Digimon Adventure tri.: Reunion Review

Digi see? Digi hear? Digi know it was coming? Digimon is back and our review is here!

This Digimon Adventure tri. review contains spoilers.

Digimon Adventure tri. Movie One

Hype is a funny thing. It can cloud your judgment. It can make your pulse race. It can piss off all your co-workers when you blare the Digi Rap as they walk into the office. More than anything, it can create overblown expectations. In this era of endless remakes, reboots, and continuations we’ve all been disappointed. The story is lackluster. They missed the point. It’s a soulless cash in on the name.

Digimon Adventure tri. is none of those things. Digimon Adventure tri. is without a doubt a template for which all continuations of famous franchises should adhere. The characters ring true. The story feels organic to what came before. Oh yeah, it’s also really good.

The only thing that would have made it better would be an English dub in the old Saban style. I’m talking jokes shoved in anywhere they can and “Hey Digimon” blaring at all the worst times. Have I mentioned I’m a huge fan of the dub? So much so that throughout this review I’m going to refer to all the characters by the English names. You gotta deal with it.

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You also have to deal with how much rambling I’m going to do. I love Digimon. I love these characters. I love their relationships. I love the world.

So for the purposes of this review I’m going to break it down into two sections. One focusing on the characters, the others on the main plot. So let’s kick it up! A digi reunion is coming your way; let me hear you say, DIGIMON!

The DigiDestined

Tai. AKA Heroic Angst AKA Who Doesn’t Love Soccer?

Tai hasn’t been doing so well the past few years. He doesn’t have any plans for his future. He can never get his friends together. His soccer teammates would rather bang his sister then pay him any attention. Tai’s whole world was being a DigiDestined. It makes sense.

Remember the start of Season 2 when Tai was in the digital world for no discernable reason? (In the dub, anyway.) This guy is the first one to respond to any threat. I can imagine him waiting for some Digimon to show up and wreck havoc for the past three years. So he’s bored. He has no direction. All he wants is to be with his friends and go on adventures again but everyone has moved on.

Throughout the first part of the movie Tai is attempting to round everyone up to go to one of his soccer games with no luck. He’s depressed. Just when things get him down in the dumps, a Kuwagamon appears in the sky.

Tai is overcome with fear but also with his sense of purpose. He finally has something! He bikes to the scene of the attack with intensity. He’s in his element again but something is missing. He’s powerless without Agumon. As he avoids attack after attack Tai begins to notice something he never did before. Collateral damage. Injured people. He’s paralyzed. His actions have consequences. This isn’t a fun game anymore.

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Thankfully Agumon shows up in the nick of time to save him and Digivolve into Greymon. The fight carries over from the city to the airport, Tai watching the damage all along. Even when he meets up with most of the other DigiDestined and their Digimon he’s still paralyzed. He wanted his sense of purpose back but he forgot about the responsibility.

Tai finally gets what he wants when all the Digidestined reunite for a trademark Izzy expository scene but it isn’t what he hoped. He’s waited for this moment for so long and it’s like ash in his mouth. What was supposed to be fun is now serious. People can get hurt in these fights and it’s on their shoulders. He clashes with straightforward Matt, as always, and leaves the reunion. His newfound realization has destroyed everything.

In a tender scene with Agumon he gives voice to more of his fears. He’s scared. He’s destroyed so much without even knowing it. Not just buildings. But people too. He might kill someone. He later confesses to Matt, 

“Now I see more and understand less.”

Tai is growing up. The world isn’t as simple a place. He’s becoming aware of what’s around him more and more. His decisions can’t be as black and white as they used to be. Even in the final battle with Omnimon and Alphamon he hesitates when victory is assured. This hesitation doesn’t solve anything. Alphamon escapes and the whole area is wrecked. Tai isn’t going to run away from this but he has no idea what to do.

I adore everything about Tai’s new character arc. Growing up is a powerful theme and Reunion focuses specifically on personal responsibility. He’s getting close to being an adult. He’s almost done with school. He has to pick a career. He’s avoiding all of it. Why can’t he just play soccer and go back to his old adventures?

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Well, the universe seems keen to wake him up and throws responsibility in his face. The battle with Kuwagmon makes it clear that he can’t run anymore. Tai is the real star of this movie and he’s given a powerful arc that I can’t wait to see play out in the next few films. Considering movie two is titled, Determination Tai will have a lot to think on.

Matt AKA The DigiDestined formerly known as Matt AKA Knife of Ramen AKA 2deep4me

So Matt’s still in a band but they’ve changed their name. Teen Age Wolves? Nope, that’s too square, man! Now we’re Knife of Day. That is the most teenage name for a band ever and it fits Matt perfectly. Simple, direct, and angry.

