After totally derailing a podcast with a discussion on the merits of the BeyBlade anime theme song and actual toys, the discussion went further into a nostalgia trip with talk of Digimon and its various forms. The original Digimon Adventure and Digimon Adventure 02 are still childhood favorites of mine. The next logical step was to then go watch a bunch of Digimon AMV’s, AMV still how I discover most pop music. As it turns out Digimon: The Movie is on YouTube. I didn't have anything better to do so I watched it expecting a nice trip down memory lane.
Coming out the other side Digimon: The Movie, is pretty bad. This isn't that surprising. Digimon: The Movie is a Frankenstein’s monster of 3 movies: Digimon Adventure, Our War Game, and Digimon Hurricane Touchdown / Supreme Evolution! The Golden Digimentals condensed into 1. Together they span a decade and bridge the two series together. The only problem is other than characters and setting these movies do not have a single connection to one another. Through the power of dubbing and editing these non connection are erased, but it isn't exactly subtle. The near constant Kari expository monologue doesn't exactly age well. Still for a movie meant for kids it’s perfectly passable entertainment. Is it Pokemon: The First Movie? No.
The biggest upside to Digimon: The Movie is the soundtrack, Music from the Motion Picture Digimon: The Movie. If you ever wanted a mixtape of late 90s early 2000s pop music you got it. When else would The Barenaked Ladies (during the good o’ll “One Week” days), Fatboy Slim, Less Than Jake and LEN on the same CD from a legal outlet? With music like this it isn’t surprising that Digimon: The Movie devolves into nothing more than extended music videos with a bit of plot.
What about the three parts that make up Digimon: The Movie. How do these three pieces of entertainment stand up on their own? Luckily two of the three are subbed and on YouTube! The other one well I linked.
Digimon Adventure - Directed by Mamoru Hosoda Runtime: 20 min
Digimon Adventure was a special/pilot for Digimon Adventure the series originally airing in Japan on March 6, 1999. The first Digimon series also called Digimon Adventure and would begin airing in Japan the next day March 7. As part of Digimon: The Movie it is the “Eight Years Ago” segment.
As an introduction to the Digimon world it takes a show instead of tell approach to explaining what the heck is going on. A young Kari is drawn to the computer in the midst of an electrical storm. During this storm a DigiEgg pops out of the computer and the adventure is afoot.
Director Mamoru Hosoda takes a fly on the wall approach to plotting this 20 minute special. We just see a single day shared among Tai, Kari, and what would become Koromon. The biggest difference between the english and japanese dubs is the distinct lack of dialog. There are bits of dialog here and there but most of the talking is done with Kari and her whistle. This mixed with the original score gives everything a light whimsical feel.
That was all during the day, once the sun goes down things take a darker more action oriented tone. As Digimon are one to do, Koromon evolves into Agumon, a dinosaur. Now with legs Kari and Agumon go on a rampage across the city. Another digital storm comes along with a very large DigiEgg that hatches a Parrotmon. Now with two digital monsters the finale becomes a kajiu battle, with both monsters disappearing in fire.
The minimalist approach and quality of animation make Digimon Adventure unique among the series as a whole. This was one long commercial for the show and it would of gotten eight year old me interested.
- There isn’t a good place to put this but Digimon Adventure is the only place I remember seeing Tai and Kari’s father. I’d always thought they had come from some broken home or he was dead. Nope he is just a salary man, WHY WASN'T THERE A Shall We Dansu? crossover!
Digimon Adventure: Our War Game! - Directed by Mamoru Hosoda Runtime: 40 min
The second sequence used the original movie Our War Game! for animation and plot. If the plot of Our War Game! sounds familiar it is because director Mamoru Hosoda used the same basic idea: virus takes over internet tries to kill us all, and expanded it into a proper feature film called Summer Wars(2009), one of my favorite movies based on the internet and in general.
For continuity fans Our War Game! takes place six months after the end of Digimon Adventure the series. Life for the digidestined is back to normal and they find themselves separated on break. Joe is back to studying all the time. Izzy is doing something computer related. Tai makes Sora mad about something. Matt is off with little brother T.K to grandmas house. Kari is off to a birthday party. Leaving Mimi to go off to Hawaii, the perks of being the rich one of the group.
