20 years ago today, Digimon: The Movie was released in theatres. I saw it for the first time a month later when I shamelessly tagged along and joined my younger brother and his friends at his 7th birthday party. Today is also two years to the day since I arrived in Tokyo for the first time. Gotta love that kind of delightful symmetry.
A couple weeks ago I began the endeavour of rewatching the entirety of the Adventure-verse, starting with the original 1999 dub, continuing with the first half of 02, watching my old VHS of Digimon: The Movie (which I acquired from Value Village while I was in high school), finishing 02, moving onto Revenge of Diaboromon, and now I’m working my way through the dubbed Tri movies (was pacing myself until I accidentally watched Confession, Loss, and Coexistence in one go but now I’ve been putting off Future because I don’t want it to end but this is also why I never watched it when it came out) while I wait for my copy of Kizuna to come in the mail. Do I then plan to start all over again but with the subtitled versions? Probably. I am what I am.
I had planned to write a blog post akin to the one I recently wrote about my Lost rewatch (which you can check out HERE, if you wish) that I did over quarantine, but this morning when I saw that my Twitter feed was peppered with 20th anniversary posts for the delightful mess than is Digimon: The Movie… I knew I had to write some kind of post to commemorate the occasion.
The movie itself is a perfect time capsule of the weirdness that was the year 2000. In actuality, the movie was Fox’s conglomerate attempt to make a feature film, most likely to compete with the success of Pokémon: The First Movie, released the year prior. At some point in high school or shortly thereafter, I actually discovered that the film was actually a mashup of three separate movies.
The first part features the first Digimon sighting (which is discussed in episode 45 of season 1) and is simply called Digimon Adventure, and is more or less the same as how it was portrayed in DtM (my new acronym because typing out Digimon: The Movie is very tedious haha). Two years ago tomorrow I was actually in Hikarigaoka (the dub anglicized it to “Highton View Terrace”) where I hunted down *The Sign* with the zeal and determination of a professional bounty hunter. Or at least of Yolei in episode 19 of season 2.
After tracking it down, I immediately changed my phone homescreen to be a picture of the sign (not this picture… just of it and not me haha), and only JUST changed it when the iOS 14 update came out so I could experiment with widgets and whatnot. Anyway. Coolest monument I’ve ever seen, bar none.
Anyway, this part of the movie functions as a prequel to the original series. The best part is obviously when baby Tai takes baby Kari’s whistle and wakes Greymon up. That’s just how it is. When I first saw the flashback to that part in Revenge of Diaboromon where it transitioned into little Matt playing the harmonica, you can bet your bottom dollar that I cried like a little tiny baby.
The second part of DtM, originally called Our War Game, is probably the most iconic. This takes place after season one and is where Tai and Izzy (with Matt and TK later helping) fight Diaboromon over the internet. Best part is when Tai and Matt get sucked into the computer and are drifting down to WarGreymon and MetalGarurumon respectively and the subsequent reveal of Omnimon. Sorry if that’s a spoiler but… it’s literally been twenty years, man.
I’m a sucker for so many little things in this movie, from the whole Tai x Sora hairclip thing to the dynamic of Tai and Izzy. The part when the computer disconnects because Tai hit it is like this great allusion to all the times he teased Izzy about whacking the laptop to make it work during Adventure (or I’m overanalyzing it which is definitely possible but… let me live!). The Tri dub even has this reference to how Matt and TK’s grandma lives in the mountains where there are no computers which warmed my heart immensely. The whole concept of kids saving the world (obviously one of my favourite tropes) from nuclear war on their dad’s clunky 90’s computer is just the best. Pokémon could never.
The third part of the movie is where things get funky. To tie the three separate movies together they use Willis, who is introduced in this part of the movie despite being mentioned throughout. I’ve never been a huge fan of this part… mostly because Kokomon (Wendigomon) scared the bejeezus out of me as a kid. After I watched the original movie (Hurricane Touchdown/ The Golden Digimentals), I have a new appreciation for the kind of Frankenstein monster that is DtM, with this part taking the majority of the slice-and-dicing. Watching the original movie is way better, as there’s a huge aspect of the plot that just got completely axed. Just as the previous two movies focus heavily on Tai, this saga is very Davis centric and… he’s not as interesting as a character to begin with and they remove a significant portion of the cHarAcTeR dEvElOpMeNt scenes so… meh. Wendigomon dancing to “All Star” is truly… something. Chronologically, this happens kind of at the same time as “Genesis of Evil” (episode 23 of season 2) which is like… one of my favourite episodes and probably the one I know the best because I’ve dissected it many times for AMVs (like THIS one) haha. Also… there is so much hitchhiking censorship (a very prevalent feature of the Digimon dub), but it’s kind of hilarious.
Arguably the best part about DtM is the soundtrack. I actually asked for it for Christmas when I was in grade eight or nine and it is truly a work of art. It’s kind of an unpopular opinion but I enjoy the dub soundtrack in the actual episodes, and while I love “Butter-fly” and “Brave Heart”, the nostalgia factor behind “Kick It Up” and “Hey Digimon” is just…. top notch. Hearing the full versions of these songs was also somewhat of a spiritual experience. It’s such a shame that the majority of the soundtrack isn’t available on Spotify so you can bet I’m presently playing the CD on my stereo that is probably about as old as DtM. To this day, “One Week” by Barenaked Ladies is one of my go-to songs.
There was a cover of “Kids in America” done specifically for the movie and it was consistently one of my top 25 songs on my iPod during high school. To this day, listening to it triggers something in me. I was OBSESSED. Anyway, here’s the music video… it’s truly a ride.
You may have noticed I did not mention the dreaded Angela Anaconda short. That’s because it’s best for all involved if we all collectively agree to pretend it doesn’t exist. You’re welcome.
Anyway, this has been my very random and probably nonsensical reflection upon Digimon: The Movie upon its 20th birthday. If you don’t happen to have the VHS (or the illusive DVD copy) you can actually watch it on YouTube HERE. Thanks so much for checking out this post!