digimon adventure last evolution kizuna


for those who might not be aware, i’ve spent the last year or so “getting really into digimon.” this was supposed to be a really casual affair, but in a twist that shouldn’t be surprising, it’s ended up basically completely controlling my life. to put it bluntly, i’ve really fallen in love; and part of the reason i love digimon so much is this feeling of like, uncovering an entirely different experience of reality that’s so alien to my own life. i grew up a staunch pokemon supremacist, and like many other children in my same position, i more or less perceived digimon as a “fake and gay” version of pokemon and never thought much about it beyond that. i completely wrote it off based on that premise and i regret that, but because i remained completely blind to everything having to do with it for so long, learning about it has felt kind of like lifting up a rock and finding an entire ecosystem hiding underneath – it’s magic. i’m just enthralled with everything about it; i’m enthralled with observing the “fandom” and its history, which feels like a weird parallel universe version of the pokemon communities i always casually involved myself in as a kid, and i’m enthralled with slowly unraveling the massive backlog of stories and games and interviews and so on and so forth. it’s been kind of a weird watch order, but we finished the original run of the core adventure continuity (all of adventure and its two movies as well as 02 and its two movies) last winter-ish, so maybe its strange that it took us so long to get around to watching kizuna, the purported “finale” of that story (which was a lie, for the record; shoutout to toei for saying that and then like immediately being like, we’ve got another one!!!!!!!! and then promptly consigning the “other one” in question to dubious release date hell and refusing to release further information for like 3 years, Bold Move.) to be honest, the reason that it took so long is because I Thought It Was Going To Be Really Bad.
i’m gonna get on my soapbox for a minute and explain really quickly why i thought i was going to fucking hate this movie. here’s the first reason: I hate the epilogue of digimon adventure 02 more than almost anything. and i love 02! like, more than pretty much anything else in the entire franchise! it’s not even because they sent gabumon to the moon or made ken a detective, it’s just that it runs against my principles, as, like, a person, to immovably predefine the future lives of a cast of characters and therefore limit the extent to which the audience can imagine how they will grow and change. just a personal thing. it quashes your freedom to imagine where you’d like to see the story go next, which is something that is really important to me personally. and it sucks for me, on that front, that toei has taken that particular aspect of the series and used it to set a precedent for future works. soooooo much recent digimon content has been all about postmortem continuations of the adventure continuity, and it suuuuucks, because i hated when they did it the first time!!! so every time i have to watch something that does that same thing, i’m just like..ughhh!! stop trying to tell me what happened to my beloved cast of characters!!!!!! I DONT WANT TO KNOW!!!!!!!!!!!!! LET ME LIVE MY TRUTH! i guess that’s my fanfictioners soul. the other reason is a little more straightforward: kizuna is the second major attempt to continue the adventure continuity, following tri circa 2015-2018, which you never hear the end of people hating. i’ve watched a little bit of tri and to be honest just from first impressions i get it. there is something deeply sinister about it. i’ll almost certainly come back here and talk about tri in more detail when i actually sit down and finish it, but that’s another post for another time. for now all you need to know is, kizuna is following up tri, and i am not enthused about what i’ve seen from tri, and most people who are more experienced about these things feel the same way. the feelings i had about the concept of kizuna as a continuation of a story that was for all intents and purposes already finished when i’m averse that kind of thing on principle and as a work that was an immediate followup to the entry in the digimon franchise that i have heard the most impassioned hatred for (hatred that i can almost immediately understand just from the first movie alone) were……………bad. i was like, man, this is gonna suck. i was basically just in it to laugh at whatever was going on in the forefront and then point at daisuke when he was on screen for 5 minutes like soyjak shocked pointing meme transparent reaction image twitter. (BECAUSE I LOVE DAISUKE!!!!!!)
but, as you may have already surmised from my tone, i was surprised to find that, uhhhhghhh, um, it was good?

