences for story-related evolutions or evolutions with special requirements for future games! I shall take that into consideration. But back on topic; when you drew Zeromaru’s evolution scene for Chapter 22, the manga had already been ongoing for about two years, right?

    Yabuno: Now that I think about it, it’s a wonder how I put up with the lack of evolution for that entire time (laughs).

    Habu: The anime series wastes no time in introducing evolutions, after all (laughs). By the way, had the duration of the manga been decided since serialization began?

    Yabuno: No, we didn’t have any clear indication of how long the manga would run for.

    Watanabe: At the time, we didn’t even know how long the anime series would run for. Of course, I don’t think they would end the manga suddenly without warning.

    Yabuno: Though, thanks to the anime series’ popularity, at the point I was working on Chapter 22, I felt Digimon was stable enough for me to introduce Neo and continue the story at my own pace without rushing.

    Habu: I see, and so the serialization continued. However, I admit I was shocked when I saw Hideto, of the Alias III, together with Omegamon. To think I would see Omegamon, a symbol of the Digimon franchise, appear as an enemy in the manga.

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    (Hideto’s Partner Digimon, Omegamon, as it debuts as Taichi’s enemy.)

    Yabuno: Hideto is a Tamer who’s knid of wavering between good and evil, so we thought he was a good fit to be Omegamon’s partner.

    Watanabe: Ah, I remembered being asked if I was okay with Omegamon being introduced as an enemy, to which I replies “Please go ahead”. After all, Hideto wasn’t completely evil, since he had his own reasons for choosing this path, and we did discuss that we needed to give Zero an enemy of this caliber.

    Habu: I’ve discussed this with Yabuno-san as well, but it really is a shocking revelation for young fans who haven’t read the manga to see Taichi and Omegamon facing off. If there are any Digimon fans reading this that haven’t yet read Digimon Adventure V-Tamer 01, now’s a great opportunity to read the Kindle release!

    Yabuno: Thank you for the advertisement (laughs). I’d be really glad if you all could read it.

    Watanabe: Did the term 'Tamer’ originate from the manga? I don’t recall the protagonist of Digimon World being referred to as a Tamer.

    Habu: It wasn’t used in Digimon World, but the term first appeared in Digital Monster Ver. S: Digimon Tamers, released for the Sega Saturn in 1998. That’s not too far off from when the manga began its serialization; do you still remember how you decided on the term 'Tamer’?

    Yabuno: I think it was coined by one of the article writers from Weekly Shonen Jump. I was a little bit hesitant to use it at first, since the word 'tamer’ seems to imply a master-servant relationship, but it sounded unique and did have a cool ring to it, so I quickly grew fond of the term.

    Habu: Was it you who came up with the title Digimon Adventure V-Tamer 01?

    Yabuno: No, that would be Izawa-san.

    Watanabe: Either way, I feel that your manga is really what popularized the term 'Tamer’. The director of Digimon Tamers did say that the title of the show was taken from the manga, right?

    Yabuno: Yes, he did say that.

    Habu: How did you feel about the various Digimon anime series that started up, even while the manga was still running?

    Yabuno: Hmmm… I’m the type who likes to stick to one initial idea instead of moving around; since this manga is based of the V-pet toys, the origin of the franchise, it gives me a sense of security? I didn’t feel the need to really reinvent my formula.

    Watanabe: Hearing that makes me envious. At that time, the anime series would get rebooted each year, so it was honestly a lot of work thinking about new ideas (laughs). Even when we tried to introduce new gimmicks, those gimmicks were often already in use in other series or products. I think being able to stick with an initial idea all the way is a great thing.

    Yabuno: I think V-Jump provided me with a conducive environment to draw at my own pace, too.

    Habu: Sounds like you’ve had good luck with editors. By the way, are there any Digimon you find especially fun to draw?

    Yabuno: They are Digimon, strictly speaking, but during the scene where Zeromaru was being defeated by Omegamon and his wings were skewered, there was a scene with Gabo (Gabumon) and Igamon desperately trying to help him out that I liked. I really like this duo both as characters and as Digimon.

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    (The scene where Gabo and Igamon muster up their courage and cooperate in order to help Zeromaru.)

    Habu: Gabo was tagging along with Taichi since the start of the manga, but come to think of it, Igamon did make an appearance every now and then. Maybe it’s because you’d taken a liking to him, Yabuno-san (laughs).

    Yabuno: I guess Igamon’s role in the story did give him the freedom to move about easily.

    Watanabe: Did you have a reason for choosing Gabumon to accompany Taichi on his adventure?

    Yabuno: It’s because out of the initial range of Digimon, Gabumon stood out to me since it was a fur pelt-wearing character. And also because it looked cute.

