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Digimon Adventure Tri: Reunion Blu-ray Anime Review

8 min read

Digimon Adventure Tri Reunion Cover until the adventure “digivolves” once again.

The Review:
Packaging itself comes in a standard Blu-Ray case, with separate spaces to hold a DVD and Blu Ray disc of the movie. Design on both discs is the same, with the only difference being the label of “DVD” and “BLU-RAY.” The front cover uses the promotional art for the movie, which fills the space well, with the series’ logo and subtitle at the bottom. The back cover is standard fare—screenshots of the movie accompanied with a brief description of the movie and bonus features. Though of note is the exact wording of the movie description on the cover, which goes into a surprising amount of backstory on the franchise, differentiating between the first and second generation of DigiDestined as well as bringing up MaloMyotismon—neither of which were explicitly mentioned within the movie itself. Clearly someone with experience in the series wrote up the description, but its relevance to the movie itself can be argued to be a bit ill-focused.

An O-card sleeve of the same cover art is used to further encase the packaging.

digimon tri 01

Main menus for both feature the dubbed version’s opening theme as clips from the movie play in the background. And while the menus themselves for both the DVD and BD are easy to navigate through, I did experience some technical difficulties with both.

For the DVD, the disc itself would stop playing whenever I tried accessing the “Audio” menu, making changing the audio from its default English to Japanese that much more difficult (thankfully, right-clicking from the laptop’s own menu was just as efficient). I also noticed the DVD having one more subtitle track for a closed caption version for the English script alongside an English-translated subtitle track for the Japanese script.

For the Blu Ray, if you wanted to watch the Japanese version, you would have to manually set the language from the audio menu, then navigate to the subtitle menu to turn on that option as well (only the English-translated subtitle track for the Japanese script is available as a subtitle on the BD). It’s not too much of a hassle, but for other anime releases to automatically add subtitles when switching to Japanese audio, it does feel like a step down.

Skipping over the fact that Shout! Factory tries to have the Japanese subbed version of the movie qualify as a “bonus feature,” the remaining two actual features are okay.

Totaling at around 20 minutes, “Interviews with members of the English voice cast” bounces back and forth between the multiple English cast members that worked on the movie and their experience working on the movie and franchise as a whole. Given the nature of the feature, there isn’t too much time for any of the cast to really delve into their experience on the show, most mainly speaking in broad strokes about voice over work and their experience either returning to the series or being a new addition to the cast. Even clips of the voice actors actually performing their lines are few and far between.

The second extra is “A look at the Reunion screening”—a two minute clip show of the Los Angeles premier of the movie. Little to no context is given outside of that, with clips being comprised mostly of glam shots, long lines, and people partying. It’s something more befitting of YouTube, but its presence doesn’t hurt this release any, either.

The set also comes with a digital code to watch/download the movie on any mobile device in standard and high definition. Upon redeeming the code, however, the movie is only available dubbed in English with an option for closed captions, which feels like a missed opportunity. In a time when BD/DVDs are beginning to lose mainstream appeal to streaming, it would have been nice to have the digital copy have the same features as its physical release equivalent. Previous digital copies of movies have already showed that this is possible, so for Shout to take a halfhearted attempt at this was a bit of a letdown.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Digimon Adventure Tri: Reunion may not be the best sequel to a long-beloved franchise, but it isn’t bad by any means. It’s able to age up the cast while still maintaining the series’ integrity. Which is to say I’m able to experience my angsty human cast while also see cool monsters fight each other in a manner that forms a cohesive enough story that I’m able to enjoy both simultaneously.

The first movie in what’s been announced to be a 6-movie series, Reunion focuses primarily on the DigiDestined leader Taichi and the strife that haunts him when evil digimon begin wreaking havoc in the real world again. And as solid enough of a premise as that is, I can’t help but be torn with such even being a problem in the first place. Being a sequel series inherently means taking into account events of the original series. In this case, Taichi has already experienced plenty of collateral damage in his battles with evil digimon, so for him to only now be concerned with civilians getting caught in the crossfire feels like a delayed reaction on his part. Yes you can argue that being older, Taichi has become more aware of what he originally blocked off as a child, and the movie even makes an attempt to bring this point across. But considering the amount of world-threatening crises he and his team have faced over the years, it feels that much more difficult of a pill to swallow when Reunion brings this up as a novel idea never before covered in the series. If anything, it would have been far more interesting to see his attachment to the digital world as an obsession and address how everyone else seems to have moved on with their lives while he insists on remaining in the past.

digimon tri 02

It’s also interesting to note how this isn’t the first time we’ve seen the cast slightly older than we last saw them, either. At the least, Reunion is able to take the human cast and have it feel like they have actually grown that much more since the previous sequel series Digimon Adventure 02, if only slightly. Yamato has broken up and reformed his band, Koushirou is on better terms with his parents, Mimi has returned to Japan after her brief stint in America. They’re not the biggest changes, but they’re enough to show some time has passed.

