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Saturday, 24 September 2016

Digimon Adventure Tri: Confession.

Digimon Adventure Tri:

It has been a long, long wait, hasn't it? Determination came out in the first half of March, so we've had some six and a third months to wait for Confession to come out. Luckily, at exactly five months, the wait between this one and the fourth film will be a lot shorter, which I'm sure is a relief to everyone -- especially as Toei's constant dripfeed of marketing information every few weeks or so has meant that we've all been in something of a heightened state of anticipation for quite a while now.

Starting the day after Leomon's death in Determination, Confession sees Koushiro frantically trying to figure out the cause of the Infection, and a way to reverse or cure it. Meanwhile, Takeru discovers that Patamon is infected, and attempts to hide his condition from the rest of the group. As the Infection makes its way into the Earth's electronic systems, a threatening message is played across Japan, and more and more of the partner Digimon show signs of infection, Homeostasis possesses Hikari's body to deliver a message: When Meicoomon next appears, the Reboot will be activated, resetting the Digital World to a state prior to the Infection, and wiping the partner Digimons' memories in the process.

Jyou is too good, too pure.

We'll start with the technical stuff, because this film actually does really well in that department. After a dip in animation quality in Determination (with some jarring re-use of stock footage and some very messy animation at points), Confession sees improved animation not just over Determination, but also over Reunion. The animation team does a pretty good job of portraying the summer heat solely through animation and colour, as well, which is always nice.

The voice-acting remains pretty strong all around (with a special shoutout going to Junya Enoki as Jyou, who is endlessly entertaining), and the film makes pretty good use of music to establish mood and tone -- one great moment has Yamato playing his harmonica (and, in fact, playing that one song of his from 01 that was inexplicably the only thing ever played on the harmonica), transitioning into a piano and guitar theme as we're treated to short scenes of all of the characters and their partners, before finally transitioning again into a slow tune that serves as a recurring musical theme for the film.

Yay Crests.

The story is structured with a much slower pace than the previous two, as the first three fifths of the film or so are devoted to slowly and carefully building up to the film's big battle, ramping up the tension, establishing emotional moments between the children and their partners, and establishing a sense of foreboding and sadness that lets viewers know that no matter what happens, it's not going to have a happy ending.

In fact, it borders on jarring in how miserable it is, with even the comedy beats (such as Takeru ribbing Yamato about his band, or a pretty brilliantly written exchange between Jyou and Gomamon) working to enhance the sense of foreboding and tragedy. It manages to stay just this side of the line between enjoyable and offputting, but only just.

HeraklesKabuterimon is just cool to look at.

When that battle does happen, it works wonderfully. It's drawn out over about twenty minutes of the film, with several distinct phases, and in its latter parts, starts delivering emotional gut punch after emotional gut punch. It's always a bit of a risk to have a fight scene that is that long (and in this case, nearly completely unbroken), but the film manages it, having the fight progress from everyone trying to stop Meicoomon, to them all succumbing to infection one by one, and then finally to Tentomon unlocking his ultimate evolution.

The final twenty minutes of the film, meanwhile, is about equally divided on focusing on the kids in the aftermath of that battle, and on them finally going to the Digital World. Ten minutes or so is not a lot of time to work with when trying to hammer in the melancholy and misery of eight different people in a way that doesn't seem forced, but the film does a pretty admirable job, I thought, managing to communicate both the kids' sorrow and their slow, painful adjustment to something like normalcy -- and by and large doing it without dialogue.

A pretty lightshow.

The last ten minutes of the film is just a flurry of plot points, introducing Jesmon, having Alphamon reappear again, showing that the Reboot wasn't entirely successful, giving us some more hints on Maki's plan, and even introducing what seems to be an evil Gennai, or possibly an evil other Agent? He's wearing black and grinning diabolically at people, at least.

Oh, and pretending to be Ken, too, he does that.

We're halfway through Tri now, and I'd say that Confession is easily the strongest film of the bunch, even if it maybe isn't my favourite (that prize probably goes to Reunion). With the plot apparently picking up in pace, and the cast in the Digital World now, we might well be seeing the series only get better from here. The fourth film has been announced for late February, and will apparently be focusing on Sora, Yamato, and Taichi, with the title 'Loss.' It'll be interesting, I guess, to see how the next film juggles focusing on three characters.

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