The story of Determination, the second film in the Digimon Adventure Tri series kicks off right where the first film Reunion left us. We just learned that Meiko has a Digimon of her own and is also one of the Digi-Destined, the group are still on a mission to prove to the world that not all Digimon are bad, Joe is doing all he can to distance himself from the past and his responsibilities of being a Digi-Destined and Tai and Matt aren’t on good terms at the moment due to their battle of ego’s.
The worst part is, for the majority of this movie it didn’t feel like I was watching Digimon. After ending the first movie on an action packed high note and beginning this movie with a mysterious setup I thought I’d be in for an action packed hour and a half. Unfortunately this movie takes a step back from all the Digimon fuelled action that fans of the series love and focus on character development for a few of the Digi-Destined.
In most Digimon properties focused around the first season cast, the stories focus is generally all about Tai and whoever he is currently engaging at any point in the story. In Determination many of the staple main characters are pushed to the back burner to focus on two of the cast that were some of the least developed in the main series. Joe and Mimi. While also using the Mimi narrative to flesh out some back story for the newest cast member Meiko.
This isn’t necessarily a bad design choice it just didn’t nail the execution when viewing this film as a whole. The opening 20 minutes has the whole cast, minus Joe who Gomamon informs the others is still too busy studying taking a trip to a spa resort to welcome Meiko to the group and give Tai and Matt some time together to work out their differences that started to emerge in the previous movie.
I didn’t mind these scenes, some moments within were quite humorous and it was just great to see the whole cast together again. Trying to regroup in a more mature way and many of the cast are starting to face real world issues now which is something that we never experienced in the original series as it’s target demographic seems to have been for a much younger audience than what Adventure Tri is targeting.
As the spa scene was winding down and the cast were planning to head back home I was excited for what was to come. There had been a solid 20 minutes of the real world slice of life scenes where the Digimon characters were mainly used for comedic purposes and to remind me I was still watching Digimon. It was time for some regular Digimon action and to progress this story that had been set up in the opening scene. But it didn’t come.
Well it sort of did but just briefly. At around the 30 minute mark there is a nicely animated battle scene where Togemon takes on an infected Ogremon in the city and does little to help their case proving that not all Digimon are bad before returning to its slice of life story which now involves Mimi and Meiko joining the school festival committee and organising a big event for the upcoming festival.
Meanwhile Joe, now trying to distance himself from the responsibilities of being a Digi-Destined is slowly learning how much damage he’s causing to himself, his close friends and worst of all the one little guy that’s stood by his side through all of this, Gomamon. The Joe side of the story in this film contains a roller coaster of emotions and some much needed character development. It was great to see he can be more than the nerdy character trope he was portrayed as in the original series.
The review to this point may sound quite negative but it’s really not all bad. The closing 15 minutes of the film contain some of the best action, beautiful animation and
scenes with raw emotion than we’ve ever seen before in a Digimon property. It was just a shame the journey to get there was a 70 minute ride that was a little slow on the pacing side. I’m all for character development arcs but seeing as the Adventure Tri series is planned to be 5-6 movies I’m not sure why so much of it was crammed into the second one.
The animation continues to be great. The updated character designs help sell this as a more modern, mature series that provides a new chapter in life for characters we already know and love. There’s just something so great about seeing Digimon from the original series such as Leomon, Ogremon and the main companions look crisp, well animated and better than ever. Topped off by having many of the main cast reprising their voice actor roles.
The home release Blu-Ray is light on extra features but it does contain a great behind the scenes interview with the English dub ADR director and Engineer of Digimon Adventure Tri, Ryan Johnston. This interview provides a great insight into what goes on behind the scenes in the English dubbing process and is quite informative for any fans of anime and the industry in general.
If it weren’t for the final 15 minutes of the film and the development arc we got for Joe this film was on it’s way to receiving a very average score due to it’s slow pacing and slice of life moments that didn’t feel like Digimon. The closing of the film though contains some of the best action and drama out of the whole series. It was able to slightly redeem the pacing issue and has me really excited for what to come in the next film. But wasn’t quite enough to make this an overall great film on it’s own.
A Blu-Ray review copy was provided by Madman Entertainment for the purpose of this review.