Anime Corner: Digimon Adventure: (2020) Review

Going Digital…Again!

What’s the Story?

Bizarre occurrences have been happening all across Tokyo, computer systems suddenly going haywire and acting as if they’ve got minds of their own! When Taichi’s mother and little sister become caught on a runaway train it’s the first gambit in an epic adventure that Taichi and his this friends are never likely to forget. Transported to a strange new world, this ‘Digital World’, the chosen human children and their Digimon partners must overcome a reviving evil. If they fail, both the Digital World and ours will be reduced to nothing.

The Review:

This is not going to be the review I wanted to write for this series. I very much wanted to love this reboot version of the original Digimon Adventure, I want to love every series in the Digimon franchise. True, when I was a kid I was a die hard Pokemon fan and, yes, I was one of those naive fools who thought Digimon was the lesser cousin to the Juggernaut that was Pokemon. Yet as I’ve gotten older the more my interest in Pokeman has faded and my appreciation for Digimon has only grown, heck I dedicated the 5th anniversary year of this blog to reviewing the first three Digimon series, the movie and the Tri films (which you can find HERE). The chance to see the original characters again, but with more modern animation and all the lore that’s been added into the series since it’s inception, just take my money now. And, at first, I was really enjoying this new version of Digmion Adventure. It took things in a very different direction, with a clear focus on the lore and adventure aspect of the series, it felt like an epic quest, which I was totally down for. Unfortunately that didn’t last.

Adventure: 2020 has some pretty big problems as far as I’m concerned, but I can’t quite work out whether those problems are born from the series itself, or my own personal biases. I’ve tried to keep 2020 and the original Adventure separate in my head, they are doing very different things as I mentioned, but there were several points I caught myself thinking, ‘I preferred how that was done in the original’ or ‘I wish they’d included that from the original’. I guess we’ll see how much I bring up the original in this review, but starting from this point I’m going to try to talk about just 2020. So let’s begin with some positives, what did I actually like about Adventure: 2020. Well, as I said the first half of this series is pretty solid. It’s an epic quest that slowly gathers together the characters we all know and love and puts them on a grand journey to save this strange land known as the ‘Digital World’. There’s a clear goal from the offset and it adds some real drive to the episodes. Plus it’s great to see the action and digivolution (yes I’m still calling it digivolution, I’ve been calling it that for nearly three decades now, it’s hard to rewire those parts of my brain) sequences done with an actual budget. True, Agumon and Gabumon get the much flashier sequences, but then don’t they always?

Unfortunately, once we hit the halfway mark of the series, I’d say roughly around the fight with Devimon, things start to falter. The thing with an epic quest and having set goals is, once you reach those that’s kind of the end of the story. There’s so much drive and build up towards the fight with Devimon that once he’s finally defeated it feels like the series has hit it’s climax. Of course then we’ve got to deal with the force behind Devimon, but all the momentum suddenly vanishes from the series. Instead of a clear progressing story, the series feels like its just meandering around, slipping into more episodic content while we all just drum our fingers waiting for the final boss fight. It kinda kills the series for me and then once that evil Digimon is dealt with it it’s revealed there’s an even greater force behind them that we have to deal and arrrgh when is this going to end! This series is too long and I put the fault squarely on the pacing of the second half. There’s no flow to the episodes and it misses opportunity after opportunity to use it’s time effectively and develop these characters.

That’s Adventure: 2020 biggest crime in my book, it’s lacklustre treatment of the characters. To a point I get it, this is a much more plot-driven series that other Digimon series, we’re dealing with lore and story progression more than anything else, but when that starts to meander the deficiencies in the characters really start to show. I barely feel like I know any of these characters and when they do get character-focussed episodes it’s to deal with surface level problems. Izzy/Koshiro is my best example, though I need to bring up the original series to demonstrate what I’m talking about. In the original Adventure series we explored how Izzy’s constant questioning and searching for answers was related to his identity issues after finding out he’s adopted. In 2020? He spends an episode learning to rely on his computer less. Do you see the difference there? One is actual character exploration and develop, one’s an issue for a Saturday morning cartoon. Maybe that’s all Adventure: 2020 was trying to be, a nice breezy kids show, but I expect better from Digimon.

It doesn’t help that Taichi gets so much of the spotlight in this series, even episodes that should naturally be about another Chosen One getting their next digivolution, nope, here comes Taichi riding in to save the day. He even gets an alternate Mega digivolution for Agumon long before most of the other characters have even achieved their first Mega digivolution! What is going on here?! I seriously got to the point in later episodes where I wanted to punch Taichi every time he showed up just to get him off screen and give a chance to the other characters for once. I was honestly surprised that the final battle didn’t just turn into Taichi saving everyone, but everyone got something to do at least. I will end this on a positive note by saying that the final episode of the series was suitably epic with some great animated sequences and an orchestral score that really sold the grandeur of everything. It’s a solid ending, it’s just a shame it took so long to get there.

The Verdict:

In the end, Digimon Adventure: 2020 is a disappointment. It starts off well, but the plot begins to meander with constantly shifting end bosses and seriously underdeveloped characters. It doesn’t help that so much time is dedicated to Taichi despite the fact that it never truly explores his character. It is nice to see alternate digivolutions and better quality animation for some sequences, though there’s a noticeable dip as the series goes on. Maybe if you’re not as beholden to the original as I clearly am you can get more enjoyment out of this series, here’s hoping. Until the next trip to the Digital World.

Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday.

First Impressions Summer 2020 Part 1

Another season, another selection of anime! Of course the Pandemic is still in full effect so the number of actual releases is still less that what we’ve become accustomed to, but I’m not going to complain. I’d rather companies take their time, protect their staff and just slowly move back to normality rather than rush it to pander to my anime addiction. Still there are plenty of appetising shows on offer this season, from returning contenders like Fire Force and Re: Zero, to brand new shows like Deca-Dence, there’s a fair bit I’m looking forward to. Enough waffle though, let’s get into those first impressions!

Fire Force Season 2

For the people of Tokyo, the number one fear is that of human combustion. That’s why the Special Fire Force was developed, specialised fire fighter with pyrokinetic abilities who fight against the Infernals, monsters created by human combustion. After many hard battles, including a showdown with the Evangelist’s forces in the Nether, the members of Fire Force Company 8 have finally started to unravel some of the mysterious of human combustion, but there are still many more questions to be answered. What exactly are the Adolla Bursts? What are the Pillars that the white-clad seek? Just who is the Evangelist and why is he so keen on re-igniting the great fire that almost wiped out humanity so many years ago?

