Produced by Teri-Lei O'Malley Adapted and written by Jeff Nimoy and Bob Buchholz Featuring the voices of Joshua Seth and Mona Marshall Classification: PG Rating: **
Early on in the animated children's film Digimon: The Movie, two youngsters, Tai and Izzy, discover a Digiegg on a computer screen. The egg jumps right off the screen. Soon, it hatches and out pops the Digimon named Botamon. Then, Botamon digivolves into Koromon, and later that night to Agumon.
Is it possible for an adult to actually follow this? Or, like me, were you confused-imon? Apparently, this is just the backdrop exposition already known to every young fan of the series, in which there are literally hundreds of characters. Things don't get much better through the next hour and a half. The double story line (the movie is based on two movies from Japan, released there earlier this year) takes place both in Japan and the United States.
As with the Digimon: Digital Monsters television series (seen 25 times a week in Canada on three different networks), the shows are adapted from Japanese series. After a few culturally awkward Japanese elements are removed (North Americans don't like to see children going to the bathroom or little girls hitchhiking), the show is freely translated and injected with North American jokes. The scenes alternate between kitschy cuteness and spectacular violence, with only a nod toward plot, character development and motivation.
Both stories in the movie concern a handful of "digidestined" kids and the sometimes friendly, sometimes hostile, sidekick creatures who come from the parallel universe known as Digiworld. In Japan, kids are fighting a Digimon that is on the Internet, busy devouring data like a mad Pacman, chewing up the phone company, airports and a subway system. Only when our heroes decide to mass spam him with e-mail from children all over the world (a little like the clap-your-hands bit in Peter Pan) does the monster slow down enough to be beaten.
In the American story, which bounces from California to a field of yellow flowers in Colorado to the skyscrapers of New York, a flying dinosaur-like monster, with a sepulchral growl of a voice, is on the loose. The kids unleash their digital monster friends to do battle with him, which involves lots of thunderbolts, fireballs and loud music.
"I've often talked to kids and they know more about the show than I do," said one of the American writer-adaptors, Jeff Nimoy (a 34-year-old cousin of Leonard Nimoy of Star Trek fame), in an interview in the on-line animation magazine Mania. That makes sense: After all, he's just an adult who writes the show, not someone young enough to actually follow it.