Matt hasn’t changed all that much. He’s still trying to make it as a rock star, attempting to woo Sora, and argues with Tai. The two start the movie off in their normal friendly rivalry but this quickly goes away when the action starts. Matt is ready to save Tai’s ass with Gabumon in tow. He throws Tai’s actions in his face. They have to protect everyone! It would have been far worse if they hadn’t stepped in. The others are more in the middle of this argument but Matt doesn’t budge. He doesn’t even go to one of their meetups because he’s angsting. As always, Gabumon takes this in stride.

The others attempt to diffuse this with a little Ferris wheel alone time. Seriously, do Mimi and Sora ship Tai/Matt? It kind of seemed that way. Hell, the whole special had this vibe that Tai and Matt were a little more like scorned lovers then arguing friends. The conflict is put aside when Alphamon attacks and Matt calls Tai out once more. You’re just running away. Only we can save these people, come on!

His words get Tai out of his stupor and the two combine forces into Omnimon but while Matt is determined to defeat Alphamon, Tai wavers. After the battle Matt is glad Tai didn’t run away but he knows his heart isn’t in it.

Matt is the counterpoint to Tai, as always. The two have always butted heads and as they’ve grown up Matt has found his path. His music is his life. He wants things to be simple but Tai is a force that constantly disrupts that. This is demonstrated in their brief meal together when Tai pours a ton of pepper in Matt’s ramen. It’s such a little kid thing to do and Matt hates it.

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That’s the thing about all the other kids, including Matt. They’re moving on while Tai is stuck.

Sora AKA Most Likely To Dabble in Polyamory AKA Most Likely To Be Shipped

Man, Sora is just trying to live her life and these two clown shoes are trying to get with her. While Season 2 had Sora pairing off with Matt after her relationship with Tai didn’t work out, it seems Sora is now a free bird. Get it, cause Biyomon?

She wants to stay friends with them but it’s damn near impossible. She’s constantly struggling to make it to their activities and put up with their nonsense. It’s a shame Sora is so defined by shipping needs in this movie because I always loved when she got to step out of that and be her own character. Remember the plotline about the strained relationship with her mother? Here, everyone just wants her to get with somebody. Mimi especially, but that’s no surprise. 

At least we know Sora does have some plan for her life. She questions why Tai hasn’t seen his guidance counselor. We don’t know what her plan is, but if the Season 2 epilogue is to be believed it has something to do with fashion. Although so far this film seems to be sidestepping that epilogue, especially the whole “everyone gets a Digimon” thing.

Sora does still demonstrate more of a fondness for the old days then the others. Her phone sports a picture of Biyomon. Other than this, she’s mostly relegated to shipping. Hopefully the other films give her more to do.

Izzy AKA Techno Mogul aka Lover of Beef Jerky Shakes AKA Least Likely To Get on Tinder

Really, the best character in all of Digimon. Am I biased? Yep! I was a little nerd like Izzy growing up and I always identified with the guy. I remember voting in some Fox Kids poll online for the best character and was distressed Izzy was only receiving 8% of the vote. 

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Izzy is proving that old saying that the geeks shall inherit the Earth. In the space of around three years he’s become a super techno mogul who’s able to afford fancy dinners and gets a sweet office all to himself. Despite that, he’s still terrible with his social skills. He’s so afraid to go and buy clothes in a store that he invents a program solely to buy them online.

Izzy has retreated more into the computer then ever. I mean, look at his expository scene. He just keeps rambling while everyone else is having a smack down argument. This guy really doesn’t get social cues, which puts him in hot water when Mimi turn the flirt on around him. He’s paralyzed with fear! You know that girl is going to rock his world one of these days.

It was also nice to not only see Izzy’s parents again but also learn that Izzy is now fluent in at least French. We can also assume English because of his American business partner. They never confirm it, but I’m going to assume its Willis from the Digimon movie. How many other American tech guys does Izzy know? Guess those classes at Colorado State paid off.

Did I also mention Tentomon is still the best Digimon? Cause he is. He’s so emotional that Izzy is buying his own clothes! Super shocker for life! 

Mimi AKA I Wish You Were HEEEEEEEEEEERE AKA Most Likely To Be on Tinder

Oh Mimi. I remember as a kid not caring for her girly girl ways but she’s grown on me. She’s fun, she’s girly, and she’ll never apologize for it. That’s something to admire.

She’s happily living in America but when Tai calls her up she’s ready to come back, as long as he’ll pay for her flight. Of course she’s kidding, she was already going to stay with her Dad. Mimi was largely absent in Season 2 so I’m glad they got her back full time. It would have sucked to only have her on the phone throughout. 

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Mimi always competed with Joe for “least screen time” in Season 1 and that mostly holds true here, although she beats Joe by a mile this time around. She’s a support character, egging Sora on with shipping and even trying to hook Tai and Matt up. Oh yeah, she also brings American gummies for the Digimon. Mimi has also turned into the biggest flirt while she was in America. She turns it  on a bit with Joe but she goes hard for Izzy. I think she likes his obvious lack of any experience in the love department. She’ll change that soon enough.

Unlike everyone else, Mimi has little signs of sadness. She’s pretty happy with her life, although I wonder if we’ll learn more about some of her American adventures later on.

TK AKA Hipster Elite AKA Biz Markie AKA Lover of Hats

I feel like the writers of this movie knew TK and Kari already had more then enough spotlight in seasons 1 and 2 and decided to put them on the backburner for this film. TK mostly shares scenes with her and Matt. TK is now dressing like a super mega hipster and still finds ways to incorporate hats into his every day attire. He’s apparently got “just a friend” who happens to be a lady and Kari laughs that off. For one, TK’s got what she needs. Two, she owns TK for the rest of time. We know this for a fact. Kari isn’t going to let anyone get her man.

I wish I had more to say about the guy but he just doesn’t get much to do. Hopefully that will change. Hey, at least they remembered that he has a different Digivice during the Digivolution scene! It also weirded me out to here Angemon’s Japanese voice for the first time. I’m so used to Dave Mallow’s deeper voice.

Kari AKA The Lizard Queen AKA Pink Power Ranger Lover AKA Most Likely To Be Sawed In Half

Like I said, Kari doesn’t get a whole lot to do here. She’s an object of desire for the soccer team, which is just… Okay, there’s nothing wrong with a female character being seen as attractive. Nothing at all. But so far two out of the three main girls in this series are pretty much there to be lusted over. Mimi at least owns it.  It was good for all the girls to get their own scene to just hang out, something that was always lacking in the original series. That scene with the three and their Digimon just getting food was one of my favorites. I also liked she still hangs around with TK regularly.

Also, Kari has to skip out another event thanks to a birthday party. I wonder if she got her friend another Pink Power Ranger. Since this takes place in 2005, it would be Syd from SPD

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It’s also a good time to point out that Tai and Kari’s Mom is still the best. She’s so chill about the Digimon!

Joe AKA The One Who Will Murder You All AKA Cram School 4Life AKA Over It

Joe. Poor Joe. Right down there with Mimi in “least likely to get screen time” the writers of this film use that lack of time to their advantage.

You see, Joe isn’t so hot to rejoin the fight. He doesn’t have time to see his friends anymore. He’s moved on. He’s desperately struggling to pull his grades up. When the government agents pull up to get him to the Kuwagamon battle? He blows them off. Even the appearance of Gomamon doesn’t do much for him. When he finally reunites with the whole group they treat him like crap. Oh sure, they say they miss him but the minute he mentions he might have a girlfriend? They all are super shocked about it. TK even asks if she’s human! Damn, guys. Rough.

Joe doesn’t bother to show up to the final fight, leaving Ikakumon as the only Champion level Digimon not to make an appearance.

I’m fascinated by what’s happened with Joe. He was always busy and a worrier but now he wants to actively avoid the group. Is it because he doesn’t want to adventure anymore or because he’s that concerned with his tests? This is going to be a great arc.

Meiko AKA More of a New Girl then Zooey Deschanel AKA Princess Jellyfish AKA You Don’t Even Go Here!

Our new character is only briefly seen throughout the first movie along with her partner Digimon, Micoomon. She’s shrouded in mystery.

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Was she one of the kids who saw the battle on the internet in the Digimon movie? Did she witness one of the many battles in Season 2? What is Micoomon’s connection to Alphamon? I’m interested to see how she’ll fit into the group. They all seem happy to have her, Mimi especially.

Finally, the Plot.

Oh yeah, things happened in this movie! I’ve already hit the major points above so I’ll just go over what I haven’t mentioned already.

A new non-gate connection to the Digital World has opened, letting through Digimon more powerful than ever before. Along the way the other kids from Season 2, Davis, Yolei, Cody, and Ken are totally wrecked. What happened to them? Are they dead? How did they learn about this threat before the others? Why aren’t they in contact? Why doesn’t TK or Kari mention them at all? I guess you could hand wave it with that they may have fallen out of touch and the phones are acting up, but it’s still iffy. I hope they bring this up soon, because otherwise it kind of makes our guys out to be uncaring dicks. 

