AVAHS – Digimon Adventure 02 | A Very Digi Christmas Review

AVAHS - AVDC1

Plot: It’s Christmastime for the Digidestined, but the festivities are soured when Arukenimon floods the real world with a slue of Digimon and a control spire.

Breakdown: Twas the first day of December and all through the blog

Twix began writing this monologue

About all of the Christmastime posts she would write

though her self-imposed deadlines gave her quite a fright.

Each day, a review will grace this domain

Some of them cheery, some of them pain.

The year 2020 we all wanted to forget

and look forward to a new year with minimal regret

Channeling all of her holiday glee,

Twix kicked off her AVAHS jubilee

So gather around, all those seeking some fun,

AVAHS will bring cheer until day 31.

—————————————–

Welcome to 2020’s A Very Animated Holiday Special! This year, I thought we’d kick things off with an anime episode. I’ve mentioned before that, despite Christmas being big in Japan too, there just aren’t that many Christmas specials in anime. However, there is one anime Christmas special that is, well, special to me: Digimon Adventure 02 – A Very Digi Christmas.

A Very Digi Christmas was the first ever anime Christmas special I ever saw, and it was pretty much the only anime Christmas special that I knew of for several years until I eventually watched the Pokemon Christmas Special. If you know me, you know I already adore Digimon, so this arrangement was made for me.

This episode occurs near the end of the series, so a lot of stuff is going down, but that doesn’t mean that Christmas is put on hold. Not only is Ken holding a Christmas party at his house, but all of the new Digidestined are bringing the Digimon of the old crew back to the real world as gifts for them.

There is a LOT to love about this special. Ken’s being a big sweetheart. He’s super shy about inviting the other kids to his house for a Christmas party, but eventually invites the whole group, even Cody, whom he believes still doesn’t like him (and vice versa.) Then we get some nice character development for him as he starts relaxing and enjoying the company of his friends at the party. He’s able to finally be his real self while also finding some semblance of happiness after all of the crap he’s been through his whole life, and that’s just great. Ken’s character arc has always been the best of the franchise, and he’s still my favorite character alongside Izzy.

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The other kids getting reunited with their Digimon was also great, although I don’t really understand why the old kids don’t keep their Digimon around 24/7 like the new kids do. Before, they were protecting areas from the Digimon Emperor. Why did they choose to stay after Ken became a good guy? Am I forgetting something important?

There are several little scenes here and there that help highlight the lighter tone of the episode, at least to a degree. You even have a short discussion between TK’s mom and Davis’ dad about their kids as they bump into each other in the street, and some woman who works with Ken’s mom mentioning that she recently had a delightful conversation with Ken and he’s changed for the better a lot lately. Little notes like that make everything feel a bit homier.

Even the stuff with the main plot is really good. There’s not much of it because they’re trying to focus more on the holiday (which makes the battle seem rushed, but it’s not awful) but they foreshadow the big finale coming up very ominously. It’s clear that they’ll not only need all of the Digidestined for this fight, but they’ll also need to somehow do damage control all over the world. The biggest threat is coming, and they’re in for a massive fight unlike anything they’ve ever faced before.

That being said, this special sticks out in my mind for a…different and slightly sadder reason.

Matt’s concert.

What’s wrong with Matt’s concert, you ask?

Before the concert, we see Sora shaking in nervousness as she tries to get up the courage to give Matt some home baked cookies she made him for the event. Tai shows up, wanting to invite her to the concert as a date, but she makes it clear through (purposeful) awkward fidgety dialogue that she can’t because she wants to get backstage so she can give Matt her gift.

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This was the first indication that Sora was more into Matt than she was into Tai, who, for years, had been pegged as her main love interest. I never fully understood why they shifted gears to Matt both in and out of universe, but, spoiler alert, the two end up married with two kids while Tai has a kid with someone off-screen.

This change is very controversial in the Digimon fandom. Some people find the change to be one of the most baffling and unfitting decisions they’ve made in the entire franchise, and some find it to be more fitting that she fell for Matt. Others were simply heartbroken that basically the main pairing of the series fell apart with so little in terms of explanation or closure.

Me? I was some combination of A and C.

I always supported TaixSora. TKxKari was my OTP, though, and….even they didn’t seem to end up together….*huff* I thought Tai and Sora were really sweet together. They complemented each other well and helped each other grow. To suddenly shut the door on this pairing…during the Christmas special….was just a lot to process.

Remember, this is little child me. I was used to the main pairings in shows that I liked either being completely ambiguous or ending with them together. I’m not certain, but this was probably the first time I had ever seen a main pairing fall apart like this.

Not to mention that Matt never seemed to be romantically interested in Sora, so this fully came out of left field. Don’t get me wrong, they were close friends, and their eventual romantic relationship seems healthy enough, but this is one of those pairings where one party always seemed more interested than the other. At least with Tai and Sora the feelings always seemed very mutual.

By the way, the irony that the girl with the crest of love unceremoniously severed her romantic link to someone who has been her main love interest for the past four years (At least. There was ship-teasing even when they flashed back to them as younger kids.) while in the process of going after a new one is not lost on me.

