“Birdramon Soars”, “The Holy Digimon”, and “The Targeted Kingdom”
Taichi is sucked into the heart of the Digital World, where he meets his old friend Sora and a new girl, Mimi. Meanwhile, Koushiro is stuck in the network and has to make his way to Taichi manually.
These three episodes packed together give a fairly decent look at the sort of show the new Digimon Adventure looks to be going forward, and there’s a fair amount of both the rough and the smooth mixed in here. Right up front though I will say that I’m glad the series appears to be determined to forge it’s own path rather than merely be content to ape it’s parent show. Much as I love the original Digimon Adventure, a warmed over rehash isn’t really going to appease anyone, and a fresh take on these characters is infinitely more appealing.
To that end, the biggest difference here continues to be the show’s decision to introduce its large ensemble only slowly, and to split up their introductions into an episode by episode basis. In theory this should allow for more nuanced character development and a chance to get to know the kids a little better as individuals before launching into the ensemble stuff. In practice…ehhh. We get two introduction episodes here, for Sora and Mimi, and I’m sorry to say it’s definitely Sora who gets the short end of the stick.
This isn’t exactly unprecedented – even back in the original Sora was probably the least developed member of the cast, generically plucky and nice without many distinguishing characteristics beyond that (aside from being one point of one of the most misguided shipping triangles of all time). I was hoping that we might get a better insight into her this time, but there’s alarmingly little setup by any standards. Sora is catapulted in another dimension, meets a clingy bird and finds out she’s a destined hero with barely any sort of reaction whatsoever. I guess the idea is to show that she’s calm and capable of taking things in stride, but honestly it comes off as her sort of being entirely checked out of everything that’s happening. There’s not really any attempt to establish the bond between her and Piyomon, they just sort of click instantly, and overall the entire thing feels remarkably shallow and unearned. A pretty huge missed opportunity.
In contrast, I’m much more amenable to Mimi’s debut episode, even though it suffers a few of the same issues. Of course, it helps greatly that we’re thrown into the story with Mimi already firmly established in the Digital World, neatly sidestepping anything to do with her initial reactions. The plot is a cute nod to one of Mimi’s focus episodes in the 1999 show too, which doesn’t do any harm in endearing it to me. It’s simple but it does a good job of establishing the core tenets of the Mimi character – she’s brash, bossy and a little spoiled, but she’s essentially good under all that and always willing to go the extra mile.
That leaves the middle episode of the three, which is likely to be the most important in the long term, working as it does to establish a new mythology for the series. Again, I’m glad that the show isn’t afraid to strike out in it’s own direction, especially since the overarching mythology of the original was definitely flimsy, to put it kindly. With that said, it’s hard not to be at least a little sceptical, since Digimon in general doesn’t have a great track record with powerful, god-like foes. Tri especially was an utter disaster of a story so it’ll be interesting to see if Toei can pull their writing staff together to make this one way less sloppy and obtuse.
Speaking of Toei, the studio definitely do return to type in one depressing way – after the initial run of surprisingly lovely episodes, these three take a serious knock in terms of visual quality. Episode 4 is especially bad, though given the troubled circumstances of its production it’s tough to hold that against it, or indeed against any of these three. But the lush movement and ample frames of the debut are a distant memory now as we revert to much more limited, stilted animation typical of the genre. That’s not to say there aren’t still eye-catching moments – the background art in particular remains on point – but the show is no longer a visual feast, and the poorer for it.
Critiquing ongoing shows at the moment is hard because it’s impossible to tell how much has been affected by the pandemic and how much is still going by the original plan. With that said, I remain intrigued by this new Digimon Adventure, but I feel there’s plenty of stuff they could do to tighten up the show and make it much better. Hopefully we’ll see some improvement as the show continues to bed in and introduce more cast members.
- So far it seems only Agumon gets the full fat, CGI assisted evolution sequence. I do hope we eventually get it for the others too, since it’s a pretty neat take.
- I’m not a huge fan of Sora’s redesign, which mostly seems to daub her entirely in pink to remind us she’s a girl. Mimi’s is much smarter, and a decent tweaking of her original design to slightly more modern aesthetics.
- Crunchyroll’s subs choose to describe Taichi and his crew as the ‘Chosen Ones’, which is a little odd since ‘Chosen Children’ is the widely accepted term (and also the most literal translation) and dubs and fansubs have used ‘Digidestined’ forever.