Seventeen years ago, seven children were sent to a summer camp and were sucked into another world in which their lives were changed forever. A growing darkness in this strange world forced the young children to face their ever-growing destinies by seeking the aid of some unlikely monstrous friends. Little did they realize that the darkness they were facing not only would save this new world, but would protect their own. This is the tale of Digimon Adventures.
Sixteen years and six series later, the 8 DigiDestined return along with their beloved partners to save both the real and digital world in the six-part movie series, Digimon Adventure Tri. Back in August 1st 2014, their 15th Anniversary was celebrated with an announcement that revealed the return of the original characters for the first direct sequel since Digimon Adventures 02. The project (while initially thought to be the return of the anime series) was later revealed to be a six-part movie affair to be distributed over the course of the next few anime seasons; with the first film Digimon Adventure Tri.: Saikai (Reunion) being released on November 21st 2015 and the follow-up film Ketsui (Determination) being released last Friday, March 18th, 2016. Both films have been released for international streaming on Crunchyroll in the form of four episodes each.
The third film in the series titled Digimon Tri: Kokuhaku (Confession) is scheduled to be released on September 14th later this year.
Digimon Adventure Tri
Digimon Adventure Tri is set 6 years after the events of the original series (3 years after Adventures 02) and reunites us with the chosen children in their new lives as young adults. All of the children, now teens and young adults, have gone on to carve their own paths. Yamato is trying to get his band off the ground, Mimi is living large with her family in America, Joe is studying for college entrance exams and Taichi is the resident soccer star of his school.
When the first film opens, we are shown that despite their diverging paths all of the DigiDestined have done their best to remain close friends, even if their lives are slowly pulling them all in different directions. On the day of Taichi’s big soccer game, which he had tried and mostly failed to get all his friends to attend, a gateway to the digital world open and out comes a rampaging Kuwagamon. Taichi, always the courageous hero, goes in pursuit of Kuwagamon and through the chain of events that follow is reunited with his partner, and best friend Agumon as they attempt to defeat the rampaging Digimon.
Eventually the entire gang is brought back together, including a fresh off the plane Mimi. As events play out the DigiDestined along with their respective partners must once again take up the mantle and fight for both worlds against this new darkness which seems to be corrupting good Digimon and the digital world itself. As they prepare to face this new and growing danger however, the question is raised, are they doing the right thing and are they doing it the right way?
This first entry into the series, while showing us that for the most part the children we know are still the same, it also shows just how much they’ve grown as individuals. The film introduces us to Joe’s struggle with actually achieving the path he has set for himself for the future and how it conflicts with his destiny as a “Chosen Child”. It also introduces us to a contemplative Taichi who can’t decide if the fighting is worth the destruction left in their wake just because they’re doing the right thing.
The 2nd film opens with our heroes as they do their best to welcome their newly discovered DigiDestined friend Meiko Mochizuki to the group along with her Digimon partner Miecoomon. In the Ketsui film the Digidestined must further face the challenge of figuring out if they are handling the situation correctly as due to the continued rampages by “Infected” Digimon the public view of Digimon on a whole is at an all-time low.
This entry into the film series also sees more of the personal struggles expressed in the initial film as we see Tai still trying to figure out if they’re truly doing the right thing as well as Joe doing his very best to focus on his exam prep while holding his partner Gomamon and the group at large at arm’s length. This film also shines a spotlight on Mimi and her insecurities as we see her trying to reintegrate into Japanese school life while stubbornly and boisterously holding true to the loud and opinionated girl we have all come to know and love.
Ketsui moves the story along as the group learn more about the infected Digimon and the damage being done to the digital world even going so far as to further reveal that Meicoomon may somehow be the cause. The film places focus on Mimi and Joe in particular, forcing them to face some truths about the way they see themselves and the way they appear to those around them eventually leading to the climactic battle which in turn lead them both to overcome their doubts to save their friends thus bringing about the first ever appearance of the Mega-Digivoled forms of their respective partners Rosemon and Vikemon.
Digimon has always been one of my personal favourite anime series growing up with Digimon Adventure playing a major role in my childhood. Many dispute the value of Digimon and disregard it as a knock-off to another popular “monster-partner” series. However, Digimon’s story is heavily focused on relatable struggles of life, such as balancing relationships and responsibilities.
The original Digimon adventures series boasted a varied cast of main characters, all with unique personalities and struggles. From 10-year-old super genius Koushiro (or Izzy in the English version) who is riddled with a sense of isolation from his peers due to his immense intellect to Yamato and Takeru (Matt and TK), brothers from a divorced family who love each other dearly but scarcely get to spend time together as the live in separate homes, Digimon has always demonstrated an understanding of real people with real worries even in a fictional world.
The Digimon series has always handled the realism of their characters in a relatable way. By crafting relationships between the characters (both Digimon and human) in a way to draw out each other’s insecurities, they cause one another to grow by overcoming obstacles and learning about themselves. Digimon Adventure Tri has taken that realism a step further by bringing previous fans of the series back to these characters we have bonded with and come to know, reintroducing them to us at a later stage in their lives where, much like us all, their personalities, relationships and insecurities alike have grown and changed with them. This maintains the relatability of the characters and the series because everyone grows up and we all know how it feels.
While much of the characters remain the same at their core, with the Digimon partners remaining nearly completely unchanged, their differences make for some interesting new dynamics. Takeru is now a ladies’ man and Joe has a girlfriend. It’s a little trippy to think that I first met these guys when I was six years old. It really feels like they’ve grown up with me, which is only a small part of the magic Toei Animation has managed to capture in this series revival. Why take my word for it when you can just go watch it and feel yourself?
Digimon Adventure Tri is the definition of nostalgia which somehow manages to still present itself as new and fresh, showing all why it will forever be remembered as one of the greats. I for one am looking forward to September 14th.