Looking back to this episode as an adult, though, I do have to say….it’s not perfect, but they do handle this situation a lot better than I ever gave them credit for.

Tai and Sora are older now. They’ve changed in a variety of ways. They’re not the same people they were when they were kids in the Digital World. Sometimes, people just grow apart. And other times they just fall out of ‘love’ and move on to people they believe they connect with more. It happens, especially when you’re as young as they are.

What I truly never realized about this scene was how well it showed Tai’s growth as a person. Even Agumon points this out, but I think I was always too baffled by what was happening that I didn’t put too much focus on how it was happening.

Tai didn’t get upset or mad at Sora. He understood that Sora’s eyes and heart were elsewhere now. He swallowed his pride and even encouraged her to go see Matt. It obviously hurt him, but he knew that would make her happy. One huge aspect of love is putting the other person’s happiness above your own. He’s truly grown up at this point, especially considering his once fierce rivalry with Matt. You’re a good man, Tai.

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Just another reason why I’ll always love this series.

…..Now, what I DIDN’T appreciate was adding salt to the wound by having June zoom by him, knocking him down, and then listening to her gush about how all of the girls just love Matt. That was unnecessary…

Some minor notes about this episode:

– Uhm, Matt has a televised concert!? Considering his band only seems to know how to play one song, I don’t see how this happened.

– Davis nearly referenced strip poker. No, I’m not kidding. Yolei asks what card game they all want to play next and Davis says “How about strip pok–” and he’s cut off. I don’t understand how that flew by censors at all. ‘Poker’ isn’t even the questionable word in that phrase! These kids are 11!

– When the new group is about to bulk DNA Digivolve, Tai says they’ll finally get to see what all the fuss is about with these DNA Digivolutions. Funny he should say that because he’s the first person (With Matt) to ever pull off a DNA Digivolution. Does he not remember Omnimon?

– The guy backstage at Matt’s concert was hilarious.

– Ken’s mom had a funny moment. She’s tearing up because she’s so happy that her house has the laughter of children in it again, and she tries to stop herself from crying like this. “Oh I promised myself I wouldn’t cry. Quick! Think sad thoughts!”

All in all, this is a very nice holiday special and just a great episode as a whole, particularly for Digimon fans. Yes, the shipping stuff might sting even now, but I’ve grown to accept it. It wasn’t meant to be. Tai accepts that harsh reality, and so must we all. They ended up happy, and that’s all that matters.

…..Still not accepting that Kari and TK didn’t end up together, though.


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7 thoughts on “AVAHS – Digimon Adventure 02 | A Very Digi Christmas Review

  1. I remember this Christmas special. That was a trip down memory lane with everything. They almost referenced strip poker? [headdesk] I would expect this in Ren & Stimpy, not freaking Digimon! Wow, that is SO inappropriate on many levels. How did the censors let them get away with this?

    About the TaiXSora vs. MattXSora issue…THANK YOU! It’s so good seeing another blogger call out how that was a bad choice of shipping that was.

    I didn’t know Ken and Izzy were your favorite Digidestined characters. I agree that Ken had one of the best character arcs in Digimon. Izzy was actually one of my favorite characters back then, too.

    • It’s even worse when you overthink it because the main joke of that whole party is Yolei not being able to play any card game correctly, not even Go Fish. So it kinda implies that Davis wanted to suggest that because he knew Yolei would suck at it and end up losing all of her clothes……

      You’re very welcome. 🙂 My heart still breaks for poor ol’ Tai. And even though I can more adequately explain it all as an adult, the fact of the matter is that they didn’t do that for the very confused kids at home who spent years being upset about the sudden shift in shipping. If the point of all that really was just to show that people grow apart, especially as kids, then they did a terrible job at actually explaining that in the writing. It’s just ‘Sora likes Matt now, sorry. Deal with it.’

      I won’t lie, my views on Sora were tainted for years after that happened. I think Matt talked with Tai shortly about this to make sure he was okay with it, so I wasn’t really upset with him, but Sora just seemed like a bit of a two-timer is all. She and Tai may have not been formally dating at any point, but they both seem to acknowledge that they were romantically interested in each other for years. And, hell, Tai was basically asking her out on a date right then, fairly casually, which kinda implies they might have been a casual but regular thing.

      Not to mention that, looking back, it’s additionally irritating that a big point of focus of the main female lead is forced shipping drama between the two main guys….Pile that on top of her becoming, of all things, a fashion designer in the end (Wouldn’t that have fit Mimi so much better? Yet Mimi became the star of a cooking show. What?) and it’s just kinda disappointing how her character turned out. Again, I’m glad they’re all happy, and maybe I’m just frustrated that things didn’t go the way I wanted them, but it still seems like a big wasted opportunity. I kinda feel like they didn’t fully know what they wanted to do with Sora after a point.

      Yup! Izzy and Ken are mah bois lol (TK coming in a close second) Imagine how much the team (both gens) would flounder without Izzy. They never would have survived. Underappreciated genius he is.

