The original Digi-destined are back!
In celebration of the Digimon franchise’s 15th anniversary, Toei Animation are treating us to a blast from the past, revisiting everyone’s favourite characters from the popular Digimon Adventure 01 in an all new six-part theatrical film series.
Six years have passed since the events of Adventure 01 which first introduced us to Tai and his friends (the Digi-destined), the Digital World, and Digimon. For the past few years, our world and the Digital World have existed in peace with the Gate between them closed. But now a new threat is stirring in the Digital World and “infected” Digimon are somehow finding their way over to our world, causing panic and destruction. The Digi-destined are reunited with their partner Digimon, working together once again to protect both worlds and uncover the mystery behind the infected Digimon.
First and foremost, this is a nostalgia film. The “Reunion” sub-title not only refers to the Digi-destined being reunited with their partners, but also the audience being reunited with childhoods memories. Adventure Tri frequently pays homage to the original series by revisiting old locations and occasional cameo appearances by other characters. It’s masterfully executed in a way that triggers excitement rather than exasperation. These references tease at what is about to come next. Many anime films fall into the trap of simply recycling content for fanservice but Adventure Tri manages to avoid that, resulting in a story that feels like an organic continuation from Adventure 01 and 02.
One of the franchise’s strengths has always been the portrayal and development of complex characters with distinct personalities. Adventure Tri is no exception. The Digi-destined are growing up, navigating the trials that come with transitioning to adulthood. This includes juggling school work, exams, maintaining friendships, commitments to family, planning for the future and, oh yeah, being responsible for saving the world. But it’s not all fun and heroics this time around, as the Digi-destined have to grapple with the consequences of the collateral damaged in the real world. This coming-of-age story has a more mature outlook for an audience that has aged with the characters.
This first instalment gives particular focus to Tai who is bored with school and struggling to pick a career path. All he wants to do is go back and relive his old adventures in the Digital World. True to his rash and impulsive nature, Tai eagerly rushes head-first into the fray when an infected Kuwagamon appears. Then reality hits him. This isn’t child’s play anymore; it’s not just an awesome monster fight with a clear-cut division between good and bad. Innocent people are getting injured. Homes are being destroyed. Tai is confronted with the moral dilemma of whether what they’re doing is the right thing. Can he find the courage to keep fighting?
There are also a couple of new faces introduced to the franchise. Supporting characters Maki Himekawa and Daigo Nishijima are both intriguing figures. They work for a mysterious government agency which has been keeping tabs on the Digi-destined. What’s their motive? Can they be trusted? Only time will tell.
The most significant addition is that of Meiko Mochizuki, a previously unknown Digi-destined with her own Digimon partner, Meicoomon. She ticks all the “new girl” stereotypes which occasionally borders on becoming annoying and doesn’t feel like she quite fits in with the rest of the narrative. However, Meiko plays the important role of audience surrogate for those who are new to the franchise. Hopefully she will be given more time to develop and become a more compelling character in future films.
A significant number of the original Japanese and English VAs have reprised their character roles for Adventure Tri, including Joshua Seth, Colleen O’Shaughnessey, and Chika Sakamoto. We also hear Vic Mignogna pick up the role of Matt, rounding out an overall stellar cast. The DVD comes with both the Japanese and English versions, so you can choose whichever suits your viewing preference.
The bonus features include an insightful behind-the-scenes interview with the voice actors, and footage from the live premiere release of the film.
If you were ever a fan of Digimon, then this film is absolutely for you. Even if you’ve never watched an episode, you’ll probably still get a decent amount of enjoyment out of Adventure Tri. The story is well told and doesn’t require an abundant knowledge of previous instalments to be able to follow along.
Since Reunion is only the first part out of a planned series of six, it definitely raises more questions than answers. It provides only a mere taste of a larger over-arching plot yet to come, leaving you hungry for more. Needless to say, I’m ready for Part 2!