Digimon has been a huge influence on my life, and still is. I’ve watched every episode, and every season thus far, and while it had its ups and downs Digimon is a very wonderful franchise that is ultimately underrated thanks to the likes of Pokemon. For whatever reason, Digimon has always struggled to put out a new season, with each season coming out later than the last, but one thing that is rare for Digimon was to have seasons connecting. Adventure 01 and 02 were the only seasons, with the exception of one episode in Digimon Xros Wars, that really connected heavily with each other and continued a longer narrative. Years later it was announced that a new anime would come out that would be a sequel to 02, and focus on the original kids all grown up. Sadly, that was quickly canned, however, out of it has come the news of six new films that would adapt what would have been a new anime series. These films are not only a new piece of the Digimon canon, but ones that any Digimon fan should not miss.
The film series is titled Digimon Adventure Tri. and in this line of six films “Determination” is the second. I thought the first film, “Reunion,” was a wonderfully touching opening that brought us back to the characters we love, while also easing us into another world threat and another adventure. For the most part Reunion was good, but like any first act the film was suited on surface level problems with hints to what could come, but ultimately it was a spectacle over substance in my mind. Determination takes what was great about that first film and notches it up on all fronts. There is more focus on who these characters are at this point in their life, while playing with concepts and ideas that can be interpreted in a few ways.
First off, I do want to say that this film’s backdrop is a school’s festival and I know this cliche has been used in numerous anime over the years I have to say that the way they utilized this school festival was in all the right ways. There wasn’t too much focus on the festival itself, and it allowed characters to be challenged, grow, and ultimately come face to face with all their problems. This film is smart, and while it has all the characters we know and love, we don’t particularly know them at this stage in their life. For instance, Mimi left to go to America after Adventure 01, and since coming back to Japan she’s slowly starting to notice that she doesn’t exactly fit in. What was normal for her growing up in America is just awkward, and at times pushy in Japan. Essentially, Mimi has to deal with culture shock, in a way, even though she’s spent so much of her life in Japan. She’s outgoing, determined, and expresses how she feels with all her heart. To others, Mimi is a loud mouth who can only think of herself.
Just like Mimi, another character has to overcome something that everyone has had to do in their life, express herself even if it’s in an unpopular opinion. The newcomer to the group, Mei, primarily teams up with Mimi in this film and through Mimi she learns to step out of her shell bit by bit. She’s embarrassed by Mimi’s boldness, but at the same time is in awe of it so much that she looks up to Mimi. Her character arc was wonderful, and Mei and Mimi complimented themselves so much in this. Through this film, Mei had grown into a lovable character with great potential, but neither she nor Mimi had the biggest character arc in this film.
At the end of Adventure 01, just like Mimi, Joe left the group and was mostly by himself. Unlike Mimi he was doing it within their vicinity, for studying to get into college. He’s still doing that, but this film really explores how Joe’s departure from the group is effecting him and Gomamon. Everybody in the group understands what Joe’s going through, even though they can be really irritated with him not helping them, but I think this is the first time that we’re getting Joe’s insight to this situation. Because he isn’t helping his friends there has been tension building between him and Gomamon. At this point Gomamon has been living with Joe and making food for him and his family. Gomamon is feeling trapped, and useless when he always has to hear everyone else take down a Digimon. Joe is feeling this too, but his inner anxiety is what’s keeping him from helping. He’s afraid of what his friends will think of him, and his thoughts are what’s really making him not do anything. Joe’s character arc in this film is by far the best, and the most emotional. What Joe and Gomamon go through is just heartbreaking, and puts so many levels on what used to be a kids anime.
What’s great about these Digimon films, and especially in this one at the moment, is how everything that happens is important to either the characters or the plot. You may think something is too cutesy, or dare I say even filler at some points? However, everything that happened in this film will only fuel the fire for what’s to come in the next one. While the focus is definitely on Mei, Mimi, and Joe in this film by no means does that mean what the other characters do isn’t as important. Eggs have been planted in these first two films, and this one really shows how to hide them through character development, or fun moments. I can’t stress how smart this film, and the whole Tri series, is.
Overall, this is a must watch for any die hard Digimon fan. If you were not happy about the recent seasons of Digimon being aimed more towards kids, then you’ll adore, and eat this up whole heartedly. Too many times I gasped out loud at shocking scenes, and character development. This film really brings on the feels at certain places, and helps to broaden the whole Digimon world to another plane.