While doing his computer thing Izzy comes across a virus that was posted on the internet! This virus attacks a digiegg and the digimon within. The infected digimon eventually hatches, emails “I’m Hungry” and begins eating all the data on the network before jumping to the internet to cause more trouble. Izzy and Tai try to raise the rest of the group but they are all preoccupied with “real life shit”. In the meantime it has evolved into Keramon and is jumping across networks causing label readers to add an extra 1,000,000 yen to everything. As well as taking over all the phones in Japan.
One of the biggest differences in dubs continues to be the music and the effect it has tonally on the film. All of the pop music from the english version is replaced with original work performed by the Tel Aviv Symphony Orchestra. The pop music gave everything a bombastic high octane feel. The music from Tel Aviv Symphony Orchestra slows things down, making things surprisingly emotional. The big fight between Omnimon and the thousands of Diaboromon is shorter in the original form. Three shots of Omnimon attacking, that’s all it is. That scene wasn’t about NEW SUPER DIGIVOLUTION it was about Tai, Matt and the rest of the world uniting to fight Diaboromon. When this is mixed with the music I was left feeling more filled than the english version ever had. That whole sequence is also absent of dialog. Everything is visual. Another difference is the amount of talking the Digimon do, they are far more monster like in the japanese dub.
Our War Game! was cut in half for Digimon: The Movie. This extended length really shows in the lack of tension. For the most part the fights with Keramon and later Diaboromon are treated as just another fight within the Digimon series. There is more emphasis on the damage taken by Digimon but that could be attributed to the standalone nature of Our War Game!. That is until the deadline plot reveal in the final 10 minutes.
Our War Game! dose take inspiration from the American film WarGames so when the film takes on a sudden nuclear missile turn don’t be surprised. The 10 minute deadline sequence holds up very well and is supported by the music far more than the english version.
By the end Our War Game! is a fun adventure with a fun idea that was better realized in Summer Wars. As a piece of Digimon related media it holds up.
Digimon Hurricane Touchdown / Supreme Evolution! The Golden Digimentals Shigeyasu Yamauchi Runtime 64 min
link I wasn't able to find an English sub on YouTube, I found one that appeared to be in some Middle Eastern language but other than that nothing.
Digimon Hurricane Touchdown / Supreme Evolution! The Golden Digimentals is the third and final part of Digimon: The Movie, labeled “Present Day”. Hurricane Touchdown doesn't actually take place in the Digimon Adventure series. It takes place in Digimon Adventure 02, which takes place three or four (depending on dub) years after the end of Digimon Adventure the series. This was the section that Digimon: The Movie was building towards and it makes the least sense of the three segments.
T.K. and Kari are off in New York visiting Mimi than in a flash Mimi is gone. At the sametime the rest of the original DigiDestined are kidnapped by mysterious digital wind. Leaving the new crop of heroes to somehow rescue them. An American DigiDestined , Willis is wrapped up in the kidnapping also.
In Digimon: The Movie the writers use the kidnapping of Chocomon, Willis's other partner, and wrap it into the Diaboromon virus. The original cut just had him disappearing after that mysterious wind appears. Years later Chocomon has evolved into Windigomon and is tormenting Willis about going back to “the beginning” or “Summer Memory” (once again depending on sub).
The whole Windigomon story is more unnerving in Hurricane Touchdown. All he says is “Willis” and roars like a monster. All Windeigomon wants is to go back to that time in the flower feild years ago. He hopes that by kidnapping the prior series heroes and de-aging them he will find Willis. It takes advantage of the 60 minutes with the additions of pillow shots as Willis goes down memory lane.
The leisurely pace translates to the fight scenes as well. They take on a heavier feeling and aren't over edited, cutting every five seconds to show explosions over and over. Set pieces have a measured approach that build up surprising weight. They are fighting after all fighting one of Willis's best friends.
Even with the extra time and addition of the kidnapping subplot Hurricane Touchdown still has issues. Among them the sudden swings on the emotional spectrum. Several times in the movie things appear to be going in one direction where a bit of backstory is going to be explained or some emotional moment is about to occur. At one point Angemon and Angewomon just decided “ well we should probably evolve to Mega level because that’ll make something happen”. On a dime it changes and they just go charging off into adventure, because thats just what they do. Who need things explained? I’ve noticed this a lot in anime, they go straight for the melodramatic moments with little background and expecting audiences to just go along and become invested.
Hurricane Touchdown is my least favorite of the three specials making up Digimon: The Movie. The mysterious nostalgic pacing has its moments but then it just goes in another direction in the name of fighting.