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.
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.
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.
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.
…..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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