there’s really not much i can say about kizuna that people who have way more experience with this franchise haven’t already. it does a really stellar job introducing believable new conflicts to a set of characters whose linear arcs were concluded, like, 25 years ago. it takes the tried and true golden digimentals ‘guest character’ approach to retread some old thematic ground for the franchise in a way that is fresh, concise, and impassioned. if you’ve ever heard me talk about what it is that i like so much about 02 as opposed to other seasons of digimon, i think the word i tend to use the most is ‘purposeful.’ kizuna is the same way: it has something to say, and it pursues that thesis statement with singleminded dedication for its entire runtime, without even once getting distracted or bogged down with the weight of its own characters and world. it’s so purposeful that it’s almost bursting out of its own seams. with a mere 90 minute runtime, pretty much every single shot has no choice but to be trimmed down to only its most essential elements. the result is a sense that this is the tightest and most trim version of this movie that could have ever existed, which is always a good feeling to impart on someone. menoa is fantastic as a character. she has great presence, she teaches everyone a valuable lesson, and her arc wraps succinctly and beautifully. there’s a lot of fanservice, but it’s utilized in a way that doesn’t feel self aggrandizing and actually works towards the central thesis of the film. fuckin, the 02 kids are there and its awesome. they literally are only in the movie to commit misdemeanors and be beeeeeest friends. it’s awesome.
and that’s mostly all the stuff that anyone you’d ask about it would say. it’s well done. it’s just kind of objectively a good movie; probably the most objectively good digimon movie since our war game way back in 1999. (THAT I’VE SEEN!!! please note i haven’t watched the frontier + savers films yet. or all of tri!) the real shocker is that kizuna is just like, good. divorced from its context, even, it’s just pretty good. within its context, its a beautiful ode to (and potential end for) a series that means a lot to a lot of people. it does great things for the characters and the world and it makes you cry and it;s good. it loves its source material, and it tries and mostly succeeds at being a loving sendoff for it. but that’s such a generic thing to say. everyone’s saying that! so i’ll talk a little bit more about my own feelings beyond that.

so here’s a kind of non sequitur: i love stories that actively hate their audiences. one of my favorite games ever is moon rpg, which is a game that wraps by basically being like, what the fuck are you doing playing video games right now dude, go outside? i love that kind of stuff, it’s hilarious to me. it’s an offshoot of my complete addiction to praising stories for “knowing what they want to say and saying it.” what could possibly show more dedicated to “knowing what you want to say and saying it” than just being like, fuck you in specific for playing my video game, you should feel bad. it’s disregarding and actively shitting on your audience in the pursuit of saying your thing, i love that. this is related to what i was talking about, i promise, here’s the segway: even though kizuna feels at times like an unrepentant jerkoff loveletter to itself, there are other times watching it where i felt it sliding into the category of just like, hating the shit out of its audience, and that was fascinating. i didn’t state the “thesis statement” i got out of it before because i find it so incredibly self evident, but here it is for people who haven’t watched it: kizuna basically only cares at all about saying that getting caught up on nostalgia and a desire to return to your past will find you getting ‘stuck’ and sabotaging your future. which is an excellent thing for a movie marketed at the fanbase of a 25 year old children’s cartoon to be saying; just like how 02 is a show that’s almost singlemindedly directed at the real world “dark spore children” who might be watching, kizuna is directing all of its energy towards throwing bricks at people in their own real world “neverlands.” and it’s fucking beating everyone over the head with it pretty much nonstop. and you know what i’m obsessed with it. from the constant callbacks, to the reappropriation of the butterfly imagery, to the crystallized train trolley car, to just fucking killing gabumon and agumon at the end…sometimes kizuna is so dedicated to getting this through its audience’s thick skulls that it’s just outright mean about it, and that rules. kizuna is digimon’s very own “hey! stop playing that game and go to bed!” moment, and i love it for that. that might be my very favorite thing about it.
my other favorite thing about it is that it’s just digimon adventure 02 again. please tell me i wasn’t the only person that noticed it was just digimon adventure 02 again? dude, i love digimon adventure 02! you made it again? fuuuck, thank you! i mean, like, look back at the thesis statement i provided in the previous paragraph. is that not also like, precisely the same thesis statement of MOST of 02? specifically its final arc? is menoa not basically just yukio oikawa but not a child-abductor? (okay, so she did try to abduct some children, and like, age regress, the characters who weren’t children so they would be children, but that’s besides the point,)
and yknow, it feels like the people writing it really knew this too. i have to wonder what that board room conversation looked like. like, awww, fuck, we did it again! just kidding i know it was on purpose – it’s baked into the structure of the movie that it’s on purpose. hiromi seki is constantly talking about that same damn story about the 9 year old college student that inspired 02, and she brought it up in reference to kizuna too – and menoa’s college is like, a direct visual reference to columbia university, the real-world school that that real-world kid attended. literally every character in the continuity that would have been present for the ending of 02 and therefore would have been able to see that menoa’s ideals were demonstrably wrong is just quietly shelved one way or another so the story can play out. if they didn’t know it was on purpose, they would NOT have shipped kenchan away on a magical ramen vacation. but they did. they KNEW they were doing 02 two: We Never Learn. and fuck man, i could never complain. it was an important lesson for kids in the year 2000, and it’s probably a MORE important lesson for those same kids, now grown up, to hear in the year 2020. but i wonder how commonly acknowledged those thematic similarities are amongst broader digimon fans. i have the fortunate advantage in terms of looking at the merit of all this stuff provided by watching all of these things in quick succession, without long breaks between entries and without my vision being clouded by nostalgia. long-time digimon fans don’t have that luxury, and these shows are time sinks, and a lot of people seem to have really disliked 02 on their first pass, especially in the english-speaking fanbase…it’s just funny to think about, and i think i’m actually really grateful to kizuna for regurgitating that premise to greater acclaim, when a lot of people probably haven’t heard it yet, even though they may have watched the first time digimon talked about it all that time ago.