Fire Force is back and it’s better than ever! While I certainly enjoyed the first season it also had some very clear problems that needed addressing (you can check out my review HERE). So far season 2 has either avoided or addressed the issues I had, we have a clear goal in front of us in finding the Pillars before the Evangelist does, and the fanservice has been greatly dialled back. Heck, Tamaki actually got to show off her fighting prowess in the first episode, it’s almost as if she’s an actual character! Admittedly the cynic in me does keep reminding me that I’m only three episodes into this season and the old problems could come back as soon as this arc is over, but I’m holding on to the hope that they won’t. Also, on a last note, has the animation taken a step up this season? Season 1 had some impressive fight scenes, but this season even minor skirmishes look amazing so far. Really hoping that keeps up too!

The Misfit of Demon King Academy

Anos Voldigoad was once the tyrannical Demon King, he waged war on humans, spirits and gods alike, and yet this demon died for peace. When confronted by the Hero Kanon, Anos admitted that he was tired with the endless warfare and proposed a solution, he would give up his life energy to separate each species into their own realms for a thousand years. This would end the war and bring the potential for peace when the species finally do make contact again. However, two thousand years later, Anos is reincarnated and can’t help but feel that something is wrong. Enrolling at the Demon King Academy, where his own descendants are taught, his vast power has him branded as a misfit with only the quiet Misha and the tsundere Sasha as his allies. Can Anos work out what changed two thousand years ago? More importantly, can he put it right?

I did not have high hopes for this series when I decided to start watching it, I am so sick of the overpowered protagonist and I really just tuned into this show because I was bored one evening. The first episode really didn’t impress me, exactly as I’d feared the fights had no tension whatsoever as Anos bulldozes his way through his fights and stands around explaining how clever he is. Not to mention the fact that Anos is technically a month old and his parents should really have some sort of reaction to that, but no, that’s just a one-note joke that gets repeated. It was the start of episode 2 that really got my attention, when we learn the details of how Anos died two thousand years ago and that piqued my interest. With each episode the series takes a step away from being a power fantasy and more towards a mystery, clueing us in that the past has changed, but we don’t know why or how. If the series keeps going in this direction then there’s some real potential here, because it’s not an obstacle that Anos can just muscle his way through. Here’s hoping!

Digimon Adventure: (2020)

Fifth grader Taichi is all set for his upcoming camping trip, but he’s destined for an entirely different adventure. Mysterious digital life forms have been causing havoc with computer systems, taking control of trains, launching nuclear missiles, and now they’re systemically plunging the Tokyo into a blackout. The only way to stop the approaching disaster is to travel to the home of these strange new life forms, the Digital World. Together with his Digimon partner Agumon, Taichi heads to the Digital World, where he discovers that he’s not the only kid answering the call of adventure. He’ll have to pick up his fellow chosen ones along the way though as dark forces are on the move and an ancient battle for the world itself is about to reignite.

Digimon Adventure is back and I couldn’t be happier. I know I should just judge this series purely by itself, but it’s just so fascinating to compare this to the original Digimon Advnture. Same characters, similar kind of set up, a bunch of kids travelling across the Digital World, and yet the results are so different. Whereas the original started out with more of a surrealist streak, with the children trying to survive as best they could in the strange place they found themselves in, while also uncovering the mysteries of the Digital World. Adventure 2020 feels more like an epic quest, the Digital World is a lot more solid, with a concrete history that the franchise has been developing over the past couple of decades. As such there’s less mystery to this series, but it still holds on to that essential spirit of adventure and I’m loving it. Also, I’ll say it again, it’s so good to see a Digimon series with a proper budget and some, occasionally, fantastic animation.

Lapis Re:Lights

Tiara is a young magic user with a dream! She wants to be like her big sister and graduate the Flora Girls Academy, a school for young women who want to become ‘lights’ to cleanse the world of magical beasts. The lessons will be tough, and she’ll have to climb up through the ranks, but with her friends, both new and old, by her side what could possibly go wrong? Well, aside from the fact that her friends are all on the verge of dropping out unless they earn themselves some points pretty quickly, and Tiara will be dropping out with them if they don’t succeed! Warm up your vocal chords, put on your fanciest costumes and prepare to take to the stage! It’s the Magical Cute Girls Do Cute Things Idol show!

Last season I made an effort to try shows that I normally would have turned my nose up at, and I was rewarded with some truly fantastic shows on my watch list. That hasn’t worked out so well this time. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing really wrong with Lapis Re:Lights, but there’s nothing all that exciting either. The characters are cute, there’s a few decent laughs each episode and it all looks pleasant enough, but for something that tempted me with the promise of a Magical Girl/Idol/CGDCT genre mash up, there’s been precious little of the first two. We’ve had one mention of magical beasts and two decent, but pretty short songs in the first three episodes. The rest has just been the girls playing around, we’ve had one episode chasing a duck and another with a magical game of dodge ball. I expect we’ll get to the other two genres in time, but this series hasn’t really done anything to ensure I’ll stick around that long. It better start getting interesting soon or I may just forget this one even exists.

The God of High School

High school can be a real battle some times, but never before like this! For those that enter the ‘God of High School’ tournament one promise is made, win and any wish you make will be granted. That’s a tempting offer for anyone and it brings out all sorts of contenders, from martial artists and swordsmen to even pro wrestlers, the tournament isn’t picky about how its entrants choose to fight, just that they do. For Jin Mori, he doesn’t really care who he fights against or even what the end goal really is, he only wants to fight the strongest opponents and now he has the chance to do just that. But just what is the ‘God of High School’ tournament? Can it really grant any wish? And what does it have to do with a tropical island that was flattened by a giant hand?

And here it is, Crunchyroll’s next original that they are promoting the heck out of and it’s…okay. Don’t get me wrong this series is a tremendous amount of fun, but so far that’s all it is, which isn’t a bad thing. I feel like I’m being overly critical with this series, not every series has to be some grand masterwork in character and storytelling, sometimes you can just be fun and so far ‘The God of High School’ fits that perfectly. The fights are tremendous, from the choreography to the animation, these are some exhilarating fights and well worth the price of admission alone. As for the characters, well they’re little more than tropes and the story is just a tournament. There’s potential here, a few mysteries that we can work on behind the scenes, but my suspicion is that 90% of this series will be fighting and, you know what? I think I’m okay with that. Pass the popcorn.

We’ll leave it there for this week, but next week we reunite with Subaru and the gang to restart our life in another world, samurai take on CGI monstrosities in the year 2030 and the end of the world isn’t quite what you think it is…

Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday or you can follow me on Twitter @ChrisGJoynson.

First Impressions Spring 2020 Part 2

Welcome back everyone! Let’s cut the waffle and get straight to it, what juicy new anime delicacies have been on offer this week? Let’s find out!