      • I can’t believe the dubbing script would low-key try to make Davis a pervert (assuming if they haven’t thought about the implications of the situation). He wasn’t my favorite character anyway, but the fridge horror and protagonist centered morality of that line is just terrible. I hope he doesn’t say that in the Japanese version. My head hurts from this bad case of dialogue.

        Sure thing. I hear you right there. When I was a kid watching Digimon, I was so confused why Sora didn’t get with Tai especially when you consider how long those characters knew each other besides TK and Matt (only because those two are brothers). That’s a good way to describe it with the writers. The TaiXSora shipping is probably the first pair I wanted to ship before I knew what the word meant in that context when I was younger.

        I hear you right there. That’s right about Tai asking her out in the show or even having moments that implied some kind of romantic attempt or reconciliation (see: Digimon: The Movie and Sora’s “Stupid Tai” comments about the birthday situation).

        Yeah, the canon shipping got crazy. I forgot about the jobs the Digidestined had as adults. Yes, let’s give the biggest tomboy of the original team a job as a FASHION DESIGNER when she grows up [sarcasm]! You’re right! This would’ve totally worked for Mimi on so many levels since she always talks about clothes and fashion. I’m sorry, but I don’t see Mimi hanging out with Rachel Ray or Gordon Ramsey anytime soon if she was a real person. How does her having a cooking show make any sense with her character? Yolei would make more sense in that regard and even then she doesn’t strike me as a foodie. Maybe that current remake will change things, but I don’t know.

        Hahaha! Very good point about Izzy. His brains really helped get the team out of trouble more than people give credit for.

      • Yup! Even though I think this might have been a little different in the Japanese version, Tai did contemplate the implications of finishing his email to Sora with ‘Love, Tai’, something he wrote without thinking, and I always thought that was a great moment overall for their relationship….but *balloon deflating noises*

        Similarly, I got a bit peeved that Yolei ended up as a stay-at-home mom. She was the second smartest person in the group besides Izzy, and she was pretty adventurous and headstrong, yet she never gets a career outside of the home. Again, as long as she’s happy and no shame to stay-at-home moms or anything, but still.

        Rounding off the girls is Kari coming in as a kindergarten teacher, which is at least fitting, but that means that every single girl ends up with lives centered on fashion, cooking or children…..Meanwhile, Ken is a private eye, Tai is a UN diplomat for the Digital World and Matt is an ASTRONAUT. Just, what the?

        I’m not sure the reboot will change anything regarding canon pairings. The most I’ve heard in that regard (I haven’t yet checked out the reboot. I’m still working through Tri since I’m so behind) is that Izzy and Mimi might become a canon thing which….I dunno how I feel about that. I have warmed up to Mimi over the years, but, if anything, I kinda liked her with Joe. People seem to like it, though, so maybe they have more chemistry in the reboot.

      • Come to think of it, I think Traditional Catholic Weeb might have mentioned that in one of his Digimon posts. That was great writing if it would’ve head to them being shipped, but NOOOOOOOOO! They had to put her with Matt instead.

        I know, right? I thought she would have some kind of job to play off her strengths or at the very least starting a full-on business from home, but that does bug me that Yolei couldn’t have done more. Nothing wrong with her being a mom, but she strikes me as someone who would be doing something else in addition to raising children.

        I didn’t even think about the implications of all of the jobs when it came to the boys and girls. While the teacher job does make sense with Kari, how is it that the guys seem to have more reputable occupations. I never understood how and why Matt became an astronaut. Even as a kid, I thought we do something in the music business. Not just being in a touring band since it was already pre-established that he’s a musician, but I could’ve easily pictured him owning either a record label, a major concert venue, booking agency, song licensing company, music video director, or even scoring movie soundtracks, for crying out loud. Wow, my music industry knowledge popped up again after reviewing No New Kinda Story. Hahahaha! XP

        Yeah, I could sadly see the status quo not moving. I haven’t seen the reboot, but I do follow Pinkie’s anime episode reviews of it and not just because she’s also covering Hikaru no Go. Izzy and Mimi together? I’m not feeling it. Joe and Mimi is something that is more logical with shipping.

  2. Christmas specials may not occur in anime all that often, but Pretty Cure (one of my favorite anime) has one in every single season. Well, except that there won’t be one in the current season, Healin’ Good, because it was on hiatus for a few months due to the pandemic. Interestingly, the Christmas specials tend to happen near the tail end of each season, so a Christmas special is usually the last light-hearted episode before the big climax. Sometimes, the climax even starts IN the Christmas special. https://prettycure.fandom.com/wiki/List_of_holiday_and_seasonal_episodes#Christmas

  3. 1. Yeah the strip poker is about the only thing I question more than Pokémon’s “School of Hard Knocks” line where Brock said that Giselle could “violate his rights anytime”. That one (barely) is a le to be interpreted differently:-).

    2. Don’t have a personal opinion on Tai x Sora or Matt x Sora, but yeah I would question it if some teased at pairings or out of place jobs were based on realism. Only cause I hate it when writers will pull that card for disagreeable decisions when they usually disregard it for whatever.

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