21 years ago, Toei Animation brought us the world of Digimon. It followed the DigiDestined, a group of children with partner creatures called Digimon, as they traveled the Digital World and brought justice to evil forces. We journeyed with them from an early age to adulthood, and watched as the heroes finally drew the curtain on their adventures.
On March 5th, Toei Animation announced that they would be releasing a reboot of the original 1999 Digimon Adventure series, but with a modern twist. What new DigiDestined adventures will Toei Animation bring to the table?
The network is now an integral part of human lives. Unknown to mankind, beyond the network lays an infinite world – the digital world. In that world, there live creatures known as Digimon.
A large-scale network failure occurs in the Tokyo metropolitan area. Flickering traffic lights or garbled letters on screens become a common issue. The news reports the issues as cyber terrorism.
The protagonist is a fifth-grader, Yagami Taichi, who lives in a tower apartment near Tokyo. He decides to stay at home alone to prepare for his summer camp this weekend. Meanwhile, his mother and sister, Hikari, are on their way to Shibuya but get stuck on an unstoppable train.
To save his mother and sister, Taichi hurries to Shibuya but what he finds at the platform station is —
A mysterious phenomenon overtakes the “DigiDestined”, transporting Taichi to the digital world! The children soon meet their partner Digimon and embark on an unknown “adventure”!
Source: Synopsis from Toei, English translations by THE MAGIC RAIN.
The latest trailer gives us a glimpse of the new series. Watch it here:
As a reboot, we can’t help but compare it to the original. So what’s the difference?
Entering the Digital World
The first difference is how they enter the Digital World. The original series has all the DigiDestined, except for Hikari, transported into the Digital World during their summer camp. The reboot’s official synopsis now suggests that all of our heroes will not enter the Digital World at the same time.
For example, Taichi encounters the Digital World on his way to help his trapped mother and sister, while Yamato’s character profile mentions that he entered the Digital World ahead of the rest. This plays a huge role in changing what we already know of the Digimon Adventure plotline as they don’t get to face the world together at first.
Hikari’s role in the series
The second difference is Hikari’s involvement in the reboot. In her character profile, it’s mentioned that her usually aloof personality lets her sense her brother’s activity in the digital world clearly, even from the first episode. This implies that her involvement may be immediate and not later in the series.
While it is not clear if Tailmon (or Gatomon) will appear in the series earlier too, but it was also mentioned that she indirectly affects Taichi and the gang’s battle and does not appear immediately.
Brand new cyber-environment
The third difference is the design of the Digital World. We noticed more areas that look like cyber-environments with shiny, microchip-like surfaces, rather than the initial nature-like island they land on in the original series. It is also suggested in the trailer description that the Digital World and the real world are closer to each other than ever before.
They have smartphones now!
The fourth difference is, without a doubt, the modern technology in the series as shown in the picture below:
The rationale behind these changes is undoubtedly the relevancy to modern viewers. Certain things in the original 1999 animation, like phone booths and flip phones, just don’t age well. From a writing standpoint, plot twists in the old series, such as Hikari being the 8th DigiDestined, may be rewritten as they no longer hold the same effect to old fans.
New songs by familiar names
The reboot will also feature a new opening called 未確認飛行船 (Unconfirmed translation: Unidentified Airship) by Takayoshi Tanimoto, the singer for the evolution song in Digimon Tamers.
Will It Flop Or Be A Success?
In my opinion, Toei Animation is playing a very risky game. If they deviate too much from the original, fans might call them unfaithful. But if they stick too close to the original, then there’s no point in making a reboot to begin with.
Plus, it’s hard to say if the “digital world” concept will appeal to current consumers. While the premise of travelling to a fantasy world felt unique in 1999, modern viewers are now oversaturated with isekai series. The many themes that once made Digimon stand out are now common tropes in anime.
The timing of the reboot may not be ideal either. Just recently, Toei Animation released Digimon Adventure: Last Evolution Kizuna back in February 2020. The film is set in 2010, where Taichi and his friends are reaching adulthood and will soon part with their Digimon forever as they are not children anymore.
The reboot clashes with the film’s message, as Last Evolution Kizuna is being marketed as the “last” Digimon adventure. Knowing that there’s a reboot on the way removes much of the film’s emotional impact for longtime fans.
I can’t really say I’m looking forward to the reboot. Digimon is such a huge part of my childhood that it feels strange watching something so similar and yet so different. Plus, it takes away the feelings I’d had from Last Evolution Kizuna being the final time I’d see Taichi and the gang.
Also, why can’t Toei just make a new story that’s relevant to modern times instead of rebooting what was already perfect? I mean, I’d be much more interested in seeing an anime adaptation of Digimon Cyber Sleuth, or at least watching the adventures of a new batch of DigiDestined. Trying to capitalize on nostalgia can only bring a franchise so far.
What are your thoughts on the 2020 reboot? Do you think it’s worth a chance or just something to avoid? Let us know in the comment sections!