The government is keeping tabs on Digimon activity, as we’ve previously seen, but they’re also being aided by Gennai. I can only imagine the info dump they had to sit through with him. They’ve been tracking DigiDestined and have taken note of the missing kids. They also have some knowledge of Alphamon, one of the lead agents calling him, “The precious one.” What the hell?

The main overarching plot of these movies is only introduced here in very broad strokes. Most of the running time of this first film is dedicated to reintroducing everyone and showing off their sweet new Digivolutions. We get a new threat in Alphamon and the Infected Digimons. They appear to be tracking Meiko and Micoomon for some unknown purpose.

Another Digimon is also lurking in the shadows, Hackmon. Previously appearing at the end of the Digimon Adventure PSP game, his motives are unclear. Is he working with Alphamon? Is he defending Meiko?

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I’m glad this movie kept most of the plot elements introduced in Season 2. People in this world are still aware of the Digimon and are afraid of the terror they bring. It may seem prejudiced to our characters but it makes perfect sense. Every time they’ve appeared they’ve caused widespread panic and destruction. They’re like a natural disaster. The government certainly treats them that way, having a special taskforce assemble the DigiDestined as quickly as possibly to take them out. They know these kids stand a better chance then they ever would.

The 2005 touches in this film were nicely done. Everyone has those phones where texting was pretty much a nightmare and barely have any processing power. Izzy makes this clear when he sets up their new home base and gives them the ability to text the Digimon. I love that they now have a base of operations to coordinate from. Gives them a real team feel and the Digimon finally have a place to hang out.

This plot is deeply rooted in the character of Tai, as I mentioned above. It’s really his movie with everyone else playing supporting characters. Matt provides a great source of conflict and while the two are still at odds by the end, they do manage to get some of the old magic back and bust out Omnimon. They even do it in their old colors of orange and green. Very subtle.

The opposition in this movie continues Digimon’s always-reliable escalation of conflict. In the first two seasons The DigiDestined came up against more and more powerful threats. You thought this villain was bad? Just wait, we’re about to give you four of them! Season 2 upped this was a new human villain and upgraded versions of past enemies. Now tri. brings out the big guns with a Royal Knight right off the bat. They aren’t playing around. Oh sure, they started with the old Kuwagamon but that was just a taste. I expect they’ll be fighting more of Alphamon’s forces as the movies go on.

Overall, this movie was triumph. It hit all the right notes and gave me, as they say, all the feels. While I wish the girls got more to do outside being love interests, it’s a small nitpick in an otherwise perfect movie. Big kudos for Crunchyroll getting this, since I had pretty much assumed I’d be forced to watching a fansub a month or so after the theatre release. From all accounts the translation was pretty solid with only a few liberties taken.

I only wish we had a dub. Saban Brands has seemingly abandoned all efforts to make Digimon a thing in America. Digimon Fusion Season 3 doesn’t look to be happening and we haven’t heard a peep about this from anyone at Saban, although we have reached out.

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It’s a shame, because the moment this project was announced I wanted the dub. I wanted to hear Joshua Seth again. I wanted Jeff Nimoy’s direction and writing. I wanted the stupid jokes and non-stop talking. I wanted the Masked Rider music. Udi Harpaz, Shuki Levy, the Tel Aviv orchestra I miss you so! I was mentally scoring the film with those tracks as I watched. I know I would have felt an even bigger pull on my heartstrings if the Digimon theme was blaring at the opening instead of Butterfly. Don’t get me wrong, I loved all the music in this. I just don’t have that same connection.

Maybe one day we’ll get a dub or some fan will take a pass at rescoring the film. I’d adore that, but what we got here? It’s a near perfect movie that could have been awful. I was hyped to be sure but I still feared all my dreams would come crashing down. That I would have to make excuses for large portions of the movie. That I’d be bored. I’m so happy to report it lived up to all my expectations.

While I won’t go as far to say that it felt like being a kid again, it did feel like Digimon had grown up. Not in a dark and gritty way, but in the characters have matured and are dealing with the issues people on the way out of high school would be dealing with. I’m excited to see where this story takes us in the future.

Digimon made a scene and they kicked it up to the big screen! The Digi-dudes digi-ruled with digi-ability and digi-tude. They saved the world from a digi-disaster, the threat from the net met the Digital masters!

The Digivolution will not be stopped. Digimon Rule! Digimon Rock!

I’d like to give a big shout to my friends @Celonius28, @Biccykun, and @SuperSonicEX who all helped with some of finer points of this review.

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Shamus Kelley is glad we’ll never be seeing Angela Anaconda tri. Follow him on Twitter!


5 out of 5