In this episode, Mimi is stunned to learn that acting impulsively to satisfy her own needs may sometimes backfire. Joe wishes he could try it some time.
While the pattern of development-action-character-action continues to hold, the first round of “action” doesn't quite get the job done. We see a fairly short fight with only one evolution and an abrupt, anti-climactic ending. It doesn't hit the intensity level it needs to, which makes the subsequent scenes of kids (and Digimon) talking a bit of a chore. But while we have to dock points for its inability to sustain the action-adventure element, as a character drama it's hard to be more engaging than this.
Mimi was so magnificent in Reunion that it's easy to forget that her outgoing attitude wasn't what made her such a strong character in Adventure. The combination of her exuberant innocence with a world that conspired to drain every ounce of cheer from her made Mimi Tachikawa amazing. There aren't waves of Digimon dying around her, but when you overcome that sort of thing in your childhood you're not going to care about holding your tongue at a committee meeting. The classroom cafe concept is tired and boring, and she has new, bold ideas culled from her time in America. She's going to share them, no matter how much it stands out against a group of kids hard-wired to stay in their lanes. Not only does nobody else contribute any ideas, they're even afraid to speak out against her Daters concept no matter how much they hate it.
With the government agency conspiracy talk and emphasis on real world-Digital World relations, tri. brings out obvious comparisons to, what else, Frontier. The season gets criticism for failing to craft a full roster of interesting characters with interesting stories. It's not unfair, but besides the twins, the characters' problems were less about dead parents and more subtle issues like what Mimi's facing here. Frontier even had a character with the underlying problem of returning to Japan and the ensuing culture shock and prejudice. Where Frontier failed and where tri. succeeds is in how these issues carry over into the action. Just as Mimi doesn't read the room before suggesting Daters, she doesn't consider the potential consequences of her approach to the Ogremon fight.
As a result, what should be a manageable fight against a single infected Digimon becomes a PR disaster. Koushiro, who has quietly taken over as team leader, airs his frustration in a scathing rebuke that is entirely justified while being incredibly detrimental to team spirit. It's another piece of friction to add to the Taichi-Yamato rift and Joe's absence. For Mimi to get such a nasty response even from her closest friends wrecks her, compounded when resistance to her festival plans begins to grow.
For someone with co-star billing in the movie, it's harder to get into Joe's head, which is as intriguing as it is irritating. It's easy to tear your hair out at his refusal to fight and unwillingness to pull away from his studies. His failure to prioritize saving the world or even take a damn break is obvious. Thing is, it seems to be obvious to him too. It's not like he enjoys burying his head and shirking his duties. He hates it, in fact. If there's any loathing towards his role as a digidestined, it's that this opportunity to escape his responsibility and impending adulthood is being dangled in front of his face. Deep down he wants it, but he also believes chasing it would come at the expense of his future.
He denies all of this in his emotionally crushing scene with Mimi, wondering why they still have to fight all these years later and if they'll ever be free of their childhood burden. But the emphasis is on the parallels between Mimi's boldness and Joe's cowardice. For that to work, he has to be afraid of speaking out against something. Like, say, the pressure to join the societal collective that Mimi freely challenges. For someone at such a pivotal moment in his life, Joe fears he's been given the worst possible thing at the worst possible time- a way out.
My Grade: A-
- I'm no expert on how culture festivals work, but rooms and activities seem to be organized by classes or clubs. It's sort of a raw deal that the ad hoc committee to organize the festival itself is also responsible for a room of their own.
- Meiko's struggles with Meicoomon continue when she's alarmed to see her in the clothing store, scolds her begging, and hesitates before taking her with into battle.
- Joe dismisses messages and calls from Hikari, Takeru and Koushiro, but he can't respond to a text from his girlfriend fast enough, no matter how fake his encouragement is.
- The infected Ogremon makes no effort to capture Meicoomon, despite many opportunities in the fight. The actual parties going after her in these movies are different from the actual infected Digimon.
- Koushiro emphasizes the security of his server in preventing the Digimon inside from getting infected, at the same time we get a shot of Huckmon outside. So there will definitely be a security breach later.
- Sora helping Meiko sew illustrates exactly how tri. should reinforce and foreshadow the epilogue. It's not intrusive or distracting, nor does it overtly wink at us about what it's trying to do.
- I'm really torn on Hikari's role in helping Joe. It's random chance that she overhears his conversation with Mimi and her motivation speech at the end doesn't have a ton of substance (at that point, it's impossible to see Joe turning his back with Gomamon against the wall that drastically). At the same time, Hikari hasn't done anything in these movies yet and this at least counts for something.