Digimon Adventure: Last Evolution Kizuna – a surprisingly good film that caps off the journey for Tai and Yamato (Matt) and may leave you with tears

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Being a 90s kid has its many pluses, it meant I grew up from the very start with anime like Pokemon, Dragon Ball and Evangelion. I’ve named some of the biggest hits, but this list should rightfully include the other ‘mon’, Digimon. When it first appeared on Australian television on channel 10 on Cheez TV, across my school Digimon was seen as a rip off from Pokemon in that there were many parallels between the two shows, there are young kids with monster pals, the monsters evolve, and many of the monsters shared distinctively similarities in that the baby forms were cute and the adult forms were ferocious. I think it was an unfair assessment since what I now know is that Digimon likely started before Pokemon in the form of Tamogochi, those little devices that allowed you to evolve creatures in your pocket, and it was actually Pokemon that stole the “mon” since it was shortened from its Japanese title “Pocket Monsters” when it released in the West.

While Digimon hasn’t seen the meteoric success that Pokemon has seen, it has managed to ratchet up a steady number of fans both new and longtime. (Me, I am a longtime fan, but not an avid fan.) Unlike Pokemon, I think Digimon has done this by:

  • having a solid cast of characters that grow and develop as the series and years pass
  • delivering stronger stories where we get to see each character journey towards their respective goals or dreams
  • ensuring those key moments are more emotional and have consequences, Digimon can die. You probably remember Angemon when he first appeared or when Pixiemon took on the Dark Masters
  • catering to an older demographic and the aging fanbase, who don’t mind the occasional nostalgia trip

There is no doubt this film Digimon Adventure: Last Evolution Kizuna manages to do a lot of things right, including being geared towards the older fans. What it does really well is give that definite end story to two original cast of characters, Tai and Yamato (or Matt in dub). It helps that the film’s focus is on both Tai and Yamato. It is a smart choice as it allows the film to see how Tai and Yamato’s experience growing up as young adults, which appears to be very similar with their own twists. Both don’t seem set on their future and they can’t seem to move onto the next phase in their life. The conflict for them is whether they will decide to move onto the next phase of their life or try to maintain things as they are as long as possible.

This is view is reflected in the conversations at the start of the film, “Too bad things don’t stay the same forever”. “Agumon and the others stay the same”.

In the film, Tai and Yamato are at university in their final years. While many of their classmates have plans for when they graduate, neither Tai or Yamato seem set on where they want to go. In the case of Tai, he simply hasn’t bothered applying for roles. In between university and being a Digidestined, Tai works at a pachinko parlor. It’s not glamorous job, but it provides him money to cover his rent. The other Digidestined seem to be doing well though, Jo is a trainee doctor, Koshiro “Izzy” is a chief executive officer and Mimi is a high flying fashionista.

To give a purpose to the story, this film revolves around a mass coma phenomena that is causing Digimon and their Digimon partners to disappear. To try and resolve this phenomena, the crew receive the assistance of Menoa Belluci, a Digimon researcher, and her assistant Kyotaro. The story unfolds when Menoa sets the stakes and explains that the likely cause of the mass coma relates to the existence of a new artificial Digimon, Eosmon, in the digital world.

Off the Digidestined go to challenge Eosmon.

Despite meeting the new threat in the early stages of the film and the power of Omegamon (or Omnimon), the Digidestined are unable to defeat Eosmon. Eosmon manages to escape due to convenient onset of a Digimon ring timer around Tai and Yamato’s Digivices. This Digimon ring timer, which appears as a circle with many rings on the Digivices for Tai and Yamato, counts down the remaining time that both Agumon and Gabumon have left before they disappear – forever.

The existence of the ring timer on Digivices sets up the stakes for this film. If Tai and Yamato go all out to save their friends, it likely means that this will be the final film for Agumon and Gabumon. The film makes it clear that there is no coming back once the timer ring reaches the end. In that it’s not Digimon reverting back to eggs, it’s literally the end. Unfortunately, the the realization of this reality seems clearer to the likes of Tai and Matt than it does to the childlike Agumon and Gabumon. To give credence to that reality, Gennai appears before Tai to explain it: “Once the ring is gone, your Digimon will likely vanish [for good]”.

The story amps up the stakes as the story reaches its climax. To see what Tai and Yamato decide to do makes the film all the worth watching.

Since I started the series in the 90s with the English dub, I decided to watch this with the dub. It was great to hear so many returning voice actors reprise their roles for Tai, Koshiro “Izzy”, Agumon and Tentomon and a few more.

It’s also great to see all the Digidestined from both the original 01 and 02 make an appearance in this film. It was also great to see the 02 gang travel together to assist Yamato with his investigation into Eosmon.

I really like the visuals and the aesthetics. They have gone all out with making this film look incredible. Watching the film gave me a lot of Summer War vibes (since a lot of the key staff worked on both movies). Summer Wars is a great film. I think this film lives up to it and more, since the emotional stakes is there.

This film is an end. It may not be a complete end, but it is a satisfying end that will tug you (and maybe tear you up) if you followed these characters from the start in the 90s and watched the Digimon: Tri Adventure story. It’s a fitting end and a worthy conclusion.

Why wait. As Tai says: “No one knows what tomorrow may bring…”

Digimon Adventure: Last Evolution Kizuna poster

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One comment

  1. Being a Digimon kid the film hit me in the same way the original series did. The latter, geared towards kids, churned out really deep themes and had great character development and this film simply continued upon that legacy. I’d say it’s probably even better than all six Tri films combined. The whole shtick especially with Taichi and Yamato (Matt) learning to control their destiny and not let burdens get in the way of it – such as losing their partner to time – is one example of how the Digimon film excelled at thought-provoking moments. Good stuff, really.

    Like

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