Ascendance of a Bookworm Season 2

And we’re back to the adventures of Myne, the young bookworm who was reincarnated into the sickly body of a peasant girl. Of course Myne loves books, and I mean really loves books, but there’s one problem the world she’s been born into doesn’t have any! Well, not unless you’re a noble, which Myne definitely isn’t. Luckily last season she managed to score a position in the church so now she can read all the books she wants! Unfortunately things are never all that easy for Myne as she’s stepped into the world of the church and nobles, one that is vastly different to the life she’d already gotten used to. Can she find a way to navigate the rules of her new position, or has Myne finally bitten off more than she can chew?

Ascendance of a Bookworm is back! Ascendance of a Bookworm is back! Sorry, I’ll try to stay calm. I really, really loved the first season of Ascendance (Review HERE)and this is just more of the same show. All the great characters I fell for before are back, but with some new additions and locations. As for the new characters, they’re all interesting in their own way, giving us a glimpse into how the church works and the different mentality that people have there. It’s part of what I love so much about this series, the thought and detail that goes into the world and it’s construction. All of the church stuff makes complete sense for the world we’ve already seen and shows the different mentality between the nobles and the commoners. I’m so looking forward to more of this show.

Digimon Adventure: (2020)

Fifth grader Taichi is all set for his upcoming camping trip, but something strange is happening in Tokyo. A mysterious digital lifeform is causing havoc with the world’s computer systems, leading to Taichi’s mother and little sister, Hikari, becoming trapped on a runaway train! Desperate to find some way to help, Taichi races towards the train station, failing to notice the glowing symbol on his phone. The next thing Taichi knows he’s been transported into the Network, a representation of all the digital activity across the world. With the help of his neightbour, Koshiro, the solemn Yamato and a mysterious creature calling itself Agumon, Taichi intends to save the world! Hopefully he’ll manage it before a nuclear missile drops on Tokyo, yeah, we’re doing that.

Watching this show is really weird. Seeing characters that I know so well in familiar, yet entirely new situations, not to mention the fact that they’re clearly being animated with a significant budget this time around. It’s just…it’s weird. I’m such a big fan of the original Digimon, as you’ll probably be able to tell by my review of that very first season (HERE) that I did not so long ago. This new series is something entirely new though, and I do have to force myself to stop comparing it to the original. Yes, these are the characters I’ve known since childhood and they’re all acting as I know they should, but the situation they’re in is something different (even if it does heavily borrow elements from the War Games film in its first arc). All the old elements are here, but they’re been arranged in a new way, add on some quality animation, direction and a good soundtrack and we’re on to a really top-notch readaptation. I’m really not sure what to expect from this show, but I’m excited to see where it goes. Here’s hoping the delay won’t last too long and we can get back to this fascinating series.

Princess Connect! Re: Dive

A young man named Yuuki awakens to find he has no memory of who he is or, well, anything really. Even basic things, like what money is for or that it’s a bad idea to be dragged off by wolves, are beyond him. Luckily he has a guide in the nervous, yet loyal Kokkoro and friends in the always hungry, powerhouse Pecorine and the prickly sorceress Karyl. Together they form the ‘Gourmet Guild’, whose mission is to travel around the world, sampling all the best cuisine and ingredients. Maybe one day they’ll even get around to figuring out who Yuuki actually is, or who Karyl’s mysterious master is!

Food Wars and Konosuba have had a baby! I know, we’re all so surprised and delighted for them, they’ve kept their relationship on the quiet and, honestly, I didn’t think it would last a month, but here we are. I’m joking, but this show is just such an odd mix that it’s hard to believe it’s as good as it is. True, the plot is fairly directionless and I have no idea what it’s eventual end goal is supposed to be, but I don’t really care. The combination of the clueless Yuuki, the fidgeting Kokkoro, the bombastic Pecorine and the tsundere Karyl just light up my screen every Monday night and I don’t know how I’ve lived without them. The characters and their interactions are just so much fun. Add on some pitch perfect comic timing and some impressively pretty visuals (the animation has some shortcuts, but I’ll forgive that) and we’re on to another winner here.


Appare is always causing trouble, whether it’s building some insane machine that blows up five seconds later, or just breaking out of jail, there’s always something and the people around him have had enough! Charged with keeping an eye on Appare is the stalwart samurai Kosame and he has no idea the headache he’s in for. Determined to find some place where his inventions are appreciated, Appare decides he’s going to sail away on the steamboat he built, and not even Kosame tagging along is going to stop him. Of course things don’t go to plan and the next thing the pair know is that they’re in the middle of the ocean being rescued by another ship, a ship headed for America! Now with no money to their name and no way of getting home, Appare decides they’re going to build a car and enter the trans-American race! Fortune and glory awaits, along with a host of wacky contestants to compete against.

Wacky Races the anime! Seriously though, why was this never thought of before? A daring and downright insane race across a country, packed with outlandish characters and even more outlandish cars? Does it matter that the cars are way too advanced for the time period this series is set in? No. Does it matter that every character speaks perfect Japanese, when really you’d expect there to be some major language barriers? No. Does is matter that a lot of the characters are designed so stereotypically they might as well wear a sign to say where they’re from? Maybe, that really depends on you. The characters are likable and interesting enough that I’ll forgive the rather blatant design choices for some of them, but this show is not subtle in the slightest. Unfortunately the series has been delayed and we’re still very much in the setup phase before the big race, but when the show does start airing again you can bet I’ll be straight back to watching it. There’s a lot of potential with this one for a really fun ride.


Born into an aristocratic family in Florence, Italy, at the height of the Renaissance, Arte has dreams of becoming an artist. There’s only one problem, she was born a girl and according to pretty much everyone she meets, including her own mother, that is not a profession for her. Not that that’s going to stop her, Arte is obsessed with drawing, to the point where it’s the only thing she ever wants to do, and she will take on any challenge, overcome any obstacle to do it! Gender barriers be damned! Fortunately she finds a master in Leo, a surly and strict artist who is willing to take her on as an apprentice as long as she can do the work he asks of her.

This show has both surprised me and not surprised me at the same time, if that makes any sense at all. The first surprise was seeing the Universal logo popping up in front of an anime (I’m going to have to look into that later, because if major studios are going to be backing anime from now on then I’m all for it, as long as they don’t interfere with the content of said anime). The second surprise was how much I’ve enjoyed seeing Japan’s interpretation of Renaissance Italy, it’s a fairly simplified version from what I know of the period, but it’s a nice change of location (then again, that could just be due to the fact that I haven’t watched a lot of series set in Renaissance Italy). Speaking of simplified, that is a good summation of this series. The themes and messaging of this series are pretty unsubtle, but I’m always a sucker for a protagonist who tries hard and will chase their dream no matter the obstacle. Plus, she likes drawing. I like drawing. I totally get the obsession (why do you think I draw my own title cards for my reviews?). All in all, it’s a pleasant and fun series and although I’m worried about them pushing a romance between Arte and Leo (I don’t think the series needs that), I’ll continue watching.

Woodpecker Detective’s Office

Ishikawa Takuboku is a poet during the Meiji Era, one who often struggles with his finances and has a habit of sticking his nose into other people’s business. It’s this latter trait that means he often finds himself investigating crimes from across the city, all with the aid of his trusting friend Kindaichi Kyosuke. It turns out that Ishikawa is quite the detective, as are many of the famous writers and poets of this area, all of whom live in the same area. Hmm…me thinks this calls for the formation of a pretty boy detective club! Maybe the name needs a little work, something else’ll come to me I’m sure.

I had hopes for this series, not necessarily high hopes, but moderately level hopes. A nice, gentle detective series in a historical setting, a few quirky little cases and some deductive reasoning from our leads, I don’t think I was asking for much. Unfortunately, three episodes and two cases in, I don’t have nice things to same about this series. At it’s best it’s okay, it looks nice enough, nothing special, but fit for purpose and there’s a good set up for an odd couple relationship between the leads. It’s the cases that are really bugging me about this series, more specifically the resolutions. I’m going to spoil both endings here because I need to vent a little, so if you have any interest in this series please go watch it now, as for me, I’m out on this one.

Okay, everyone else staying? Spoilers in 3…2…1… the first case ends with it being revealed that Ishikawa was just making it up, he has some good reasoning behind his claims, but we never get any resolution and Ishikawa had to fake evidence to prove his point. It’s just not a satisfying conclusion. On to the second case, which spreads across episodes two and three, the build up was good and as were everyone’s little theories about what actually happened, but again, the resolution. Turns out Ishikawa was framing Kyosuke purely because he was mad at him. No, just…no. One, I now hate Ishikawa. Doesn’t matter what his feeling are, if he has a problem he should bring it up with Kyosuke (like a friend would!) not frame him for murder! Two, this is too early in this series to pull this kind of thing, we barely know these characters and, again, I now hate Ishikawa. Three, there’s no actual resolution, yeah Kyosuke is let out of jail, but all Ishikawa does is smack him on the arm. He never explains to Kyosuke that he was mad at him and Kyosuke never figures out it was Ishikawa who was sending him down the river. I did not enjoy it in the slightest.

Well, this ended on a bit of bum note didn’t it? Sorry about that, but I’m not going to review Woodpecker Detective’s Office and I needed to get that off my chest. Aside from that, I am actually really enjoying this season of anime, even with all the series that have been put on delay. Stay safe and well everyone and I’ll be back next week with regular review.

Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday or you can follow me on Twitter @ChrisGJoynson.

Anime Corner: Digimon Adventure Tri: Future Review

Blog Digimon Adventure Tri 6 Review Title

“Coming from Kari it’s probably some kind of prophecy.” – Because Kari’s always been the special one.

What’s the Story?

Tai is lost, Gatomon’s mega level has fused with Meicoomon and created a terrifying monster and the real world looks set to be absorbed into the Digital one. Things have never been more hopeless for the Digidestined, but as Matt struggles with the burden of leadership and Kari deals with losing her brother, their going to have to pull themselves together for one final battle. The fate of two worlds rests on their shoulders, but, hey, look! The 02 Digidestined have finally turned up, well, I say turned up, they at least get name checked, which is more than they have been.

The Review

Sigh. That’s my reaction to this last Digimon Tri film. When I started reviewing this series I was nervous, I knew it had a bad reputation, but, honestly, I enjoyed the first couple of movies. They weren’t perfect, but they were fun, it was great to see some of my favourite characters again and the films were taking the characters in some interesting directions. As the series has gone on though the rot has set it. I’ve talk before about the obvious budget issues this series is having, the cheap animation and the terrible pacing. This film is the apex of that. There’s more still shots and reused animation than ever before and the pacing is completely off kilter. This should be a tense, climatic battle, but instead its drawn out to the point of utter boredom as every snippet of action is swallowed up between scene after scene of talking, most of which is either stuff we’ve gone over before or dull exposition.

I should care, there are plenty of heart-rending moments in this film, Matt struggling with being the leader for a change (and maybe realising he shouldn’t be such an arse to Tai for his decisions), Kari grieving over Tai, the Digimon getting their memories back, the last sacrifice of Nishijima. Heck, Meicoomon’s last moments should have had me balling my eyes out, but they didn’t, because I just don’t care, which is really something special when I remember that I usually adore these characters. I keep thinking back to the series finale of Digimon Tamers and how tense and apocalyptic that felt, just like this film we had a giant monster threatening a city in the real world and our dear Digidestined struggling against impossible odds, the bad guy finding a way to overcome everything they tried. Not to mention that fight was stretched across several episodes and there were several scenes of just talking, but I was never bored.

I think the main problem this series has is that it’s not clear on what it wants to do. There are too many extraneous plots that go absolutely nowhere. We’ve got the whole Meicoomon plot with the infected Digimon and King Drasil’s plan for the Digital world to absorb the real one. Then there’s the government agency that is tasked with dealing with Digimon and the original Digidestined, one of whom has gone mad with grief and wants to reboot the Digital World to get her partner back. There’s whole real world being scared of and mistrusting Digimon plot, the main cast dealing with the growing pains of growing up as well as welcoming a new member. The high school hijinks and slice of life stuff, the two factions of the Digital World battling it out over Meicoomon and so on and so on. This story should easily have fill six films, but not way it’s structured.

They tried to give each film it’s own section of the plot, the first film deals with the setup, the second is high school stuff and Joe and Mimi’s development, third deals with infected digimon, fourth is the reboot consequences, fifth is the prelude to the end and the sixth is the final battle. All of that is fine, the problem is that they need to cram more into each film so that’s there’s not so much dead air as we wait for the plot to stop spinning its wheels and get to the point. In my opinion, and these just a couple of suggestions off the top of my head, the fourth film should have had a confrontation Himekawa, while dealing with the memory loss of their partners the Digidestined should have stumbled across her, learnt about the original Digidestined and there should have been a big confrontation between Himekawa and Meiko for all the horrible things she’s put the kids through. Film five should have been a fight with King Drasil so that, one, we actually get to see him, two, we get to learn why he thinks Digimon are so superior. Then the kids can side with Homeostasis, only to learn that she’s not exactly on their side either.

We don’t get any of that though and instead those plot threads are left to fade into obscurity when they should have been some of the meat of the series. They were right there and nothing is done with them! We never even see King Drasil and he’s dealt with off screen by Homeostasis and Himekawa wandered off a long time ago, so instead we’re left with exposition scene after exposition scene and boring platitude after boring platitude while the animators scramble to find enough budget for them to have another two minute fight scene. That’s what annoys me most about this series as a whole, it has so much potential and so many great ideas and it squanders the majority of them.

The Verdict

In the end Digimon Adventure Tri: Future is pretty much on the same level as the films before it. It suffers from the same pacing and budgetary issues that those films had, crippled by the fact that what should be a climatic battle is stretched across an hour and a half with endless talking and exposition stuffed between all the action scenes. This series had potential, a lot of it, there are some great ideas from giving us a peak at the original Digidestined, to showing conflict in the powers of the Digital World and our main characters struggling with growing up. All of that is squandered though, several conflicts and plotlines either crumbling away to nothing or simply reaching an unsatisfactory conclusion (seriously, could no one punch Dark Gennai in the face, even once?). There are moments in these films that have enjoyed, a lot, the aforementioned original Digidestined and I still love the second film for what it does with Mimi, but, overall, unless you’re a hardcore Digimon fan, avoid these films.

fish stamp avoid

Next month the Digital Year reaches it’s own conclusion with my 5th Anniversary celebration, my review of Digimon the Movie! Somebody please save me!

Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday.  

Anime Corner: Digimon Adventure Tri: Coexistence Review

Blog Digimon Adventure Tri 5 Review Title

It’s the end of the world as we know it and that means it’s time for one thing and one thing only… ghost stories!

What’s the Story?

The end is coming, with Meicoomon digivolving to protect Meiko, she’s given in to anger and done exactly what Dark Gennai wanted all along. Now digimon are invading the real world and causing havoc. The Digidestined are powerless to stop it as they’re trapped in a Digital World that appears to be rejecting them with every byte of its data. Even when they do make it back home there’s little they can do as the two factions fighting over the Digital World bring their struggle to the city and the kids have no idea whose side their really on, and when tragedy strikes they realise that they’ve done more harm than good.

The Review

This should have been a trilogy. That’s the conclusion I’ve come to with this film series and I know I still have one more film to go, but I have to say, for the majority of this film I was immensely bored and that should not be happening with the penultimate chapter of an epic showdown with two worlds at stake. The ideas are there, the conflict is there, but it all seems so dull. How do you make giant cyborg dinosaurs, armoured knights and a whole host of other monsters battling it out boring? This film found a way! There are layers of problems to this film, but I think it mostly comes down to pacing and focus.

Let’s start with the pacing. The film spends long, long sequences with characters just talking on and on about the same thing over and over again, you can feel the wheels of the story spinning, but we’re getting precisely nowhere. That’s without even mentioning the goofy antics in the middle where any momentum that the story had managed to gather came screeching to a halt. I liked the high school antics early in the series, but that was because, one, the majority of it was character focussed and, two, it was still early in the story, the stakes were lower and there weren’t Digimon blowing up power stations and threatening the whole world yet! We’re in the endgame now, we should be barrelling towards the conclusion, there should be epic clashes, planning out strategies and confronting villains, not telling one another ghost stories! Ugh. A part of me wonders if this a budget issue, the number of still shots has been increasing with each film and I’m convinced the final film is just going to be pencil sketches so maybe they don’t have the money to animate huge battles and can only manage one talking scene after another. Well, if that’s the case, why are the animating six films?! Make it a trilogy and converse your budget! Again, ugh.

Budget can’t be the whole problem though, because if the animators can only afford to do talking scenes, why don’t they at least get to animate interesting talking scenes. There are plenty of good ideas in this film franchise, I like the idea of different factions fighting it out over the Digital World and I like it even more that both sides can be antagonistic to our heroes, King Drasil wanting Digimon supremacy and Homeostasis wanting balance by any means necessary. Then there’re the human antagonists like Himekawa who has gone completely off the deep end to try and get her partner back. All of these are really interesting opponents for the digidestined to go up against, it’s just a shame we spend barely any time with them. Here’s the thing, the conflict is great on paper, but the Digidestined feel like they’re hardly involved with it. They’d had two conversations with Homeostasis, only one of which was arguing against her actions, the other was vague hints and exposition. We’ve never seen King Drasil and I’m not even sure if the Digidestined are even aware of Himekawa’s descent into madness. These should be big things and the main characters should be confronting the bad guys about their part in everything. In the original Digimon Adventure the gang always had multiple interactions with the main villain of the arc, but here they just stand around looking confused and asking who they should be fighting, which could be interesting. Have the Digidestined argue, fight over who they should side with, but instead they just feel like a bunch of onlookers.

Okay, positives, positives, let’s think of some positives. I am starting to like Meiko more and more. I’m not sure how I feel about the film pushing her and Tai together (I’m a Tai x Sora man until I die), but she’s showing more of a personality and being a bit more assertive. I wish she wasn’t such a complete downer so much of the time, but I’m definitely seeing her more as an actual character and not just some walking stereotype. I wish we got to see more of her childhood with Meicoomon as that looked both fun and ominous, with Meicoomon taken away for testing. I want to know what sort of tests they were doing to her and maybe it could have given us more of a peek into how the Government sees Digimon and what measures they’re willing to take against them. Also, wouldn’t it have been an interesting if the experiments were what gave Meicoomon her infection powers in the first place, rather than her just being born as this Libra thing or whatever she is. Also, wouldn’t it have been really interesting if it was made clear to Meiko that Himekawa, someone who Meiko trusted, has been manipulating her to get Meicoomon into the position she’s currently in. Wouldn’t it have been interesting, not to mention dramatic, to see Meiko confront Himekawa over that. Nah, that’s actually interesting, we can’t have that, let’s make some jokes about Matt being scared of ghosts instead.

The Verdict

I won’t say that Digimon Adventure Tri is beyond salvation at this point, but I will say that the final film has a lot to work to do if it wants to me to do anything other than scream at my scream for an hour and a half straight. There are plenty of good ideas in this film, the problem is that it does absolutely nothing with them. This isn’t helped by an endless supply of cyclical conversations and more focus on goofy antics rather than our villains or the conflict with them, we should be barrelling towards our conclusion, but instead there’s a distinct impression of going nowhere fast. Hopefully I’ll feel less ranty with the next, and final, film.

fish stamp avoid

Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday.  

Anime Corner: Digimon Adventure Tri: Loss Review

Blog Digimon Adventure Tri 4 Review Title

Izzy, he knows his tea, all tea, apparently.

What’s the Story?

The Digidestined have returned to the Digital World, but while everything may look like it once did, that doesn’t mean that things are the same. For one their partners have no memory of them or their past adventures and, while the Digidestined do their best to reconnect, there are darker machinations at work. The infection, the distortions and even the reboot have been part of a wider plan, and as the architectures of this scheme finally step into the light, the Digidestined find themselves in a desperate situation.

The Review

That was better, I won’t say it was exactly good, but it was a lot better than the last outing for this film franchise. For one we’re finally starting to get some answers and if you’ll permit me a moment to geek out, the original Digidestined! I’d completely forgotten they were a thing since they’re pretty much a one off reference in the first series, not only that, but their partners become the Sovereigns! Honestly I nearly died from the first five minutes of this film and it makes me cry that it managed so much world building and excitement and sheer nostalgic glee than the rest of the film put together.

I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s the pacing that is killing this series more than anything else. For something that has ‘Adventure’ in the title, there is precious little of that. We’re back in the Digital World, we get to see all the old favourite locales and we’ve even got a couple of Dark Masters dropping by for a fight and what do the cast of this film spend most of their time doing? Sitting around and talking! Don’t get me wrong the original Adventure had plenty of sitting around and talking, but it all felt relevant and kept the sense of apprehension, because these were kids who were lost with no idea where they were or how they were going to fix it. They talked to find a solution to their problems and that kept the story moving forward. Here when the characters have a conversation it all feels far too relaxed. Yes, the characters know more of their situation now and they all chose to come to the Digital world, but they have no way to get back or communicate with the real world. There should be more of a sense of urgency here and there just isn’t. I swear you could take away half this film’s running time and you wouldn’t miss a thing.

In fact it’s only the last act of the film were things really pick up because the villains have finally started doing something (half the fight is spent watching digivolutions cycles, but I’ll complain about that later). Still, it is a positive. We now know more about the villains and what their eventual end goals are, we even get a sense of the greater conflict in the Digital World, though I’m still not entirely sure how exactly Meicoomon fits into everything. I get part of it, she’s still infected and that will somehow lead to her destroying the Digital World and separating humans from Digimon, forever, somehow. Okay so we still need some more explanations on that front, but I guess I’m glad we’re just getting a better idea of what everyone is after here.

Speaking of things to be glad about, Meiko, I mean she’s still kind of boring, but if we can get more of the assertive Meiko and less awkward Meiko then I may just end up accepting her as part of the gang, which honestly sounds harsher than I mean it to. She’s still in the non-character area for me, but she’s slowly edging her way out of it, if we get a few more character moments with her I think she’ll be fine, though that brings up the pacing again. With how low key and relaxed this series, you’d think we’d spend that time on some decent character moments and while Matt gets a nice little moment admitting that everyone’s putting a bit too much pressure on Tai, and Sora gets some good moments dealing with her partner not remembering her and not wanting anything to do with her, but that’s all, moments. Honestly I feel like more time should have been spent on that for all the Digidestined, if you’re not going to ramp up the plot to get us excited, at least ramp up the emotions.

I said I enjoyed this more than last time, right? I think that’s another problem with this series, it’s fine at first, but the more I sit here, writing reviews, the more the think about this series, the more annoyed I get. The high school was fun for a couple of films, but now the series just feels like it’s stuttering, its not hitting me in the feels like it should. Maybe it is the budget, because this series is clearly struggling in the funding department, there’s been a lot of still shots and cheap animation in the previous installments, but we’ve hit a whole new level with this outing. So I have to ask, why is this six films again? I know it was planned out as a, what, twenty-six episode series or something like that, but they’re clearly stretching the series and the budget here. Why couldn’t this have been a trilogy? The plot would move faster, we’d have more money for epic fights and heartbreaking scenes, I just don’t get it.

One last thing to mention, I know the whole Ken running around in his Digimon Emperor get up was solved last film, but it looks like that plot thread has finally run its complete course and all I can ask is, why?! Why did Gennai disguise himself as Ken? What was the point? The Digidestined would have had exactly the same reaction to Gennai turning evil as Ken. ‘Wait, there’s our former friend, why’s he acting like a bad guy!’ ‘I don’t know, let’s send him a message and just shrug when we don’t get a reply.’ It’s not as if Gennai is trying to trick the gang because he pretty quickly drops the disguise right in front of them. So. What. Was. The. Bloody. POINT?! Ken better show up at the end of this series and tell us he’s been on holiday in Bermuda or something or I’m going to be even more annoyed.

The Verdict

All in all, I seem to have ranted more than I was expecting to with this review. There are good parts to Digimon Adventure Tri: Loss, the first five minutes expanded the world so much and I genuinely love them, also I did enjoy the moments with Tai, Matt and Sora and it was great to see all the mega digivolutions again. Those are just moments though and overall, while the story finally feels like its going somewhere, its doing it at too slow a pace for my taste. Maybe next time will be better, we live in hope.

fish stamp watchable

Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday.  

Anime Corner: Digimon Adventure Tri: Confession Review

Blog Digimon Adventure Tri 3 Review Title

The cracks are showing.

What’s the Story?

The infection is spreading and not even the digidestined’s partners are safe. What’s more the disturbances are causing more and more problems in the real world, everything from air traffic control to power systems and after a dire warning from a mysterious entity its clear that unless something is done soon both the real world and the digital one are in grave danger. With so little information though and time quickly running out, the digidestined may be forced to take drastic action. Maybe it’s time for a reboot.

The Review

It had to happen at some point, I guess, but I’ve finally come across one of the Tri films were the good stuff (for me at least) doesn’t outweigh the problems that this series has. I know the high school stuff isn’t for everyone and there’s not so much of the ‘Adventure’ that’s in the title, but overall I really liked the first two films. They were great little character pieces, seeing how our characters have matured and grown over the years and how they’re still struggling with that process. I should love this third film; it’s way more heartbreaking than the first two and this time the focus is back on the Digimon and their connection to their partners, which has always been a strong suit of this franchise. The problem is this film is incredibly uneven, the scenes with the Digidestined and their infected partners (before and after they find out) are beautiful and tragic, but that’s not the entirely of this film and the other stuff is dragged down by problems that have been building since the first film.

Let’s start by talking about Meiko. I don’t what the majority opinion on her is (mostly ‘cause I’ve done my best to avoid spoilers regarding this series, I haven’t always succeeded, but I’ve tried), but for me indifference sums it up pretty well. Don’t get me wrong, I have a whole heap of sympathy for her situation and she seems a nice enough person, but none of that makes her interesting. Meiko, to me, comes across as just your typical shy girl stereotype and outside of her being relevant to the plot I see no reason why she has to be included in these films. Even her design is generic and boring, which is a problem when a chunk of this film needs me to be emotionally invested in her plight as she deals with the shock ending of the last film and I just don’t care. Honestly it feels like the film had to infect Patamon, or any of the regular Digimon, just to get a reaction out of me.

Then we come to the government agents, Himekawa and Nishijima. Now I like Nishijima, he has this cool, slacker teacher vibe going on and he seems to genuinely care about the kids and their plight, I like it when not every adult is an arse of one degree or another. My problem is with Himekawa, mostly because I just can’t get a read on her. At times she’s the mysterious, hard-nosed agent who clearly has some sort of emotional problem in her past that has led her to be so closed off, and yet at others she’s genuinely warm and open, helping the kids out. She’s also up to something and not a good something (no one grins that evilly with good intentions at heart). I can’t get a read on a her, none of her personality quirks are meshing together and unless we get some proper explanation as to what’s going on with her I feel like both her and the whole government side of this plot is just going to collapse into nothing. We’re halfway through the film series and I still feel like I know next to nothing about what’s actually going on.

Speaking of plots that have very little explanation and at the going rate are going to implode in disastrous fashion, let’s talk about the 02 digidestined, again. I get that they’re in continuity and you need to say where they are otherwise people will be asking, but if you’re not going to use them, don’t keep bringing them up! Name check them and move on, don’t keep going back to them and then brush it off a second later. It just drives me up the wall, they’ve seen their friend acting all evil and all they do is go knock at his door and then leave two seconds later, apparently happy that they’ve heard nothing from them. Your friends are missing! This should be a bigger deal! It’s not like I care all that much about the 02 digidestined, but if these films aren’t going to do anything with them, then they shouldn’t have brought them up in the first place.

It’s frustrating because, as I said, the stuff with the Digimon being infected is really heartbreaking to watch, but at the same time it’s not enough this time to paper over the cracks. It doesn’t help that the film has a really good emotional climax with the whole reboot, and then goes on for another twenty minutes. I know there was a lot of behind the scenes stuff where this was originally meant to be a TV series and then it got repackaged as films, but this is the first time I’ve really felt that. I mean I can see all the spots in the other two films where I’d cut them up to make three or four episodes, but they still hung together as a cohesive whole. As I said at the beginning, this film is incredibly uneven. I’m hoping we get more explanations in the next film, because the plot feels like its finally starting and for that to be engaging we need a better idea of the stakes and the goals at play.

The Verdict

All in all Digimon Adventure Tri: Confession, for me at least, is the first stumble of the film series. It should have been an emotional gut punch, but the more effective scenes are all weighed down by problems that have plagued the previous installments turned up to eleven. We don’t know much about what’s really going on and there are several new characters who are either boring or poorly executed. Hopefully the next instalment can fix things a little and start giving us some answers.

fish stamp avoid

Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday.  

Anime Corner: Digimon Adventure Tri: Determination Review

Blog Digimon Adventure Tri 2 Review Title

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 Review

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.

The Verdict

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?

fish stamp good

Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday.  

Anime Corner: Digimon Adventure Tri: Reunion Review

Blog Digimon Adventure Tri 1 Review Title

The Mon are back in town!

What’s the Story?

Life has moved on for the Digidestined. Now in high school the gang are finding themselves drifting apart, torn between commitments, relationships and even just deciding on their futures it doesn’t look like our destined heroes will ever get together again. Then strange disturbances begin to plague to city, signals cutting out and machines going haywire, not to mention the sightings of a very big red bug. Soon Digimon have found their way back into the real world and the Digidestined find themselves caught up in more battles, but is fighting really the answer? Tai isn’t so sure.

The Review

When I first heard about Digimon Adventure Tri, I was excited and I mean really excited (scrap me off the ceiling and lock in a rubber room for a few hours levels of excited). Why wouldn’t I be? I adore the original Digimon Adventure (check out my review HERE) and I’m getting the chance to hang out with all my favourite characters all over again? Sign me up! Then, the trepidation set in. First it was the fact that I couldn’t actually see movies (or even the movies broken up into episodes) as they weren’t being legally streamed in my region, at least nowhere that I had access to. That meant I had to wait to see the first film and by the time I could get it on DVD a couple of things started to happen.

For starters there was the realisation that this was going to be in continuity and that meant one thing, it had to lead up to the Digimon 02 epilogue. That meant hooking Sora and Matt up and I’ve already expressed my feelings about that in my review (check it out HERE, I’m doing a lot of call backs this review, aren’t I?). I wasn’t sure I wanted to see that, I’m much happier in my little bubble with the first series and the movie, where I can pretend that the epilogue never happened. Then came another nail, opinions on the Internet weren’t exactly the most favourable towards tri. I did my best to avoid any spoilers or any detailed reviews, but the vibe I was getting wasn’t good so, in the end, I put off watching any of the tri movies (the price of the DVDs didn’t help either, but then buying physical media for anime is harder and more expensive all over the place, but that’s a topic for another time).

This being my Digital Year though, I decided I’d put things off for long enough. I had to watch tri at some point and after watching the first film what I can say is…it’s good. It didn’t exactly blow me away, but it’s a start, there’s plenty of mystery and plenty of places for the story to go. I’ve not seen any glaring warning signs yet. This first film is going for a very different feel than the original series which, after a little mental adjustment, I’m okay with. As the film is set in the real world there’s less of an adventure feel, there’s no strange and wondrous world for the gang to contend with, no peeling back the layers on the Digital World (though judging by the opening few minutes I think that’s going to change as the series goes on and we’re going to get into some deep mythology for the series, which I’m looking forward to).

Instead this first film is more focused on the kids and their relationships, as they grow older. There’s a bit of romance in the air between certain characters (I’ve never shipped Izzy and Mimi before, but I can go with it) and the triangle developing between Sora, Tai and Matt isn’t as bad as I’d dreaded it would be, mostly because Sora hasn’t decided yet, but for the moment the tension in their relationship feels natural. Actually, feeling natural is a good way to sum up a lot of the relationships in this series, the way that the gang has drifted apart is understandable. People have different responsibilities and have to juggle various portions of their life. I also really like Tai’s arc of him struggling what to do with his future and really being able to decide what action he should take. I was like that for a long time, so I get Tai’s trepidation, even if the movie ends without any real answer to Tai’s problems. The film has a more mature sense to it, the characters dealing with relatable problems and a fair few quiet, contemplative scenes. That being said the whole Tai and Matt butting heads was starting to get on my nerves by the end of the run time since the argument pretty much went in circles and the movies doesn’t offer up a solution so it feels like we haven’t really gotten anywhere.

I definitely enjoyed this film, I like seeing these characters again and seeing what they’d gotten up, but I also have to admit that it hasn’t really blown me away. The plot doesn’t really accomplish much, the whole film just set up. We catch up with the characters, have Digimon return to the real world, have a couple of fights, introduce a secretive government organisation that knows about the Digimon, Tai and Matt have an argument and we get a new Digidestined at the end. That’s pretty much it. There’s definitely plenty to explore in future films, I want to know more about this government group and these ‘infected’ Digimon. Also some mention of the 02 Digidestined would be nice since I’m assuming they died in the beginning (what else am I supposed to take away from the red backgrounds and their silhouettes falling to the ground?), not that anyone in the film cares, no one even mentions them. I find that both hilarious and tragic.

The Verdict

Digimon Adventure Tri: Reunion is very much the start of something, rather than a film in its own right. It’s nice to see some of favourite characters again and to have animation with at least a modicum of a budget behind it. It introduces a lot of things that have potential for the future, relationship tension, secretive government organisations and hints at the deeper mythos of Digimon. The film is taking the series down a more mature route and I think it’ll be good to see the characters I grew up with finally grow up themselves. I’m hopeful for the next instalment, but we’ll see how that pans out in a month’s time.

fish stamp watchable

Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday.  

Anime Corner: Digimon Adventure Review

blog digimon adventure review title

Digimon are the Champions!

What’s the Story?

Across the world things are getting weird, sudden floods in areas known for drought and snowstorms in the middle of July. At Summer Camp, Tai and a bunch of other kids have no idea that any of this is happening, until seven glowing devices fall out of the sky and the kids find themselves in a bizarre new world. With nothing but each other and their Digimon partners to rely on the kids have to find a way to survive and, hopefully, get home.

The Review

So this is it, the very beginning, the very first season of Digimon. The show that started it all and it could be argued is the best season of Digimon (though personally Tamers just edges ahead for me). What is it that makes this series so great, especially when looking back at it? For me its the maturity of it. Yes it’s a show about a bunch of kids with colourful monster pets getting into a weekly fight with bigger, scarier monsters, but there’s a depth and intelligence to the writing and characters that goes beyond what this show calls for. I mean this show was created purely to sell toys and games, it could have made its money off of all the cool monster designs alone and just had a story that repeated itself non-stop *cough* Pokemon *cough*. Instead of that we get a smart and heartfelt tale of kids trying to survive in a bizarre and often nonsensical world and if that’s not a metaphor for growing up I don’t know what is.

The first few episodes alone are the best example I can give of how this series approaches its characters and situation. Digmon is an Isekai series (a ‘different world’ series for those unfamiliar with the term) and while it does play into the power fantasy elements that that subgenre is known for, what kid in the 90s didn’t want their own personal monster? However this series also looks at some of the actual consequences of suddenly finding yourself in a completely different world. The kids are often talking about the things they’re missing from home, or the fact that they’re hungry or tired. You know, the things you’d actually talk about if suddenly got transported to some place else without any preparation or supplies. If the kids don’t exactly talk like real kids (Prodigious!), they at least act like real people.

There’s also the fact that all of these kids are smart. Oh sure they’re not all computer geniuses like Izzy, spouting off exposition, but when they discuss their situation they all bring up valid points (you know, except for Izzy and his belief that this is all the fault of aliens). They talk about whether its best to stay where they are or keep moving, how to ration what supplies they have as well as slowly learning about the Digital World. That’s another part of this series, it is actually a really solid sci-fi story. You forget with all the mythology that has been added to the franchise over the years, but back when this all started we had no idea about the Digital World and we’re not told much going into this.

The Digital World is mystery across the first couple of arcs of this series, with Tai and the gang learning the rules as they go along. It does lead to some interesting dilemmas like for example when the kids question whether they’re actually real or not, have they become digital like everything around them and are there real bodies back in the real world? Which leads to Tai thinking he’s invincible because, after all, he’s just a string of ones and zeroes, until Izzy points out that if something happens to him here, it could happen to him in the real world too, which leads to Tai becoming paralyzed with fear when faced with a life or death choice. Again not the kind of dilemmas I was expecting as a kid when I just wanted to see the colourful monsters.

I also love just how surreal the Digital World is, at the beginning at least, admittedly the more we learn about the place and the more accustomed we become to it, the less crazy it gets. However there’s something about the first few episodes with isolated tram cars out in the middle of a lake and random phone booths sat on a beach that just appeals to me. (Talking about the phone booths for a second can I just say how much I love them and the bizarre messages the kids get when they pick up the receivers? My favourite has to be ‘This number only exists in your imagination, please hang up and don’t call back’. I’ll admit I’m so tempted to have that as my voicemail message).

Let’s talk about the characters for a paragraph or two. In the grand scheme of things they didn’t need to be much more than a collection of stereotypes, and on the surface they certainly look like that. We’ve got the leader, the cool one, the cautious one, the nerd, the kid, the tomboy and even the girly girl, that was all they needed to be carry to the series. And yet each character has shades and more depth than was strictly necessary and that’s what makes them so lovable. Every character has there own issues and drama that they have to deal with, and its more than just an issue of the week, its continual evolution of the characters. Whether its Tai dealing with his own impatience and cockiness, Matt learning how to be a big brother, Sora doubting if she has the capacity to love or Izzy continually questioning everything around him because he’s found out that he’s adopted and is struggling to accept that. These are all big and important issues and more than you’d expect to find in a cheap show meant to sell toys.

Unfortunately while the kids gets plenty of characterisation and development, the Digimon themselves don’t. It is understandable, there are fourteen main characters at the start of this series alone, they can’t all get a detailed character sheet to work off of. As such its the Digimon that take the hit and I think that was the right decision. As cool as the Digimon are, its the people that I care about the most and the ones that we’re following on this journey. The Digimon are simply either compliments or contrasts to the partners, helping to highlight both their strengths and their flaws and that’s the way to go with a series like this.

That brings me to a few other flaws with this series and I’m starting with the dub. Now while I love the dub, it is of its time and cheap as you’d expect. All of the main voice actors give solid performances and fill their characters with a lot of warmth and depth, even if they have some weird lines at times. The guest voice actors are hit and miss, I’m still not sure whether the Elvis impersonation they use for Etemon is hilariously good or hilariously bad or somewhere in the middle. There’s also a few dubbing errors as you’d expect, but by far the biggest crime of the dub is the puns. There are so many puns crammed into the scripts that it often derails what could be a tense situation and trust me I love bad puns and some of them are funny, but there are so many times when I just have to hang my head and groan. The best example I have of this is in the fight with the big bad at the end where the villain stops mid mad cackle to question his poorly written motivation, which while funny kind of removes the tension that was making him a credible threat so he just becomes another monster to beat. I’m not even going to get started on the upbeat pop songs that are played over what should be tense action scenes because for the most part the soundtrack is pretty good.

Lastly, let’s talk about the final big bad and the whole of the final arc in general. I am of the opinion that the final arc of this series should have been the Myotismon arc. Myotismon is the coolest and most effective villain of the series (there’s a reason the guy keeps coming back in one form after another throughout the franchise). It actually gives the series a really good send off, but no, we have to move on to the Dark Masters who lack the schemes and raw menace of Myotismon. The only way that they’re better is that they’re more powerful, that’s it and just making the bad guys stronger doesn’t make them more interesting. Also there’s that weird part where Matt goes off on his own to be the brooding loner kid and gets into a fight with Tai because that is required to happen at some point, whether it flies in the face of character development or not.

The Verdict

All in all, despite a lackluster final arc, more bad puns than you can fit in a Tim Vine joke book and some oddly placed upbeat pop songs, this is a fantastic series. It’s characters and situation have a depth and maturity to them that are more than you’d expect from a show meant to sell toys and games to little kids. This show had no budget to speak of and yet it took what it had and made something great out of it. It’s sweet, intelligent and heart-warming, the perfect adventure!

fish stamp unmissible

Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday.