A translation of this Anime! Anime! article from October 31, 2023, featuring an interview with director Tomohisa Taguchi of Digimon Adventure 02 THE BEGINNING.
Digimon Adventure 02 THE BEGINNING was released on October 27, 2023. It’s a new story that weaves together the tale of the world’s first “Chosen Child” to have formed a partnership with a Digimon, which had never been depicted in the series before.
This movie was directed by Tomohisa Taguchi, who also directed Digimon Adventure LAST EVOLUTION Kizuna (hereinafter, Kizuna).
After the release of Kizuna, Director Taguchi thought “I probably won’t end up being involved with Digimon again,” so why did he decide to bring this movie into the world? Here, we take a look behind the scenes of this movie’s production.
*This article contains content that touches on the movie’s ending, so please be aware of this if you haven’t seen the movie yet.
[Interview: Dai Esaki; Transcript: Roko Hashibi; Photography; Kuranosuke Yoshino]
The “bright and shining idea” that inspired the heart
–When did planning for this movie begin?
The project itself began in the autumn of 2020. Once Kizuna was finally released, I was feeling relief and thinking “We did it! It’s over!”, but a few months later, the movie’s producer, (Yousuke) Kinoshita-san, called me to go for late-night drinks (laughs). He said, “I’ve got this bright and shining idea, so I’m thinking of making a new Digimon work with it.” I was surprised because I thought the story had ended rather neatly with Kizuna, and I’d thought, “the Digimon series reaches its conclusion here.”
–What was that “bright and shining idea”?
It was “the first child” to have a Digimon as a partner. I imagine that for Kinoshita-san, it was like a strong light that still didn’t have a clear and visible outline yet.
–So the decision to produce this movie hadn’t been made at the time of Kizuna.
I don’t think it’d been determined at all. I probably said something along the lines of “it’d be nice to do something,” but I personally had a very strong feeling in my heart “I’m not sure if I’ll be able to make any more story than this.” I felt that no matter what I did, it’d just be a rehash of Kizuna.
–Fans had also been hoping to see how the story leads up to the 02 epilogue.
I found out that people wanted to see that based on their responses after the release of Kizuna. But I don’t think it would be very interesting to make something like that. It’d be something that’d conform to “a future that’s already been set in stone”, and it’d probably have to do something that would be a direct antithesis to Kizuna. That’s why I thought I would be involved with Digimon only at least up to Kizuna, and that I should leave the continuation to someone else.
–Please tell us why you decided to take up the role of director for this movie.
It’s because Kinoshita-san had come up with an idea that wasn’t a direct continuation of Kizuna. The strength of the Digimon series is that it feels like a bit of a reset with every series, so with those points in mind, I was told that I didn’t have to be too conscious of it being a continuation of the previous series.
I was free to show whatever I wanted. I figured there was something I could do with that line of thought, and I thought it would be a good idea to make something with the playful and fun atmosphere of Digimon Adventure 02 (hereinafter, 02), so I accepted the offer to direct the movie.
–So one of the deciding points was that you managed to find common ground with Kinoshita-san.
Come to think of it, there was an incident during production that made me think “Kinoshita-san and I really understand each other!” The “0” in this movie’s logo has a little accent mark that resembles the mathematical square root symbol. I thought it was supposed to be a play on “route of 02” (02‘s story), which I had put in a hint of at the beginning of the movie, and I was deeply touched, and thought, “Kinoshita-san, you really understand my feelings! We truly understand each other!” But when I told Kinoshita-san that, he said, “no, it’s just a design element” (laugh).
–You thought you’d understood each other, but it wasn’t like that (laughs).
It was just a design accent, and a complete coincidence.
A story that doesn’t change the Digimon timeline
–How did you decide on what would be the main story for this movie?
In fact, the story went through a full revision at one point, and it ended up being a much simpler story than what I had originally conceived of it as.
Initially, I was trying to make a time travel suspense story, where Daisuke and his friends end up in the past somehow and meet the first Chosen Child there. But when I tried to make it into a science fiction story with things like time paradoxes, it became difficult to maintain consistency. Digimon has a very clear history and timeline that we’d already seen, so there’s a lot of information that has to be kept in mind. I got so stuck in trying to keep the story free of contradictions that I couldn’t focus on making it interesting at all. So I went back to square one and reorganized the idea from scratch.
