Digimon Films: Digimon Tamers: Battle of Adventurers
(Catch the previous Digimon film review here: Revenge of Diaboromon)
Digimon films beyond the Adventure Canon (and even some points within those films) are often difficult to fit within the chronology of the series in which they take place. The two Digimon Tamers films are notoriously hard to place in this regard. However, I have pinpointed a pretty exact time for the chronological placement of the first of these two films, Battle of Adventurers, which was released on July 14th, 2001: Between episodes 15 and 16 of the series in our real world chronology, though certainly not a sure fit at this point in the series.
In the film, it is summer time. In the series, summer begins after episode 18. In this film, each of the Digimon Tamers can Matrix Digivolve, but only with the help of Calumon: though this Digivolution is not new to any of the Tamers at the time. Guilmon and Terriermon achieve their Ultimate-level forms by episode 18 and Renamon does likewise in this episode. In episode 21, Jeri first meets Leomon and begins to become her partner Tamer. But she is nowhere in this film, which means it most likely occurs before she becomes a full-fledged Tamer as the events of this epoch move quickly toward the gang entering the Digital World in episode 24 (an epoch that begins in episode 22 with the appearance of Vikaralamon.
This means that the events of Battle of Adventurers occur either between episodes 18 and 19 before the battle with Indramon and specifically set during summer time, between episodes 20 and 21 after Indramon has been defeated and before Leomon is introduced, or between episode 21 and 22 before the Vikaralamon saga begins. However, in episode 20 during the fight against Indramon, the Tamers realize they can use the Blue Cards to Matrix Digivolve, which they most likely would have done in the film if they knew they had the ability to do so. As such, we can conclude pretty safely that this film is set immediately following the events of Episode 18 of the series and sometime before those of Episode 19 begin.
Although Chiaki J. Konaka wrote the script for the Digimon Tamers series, he was not the writer on this film. Released only in the first third of the season’s TV release, one might expect that Konaka would have been called in to draft the story. However, writers on anime productions often work only in the preproduction period and leave before the show even begins to air after handing over the script’s execution to the Series Director. As such, Yasuko Kobayashi, a relatively untested writer at the time, was brought in to create a compelling story. And Yasuko did just that.
The film follows the exploits of Takato and his friends Rika and Henry over summer vacation as they go to visit various places in Japan. Takato goes to Okinawa to visit his cousin Kai and his grandfather in a small ocean-side retreat where they plan to fish, scuba dive, and grill out fresh seafood all summer long. Henry heads father South-West to Yonaguni, the Western-most inhabited Japanese Island (a mere 67 miles form the coast of Taiwan) where the natural, though visually architectural, underwater Yonaguni Monument resides. Rika’s mother has been in Paris on a modelling job and is returning to vacation elsewhere with her family while Rika and her grandmother wait for her in Shibuya.
A new digital craze has taken Japan by storm in the meantime: the V-Pet. This cute avatar puppy functions as a virtual pet and a personal assistant for any mechanical device with a user interface that can connect to the internet. It has been developed by an entrepreneur named Ryuuji Tamashiro who is inadvertently also in Okinawa at the same time as Takato. His research laboratory, hidden deep within the interior of an abandoned island, holds only one other man: an Okinawan native and tech designer and coder named Uehara who created the V-Pet originally as a replacement for his daughter’s pet Mei who she lost through negligence whilst body boarding in adverse climactic conditions a few years back. After the poor thing drowned, his daughter Minami was naturally extremely distraught and he thought the V-Pet would help fill the emotional void in her life. Instead, Tamashiro programmed a disruptive virus within the V-Pets that would one day activate in all units simultaneously, engage, and shut down all systems they’re connected to including plane navigational systems (thereby endangering Rika’s mother), hospital equipment, traffic signs, and electronic cars.
