Last November, I reviewed Hurricane Touchdown / The Golden Digimentals, the first flick from the Digimon Adventure 02 series which saw Daisuke and friends travel across America to face off against a rogue Digimon named Wendigomon. It wasn’t great, but there were times when it could be comical, and the plot was a breath of fresh air from the abominable FOX Kids mashup. However, did you know that there were not one, but two films from this season? Sure, it’s one thing for this franchise to have a bad series here and there (Humans turning into Digimon? Are you kidding me?). But how about a Digimon season with two bad movies? Not to mention, a Japan-only production that’s a complete rehash of a previously existing, more superior film deriving from one of the most memorable anime I have seen to this date?
This is a film that I have waited earnestly and patiently to put my thoughts on the web with, and it’s high time that now, with my streak of Makoto Shinkai film reviews is done, is appropriate to cover it. Readers, let me introduce you to Digimon Adventure 02 – Revenge Of Diablomon.
DIGIMON ADVENTURE 02 – REVENGE OF DIABLOMON
You heard it right, Diablomon is back again in another feature length film, because apparently the second season really needed him as a villain. The fourth installment in the Digimon line of movies, it was released by Toei Animation on 3 March 2001, making its debut along with the second film in the One Piece franchise, Clockwork Island Adventure. However, compared to the other Digimon movies preceeding it, this one had a running time of exactly 30 minutes, which is about the same as a standard episode, which would make it the second-shortest film in the entire Digimon Adventure franchise; a mere 10 minutes ahead of the prologue Digimon Adventure film from 1999 (the one where Greymon fights Parrotmon).
Unlike the previous three films in the franchise, which were shipped to North America in a timely manner, this one saw light on their televisions on 5 August 2005; four years too late if you ask me, long after the Digimon craze had died out. Now you might want to ask, “Why was this the case?” Well, you can thank Disney for that, as around that time a new Digimon series, Digimon Savers was about to be released, and in order to hype up what was left of the fanbase, they reluctantly agreed to dub both this film and another, Digimon Tamers: Runaway Locomon (original release date 2 March 2002) on the Toon Disney channel. Since then, neither film has been re-aired on any North American channel; probably for the best, and a somber tribute to the last remnants of the changing anime landscape, far removed from that of childhood. Even more curiously, on Anime News Network there are people who actually had the gall to give this film a 10/10 score. Looks like someone’s never seen End of Evangelion before.
I’ve only seen the film twice myself over the past 5 years; once in the middle of my university’s crowded lunch hall, and several months back in anticipation of this review. Though circumstances have changed since then, one thing that hasn’t is my opinion about how short of expectations this movie has left me, and the hole it left since then.
Three months have passed since the Digidestined’s combined efforts obliterated the super-villain MaloMyotismon, and a new threat has emerged, one which they have to combat: an old foe, Diablomon, has returned with a vengeance and is threatening to disturb the relatively young Internet once more. Thanks to the creation of a computer virus transmitted through emails, he has allowed an army of Kuramon to enter Earth, a fear which worries the Digidestined because of their potentially dangerous capabilities. To combat him, Takeru “T.K” Takashi and Hikari Yagami, alongside their respective siblings Taichi and Yamato and their Digimon partners, warp into the Internet to face him while the rest of the Digidestined, including season two protagonists Daisuke, Ken, Miyako and Iori are tasked to collect the Kuramon and dispose of them.
Unlike the last film where Diablomon literally rains down hell on his belligerents, the quartet dispatch of him within the first few minutes of the movie thanks to the help of Omegamon.
And that’s the end of the movie SIKE, because it turns out the whole charade was planned all along, as Diablomon’s death allows for a massive army of Kuramon to invade Tokyo, blipping out of cellphone, computer and television screens nationwide and into the fabric of reality. Koushiro, the mastermind behind the counterattack, becomes quick to realize the fatal mistake of his plan: the Kuramon army begin heading towards Tokyo Bay, where they merge together in the view of millions to become Armageddemon, Diablomon’s advanced form. Taichi and Yamato arrive at the scene to eliminate him, but this time around in a stunning twist of events Omegamon gets his arse handed to him, and, much to the shock of the Digidestined, shuts down, leaving Taichi and Yamato out of commission.
With that, it becomes up to Daisuke and Ken, with the help of their partners Veemon and Wormmon, to jump into the fray and face Armageddemon, DNA Digivolving to Paildramon, and later upgrading to Imperialdramon. Even this is not enough to destroy their foe, but thanks to some last-minute deus ex machina magic, Imperialdramon harnesses the hopes and dreams of everyone gathered, and evolves into his Paladin Mode. Wielding Omegamon’s sword in hand, he proves successful at killing it, causing it to dissolve into the Kuramon horde. Iori and Miyako successfully rally everyone to use their cellphones and direct their energy towards Imperialdramon, which creates a gate powerful enough to send all the Kuramon back to the Digital World. With another disaster averted, the Digidestined celebrate peacefully after a hard day’s work, and ALMOST EVERYBODY FORGETS THAT THE EVENTS OF THIS MOVIE EVER HAPPENED.
WHAT I LIKED
- Really, the only few things I liked from this film was how linear the story was. There’s very little subplots involved, and it does have the feel of a standard-length Digimon episode. Also the fact that this time around, the old and new Digidestined work together to stop Diablomon is a good concept to have. Unfortunately, until 19 years later with Digimon Adventure: Last Evolution Kizuna, this is the only film where this shtick happens.
- I did like some of the throwbacks to previous films, such as the time when Daisuke walks past the same TV screen that Sora did in Bokura No War Game and the inclusion of the funky Internet visuals in the first half of the film. Goes to show how well those films have held up since then, and a fitting reminder to a time when Digimon movies actually felt like something worth watching.
WHAT I DISLIKED
- Dear Lord, Digimon movies just have to suck at character involvement. Throughout the entire movie, only Taichi, Yamato, Daisuke, Ken, Hikari and TK as well as their Digimon partners had a significant role in the film, which makes sense considering they are the bread and butter of their respective teams. However, what really irked me was the lack of involvement from characters like Sora, Mimi, Joe, Yolei and Iori. Especially with the latter two; considering how much of a role they played during the season and even in the first film, you’d think that they’d be of more use but NOPE they got sidelined instead. As a matter of fact, Biyomon, Palmon and Gomamon didn’t even make it into a single frame this whole movie! That really grinds my gears because if you’re gonna make these Digidestined not even have a center role this film, what’s the point of having them cameo?
- Don’t even get me started on the animation. It’s the worst I’ve seen from a Digimon film so far. Everything’s dark, dreary, and depressing to watch; no doubt, the quality of visuals has taken a significant nosedive compared to its predecessor. I’d expect this theme from a horror flick, but not a Digimon film! And not to mention, the contrasting really sucks; everything is so dim. This makes characters like Omegamon who are supposed to stand out because of their bright palette, or Imperialdramon straight up blend into the scenery during the battle against Armageddemon. If they were trying to replicate the style of the previous Digimon films, they failed at it.
- While we’re at it, let’s talk about the battles, of which there are two of them (Omegamon .vs. Diablomon: The Rematch and Omegamon/Imperialdramon .vs. Armageddemon). Take a look back at the battles in Bokura No War Game and Hurricane Touchdown / Golden Digimentals. Not only will you see how much detail was put into animating the fights, making it challenging, and their overall length. Each battle in those films were the central focus of the scene, and the movie put their energy to making sure of that. Here, the battles were subpar and it felt like they were done in a way that it could “get it over with” and move the plot forward. There’s no substance to them or any attempt to make it interesting to watch.
- Of all the things that bugged me the most, it has to be the writing. Things like “How did Diablomon come back?”, “Why are Taichi and Yamato’s images all over the Internet?”, “Why did TK and Hikari sit out the fight against Armageddemon?” were things I asked throughout the film simply because they were either not addressed, or stuff that could have helped elevate the film’s sensibility. Even more, why did Diablomon have to be the villain again? What was the point of rehashing practically the same movie from a previous season into this one? Digimon Adventure 02 was able to introduce new villains and strayed away from including older ones into the fray, and did excellent at that, so… WHAT WAS THE PURPOSE OF IT ALL?
Previous Digimon movies have opened up with the intro used in the television show – Bokura No War Game started with the late Wada Koji’s Butterfly and Hurricane Touchdown / Golden Digimentals premiered with Target by the same singer. This time, none of that even happens as instead, a classical piece, Maurice Ravel’s Bolero, one of the longstanding OST pieces from the show, opens the credits while zooming across the Internet pipes. I think this is telling – not that the piece was bad per se (it does carry a theme worthy of adventure and wonder), but it’s telling of how little one ought to expect from this half-hour special. A lot of the OST from the show and previous Digimon movies, such as the one during the opening battle against Diablomon, and the opening/ending songs to the first season make an Easter egg appearance near the end, which was a pretty cute addition. And once the battle is finalized and Tokyo is sent back to normal, Ai Maeda is there to serenade with a new song, simply titled Friend – Itsumademo Wasurenai, a song which lacks the funk and charm of the other ending themes before it.
Favorite scene: Of all the moments in the movie, one that sticks fresh in my memory is the clip of Daisuke panicking when he realizes his crush Hikari is off to fight Diablomon on the Internet. Flustered by this revelation, he freaks out while Ken has to physically restrain his madness and remind him of his mission. It’s probably the closest thing this movie comes to original.
Favorite quote: Daisuke and Ken’s (only) shining moment in this film is prefaced by a nice bit of dialogue which sums up pretty much any Digimon episode:
Ken: It’s over, we can’t defeat him.
Daisuke: Nonsense! We can’t give up – we always fight with what we have until the end, right?
Agumon/Gabumon: That’s right – you stick to it until the end!Ken and Daisuke fight on to the end
After this, cue Imperialdramon’s transformation, the Faure-inspired Pie Jesu from Bokura No War Game, and we’re all set for the final stages of the long-drawn out battle.
It boggles my mind how one of the most iconic shows of my childhood could have capped itself off with a movie of this low-caliber. Digimon Adventure started out with a bang, and ended with one as well, as Bokura No War Game was able to recapture the nostalgia of the show and transplant it into a 40-minute flick; whereas Digimon Adventure 02 closed off its season with a crappy ending and an even crappier cinematic conclusion. For the love of all things good about Digimon, steer clear from this film. It’s got nothing valuable to offer and is certainly a show you’ll likely forget once the credits roll.