here’s my final digression. i’ve been keeping a mental tally of every time a scene in digimon rewires my brain a little bit. it happens more often than you’d think. adventure episode 21, the final scene in our war game, iori riding in submarimon in 02 episode 16, ken’s conversation with noriko in 02 episode 47, the ending of diaboromon strikes back with daisuke and ken smiling into the breeze on rainbow bridge, hirokazu’s blue card in digimon tamers, the train scene with juri and takato in tamers, the flamon episode of frontier…all of these little things are like tiny little treasures i’ve been piling up, little sparkles of magic i’ve found in an unlikely place, that have really, really informed how beautiful i think a franchise like this is capable of being when the people making it really, really care. kizuna added one: eosmon’s tiny smile, her single small expression of agency, saying “even if you think the child inside of you is gone and you can never get it back, it’s been with you the whole time.” how beautiful is that! i was really not expecting any of the “post golden-age of digimon” content like tri or kizuna to have even one of these. but, that’s fitting, isn’t it? because i wasn’t expecting any of digimon at /all/ to be magical like that. you find the things that are important to you and change you a little in really weird places sometimes. i’m grateful to live in a world where kids get to grow up with that kind of magical, formative story. and i’m glad to be a deadbeat superlost college student like taichi and yamato now, learning those magical formative lessons like i’m a child again. ^_^

i’ve been kind of abandoning the format i wanted to stick to recently, which is a shame!! maybe i’ll pick it back up, but i’m kind of just doing what feels nice. thanks for reading. here’s a couple of things i made about kizuna. i hope you enjoyed reading about my feelings and that you’ll enjoy the fanworks i made too. peace :3

this is a drawing of morphomon and wormmon together, since ken and menoa share such similar character arcs. i love morphomon a lot, she was so fun to draw!

this is a piece of menoa and eosmon ultimate. i love to draw characters standing demurely in front of huge, threatening monsters.

here is an amv i threw together about menoa and eosmon, set to yaeji’s “passed me by.” i’ve been having fun video editing lately.

that’s all. see you after i watch my next thing!! :3