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It’s been 20 years since the premiere episode of DIGIMON ADVENTURE crackled across Japanese TV screens.  In celebration, Toei Animation has released their full-length feature, DIGIMON ADVENTURE: LAST EVOLUTION KIZUNA; a loving look back at the tales of boys and girls and their fighting Digital Monsters.

To properly assess the new film, LMD wisely consulted TDR’s newest contributor -- and resident DIGIMON expert -- Mr. Leo Au-Yeung, to let us know if DIGIMON ADVENTURE: LAST EVOLUTION KIZUNA is a farewell worthy of the DigiDestined.

Dig I{t} Mon!

 

 

As part of its ongoing 20th anniversary celebration of the premiere of the DIGIMON ADVENTURE {DIGIMON: DIGITAL MONSTERS in the west} TV series, Toei Animation released its latest movie from the franchise, DIGIMON ADVENTURE: LAST EVOLUTION KIZUNA.

 Created by Akiyoshi Hongo, the DIGIMON franchise, is about young “Chosen Children," or DigiDestined; kids who travel together to the “Digital World” {or DigiWorld}, a cyberworld that exists in parallel to the real world, and is connected to it via through telecom networks.  In the Digital World, there exist Digimon, digital creatures that inhabit the world; of which some are good and some are evil.  There, the kids meet their own partner Digimon, and are each given a “Digital Device” {or Digivice}, a device which allows the kids to “digivolve” their puny Digimon into much stronger ones when needed.  Throughout the different DIGIMON seasons, the DigiDestined kids of each season are tasked with defeating evil Digimon that threaten both the DigiWorld and the real world.

As Tai and Matt go about their everyday lives, DIGIMON fans get to see how things have changed in the five years since DIGIMON ADVENTURE: TRI..  The two approach the end of their college lives (Can you believe they’re in college already?!), and they’re considering what careers to take on after graduation.  We see that both are visibly lost, still trying to figure out what they want to do.  This may very well reflect DIGIMON fans, who first watched the show as kids, and have now grown up and are following a similar timeline to that of our protagonists, college and all (Like myself!).  Meanwhile, Matt reminisces about playing the harmonica, and Tai gazes upon his old goggles and Digivice in a drawer; clear references to their childhood days in the DigiWorld.  The two eventually meet and discuss how most of the original DigiDestined already have goals in place.  As they ponder, an offscreen voice says “If that's how it is, I don't ever want to be an adult,” leaving us with a tugging feeling of wanting our DigiDestined to stay children.

We’re immediately thrown into a new crisis; DigiDestined kids around the world are collapsing one after another because of Eosmon, a new artificially created Digimon that can steal and turn people’s consciousness into data.  We’re also introduced to the new characters of DIGIMON; researcher Menoa Belluci, and her assistant, Kyotaro Imura, who help play important parts in the DigiDestined’s battle.  Not long into their endeavor, the DigiDestined kids learn a crucial fact: as kids grow up, their bonds with their Digimon weaken, and eventually their partner Digimon completely disappear.  These bonds are shown as rings of lights emitting from Digivices that vanish once the Digimon/DigiDestined bonds reach their limit.

Knowing this, the kids still charge headfirst into their last battle to save their friends.  As the last Digivolutions take place, we are treated to a slew of Digimon on Digimon fighting sequences and OSTs to wrap up the journey for our original DigiDestined.

For the longtime DigiDestined:  Right as the film starts, we’re greeted with a new version of Ayumi Miyazaki’s “Brave Heart,” the original Digivolution song that all fans should recognize, as the very first scene opens with the reappearance of Parrotmon in Nakano; a throwback fight to how it all started in the first DIGIMON ADVENTURE film.  It is taken on by the youngest members of the original DIGIMON ADVENTURE DigiDestined crew, Takeru “T.K.” Takaishi, and Kari Kamiya, with the help of their partner Digimon, Angemon and Angewomon.  Taichi “Tai” Kamiya digivolves Agumon into Greymon to join the fight, and Yamato "Matt" Ishida jumps in to deal the finishing blow to send Parrotmon packing.  In just this opening fight, we get some beautiful Digimon on Digimon battle animation, bringing back memories of the two sibling duos taking on VenomMyotismon in DIGIMON ADVENTURE.  The battle ends with Tai and Matt heading off in separate directions as the late Koji Wada’s “Butter-Fly” plays; a fantastic opening sequence for DIGIMON fans.

Aside from the DigiDestined featured in the opening sequence, we also get to see how the rest of the original DigiDestined are doing, including Joe Kido, Mimi Tachikawa, Koushiro "Izzy" Izumi, and Sora Takenouchi.  We also get to meet the rest of the DIGIMON ADVENTURE 02 kids: Davis Motomiya, Ken Ichijouji, Cody Hida, and Yolei Inoue are all shown with their partner Digimon, and help play a supporting role to the original cast.  There are some more subtle Easter eggs scattered throughout the movie as well for speculation.

