Friday, 30 September 2011

デジモンアドベンチャー / Digimon Adventure (Digimon movie 1)

I watched the first Digimon movie in June 2007, and even then I’d had it sitting about for about three years before I got around to it, thinking I’d see the series first. No need, though – it was, after all, only twenty minutes long. Besides, it was the first Digimon anime to get released, on March 6, 1999 - one day before the series began.

I was very surprised by it, in fact. I had expected a silly, cheap, babyish piece of animation much like the first episodes of the series. Instead, I found that it was much closer in mood to Tonari no Totoro than to the series, and nicely animated too. It would be something you could show to non-anime fans with little embarrassment, I wrote – unlike the first episodes of the main Digimon series.

And besides, it was the directorial debut of Mamoru Hosoda, acclaimed director of Summer Wars and The Girl Who Leapt Through Time – not that I knew this at the time. And while the Digimon series is ultimately about crudely-drawn juveniles who get cutesy little monsters that eventually evolve – or, rather, digivolve – to fearsome fighting machines in a fantasy world, this is about two very little kids who find and care for a mysterious creature that eventually helps them avert a disaster in their own city. It’s got the kind of charm and humanity it took the series itself many months to find, and all in a very short running-time. Oh, and let us not forget the superb use of Ravel to accompany the action.

It’s a little unfair to treat the first Digimon movie as a pilot for the series, because in all honesty, it’s better than Digimon generation 1 ever managed to be again. If the entire series had been like this, we would have had a very, very different series overall.

(Expanded from original impressions written 8.6.07)

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