[personal profile] bookofholsety

i've had this sitting in my drafts for months now and i've kept meaning to finish it when i have the time to spare. i guess now is as good a time as ever

it shouldn't come as any surprise by this point that this thing is full of huge spoilers! i strongly recommend watching the thing, then coming back here. actually, come to think of it, i'd say now's a very good time to start watching the entire series if you haven't already, since the end of part 3 is a pretty comfortable resting point with none of the same excruciating cliffhangers that part 2 offered

From the very beginning of the prerelease hype cycle it was pretty clear that part 3 was going to dabble in some stuff that always ran an inherently high risk of having a dicey execution. Very early on, they were making a point of pointing out that the plot involved Patamon becoming infected, and as much as i'm inclined to be confident in Tri's writers, i couldn't help but question whether they were physically capable of pulling it off without a serious cop-out. It's not a setup that leaves many options, since the only real alternative to copping out is killing Patamon, and notwithstanding that Patamon has quite famously already died once, could the writers really bring themselves to do that?

While watching the film, the way they upped the ante by spreading the infection around the rest of the group, and by introducing the threat of an imminent reboot, only made me more suspicious. i figured there was no way in hell they would be willing to do that to seven of the eight partner digimon, not all at once, and that a deus ex machina was on its way. It didn't help that the Mysterious Hikari-Possessing God Thing™ from Adventure had already made an appearance in the film by this point, and what "better" way to pull a deus ex machina than a literal deus ex machina? Surely Hikari would resume her original role as Digimon Jesus™ and cure all of them and save them from the wipe? Surely Koushiro's backup cube thing would provide an easy resolution to the entire crisis, right? Right?

But then they did it. Holy fuck, they actually did it.

Let this be a lesson. This might not be a development that everyone can agree with, but you sure as shit can't reasonably accuse Tri's writers of being lazy or cowardly about it. It's not like Digimon is a stranger to the deus ex machina, and you don't even need to look outside the Adventure family - 02 spent like ten episodes emphasising that the destruction of the holy stones would fundamentally undo the digital world, but as soon as BlackWarGreymon destroyed the last one the entire plot point was promptly swept under the rug by Qinglongmon. Tri, mercifully, did not make that mistake when all signs pointed to it. They knew that the only satisfying way to unfuck the case of seven infected powerhouses, an angry Meicoomon and a reboot is to let everything fuck itself out, then come back in the next movie.

I mean, come on, there's literally no way in hell that the partner digimon are going to remain mindwiped. There's a 99% chance that part 4's plot is going to involve restoring those memories one way or another, and hell, as far as i'm concerned the part 4 poster has already given away how it's going to happen. But in the meantime, until part 4 hits, the climax of part 3 stands pretty well on its own legs as a well executed dramatic arc.

The structure and tone of part 3 thoroughly embrace that calling. It's basically a full-on bittersweet tragedy, emphasising the doubts and fears left hanging by part 2's cliffhanger ending. Paranoia about the loss of Meicoomon, and a total lack of knowledge of how it even happened, drives the chosen and digimon to great lengths to protect themselves from the infection, only for them to find out that it's already too late on several different levels. A wedge is driven between Meiko and the other chosen, and once it's out in the open that Meicoomon is the reason all of this happened, she personally drives the wedge further out of fear and guilt (that last scene with her confessing all of her fears to Takeru was absolutely phenomenal). Throwing the learning and decision-making ball into the partner digimon's court through their conversation with Himekawa (ft. Hikari in full Digimon Jesus™ mode) was an unusual step by Digimon standards - being that their characterisation and actions usually exist entirely as satellites to whatever the humans are doing or thinking - but the payoff, that long sequence of them trying to spend as much time with their partners as they can before the end, without their partners actually knowing what's going on, was pretty nice.

