It’s Time to Digivolve for the Third Time

Gabriel Silvas, Columnist

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The lives of eight children were changed forever in the summer of 1999. Seven of them got sucked into the Digital World, met their partner Digimon, and helped save both worlds from the plans of evil Digimon, meeting plenty of friends and the eighth Digidestined along the way. After stopping a nuclear strike on their city, they earned a well deserved break a few years later, taking a backseat and mentoring a new generation of Digidestined. It is now 2005, six years after the beginning of their adventure and three after stopping Diaboromon from destroying the real world again. The original eight now enjoy a new chapter in their lives known as high school. While not the most exciting part of their careers, it still is the first time in a while they have gotten the chance to be “normal”. Granted, some of the kids, namely one Tai Kamiya, is unsure with what to do with their future and kind of yearn for the “good old days”. The life of a Digidestined is not one to remain static, however, as a new crisis festers within the Digital World. Infected Digimon are now somehow breaching the boundary between both worlds, threatening to cause havoc in a world ready to move on from the events of the past. The third chapter of the Digidestined is about to begin, but now they have to confront the consequences of their actions and wonder just what it means to carry that title…

The third installment of the Digimon Adventure anime series and the first in over a decade to involve the original cast, Digimon Adventure Tri is a series of six films that chronicle the high school adventures of the Digidestined and the new digital crisis that breaks out. The first film, titled Reunion, was released in November of 2015, with the following two installments, Determination and Confession, premiering in March and September of 2016 respectively. The fourth movie, Loss, is set to premier on February 25 of 2017. The last two films have yet to be titled or dated, though it is possible that the fifth could release in late 2017 and the final one in 2018.

The crew have aged and matured a bit since the finale of Digimon Adventure 02. After dealing with world-ending menaces like Apocalymon, Diaboromon, and Myotismon, the eight Digidestined are now dealing with the menace of high school. Tai still holds his passion for soccer, but now that he is older, he now has to decide just what his future will be, all the while yearning for the excitement and adventure he had years ago but is now mature and cautious enough to see just how dangerous Digimon battles can be in the human world; Matt continues to work with his band (that has gone through several names by this point), but is now a bit more reckless and is very willing to throw the first punch to get the job done; Sora, ever the mother of the group, is now struggling to be there for every single one of her friends, even if it would be okay for her to miss one event while attending another; Izzy has expanded his tech genius exponentially, but even he could not calculate that he would fall for Mimi and has to now deal with the confusing monster that is “attraction”; Speaking of Mimi, she’s transferred back to Japan after spending most of her time in America during 02 and is ready to tackle every challenge head-on, but she learns that open sincerity does not quite work with people all the time; Poor Joe is struggling to try and pass his entrance exams to finally enter medical school, but with being swamped, he barely has enough time to be a Digidestined or see his girlfriend (Who totally exists by the way); Finally, T.K. and Kari are still as inseparable as they were as children, attending junior high as opposed to their older friends. Eventually, all their partner Digimon finally come back, resulting in a wondrous reunion. All the while, the meet a new student, Meiko Mochizuki, who has her own mysterious Digimon partner known as Meicoomon, who seems to be at the center of this new crisis…

This new crisis involves Digimon that are rapidly being infected by a new virus, changing their source code from binary to tertiary and turning them feral. While these infected Digimon are the main threat, they are essentially the victims to a larger plot. The Royal Knight known as Alphamon, the thematic counterpart to Omnimon, is searching for the source of the infection in order to wipe it out and is targeting Meicoomon as a result, but they are not concerned if humans get caught in the crossfire. This seems to have put him at odds with Hackmon, the Rookie form of Royal Knight Jesmon, who is always watching events unfurl, but came to the defense of the group when Alphamon targets them a second time. Homeostasis, the mysterious digital entity from the first series, also returns, but warns the Digidestined of the dangers of the infection and what must be done in order for it to be cleansed. However, the two people at the center of this seem to have nothing but malevolent intentions. The first is Maki Himekawa, Daigo Nishijima’s partner at the government agency that aids the Digidestined, though her motivations are still completely unknown at this time and has given quite a number of malicious smirks when her plans seem to have succeeded. The second party, at first, seems to be Ken Ichijouji himself, reverted back to his Digimon Emperor persona and controlling a dark version of Imperialdramon, but the third film reveals something much more shocking. Using the guise of the Emperor is none other than Gennai, the kindly old mentor of the kids that helped them save the Digital World from Apocalymon, now wearing darker robes and, from one preview of the fourth film, sporting some truly insane expressions, raising questions as to what happened to him. Speaking of Loss, after the events of the third film, the Dark Masters have returned and are ready to cause widespread destruction once more. With two films left, who can tell if other old foes will return and what the endgame will be…

Being a direct sequel to the most iconic Digimon series, there are is a lot of continuity and callbacks to go along with the new developments and plot progression. The original opening song of Butterfly returns as the opening song for the films, Brave Heart triumphantly plays during the Digivolution sequences, the photo everyone took at the end of the first anime is shown from time to time, and a number of old friends and, as shown in Loss, old enemies return. While the art direction is very different from that of the original, it still is familiar enough to reconnect audiences but now has better animation overall, which leads to exciting fight scenes between the Digimon and heavily emotional scenes between partners. The fight between Omnimon and Alphamon at the end of the first film in particular perfectly shows just what a fight between two Mega Level Digimon, let alone two of the strongest Royal Knights, looks like. In contrast, the emotional strife T.K. goes through in Confession is heartbreaking, something that is further enhanced with the music and performance.

While it seemed like only a pipe dream at the time, western fans of the English dub collectively rejoiced when it was announced by Jeff Nimoy that not only was a dub of Digimon Adventure Tri happening, but that most of the original cast was returning to reprise their roles and he himself was back in the studio recording for Tentomon once again. While not everyone was able to return and someone else filled in the role (Michael Lindsay retired years prior and Joe here is played by Robbie Daymond), it was very exciting and extremely nostalgic to hear Joshua Seth, Tom Fahn, Kirk Thornton, as the characters that made up many people’s childhoods. An interesting and not unwelcome note is that, as opposed to making their own score, the studio opted to use the original Japanese music, making this the very first time Brave Heart and Butterfly has graced the series in the west.

For fans wanting a return to the original cast that made Digimon what it is, Digimon Adventure Tri is a fun and emotional installment that brings back the characters we know and love and explores them in a more mature and updated way. While there are a few bumps in regards to some scenes with lesser animation throughout and pacing issues particularly in the second film, the third movie has given fans a taste of what this new series is capable of and has kindled increased excitement for the last half of Tri. These are movies made by fans for fans of the original Digimon. Newcomers would be better off returning to the original in order to see where everything began, but longtime fans are right back at home and are eager for more. Fitting that the first film is called Reunion.

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