Digimon: The Movie first released in the United States 20 years ago, and it's still untouchable even after all these years. First hitting theaters back in 2000, it's honestly a project that could never exist these days let alone could there be another perfect storm that resulted in this feature. Compiling three different short films first released in Japan, Digimon: The Movie was reflective of not only how anime in the United States was dubbed and produced 20 years ago, but was honestly a breakthrough for anime feature films in the West in the first place.
20 years ago, during the height of Digimon's popularity in the United States, fans were treated to a different kind of feature film. Although many of us did not realize it at the time, Digimon: The Movie was a strange amalgamation that ultimately ended up working. A blend of previously released elements combined with all new script and more, it's not something that we'll ever have a shot at again.
Digimon: The Movie was a compilation combining three different films released across the first two seasons of the original series, Digimon Adventure, Digimon Adventure: Our War Game!, and Digimon Adventure 02: Digimon Hurricane Landing!! / Transcendent Evolution!! The Golden Digimentals. Because these three films were not long enough on their own for a theatrical feature, the teams at Saban Entertainment and 20th Century Fox did some...reconfiguring.
Removing about a little over half and hour in total from each of the shorts, the three were combined together into an original feature with many changes in tone, dialogue, and plot for each of the shorts into what seemed to be a cohesive package. Forgiving the odd tie in to Angela Anaconda (which accounts for at least ten minutes of the original runtime and made many fans angry back in the day), the changes ultimately make Digimon: The Movie special.
Because anime dubbing and licensing is handled far differently these days, Digimon: The Movie is not something that can be made again. This kind of, well, butchery is no longer acceptable to English speaking audiences, and it's no longer acceptable for the original studios in Japan. It's also no longer necessary given how even the smallest anime features can get a limited theatrical release and still be successful in North America.
To be completely honest, it might not be the best feature out there, but it's certainly a landmark anime production. The various changes made it an original film in its own right, and it's ultimately what led to its theatrical release in the first place to complete with the likes of Pokemon. At this point, even the criticisms for the film are praises because now fans know all about its behind-the-scenes shenanigans.1comments
You can argue against its original soundtrack too, but it's almost a perfect time capsule of the 2000s. And that's Digimon: The Movie as a whole. It was perfect for Digimon fans in 2000, and it's honestly still a major hit 20 years later. The flaws are now a loving showcase to anime licensing from 20 years ago, and its best moments are still fondly recognized to this day.
But what do you think? Did you watch Digimon: The Movie 20 years ago? How does it compare to watching it now? How do you feel about the 20 years it's been for the Digimon franchise? Let us know your thoughts in the comments or you can even reach out to me directly about all things animated and other cool stuff @Valdezology on Twitter!