In this episode, a dramatic save, a fiery sibling exchange, several evolution sequences, a mode change and the inevitable build up to the most important lesson of them all: adulting is hard.
Taichi’s return is as glorious as it is predictable. He swoops in, saves both Agumon and Meiko, and after a staredown with Yamato, has both the goggles and a typical tsundere response whipped back at him, and on we go to the hundredth evolution sequence of the movie. Yet this one, and the one that follows, feels grander: the big build-up to the inevitable knockout punch. But in that heightened state of nostalgic hype as we wait for Omegamon to do the business, complications arise that bring us back down to reality. That sensation captures the essence of tri., as we end not with a bombastic victory, but with a somber responsibility carried out by a group of noble young adults.
The complication stems from the most unlikely source. Just as it appears that all that’s left is for Omegamon to strike down the enemy, Hikari reminds us that Ordinemon isn’t the enemy. No matter how much Yggdrasil has twisted her, she’s still a partner Digimon and her destruction would be among the most painful losses the digidestined would have to witness, especially since the blood would be on their hands. Hikari has seen far too much of that, several hitting her the hardest, and pleads with Taichi not to accept it. Not with the immature whines of a little sister, but a hard, mature fury of a fighter speaking to her captain.
It’s a short but simmering disagreement, with Hikari refusing to be gentle or forgiving. Taichi can only wish for her to hold onto her ideals. He sees the reality and what must be done. Hikari is idealistic here, but never immature. She stands for what she believes in and stated her position clearly, but also recognizes when Taichi is resolute. After witnessing his previous hesitance, she can at least appreciate that his mind is made up, and as he won’t enjoy what he’s about to do, he surely put thought into it. So she stands beside him and accepts her share of the blood, another step of progress and another Ultimate evolution.
We get our shot of the eight Ultimate Digimon charging in, with emphasis on Holydramon getting right in there with Ordinemon. That’s lovely and all, but what really sells the moment is what the kids are doing. This is the defining show of growth for both Taichi and Yamato, the realization of a decision they struggled with, demanding an unprecedented level of maturity and unity. Their little fist bump is all it takes to support each other and prevent wavering. Equally impressive is the individual shots of the others. Nobody’s excited about saving the world. Takeru’s even fighting back tears. Hikari’s seething but refuses to look away. They’re all doing this anyway. They’re being adults.
Meiko is no different. She’s ready for this, as her ability to spur Omegamon’s mode change into an angel of mercy demonstrates. She gets her own trip into Ordinemon’s mind for a final farewell with her Meicoomon. For all the deaths kids have had to witness throughout the series, Meiko might have the hardest task of them all, reassuring Meicoomon that the pain will be over soon. She holds it in long enough to watch her closest friend for six years be obliterated before it all pours out. It’s among the bravest, and most agonizing, things any kid in this show has managed.
There are few smiles once the skies clear. Even the remainder of the movie holds back on the excitement. Mysterious Man is still kicking and ready to sow more chaos through the black cube and society still pretty much hates Digimon. tri. ends not with a bang, but with thoughtful reality. This time saving the world feels more like a responsibility than a victory, a sign of the show’s transition to adulthood. Even if Future doesn’t wrap up every plot perfectly or with the most flourish, it does wrap them up, the big ones in a sensible, satisfying way. For a series full of prominent blemishes amid the deep, wonderful insight, it’s hard to imagine a more appropriate ending.
My Grade: A
- That silence when Taichi reappears drives home the rescue as a single moment. The whole thing becomes one big spot of awesome. Which is helpful because the idea of him diving in and grabbing both Agumon and Meiko with each arm like that is pretty impossible when you think about it.
- Among the individual reactions, Yamato struggling to maintain the necessary resolve is among my favorites, especially when you tack on the fist bump helping him stay on track. Joe’s stoic business face while everyone else has gritted teeth or worse reminds us who’s the oldest.
- Frustrating as it might be that Mysterious Man gets off scot-free, somehow with the cube that corrupted Meicoomon, knowing this cube is what did it ties things nicely to the prologue at the start of Reunion. Also, there are several reasons why Daemon would have been a perfect addition to tri., and several more if the 02 kids are involved, so hearing him come up is downright salivating.
- Takeru’s letter says Homeostasis forced a shut down on Yggdrasil. While it may seem confusing that all this could happen if Home-chan had this ability, but it might explain why Yggdrasil had to use channels like Mysterious Man and Meicoomon to advance its agenda. Homeostasis can deal with the program directly, but the pawns it has more trouble with.
- Koushiro developing a way to access the Digital World without a D3 might be as much sequel bait as Mysterious Man’s namedropping or not seeing the faces of the 02 kids.
- So all that and Yamato wants to go to space to make sure Taichi isn’t the only one thinking big with his future... that’s oddly perfect for him.
- Also perfect is Takeru noticing Sora’s new haircut and not Yamato. Actually, haircuts in anime tend to be symbolic of acknowledging a new chapter in life, so Sora getting one when she arguably had to change the least throughout tri. is pretty telling.