Part 3 has helped to solidfy that consequences, and how one feels about them after the fact, are one of the central themes of Tri. They've consistently been the focus of much of the drama so far - Part 1 emphasised how Taichi is struggling to come to terms with what a couple of gigantic fighting monsters do to the city surrounding them for the first time, and Part 2 explored what Mimi's bullheaded approach to life does to the people around her - and in a way, the climax of Part 3 comes directly from the action or inaction of the various players and they all know it. Even before shit hits the fan, it's made clear that Takeru knows he's making a colossal mistake by actively hiding Patamon's infection: he knows that by trying to protect Patamon this way, he's guaranteeing Patamon's death, yet at the same time he can't face the alternative because there's a possibility that doing something about it might result in Patamon dying as well. Is it the smart thing for him to do? God no, not even close. But it struck me right here, since honestly it's the story of my life: an inaction being obviously guaranteed to cause terrifying Bad Things to happen, yet fearing taking the correct action to fix that because what if my action isn't good enough and the Bad Thing happens anyway? Takeru's struggle with this, and his falling back on making sure he's with Patamon in his last days to the point of self-destruction, was executed perfectly as far as i'm concerned. Good writing, well-staged shots, the recurring motif of Takeru staying up entire nights just to be with Patamon: really, an all-around heartrending spectacle.

In comparison i've got much less to say about Koushiro's arc, though it was also pretty good in its exploration of control. For over 100 TV episodes and four movies (including the first two parts of Tri) Koushiro has been consistently able to use his knowledge and diligence for the advantage of the team, and frankly it's always come pretty easy to him. For instance, in hindsight, the fact that he was able to whip up new distortion-spotting goggles for Taichi so quickly in part 1 is a bit dodgy, but in a way that just sets him up for the fall he takes here. As far as he's concerned, the very fact that the end of part 2 came out of fuck-nowhere just isn't good enough, and the self-destructive lengths he drives himself to in an attempt to rectify that and reassert a proper grasp over the situation, and viewing himself as a failure for hitting a brick wall, are pretty logical consequences of everything that's come before for him. "Know the darkness and go beyond," indeed.

A side effect of this is that they might have created the first time in history where a digimon achieving a legitimate new evolution is not a happy affair at all. There've been huge sacrifices on the way to attaining them before, but it's always taken for granted that everything is going to be alright once they attain that new evolution. Sure, Wizarmon, Mercurymon, Leomon, Kouichi or Deckerdramon just died, but Angewomon, Dukemon, Yatagaramon, Susanoomon or Shoutmon X7 are now going to fucking wreck whoever did the killing! (i'll admit this is a bit of an oversimplification in the case of Tamers, but still) This time, it's different. HerakleKabuterimon is not an instant win button like Rosemon and Vikemon were, because this isn't a scenario where anyone wins at all. There's nobody to defeat that will make any of this better, Tentomon damn well knows it going in, and he knows that all he can do is try to mitigate the damage before the end.

Side note: Tentomon is a fucking hero for the shit he dealt with. That final sequence where he's struggling with the other partner digimon and mourning the fact that this fight is the last thing they will ever do together was just superbly executed.

After part 2, i was particularly worried about the way it handled Ken and how his presence ultimately felt very disposable, as if they weren't particularly interested in properly exploring the consequences of Ken suddenly resuming the Kaiser mantle and were implementing him as a one-off villain for that film only. Part 3 at least follows up on that and does a solid job of tying his formerly somewhat ???? presence into the broader plot with Himekawa, with the final Gennai-ish reveal being a hell of a tease. It's also nice that they actually did a bit with Takeru and Hikari being worried about him, even if that was also fairly short-lived. Tying it into Yamato's confrontation with Himekawa was nice, though.

A few obligatory Miscellaneous Production Ramblings™: animation continues to be p good, although (Obligatory Gripe About Tits) Angewomon's rack suddenly being more prominent than it was in Adventure was pretty infuriating (though at least they didn't get as silly about it as with Rosemon, and certainly not Mervamon-tier bad). The evolution stock footage continues to ironically be the worst-animated part of the entire thing and not particularly engaging compared to other evo footage from past Digimon runs, although i really like the way they did the MetalGreymon sequence. Yoshimasa Hosoya's performance in the credits was pretty good and a lot better than i expected, though admittedly my expectations were based mostly around part 2's credits song being a) absolutely magnificent and b) a fitting final performance from the late Kouji Wada. Beyond that, i dunno, perhaps i sort of took the running joke of Yamato's bands having increasingly edgy names at face value and assumed that something from a band calling itself Knife of Day wouldn't be particularly good, even if they're fictional?

What's left to say in closing? By this point i'd say my opinion here is pretty obvious: i like Tri. i really like Tri. It's a very well-done production so far and i'm confident that that quality won't be going anywhere any time soon. i could be wrong, but hey, they didn't cop out when the shit hit the fan this time around. Compared to how easy and tempting it would've been to just do that, i'd say we're in the clear and that there's not really anything else in the way of compromising the entire series that's left to worry about, at least until part 6.
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