The story of "Reunion" has two objectives, both of which are fulfilled adequately: to set the status quo and get the audience primed for the next chapter. To an extent, it amalgamates the styles of the first and third seasons. The gradually introduced plot points hearken back to "Tamers", while the minimal detail or follow-through on character points hearkens back to the first arc of "Adventure". Combining these approaches alternates between intriguing and frustrating, especially since the narrative hops so frequently between subplots that very little gains momentum. Not to mention, government agencies and enigmatic appearances of wild digimon have been incorporated before. But, enough is left open that the ultimate impression is of intrigue; whether the intentions of the agency and Alphamon are benevolent or malevolent in nature is ambiguous. At its core, though, the story is really a vehicle for the real selling point of "Digimon" (aside from the monsters themselves).
The staff had the unenviable task of reintroducing the characters that got most people interested in this franchise, and whether they succeeded or not largely depends on keeping the right perspective. Most of these guys are re-established well enough, with their general traits from the series apparent; admittedly, simply seeing them after more than a decade is in and of itself a treat. However, all things considered, perhaps it was inevitable that some of them would largely end up on the sidelines. Adherence to convention causes issues at points. Matt has no true purpose beyond causing friction with Tai, which feels obligatory and regressive, and doesn't take advantage of the former's increased maturity in the second season. The only interesting detail is a reversal in view: once before he invited change and is now only wary about it. Joe, meanwhile, just does what he has done in nearly every "movie", only with a little more frustration.
The three that get the best treatment are Tai, Izzy and, surprisingly, Mimi. The latter was consistently endearing in the second season, and many of her base-attributes shine through here. She remains ebullient and upbeat, and the scene where she gives everyone souvenirs had me smiling. Along with Sora's stuff, it's a testament to the charisma of these guys and the impact they can make with minimal material. Tai comes closest to being dominant, being more level-headed than in his younger days but retaining some of his laid back demeanor. Over the course of the story, he wrestles with fear of the collateral damage that is caused by the conflicts with enemy monsters, which he believes he and his friends are responsible for. It's a little contrived and not the most compelling matter he has dealt; maybe the whole "heroes possibly doing more harm than good" thing is growing stale (Gamera 3, The Powerpuff Girls Movie, most Batman movies, half of the recent Marvel movies, Watchmen). But, it provides introspection, complements his role in the group and advances his viewpoint. It even yields one of the best lines: "Now I see more, and understand less". Here's to hoping that theme catches on.
Izzy is perhaps most successful. His usual technical prowess is on full display and has apparently evolved (a little too much, some might say). Beyond that, his newfound interest in Mimi allows this episode to do what I hope will become more frequent: take advantage of the stage in these guys' lives. Watching him so awkwardly try to make himself more presentable or impressive for her is pure joy. True, it essentially comes out of left field, since Izzy has mostly been apathetic towards Mimi since their one episode together, but it's an acceptable development for a guy fixated on technology for most of his life. Furthermore, it provides some surprisingly observant moments. My favorite (non-action) scene may be when Izzy imparts his reasons for resorting to online shopping. It's wonderfully honest, done in the spirit of the original series.
On the technical level, "Reunion" excels in its own line. It's not exactly the pinnacle of animation in this franchise, but it is very satisfying to see "Digimon" finally be consistently up to par with most anime. The kids are all expressive and faithful to their earlier looks, though at several points I had difficulty telling Matt and T.K. apart. The digimon themselves look great, with sleek new transformation footage, greater range in movement and a feeling of force when they utilize their powers, all of which benefit the two big action sequences; Kuwagamon even manages a surprising level of menace thanks to size and an impressive roar. In the words of Chris Mcfeely, "I confess to getting all giddy" in seeing all of these guys again, especially the iconic Omnimon. Clear improvements are also evident in the backdrops, which are detailed and varied. There's a particularly sublime scene where Tai and Agumon are pondering at a river.
Several fun nods to the series are included. The broken bridge from an early attack recalls the original Highton View Terrace incident, Kuwagamon mirrors his role in the premiere episode, Tai's class-book is titled "One Vision", one of the main songs in "Tamers", and the commemorative photo from the first season finale makes a few obscured appearances. My favorite little detail is perhaps the blog that T.K. briefly writes on. It's a nicely understated way to adapt an old plot point into the modern day.
For this seasoned fan, "Reunion" is a satisfying experience. One could argue that the "set-up" objective was overly emphasized or that time should have been better allocated amongst the kids. Yet, these issues are less significant when keeping in mind that this is intended as only the first step in a larger story. Regardless, the target audience can at least be jubilant about one thing: there is now something new to look forward to. Digimon is back, so let's make the most of it.
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