15th Anniversary of X-Evolution

MarcFBR

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X-Evo is hitting a big one!

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Today is the 15th Anniversary of when X-Evolution aired on television!


X-Evolution was based on Digimon Chronicle, the mini comic included with the Digimon Pendulum X V-Pets. It's an abdridged and altered version of that story, with the most notable change being the removal of any human characters, which is still reasonably rare in Digimon stories.

Originally announced as a full length feature, a press release reannounced it as a TV special a little more than a month before it aired, with only some of the initially announced merchandise


X-Evolution was directed by Hiroyuki Kakudou, well known to Digimon fans as the director of Adventure and 02.

The screenplay is credited to two writers:
Kazunori Ito, who worked on Dirty Pair, Ghost in the Shell, .hack, Patlabor, Urusei Yatsura, and a number of other well known franchises.
Miu Kawasaki, who worked on .hack (including various novels for the franchise) and Air Master.

Imagi animated X-Evo during their early upswing and it ended up being one of the few bigger projects they did that ended up being released.


While X-Evolution came and went reasonably quickly, it did end up getting a DVD later in 2005, some elements were used in Digimon World 4 (released as Digimon World X in Japan a couple days after X-Evo came out), and while various announced toys didn't ever appear after their initial announcement in a press release, the Digitalize Booster Pack for the Digimon card game had a large number of cards featuring characters from the movie (using their movie CGI renders), and Alphamon continues to get new products with X-Evolution branding (the most recent that I can think of being his Digivolving Spirits figure a year and a half ago.)

In addition, Digimon Chronicle, which X-Evolution was based on, has been getting a sequel story which finishes in a couple of months.


So despite coming and going itself relatively quickly, X-Evolution still pops up a decent amount even 15 years later.
 

Deep Saver

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Time for Bandai to use this anniversary to make EVEN MORE X-Antibody Digimon. I will not complain!
 

BlankShell

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Good old X-Evolution. The animation hasn't aged super well, but it's a fun ride. Rewatched it recently, forgot how adorable Tokomon X was. Would love to see some more deep-cut merchandise from it (like the Tokomon X they're including in the Omegamon X fig coming out).
 

Vice

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15 years already incredible.
 

Sparrow Hawk

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Epic movie. MetalGarurumon X's 3D model in Link was much better than this movie.

They need to do this often with No Humans involved. It was very entertaining to see their unique interactions.
Oh yeah loved the actions. No commands but seeing how they were struggling to survive was pretty thrilling!
 

frankiemon827

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It took me a while to fully understand the plot of the movie. It did seem bit dark when I first saw it and I thought it was targeting older audiences. Also I loved all the references to previous seasons e.g. Wizarmon and Mummymon etc. Oh and the fact that Leomon dying within first few minutes of the movie lol...
 

Grimmon

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Really interesting, unexpectedly ambitious and terribly paced film. It felt like it was going on forever. But I still liked it!

Who is on the far left side of the image, in the line up around dorumon?
 

YongYoKyo

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Who is on the far left side of the image, in the line up around dorumon?
...Do you mean Tyrannomon? It's a fairly recognizable Digimon, so I'm not sure if that's what you meant. Did you mean Garudamon X?
 

Ragnalord

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A remake of the movie with a better art style would be great, make a sequel?
 

Nemomon

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I quite liked the X-Evo movie (always placing it at the first spot of my most favourite Digimon season) mostly because it wasn't as childish as other Digimon stuff. It was quite brutal movie, but in a way pretty fun to watch.
 

Grimmon

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Who is on the far left side of the image, in the line up around dorumon?
...Do you mean Tyrannomon? It's a fairly recognizable Digimon, so I'm not sure if that's what you meant. Did you mean Garudamon X?
Oh, yeah! I did mean Tyrannomon! It looked like something with a huge red bump on its forehead, but it was just its snout that looked odd because of the low quality.
 

e105zeta

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Pretty boring without humans to give context, unlike Transformers the Digital World isn’t sensical enough to stand on it’s own
 

Ragnalord

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I liked that humans were not there or otherwise about more than half of the screen time would have been the MC crying and whining, doing nothing on the background and until the world is about to go pop*, let's call upon the power of friendship nonsense, these things happen in video games to, but it isn't as bad as the anime (well actually it kind of is, but video games story in general is so much better told and in much more depth).

Alot of questions I had about digimon since I was a child was generally answered in video games and not anime which is just sad and bad.
 

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in memoriam

X-Evolution and the frustrating circumstances around it rank among the rare parts of the Digimon franchise that can make me get genuinely emotional for a variety of reasons that I will vent about in this post.

Part 1: What there is.

It is always strange to talk about X-Evolution. Even when attempting to praise it, it's hard to seriously recommend it on its own. It's such a strange mess, but it is also a fascinating mess and one well worth engaging with in some respects.
It somehow manages to be at once one of the best and worst times you can have with Digimon in general and my feelings towards it are rather complicated.

The CG looks unpolished even for 2005 standards (although some visuals still ended up being striking), the narrative shambles all over the place and there are obviously chunks missing from it.
Yet, even as half baked as it was it's still closer to my ideal Digimon story than almost anything else that was released and over the years I probably watched it more times than I did any other Digimon movie, series or video game cutscene (although I am a big fan of the Battle Evolution opening movie as well).