    Habu: There’s no denying that (laughs). Moving on, were there any tough incidents during this manga’s serialization that you’d like to share with us about?

    Yabuno: If I had to pick one, it’d be the introduction of the Digivice 01 item into the manga. At the time, the vice-editor rejected my work because it “didn’t feel digital enough”. I was told to add in some sort of item that would give a digital feel. It didn’t help that the deadline was closing in and all the names I came up with were scrapped, so the guys in charge, Izawa-san, and I met at a cafe and spent the entire day discussing about this. I had to stuff a lot into the pages in a short amount of time so it was quite a high hurdle for me, but I was glad that it was able to amplify the feeling of Taichi and Zeromaru fighting together and play a large role in the story.

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    (The debut scene of the Digivice 01.)

    The Super Ultimate, “Arkadimon”, Descends upon the Latest Digimon Game!

    Habu: Last but not least, I’d like to ask you more about Arkadimon, who will be appearing in Digimon Story- Cyber Sleuth: Hacker’s Memory! Arkadimon plays quite a big role in the manga; did you plan for this from the very beginning?

    Yabuno: When the “Super Ultimate” idea for Arkadimon was first brought up, Watanabe-san and the others were at a slight loss as to how to deal with it; I had wanted to create a level above even “Ultimate”, which was the highest level in official materials at that time, and show how Taichi and Zeromaru would fight against this “Super Ultimate”. The name 'Arkadimon’ was thought up around the time Neo was introduced, as Arkadimon was born as a realisation of Neo’s pursuit of utopia, or 'Arcadia’.

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    (Arkadimon, after evolving to Super Ultimate.)

    Habu: If I’m not wrong, Arkadimon should be the first Super Ultimate level Digimon, but who thought of the idea?

    Yabuno: Izawa-san did. As mentioned previously, Izawa-san is especially good at thinking up game-like scenarios, and as we were thinking about how to implement the 'true final boss’, he came up with the plot of defeating a Super Ultimate.

    Watanabe: I was asked whether it would be okay to create a 'Super Ultimate’ level, and I answered that it’s alright to use it to represent a Digimon whose power surpasses Ultimate. However, officially, the levels only go up to Ultimate, so the especially powerful Ultimates could be treated as 'Super Ultimates’.

    Habu: Arkadimon’s design is quite unique; did you come up with its design together with the ideas you had for it?

    Yabuno: No, I didn’t; the idea of having a 'time limit’ within which Arkadimon would gradually evolve to its next levels to create suspense was there from the start, but for the designs themselves, I only came up with them in order starting from the Baby level whenever they were supposed to appear in the story.

    Watanabe: Many of the Digimon that Yabuno designs have rather unique traits. How did you end up with the design for the Baby level? Put simply, I think it’s amazing, because I probably wouldn’t be able to come up with something like that.

    Yabuno: I created the Baby stage by combining a slimy, gross feeling with the image of a crustacean. I used those two core ideas as the base for the following forms as well.

    Habu: I feel that Arkadimon’s Super Ultimate form looks more like a jellyfish, though…

    Yabuno: You’re right that it’s based off a jellyfish. I was scrambling to think of ideas for the Super Ultimate’s design, right up to the last minute; initially, I had wanted to design it as a cool-looking humanoid, just like UlforceV-dramon, and that’s when I saw the news on TV report on the Nomura’s Jellyfish. I immediately went “That’s it!”. I proposed two rough designs, one humanoid design and one design with a lumpy, shell-covered body that resembled a tortoise, with tons of jellyfish-like tentacles. I was told that “either one is fine”, so I ended up combining the two ideas together and Arkadimon’s Super Ultimate design was born.

    Watanabe: There are quite a few enemy Digimon designs resulting from parts being stuck together.

    Habu: I think it’s actually really terrifying if you were to see an enormous enemy with a simple but unsettling design, like Arkadimon Super Ultimate, closing in on you. The reason why I wanted to include Arkadimon in the game was because I thought the Super Ultimate design was really cool-looking, and because I wanted to portray a fear-inducing scene with Arkadimon in the real world, where you could compare its size to the buildings nearby.

    Yabuno: I was able to see its movements in-game, and I thought they were fantastic.

    Habu: I believe that feeling of terror you get when you see an enormous Digimon appear right smack in the middle of the city is an asset that’s unique to the series, but even so, I wondered if I could really bring out the traits that make Arkadimon so unique. Hearing those words coming from you makes me feel more confident about that (laughs).