So when the partner digimon do return, you really feel like the human cast has been waiting to see them for just as long as you have as a viewer. Each of the digimon look and act exactly the same as they did back in the original series, and it’s in this disconnect between them and the humans that the drama unfolds. Seeing Taichi angst on a hill while Agumon has no idea how to console him aside from simply being there serves as one of the more powerful visuals in the movie. And while the majority of the human/digimon interactions outside of that are either slice-of-life cutesy moments or over-the-top action scenes, it’s nice to know that at least some thought into character relationships was taken into consideration.

digimon tri 03

In terms of villains, the ones tossed in for Reunion are surface-level at best. Soon enough, the digidestined learn of Infected Digimon—digimon stronger than they should be capable of warping themselves into the real world. Nothing is given aside from that, so the Infected Digimon are less of a villain and more of an anomaly to figure out. So while it’s a nice throwback to have Kuwagamon—the first enemy digimon from the original series—returning for the movie, it really does feel like nothing more than fan service. And with that in mind, the addition of Alphamon feels like even more of an afterthought since he’s never made an appearance in the Digimon Adventure series altogether. While he is larger and more of a threat than Kuwagamon, he could have been replaced with any other digimon and the effect would have been the same. This in turn makes the final fight between Alphamon and Omnimon less climactic than it should be—the real enemy being Taichi’s indecisiveness which never really comes to a thematic head by movie’s end either.

digimon tri 04

As for any curve balls the movie throws, we’re treated to a mysterious organization that’s been tracking digimon and digidestined all over the world as well as the addition of one more digidestined in the form of Mei. Though as mentioned, this is the first in a 6-movie series, so neither the organization nor Mei really make all that much of an impact outside of being introduced and teased for later movie use. If anything, I will applaud Reunion for focusing on their characters rather than trying to go for a Marvel Cinematic Universe attempt at storytelling. It’s simple and direct, but really that’s all I can ask for from it.

Similar can be said for the English dub for the movie. While it would have been impossible to get all the original cast to reprise their roles from a show they worked on 10+ years ago, Shout did do a solid job of at the least having the more memorable voice actors return. Hearing Joshua Seth return as Tai alongside the veteran English voices for Izzy, Mimi, Sora, plus all the partner digimon provides a sense of continuity that the Japanese version wasn’t able to provide (the Japanese version recast all the digidestined VAs). So while purists may be off-put by the English version replacing the Japanese cover of Butter-Fly (the original opening of Digimon Adventure) with a song akin to the old dub opening on top of the use of dub names, it’s in this way that the nostalgia is better exemplified in a story that itself is very reliant on viewers being invested via nostalgia to the original show.

In Summary:
Digimon Adventure Tri: Reunion is an alright sequel movie to an iconic series. While there is some clear setup for plot elements to be expanded upon in future installments, it still makes a point of maintaining just enough focus to tell its own character-centric story within its given run time. And while Taichi’s personal struggles concerning collateral damage feels like something that should have been resolved within the original series, it is a step in the right direction when it comes to dealing with an older DigiDestined cast. Everyone is slightly older, slightly moodier, and yet the world itself still feels familiar and inviting.

Original Japanese language track, Interviews with members of the English voice cast, A look at the Reunion screening

Content Grade: B-
Audio Grade: A
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: A
Menu Grade: A
Extras Grade: B-

Released By: Shout! Factory
Release Date: May 16, 2017
MSRP: $24.97
Running Time: 96 Minutes (+22 Minutes of Extras)
Video Encoding: 1080p High Definition (HD Native), 480 Standard Definition
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Samsung UHD 6700 64” Curved Smart TV, Sony Blu-ray player BDP-S6500 via HDMI set to 1080p

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