The first season of Digimon has a lot of sentimental value for me. I discovered it back in high school, when I was about 13 years old, and after Pokemon, it was the series that made me aware of what anime was, and how different it was from all the other cartoons that aired on television. And on top of that it had a great and very enjoyable cast of characters.
The second season, though… was a different story. Looking back, I have very little positive to say about it. It’s not really the ending that bugged me, aside from the epilogue, the final episodes were actually some of the few parts that did catch my attention, but overall it just covered boring and repetitive stories, while completely abandoning the few interesting subplots it introduced completely. The characters were nowhere as interesting as the ones from the first season, who were demoted into side-characters for very shallow reasons. It was overall just one big letdown, so originally I wasn’t planning on watching any more of the movies beyond the first two. Until I found out that Shigeyasu Yamauchi (the director of Casshern Sins and Yumekui Merry) directed the third movie.
And I’m glad I did. I mean, seriously: this movie is absolutely not what you’d expect from a movie targeted at kids. The direction of this movie is just unique for such a movie: it’s both adventurous, has gorgeous action and yet has many quiet and down to earth parts that make the characters wonderfully believable. This movie is without a doubt the best part of the second season.
The bad guy in this movie actually isn’t someone who is just out to destroy the world, or wreak havoc for the sake of wreaking havoc. His personality is simple, but he has a great backstory. The second part that makes this completely unlike most other adventure movies is the build-up in the first half. It’s nearly entirely dedicated to just showing the characters slowly travel from place A to place B, taking its time to bring them to life. There is none of the cheesy dialogue that you usually see in adventure movies, but instead the characters talk with each other believably, both verbally and non-verbally.
Now, the budget of this movie isn’t stellar, but still very impressive. The result is smooth animation during the quiet parts that really brings the cast to life. And as for the action scenes: they’re completely gorgeous. Shigeyasu Yamauchi knows like no other how to direct compelling action sequences, and this movie is another excellent example of this.
The flaws in this movie are in the details. Te most glaring is the one that has the characters hitchhike from New York to Denver. Now, I’m no American or anything, but is that even possible? Not to mention that the movie takes place in America, yet everyone talks Engrish. The cutting overall is a bit erratic. Sometimes this works great, but at others it feels like entire scenes are cut off. You especially need to watch the second half twice in order to really get what’s going on.
Despite these flaws though, I praise this movie for trying to be different from the original, its solid storytelling, its imagination and the way that it doesn’t try to spoon-feed itself to its audience. This movie has the mindset that I really wish more franchise-based movies would do nowadays, instead of just making movies for the sake of making movies. Yes, Toei, I’m looking at you.
|Storytelling:||8/10 – Wonderfully told for a kids’ movie; great pacing, excellent climax.|
|Characters:||8/10 – The characters never really caught my attention in the TV-series. It says something for this movie when it actually made me care about them.|
|Production-Values:||9/10 – Shigeyasu Yamauchi excels in both the action and quiet scenes.|
|Setting:||8/10 – Dares to be different from the TV-series, though it does have a bit of a bad portrayal of America.|