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By: Hess Sahlollbey
What’s old is new again, especially when it’s been 15 years since we last saw the DigiDestined. Digimon Adventure tri. is a six-part film series serving as a direct sequel to the first two television seasons of Digimon. The first of these films, Reunion, has been released in Japanese theatres. Outside of Japan though, the films have already been licensed and are being streamed online in episodic format by Crunchyroll.
Picking up five years after the first season, the DigiDestined are now seniors in high school. With graduation approaching, Tai struggles to grow up and come to terms that his group of friends is growing apart. Mimi lives in America, Joe is studying for college entrance exams and Matt has a band. Tai, however, has no plans aside from trying to see his friends as much as possible, both human and digimon. Tai’s guidance counsellor tells him that he needs to start thinking about his future but Tai yearns for the adventures and happiness he had in the past.
That’s when strange occurrences happen in Tokyo. Electronics malfunction, telecommunications systems stop working and wide-spread blackouts plague the city. This turmoil culminates with an evil digimon suddenly appearing and destroying the city. Tai’s partner digimon, Agumon, appears and the ensuing battle causes even more destruction. Having defeated the evil digimon, Tai realizes that giant monsters waging war in heavily populated cities are extremely dangerous and can result in casualties and collateral damage.
This time around it’s evident that the franchise is targeted at adults. The films explore the central theme of growing up and attempt to inject more realism into the franchise. Our protagonists are now on their way to adulthood, facing the same kind of existential crises everyone does at that age, while also trying to protect the world. The DigiDestined have to take more adult approaches to their problems than they could when they were kids. The collateral damage incurred by fighting digimon is so large that it leaves Tai seriously reconsidering whether he wants to be a hero. This, in turn, causes even more problems within his friend group. His friends and their digimon all look to him as their leader, yet Tai is unable to handle the gravity of their problems. His digimon, Agumon, attempts to comfort him, but Agumon only has the intelligence of a child and lacks direction. Much to his dismay, Tai is obligated to lead others.
Adding to the theme of growing up, the rest of the DigiDestined are facing the other coming of age issues that pertain to young adults. One of the predominant issues is the romantic attraction between certain members of the group. While it was hinted at in the first two seasons of Digimon, it’s now clear that Tai and Sora have feelings for one another. Add in Matt and there is a love triangle between the three with Sora conflicted and undecided. Izzy also has to come to terms with his crush on Mimi while T.K. and Kari continue to have unresolved feelings towards one another.
Building on another theme that started in the Digimon film, the eldest of the group, Joe, is starting to realize that the more effort he puts into his academics, the more he is distancing himself from his friends. No matter how much he studies, he can never score high enough to get accepted into a prestigious university and his digimon partner is sidelined. The repercussions of Joe’s constant absences and the conflict between helping his friends or studying is a captivating storyline.
In the end, everything comes full circle. If you grew up watching Digimon after school like I did, then you’ll definitely enjoy the chance to be reintroduced to some old friends as they now grow up and face real, relatable problems while also taking part in giant monster battles.