Digimon: The Movie should have run off with all the Oscars upon its release in 2000. No, seriously.
The year was 2000. Gladiator won Best Picture and Russell Crowe took home Best Actor. The first X-Men movie was released, which many point to as the genesis of modern superhero films. It was the year of Cast Away, Mission Impossible II, Meet the Parents, Charlie’s Angels, O Brother, Where Art Thou? and more. However, one film was released that year that changed the face of what cinema could be.
It was bold. Innovative. A comedy. A drama. A thrilling action adventure that was criminally snubbed for every award possible but to this day is a modern classic.
Digimon: The Movie.
I am here to finally give this movie its long overdue appreciation. It’s truly a work of art that should be studied in film programs across the country. You could spend a whole course dissecting the layers of this movie.
But I’ll limit myself to ten…
1: You Get Three For the Price of One
Now that’s value! Not content with giving us just one story (or even the paltry TWO Pokemon: The First Movie offered a year prior), Digimon: The Movie settles for no less than three plotlines that are all interconnected. It features almost all of the major characters from Digimon seasons one and two, and spans over eight years.
Yeah, what’s up, Boyhood? You ain’t got nothing on Digimon.
Did the kid in that movie fight a giant bird monster when he was six, save the world from a nuclear bomb at 10, and then stop time from being reversed at 14? I think not! And yes, all of those things happen in this movie and it’s just as jaw-dropping as it sounds.
2: The Plot is Insane
It starts off simply enough, even if it doesn’t exactly mesh with the continuity of the series. After all, does Tai not remember Koromon when he first meets him in the Digital World? But hey, this first part doesn’t care about contintuity! Baby Kari has got a whistle and it saves the world from a giant parrot Digimon. How you may ask? Well she blows the whistle, which gives strength to her dinosaur friend to “Digivolve” into an even bigger dinosaur and annihilates himself and the parrot with a giant fireball.
If you think that doesn’t make sense, who cares?!? If David Lynch can do it, so can Digimon!
So the plot is sort of, kind of, loosely tied together by this kid Willis who lives in America and his Digimon was taken over by a virus he created who he has to stop but can only do it with the help of the Digi Destined. They do this through the power of email, which I’ll get back to in a minute (and this was in the year 2000. Half the characters were probably on dial up!)
The third section of the movie has Willis searching for his virus infected Digimon but that doesn’t stop him from putting the moves on the ladies, much to Davis’ chagrin. Eventually they all team up, the Digimon unleash the power of the Golden Digi Eggs (where did they come from? WHO CARES!) the Digimon fly INSIDE the virus Digimon, heal that sucker by BLOWING HIM UP (mercy killing?), but it’s all good because he comes back as a good egg anyway.
…Your move, Citizen Kane.
3: The Voice Acting
Flawlessly directed by Jeff Nimoy and Bob Buchholz, the cast of this movie should truly be Hollywood royalty. They all bring their A-Game to this film and we get the complete range that most actors try their whole lives to reach. From the quiet tender moments between Terriermon and Willis to the gut busting Izzie and Tai scenes in the second film, these actors were having a blast.
Special mentions need to go to two actors in particular. That one being Jeff Nimoy, who always kills it as Tentomon but also creates the immortal character of Floyd the Barber. The other is Joshua Seth who plays Tai. You can understand why this guy went on to to become an entertainer for sold out shows across the country. His voice alone commands your presence. He makes you laugh. He makes you cry. He perfectly matches the animation and nails every single line.
Russell Crowe for best actor? Clearly the Academy doesn’t have good taste, because Joshua Seth should have taken home the Oscar.
4: Perfect Soundtrack
Whoever put this soundtrack together perfectly encapsulated the era in which the film was produced. With tracks from Smash Mouth, Fatboy Slim, Barenaked Ladies, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, and Less Than Jake, Digimon: The Movie’s soundtrack not only perfectly sets the time period but also takes you right into the story.
When Tai mourns his relationship with Sora? “One Week” blares, representing Tai’s current pain and his desire to express his regret over throwing up in her hat. When Koromon is shown love for the first time by Kari? He tries to eat her face and we get “The Rockafeller Skank,” showing that Koromon has truly become like a funk soul brother to Tai and Kari. And of course, what better way to end a film then with All-Star? After all, the characters have become stars in their own right when they saved the world. Plus, Kokomon dances and sings to it, despite being tone deaf.
Oh also, the Digi Rap. Digi see? Digi hear? Digi know it was coming?
