As an older Digimon fan, I gotta say I’m in the minority when it comes to the epilogue movies. While many movies set after the events of its original anime are often content to be full of fanservice and call it a day, Digimon has taken quite a bit of interest in actually telling new stories.
Despite the backlash from Digimon Adventure Tri and Last Evolution: Kizuna, it seems like that spirit is very much alive with Digimon Adventure 02: The Beginning. Having promised for real that the adventures of the 01 kids are finally at a close, we finally get a spotlight on their successors- the stars of 02. Rather than just retouch the animations for all the Digivolutions and set it to Beat Hit though, what we got was another story about growing up.
The Real Final Boss Is Growing Up
Just like Digimon Tri, The Beginning instead uses the 02 kids as a supporting cast for the real main character- newcomer Lui. Despite being allegedly one of the first Digidestined, Lui is suffering from communication issues with his own partner Digimon, Ukkomon. In a sense, it gives off a lot of the same vibes that the first Tri movie does- rather than be an adventure starring the grown up cast, it instead uses this new character as a way to test how much the cast have grown.
It’s slow, it’s ponderous and there’s a distinct lack of Smash Mouth- if you’re looking for a celebration of what made Adventure 02 so good, you’re probably not going to find it here. Instead what you do get is just the idea of putting a camera into the lives of the 02 cast all these years later. In a sense I do like the more mundane lives of Daisuke, Ken and gang. Rather than cheapen the ending of Adventure 02 by implying they didn’t finish the job the first time, it gives them a problem that only the adults can solve- which, unfortunately means digivolving into a mature and responsible adult instead of a dragon with fifty handguns and a combat knife.
That’s not to say there’s no action- but as someone who got really into the more ponderous groove of the movie even I felt like there wasn’t much point to it other than the fact fans would probably riot if at no point Imperialdramon showed up. I totally get it- it’s a Digimon movie and Digimon need to show up at some point, but given the tone of the rest of the movie it felt awfully convenient that there was a world-ending threat at the end of it all.
That being said what we do get is pretty interesting. It’s no secret that Digimon has not been afraid to go to darker places than its contemporaries, and that spirit is well and alive in The Beginning as well. There’s a lot of really grim visuals that really make the movie worth a watch- a rare time where body horror really does help the series feel more mature.
Not Enough Looking Back
In a sense my biggest frustration with Digimon Adventure 02 The Beginning is that there’s almost no sense of lessons learned from Tri, production-wise. I think a lot of fan backlash (at least from our screening) could have been resolved if the problem came from the 02 kids themselves rather than Lui. Having a new direction is great and all, but having it symbolized by an entirely new face has all the same tension of catching up with old friends only to realize one of them’s brought along a straggler. For as much as I like ponderous stories about growing up this story could have just as easily been told without making it a tribute to Digimon Adventure 02.
The last minute pivot to “well now we need to save the world” feels almost panicked in its nature, as if a fanservice quota was suddenly initiated mid-production. I’m not so much mad that there’s a lack of cool anime fights, I just wish that if they wanted to tell a new story, they’d have at least used the characters on the poster of the movie to do it.
Still, if you’re open to the idea of a Digimon movie that’s more about growing pains than sick digital monster battles, Digimon Adventure 02 The Beginning is probably going to be up your street. It’s definitely going to be a contentious entry for all that it offers, but in a sense I almost admire the attempt for it- all the epilogue Digimon movies have been legitimate expansions of the mythos, complete with new characters. The backlash just comes back to a more simple point: at the end of the day, people will walk into a Digimon Adventure movie to see Digimon Adventure.
Digimon Adventure 02 The Beginning will be available in Malaysian Cinemas from November 30th.
Check This Out Next
Digimon 02 The Beginning
- We finally get more Digimon 02 Content
- The story is interesting
- No lessons learned from Tri
- The most important character wasn't even in the original series
Digimon 02 The Beginning