So from there, I focused on keeping the story as simple as possible. I had to show what Lui was like when he was a kid, so I depicted it in a way that resembled time travel, where they learn about what happened in the past via a mysterious ability. And I deliberately had it be presented in an unclear way where it would be hard to tell whether it was the past or not just by looking. And finally, I put Daisuke and the others in the role of supporting the story of Lui’s growth as a young man.
–Please tell us what was particularly important to you when you decided on what would be in this movie.
The main one was to not mess with the Digimon timeline that we’d seen up until that point. I didn’t want to negate past series or interfere with certain points and say “this was the actual truth.” I took into account everything that had been done so far and focused on things that hadn’t been shown yet.
Lui is the first child to form a partnership with a Digimon, and while it’s the biggest factor here, it’s also something that nothing has ever touched on before. And on top of that, it’s not something that would have an effect on anything we’ve seen of Digimon history so far, so I felt that I had a lot of freedom when creating the background lore for this movie. I truly feel that it was a “bright and shining idea”.
–In terms of him being a new character, he seems to have some points in common with Menoa’s background in Kizuna.
I feel that Menoa and Eosmon from Kizuna and Lui and Ukkomon from this movie have something in common at the core. Nobody involved had any malicious intent, and the resulting incident occurred as a result of doing what they thought was the right thing. It was all the result of putting things in the wrong order before they went out of control.
Carefully made evolution stock footage reminiscent of the TV series
–The evolution stock footage leaves a pretty huge impact. Why did you choose to have the evolution stock footage be exactly like the footage from the TV series?
Evolution stock footage was something I wanted to do from the very beginning of my work on this movie.
Actually, I even wanted to have evolution stock footage in Kizuna, and I’d even mocked it up in the storyboard. I wanted to do things like having Agumon and Gabumon evolve together on a split screen, without leaving anything out, but I had no choice but to cut it for time…so in the end, I only got to have Agumon evolve at the beginning.
But the evolution sequences really are something special. I think having evolution stock footage really increases that “feeling of watching Digimon”, just like how I felt when I was a kid. In this movie, we had time to show the evolution sequences in full, so I made sure to include as much evolution stock footage as possible.
–The footage is in much higher resolution, but it’s made to be like that of the TV series. Did you try to match the original footage as much as possible?
I did. Or rather, I didn’t want to see anything but that (laughs). If I made the evolution sequences into anything different, it would just somehow feel wrong.
Passing the baton to the future
–Is there a possibility that there might be another story after this movie?
Personally, I think “if I showed any more than this, it wouldn’t be very interesting,” so I can’t say anything about what happens after this. I feel like even if I made a movie with answers to all of this, it wouldn’t make a very good movie.
I think the most appealing situation for the fans is one where the road to the future is still unclear, but “they’ll reach that future in the 02 epilogue someday.” If you want to make a story that those kinds of fans can accept, it’s not exactly an easy task. After all, we saw the Digimon at their happiest and their best all wrapped up with the TV series, right? So that’s why, when I put serious thought into it, I felt that we shouldn’t be making stories to completely fill in the gaps up to that future.
–Since that ending left room for more imagination, you didn’t want to do something that would clearly define whether the future that fans had in mind would be right or wrong.
Right. No matter how you depict whatever twists and turns happened in the meantime, I don’t think they’ll be able to align with the imagination of every single fan. But still, I managed to put out a sample of points that I’d thought up with “I think people would find it fun if this happened,” and I put them in Kizuna and this movie. So that’s why, at least for me, it would be hard to depict any future stories. If it’s going to be done, I think someone else would do it better than me (laughs).
–So it’s a sense of you handing back the opportunity to imagine to everyone else and passing the baton to the next creator.
It’s in that sense. We also had the movie end on the note of the Digivices disappearing in order to remove another restraint on the future of the Digimon series. In fact, in the 02 epilogue from the TV series, you don’t see anyone with Digivices, so we deliberately intended to make that consistent.
–Finally, please leave a message for the fans who are supporting this movie.
Thank you for waiting all this time since the last movie. It’s the first new Digimon movie in three years. Please pay attention to all of the little details that the staff members have worked hard to cram in.
I’ve tried to use this movie to delve deeply into the question of what Digimon are supposed to be in the first place. I hope you can experience this new portrayal of Digimon while also feeling nostalgia for the past, so please be sure to see for yourself at the movie theater. And after you see it, like with the phrase “to our future!” that’s on the main poster, I hope you can think about what kind of future that this movie presents.