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Saturday, 30 September 2017

Digimon Adventure Tri: Coexistence.

Digimon Adventure Tri

Man, I, like everyone else, was sure the translated title would be 'Symbiosis,' but 'Coexistence' works just as well, I suppose, especially when the film's primary conflict involves humans not coexisting with Digimon, and Homeostasis not coexisting with the Chosen Children (or, indeed, anybody else).

Following on directly from the last film, the fifth film sees Meicoomon once again go berserk and become Meicrackmon, fleeing to the real world. As they try to find a way to her, the Chosen Children are harassed by a hostile and rapidly changing environment, with Hikari believing that the Digital World 'detests' them. Finally returning to the real world, the kids and their partners are quickly thrown into a four way battle, as Meicrackmon evolves to Raguelmon, Jesmon is sent by Homeostasis to kill her, and Alphamon arrives to battle Jesmon. When the battle ends with tragic results, however, Hikari snaps, prompting a dark evolution to Ophanimon Falldown Mode and creating a threat that rivals Apocalymon in scope.

So, this is definitely a step up from the last film, which I hold to be easily the messiest, most awkward of the films so far. There's a somewhat better paced arc at play here, the overcomplicated plot doesn't really get any more overly complex, and we get some nice thematic elements involving sacrifice, and the bond between human and Digimon, and so on and so forth.

So, this is the second worst film of the lot (or, put another way, the fourth best), because Reunion, Determination, and Confession still stand a decent ways ahead of it. This film does stand out from all of the others, however, by being almost a love letter to the work Chiaki J. Konaka did on Digimon.

'Ave a Snickers, Meicoomon, y'ain't yourself when you're hungry.

There are some decently pulled off horror moments here, including Maki finding herself in a slightly revamped and now absolutely terrifying Dark Ocean, and Ophanimon FM and Raguelmon undergoing a grotesque parody of Omegamon's fusion as they become an unnamed new Digimon, who resembles the kind of design Konaka's work was known for, if you filtered it through a couple of shades of Evangelion.

Horror often fits Digimon surprisingly well, and the horror elements here are the film's highlights, at least from a dramatic standpoint -- but this film, for all that it's rather messy at times, and has some pretty bad pacing problems in its first forty minutes, actually does a decent line in dramatic moments. The last episode is basically one big, dramatic moment after another, and all of them are pulled off effectively.

(We even get some send-ups of the horror, too, with the kids rather ineptly trying to tell each other horror stories.)

The themes common to Konaka's work are also worked in here: The idea of the world being hostile (both in the literal sense in the Digital World, and a more figurative sense in the Real World); the idea of detached, godlike forces who don't care about people; the heavy streak of Lovecraft that runs throughout, showing up in big ways (the aforementioned fusion), and small (Alphamon literally shattering the world as he descends).

Everyone's understandably upset.

It makes for a nice tribute to his work, but part of me wishes that that tribute had been the basis for the whole series, rather than as a few tonally dissonant moments near the end.

The film does have its problems, though: While it might not overcomplicate the plot even more, it also doesn't really simplify it any, apart from briefly clarifying what Huckmon means when he says that Meicoomon is 'the Libra.' The plot is still grotesquely tangled, and the film does little to help with that, instead committing a lot more time to exploring the character's feelings -- which I'd be fine with, but their feelings don't really change enough throughout the film for that to be warranted.

On a technical level, the action scenes are -- good, I suppose, but you can tell there are some cost-cutting measures at work, and I don't think anybody's failed to notice that the animation has consistently not been up to the standard set by the first film. The music and voice-acting are still both great, and on the music side we get a really nice slow, instrumental version of 'Butter-Fly.'

Obviously, Taichi isn't actually dead.

With the next film seemingly not coming out until July or August (most likely the end of July or start of August, to line up with DigiFES and such), we've got a long wait in store before we see the end of Tri: Nine months at best, and potentially up to a year if it, say, ends up coming out in September. That's going to be a pretty tough wait, to be honest.

On the bright side, given how successful Tri has ended up being, it wouldn't surprise me if we see, at the very least, a standalone tie-in film announced, and -- if we're inclined to dream as large as possible -- tentative plans for a Digimon Adventure 04. Or we might see none of those things. 

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