Cody Hida (Digimon Adventure 2)
The second season of Digimon jumped three or four years into the future after the adventures of the original season and brought with it a mostly new cast of Digidestined. Chief among them was Cody, the youngest of them all, but easily the most mature and wise. Thanks to his grandfather, it’s allowed him to mostly keep a cool head during the adventures he goes on with the other kids. Fittingly, his wisdom is what later grants him the Digi-Eggs of Knowledge and Reliability. Like the other new kids this season, he first encountered the Digital Monsters when they crossed over to the human world in 1999, having been saved from a helicopter crash by Garudamon and MegaKabuterimon.
As intelligent as he is, Cody does still have his own hangups and insecurities to deal with over the course of the series. The idea of taking a life doesn’t sit well with him, and even something so much as telling the tiniest of lies makes him question how good of a friend he is. Even warming up to Ken’s attempts to redeem himself took longer than the other Digidestined. Despite all that, he’s a kid who wants to do right in the world, as his future as a criminal defense attorney has taught us.
Koji Minamoto (Digimon Frontier)
In every season of Digimon, there’s that one character among the Digidestined who’s the archetype of the cool guy: a loner who only really joins up with the others because the plot demands that they do so. During that time with the others, they look at their antics with general apathy before slowly coming around to realize that friendship and working with others makes you strong because that’s true in life, and this is an anime intended for kids. With the fourth season, just by looking at the cast of characters, you could tell that Koji would fill that spot. He’s decked in blue, wears a bandana with stripes on it, and rocks a ponytail. He just screams “total emo,” making it all the more ironic that he becomes the wielder of the Spirits of Light.
While Koji is definitely the Loner of Digimon Frontier, he comes to grow for the others over the course of the season. Once he’s settled in with the rest of the DigiDestined, he’s quick to throw himself in the way of oncoming attacks, and the revelation that Duskmon was his twin brother Koichi didn’t hurt either. Through him, Koji was able to loosen up and relax, and even reconnect their separated families. Friendship is magic, as they say.
Matt Ishida (Digimon Adventure)
Maybe more than Koji, Matt looked to be more of a peak Emo archetype. From the gloves to the hair, everything about him oozes emo kid. It’s nowhere more apparent than his backstory, where his parents divorced for unknown reasons and he and his brother T.K. were split apart from each other.
Despite his tendency to push people away, Matt is still a good friend. More than Tai, he wants to make sure that the others are well cared for during their journey in the Digital World, where Tai could be more single minded. He’s more overbearing than he should be, but it comes from a good place of concern rather than feeling like he knows what’s best for the group. Despite his fears of being replaced as T.K.’s older brother, he’s become a brother to the other members of the DigiDestined, and he’s more than worthy of the Crest of Friendship.
Kari Kamiya (Adventure)
In the first season of Digimon, there were seven DigiDestined that got transported to the Digital World. But lo and behold, there was a secret eighth one who had yet to discover their destiny, and that person turned out to be Tai’s younger sister Kari. She’d already come into contact with Digimon over the course of the season before, but it wasn’t until she took Gatomon home with her and Wizardmon showed up for them both that the younger Kamiya got her Digivice. With Gatomon as her partner, she was able to help the others save the Digital World and defeat Myotismon, and later Apocalymon.
She and TK return in season two as main characters, older and joined by Davis, Cody, and Ken. Aside from the growth spurt that comes with being older, nothing has really changed about her, including her kindness and love for others. It’s the only way she could put up with Davis’ admittedly obnoxious personality, and without it, Gatomon would’ve gutted her when they first met. Maybe moreso than Mimi, love and kindness is just an integral part of who she is, so much that her dream is that humans and Digimon live with each other in harmony.
Ken Ichijouji (Adventure 2)
Digimon doesn’t really have much in the way of human villains. Tamers had Hypnos, but they weren’t really villains when all was said and done. Adventure 2 changed this up in the first act of the season with the Digimon Emperor, a human controlling the titular monsters with Control Rings and forcing them to erect spires feeding power to Dark Rings. Not only that, but the Emperor was a child the age of the other DigiDestined: child prodigy Ken Ichijouji.
Being defeated by the DigiDestined made Ken realize that his actions did have consequences, leading him on a trip for redemption with and to treat his partner Wormmon better. It took some time and hard work, but the others did eventually learn to accept him as one of their own. He may not have entirely been in the right state of mind as the Emperor, but he still owned up to his actions and sought to better himself. Doing so meant bonding with Davis, the one person who had the most reason to hate him out of anyone, and the two ended up having the stronger moments (and Digimon) of the season. That’s got to count for something.
