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Ani-chart week, an unofficial event that happens 4 times per year when, just before the newest season of anime starts, youtubers and bloggers flock to anichart.net and give commentary on the list of latest anime. It’s an event I’ve been skipping a lot lately, and will probably be skipping again this season. I know it’s still early, but after some preliminary browsing, I can only find about two or three things that at least look interesting to me, and are not second seasons to things I have not watched. A fifteenth Dragon Ball Z movie to be the fifteenth that I haven’t seen, cheap comedy shorts, yet another Monogatari, and too much damn moe.
That’s not to say the modern anime is all bad or I have no hope for this season. I’m still optimistic and curious about studio Trigger, and they’re coming out with a show called Ninja Slayer. Bones is running a new show, and not only have I never been disappointed by the studio, but the show, Kekkai Sensen, is an adaptation of a Yasuhiro Nightow manga, and I love Nightow’s work. Kyoto Ani is making another distinctly Kyoto Ani slice of life show, this time with jazz music, which may be enough to get me to watch. And Gainax is partnering with Subaru to make a magical girl anime. Yes, this is actually a thing.
So, good or bad, we’ve got an interesting spring season coming up, and I’m looking forward to the utter chaos it will bring. But for now, I don’t have anything to say about those shows. Instead, something else caught my eye, Digimon Adventure tri.
That I’m just learning about this show now is probably indicative of how out of touch I am from the community, because apparently it was announced last year. It is a sequel and fifteen year anniversary celebration of the original Digimon Adventure, which aired sixteen years ago, because someone at Toei Animation is good at math (insert Asian joke here).
Now, I loved Digimon, and still do. I think Tamers is one of the best anime ever made, Adventures holds a special place in my heart, 02 can be bearable at times, and everything afterwards I just pretend never existed. Yes, it’s a nostalgia property for me, and I’m pretty sure that’s the whole reason it’s getting a reboot. And I’m really not looking forward to it.
I probably shouldn’t have mentioned that I’m a nostalgia google-head when it comes to digimon, but I assure you, my complaints go further than, “It’s new; it’s killing my childhood. Whaa, whaa T.T” The real problem, I think, is Adventure 02.
In Adventure tri., the main cast is now 17 years old, meaning it takes place six years after the original Digimon Adventures, and thus three years after 02. Now, say what you want about 02, but it did provide a conclusive end to the original canon in that after it ended, nobody wanted to see anything more of it. Between the explosive expansion of DigiDestined, glimpse into the future, and Imperialdramon, the show had nowhere to go. And now it’s trying to go there. Let me explain.
So a couple things happened at the end of Digimon Adventures 02 (and get ready for spoilers or leave). First of all, the barrier between the digital world and real world is completely removed, and with it, the fantasy allure of the show is removed. This was supposed to be the payoff at the end of 02; it’s something that was threatened in the show by almost every major villain, but was only allowed to happen at the end because that boundary was necessary for the plot. If everyone can go to the digital world and have a digimon, there is no need for the DigiDestined. Problems in the digital world will be handed like foreign affairs, not fantasy adventures. In fact, the ending clearly implies that this is how things are done when it says that, thirty years later, Tia and Agumon are diplomats for digital world relations.
The very last scene of 02 is about where are the characters end up when they’re adults. Every one of them is the cheesiest thing you’ve ever heard, and several of them actually conflict with the core values of the characters. It is the worst moment of digimon, but it’s canon. Now, having a series that takes place between 02 and that future, the characterization will have to reflect and set up for that.
I’m not saying Digimon Adventure tri. will be bad. I’m just saying it’ll probably be bad. But there are several ways it could be good. The brake down of the fantasy barrier alongside the now young adult characters could be used thematically as growing up, and maturing, which should resonate well with the audience of a childhood nostalgia IP.
Looking at the staff, the director, Keitaro Motonaga, also directed the first and last episodes of School Days, so you know he’s good as subverting something irredeemable and making it disturbingly amazing. And the writer, Yuuko Kakihara, also worked on the Person 4 anime so… yeah, this’ll suck.
Don’t Lose Your Way