The first half of the movie promises a lot. It takes time crafting some great scenes, impact moments and some intriguing conflicts to resolve later. When the second half arrives, it sees everything it has to do, feels overwhelmed, and runs away screaming. What it ends up putting out is still pretty good and the promises made do, for the most part, get resolved. But they don’t get enough time to do so, leaving us feeling like the movie was too short. It probably is, but adds scrutiny to how they spend the precious little time they have. While the padding in part four is obvious, even in part three there are moments that you feel could have been better used elsewhere.
Grouping the separated digidestined with Digimon that aren’t their partners was an exciting twist. It’s an interaction we don’t see often enough, and now puts the pressure of restoring the bonds of each partnership to one of the other kids. Mimi gushes about Koushiro to Tentomon, Koushiro shows pictures to Agumon and Gomamon, and... erm... that’s it, really. We get sidetracked with stuff like Takeru being wistful over the Village of Beginnings, long stares at an oncoming train, and Yamato offering a sincere opinion of Taichi, which doesn’t exactly sell Agumon on his partner’s greatness.
Nothing’s bad and some moments are even outstanding, like Hikari suggesting that it won’t get better until the digidestined accept reality and that Plotmon might even be better off forgetting the scars of her past. But the movie’s climax makes the emphasis on the Digimon crucial, and it’s sorely lacking. Despite getting an Ultimate evolution later, Patamon’s team doesn’t get a single line of dialogue. Appreciated as these side moments are, many other priorities get skipped.
The most effective reconciliation actually comes from Meiko and Meicoomon finally hashing it out after several years of tension. Meicoomon’s upset Meiko didn’t go to the Digital World after her. Meiko’s angry at having to put up with basically everything her partner has done, crying out amid Meicoomon’s dangerous temper tantrum. Meiko, despite admitting some relief that the madness might be over, accepts her partner’s faults and promises not to run from them any longer. It may not be as powerful as the relationships the digidestined are fighting to regain, but Meiko and Meicoomon’s imperfections make it feel more legitimate.
Daigo, meanwhile, is just realizing how deep the imperfections run with his former partner. Hackmon, the mysterious Digimon lurking around the first three movies, apparently was awaiting his opportunity to represent Homeostasis in its traditional ritual of explaining what the hell’s going on. Maki’s obsession with finding her partner has led her to align with Yggdrasil to force a reboot. Maki wins because Bakumon exists again and Yggdrasil wins because it can try to take over one of the few places in the Digimon multiverse it doesn’t already have its tendrils in.
As much as it’s used in other Digimon media, introducing Yggdrasil as trying to conquer the Digital World changes things up in a potentially fascinating way. We’re used to it being this unflinching god constantly eradicating the worlds of its perceived flaws (often by eradicating the worlds entirely). Seeing it do so from a position of power has gotten tiresome, but the idea of it waging war against the lawful neutrality of Homeostasis could be fun, especially since we don’t need a refresher on just how dangerous it can be.
Its representative in the field is demonstrating that danger anyway. Using Mugendramon and later MetalSeadramon against the mostly powerless digidestined is bad enough, but his extreme gestures and manic taunts are equally damaging. Not only do they face the threat of destruction, the digidestined also question who they’ve chosen to trust and how they let the reboot happen (despite actively trying to prevent it), while the Digimon second guess whether working with kids is partnership or enslavement. Abusing Sora and Meiko may be the most disturbing visually, but thrown atop everything else it results in a villain that may ultimately become more viscerally troubling than Kurata. His acts smudge a line, his words dance atop it, and together it marks a deeply unsettling effort to gaslight the digidestined.
My Grade: B+
- It’s hard to underestimate how incredible Meiko is in this movie. After reaching her lowest point in Confession, she is able to use what the digidestined taught her to help Sora cope with Piyomon’s rejection. She stands up to Meicoomon’s abuse, forcing a reconciliation the hard way. She even proves the others wrong by having the kind of outdoor survival skills they would have killed for during their first trip.
- The wall Piyomon puts up is hard to justify, and Piyomon herself becomes more and more aware of that as the movie goes on. She’s too stubborn to outright admit it right away, but even around the campfire her desire to help and have companionship starts to come through. She goes to Meiko because she’s not quite ready to run back to Sora, but once she does it’s due to her needs as much as Sora winning her over.
- While Mimi and Koushiro actively work to help Tentomon, Agumon and Gomamon catch up, Taichi isn’t playing along with Gabumon, asking what happens now that they can’t evolve and how the Digimon perceive these kids. Hikari helps straighten him out, but it’s nice to show that it’s more than just Piyomon complicating the process.
- Taichi and Yamato arrive via Meicoomon’s dimensional magic just in time to save Sora from Mugendramon’s attack... but they’re awfully vague as to how they do this. They don’t appear to push her away and it’s not like them getting in the way would make them any less dead than she’d be.
- The boat they very stupidly try to hide on is likely the same one from that awful episode from the Etemon arc where the girls run away from the giant cock wearing towels. Sora’s been through a lot.