Leomon, the Sean Bean of the Digital World.
What’s the Story?
With Tai and Matt still at loggerheads and a new digidestined to welcome, the gang decide to take a trip to a spa. While they manage to integrate their newest member, the boys are still avoiding their problems and they’re not the only ones. Joe is torn between his studies and his role as a digidestined, meanwhile Mimi makes a rash decision that only leads to the public becoming more afraid of Digimon. The digidestined feel like they’re falling apart and the infected Digimon keep on coming, as well as an old friend in an even older costume. Oh, and Leomon shows up too, so who wants to bet on when he’s going to die this time?
The subtitle for this film feels wrong, it shouldn’t be ‘Determination’, it should be ‘Growing’ because that’s what’s happening to the characters throughout. This second film in the tri series takes a more low key approach, there’s less digimon attacks and more daily life, heck we even squeeze a hot spring trip and a school festival into this outing and, surprisingly, I enjoyed it more than the last film. I’m already invested in these characters and it’s great to see them maturing. Yes watching giant dinosaurs and flower people throw down is exciting, but I’m interested in seeing how these characters struggle with their choices and what their eventual conclusions are going to be. Besides both the hot springs and the festival were really fun, I like to see these characters bounce off of one another (and I’m definitely starting to ship Izzy and Mimi. Honestly you never used to be able to get him away from a computer, now you just show him a picture of Mimi in a cheerleader’s outfit and he’s off).
Speaking of Mimi, she is my favourite character this film and, honestly, she’s gone up several levels in my estimation. That speech she gave to Meiko about never bottling anything up not only perfectly fits her character, but it’s also a prime example of what Mimi does best (as well as being some advice that everyone could do with listening to once in while, myself included). There’s a reason Mimi got the crest of sincerity. This whole film felt designed to give me a deeper understanding of Mimi, which I appreciate as she’s never really been my favourite Digidestined. Here she’s rash to act, but she’s doing it from a good place, it just goes wrong and backfires on her terribly. I’m going to have to watch Adventure again, but I can’t really remember a moment when Mimi ever truly doubted herself and in this film we do get to see that and yet she comes out of the other side. Yes Mimi tends to act before she thinks and sometimes she says and does things without taking into account other people’s feelings, but she’s so open and honest with her feelings that you can’t help but do the same in return. I like that when the girls are whispering about Mimi in class, she looks straight at them and tells them to ‘don’t talk about me behind my back’, which again perfectly encapsulates her. If you’re going to say something to Mimi, say it to her face, ‘cause that’s what she’ll do with you.
Joe on the other hand gets less resolution to his arc from this film and the last, but then I feel that’s the point of his arc. Joe is torn between helping his friends and being a digidestined, and getting on with his studies and his life. He wants to grow up, but he’s caught at a crossroads and no matter how much he questions himself, he just can’t come to a satisfactory answer, but that’s the point. We all struggle with who we are and what we want to do with our lives, heck it’s probably one of the most common questions explored in any young adult media and sometimes there isn’t an easy answer. Sometimes we’re just who we are. People are messy and complicated and contradictory and we have to come to terms with that and Joe is on that path, even if he is putting way too much pressure on himself while he does it. I love both Joe and Mimi in this film, they are without a doubt the best parts of this film and if the other films in the series take a similar look at the other digidestined, then I am really going to love these films.
That aside though, there isn’t really much plot to this film. Oh there’s mystery messages and prophecies and I really am getting curious about those government agents, I like them both, but I want to know what their deal is. This is a very light film, it’s more focussed on the emotions than giving us any concrete plot progression. Infected digimon turn up, but outside of Mimi’s mistake and the climax, they’re just background noise. The rest of the digidestined are also relegated to the sidelines, though they get some cute interactions. The digimon themselves get their own little comedy act going and you realise that they are all just really big kids and it’s a lot of fun to see their antics and listen to their quick-fire banter.
That about brings me to the point where I’m going to have to pull up the plot of this film and that mostly comes down to the climax. Firstly, Ken, is nobody going to ask why he’s suddenly dressed as the Digimon Emperor again or where he’s been? For that matter is nobody going to mention the other 02 digidestined? I mean we see Imperialdramon and you kind of need both Ken and Davis to get him, he is a digivolution of a fusion. Anybody? No? No, okay. Next, the mega digivolutions. While it is great to see the mega levels of Palmon and Gomamon, I can’t help feel its kind of crammed into the ending, but then that’s the whole climax. Rushed. Ken shows up, battle starts, Gomamon and Palmon digivolve and then they digvolve again and then again. It feels like this should be a more momentous occasion, but it’s not. Also if the climax was a bit better paced we might get some time to question Ken, no, I’m not letting that go.
All in all, Digmon Adventure Tri: Determination was an improvement over the first film, if still flawed. There’s less of a focus on action and setting up, and more on the growth of our favourite characters and I am perfectly happy with that. If we could get a less rushed climax, that would be great, as well as some answers about Ken and the infected Digimon, that would be great too. Then again, with the ‘shock’ ending of this one it looks like the plot is kicking back in so maybe I’ll get my wish next time. I wonder what mega digivolutions we’ll get next time?
Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday.