Translated from Hiroyuki Kakudou (director for the original Digimon Adventure and Adventure 02)’s blog post from May 30, 2018, discussing his involvement — and eventual lack thereof — in the project eventually revealed to be Digimon Adventure LAST EVOLUTION Kizuna.
I received a huge response when I posted the following tweets yesterday on May 28, 2018.1
In regards to the new Digimon project
Because I had been requested to supervise the screenplay so that the lore could be properly implemented, I had been working on it since last year, but after the submission of a plot that seems to be incompatible with the lore2 from the TV series, and after the production side had accepted it, I announced that I would step down. I heard that the story will be continuing with that after all, so yes, I will step down.
The producer3 has consented to my stepping down.
The series director is not necessarily the sole author of a work, and it’s not as if the TV series’s lore has been properly documented anyway.
All of the spinoff movies that were made while the TV series was airing were made without my involvement, so I still believe there are many people who can enjoy something even regardless of the lore.4
I received many comments of support. I apologize for not being able to reply to all of them.
Thank you, to all of you.
It seems that there have been some misunderstandings, so I will elaborate further. The new project I was referring to is not the one currently being screened5, but the one that was announced at the end (I believe, it’s not like I was there to confirm it) or was already announced on the official Twitter account.
They have yet to announce specifics about the medium it’s on, so I can’t touch on it too much here, but I was requested to supervise in regards to the lore for Digimon Adventure and 02. Naturally, the two works I have historically worked on the lore for was those two series, and those two series only (but not all of it).
To understand the lore or concept that I’m referring to, you may be able to understand it better via these tweets I posted in March 2013, which I’ve also touched on in this blog.
It is rather long, so I will rewrite it here.
About Digimon 1: I first heard about making a Digimon anime in August 1998.
At the time it was determined that there would be more than five protagonists, each with a different Digimon.
For commercial reasons, it had to be something different from previous works, but there had to be a proper foundation for the story’s content.
About Digimon 2: We paid attention to the Digimon’s “evolution”.
Normally, evolution would refer to the change in an entire species, so why would the changes in an individual Digimon be called evolution? This was touched on during the conversation betewen Koushirou and Tentomon in Adventure’s second episode, but the mystery was never solved within the series.
About Digimon 3: I was thinking about how mankind would evolve in the future, and although the most significant of the changes up until now would be the increase in brain size, we’ve hit our limit. Even now, when a fetus is born, the skull is divided into three parts and forced through the birth canal.
It would not be able to sustain even 1.5 times the force.
About Digimon 4: But I don’t think there are many other parts that would change either. It seems like the number of teeth would be decreasing, but you’d think that some kind of period of evolutionary change would be coming.
So, if we’re not talking about a physical change, how about a change in the spirit or the soul?
About Digimon 5: Human thoughts are quite limited by our physical features and the structures of our brains. So what if there could be someone else besides simply just your body? If something exists to supplement yourself, that existence itself would be evolution.
About Digimon 6: The reason we are evolving now is thanks to the development of electronic devices and the Internet. We are constructing an invisible world, like another Earth covering our own Earth.
About Digimon 7: This “fragment of the soul” has never been clearly visible, even though it has existed for a long time. But if there were another Earth, a digital world, it would be possible to perceive its shape.
Since ancient times, its existence has always had a high affinity with electricity and electromatic waves, and that’s why you can see traces of it in so-called psychic photographs and psychic videos.
About Digimon 8: In 02, this is what Oikawa and Iori’s father saw in their video game when they were young.
They have also been perceived as youkai, as Professor Takenouchi described in episode 33 of 02.
About Digimon 9: As a result, the being from Adventure who was neither human nor Digimon was named Gennai, after Hiraga Gennai6, so that he could bear the namesake of someone deeply involved in electricity.
(In 02 Gennai’s other self, following that route, was named Benjamin after Benjamin Franklin, but we threw out the naming scheme after that.)
About Digimon 10: The initial trigger for humanity receiving partner Digimon was the Hikarigaoka incident in 19967, but at the time the Internet network was not ready and it was too early for anything to happen.
The following years resulted in two and then four people getting involved, and after that it doubled every year (twice, because digital and binary).
About Digimon 11: Twenty years later, in the world depicted in the final episode of 02, all human beings have received a partner Digimon. This is the ultimate result of Digimon Adventure’s story of evolution.
About Digimon 12: The final enemy of the first series was “the sealed possibility of evolution”, but there must have been something that released that power in the first place, the same thing that manipulated Ken Ichijouji via Oikawa,
About Digimon 13: so if there were a third series, we wanted to create a setup about “something that hinders evolution” coming from outside Earth, and the only remnant of that remaining is what led to Yamato becoming an astronaut in the final episode of 02. Because it’s related to evolution, the next target should be the moon, and then Jupiter, and it’s a pretty straightforward progression for science fiction.
About Digimon 14: This got a bit too long, but now it’s the anniversary of the broadcast of the first episode.
As for why things from the Digital World can materialize in the real world,
the concept of the soul in this series is similar to Neoplatonic emanationism, but that’s a story for another day.
About Digimon, supplement 1: And so, since the Digimon in Digimon Adventure’s world are a fragment of their partner’s souls, sometimes their personalities are similar, and sometimes it’s the exact opposite, but they will never negate what their partners do.
About Digimon, supplement 2: Well, there’s another work out there where the soul appears in the form of an animal that accompanies you and shifts appearance depending on the person’s growth. That would be Northern Lights8 from the His Dark Materials series, which recently was adapted into a movie. It had been published in its original country several years earlier, but it was not published in Japan until November 1999.
About Digimon, supplement 3: So imagine my surprise when I read Northern Lights after finishing 02! Moreover, in the sequel The Subtle Knife, there was a tool for opening a gate into a different world, and I thought, wow, that works like the D3 in 02! I bought the final book, but I haven’t read it yet. I recommend it to Digimon Adventure fans.
In addition to this, aside from the lore, there was also this in regards to the TV series:
“The lead characters of this series are Taichi and Agumon, but in the story, all eight children and their partner Digimon are the main characters (in 02, twelve).”
“There are no set birthdays nor blood types for any human character (except for Miyako Inoue, where there is a clear framework).”9
And, as I mentioned in my tweets earlier, it’s not just what’s currently being screened; even the spinoff movies that were made at the time of the series were not entirely made in accordance with the lore. The first Adventure movie was made at around the same time as the TV series, so we were able to match our pace with it and properly involve it in the series, but I didn’t know about the contents of the next two movies until they were already completed, and I didn’t even meet with the staff about them.
Because I was not involved in any of the meetings for those two movies, there are already some deviations from the basic principles written above. But I’m sure you should all understand that it doesn’t mean those movies weren’t any fun. The only thing I was able to have some degree of preliminary meetings was for Diablomon Strikes Back by Director Imamura, who also directed many of the TV series episodes, including the final episode of Adventure.
But then this led to an unreasonable demand to have the TV series resolve the contradictions with lore from the previous two movies, and we thought, “isn’t this out of order?”, and so we felt we could not continue with the TV series any longer, and it is one of the reasons why Adventure ended with 02. As a result, we ended up having to rush some things, such as cramming in the epilogue depicting children all around the world with partner Digimon, which we had originally intended to have in the third series, but I think we finished everything 02 could possibly do in a good way, and on top of that the masterpiece called Tamers was born.
Therefore, my stepping down from the project should not be taken as proof that the value of the new project will be damaged in quality.
Even with Adventure and 02, which I was the director for, there are many people who are dissatisfied with certain aspects, and such things are the case for every work, and even if I had chosen to stick with the project and it had ended up conforming to the above lore principles, there will always be things people will be dissatisfied with. And there’s different degrees of how much you’re satisfied or dissatisfied with something.
For example, there’s the scene in the final episode in 02 where everyone was shown to have become adults, and there’s the entire issue of Sora and Yamato; you can pin the blame for those ideas on Kakudou.
If you enjoyed the recent work, which did not particularly have adherence to the background lore, then you will probably continue to enjoy the next one.
However, for those who enjoyed Adventure and/or 02 and were dissatisfied with the most recent work for reasons related to lore, and are looking forward to the next one, there may be some parts you’re not satisfied with, but they may not be things that bother you all that much, but it’s not right to let people have their expectations raised and dashed10, which leads us to me announcing my stepping down.
Of course, the finished product does not necessarily need to be exactly adherent to the lore, and if it’s not, I don’t mind as long as the work is enjoyable, but beyond that, if something happens to involve me again, I’ll report on it again.
In any case, slated for sometime in the next few years, there’s a project in the works, aimed at people who were passionate about watching Digimon as children! I mean, I think that’s actually something to be excited about.
This ended up getting long, but for the time being, I’m going to close shop on talking about the new Digimon project and my past work on it for this blog post.
Also, as I tweeted earlier, I will continue to introduce things related to toys, figures, games, music, and other things. Please continue to look forward to them.
The Super Evolution Spirit Tailmon-Angewomon arrived recently. Not only is it wonderful quality, but the sales also seem to have been very good. I haven’t opened the box yet, though. I’ll do that later.
- Real-life context: This blog post was made on May 30, 2018. At the time, Digimon Adventure tri. had just screened its sixth and final part (Future). The existence of Digimon Adventure LAST EVOLUTION Kizuna had not yet been formally revealed, nor any of the other staff members who were working on it. On May 28, 2018, Director Kakudou made the above tweets that led to controversy on multiple counts — it not only accidentally revealed that a new Adventure-related work was in production (in the midst of massive fanbase negativity and cynicism towards the Adventure series and accusations of Toei continually milking its popularity), but also indicated a red flag for many people who immediately did not get a good impression from the fact something clearly happened to make the original Adventure director drop out. Director Kakudou quickly prepared the above post in obvious response.
- A lot of this post revolves around the Japanese word settei (設定), which is a bit of a multifaceted word; literally meaning “setting”, it can refer to both broader things such as worldbuilding and background lore or even canon itself, and smaller-scale things such as character backstories or personal timelines. I translated it largely as “lore” for the purposes of easy reading in this post, especially because the contents of this blog post and hindsight from LAST EVOLUTION Kizuna have indicated that the offending issue was largely a worldbuilding problem, but it is important to note that a large reason for the huge panic around the original tweets was that Director Kakudou’s complaints about settei could have potentially referred to an incredibly large range of things that apply to canon.
- With the revelation that the project refers to LAST EVOLUTION Kizuna, “the producer” in this case most likely refers to producer Yousuke Kinoshita.
- Director Kakudou’s original post has what’s most likely to be a copy/paste error, as the last section of his quoted tweets repeats for no apparent reason. I went ahead and cut the repeated section.
- I handled it in a case-by-case manner so that the meaning would be clear in each situation, but in the original text Director Kakudou consistently makes a distinction between the series spinoff movies such as Our War Game! and Diablomon Strikes Back, which he refers to as gekijouban (劇場版), and Digimon Adventure tri., which he refers to as “the work currently being screened” or “the recent work”. There is a hint of “dodging awkwardness” in the way he writes about it, likely due to the massive amount of controversy surrounding Adventure tri. at the time (especially when it came to lore compliance; see below) and his own publicly implied distaste for the series in the past.
- Hiraga Gennai was a famous Edo-era scientist, artist, and gay culture writer who invented the Japanese incarnation of the elekiter, a static electricity generator.
- Perceptive Adventure fans know the Hikarigaoka incident to actually be from 1995. This is the only time it’s ever been said to be 1996 (even from Director Kakudou himself), so it might be best assumed to be a typo.
- Northern Lights is referred to as The Golden Compass in various countries; I used the original UK title here for proper clarity.
- It is considered particularly notable, for a Japanese anime, that Digimon does not generally give stats like birthdays or blood types to its characters. (Blood types are treated with quite a bit of gravity in Japan, similar to horoscopes.) The “clear framework” in regards to Miyako most likely refers to her star sign (Gemini) and blood type (AB) being revealed by Chizuru as she reads her horoscope in episode 25 of Adventure 02.
- Real-life context: “disrespect for and lack of adherence to Adventure canon” and “dishonest and misleading staff” were generally the most common accusations levied by Japanese critics of Adventure tri.