Digimon has matured along with its viewers, and after more than two decades, the franchise has tackled its most adult subjects yet.
When Digimon originally aired in 1999, it enthralled children with a digital world that followed young and unprepared protagonists. The series grounded itself with themes that discussed teamwork, partnership, and inner strength through a world where creatures and children became companions to fight for the greater good.
Next came Digimon Tri, a sequel series that proceeded to leap forward and showcase an aged group of the DigiDestined we love. In general, the idea was a risk that really paid off and proved that we don't need to be stuck in a moment in time like Pokémon. With time came maturity for the DigiDestined, and now has to lead to Digimon Adventure: Last Evolution Kizuna — a pivotal (and possible final) chapter for the captivating franchise.
Our favorite group of DigiDestined has become adults
The decision to age the DigiDestined was one of the best concepts of the franchise, showing us the trials and tribulations that come from being a child savior to some capacity. By the standards of the franchise, they've basically peaked and several other young DigiDestined on the rise — but the first two generations are now going through more attainable struggles.
Many of the DigiDestined have grown apart in pursuit of careers, happiness, and life in general, something that comes naturally as we're forced to shift priorities to sustain life. With that includes the occasional rut, with Matt and Tai both feeling almost disconnected from their passions and unknown life path.
Some of them have entirely strayed from their youth, as Sora has retired as a DigiDestined and is truthful more scorned than we've seen her at any point in life. Growing up seems to be the feared villain of the film with repercussions that feel extremely relatable, and of course, there's the added pressure of a fading bond with Digimon partners.
A bond that refuses to fail
The relationship between Digimon and DigiDestined has always been the primary driving force for the franchise, capitalizing on the unique connections time and time again. The most emotionally taxing piece of the film comes from the idea that this bond is now in borrowed time and will soon become severed.
In particular, this is mostly focused on Tai and Matt as well as Agumon and Gabumon, which is the biggest tear-jerker the franchise has seen since the death of Wizardmon. A big portion of the film is maturing as discussed earlier, but something that becomes clearer with this film is that the Digimon have watched them go from children to adults. There's a specific scene where Agumon stares at Tai as he stands tall and comments on how much he's watched Tai grow in every sense of the word. The notion is a true punch to the gut as the film creates a countdown to the unknown and in a single scene, you can feel how much the franchise has evolved between 1999 and 2020.
These relationships are the most integral part of Digimon, and the film introduces something that threatens it entirely — showing us that this title last evolution wasn't selected by accident.
A glimmer of hope
Despite the fact that the film is an emotional roller coaster with several highs and lows, there is a sliver of hope for die-hard fans. Without going too in-depth and revealing spoilers, there's a heavy moment towards the film's conclusion that will undoubtedly become a highly discussed topic.
The moment is one of the franchise's most unexpected and hard-hitting, with ramifications that aren't able to be (fully) explored — but it does follow up with something that leaves the door open for more Digimon. Of course, there isn't necessarily any other Digimon follow up project in the works and many expected this to be the end, the final moments are a reminder that with Digimon, anything remains possible to some extent.
The magic of Digimon
Over the course of its two-decade existence, Digimon is something that many millennials have grown up with — so seeing it start with a youthful narrative that evolved into a much more mature tale was a rare achievement.
Individually, each character, each thematic attribute and every contribution to the film are poignant on their own, but as a whole, it creates a film that strongly represents the power of anime. Soon enough, Digimon will be rebooted by Toei with the original DigiDestined, but living through this particular moment of time where Digimon has come full-circle has been a one of a kind experience.
Digimon is in theaters March 25 so check it out for yourself and prepare for an action-packed and heartfelt love letter to the Digimon franchise.