Why did no one tell me how dark – and good – the original Digimon movie is?

By admin Jun1,2024


I was definitely one of those kids that looked at Digimon and thought “that looks like a Pokemon ripoff” and just kind of ignored it. It’s not like I never saw any of the show, I did own a single VHS tape with a couple of episodes on it that I watched at least more than once, but there was definitely something missing for me. Cut to now, approaching my thirties, and my fellow-Pokemon-only partner and I thought to ourselves “shall we give Digimon a go?” Why we had that thought, I couldn’t tell you, but it did feel like something that was missing in our lives and we wanted to fill that gap.


The series is, unsurprisingly, very much a kids show. All of the characters and Digimon’s designs are very sellable, dialogue is a bit hammy, the music is incredibly late ’90s, early 2000s in vibes, and things like stats and types show up clearly on the screen so kids could easily see what their favourite guys could do. But, we didn’t actually start with the series, because we figured that if we’re going to do this, we should do it right. Which in turn led us to the Digimon movie.

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No, don’t worry fervent Digimon fan, I’m not talking about the awful amalgamation of three different movies that barely makes any sense, I’m talking about the original one, Digimon Adventure. To the uninitiated, Digimon Adventure serves as a prologue to the main Digimon series, and released in cinemas the day before the TV show aired in Japan. It’s only a short little thing, about 20 minutes in length, and you know what? It’s kind of incredible – and also surprisingly scary.


Digimon Adventure was actually directed by one of the best anime film directors around, Mamoru Hosoda, serving as his directorial debut. You’ll probably be more familiar with Hosoda’s other, more personal works like Summer Wars, The Wolf Children, and more recently Belle. He’s an incredible director, and his style really shows even as early as Digimon Adventure. But man, he really managed to pack a whole lot of stress into one little short film.


As mentioned, Digimon Adventure is a prologue, following protagonist Taichi Yagami and his younger sister Hikari. One night, Hikari wakes up to find strange things happening on the family computer, when an egg appears out of it. The pair then look after the egg before it hatches into Koromon, a little pink creature that is basically just a talking head with big ears, who’s mostly just a bit silly. Things ramp up quickly when Koromon then Digivolves into Agumon, that classic orange dinosaur fella we all know and love. And he’s kind of terrifying?


In the series, much like his first form as Koromon, Agumon is just a bit goofy, though he can fight a bit better – and notably he’s around the same height as Taichi. Digimon Adventure, though, offers a different take on him, instead making him a six to eight foot tall, mindless, aggressive monster. He full on looks like a dinosaur, and seems nonplussed about destroying everything in his path, and when a giant bird Digimon, also scary in its demeanour attacks, it leads Agumon to once again Digivolve into Gremon, now a t-rex sized monster as fearsome as the classic dinosaur.


While all of this is going on, Maurice Ravel’s Bolero serves as a whimsical soundtrack that really highlights the surreality of it all. Bear in mind, Taichi and Hikari are something like six and four respectively, so they are absolutely not age appropriate for dealing with a kaiju-level threat here. It is truly a wild film from start to finish, and I’ve quickly become obsessed with it. I haven’t really been able to stop thinking about it since I watched it.


Digmon the series is truly just a silly little thing that starts off with a monster-of-the-week format, but Adventure truly leans into the monster part of the titular series’ portmanteau. They’re presented as destructive and violent, even if at the end of the day Greymon is still the kids’ friend, and actually asks the viewer to think about the ramifications of such an event taking place. It feels wildly ahead of its time, and more like the kind of film you’d get in a post Pokemon fever world rather than around when it was strongest.


It’s also gorgeous, with so much energy packed into two tiny little tykes that really convinces you they’re actually children with not much control over their fine motor movements. They’re just instantly charming in a way I think few animated works are able to capture when it comes to kids, and I think it really adds to how much stress I felt over them having to deal with giant, digital monsters.


I do know that Digimon fans have long said the original films are good, but I thought in the same way that the Pokemon movies are good, in that they look quite nice, and are a fun way to spend an hour, not in the “hey why doesn’t this thing have an Oscar” kind of way. And I certainly didn’t know how outright dark it is either, but now that I do know, all I can do is say, even if you don’t like Digimon, you should really watch Digimon Adventure.

By admin

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