The film opens with a scene in which the Adventure Universe Omnimon is battling an Ultimate-level satanic Baphomet-like Digimon named Mephistomon who was born from the remnants of Apocalymon’s Ghost Data. This new beast is way too weak to fight Omnimon one on own, but retains Universe-spanning abilities and eventually makes its way through a vortex in the net and away from Omnimon by virtue of its extremely high dexterity, and into the Tamers Universe. Once there, it took on the human form of Tamashiro and programmed the V-Pets with its own energy to not only disrupt electronic systems, but to manifest as Digimon copies, as lackeys for Mephistomon including the Armor Digimon forms of Baromon, Ponchomon, Pipismon, Sepikmon, Tylomon, Mantaraymon, Archelomon, Pteramon, and Depthmon, as well as the normal Digimon Kokuwamon, BlueMeramon, and Divermon.
Fortunately, Uehara programmed into his daughter’s original V-Pet prototype a powerful anti-V-Pet kill-switch that can immediately sacrifice itself, activate, and destroy all V-Pets worldwide. Unfortunately, Mephistomon knows this as well and sends out his lackeys to track down Minami Uehara to destroy her computer and the V-Pet anti-virus program within it. And fortunately, once again, this digital construct of the prototype V-Pet is more than just a mere program. When Minami is captured, this V-Pet escapes from the laptop and physically manifests itself, biomerges as it were, into the Real World as Seasarmon, or Shiisaamon, whose appearance is based upon the folkloric indigenous Okinawan religious ‘Lion’Dog’ deity Shiisaa (in a manner similar to how the Devas and Digimon Sovereign are based physically upon human deities).
Together with Seasarmon, Takato, Kai, and Guilmon, who quickly Digivolves to Growlmon and remains in this form head out to sea, find Tamashiro’s hideout, defeat his lackey’s, and begin the battle against Mephistomon just as Omnimon metaphysically hails Henry and Rika, transports them through the net vortex to the lab, by Takato’s side, to fight his fight against the remnants of Apocalymon’s data. Fight his fight for him because, as a denizen of the Adventure Universe, he would be unable to return there once he entered the new Tamers Universe (just as Ryo and Cyberdramon before him had to make a choice to leave the Adventure Universe behind forever in order to fight greater evil in the Tamers Universe, where their strengths were currently needed).
As they begin their battle, Seasarmon is defeated and returns to his Rookie-level as Labramon, a form reminiscent of Minami’s old pet dog Mei. As the two bond and Minami comes to realize that digital life forms are every bit as real as physical ones if given sufficient coding complexity, and that she had treated her V-Pet wrongly by ignoring it all this time, despite its love for her. At this moment, she calls her Digimon partner by its pet name ‘Mei’ and thereby enables the passcode, which allows him to sacrifice himself and thereby destroy all of the V-Pets worldwide in the process. Rika’s mother and millions of others throughout the world are now safe from Mephistomon’s first plan, but his next involves taking on the world by himself, on his own steam.
He creates a Digital Plane in which the world appears as if it had been destroyed by him and much of its cities flooded and left to the ravages of time. In this plane, he battles the Growlmon, Kyubimon, and Gargomon, but their teamwork overwhelms him and almost defeats him for good. That is until he Digivolves to his Mega-level form as Gulfmon and threatens to engulf the world in his unrepentant will toward evil for evil’s sake (a form of evil mostly absent in our own world where most can be explained through the sheer banality of evil or the even more terrifying Jean Renoirian adage that ‘everyone has their reasons’, meaning that most people do what they think is right and proper, and their evil can only be seen as such from the outside looking in).
Luckily, Calumon gives the Tamers the strength to Digivolve to the Ultimate-level through his Digivolution Catalyst ability. Together, Rapidmon, WarGrowlmon, and Taomon fight the Mega-level Gulfmon. They become metallic and then melt into pure energy, fuse their energy streams, and attack their opponent with one last ditch frenetic blow that cuts him in two and ends the battle for good. The film ends with the kids all vacationing at Kai’s house for a while and Minami, now partnerless mere days after discovering she had a Digimon partner in the first place, has at least made some lifelong friends in the Tamers from Tokyo, and even more important for the short term, her neighbor Kai in Okinawa, together in their homeland of sand and surf where atop each shrine rests a stone Shiisaa serving as a reminder of those few great hours with Seasarmon and of his will to watch over her for the remainder of her days.
Ciao for now,
The Digidestined Cody
[Next up: Tamers: Runaway Locomon]