In Summer 2014, Toei Animation surprised the Digimon Fanbase by announcing a sequel to the original Digimon TV series. Digimon Adventure, as it is officially called, aired in 1999 and became an internationally well-known anime that spawned several films and spin-offs with the latest being Digimon Xros Wars in 2010. Other than Digimon Adventure and its direct sequel, Digimon Adventure 02, all Digimon series take place in separate universes. This new film, however, plays three years after the events of 02.
Some time after its initial announcement, Digimon Adventure tri was revealed to be a six-part film series rather than a TV anime. Moreover, its release date was pushed from summer to November 2015. Needless to say, fans were disappointed by the fact that it would air in November and worried they might have to wait a long time until they can finally watch it due to it being a film. However, Crunchyroll unexpectedly simulcasted Digimon Adventure tri, making it available for the entire world even before it aired in Japanese cinemas.
The film starts by reintroducing the Chosen Children from Digimon Adventure. The main focus is on Taichi but all the other children receive enough focus so that the viewer knows how they have changed over the past few years. It also shows how the relationships between the characters has developed; there are, for example, several moments in which Sora's affection towards Yamato is being hinted at. Additionally, you can see how Jou does not have time to meet with the other Chosen Children due to him having to study for school. This behaviour splendidly builds upon Jou's personality from Adventure and 02 and is consequently remarkably realistic.
Digimon Adventure tri manages to stay true to its origin by perfectly recreating the feeling one has while watching the TV series. At the same time, however, it deals with themes not present in the original as the children have grown. For example, Taichi is worried about the destruction they cause by fighting against Digimon, which contrasts his rash personality from before. Romance is also often being hinted at – in the past, there have merely been some subtle moments but this time, it is present much stronger. Moreover, a secret organization reminiscent of Digimon Tamers' Hypnos and Digimon Savers' DATS has been founded in order to research Digimon and to combat the infected ones. Due to the events in the previous series which posed a threat against humanity, it is only logical that an organization such as this would be founded.
As diverse and well-developed as the children's characters are, the Digimon's personalities are, unfortunately, somewhat bland, which had already been a problem in the TV anime. They all act basically the same and while Gatomon/Tailmon used to have a strong personality, no signs of it are shown in this film. The Digimon act like catalysts which cause the children to grow but they hardly develop themselves. While this has always been the case, it would be welcome if this changed in the upcoming films.
There are also some new characters introduced. Meiko, a transfer student, is a mysterious girl, who seems to have a secret. We do not get to know much about her but it is obvious that she will play a crucial role in the future. Moreover, some important members of aforementioned secret organization are part of this new adventure but, at this point, not much is known about them either. While there is also a new antagonist, it is unknown what his motives are and where he came from and whether he is actually bad. As such, the viewer does not yet know what the children's goal is or where the plot is heading towards. However, being the first of six films, this poses no huge issue as this film's main purpose is to reintroduce the characters and to demonstrate in which manner they have developed in the past three years.
Naturally, not everything is explained in this film. We are informed about the fact that the Digital gate had been closed for over a year but we do not know why it was closed in the first place. At the end of 02, it seemed like it would be open for all time. While this might be explained in the future, there are some other aspects that pose an inconsistency regarding what we know from Adventure and 02. For example, in the film, it seems like only few people know about the Digimon's existence. However, due to the fight with Apocalymon at the end of Adventure and, more importantly, the battle with BelialVamdemon/MaloMyotismon at the end of 02, the entire world should be familiar with Digimon. Nonetheless, they are merely referred to as threats who had caused some major damage in the past. There might be some sort of explanation including memory erasing but this is unlikely and would probably not be satisfactory.
When the film's first official artworks were released, most people were upset and claimed that the characters looked completely different. However, with the release of some trailers, it was made clear that the new art style and character design were not bad at all. Nevertheless, there is another issue in a similar department: Toei Animation's recent works all suffer from bad animation, as one can see in Dragon Ball Super, Sailor Moon Crystal and the newer episodes of One Piece. With Digimon being a film, one would think this would not be the case this time and while it is not as bad as aforementioned examples, the animation looks awkward more often than bearable. It is fine during action scenes but, other than that, animation quality is regrettably disappointing. The new evolution scenes are entirely different from what the viewer is used to and, at first, it might feel slightly awkward but they actually are not bad. A major issue, however, is that not all evolution sequences were animated. These scenes were an aspect of the film a majority of the fan base was looking forward to. Hopefully, these evolutions will be animated in the future because otherwise it would be an unforgivable disappointment.
The Digimon Soundtrack's original composer, Arisawa Takanori, sadly passed away in 2005. Nonetheless, some tracks of the amazing Digimon Adventure OST were used in this film and lead to nostalgic moments. Some of his works were also remixed and while it sounds pleasing at most times, the one soundtrack that sounded infinitely better in the original is Koushiro's/Izzy's theme. There are also some new musical pieces which are nice but, unfortunately, not as breathtaking as Arisawa's. The opening is “Butter-Fly” by Wada Kouji and the ending song is “I Wish” by AiM. Both are remixes of the original series' opening/ending sung by their original performers and it is difficult to decide which version is better. In any case, both songs not only create a nostalgic atmosphere but also establish a refreshing feeling to underline the film's modernness. The same can be said about “Brave Heart”, an insert song sung by Miyazaki Ayumi, which primarily plays during the evolution sequences.
Another qualm some people initially had was the fact that the children's voice actors were different. However, the new voice actors fit the children's personality impressively well and their performance could not have been much better – in particular, Yamato's voice actor, Hosoya Yoshimasa, did a magnificent job. Of course, the same can be said about the Digimon's voice actors, who all returned to their original roles.
Ultimately, this film can be recommended to every Digimon fan out there. It might have some weaknesses but, being an introductory film, it cannot be a masterpiece. The good sites heavily outweigh the weaker ones and the enjoyment level while watching the film is over the top. Digimon Adventure tri 1 is a great start to a new adventure together with the characters and the atmosphere of the original series and I cannot wait to see the second part in Winter 2016.