yamato ishida

Digimon Tri’s Return to the Digital World

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The original Digimon Adventure is a series that I cannot view without the framework of nostalgia. I grew up watching it and because of this, was excited to check out Digimon Tri. My excitement and anticipation has dwindled with each movie, but nonetheless, it’s still been fun — awkward at times, but always fun — to load up the latest movie installment and reunite with my favorite characters.

When I was in high school, I was in musical theatre. The ramp up to a show is always a mess, but it’s an exciting flurry of action. The actual performance goes by in a blur, until afterwards, you’re breaking down sets in sweats, staring at an empty stage that seems all the emptier because it’s over. The moment has passed. Returning to that stage won’t bring back the show. If anything, the stage without the show is a bit painful to look at because it was never the location, or even the people, but the time spent working towards a common goal.

Digimon Tri acknowledges a similar feeling of loss and separation through the eight chosen children (digidestined) reunited for another fight. It’s not the same. The nature of their relationships with each other — not romantic feelings but even friendships and familial bonds — have naturally changed over time. All of their fights in the first season, never mind the second season which has been treated horribly by Tri, are firmly in the past. To Tri‘s credit, their reunion is often awkward. Tri sometimes feels like peering in on the chosen children’s lives without permission. As fans, we have our own ideas of what we want to happen because we were part of the initial experience. While they’ve grown up offscreen, we’ve aged significantly more in the interim.

Unfortunately, the latest Digimon Tri movie, Loss, is a bit of a mess. Not barely-controlled chaos like the ramp-up time before a performance, or the awkward feeling of returning to a childhood favorite only to find that everything and everyone has changed — but an actual mess.


Digimon (and Digimon Tri) on “Growing Up”

jyou and mimi digimon, joe kido and mimi tachikawa together, mimi jikochu joe coward conversation, digimon tri joe and mimi together

Takeru Takaishi – or as I knew him from the English dub, TK – and his digimon, Patamon, are the first recipients of many Digimon lessons involving the concept of growing up. In their accidental visit to Primary Village, Patamon wrestles with the fear that he’ll never digivolve – an easy stand in for becoming older – while the young Takeru is still thoroughly enjoying his childhood and refuses to find answers through fighting. It becomes apparent that one of the reasons why Patamon has yet to transform is because his partner, Takeru, isn’t ready.

The answer that Takeru and Patamon find together is a simple but effective one: you’ll grow up when the time comes. There’s no need to rush things – especially if your impetus for wishing to grow up is simply because those around you are older – but it’s also important to move forward when you can, growing bit by bit. Takeru has to accept that conflict is sometimes inevitable, and that he can’t remained sheltered forever. When Patamon finally does evolve, he does so to protect his friend Takeru, and Takeru’s acceptance of the change still takes some time.

Digimon Tri revisits these ideas of growing up with it’s now older cast, starting with Mimi Tachikawa and Jou Kido.