    Yabuno: Speaking of Arkadimon, every time I reread the manga, I can’t help but think that Izawa-san, the author, really did a wonderful job with this; I expected no less from him. Over the course of the story, he managed to slowly build Arkadimon and UlforceV-dramon up to be opposites. Arkadimon’s Special Move, Dot Matrix, allows it to disintegrate data into 0s and 1s, while on the other hand, UlforceV-dramon has the ability to regenerate 0s and 1s. V-dramon being an ancient species with a short lifespan was part of its original setup, but it is able to trigger the Overwrite ability (the overwriting of 0s and 1s) while its emotions are heightened, at the cost of shortening its lifespan further, but it is capable of overcoming even that by forging a strong bond with its Tamer, and attaining the power of Ulforce (rebirth). And so 'disintegration’ and 'rebirth’ form the cores of the second half of the story… even now, I’m in awe of Izawa-san.

    Image Thumbnail (custom)
    (UlforceV-dramon, after being reborn through the holy power of Overwrite.)

    Watanabe: It’s exciting for me as well. To see the manga running, and to see the characters in action; as I read it, I was very eager to see how the characters I designed would be portrayed. It’s kind of like being able to eat someone’s home-cooked lunch, and it’s made even more amazing by the fact that during that era, not as many franchises simultaneously ran in different media. It was really exciting for me to see the synergy between the different works, and how they affected each other.

    Habu: Capitalizing on its format to depict such ideas; that’s an advantage of the manga medium. Speaking of which, was Parallelmon also designed by you, Yabuno-san?

    Yabuno: Yes.

    Habu: I hope to be able to include Parallelmon in a future game one day. I’d love to include not just Parallelmon, but other Digimon like Callismon, who would be a great fit for the Bearmon/Gryzmon line.

    Yabuno: If the opportunity comes (laughs).

    Habu: If I have the opportunity, then definitely! To end off, please leave a message for the fans!

    Yabuno: I’m extremely happy to see Arkadimon being featured in a game. From what I’ve seen of the game footage, the development staff have really gone out of their way to depict it as accurately as possible, and I hope the fans will look forward to seeing the fruit of their labor as well. Arkadimon is very tightly linked to the overarching theme of Digimon Adventure V-Tamer 01, so if there are fans out there who find themselves interested in the manga after playing the game or reading this interview, I hope you will give the manga a chance!! Thank you!

    Image Thumbnail (custom)
    (A picture of support drawn by Yabuno-sensei! Thank you very much.)

    A ton of interesting details from the early days of the franchise, with a big focus on V-Tamer, which has always been a fan favorite.

    Once again, huge thanks to garm.
    Help With the Will out out, click the Donate button and subscribe/donate so we can improve the site.

  2. #2
    Junior Commander Deep Saver's Avatar
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    Apr 2017
    Village of Beginnings
    Huh, lots of interesting tidbits, but I think the most interesting one is Arkadimon Super Ultimate being based on a jellyfish. I honestly never would have made the connection, but I totally see it now. I also have to love Habu expressing interest in having Digimon like Parallelmon and Callismon in the video games. It'll probably never happen, but his sheer ambition never fails to give me hope!

  3. #3
    I'm going digital B-mon's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Parallelmon and Callismon don't even have Reference Book profiles yet; disappointing that Watanabe doesn't chime in towards the end. It's a great interview. I love how due to tempered expectations, no one felt really restrained in how stories came about or designs were created, and the franchise is richer and better for it.

  4. #4
    I come from the net
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    Feb 2007
    I want to see that concert art of "humanoid" and "beast" forms of Arkadimon Super Ultimate...
    They didn't mention Hermmon, Panimon and Lykamon trio :/

  5. #5
    I come from the net flintlock's Avatar
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    Nov 2011
    I hope Habu really does go on to make evolutions feel more unique. And Callismon too! That would make me so happy.

  6. #6
    I come from the net Muur's Avatar
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    Feb 2017
    Bolton, England
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    Interesting stuff again.

    And you gotta have Bearmon in the game in the first place to be able to give him Callismon lmao

  7. #7
    Junior Commander
    Join Date
    Oct 2017
    This was a great read! I really do hope they add in as dlc for Hacker's Memory Ulforce Future Mode and Demon Super Ultimate.

    It's about time they made it in a game.

  8. #8
    I'm a Maniac Nagatem's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2017
    "Dumb old stupid texas"
    King jellymon, kinda sad that future mode ulforce and super ultimate daemon didn't get in or cloaked daemon

  9. #9
    Yabuno: Hideto is a Tamer who’s kind of wavering between good and evil, so we thought he was a good fit to be Omegamon’s partner.

    Watanabe: Ah, I remembered being asked if I was okay with Omegamon being introduced as an enemy, to which I replied “Please go ahead”.
    Minor typo corrections.

  10. #10
    I come from the net Garmmon's Avatar
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    Jul 2007
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    ^thanks for pointing them out!
    If anyone else happens to notice any typos/weird phrasing while reading please feel free to let me know too. :>

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