After four weeks of screening in China, Digimon Adventure: Last Evolution Kizuna has raked in the equivalent of US$18.97 million (124.40 million yuan). This achievement made it the highest-performing Japanese film in China for 2020 and, in addition, easily topped its Japanese box office (it made the equivalent of US$2-3 million in Japan). Toei had intended to add to this solid performance by screening Last Evolution Kizuna in North America, but has chosen to wait out the COVID-19 pandemic while releasing the film digitally instead; there are reportedly no concrete plans yet for theatrical screenings in North America.
Made to take part in the 20th anniversary celebration of the Digimon franchise, Last Evolution Kizuna opened in Japan on February 21, 2020. The film was originally announced in 2018 during the “Digimon Kanshasai 2018 -Special Meeting in Odaiba-” event in Tokyo, where Hiromi Seki was named as the supervisor for the project. In addition, Katsuyoshi Nakatsuru — who worked on Digimon Adventure — returned as the movie’s character designer, alongside Kenji Watanabe as the designer for the franchise’s eponymous creatures.
For director, Toei tapped Tomohisa Taguchi, whose portfolio includes the Persona 3 the Movie series and Twin Star Exorcists. Akatsuki Yamatoya, who also was involved in previous Digimon projects, served as the screenwriter. The series director of Digimon Adventure and Adventure 02, Hiroyuki Kakudou, briefly worked on Last Evolution Kizuna‘s team before quitting due to differences of opinion.
While Toei had planned for Last Evolution Kizuna to release in the United States during March 2020, the company later announced that the schedule would have to be shelved due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In July 2020, Toei then stated that they would release the film digitally on iTunes and Amazon Prime Video (among other platforms) on September 29. A DVD/Blu-ray release followed on October 6.
Last Evolution Kizuna takes place five years after the events of Digimon Adventure tri, and approximately fourteen years after the events of the original Digimon Adventure. With the Digidestined stepping into full-fledged adulthood, Tai and Matt find themselves unsure about their futures; while they still fight to protect the world from enemies originating from the Digital World, they also face an increasing obligation to belong in adult society. These two competing desires become the focal point of the movie and are ratcheted up even more when Tai and Matt discover that their aging will sever their connection to their Digimon partners.
The film concludes a well-loved yet somewhat tumultuous journey for the franchise’s main continuity. In 1999, Digimon Adventure started it all and continued with Digimon Adventure 02 from 2000 to 2001. However, with Digimon Tamers, the franchise jumped into a different continuity — and this separation from the original’s universe continues until Digimon Adventure tri. Tri‘s run from 2015 to 2018 brings us back to the original Digidestined, but the film series garnered lukewarm reviews due to what was perceived as its convoluted storytelling and drop in animation quality.
With Last Evolution Kizuna, Toei appears to want to give an emotional sendoff to the story that started twenty years ago. While a reboot of Adventure is already being released, Last Evolution Kizuna grants old-time fans of the archetypal Digimon voyage some of that sensation that they had — long ago, as excited kids gaping in awe at the television screen, and at the fantastic world therein.