Digimon Tamers (デジモンテイマーズ Dejimon Teimāzu), known as "Digimon 3" in South America, is the third animated series based on the Digimon franchise, first broadcast in 2001. The story takes place initially in the "real world", a world much like ours where Digimon is just a franchise, composed of video games, a collectible card game, and a cartoon series. A group of 12-year-olds (10-year olds in the Japanese version), Takato, Henry and Rika (fans of the Digimon card game) meet their own Digimon friends and start to duel "bio-emerging" Digimon who cross the barrier between the information network and their world, synthesizing proteins and becoming real. Most of it set in the modern Tokyo ward of Shinjuku and only changes scenario to the Digital World for a short time.
The tone of this season has many elements from head writer Chiaki J. Konaka's other works, especially Serial Experiments Lain, including a few aspects from Neon Genesis Evangelion. Thus, the series had a very dark tone in nature, much more so than its predecessors. The show's English dub had little editing compared to previous seasons.
Takato creates his Digimon partner Guilmon when he slips a mysterious blue card he found in his deck through his hand-held card reading device, changing it into a D-Arc, the Tamers version of a Digivice. The appearance and powers of this Digimon come from Takato's sketches that were scanned into the device. Guilmon bio-emerges from the Digital World and is found later by Takato. Henry met his Digimon Terriermon when he rose from the screen of a computer game, while Rika's Digimon Renamon approached her to ask to be made stronger, since Rika was famous for her skills on the Digimon card game. Other characters, Kazu, Kenta and Jeri (Takato's friends from school) and Suzie (Henry's little sister) become Tamers later on in the series, and Ryo (Rika's rival and fellow Digimon Tamer) is introduced later on. They also encounter two more Digimon that they frequently run into: Calumon, a mysterious Digimon that has the power to make other Digimon digivolve but dislikes fighting and only wants to play and eat junk food, and Impmon, a Digimon that left his Tamers because he was sick of their bickering and selfishness and thinks that all Digimon with Tamers are a disgrace.
Along the way, the kids learn to be responsible for those creatures as a mysterious man known as Yamaki tries to stop Digimon (who he calls "Wild Ones") from coming to the real world. From the secret government agency called Hypnos, Yamaki was in charge of monitoring all Digimon activity around the globe. Later, the new Tamers are forced to fight a group of evil Digimon calling themselves the Deva, who serve the Digimon Sovereigns and believe that Digimon shouldn't partner with humans. Their true purpose to come into the human world was to capture Calumon and take him back to the Digital World so they could use his power of Digivolution. The Tamers and friends then decide to leave for the Digital World to rescue Calumon. They destroy all but one of the Devas (Antylamon turned to the side of good and became Suzie's Digimon partner) and confront and defeat Impmon, who is now Beelzemon after making a deal with Zhuquiaomon for more power in exchange for eliminating the Tamers. After traveling to the Digital World to rescue Calumon the Tamers meet (and fight with) the digital god, but finally agree to work together in order to destroy the D-Reaper, a computer program initially designed to keep digital life in check, but it itself went out of control.
Several new elements are introduced in this season, including the use of game cards to Digi-Modify and give different powers to the Digimon, the presence of Calumon, a lone Digimon responsible for the Digimon evolutions, and the use of "biomerging" to bring the Digimon to their final Mega levels by merging their bodies with their human partners. The season also continued the progression from Digimon Adventure, which was set in the Digital World with only a temporary return to the real world, through Digimon Adventure 02, where the characters returned from the Digital World to rest after most episodes: in Digimon Tamers the action is entirely within the real world, with a journey to the Digital World in midseason.