Welcome back to guest-post hour, I’m your host, the digi-destined A9. Since we left off at Agumon, it makes sense to go to his most commonly known evolution: Greymon. So let’s not waste any time.
“Wait a minute”, I might hear you say. “That’s not Greymon! That’s Rhydon, or Nidoking!” And it’s true, all of those have a very similar shape. But consider this: it’s a rough dinosaur sketch, that’s all that was needed at the time since Greymon wasn’t exactly a poster boy for the Digimon Pendulum series. That spotlight went to Tyrannomon, the true and honest evolution of Agumon. Still, the most prominent features are there: fat belly, three horns and a tail. The only thing that’s missing is the skull that the other versions are wearing over their heads, so let’s take a look at those, shall we?
Or not. Just like the in my previous articles we take a short stop at C’mon Digimon: The capering monster BUN. It was at this point where the final designs of a lot of Digimon weren’t finalised yet and all they had to work with were the sprites and rough drawings. Now, again you might say something along the lines of “Wait a minute, that’s just a Veedramon!”. And you would have a good point, dear reader. This Greymon, called Hard Armor III, has a striking resemblance to Veedramon, except for the more mechanical look in its tail and horns. The problem here is that Veedramon (and Greymon) had not been designed yet. It’s possible some heavy inspiration was taken here.
Yes, finally he appears, our foaming, orange, skull wearing Greymon. Big claws, big talons, big head and big fearsome claws. Yes, Greymon is a dinosaur type Digimon. No surprises there. Although I did call him skull-wearing, it’s actually cranial skin that has completely hardened, not quite unlike a rhinoceros beetles shell. Just like the benchmark Agumon design there are a lot of veins to be seen, but not as much.
For me, its orange colour with light blue stripes were always a pleasing combination to look at. Colour theory states that two contrasting colours work really well together, and well, seems like its right. It used to make me wonder why Agumon didn’t have the stripes, but after I did the research for my previous blog posts, the answer is clear. Greymon wasn’t the ‘true’ evolution, hence not all features have to be incorporated in the rookie form. This gameplay mechanic was much more prevalent in the earlier games and the Pendulum (tamagotchi) series, but thanks to the anime some lines got way more rigid.
They did change the blue stripes with Agumon X though, which was a nice touch. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
Now that we finally have our point of reference, we can finally compare designs. These images are from Digital Monster Ver. S and various artwork. In this case, either the head has shrunk a bit, or his torso got gained a lot more bulk. The drawing style is a bit softer, he lost most veins and the colour of his skull got a bit more of a brown shade. His side horns aren’t just slightly sloped anymore, but have a more clear angle in them. Keep paying attention to that, because that’s going to keep coming back. Other than that he looks a bit more squished together at times, but no other major changes.
Unless we go in-game that is. What is this? Where is the blue? Where are the muscles? Where is the bulk? This Greymon deflated and has no idea what its doing. While the general shape matches up, the arms are just two weird sticks next to his body, while in other imagery they’re usually more bulky and at different angles. It’s easy to point to hardware limitations as this game was on the Sega Saturn. Still, an odd entry.
This luckily changed in Digimon Adventure: Anode Tamer a year later. This sprite, made for the WonderSwan, is directly based upon existing artwork giving you a pretty picture, albeit still a little squashed together, as if Greymon has no neck. There is one detail that doesn’t really return in other sprites or models, and that is the slight damage on the front horn. This is a detail that’s only visible on early drawings, hence why it’s also shown here. Personally, I like the small addition, as it gives off the idea that this Greymon has seen some battle. Still, the more and more WonderSwan sprites I see, the more I am impressed with it.
Yeah, Greymon grew up for the first movie, Digimon Adventure. It’s not unusual that Digimon often scale to different sizes when the situation demands it, but this is a big guy. It’s very clear that the bone structure has changed (especially in the line art), much like an actual dinosaur. His whole centre of gravity has shifted and he is leaning a lot more forward, causing him to walk more on his toes than his whole feet.
We could even compare this variant with an actual dinosaur, the Allosaurus. Although most features are greatly exaggerated or tacked on, a lot of comparisons can be made. Let’s start with the most obvious ones: the striped tail, the legs, feet, claws and overall shape of the body. Greymon has a more curvy spinal cord along with longer legs. Although the Allosaurus might not look as vicious, make no mistake, this is no herbivore. Its teeth are way smaller, but there are a lot of them hidden in that almost plain looking mouth. Similarities galore.
After the movie, came the anime of course. So let´s move on!
Now this is a real radical shift in design, going even as far as to give him wings and a burning tail! ..haha. Sorry, couldn’t resist.
Did someone order a lot more saturation? Gone are the modest tones of orange / yellow and light blue. Strong, bold colours and mostly ignoring the look of the movie, even though they’re the same Greymon. It’s a more simple style, easier to animate. It also lacks a lot of the energy from his first official art, as it almost looks docile. This is no thanks to the fact that almost all of the eye-white is gone, instead we just got a huge iris. That causes the ‘rampaging dinosaur’ effect to subside dramatically in my opinion. Finally the hands also lack some oomph, as they’re smaller than before.
