Going into Digimon Adventure: Last Evolution Kizuna I was apprehensive. The previous installment in the Digimon Adventure series, the six tri. movies, crashed and burned so badly it killed any enthusiasm I had for that original Adventure continuity. Starting off with so much potential they quickly devolved into awkward fan service (of all kinds), bad pacing, and character beats that just made no sense. There was no cohesion, little fun, and next to nothing of what made Digimon so special for a generation of fans.
This movie is an apology for tri. It does everything right that tri. failed at. Last Evolution Kizuna quickly rights the ship, discarding the lame cliffhanger from the end of the final tri. film and mostly acts as though those films never happened. Instead we get a redo of the emotional arc of what tri. had originally been setting up, the characters trying to make sense of growing up and what that means for their lives as the Digidestined.
The core premise of the film is about the characters connections with their Digimon and how long they can last as the last remnants of their childhood falls away. It’s a compelling way to tackle the transition from youth to adolescence, especially with characters we already know and love. It uses the longevity of the Digimon franchise and much of the original cast to great effect.
I say much of because a few characters do get the short shrift in this film. Like almost all of Digimon before it, Joe and Mimi get very little to do and Sora is barely a presence. It’s a shame because, with this being marketed as the final film in the original continuity, it should have been more of a priority to give these characters something to do. As it is I do understand the decision, they only have an hour and a half and they use it to keep Tai and Matt at the focus. We also get some nice scenes featuring the season two cast which is a welcome relief after they got so badly snubbed by the tri. films.
The film mostly stays away from the nostalgia pandering but does fall victim to it early on. A few iconic Digimon scenes are mostly recycled for no real purpose but thankfully that doesn’t last long. The bulk of this film is devoted to telling a new story that isn’t drawing its lifeblood from the past. It’s heading towards the future and it has a lot to say about it.
Last Evolution Kizuna is a fitting end to the original Digimon continuity because it does what Digimon always did best, telling personal stories with the backdrop of a fantastical situation, but it takes it a step further. Many past Digimon series have had the team face off against larger than life foes but trust me when I say the villain in this film is the biggest threat they’ve faced yet by actually being more understated. By dialing back the villain and not paying attention to power levels and such (which this franchise could never really figure out) it keeps the focus solely on the emotional core of the film.
By the end of it all you’ll feel satisfied and happy but only if you’re a Digimon fan. This film is not newbie friendly but that clearly isn’t its goal. It’s here to conclude the story of Digimon Adventure and it does that very well without feeling like a rehash. It’s one final story that brings it to an emotional close without getting lost in the sometimes-boggling continuity of the series. It keeps it about the characters and that’s what matters.