I would be remiss to add that the orchestral tracks of this film by Shuki Levy and the Tel Aviv Symphony Orchestra was partly carried over from the Power Rangers like series, Masked Rider, and fit right in place with the action. If anything, while the soundtrack is perfect? The score transcends even the perfect label and ascends to what I can only describe as God Tier.
How Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon could win for Best Original Score of the year is beyond me.
5: Shameless Product Placement
Besides this clearly being an advertisement for the main Digimon series and all products associated with it, Digimon: The Movie pulls off a bit of product placement that is not only completely unneeded but is truly hysterical in how shameless it is. Tai, completely occupied with his tragic feelings for Sora is doing his best to ignore his little sister, Kari. She explains she’s going to her friends’ birthday party and proudly states, “I got my friend a Pink Power Ranger.”
At the time, Saban owned both franchises and this moment is clearly just a moment of shameless cross-promotion and product promotion. But what’s even more amazing? Tai actually tries to take the present from Kari before she retaliates and sends his half formed e-mail to Sora, confessing his love.
6: Kari Is The Smartest Two-Year-Old in Film History
The Baby Geniuses ain’t got nothing on this kid. So when the film begins, we aren’t told what Kari’s age is. Using context clues, including her sitting in a baby seat, we can reasonably extrapolate she’s an infant. However, while the film at first makes you think she’ll only speak using her whistle, the minute Koromon shows up? This girl is talking about a zillion times better than most teenagers!
She even makes commentary (ripped from her mom) about how the transit system is run in Japan. I don’t know what her Mom puts in the food, but it clearly accelerated her brain’s development.
Speaking of which…
7: Tai’s Mom
Where did this woman come from? She’s completely oblivious to her own son’s complete distaste in her cooking. Ever since Tai was about six years old he’s eagerly avoided eating his mother’s food, which includes such nauseating treats as liver sticks, spinach cookies, potato juice, some sort of concoction that involves squeezed onions, and the crème de la crème, beef jerky shakes. Where is this woman getting her recipes?!?
8: The Comedy
I have never laughed with a movie so much. Most of the brilliant humor comes from random lines inserted throughout the film that are clearly just the dub team having fun. Such as when the giant Agumon in part 1 nearly runs over a truck, one of the passengers, astonished, comments, “Did you see that?”
The driver responds, “No I was sleeping.” Bewildered, his passenger blurts out,
“BUT YOU’RE DRIVING!”
It’s those little moments that make this film a riot. Anything with Tai and Izzy in the second part is gold, with Izzy over indulging in the beef jerky shakes. The third part also uses the brilliant tactic of stating the hilariously obvious. So when Willis’ Digimon, Terrimon, digivolves to Gargomon, Willis can’t help but plainly state, “He’s got pants now.”
9: The Adaption
Okay, if you’re watching this movie? You’re a fan of anime. Which means you’ve undoubtedly heard of “Abridged” series. The two most famous being Yu-Gi-Oh and Dragon Ball Z Abridged. Each of these series takes episodes (or films) of the series, shortens them to distill the story, and makes them into mostly comedy farces with a ton of random jokes that simply don’t fit the original tone intended by the Japanese.
Digimon: The Movie beat them to this by six years. It edits down the three original Japanese films (heavily cutting the third film especially) and adds in a ton of jokes. They even throw in a ton of lines that more closely link the films! Now some anime purists may call this process “butchering” but it’s actually quite brilliant, as the success of the various Abridged Series has shown. Digimon: The Movie is just an abridged movie given a $5 million budget. That is marvelous.
10: The Greatest Scene In All of Cinema
So let’s set the scene, shall we? So the group is fighting the virus Digimon, Diaboramon, over the Internet. The problem being that hundred of thousands of kids all over the world are watching it and sending the group e-mails, so many that it slows down their connection. The Digmon can’t move fast enough. There are millions of copies of Diaboramon. A missile is streaking towards Japan and will blow them all sky high if they don’t defeat the virus soon. All hope is lost!
Okay, get this. Somehow Tai and Matt, through the power of friendship, are able to travel INTO THE INTERNET and help their Digimon. This, combined with the power of all the children who sent them e-mail creates the fused form of Wargreymon and MetalGarurumon, Omnimon. The music cue when they form together is pure magic. Chills, every time.
So they’re able to take out all of the Diaboramon copies, leaving only the original left. So what does Izzie, the smartest kid in the world do? He forwards the virus all of the e-mails, triumphantly crying out, “You’ve got MAIL!”
This allows Omnimon to defeat Diaboramon and the missile to be harmlessly diverted into the ocean where it thankfully doesn’t explode.
What other movie has that level of tension? Of action? Of humor? Of pure perfect score? None I tell you! None!