My roommate and I just finished watching Digimon Adventure tri. 3, and I am intrigued by how much my perspective on anime has changed since watching Digimon Adventure tri. 1 (the 1st installment) just over a year ago. At the time, my roommate had barely been exposed to anime, and I myself have only watched a handful other than the ones that I grew up watching. Digimon is a series and a franchise that most people outside the fandom know, and it could be said that it is an icon of the 90s. So the Digimon Tri series is a reboot acknowledging the audience that have aged since its original run. I had a few thoughts while watching this, but most were negative.
First is regarding the art. This may be in part due to my familiarity with cuteness emphasizing anime studios such as KyoAni and J.C.Staff, but I thought that Digimon Tri, in comparison, looked mediocre. Considering the franchise’s popularity — albeit aged — the art definitely doesn’t look as good as what is out there now.
If you ask me, the colours look flat and bland, and the character design looks like it was made to be easy on the budget. Comparing it to the art of original series that aired more than a decade ago, while it certainly looks more modern, it seems to have lost its original personality as well.
This change in the feel of the series is also apparent in the plot. I think it was in the 2nd installment that they had this hot spring ecchi scene. It was weird to see this in Digimon. Is this what Digimon has to do to keep up with the times?
My other problem is highlighted near the end of the 3rd installment, when it became really apparent that the characters made bad choices for the sake of plot, adding to the urgency and scale of the conflict. This felt plain silly. And for the catalysts for the digimons’ evolutions, what used to be at least based on epiphanies and emotion driven will power, was almost entirely at random. For example, one of the digimons evolved into their next tier one by one when doing the final evolution would have made the most sense. At best, there was a reason, but the timing of it broke the rhythm of the buildup. It was deus ex machina that was more stupid than convenient.
I could rationalize that these characters are still kids who now go to high school, but some of the decisions made by the adults were unjustifiably bad. Each stupidity, which at best was an attempt to prevent emotional suffering (against human lives in danger), led to the current terrible situation seen at the end of the 3rd installment.
In watching, I was once again reminded that Digimon is not a light-hearted series. It’s certainly darker and more depressing compared to its peers like Pokemon. And the dread that the characters face is rather constant until the victory they would eventually achieve at the end. This format might be fine for actual shonen watching but I’ve been finding the reboot to be a disappointing acknowledgment to the original series. It was too frustraing and confusing to see the inconsistent power levels and experience of the characters who technically have saved the world from destruction multiple times who are now even older than they had been before.
Nevertheless, it was interesting to see how these annoyances became visible compared to just a year ago when I would not have been able to articulate why I had a smaller affinity to watching the series. Should you watch it? I’m not too sure. It’s certainly not often that you get to revisit a nostalgia through a reboot but it also feels weird to have grown much more than the characters.
Image is from Digimon Adventure tri.