Anime Review #43: Digimon Adventure – Bokura No War Game

20 years ago, FOX Kids announced that they were going to be releasing a movie called Digimon: The Movie. Apart from the abomination of an opening theme known as the Digi-Rap, the semi-confusing plot, and the corny jokes typical of dubbed anime at that time, what many people don’t seem to realize is that this was a conglomeration of not one, but three separate Digimon movies. The first part of the movie focused on an origin story setting, behind how the main characters first came across Digimon. The second part saw them go up against a digital abomination hell-bent on causing drama on the Internet long before Twitter was a thing, and, of all things, a nuclear war. The third part of that film… I don’t know, it’s something having to do with the characters from Digimon Adventure 02 trying to help out some kid get his destruction-crazy Digimon partner back from an infection or whatnot. Arguably, my favorite section of that movie was the middle part, which was entirely ripped straight out of the original Japanese release, titled Bokura No War Game (“Our War Game” in English).

DIGIMON ADVENTURE: BOKURA NO WAR GAME

Digimon Adventure: Our War Game! | DigimonWiki | Fandom
Something something evil computer virus, Cold War, girl problems, and Digimon

Digimon Adventure: Bokura No War Game was released on 4 March 2000, and was directed by Mamoru Hosoda, the principal animator at Toei Animation who would later go on to work with Hayao Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli the following year – unsurprisingly enough, the visuals in the film are largely reminiscent of the semi-grainy vibes present in the latter studio’s films – and would later direct Summer Wars in 2009, the alleged result of this Digimon film and its influence. Unlike those films though, which run for at least an hour, Bokura No War Game spans at least the length of two episodes of Digimon Adventure; 40 minutes in total. Not too short, but that’s not to say that the film won’t provide any thrilling matchups as a result; the film itself explores a completely different storyline unrelated to anything from TV series. I never got the time to look into it until around summer of 2016, just after I finished the 54-episode run of the original anime series, and today I’ll be revisiting all the components that made up this film.

STORY

7 months after the defeat of Apocalymon, the Digidestined have returned to their normal lives as kids in 21st-century Japan. While surfing the Internet one day, Koushiro (Izzy) discovers a new breed of Digimon circulating around the Internet known as a Kuramon. Alarmed, he rushes off to his friend Taichi’s house – currently in the middle of an ongoing feud with Sora over a birthday gift flunk – and warns him about the impending dangers posed by his new discovery. Not long after, the creature Digivolves into a Keramon, and proceeds to wreak havoc across the country, causing massive glitches within computer systems nationwide and causing discord amongst the populace. This prompts a visit from Gennai and their Digimon partners who rally to take down this menace. Taichi attempts to gather the rest of the Digidestined, but to no avail; Joe’s taking an exam for cram school, Mimi’s on vacation in Hawaii, Hikari’s at a friend’s birthday party, Yamato and TK are in Shimane visiting their grandparents, and Sora, still pissed off at him, ignores his calls. Thus, Taichi/Agumon and Koushiro/Tentomon are left to take on the monster, but horribly lose after it involves to a spider-like creature named Infermon and incapacitates the two Digimon – even to the point of disrupting their Ultimate-level Digivolution process.

This is a little movie about a quartet of kids who think they’ll beat a simple computer bug, but only in their dreams…

Infermon continues to glitch its way across Japan, causing a takedown of the country’s phone system, and overloads Taichi’s Internet connection with a massive email spam campaign. Thanks to the use of an emergency voicemail system though, Taichi manages to land two other Digidestined to their cause; Yamato and TK. After the latter two manage to find a computer within the confines of their rural town and connect with their partners Gabumon and Patamon, the four prepare to make one final standoff against Infermon. Agumon and Gabumon Digivolve to their respective Mega forms, Wargreymon and MetalGarurumon, and in spite of an initially successful battle against him, Infermon Digivolves into its most powerful form – Diablomon. From that point on, things begin to look bleak, as his powerful abilities prove to be superior to everyone else, even the overpowered Wargreymon and Metalgarurumon, and he defeats them. This is the part where it gets good.

