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Digimon Adventure Tri is a series of films (recut in the West into episodes) following the cast of the original Digimon anime as they have one final adventure that defines who each will be as an adult.

The first film, Reunion, follows our heroes as they are reunited with their Digimon partners for the first time in years—only to be immediately attacked by an invasion of corrupted, insane Digimon in the real world. This causes our heroes to realize that what they did so cavalierly as children is not only dangerous but could easily get bystanders killed in the crossfire.

The second film, Determination, focuses on Mimi and Joe as they clash with their own key personality traits—purity and honesty, respectively—as they come of age. Mimi learns that purity of intention doesn’t matter if the results of the actions you take don’t match. Joe learns to be honest with himself: that he doesn’t want the life his parents have chosen for him. He wants to choose his own life path.

It also introduces a new DigiDestined, Meiko, and her Digimon Meicoomon. Unfortunately for the pair, the latter is corrupted and disappears into a realm between the Digital World and our own at the end of the movie.

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The third film, Confession (episodes 9-13), deals with the fallout of this event. With Meicoomon’s sudden, unforeseen corruption, the DigiDestined begin to fear for their own Digimon partners. The ones hit the worst by this are Izzy and T.K.

Izzy is a child prodigy. He knows several languages and is already a financial success. A programming genius, he has always been the group’s go-to guy for technical problems and information on their Digimon. The Digimon they know and love are being corrupted and it’s only a matter of time before all of them are infected. Yet, despite his best efforts, he can’t figure out how to save them.

Izzy holds the Crest of Knowledge, and thus knowledge is his defining trait—just as Mimi’s is purity and Joe’s honesty. He’s supposed to be the smart one, the one who can solve any problem. But he is completely ignorant of how to even start solving the corruption problem. Now, for the first time, he is enraged by his own lack of knowledge. He pushes himself far beyond his limits and is critical of his own arrogance that made him think he could solve any problem he came across.

Izzy is so focused on having all the answers that he has forgotten the flip side of knowledge: learning. It’s only through his partner that he remembers that ignorance isn’t to be hated; it’s what allows you to learn. It again becomes clear to him that learning new things is a joy. Even if he fails, even if the only way to save the Digimon is a full memory wipe. All that means is that everyone will have to learn about each other again—and since it was so fun the first time around, how could that be a bad thing now?

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But while Izzy’s battle is based in philosophy, T.K.’s is based in emotion. Along with Kari, T.K. is the youngest of the original DigiDestined. Always upbeat and optimistic, his is the Crest of Hope. Yet, in Confession, we see his first encounter with true despair.

Early in the film, T.K. learns that his partner, Patamon, is infected. It is only a matter of time until he goes crazy like Meicoomon. T.K. tries to fulfill his positive role in the group, but he is so afraid of what is happening that he can’t even tell the DigiDestined about Patamon’s ongoing corruption.

With Izzy making no progress and the attempts to quarantine the Digimon already a failure, there is little T.K. can do. Still, he does as he has always done and hopes. Yet, hoping is not action. So while he hopes, Patamon plans for his own impending insanity—He wants T.K. and his fellow Digimon to finish him off when the time comes.

And, in the end, all T.K.’s hope is for nothing. The Digimon and Digital World are saved, yes, but reset to a time before they ever met the DigiDestined. T.K. has lost his companion—not necessarily in body, but certainly in mind.

For the first time, hope has failed T.K. But thanks to the struggles Izzy is also experiencing, Izzy is able to pass on to T.K. some hard-won adult wisdom: Hope alone gets you nothing; sometimes bad things will happen no matter what you do. But it’s what you do after those bad things to make life better that matters. That is true hope.

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Yet, while T.K. is able to take this wisdom to heart, Meiko, the newest DigiDestined and the first to lose her Digimon partner, is not. She blames herself for the corruption—and perhaps rightfully so. But T.K. and the others aren’t interested in blame; their focus is only on getting back what they have lost.

They know that they are on the line between child and adult. So while Meiko chooses the adult path—to accept her loss and move on—the rest of the DigiDestined choose to walk this line and go on one final youthful adventure. But this time, they aren’t thrown by destiny into it as they were as children. They make the conscious choice to head into the Digital World and find their reborn companions. They are old enough to know what is important but are still young enough to be able to dream and act.

It’s just a shame that Meiko doesn’t come around to their way of thinking until it’s already too late.

Digimon Adventure Tri: Confession was released in Japanese theaters on September 24, 2016. It can be viewed for free and with English subtitles on Crunchyroll.

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