I do not claim to be an anime aficionado, but it’s hard to deny that these shows have been a part of my life since I was little. I grew up with Speed Racer, Dragon Ball Z, and Pokemon, completely unaware that they had their roots in Japan. My favorite, however, had been Digimon.
I watched the series for two-and-a-half seasons. Each year, the story would be different, as would the cast of characters. Many of them took place primarily in an alternate reality called the Digital World, whose relationship to our world was always vague and undefined. The human characters shared a deep bond of friendship with the “digimon,” or digital monsters. They were partners and companions more than anything else.
Every handful of years, I revisit the first season and relive its simple story. Though originally part of my childhood, I view it with a different perspective each time. Side characters and the relationships between characters become more important to me. That said, this is still a children’s series. The good guys were good and the bad guys were bad. Good triumphs over evil.
Last spring, I was searching Youtube for the series’ theme music, still as catchy as it had been fifteen years before. It was supposed to be something to keep on in the background while I did a little work, but something caught my eye. The search feed suggested I looked for something called Digimon Adventure Tri.
I found that the original series would be continued over a series of 6 films. The first of these, subtitled Reunion debuted in November and was available to the public in late December in Japanese with English subtitles. I couldn’t believe it. This was my Star Wars announcement.
Over Christmas break, I watched Reunion and found myself pleasantly surprised. It is not the anime I grew up with. The art style has changed dramatically. We return to the characters of the first season, originally in grade school, now in high school. And yet, they are the same people, their personalities remaining mostly intact.
The first installment primarily is aimed at people like me who grew up with the original series. And it, like its characters, has matured. Nothing is black and white nor is there a main antagonist. This series, set in Japan, showcases destruction of the city when rogue digimon attack, and the original protagonists fight back. Even the action has changed. One of the lead characters, known for being brash in the past, questions whether or not they are doing what is right. Are they causing more harm than good?
It’s encouraging to see that the series was re-envisioned with some deeper questions. In many ways, it is still the children’s series that I knew. When the next installment, subtitled Determination is available in April, I will gladly watch it, hoping that it answers both my questions and expectations.
Cover Image Agumon y sus digievoluciones by Flickr User Juampis State, via Flickr Creative Commons, available here.