A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Digimon Adventure tri: Determination (aka Digimon Adventure tri: Decision) is the second in a six-part series of Japanese animated movies. It follows Digimon Adventure tri: Reunion, and brings back the Digimon ("Digital Monsters") franchise, which first appeared in 1999 as virtual toys similar to the original Pokémon characters. The movies, each of which is a compilation of episodes from one of the Japanese television series the franchise generated, focus on a team of high school kids who are the designated "DigiDestined," young people who fight evil monsters from another world (called The Digital World). Each of the kids has a "DigiPartner": a small animal who can transform itself into a powerful good monster capable of battling the villains who arrive through a portal in the sky. Reunion presented episodes 1-4 of the series; Determination includes episodes 5-8. This new movie has far less violence than the first. Only two sequences are action-heavy. In those scenes, colorful, fast-paced, and filled with explosions and swordplay, the little DigiPartners transform and take on established scary-looking bad guys with whom there's ongoing warfare. Much of this film explores the relationships between the DigiDestined young people, their lives as high school students, and their coming to terms with what it means to be one of the chosen. It's important to note that none of the franchise backstory is included here. Not appropriate for kids who aren't yet comfortable with real versus imaginary violence.
What's the story?
In an ongoing story about the DigiDestined teens who guard against invasions by formidable DigiMonsters from another world, DIGIMON ADVENTURE TRI: DETERMINATION picks up the action at the kids' very typical high school in Japan. Front and center in this part of the tale are two female members of the DigiDestined: Mimi (Philece Sampler) and Meiko (Cristina Vee). Both are subject to normal teen insecurities and are trying to figure out their place in the world, especially given the enormous responsibility their specialness requires of them. Joe Kido (Robbie Daymond) is also struggling with his Digi identity, actually questioning whether or not he can be a part of the Digi team. And alongside all of the DigiDestined, their spirited, often funny little DigiPartners contribute to the unrest. Watching over them are two government workers, Mr. Nishijima (Doug Erholtz) and Ms. Himekawa (Cherami Leigh), who assume the roles of teachers in the school. From a comical adventure at a spa to the planning and carrying out of the high school's premier festival, the kids continue to be kids, except when extraordinary threats arrive via the portals from the scary Digital World beyond. Then, the Destined and the Partners unite once again to fight the evil that threatens their everyday lives and the city that is their home. (Note: This film is a compilation of episodes 5-8 of a Japanese television series. Further episodes are scheduled for release as movies.)
Is it any good?
Unless viewers are already fans of the series, whether they'll like this teen-centered anime depends on a willingness to start a story in the middle and enjoy it without knowing what's gone before. First-time viewers will have a hard time understanding the movie's basic premise, the origin of its characters, and their continuing ties to one another, as well as the crucial role they play in saving their world. Not to mention the lethal nature of their longstanding enemies. Digimon Adventure tri: Determination spotlights Mimi and Meiko, two of the female DigiDestined, and the studious Joe. They're struggling with personal issues, such as likeability, shyness, competence, and self-worth, all problems typical of other high school franchise characters. The usually spotlighted Tai and Matt, Digimon favorites, are seen only on the fringes of this story. Filmmakers, in attempting to release these films as individual movies, can't escape the episodic underpinnings that come with that territory.
On the plus side, the teen stories are interesting and thoughtful. The cute DigiPartners will appeal to younger kids (though grating voices threaten their charm). And the action sequences are colorful and spirited. So, it's a mixed bag at best.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about watching a movie that throws its audience right into the middle of a story about which they know little or nothing. If Digimon Adventure tri: Determination was your introduction to the Digimon world, were you confused? Do you think filmmakers need to provide some background of the premise? Why or why not?
Did this movie motivate you to find out more about the Digimon franchise? What did you like most about it? Where could you go to find out who all the characters are and the stories from the past that led to this movie's adventure?
Did the personal issues that the DigiDestined teens faced seem true-to-life and feel familiar to your own experiences? What do you have in common with Mimi, Meiko, Joe, Tai, and Matt? Since this movie is set in Japan, what does that tell you about the universality of human emotions?
- On DVD or streaming: August 15, 2017
- Cast: Cristina Vee, Philece Sampler, Robbie Daymond
- Director: Keitaro Motonaga
- Studio: Shout! Factory
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Superheroes, Adventures, Friendship, High School, Misfits and Underdogs
- Run time: 84 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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