Being born in the mid-1990s meant that I was the perfect age for the “mon” craze that permeated pop culture in the following years. I’ve always been deeply invested in Digimon, so the continued adventures of the cast of the first two seasons as they grow older have continually kept me watching. Digimon Adventure 02: The Beginning is the latest of these installments, and its renewed focus on the cast of the series’ second season makes for a nostalgic and intriguing movie.

Set after 2020’s Digimon Adventure: Last Evolution Kizuna, this new film sees the cast dealing with the appearance of a large Digi-Egg floating above Tokyo Tower. As the movie takes place in 2012, all of the Digi-Destined kids have grown into young adults who navigate the working world alongside their Digimon companions. I’ve always loved seeing how the characters in Digimon grow older as I myself have gotten older, so having this theme be present in Digimon Adventure 02: The Beginning provided an extra bit of emotion to everything.

The film‘s story is surprisingly heavy. Digimon has always been willing to get a bit more intense than most of its contemporary “monster friend” franchises, but the narrative of Digimon Adventure 02: The Beginning centers around Lui Ohwada — a young man who was abused by his mother as a child and, through a difficult series of circumstances, ends up seemingly killing the Digimon partner that he found as a sad kid. These harsh scenes are given the weight they deserve to have and do an excellent job of communicating how hard Lui’s life has been, which sets the stage for the Adventure 02 Digi-Destined to befriend him and help him through his trauma.

The returning cast all have a wonderful dynamic with one another and with Lui as they learn about him, though Cody/Iori and Armadillomon don’t really get to do much in the film compared to the rest of the cast. Additionally, though I can respect the choice to largely eschew the majority of the main cast from the first season of Digimon to focus on this crew, it does feel a bit strange that none of them would pitch in when a seemingly major Digimon threat is hovering over Tokyo.

Interestingly, the movie also reexamines the idea of Digi-Destined through Lui, positing that he’s the reason behind the origin of the concept itself. Such a seemingly radical new addition to the canon comes off as a bit sudden, but it doesn’t really alter much of the overall story of the first two shows and following movies. The resolution of that plot point by the end of the film serves to strengthen the prevalent theme of Digimon and humans forming inseparable bonds, so I wasn’t too bothered by the odd addition.

The battle sequences are exciting and visually stimulating, with the Digimon soaring through city streets and the sky as they blast one another with lasers and a variety of other weapons. The Digivolving scenes are still quite hype-inducing despite likely existing largely to fill runtime, though I admittedly have a special fondness for the returning “DNA Digivolution” that makes its grand return from Adventure 02 here.

The dub of Digimon Adventure 02: The Beginning is excellent, with many of the original voices returning. Brian Donovan’s take on Davis and Derek Stephen Prince’s take on Ken are still incredible even beyond nostalgia, while all of the Digimon come off as delightful and charming. These newer productions have found a nice mix of using the older voices while staying more accurate to the tone and story of the original work than the earlier Digimon localizations.

Though the film may confuse those who haven’t kept up with all the movies to come out since those first two seasons of Digimon, it’s an emotional and exciting installment that reunites the cast of Digimon Adventure 02 while giving most of them time to shine. Some narrative elements come off as sudden, but Digimon fans will still have a great time watching Digimon Adventure 02: The Beginning.

Score: 7.5/10

As ComingSoon’s review policy explains, a score of 7.5 equates to “Good.” A successful piece of entertainment that is worth checking out, but it may not appeal to everyone.

Disclosure: The critic received a screener link for ComingSoon’s Digimon Adventure 02: The Beginning review.

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