Digimon: The Movie. Angela Anaconda.
“Two properties tied together by forces beyond their control. You could even call it destiny.”
That’s how Angela Anaconda expert Alexandra Bender summarized the intertwined legacy of these two franchises and its spot on. In 2000, Digimon: The Movie premiered in theaters but before fans could watch the flawless masterpiece they were greeted with an unexpected Angela Anaconda short film that in the years since has drawn no shortage of ire.
The four-minute short features the characters and distinctive cutout animation of the Angela Anaconda TV series, which at that time was airing on the same network as the Digimon series, Fox Kids. The plot focuses on the titular Angela in her attempts to get a good seat for Digimon: The Movie, “the best movie of all time.” (Angela has excellent taste.) However, Angela’s mortal enemy, Nanette, is able to snag a better seat and block her view. This sends Angela into a revenge fantasy where she digivolves into “Angelamon” and foils Nanette. It’s all for naught though as Angela realizes she’s in the wrong theater and rushes out.
The short is only four minutes long but Digimon fans have mocked it endlessly, calling it an “abomination.” Angela Anaconda’s art style stands in sharp contrast to Digimon’s anime roots and it just seemed like a strange inclusion. Why include a short from a comedy series on the action-adventure Digimon movie?
And no, contrary to popular internet rumor, the Angela Anaconda short was not the cause of a divorce. That’s been debunked with in-depth analysis by YouTuber TheDigiKnow. However, in the short, the film Angela accidentally attended is L’Amour Fou, which can be seen advertised on the theater’s marquee. That film is about a troubled marriage so perhaps the Angela Anaconda divorce joke was a deep cut reference to this fact? Or it’s just people on the internet being people on the internet.
No matter how much they loathed it, Digimon fans couldn’t escape Angela Anaconda. The 2001 DVD release, the only way to officially watch the movie for over 20 years, had the Angela Anaconda short not as a bonus feature but as part of the official film. You couldn’t watch Digimon: The Movie without at least skipping past Angela Anaconda.
The legacy of this short is so infamous that when Blu-ray publisher Discotek announced a new release of Digimon: The Movie last year, they specifically noted that, “there is no short before Digimon: The Movie.” Even though Discotek did attempt to include it but “hit a wall,” Justin Sevakis, who worked on the new Blu-ray, made it clear the general sentiment of Digimon fans hadn’t changed.
“No Angela Anaconda, she hath been banished.”
The hate for the short continues to be immense and a big part of that is still the question of why it was included in the first place. Even Jeff Nimoy, voice-director and co-writer of Digimon: The Movie, found himself in a similar place to Angela in the short when he attended the premiere and was surprised at its inclusion. As he explained to Digimon podcast With the Will,
“At one point I thought, ‘Am I in the wrong theater? Did I come to see the Angela Anaconda movie instead of Digimon?’”
It should be noted that Nimoy doesn’t hate the short and in fact wishes he’d known about it so he could have used its runtime as justification to make the Digimon movie closer to his original vision. But if one of the creative leads on Digimon:The Movie wasn’t aware of the short’s existence, where did it come from?
Well, thanks to YouTuber Billiam’s retrospective on Angela Anaconda, we became aware of an interview conducted by Alexandra Bender with the co-creator of Angela Anaconda, Joanna Ferrone. In it, Ferrone finally sheds some light on the mystery when she explains,
“I think it was that Fox Family had something to do with Digimon and since they had adopted Angela for their US broadcast, it was a tie-in that made sense to them. It was the corporate powers that be, it had really nothing to do with me.”
It wasn’t a push by the Angela Anaconda team. It wasn’t the Digimon team. It was the big company, Fox, that helped get them to TV screens which orchestrated the short as a tie-in. It’s a simple explanation but one that finally answered the big mystery hanging over the film. With that knowledge, perhaps Digimon fans will be able to view the short in a new light. Again, it’s only four minutes, and the whole point of it is that Angela is such a big fan of Digimon she’ll do anything to see the movie. She even imagines herself Digivolving! She’s a fan, just like us.
Although the short will now no longer be part of the film on the new Blu-ray release, Angela Anaconda and Digimon will always share this bewildering but at least now understandable connection.