Digi-destined again, nostalgia again, Digimon again, does it work again?
What They Say:
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
- Nostalgia is a heck of a beast and this movie was no exception. Seeing the group again felt so awesome and the altered musical theme felt great to hear again. Brought back into the Heighten View Terrace group, waves of good feelings awesome adventures and more came back as I saw each cameo of the Digidestined.
- Seeing Agumon Digivolve to Greymon was beautiful, and I appreciate the new devolution animation screen. Same goes to everyone else (sans Goemon, Gatomon, and Meicoomon).
- For the first act, the movie did justice to retain a lot of canon within the series. We see references to Gennai, Digivolution limits (sans the climax part), and what happened primarily correctly with Digimon Season 1 (Digimon Adventure 01). In the case of Digivolution limits, Digimon that had a Digidestined next to them did Digivolve*. I appreciate it as a decent part of consistency helps to get those who already saw the series, on board.
- The conflict for Tai seemed weak. While I get feeling the repercussions of the damage done by Digimon, it felt significantly hollow. Remember, as a young kid he SAW two Digimon fight and wreck the city, with people being critical. Again, as a kid, he saw the damage and was okay. Now? He’s not? There’s no real sense of fatigue or why he has the fatigue for fighting sets in after the damage. The internal fight between Matt and Tai is also not that good. Sure it’s a difference, but there feels no proper justification on Tai’s part for his reservation (see above) and he cannot communicate it to Matt. Meanwhile, Matt feels like he’s brooding for the sake of brooding, which is a major disappointment. We could have seen more about how losing Gabumon was still a blow to him, instead, nothing really compelling.
- The introduction of a new character Meiko was…unnecessary. While I have a feeling she’s going to be integral to the story Meicoomon’s inclusion didn’t really need her. In fact, while I know they’re going to make her important and the relationship between Meicoomon and Meiko integral, they’ve already done this before in Digimon: The Movie (Digimon Hurricane Touchdown!!) which means that we may see a playout of the second movie for the first Digidestined.
- On the other hand, the introduction of a 3 Letter Government like agency is actually necessary. In fact, it’s a great addition. Having seen a lot of events, it would only make sense to have something to attack the problem of Digimon. The introduction of Nishijima to be a liaison to the government to the Digidestined and tracking them down works wonders. It helps to make the threat more viable, it helps to contextualize the world post Season 1 events, and it makes a lot of conveniences affordable (such as Mimi’s arrival).
- I think the nostalgia part is what hinders the movie. To be blunt, this movie is not really accessible. You need to know what happens in Season 1 to appreciate a good deal of the conflicts between characters. While general audiences can enjoy the fighting and the general story they can’t get the real nitty-gritty of the conflict and how the characters act. In fact, because of these things, it makes the interpersonal conflict between Matt and Tai pettier than it seems. Another aspect of nostalgia that hurts is the lack of consistency after the second act. Sure they nailed down TK and Kari’s Digivices, but Cody, Yolei, Davis and Ken’s absence is shockingly present in the third act.
- The action is actually really good. The fight scenes really did show off just how much power each Digimon had. Seeing the damage and reversals with ultimate attacks made me giddy with glee, akin to when it was Saturday morning and I got up to watch cartoons. With that said, I’m somewhat happy and sad that they didn’t say their attack name.
- Mimi called out Izzy for falling for her. Awesome. In fact, assertive Mimi is best Mimi.
- Happy that TK and Kari are still chill and have their Digivices; happy to know Tai and Kari’s mom still know about Digimon and are chill with them.
- I’m glad that they got most of the cast back. It worked and made me feel like a kid again. Hearing the voice of Tai and Agumon made me so excited and say “Yes!” For the substitutions of voice actors, it worked out for the most part. Most notably, Matt’s voice was a bit deeper than expected, but it still suits him. The voice acting was well done and really was able to convey what the story and the script are trying to get at (even with the flaws of the story).
- Speaking of the script: Thank you for retaining the English style of dubbing. It was great hearing the English versions of the character. Hearing Izzy say Prodigious made me tear up and hit me in the childhood feelings. It felt that, sans story, they retained what made the Digimon dub so effectively good, with a modern update that surpasses the dub from that time.
- Shout out to my homie Joe trapping for that grade. I feel you man, go get it.
- Speaking of accessibility: It makes me feel more aware about how anime is lacking accessibility, and how Digimon Adventures Tri doesn’t easy my feelings of that. I feel like the medium is going to need to confront this notion.
- A meta-commentary about the film setup: Crunchyroll did well with their movie presentation, but now I know why Funimation put their Q&A among other things up front first: engagement. I think Crunchyroll should do the same as Funimation at least keeps people in the seats for a longer time and thus get people hyped (and annoyed) but at least doesn’t allow them to bail as fast. It means for their sneak peak, people will be interested in it. Speaking of sneak peaks, Crunchyroll should have done more to work with Toei to give a non-spoilerific peak into the third movie.
This movie is good for what it does well. It entertains, brings nostalgia with action, with a decent, albeit contrived storyline. But, it could do more to cement itself as great by aiming for better accessibility, better plot devices, and a better internal conflict for Tai. The risks taken in the movie are okay, but consistency and nostalgia aspects hampered it to shine. The setup for the second movie is good, and I think we’re all in for a treat, but expectations need to be curbed after this movie.
Streamed By: Fathom Events, Crunchyroll, Toei Animation
*Gatomon is a Champion level Digimon. All of the Digidestined sans Tai/Agumon and Matt/Gabumon can only go Champion without the crest. Gatomon already fulfills this function and thus didn’t digivolve. To see more of the nuance, please watch Digimon Season 1.
Sidenote: If anything, I now want a Tamers remake/movie now, that season deserves an extention.