Diablomon manages to duplicate himself, and gives our heroes a 10-minute ultimatum to destroy him, or else he’ll drop a nuke on their arses. No, literally, he hacks into the Pentagon and directs a ballistic missile towards their home city. The massive army of Diablomons manage to shut down Wargreymon and Metalgarurumon beyond repair, and through some form of deus ex machina Taichi and Yamato suck themselves into their computers, physically reuniting with their Digimon partners for the first time since last August. Their presence enables them to give their partners some words of encouragement, which then cause the DNA Digivolution of the two partners into a massive entity, Omegamon. Thanks to Omegamon’s Transcendent Sword and Supreme Cannon, he obliterates the entire Diablomon army – save for the real one. With less than a minute to play, and the whole world watching their every move, Koushiro manages to disable the Diablomon from further movement by redirecting the spam emails to it, allowing for Omegamon to deliver a last-second kill-shot to end his reign of terror, and prevent the impending nuclear catastrophe.

Digimon Reboot Shares Major Flashback to Digimon Movie with Omnimon Fight
The movie introduces Omegamon, a fusion of Wargreymon and Metalgarurumon, to the world.

WHAT I LIKED

  • The story was well-crafted and wholly consistent from start to finish. It was one thing to have the movie include a Cold War-style trapping into it, but nonetheless it still manages to maintain the elements that make it recognizable as being part of the Digimon Adventure worldline. Characters are still recognizable and true to their anime series forms, and the story itself finds a way to be enjoyable for both adults and children alike. Not to mention, I like to think of this movie as the one thing that got me into the computer software field, as the majority of it takes place in the pre-9/11 world of the Internet (a time when things were a lot simpler to navigate).
  • This movie saw the introduction of Diablomon, the movie’s antagonist and a fierce Digimon who is capable of wreaking technological havoc. His design really lives up to his name – with freakishly arachnoid limbs, a frightening countenance and a fearsome force to be dealt with – not even Wargreymon nor Metalgarurumon of equal level with him can beat him. The final battle pitting him against the divinely inspired Omegamon, provided an excellent conclusion, with the fate of the world on the line. It’s like this dude was a bat straight out of the dark web.
  • I’ll never get over the Tai-Sora fling that was added in this movie, and how frantic Taichi reacts whenever Koushiro or Hikari brings it up. It’s further confirmation by God that this is truly meant to be the OTP of Digimon Adventure. Somebody tell me where Yamato was in all this? Oh right, chillin’ with his bro and grandma in some random hick town west of Tokyo. He couldn’t care less about Sora’s boy problems πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚
Diaboromon Clock GIF - Diaboromon Clock Creepy - Discover & Share GIFs
Diablomon: creepy, heartless, and just a menace. If you put this guy up against the Dark Masters the whole arc would not even exist to begin with

WHAT I DISLIKED

  • One issue that I have is the astounding lack of involvement from half of the Digidestined crew – something unlike the TV series or even Digimon Adventure Tri. I’ve always wondered what an alternate sequence would be like if Sora/Biyomon, Mimi/Palmon, Hikari/Tailmon and Joe/Gomamon got involved with the battle, instead of going about their own personal ventures. Makes for an interesting fanfiction! I think if this happened, my money’s on either Infermon getting his arse whooped instantly and the movie ending in less than five seconds, or another boss fight equivalent to something out of the Dark Masters arc.
  • The movie title says Bokura No War Game. But the in-movie title calls it Children’s War Game. The title kind of struck awkward with me, but what’s even more glaring is that… they couldn’t even get the naming of their movie right?
  • One plot hole – how was Keramon able to simply bypass the Champion level and jump straight to Ultimate, which somehow also gave him the ability to interrupt Digivolutions, which was practically verboten in the series? It never really got deep into that, and even Koushiro himself was stunned to discover this rule-defying ability.
  • The ending of this movie was pretty shallow, to say the least. As Taichi and Koushiro look out the window to see the deactivated missile, which begins to pour water all over the citizens of Tokyo, the two of them make funny faces while Taichi unceremoniously proclaims, “We did it.” At that point, Bokura No War Game comes to an abrupt jump to the credits (which, I admit, was cool to have it take place on a computer screen of all things), which just goes through a picture album of how the rest of the Digidestined’s day went; Joe’s passed out from school, Mimi’s back from Hawaii and all tanned up, Hikari had a fun day at her friend’s party, and Sora apologizes to Taichi for overreacting to his birthday gift. When compared to how Digimon episodes typically ended, it was pretty weak, and almost felt like the directors said “Bad guy’s dead, alright let’s wrap it up quickly!” If you want a good example of how to end a movie after a big boss fight, try looking at The Karate Kid movie trilogy.

