You bet your A** I’m reviewing this!
So, as the resident nerd on the couch it should come as no surprise that, back in the day, I was a die-hard Digimon fan. I watched the original two shows every saturday morning (religiously) and even stomached the Tri films.
Following the trend of its predecessors, Last Evolution Kizuna engages another time jump bringing the core characters to 2010. At this time the majority of the original children have entered their 20’s and alas adulthood.
Here we go; the good and the bad of this twenty-year franchise’s farewell.
Animation: Getting the technical stuff out of the way as usual; the animation in this film is superb. Yes, it brings back the art design from the original two shows but with an upgrade. The majority of scenes, especially the action ones, are great to take in along with the score.
As in awe as I was of the art I was equally frustated at the same time wondering where this effort was for the six films of Tri...
Explain the Bond: Kizuna‘s mission is to conclude the story for all these characters; quite the job for a 90-minute runtime! How does it seek to wrap this up? Well, by providing a new layer of context…
As the premise of the anime went, these children were chosen to save their world and the digital world by teaming up with their digimon partners. Through their bonds they were able to provide the digimon with energy needed to digivolve. On top of that, as the children grew personally and learned new things about themselves, their relationships, and life, their partners would then be able to become even stronger; great metaphor!
Last Evolution Kizuna tells its audience that the energy the children provided was specfic to childhood; endless potential. Once a child crosses into adulthood that potential ceases to exist and thus their partners don’t just lose the ability to digivolve but, ultimately, die. Well, F***!
As the original shows (and Tri too I guess) were quite literally about growing up I immediately appreciated this addition to the story. It provided real gravity to the plot and created greater stakes than just “monster of the week.”
Still A Good Time: This movie, if you were a fan of the original shows twenty years ago, should have been depressing as s***! Yet, in the midst of unavoidable death the movie still manages to be a fun Digimon project.
It opens with a fight between Parrotmon and Greymon serving as a great throwback to the kids original encounter in 1995. Their first fight against Eosmon through the net throws back to the aesthetic of Our War Game and even has the four kids present be those that participated in that story.
02: For all the trash talk around Tri, and how dirty these characters were done, I was overjoyed to see the four 02 kids in the flesh with their partners. Not only that, they were introduced enjoying some food in NYC with a rendition of “Target” playing in the background; nostalgia, folks.
Do I wish there was even more time with these characters? Sure! Yet the 90 minute movie had to choose wisely where and how to invest. It knew that Taichi and Yamato would be the focus (more on that below) but still managed to find a clever way to bring these four charactets back and give them a proper amount of screentime.
As the older kids are going through some real s*** the scenes with the 02 cast were not just a great reunion but also served as a buffer from the weight of the stakes.
Reflections on Growing Up: The series at its core has always truly been about growing up and, for lack of a better word, evolving. Yes, even as adults (in their cases very young adults being 22) there is still potential for more growth and change. However, it isn’t the same as childhood is it? We all remember those feelings of our youth. If we grew up watching this anime one of the sensations we feel seeing this movie is correlated to that reflection! We’re remembering a time when our perspective, outlook, and imaginations were completely different.
Yamato, Taichi, and the other older kids have inevitably entered new phases of their lives seeking careers and who they’re going to be in the world. Yes, Yamato and Taichi are still going on missions as shown in the opening, but it is more due to the confusion for what they want to do as opposed to their actual interest. Immediately after the fight is over we see that they both run off to get back to their business leaving their partners in the hands of the younger teammates.
The kids are growing up but the Digimon are staying the same; this isn’t the movie Ted; Agumon isn’t following up on the dirty magazines. They’re eternally children in their own right and as they stay stagnant in eternal youth the humans can’t help but move forwards.
I reference the dirty magazine moment, but that scene provides a much more attention-worthy detail. Taichi has been living in that apartment for likely his entire college life yet there, in his final year, Agumon has never been to visit. Taichi tells him that they’re never going to grow apart but the harsh reality is- they already have! Sure, this is sad but also honest. The further into our lives we go the less time we have for our wider circle of friends (as the OG eight don’t see each other as often), we have less time for the hobbies we adored as children (Taichi doesn’t play soccer anymore and Yamato remembers his days of playing music), and our focus becomes more about the trials and tribulations of the real world.
However, while on the element of Yamato’s music, it is important to note that just before Agumon and Gabumon’s end Yamato has bought a new harmonica. This let’s us know that no, he didn’t become a rockstar and he likely can’t/won’t pursue that dream again the way he did when he was a kid. Yet, those things we adored as children will always be there for us to revisit when we want to feel something even though we can no longer indulge in it as limitlessly as we may have once upon a time; like this property!
More Time?!: I know its a kid’s cartoon movie but this thing could have easily been a full two hours. I have only seen the Sora short on Youtube but maybe the remaining ones correlate enough to the main film to somehow incorporate as a “director’s cut.” I’m ok with the action being limited to what it was as this whole thing was more a good-bye than anything else. If those other shorts give some extra meat the way Sora’s did, I would love to see a version where they’re incorporated to make a more robust conclusion.
Where was this Before?: Man, the only reason this film may have failed to totally hit is because its all basically recycled ideas from Tri. Menoa is Hime. Same motivation pretty much. The struggle of the children is basically the plot to Kokuhaku. Yet, in these 90 minutes they did a much better job than those six movies put together.
I’m upset that we didn’t get six films of THIS story. I digress. Perhaps a reason it worked so well is because of how compact and to the point it was.
So yes, after twenty years the Digimon Adventure franchise received a solid farewell. Currently in Japan, ironically after this film released with a message about the unavoidable nature of growing up, Toei rebooted the series to bring the kids back to their kid versions in 2020!
If you’re up for restarting the series and watching along with the new adaptation- have at it! For me, this movie was my goodbye to the characters I grew up with. The new series, as far as I’m concerned, is for a new generation. I hope it’s as impactful for them as it was for us back in the day!
I give Digimon Adventure: Last Evolution Kizuna an 8 of 10 potatoes.