Reviewby Jacob Chapman,
Digimon Adventure tri.
Episodes 5-8 Streaming
In light of the ongoing threat that Infected Digimon pose to the human world, the Adventure team has decided to stick together for now and focus all their efforts on eliminating the source of these digital distortions. Fortunately, they have a new ally! Meiko Mochizuki is shy yet plucky, and her partner Meicoomon is a cat-themed Champion level fighter, just like Kari's Gatomon! The gang decides to throw her a welcome party at a nearby resort, and it doesn't take long for Mei-Mei to start feeling right at home (and also start feeling some weird tingly emotions whenever she's around a half-naked Tai.)
Unfortunately, Meiko's welcome party is one Digidestined short. Joe is too busy studying for university to spend time with his old friends, and the boisterous Mimi might be trying too hard in his place, pushing poor Meiko into embarrassing situations she isn't ready for. To make matters more uncomfortable, Izzy figures out that their teacher/government agent Mr. Nishijima is hiding something from them. The Infected Digimon are entering the real world to hunt down a specific target, and it's probably one of them! Of course, the real agent our Digidestined should look out for is Nishijima's superior, Himekawa. She's harboring some big secrets about the distortions, Hackmon, and even a re-brainwashed Ken Ichijouji!
To uncover the truth, our heroes will have to evolve past their growing pains and come together as a team...but what if one of their team members is already infected?
Wow, the Adventure cast sure has grown up! In fact, they've grown up way more than I think anyone was expecting. If the first movie made it clear that Digimon Tri has set its sights on nostalgic children-at-heart instead of trying to loop in a fresh batch of literal kids, movie #2 cements that impression by kicking off with a shameless blast of fanservice. Not fanservice as in cute callbacks or references to Digimon days gone by. Nope. Fanservice as in flesh.
Yes, after the big fight with Alphamon, everyone decides that the best way to ease Meiko into the group is to have her strip down and enjoy a public bath with the rest of the girls. That doesn't mean the girls are the subject of fanservice in this movie though, at least not yet. The camera actually lingers over all the boys' bare chests, when the vacation inevitably goes awry and the yukata-clad girls are forced to invade the mens' bath. For Digimon fans who first met these characters in childhood, it's a truly bizarre experience, especially because none of this manservice is coy or circumstantial. The camera deliberately focuses in on Tai's pectorals when he takes off his shirt, and Meiko's furtive glances below the leader's belt aren't too subtle either. The girls get their turn when changing into yukatas or cheerleader uniforms, complete with a Hooters ("Daters") reference that makes the intent unmistakable. Woe be to Izzy fans who never wanted to see his boner-face, because this movie features it twice, building the poor guy up even further for an inevitable rejection from Mimi.
These scenes aren't as well-drawn or sexually explicit as they might be in a late-night otaku show, but they're definitely fanservice, and every Digimon fan will just have to decide for themselves what to do with them. Maybe objectifying these characters you grew up with feels icky on a fundamental level to you, or maybe it just feels like a cathartic, natural expression of your modern otakudom. Whatever the case, Digimon Tri's newfound teenage flavor avoids contaminating its childlike charm through considerate character writing and tone-perfect execution. There's even more adorable monster hijinks and heartwarming character development in this movie than there was in the first one! So no matter how quickly Digimon Tri grows up, it's remained firmly in that unique spirit of Adventure that keeps fans coming back, and nothing brings that home more than the wonderful character arcs Tri #2 creates for Mimi and Joe.
Fresh off the plane from America, Mimi's not only reconnecting with all her childhood friends in Japan, she's also reconnecting with Japanese standards of how a girl should act. When Mimi, a freshman, has the nerve to push her idea for a cheerleader-themed cafe with skimpy outfits for the school festival, the other girls push back, calling her "jikochuu." It's a very Japanese insult that Mimi isn't familiar with, but when she learns that it means "egotistical and selfish," she only becomes more insistent that people tell her what's wrong to her face instead of waiting to quietly complain later. Culture clash has always been a big part of Digimon's stories, but Mimi's struggle against everyone's standards (even Izzy's!) of how a girl should act takes the franchise into more adult territory than expected.
Tri trips a very thin line with Mimi's story, because on the one hand, she shouldn't have to act like someone she's not just to keep the boat from rocking, but on the other hand, sometimes her "jikochuu" creates very real problems that result in people getting hurt. When Mimi's impulsive egotism finally forces a major blow against the team and their partners, painting them as an enemy of Japan, she shrinks back into her skin and starts hating how much the word fits her. That's where Joe comes in with his own anxieties, telling Mimi that "It's better to be jikochuu than a coward like me." While Mimi eventually arrives at a happy medium for considering the needs of others without compromising her personality, Joe has a much harder road to finding himself.
If you found Joe's increasingly grown-up burdens hard to watch in the first movie, the second movie drives his struggles home so much it hurts. Every heartbroken look Gomamon gives him as the two grow further and further apart is like a stab to the gut, because it's easy to see where Joe is coming from now in ways that would've been impossible to see as a child. No matter how hard he studies, it looks like he's just not able to make the cut for his chosen school. This is the absolute worst time for Gomamon to show up and start dragging him back into childhood, so his inability to commit to either his future or past leaves him feeling like a coward who can't do anything at all. More than anything, Joe wants someone to tell him the right thing to do, but even if he doesn't feel like an adult yet, he's not a kid anymore either. As his own very different kind of jikochuu takes over, Joe's increasingly poor parenting of Gomamon is milked for every drop of sadness before we can have our happy ending, but that also makes his resolution all the sweeter.
While Joe and Mimi form the heart of this movie, Tri doesn't neglect the other characters either. Everyone gets at least one memorable scene to show their strengths, from Sora's empathy to Izzy's perceptivity to the ongoing clash between Tai and Matt's views of responsibility. (Kari's own standout scene is probably one of the best moments the character has ever gotten!) The writing overall is a major step up from the already pleasant place it was in the first Tri movie, which is great if ensemble drama was your favorite thing about Digimon. But if you came in expecting big battles, you'll have to settle for even less decent animation than the first movie. While it's never quite bad enough to ruin the emotional atmosphere Tri is going for, the amount of shortcuts and slideshows holding this movie together can be downright embarrassing. The worst example of this comes when Mimi and Meiko get up on stage in cheerleader outfits, only to give us an awkward pan-and-scan montage of stills rather than a lovingly animated dance number. The tasteful direction and cinematography of the show keep it engaging, but most of the animation betrays a Toei Animation stretched too thin to deliver.
Fortunately, the movie saves its strongest spectacle and severest shocks for the last gasp, resulting in a final battle that Mimi and Joe fans have been dreaming about for fifteen years, as well as a heart-stopping fulfillment of Digimon's most beloved deadly tradition. Tri #2 ends on an absolutely perfect twist for the transition to Tri #3 in September, and it's more clear now than ever that this final leg of the Adventure trilogy is being written by fans who love and understand the original series to its core. Production problems are nothing new to Digimon lovers in the first place. The story and characters are what really count, and you'd be hard pressed to imagine a more heartfelt tribute to the cast's least powerful (but no less beloved) duo than Tri. - Ketsui.
Overall (sub) : B+
Story : A-
Animation : C
Art : B+
Music : B-
+ Outstanding character development that explores Mimi and Joe's transitions into adulthood, adorable comedy bits for both the humans and digimon, great twist ending, Fanservice!
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