I feel like the movie's message is more to acknowledge that all of us DIGIMON fans have grown up, than anything else.  It reflects that with our DigiDestined growing up, as well, unlike a certain kid who wants to catch ‘em all.  Our leader duo, Tai and Matt, fight against their desires to stay children forever with their partner Digimon, and the movie does a good job of building up that tension between the two for us.

The battles are spectacularly played out and animated; probably one of the cleanest that the DIGIMON franchise has provided.  The movie was great for getting a nostalgia blast of DIGIMON ADVENTURE and allusions to the first few movies.  Mix in a little bit of 02 kids, awesome Digimon battle animation, saving the world, and growing up, and we get DIGIMON ADVENTURE: LAST EVOLUTION KIZUNA.

As flashy and exciting as the movie is, it isn't without its flaws.  The conflict itself was subpar, being almost identical to DIGIMON ADVENTURE: TRI.’s plot of, “antagonist trying to recoup with their old partner Digimon.”  They even had the same figures -- a female and male Digimon researcher -- coming in to give the DigiDestined the rundown.  Given that this story takes place five years after TRI., the events from that film series also seem to get disregarded.  Meiko Mochizuki and Meicoomon only get a small cameo in LAST EVOLUTION when they were the main focus in TRI..  Even though we finally get the 02 kids this time around {As many fans complained about their absence in TRI.}, they still don't play that big of a role in much of anything.

The movie also left me thinking about a few unanswered questions, of which there are likely lots more.  In the movie, Young Gennai appears in front of Tai and confirms that Agumon will eventually disappear, but that reminds us -- whatever happened to Dark Gennai from TRI.? Most of the original DigiDestined play a smaller role, which is probably intended to keep the focus on Tai and Matt, but what ever happened to Sora?  Why is Sora not participating -- or even talking -- with the DigiDestined, and why does she end up only getting like two minutes of screen time?

DIGIMON ADVENTURE: LAST EVOLUTION KIZUNA brings back all the DIGIMON ADVENTURE and DIGIMON ADVENTURE 02 characters for a grand finale to satisfy its longtime DIGIMON fans.  Director Tomohisa Taguchi combines the theme of growth mixed with gorgeous battles into this film to satisfy our childhood DIGIMON nostalgia.  With courage and friendship as a cherry on top, Toei Animation provides a worthwhile movie to wrap-up DIGIMON ADVENTURE for its 20th anniversary.  The conflict wasn't the most unique if you’ve already seen DIGIMON ADVENTURE: TRI. {Which you should!}, and the plot still leaves a lot of questions to be answered about the events of TRI..  As this is not the end of the DigiDestined, we are left wondering what comes next for the kids?  The fighting animation sequences are superb, and obviously much improved from when DIGIMON ADVENTURE first aired.

As a lifelong DIGIMON fan, I thoroughly enjoyed the movie's warm childhood nostalgia, while the rollercoaster of dazzling battle animations and beautiful soundtrack is something I think any film fan would enjoy.  DIGIMON ADVENTURE: LAST EVOLUTION KIZUNA is a great watch for anyone craving DIGIMON nostalgia, and even those less familiar with the DIGIMON series should watch it to appreciate how far the animation style has come since the late 90’s.  I would recommend watching DIGIMON ADVENTURE: TRI. beforehand, as well, to get a better sense of what’s happened since the end of DIGIMON ADVENTURE series {Heck, maybe even rewatch the original series!}.  As Tai said in the final episode of DIGIMON ADVENTURE, “Our adventure in the Digital World might be over for now, but that gate won't stay closed forever.  I have a feeling that this won't be the last time we see our pals, the Digimon!  You wait and see.”

 

~ Leo Au-Yeung,

For The Diva Review

September 6th. 2020

 

DIGIMON ADVENTURE: LAST EVOLUTION KIZUNA streams on Microsoft, iTunes and PSN, starting September 29th.

Toei Animation US and Shout Factory are hosting a special DIGIMON ADVENTURE: LAST EVOLUTION KIZUNA Livestream Watch Party, with the English voice cast, Robbie Daymond (“Joe Kido”) and Erika Harlacher (“Menoa Bellucci”), Sat. Oct. 3rd at 8PM Eastern/5PM Pacific. 

You can view through  Toei US' Youtube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/c/ToeiAnimationUS
or via Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/DigimonOfficial

 

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Photos

Stills Courtesy of 

Toei Animation

 

 

 

 

 

 

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