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Nostalgia is not something that usually grows with you; it is something that is to be thought about fondly. Although the original Digimon Adventures is considered one of the most beloved anime series of the 90s, the stories kept changing its characters and narrative every few seasons, allowing for a new experience with a new generation. Now 15 years in, Digimon Adventures Tri revisits the classic characters that started it all off, and attempts to evolve with its original target audience. While the first film in this series, Reunion (which is cut into 4 episodic sections), stumbles as an stand alone installment, it sets up enough to make the rest of Tri something to look forward to.
The first of six films to be released, Reunion gives us a flash forward into the lives of our original heroes, starting three years after the events of Digimon Adventures 02. Viewers of the original series will recognize the returning characters, even if they only grew up watching the English dub and not the original Japanese. Our main cast are no longer children; they are dealing with problems that most young adults face, but their personalities and spirit seem to still be intact. It might have been tempting for the creators to just expect the viewer to already identify each character on what they remember from the early series, but it is clear that they are given enough time to be fully fleshed out in this new world.
It doesn’t which version of Digimon you watched as a child, it is a show that is remembered fondly for not talking down to its youth based audience. It tackled plenty of issues that many shows, both Western and Japanese wouldn’t even think of approaching. Reunion comes off as wanting to please those original fans of the series, who are now more mature, which allows them to be more dramatic in their approach. There are plenty of light hearted moments throughout Reunion (mostly fueled by fan service), but it is clearly not shying away from showing the chaos that can be left in a Digimon’s wake.
Reunion packs in a lot of heavy drama in this 80-minute film, which causes the story to feel bogged down at times. The first half really plays into re-introducing the characters and hitting a lot of notes that will please returning fans; all of which almost causes Reunion to forget that it is supposed to be telling a story. The main conflict of Digimon attacking the real world often does take a back seat to the high school drama between our two leads, Taichi (Tai) and Yamato (Matt). And while the Digi-evolution sequences are a great callback and stunning eye-candy, with most of them happening back-to-back of each other, it leaves that section rather cluttered and eats up time that could have been used for something else.
Probably the most disappointing about Reunion is that there is so much new stuff that is introduced and worth exploring, but ultimately amounts to nothing. There are side characters that seem to be involved in some big way with the plot, like Meiko, who is a transfer student, but there is no room left to develop them. And the story decides to go with a big bombastic ending, filled with more callbacks to the original, and leaves a feeling of unfulfillment in its resolution.
With this being only the first film, the side characters and over arcing plot will probably be expanded upon in greater detail, and the overall danger will become more apparent. Reunion’s job is to be a set up film; just giving the audience a taste of what’s to come. It succeeds in staying true to its message and set up an interesting story, but is hindered by its weak structure due to an overabundance of fan service, leaving it feel unfocused. All that being said, Reunion has a lot of heart, and offers plenty of material to even satisfy the most causal of fans. Digimon Adventure Tri – Reunion may not leave the biggest impression, but it’s a story that makes you want to know what happens next.
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+ Great characters
+ Introduces a lot of new elements
- Overall weak narrative
- None of the new stuff is thoroughly explored