This week I decided to take a short break from mainstream film releases and take a trip on the Nostalgia train with the English release of Digimon Adventure Tri: Part 1 Reunion. This is going to be a special review for Digimon Fangirls and Fanboys like myself. Back in 1999, while kids in Elementary School were getting in fist fights over holographic Pokemon cards, another Japanese import became a stable for Saturday morning entertainment called Digimon. Despite coming out the same time as Pokemon, Digimon enjoyed great mainstream success in the late 90s and early 00s. I was a big fan of the TV series and it is one of the few shows I looked forward to getting up at 7am every Saturday to watch.
The first season of Digimon involved 8 DigiDestined at summer camp who are transported to the Digital World, a parallel world filled with creatures called Digimon. Each DigiDestined is partnered with a Digimon and is given the responsibility to protect both the Digital and Real Worlds. This season set the stage for the entire franchise’s popularity. There have been six seasons of Digimon in total but none were more popular with the fans than the original cast (Even though Digimon Tamers was the best one but that’s for another day). So when Toei Animation announced a new film series of Digimon was going to be released, fans of the show were giddy with joy at the prospect of the original cast of voice actors coming together for the first time in 16 years.
Digimon Adventure tri is broken up into six separate films that serve as a direct sequel to the first two seasons of Digimon Adventure. On a personal note, considering how much I hated Digimon Adventure 02 and the way it ended, this is a welcome change. The first film named Reunion takes place 3 years after the events of Revenge of Diaboromon. Tai, the former leader of this group, is going through a bout of depression because most of the group have drifted away and aren’t as close as they use to be. His former BFF Matt is at odds due to them both chasing the same girl, Sora. Joe is spending literally all his time studying for college and barely makes passing grades on his tests. Everyone’s favorite narcissist, Mimi is still in America spending all of her parent’s money on crap. Izzy is working for a business that comes with a sweet ass office and he suddenly speaks French for some reason. Finally, T.K. and Kari are just as useless as they were in the first two seasons (and T.K. is a hipster now which makes me hate him more).
A small part of your childhood will explode when you hear your favorite voice actors for the first time since the end of season 2. Don’t worry after 15 years, they are still the lovable group of kids you all remember (except Matt who spends most of this movie being an emo douchebag). Tai, Matt, Izzy, Mimi, and all of the original Digimon voice actors are back for this new chapter. One of the great joys for fans will be hearing Izzy saying his infamous ‘Prodigious!’ line midway during the film. Fangirls heart will melt hearing their favorite partner Digimon sound exactly as they did in 2001.
Digimon Reunion adds in some new elements to the story knowing they can’t survive on Nostalgia alone. The cast is older now so they are given more character driven story-lines than in the original series. The story is centered on the moral conflict that Tai goes through as well as an emotional conflict with many of his former friends. There is also a new secret organization who has thrown their hat into the fight of good vs evil. This secret CIA-like organization doesn’t give many answers but they have been following the distortions that have been allowing these monsters to pass through the worlds but have no idea what it causing it.
Reunion is a great reboot of a series that leaves its loyal fanbase wanting more. The new animation is crisp and sharper than the original and gives it a true anime feel to the story. The story itself is more gritty and serious for an understandably older audience. The fight scenes are a dramatic improvement as there are three main battles in the film; each one raises the stakes and exposes how unprepared the team is for the new test that faces them. They tease the return of some Digimon Adventure 02 characters for later films, so if you know who Imperialdramon is, there is a solid bet they will return in the future. The worse thing I can say about this film is that it leaves you wanting more and disappoints you that you can’t get it now. If you a fan of the original series, there is no way you won’t enjoy this. Digimon Adventure Tri. Reunion is the jolt of adrenaline your Nostalgia-driven hearts need and the story will have you hooked like it’s 1999 all over again.
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