Some time has passed since the reunion of the DigiDestined and the vanquishing of Alphamon, and in the meantime, the gang have seen seen fit to bring the newest member of the DigiDestined, Mieko Mochizuki, into the group, alongside her partner Digimon Meicoomon. As the damage caused by Alphamon is slowly repaired, a new infected Digimon appears in the form of Ogremon. Mimi and Palmon quickly spring into action, but their haste will bring unforeseen and damaging consequences to the gang.
Back when I was reviewing the Digimon tri. Chapter 1, I quickly fell in love with it. The first in a six film franchise, tri. Chapter 1 did a pretty fantastic job of breathing new life back into the property. Although the plot was somewhat lacking, the fact that it had to reintroduce all the characters and establish what happened to them between the events of Adventure 01 and now meant that I could generally give it a pass. Given how much I did like that initial entry, I was rather excited to watch the sequel, Digimon tri. The Movie Chapter 2: Determination, but unfortunately, I found it to be a little lacking in the department I wanted to see most: the story.
The story in tri. Chapter 2 is, to put it bluntly, bordering on nonexistent. The opening 25 minutes of this movie, that is already only clocking in at a rather scant 90 minutes, give or take, is almost completely filler. Granted, the opening Hot Springs sequence does serve to make the newcomer Meiko seem more like a part of the gang, and is enjoyable to watch, it’s just not really suitable for a movie, I feel. If this were a TV show, not every episode would have to push the over-arching plot forward, and could slow things down every now and then and have a bit of fun, but with a film series like this, the entries come out far too infrequently for the writers to waste any time. People have to wait months between releases, so for the viewer to sit down to finally watch one, only to have them straight up waste your time with rather inconsequential nonsense that takes up almost the first third of the whole film just feels like a bit of a slap in the face. It honestly makes me think that tri. would have been far better off as a TV series instead, which is what I believe was initially planned.
After the rather lengthy opening sequence (full of nothing of any kind of importance) finally wraps up, you may finally think the plot is finally in motion, however, tri. Chapter 2 then takes another diversion, this time into School Festival territory, where it stubbornly stays until the very end. In terms of scenes that actually carry on from the narrative established in the first entry into the series, you can count them on one hand, and probably only total about 10 or 15 minutes of the total runtime. It’s just disappointing so little progress is made when I was genuinely looking forward to see where the series was going to go after the set-up. This lack of plot also leads itself to a lack of action too, with there being a total of two action sequences throughout, which I also found to be a let-down, even if the fight at the climax is superbly well executed.
Despite my many gripes, if there’s one thing I can’t fault, it’s the characters. Due to being a kids’ show back in the day, the original series didn’t really give a lot of depth to its cast, something tri. is doing its very best to rectify to great effect. Here, we see Joe’s struggle to balance out his life in medical school and his life as a DigiDestined, and the struggle is portrayed perfectly, with far more nuance than you’d expect of something coming out of the Digimon franchise, covering feelings of self-loathing and cowardice. We also find the usually energetic and happy Mimi get accused of being a narcissist, leading to her own inner conflict and character arc. On the more positive end of the spectrum, the quiet and reserved Meiko comes out of her shell a little more, mostly thanks to Mimi. The character side of things was pretty lacking in the first tri. film with most of the characters not seeming to have changed that much compared to their Adventure 01 days, so I’m pleased they’ve been given some growth now. Whilst I am appreciative of it though, I do think later entries will have to strike a better balance between the character and story for me to truly call the tri. series a success. It wouldn’t be that big an issue if, as I mentioned before, it was a TV show, but when you take a primarily action-based franchise like Digimon, give it a large budget and then focus on something so small in scale, it just feels like a waste.
If there’s one thing I’ll give to tri. Chapter 2, it’s the ending. The return of a familiar face and a shock turn at the tail-end of the movie seems to promise a more involved narrative in the sequel, although I had similar plot-based expectations at the end of the first, so I’ll keep my expectations in check so as not to get burned again.
As you’d expect, the production of Digimon tri. Chapter 2 is handled by the same studio as the first, Toei Animation, and it maintains the high quality and polished sheen of the previous tri. film. The less action-centric nature this go-around means that there aren’t as many of the fantastically animated action sequences, but it still generally looks pretty nice, although I found the DVD copy to be poorly produced, having noticeable compression artifacts, which are visible from a mile away whenever a flat colour is on screen, such as the character’s hair. This probably won’t bother most, and any image quality connoisseur will buy the Blu-ray anyway, but it’s still worth pointing out for any potential DVD buyers.
The same mishmash of old and new voice actors also reprise their roles from tri. Chapter 1, and the quality remains as high as before. With the new character Meiko having a larger role in the sequel, that means that Cristina Vee (Madoka Magica, K-On, Love Live!) gets more of a chance to demonstrate her great voice acting abilities, which is always a plus considering she’s one of my all- time favourite voice actresses. Also returning is composer Go Sakabe, who continues to contribute a rather great and eclectic soundtrack that matches the film brilliantly.
Although it features some really fantastic character development for Joe and Mimi, Digimon tri. Chapter 2 treads far too much water in terms of its story.