MUSIC

Behold “Butterfly” in all its glory, in movie form!

Surprisingly, very little attention was paid to putting any sort of OST in this movie. I remember the American dub overlaying a lot of the dialogue with dramatic-sounding music – so if you’re familiar with that kind of action, you’ll be very surprised with what the Japanese edition did. I think it’s better this way as it helps to focus more on the characters and the story going on. However, that’s not to say that the movie is entirely void of any musical overtones. Apart from the ever-timeless renditions of Butterfly by Wada Koji and Brave Heart by Ayumi Miyazaki making their way into the film, Bokura No War Game also introduces two movie-specific songs. One of them is a rendition of Pie Jesu which plays during the events leading to Omegamon’s creation, and the bright and jolly ending song, Sakuhin No. 2 Haru I Chouchou by Ai Maeda, the singer of the ending themes for the TV series. Never would I have thought that I’d hear a hymn straight out of the Roman Catholic Requiem Mass (not the Novus Ordo type) played in a Digimon movie – nor one that has similarities with another Pie Jesu written by French composer Gabriel Faure. It’s a beautiful addition to the movie, as is the case with the latter song, which I’ll always associate after coming home from a nice summer day well-spent.

FAVORITES

Favorite moment: One scene which I liked more than Omegamon’s creation has to be the opening montage, showing the Digidestined going about their spring break routines while Wada Koji’s Butterfly (a.k.a the Digimon Adventure opening theme) plays in the background is one of the most memorable movie openings I’ve seen in a while. Especially when you consider what Digimon: The Movie did with this scene (hint: a song by the Barenaked Ladies), it does the Japanese version no justice at all. Man, listening to this sequence again reminds me of a time when Digimon Adventure was the only thing I watched constituting as anime.

Favorite battle: Of the three battles shown in the film (not counting the feud between OTP Taichi and Sora LOL), I’ll always remember the Diablomon-Omegamon battle. The lack of music, the raw display of strength, and the emotional tag-up in this scene undoubtedly cements as one of the best anime movie battles I’ve seen. Ten minutes of nerve-wracking tension, fittingly put to an end by divine intervention.

First half of the fight against Diablomon, Wargreymon and Metalgarurumon.

Favorite quote: The exchange between Taichi and Koushiro when they realize Diablomon launched a missile was both terrifying, yet brilliantly executed, and really tied in at displaying the gravity of the situation:

Taichi: A countdown? Now what, Koushiro?

Koushiro: This is bad… someone from Taiwan who just hacked into the Pentagon told me that 30 minutes ago, the US just launched a missile into outer space. There must have been a bug in the system… of course, it’s all his doing!

Taichi: What? So this countdown…

Koushiro: It’s likely indicating how much time we have left until the missile hits the target!

