In this movie, a cute little desktop buddy turns out to be a malicious computer virus. Shocking, I know.
Seriously... this is when this movie premiered in Japan. Yes, Rapidmon and Taomon show up here. No, they haven't appeared in the series yet. I'm as confused as you.
Considering this movie is more commonly referred to as “not the one where Rika sings,” it has a lot going against it. It pushes a lot of buttons. The online V-Pet concept suggests a predecessor to Digimon... it isn't. The appearance of Omnimon (and Apocalymon name drop) invites speculation about a connection to the Adventure world... there's no evidence. Omnimon's primary role is to grab Henry and Rika from wherever they're at and drop them into the plot, which is just the laziest piece of writing imaginable. It's a terribly flawed movie, but at the same time quietly charming and an enjoyable way to kill forty minutes.
It helps that Okinawa is just plain gorgeous. The shots of the water and the islands create a wonderful setting and plenty of local flavor is integrated into the story. Kai's grandfather plays the sanshin, Takato is forced to sample regional cuisine and Seasarmon is influenced by the local shiisaa guardians. Just having a setting in the boonies, far away from the streets and towers of Shinjuku, is a nice change of pace. Not that Takato's in love with it, as the endless trip to his cousin's house wears him out to the point where Guilmon has to take him the rest of the way. Kai gets used to Guilmon quickly and gramps insists that he's just a dog.
Still, it's a strange setting when the story revolves around a line of infected V-Pets that take over the world- first figuratively, then literally. The interaction between the cyberspace elements and the peaceful Okinawan seaside is awkward, made worse when it takes an enormous plot device like Omnimon to move all the pawns into the right positions. Even the very notion of corrupted V-Pets taking down the internet is silly. Little is done to establish what the cute digital dogs do, so why are these things on essential equipment like diagnostic devices for airplanes and hospitals? You'd think there'd be a policy against installing BonziBuddy on an EKG machine. At least Summer Wars establishes how infrastructure relies on Oz before Love Machine takes it down.
It's a shame the movie goes to the “save the internet” well again, as the revelation of what Seasarmon and Tamashiro represent are appropriate twists that add a nice dramatic punch. Not surprising twists, mind you, but turns in the story that contribute in a positive way. At its base, it all works well: a little girl loses her puppy, her daddy creates a virtual pet prototype in the puppy's image, bad guy sends V-Pet viral (with encoded trojan to make that literal), daddy embeds vaccine in prototype, little girl releases vaccine by calling prototype by puppy's name. It connects to the spirit of companionship, the notion of animals as guardians, and the blurry distinction between living animal and Digimon.
In a way, the movie's stumbling blocks stem from the fact that it had to incorporate many of the attributes associated with Digimon. The action itself is done quite well, with several good sequences, but the framing tools needed to make it feel like a Digimon movie hold it back. Omnimon should have been left out entirely, made necessary only by the need to plop Rika into the battle. Making Tamashiro's threat both digital and worldwide via V-Pets was a sad effort to mimic Diaboromon. And the entire final sequence where the three Ultimates fight Mephistomon was an unnecessary climax. Everything could have been resolved elegantly with Seasarmon dying in Minami's arms.
But then I suppose we would have missed that badass triple tech attack from WarGrowlmon, Rapidmon and Taomon, huh?
My Grade: B-
- Not only was the Omnimon/Mephistomon opener unnecessary filler in the story, the acting was atrocious. Like, overwrought season one Devimon-era style atrocious.
- The idea of Guilmon traveling in a giant suitcase was fun enough, but the gags they stack on top of it make it constantly worthwhile. Best one was the suitcase magically righting itself after the collision with Kai and nobody noticing.
- It's funny how the entire premise to Guilmon walking around in Tokyo is that people automatically assume there's a logical explanation for him without questioning it. Kai fully acknowledges that Guilmon's a Digimon, but has no trouble accepting his existence.
- There probably should be a little more attention to the fact that Renamon's first battle sent a giant oil refinery up in flames.
- Once again, we have a character riding around the water while slinging a laptop. Minami's related to Derek from Australia, isn't she?
- With a cute girl like Minami in the picture, they couldn't resist getting one moment intimating that she and Takato might like each other, couldn't they?
- If Omnimon's presence isn't bad enough, there's a point where it looks like Calumon's with both Rika and Henry at the same time.
- This is the only time the tamers are referred to as digidestined. I'm not sure whether that's intentional (falsely suggesting a connection between Omnimon and the Adventure world) or due to the Frontier influence.