So, last week I took that break I said I’d take the week before. Sorry about that. I’m back now.
I love Digimon. Admittedly, my love for it stems mainly from the third series Digimon Tamers, or season 3 as it was known here in the US. It was what I grew up with, though I did watch many reruns of Adventure (season 1) as a kid and it remains my second favourite Digimon series after Tamers. The second series/ season, Zero Two, I am less fond of. In fact, it’s one of my least favourite of the series. It ranks above Savers (Data Squad) only because I’ve only seen the initial episodes of Savers and didn’t like them. Eventually I may see the whole series, find out I like it, and Zero Two will be pushed to the bottom. I also havn’t seen Xros Wars (Fusion). I kinda fell off the Digimon bandwagon after Frontier (season 4) ended. I think it’s also around this time I fell out of love with Power Rangers as well. Go figure.
Naturally, when they announced this film series I was excited. Not only at the possibility of getting the original Saban cast back, but also for one very big possibility:
Zero. Two. Epilogue. Retcon.
Nobody liked that epilogue. Everyone would love to see it retconned and this is the perfect opportunity for it. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, go watch JesuOtaku’s Digimon Retrospective on Zero Two, specifically Part Two of the Character Retrospective. And before you say it doesn’t exist anymore, it does. On Vimeo. And here’s the link.
WARNING: SPOILERS FOR DIGIMON ADVENTURE TRI PART 1: REUNION
Since the film has been out on Crunchyroll and Hulu for about a year now, I will be primarily focused on the dub. However, since I’d been waiting for the dub to see the movie, I’ll be going over that as well.
Three years after the events of Zero Two, seven (in the dub) after Adventure, Tai and his friends have settled back into their lives and are getting ready to grow up. When an out of control Kuwagamon appears and starts wreaking havoc, the Digidestined and their digimon are called upon once again to save the world from another great threat, Mimi even moving back to Japan. From what they’re not quite sure yet, but this time they have the help of a government organization that’s been monitoring the digital world and is in contact with Gennai. Distortions have been appearing in the digital world and digimon are becoming Infected and corrupted. What’s more the media is blaming all digimon for the incidents. How will our heroes stop it all? I don’t know because this is only the first film in a six part story so we’ll have to wait and see.
First off, let’s talk about the returning cast members cause it’s like they never left. Joshua Seth is still great as Tai, Mona Marshall is still going strong as Izzy, and Jeff Nimoy as Tentomon is still a joy. All the returning cast members are phenomenal in their roles. Even Philece Sampler as Mimi, the character everyone used to hate, is still great to hear again. That and I think Mimi’s character is handled better here than in the series. It’s sad they couldn’t get the entire cast back, but the people they got to replace the few who didn’t return do their parts well and after a while you forget it’s a new voice. The one exception to that is Vic Mignogna as Matt. He’s does great in the role and he makes a good Matt. It’s just that you can tell it’s Vic Mignogna. I mean…It’s Vic Mignogna. If you’ve been watching anime for any length of time, you can pick out his voice pretty easily and it’s distracting.
I should point out that Saban didn’t produce this dub, despite having the rights to the Digimon franchise in North America. It was done by STUDIOPOLIS, Inc., who also did the dubs for the Tamers movies, at the behest of Manga Entertainment who own the license for tri.
The writing, it having been over 15 years since the series began, the audience for this particular Digimon story being older than it was back in the early 2000s, and the modern day audience’s expectations of a Japanese to English translation of anime being higher thanks to the availability, more often than not, of the original source (be it legal subs or fansubs), for both the story and the dub script far outperforms the script from the series. Remember, Digimon has always been the best adapted and best dubbed kids anime released on American television, so that’s saying something. This is a much better written sequel to the original series than Zero Two, even going by only the first movie. That’s not to say they didn’t use things from the series’s dub. They still use the same names as the dub (Tai is Tai instead of Taichi) and Izzy even says “Prodigous” at one point, but those are more keeping in continuity for the dub audience in the former’s case and a bit of nostalgia in the latter’s. The puns are thankfully nowhere to be seen and for the better as they were always the worst part of the writing. From what I can tell, the story follows the tradition of past Digimon media and stays as close to the original as possible. Again, higher expectations these days as well as an older audience.
Given the film budget and the anniversary, the animation is much higher in quality than the series ever got. The production company is still Toei Animation who does the rest of the franchise and it’s great seeing this franchise with a higher budget than normal.
The music is a bit of a mix. On the one hand, they do keep music from the original such as the insert song ‘Brave Heart’ which is from the original series in Japan (It was replaced in the dub with ‘Hey Digimon’) and is a welcome return. On the other, the opening song is this weird remix of the ‘Digimon Digital Monsters’ theme from the first three seasons and I really don’t like it. I get that they were trying to make some sort of nostalgia value for the English audience, but either use the original song ‘Butterfly’ or just let Saban handle the dub so we can get the original music. Personally, I’d have liked it if they’d kept ’Butterfly’, but other than that the music is fine. I honestly don’t notice music much and only heard ‘Brave Heart’ when it played because I like it so much.
Now I know fans are gonna ask me this question since it’s also a sequel to season 2 and not just season 1 so let’s just get it over with: Where are the other Zero Two kids? Short answer: We don’t know. Long answer: Who cares? Real answer: Watch the next film cause that’s the best we’ve got so far. Seriously, either they’ve been written out of existence, they’re dead, or they’ve been captured, but no one cares about them so no one has noticed. They do briefly appear at the beginning of the film being defeated and in some sort of peril, but it’s not explained in this film and we’ve got five more to go before we find out.
Here’re my biggest questions though:
1) I know the kids are older (I think Joe’s nearing 18) so they don’t need as much help as they did when they were (on average) 10-11, but where’s Matt’s dad? For those who don’t remember, during the well loved and best written Myotismon Arc in Adventure, Matt and TK’s dad was basically the ninth member of the team. He was easily one of the best written of the kids’ parents outside of Izzy’s. His job as a reporter is even mentioned in the movie…so where is he?! Eh, maybe he’s on assignment somewhere.
2) How can Agumon and Gabumon evolve to Ultimate? At first I thought it was because the crests are inside them because of the end of season 1, but season 2 had them sacrifice the crests in between seasons to keep the older kids out of the story (initially) so that’s not it. Eh, maybe Gennai’s been messing around again or maybe it’s Oikawa.
As of right now, this movie is being released in select theatres until October 6th. I highly recommend you go watch it if you’re a fan of the series. It’s great to see the characters in a new situation and to hear the old voices again. You may also get a sneak peek at Part 3: Confession as well as a text recap of Part 2: Determination. So be prepared for that. And don’t think too hard about what happened to the Zero Two kids. Your brain might explode. That said, you sadly can’t just ignore that Zero Two happened as TK and Kari still have their D3s, bits established in Zero Two are brought up, and (spoilers for the next movie) someone resembling the Digimon Emperor (AKA Ken from Zero Two from the first and best remembered arc of that series) appears in the next movie. But that’s the next film. For now, just have fun seeing your old friends back together again.
As an aside, you can find the rest of JesuOtaku’s Digimon Retrospective both here and here. Between all three links, you’ll have his entire series. You will need an account for VK though. You can also find his thoughts on tri here, here, and here.
(Photo via Toei Animation)