In this episode, a trip to a hot springs theme park brings mischief and cute character antics from beloved childhood favorites like Meiko, Daigo and Maki!
It doesn't take very long for the second tri. movie to solidify exactly what this series is going to be. As so much of the first movie was devoted to setting the scene and establishing where everybody is in their lives, it takes the second to clarify the three objectives in tri.'s mission statement. One is to show the characters bridging the gap between the children we saw and the adults we... also saw. Two is to provide an engaging story that pushes the kids to their emotional limits and possibly beyond. Three is... c'mon, the Adventure kids in high school with their Digimon running around? Let's have some fun with this!
While we all gush over the children in Adventure, the Digimon themselves raise the standard of their silly high school hijinks. The movie covers two common anime tropes- the culture festival and the onsen episode. When a group of high school boys and girls visit a bath, it's a reliable truth that someone's ending up on the wrong side of the wall. Now, nobody in the cast is inclined to pop across to sneak a peak (well, maybe Takeru). The only ecchi activity was Meiko with Taichi and Mimi getting frisky with Hikari and Sora. Instead, Digimon have to force the fun- in this case a naturally curious kitty with a penchant for wandering off. Meicoomon and Piyomon provide the incident that leads to the girls barging into the guys' side and causing all that hilarious hell to break loose.
The antics prevent too much development among the original eight, although some of the issues from the first movie are reinforced- Taichi's hesitance, Yamato's problem with Taichi's hesitance, Joe's refusal to leave his desk and Takeru's terrible taste in hats. Instead, we get loads of new and important information about Meiko, Maki and Daigo. For starters- the three have connections to each other. Meiko's ties to Maki are sure to be vital, while Maki and Daigo's past creates unique opportunities for parallels to the main characters and links to the central theme of growing up.
For all the skepticism about throwing a new girl into the cast, Meiko's integration is pretty seamless thanks to Mimi and Takeru. While a few (Taichi, most notably) don't seem to care much, the outgoing Mimi is happy to welcome in a fellow transfer, while Meiko syncs with Takeru's interest both in all of the non-OG digidestined and cute girls in general. Meiko tries not to stick out too much, but she's betrayed by her excitement in the sights and smells of the onsen... including Taichi in a towel. She knows she's the new girl and is a little shy, but her excitable personality betrays her in a natural, endearing way.
Observing Meiko's partner may be even more crucial. Just because we know who Meicoomon belongs to doesn't change all those random sightings in the first movie. This is a Digimon that can't help but wander off on her own, doing so twice in the onsen. She's also attune to something, fearing it even as it draws her to the most sensitive places. Meiko seems well aware of the problem, but struggles to control it. After all, she is very new at this, and may not be confident enough to ask the other digidestined for help.
Despite being linked by a common objective and a dating history, Maki and Daigo are opposites. While he either doesn't give away key agency information or sincerely doesn't know it, he engages with the digidestined, trying to answer their questions and showing concern for their well well being. Maki, while close to Meiko and Meicoomon, is more distant, seeing the kids only as knights to fight the “electronic disasters” that emerge. While Daigo's fully involved in the bath scenes, Maki is nowhere in sight.
At the same time, it's clear that the two characters influence each other's decisions significantly: Daigo prioritizes the mission and Maki is fully aware that she's working with moody teenagers. It's a bit of a tussle between the two, and may be one of the primary conflicts to keep an eye on once something actually happens.
My Grade: A-
- It's very ambiguous when all of this is happening, both in relation to Reunion and subsequent episodes. A lazy text narration cut from the international release says “some time has passed,” but it's hard to say how much as everybody's still in pretty much the same place and the attacks are still on Taichi's mind in his opening scene. To be fair, the only date we get in Reunion is from Taichi's email to Sora placing it in June.
- Emphasizing Mimi's status as a returnee is very important as it gives context to her later disagreements with her classmates and her bond with fellow transfer Meiko.
- Obi twirling is a super-old trope dating back to theater scenes of super-aggressive men stripping kimonos off women. Implications are exactly what you think. This is another place where it's nice to have the Digimon around to make a game of it.
- While on the subject of inter-gender mingling at the bath, nobody seems bat an eye on Gomamon being on the girls' side this time. That's likely out of sympathy.
- Tailmon's status as an Adult is emphasized both by her table manners (in contrast to Agumon) and refusal to get in on some of the antics. This makes it all the more adorable when Meicoomon is confirmed as an Adult and insists on calling all of the other Digimon “senpai.” Even Patamon! Also- brief but worthy character note for Piyomon playing mother when she and Meicoomon get lost.
- As the new kid, Meiko's in prime position to be an audience surrogate and ask questions to help fill in some blanks on what went on in recent years (particularly concerning the 02 kids). She does a poor job of this, but a demonstration of how this would work is Takeru explaining his relationship with Yamato. Incidentally, Meiko's interest in this is probably important.
- Nice reference to Our War Game where Taichi refers to Shimane as the place without any computers.
- Koushiro is doing a nice job probing Daigo for information. He's not getting a lot, but his growing distrust in the agency is evident and likely to be a key part of future movies.