Welcome, one and all, to this month’s anime review. This time around, we’re looking at Digimon Adventure Tri – Saikai/Reunion. It was only a matter of time, right? Let’s see how I got on with the return of the original Digi-destined.
Background: Originally released in Japanese cinemas during the November of 2015, it took almost a year for the English dub to see the light of day. Now, several months after that, Manga UK have released the dual language version on DVD and Blu-ray. Much like the rest of the franchise, the production studio is Toei Animation.
Plot wise, the story is set three years after Digimon Zero Two, and the majority of the original Digi-destined are gearing up to leave high school. While the gate to the Digital World has been mysteriously closed for some time now, a Kuwagamon that has been infected with some sort of virus finds its way into the human world, and all Hell starts to break loose. With the struggles of growing up weighing heavily on the kids, can they still deal with the sudden reappearance of their digital companions?
The Good: The first thing that I want to praise here is the effort that has been put into the character designs. Not only do the familiar faces of Tai and co look suitably older compared to their younger selves, but they each wear a good variety of clothes throughout the film. There are plenty of anime out there where changes of clothes just don’t seem to happen, and to see that not be the case here is a nice little touch. Adding to this was the fact that one of the mainstays in Digimon fashion, the goggles worn by the leader of most groups, actually had a use here thanks to some mechanical wizardry by the group’s tech guy, Izzy. To make them more than a recurring fashion accessory gets a thumbs up for me! Meanwhile, new Digimon Meicoomon is suitably cute and is bound to get a fair bit of attention in terms of merchandising.
Tri Part 1 does a good job of representing how the kids are growing in a number of ways too. The cast having concerns about the future and worrying about exam scores give it a good grounding in reality in terms of the setting for the film, which is something that the first two seasons of the show lacked. OK, so they were primarily set in the Digital World, essentially negating the need for such things, but this shift in focus makes sense giving the age of the characters. Then there’s the first hints at a darker undertone: Tai’s worries about the damage being caused by the Digimon. This was a subplot that I particularly enjoyed because I remember seeing so many building destroyed in shows like Power Rangers, yet there never seemed to be any backlash about this. That the damage causes some negative press for the heroes’ partners and leaves Tai worried that an innocent bystander is going to get killed is great and really fits in with the aforementioned realistic grounding behind the fantasy elements.
The cast on the subbed version are superb. I’m not as familiar with them, having only watched the first two seasons dubbed, but I honestly can’t fault their performance in this. Meanwhile, the majority of the original dub cast have returned, giving the English version a wonderfully nostalgic feel. Everyone involved on this side worked hard too, with the returning Joshua Seth (Tai) and Colleen Villard (Sora) really shining. Not to be outdone though, Johnny Yong Bosch proves himself a wonderful new addition to series by taking over the role of TK.
The animation quality is generally high, but it’s at its best in the action packed battle scenes. Both the smoothness of movement and the general choreography are high points of the film for me, and really add to the film as a whole. Another thing of note is that I personally felt that the backgrounds in Zero Two felt a little simplified at times when comapred to some of the static shots from Adventure. Here, we’re back to a decent amount of detail. In particular, there are some beautiful sky shots on display. For thsoe worrying about the OST too, despite a new piece of music used during the opening, the Japanese tracks are present and accounted for, which is excellent.
The Bad: There are a few minor points to cover here. I’m going to start with the dub cast, or more specifically Vic Mignogna as Matt/Yamato. Now, putting aside all the negative rumours that swirl around Vic, I do think that he is capable of a stellar performance. Honestly, I can’t think of anyone else that would do as well as Edward Elric in Fullmetal Alchemist. The problem is, I haven’t seen a performance other than FMA where I’ve been overly impressed by him. Digimon Tri is one of his better efforts but the voice just doesn’t fit the face of the character for me. Really, I’m being picky here. There’s nothing wrong with her performance and many will probably like it, but it just feels a little jarring to me.
Moving away from the nit-picky side, the film introduces Meicoomon and her partner Meiko, and we get a glimpse of Hackmon as well. The problem is, not one of these three characters gets any significant screen time. While I am aware that this is part of a series and that they will get some fleshing out later on, I felt that there should have been a little more done with them. On top of that, we get given very little by way of explanation as to why the focal anomalous appearances of infected Digimon are happening. Again, I know this is covered in later films, but that it didn’t touch on this at all makes the film feel more like an extended reintroduction to the characters than a straight film.
Soundtrack wise, it was good to see the Japanese songs remain present in the film. That new English opening was kind of weak though. I get that they were going for something similar to the old dub opening, but it was different enough to that to lose the nostalgia and different enough to Japanese tracks to feel off alongside them.
Subbed or Dubbed: Both versions are thoroughly enjoyable, and there are far fewer differences between the two script-wise than the original two seasons had. At a push, I’d say that the subbed version is slightly better overall, but the dubbed cast more than hold their own with the earlier praised VA’s in particular sitting a step above the subbed cast for me.
Final View: There’s something wonderfully nostalgic about seeing the original characters make their return, and that’s coming from someone that doesn’t class either Digimon Adventure or Digimon Zero Two as their favourite of the franchise. While I would have liked to see more plot points at least touched upon, there’s no doubt that this is a return to form for Digimon, and it’s going to garner some well-deserved praise. In short, if you can look past some minor faults with the presence of the future films in mind, this is a decent film that is worth checking out, whether you’re likely to get nostalgic or not.
Final Score: 4 / 5