Takuya Kanbara (Frontier)
When Digimon Frontier starts, Takuya isn’t all that different from any of the other goggle wearers we’ve seen. He’s stubborn and impulsive, but also well meaning in doing so. It’s those qualities that led to him acquiring the Warrior Spirit of Flame, and even when his calls have led to his friends getting hurt, it just gives him a reason to be a better leader.
Takuya’s stubbornness thankfully turns out to be one of his better traits. Even though he isn’t all that invested in the goings on of the Digital World at first, his refusal to give up eventually becomes the only thing that can rally the others out of their respective funks. The fear of the uncontrollable Beast Spirit wasn’t enough to crush his spirits, nor were any of the times where Lucemon or the Royal Knights were close to destroying the Digital World. When presented with an option to go home, he returned to his friends to lead them on to victory.
Mimi Tachikawa (Adventure)
The original Digimon series was playing with archetypes, and that meant that one of the seven DigiDestined was going to be have to be a pampered and spoiled brat. While Mimi definitely has some of those tendencies at spots (in the English dub she has moments where she’ll talk about shopping and fashion a lot), she’s also an incredibly kind and endearing person to nearly everyone she meets.
Having the Crest of Sincerity ensures that Mimi wears her heart on her sleeve–or is just unknowingly blunt–but it also means she’s very open and caring. On more than one occasion, it’s ended up saving the DigiDestined, such as when she was able to gather Digimon reinforcements to fight against Piedmon one last time and end his reign of terror. Whether because of her personality or the Crest itself, she’s just able to lift spirits and get people to like her, such as her Digivice purifying Sukamon and Chuumon and consoling Tai after her accidentally caused Agumon to become SkullGreymon. She’s just that good.
Takato Matsuki (Digimon Tamers)
Digimon is in part defined by its leaders. Those who wear the goggles lead the DigiDestined, so says the show, and Tai and Davis were both exceptional leaders in their own ways. Tai was incredibly brave, even when it was hard, and if it weren’t for Davis…well, the kids would’ve been defeated by the Digimon Emperor or left in the fake visions that Malomyotismon fabricated for them. And then you’ve got Takato, who just tries to be like them, and then doesn’t really do good at that.
Takato is kind of an anomaly when Tamers first starts. The adventures of the other DigiDestined are mere cartoons in their world, and the kid is a diehard fan, drawing his own characters in his spare time (which is all the time). He functions as the audience surrogate as Henry and Rika are already well versed in how things work in the Tamers world, and all he really does is just learn from them when it comes to battling, when he finally decides that fighting is sometimes the only option you can take.
Even though goggles are meant to signify leadership in the Digimon shows, he’s not entirely a leader, or at least not a fully good one. That changes over the course of the series, a progression that you don’t really notice until Rika really comes around on him and stops viewing him as a nuisance. There’s not really anything that can bring the kid down, and even his short time embracing his hatred for Beelzemon and turning WarGrowlmon into Megidramon didn’t change that. The show is about kids maturing into adults, or at least trying to, and there’s no one who does that more than Gogglehead.
Rika Nonaka (Tamers)
Digimon’s third season really played up the idea of the digital monsters as being essentially toys for kids to play with. Nowhere was this more apparent than with Rika Nonaka, the so called Digimon Queen who was so good at the card game that her first experience with the real thing was hordes of them demanding for her to be their Tamer before Renamon showed up. She’s been said to have been partially influenced by Trinity from Matrix, and you can definitely see it in her aloof, no nonsense attitude.
Where Takato and Henry treat their Digimon as pets or friends, Rika just sees Renamon and them as assets in her desire to become stronger. It’s only after she personally saves Renamon without her cards that she understands the scope of things, in turn helping her connect with the other Tamers over the course of the series. Even though the other members of the DigiDestined certainly test her patience during the season, she’s definitely grown to care about them and think of them as her friends by the end of the season.
Tai Kamiya (Adventure)
You can’t really talk about Digimon or the DigiDestined without mentioning the original crew, and that includes Tai. Whether it’s his large hair or goggles, he’s arguably the most recognizable character of the whole group. In fact, as the movie revealed, he met the Digital Monsters very early on in his life, which led to him becoming one of the chosen few years later.
Tai was given the Crest of Courage, and as the first to find his Crest, it gives him something of a superiority complex among the others. He isn’t the brightest during some of these adventures–he incorrectly thinks that the Digital World is a free pass for him to abuse his body and gets into fights with quite a few Digimon. But if he didn’t have the courage to return to the Digital World, the other DigiDestined would’ve remained scattered and isolated from each other, and Myotismon would’ve taken over both worlds. He’s the only one that could’ve brought them together, and that’s why he’ll always be the best.