Taichi/Koushiro when they realize it’s no longer a game, Bokura No War Game (28 minute mark)

CONCLUSION

Although the film did have its share of downsides in certain aspects, nonetheless, the story was nicely executed and manages to retain the atmosphere of what a movie focused on Digimon feels like. While it’s nowhere near capturing what 54 episodes of Digimon Adventure could bring about, it does manage to hold on its own as a standalone movie with its own plot. It’s definitely better than the North American release though, that’s for sure. If you liked the original TV series and have about an hour to spare in your free time, I’d recommend giving this one a shot.

SCORE: 8/10

gif Digimon bokura no war game productionig β€’
First world problems: when you realize your Internet connection has gone kaput (2019, colorized, real-time)

21 thoughts on “Anime Review #43: Digimon Adventure – Bokura No War Game

  1. I certainly remember this part of Digimon: The Movie, but never saw the original Japanese version. Bokura no War Game totally sounds better as a separate film from the other parts of that movie. Crazy how Mamoru Hosoda would become a big-name director long after working on Digimon. Even from what little I’ve seen of Summer Wars, that Digimon influence was all over that movie with the online scenes.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree! In retrospect keeping Bokura No War Game as part 2 of a continuing movie made no sense at all.

      I too have heard a lot about the references (and maybe have seen a few screencaps here and there). I’m definitely gonna have to take a look at Mamoru Hosoda’s Summer Wars in order to see it and believe it… I’ve been stalling on that movie for about 2 years now and it’s high time I look into it.

      Thanks for checking this review out Osprey!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks! It just felt weird in hindsight. I get they were trying to have a time continuity with a prequel, something taking place during Adventure, and then something involving 02, but the execution wasn’t all there.

        Yeah, it reminded me so much of the digital world from what I’ve seen. I would like to watch that movie in it’s entirety.

        No problem!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Me too! πŸ˜… Just need to make time for it..

        You’re spot on with the major flaw with Digimon: The Movie. They taped three different things together with duct tape and the result was ugly. Especially when they ripped out a hugely important plot point in the third part to make way for something else…

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Haha! I’ll be looking forward to your review when you get to that movie.

        Yeah, I found out years after I saw this movie (I actually saw this in theaters when it came out when I was a kid), that it was really three different Digimon projects just taped together. Wait, they ripped out a major plot point in the 3rd segment? WHAAAAT?!?

        Liked by 1 person

      4. They did! Prepare to be mind-blown.

        Fox Kids’ movie made it so that in the third part, the 02 Digidestined were fighting a rogue Digimon made by Willis. What they didn’t show was earlier, it actually captured the original Digidestined (Taichi + others, but not including TK and Kari) and trapped them in a purgatorial prison. Hence, in the Japanese movie the fight becomes not only to stop Willis’ rogue Digimon, but also to rescue Taichi and the others. I too did not realize this until around late 2016 when I finally watched the film.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. I sure bet. This has got to be a mind-blowing experience. I seriously wonder why Fox Kids did this. Did they think their core audience wouldn’t care about a plot point like that even though Digimon has a progressive as opposed to an episodic narrative? Wow, Digimon will never ever be the same again to me. This revelation is as big as discovering Yu-Gi-Oh Season Zero or even finding out the existence of Kimba the White Lion for me.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Yeah, it’s so bizarre why they did what they did in compiling these different movies and OVAs. Maybe they wanted some cheap nostalgia grabs with the original series since this came out as 02 was still going on in North America? Good to know about the title of the separate movie about 02.

        Liked by 1 person

      7. Found this:

        “Writer Jeff Nimoy wanted to use the first two films in Digimon: The Movie and release the third film separately as a television movie, but the idea was overruled and Fox insisted on having the third film in order to promote Digimon Adventure 02. In order to connect the stories of the different movies together, Nimoy and Bob Buchholz rewrote Digimon Hurricane Touchdown!! / Supreme Evolution!! The Golden Digimentals to include Willis being involved in Diaboromon’s creation.” (from Wikipedia article on Digimon: The Movie)

        So yeah, you were right on the 02 promotion kicks. Were Nimoy to get his way, perhaps the third part would have been a faithful recreation πŸ˜“

        Liked by 1 person

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