Now, I was already disappointed by Digital Monster Ver. S, but Digital Monster: D-Project from 2002 is a different matter altogether. Something went seriously wrong here, as the head makes up for almost half of the sprite. For reasons unbeknownst to me the developers wanted a Greymon with an open mouth. Because it is open, the head looks way too small and silly altogether. Finally the horns are all in very strange places, as if they fucked up on perspective and didn’t bother fixing it. There is only one horn in the right spot, but it looks way smaller than usual because of the head size. Meanwhile the horn on the other side is just straight up gone. To top it all up, the horn on the front of his head shrunk immensely, and it now looks like a small rhinoceros horn. At least they got the blue stripes right..
The first 3D model for this post is from 2004’s Digimon Rumble Arena 2. There’s nothing extremely wrong with it except that it misses some details, but thanks to the model some other details are more visible than normal. The first one being the lighter-blue stripes on its horns. While this isn’t a new detail, most sources depict them with a darker shade of blue, or almost black. Secondly, is the piece of skin that you can see when its mouth is opened. It’s easy to overlook, but a definite dinosaur trait.
While there is nothing wrong with a more simplistic look (especially in times where 3D models are still somewhat rough at times), I do lament the fact that Greymon went to the dentist. All of its teeth are straight and clean, in contrast to earlier iterations where the teeth were pointing every which way.
Digimon Story DS released in 2006. While in Anode Tamer the sprite was directly based on early artwork, in this case it was based upon official art of the first anime series. This is a pretty big contrast to other, earlier sprites which mainly used the normal design or a variant upon that. The second sprite shows a sprite from the game Digimon Adventure 02: D1 Tamers, released in 2000. Honestly, looking at these two sprites, I wholeheartedly prefer the 2000 version. The sprite is way more defined, has smoother shading and a skull that has some actual highlights.
Nice idea, not so great execution.
Time for the beloved or unbeloved X-series from 2003, depending on your view. In this case, it’s a mixed bag for me, since GeoGreymon is already an odd variation in a different direction. Nevertheless, let’s look at what we got. First off, more spikes on its head, and they turned white. Its torso has a bit of a lighter colour, while the blue stripes are not as symmetrical anymore and more spread over its body. The tail isn’t nice and smooth anymore, there is a small, almost fin-like ridge along the top of it. I can only guess about its function, but I don’t have any.
We all knew it was coming, the 2006 redesign: GeoGreymon. While technically a different Digimon, they aren’t kidding anyone. The most prominent change is undoubtedly his slimmer posture and differently shaped headpiece. According to the extensive Digimon Lore, this is a subspecies of Greymon where its entire body as well as the carapace on its head have developed like lethal weapons. And it’s no joke. Spikes people, spikes! OW, the edge!
Enough jokes though, the carapace lost the form fitting design around the back of the head as well as some bulk, while its horns are straighter with red highlights. Its teeth are also more straight as well. If we follow its very clear neck downwards, we can see spikes and a whole lot less blue stripes. While they are very present around his tail, they are almost gone around its torso. The bulk of the dragon has disappeared and a fighting lizard appears with weird gauntlets around a three-pronged claw.
In the 2010 anime series, Digimon Xros Wars appears a new variety of Greymon. It’s name is Greymon. A lot has changed, and on a first glance there are only a couple of very visible similarities. The torso looks a bit like the normal variant, but even more like the first movie version where it’s leaning more forward. Its main colours are reversed: a blue torso with orange highlights. Lastly, the carapace on its head is somewhat recognisable, but that already requires some extra effort. The horn on the front is straight and sharp, almost like a blade, while the side horns have shrunk dramatically and got some reddish pink highlights. Along its head is a metal band, which for me almost looks like a motorcycle helmet. Although a bit of a weird idea, I must admit, the whole body seems to be built for speed, with even his tail ending in a metal object almost resembling an exhaust port with an attached blade. Another theory for the band could be headphones, seeing as this guy is quite into metal. In any case, this is one mean motherfucker.
I had a lot of bad things to say about Agumon in Re:Digitise (2012), Greymon doesn’t have it as bad. Except for the fact that it looks like a hybrid between the original and GeoGreymon! A neck, more spiky carapace, longer front horn, more slender build.. But no light blue highlights on his head. My guess is that they wanted to please both sides, and ended up with a weird form. Surprisingly, the eye-whites have returned, making me guess that this is just a fusion between many different ideas.
Time to round this all up with the newest Greymon, Tri edition. As this is a continuation to the original anime, it’s not strange there are many similarities. In this case however, we want to know the differences.
Its colour is more yellowish and it got a lost more detail in the torso and arms. You could almost say it looks a bit flabby, like reptile skin which is a nice touch, but also somewhat weird. Strangely enough, the claws has gotten a little yellowish, giving a bit more of a brutal look.
In my opinion, the Tri version can be summed up as using some of the features of the original design that were ignored by the anime version, and re-incorporating them back into the design. It’s not quite the berserking dinosaur we first saw, but it’s clear where its roots lie.
Thanks for reading, next post will be good old Aaltomies again!