The plot doesn't nearly give enough answers, especially in the smaller details, and the whole enterprise just narrowly escapes incomprehensibility but therein lies a strange sort of charm if you take it as a challenge.
Pieces of the plot seem just kind of strewn about and you have to piece them together yourself, and in consequence actually think.
Truly thought provoking works of art have the answers ready, but in a subtle enough way that it still requires you to think for yourself to truly grasp them (that little piece of effort you have to provide is what gives the work its full impact). What is interesting about X-evolution is not that it is such a work, but that by being incomplete it is accidentally left in a state that lends itself to this sort of exploring kind of interpretation, which is rare in a franchise that usually has lots of exposition rather unsubtly rubbed in the audience's faces and leaving little to figure out for them (at least to me there's something patronizing about that). And well, there's lots to figure out about X-evolution.
You are not going to find me awake at night mulling over the contents of "Our War Game" nearly as often as it happens with X-Evolution even though OWG was indisputably executed around ten times more successfully.
Not that I am advocating incompleteness here, of course with a work in which the omissions are placed intentionally and with purpose and where care is taken that the truly critical information is clearly communicated you will definitely have a much more fulfilling time puzzling information together... but you take what you can get.
And sure, there is no exactly complete picture to be found here, at points you stumble across a some void that gives you the feeling something was to be here, the pieces never really quite went together, and you just think you can barely make it out what could fit in the hole but it remains empty. And that's a shame. And of course no one could guarantee that a complete feature length version would not have suffered from overly clumsy exposition, robbing it of the precious "what the hell did I just watch"-factor that makes its current form so endearing.

Anyway, after getting all this out of the way, I do want to address something within the story itself, which, perhaps due to the aforementioned vagueness of the film, is something that many tend to miss about it; This mostly relates to contextualizing the events of the plot in relation to the final lines of dialogue between Omegamon X and Dukemon X.
But first let's establish some context: The concept of Yggdrasil and the New Digital World has its basis in Norse mythology, and fittingly the apocalyptic scenario in X-Evolution resembles Ragnarok. And I believe that in a Story in which much is left open, these external references become more important than usual.

The plot is usually summarized as Yggdrasil, having gone mad with fear over the Digital World's capacity, trying to destroy all there is with the Royal Knights and Alphamon eventually rising up and killing him, stopping the plan and instead restarting the world into a new one.
While much of this is obvious, this common interpretation actually directly contradicts what we hear in the movie itself. As Dukemon reveals, Yggdrasil's actual intention was not to end but restart everything. This seems hard to reconcile with the mindless destruction shown earlier but I believe the solution for this problem is given in the following lines:

Dukemon: However our lord didn't have the power to carry it out by itself. That is why I think it relied on that test subject for everything.
Omegamon: In the end, we were dancing pawns on Yggdrasil's hands...
Note that even after having killed Yggdrasil Omegamon believes himself to have been merely a pawn. What is also important is that this realization follows not a reference to the genocide carried by the RK on Yggdrasil's orders which most people would consider their main role as "pawns", but a line explaining Yggdrasil's reliance on the "test subject", DORUmon.
Under the assumption that "relying on the prototype" meant the creation of Death-X-DORUgoramon for the sake of destruction, the flow of conversation simply does not make sense, considering that Omegamon was never complicitly involved in that particular part.
Omegamon's main interaction with the test subject happened via Alphamon and it initially seems like at that point Omegamon was liberated from Yggdrasil's influence, allowing him to follow his own judgment. And yet, at the very end the mention of the test subject leads him to reaffirm his role as a pawn in Yggdrasil's plan.
Putting those pieces together, Yggdrasil's non-malicious intentions and Omegamon's claim of subordination, leads to the following conclusion: Not just the destruction wrought by the Death-X Digimon but also the rebellion of Alphamon and the eventual reboot of Yggdrasil were all part of Yggdrasil's plan and the intended role of the "test subject" from the very beginning.
We know that Yggdrasil has insight into the future, as Magnamon claims that Yggdrasil already predicted the "failure" of Project Arc's first stage (leading him and Omegamon to assume that Yggdrasil's plan would end with the complete purge of the world), but he was actually predicting one step further, arriving at the necessity of his own reboot, which it however could not execute on its own and needed Alphamon and Omegamon to complete (Just as Sybil's prophecy in the Prose Edda does not only foretell the world ending events of Ragnarok but also the eventual renewal of the world afterwards, all part of the cosmic fate).
The madness of Project Arc's second phase, the creation of Death-X Digimon would in this case only be the means his engineering his own "defeat" by forcing the Knights into taking drastic action against him despite their loyalty. This also explains why DORUgamon was placed back into the world after having has data copied; his role wasn't over yet. (If there was a part of the story that did indeed not go according to Yggdrasil's plan it was most likely the spread of the X-Antibody among the population of the old Digital World, ruining the population control for the new one).
On a related note, the strange star shape spawning the new world after the ice breaks away is something I always took as Yggdrasil reborn/transfigured in some way along with the rest of the world after losing his previous form, just like Masaru shattering his crystal avatar in Savers did not actually kill him either but left him in a more ethereal existence. And again, if we take our cues from the actual Norse mythology, Ragnarok, while bringing most of the world to ruin, is never said to completely destroy Yggdrasil; The world tree "shakes and groans" from the battles but its final fate is left unclear.

Part 2: What could have been.

Even as I'm claiming that there's some value to be found in X-Evolution, there is no denying that we ended up with something deeply lacking and flawed in many ways and if someone looks at it and just ends up scratching their head in confusion before walking away, there is honestly no reason to fault them.
In the end, I view the film as something that should be remembered not by its half baked end result but by the sheer audacity of its original concept; Reading the original 2004 press release is a singularly tragic experience when you look at all the hope ambition that was at first put into this project.
I mean just let it sink in, it was meant to be feature length, it was meant to have an actual theatrical release, and they called it an revival! And they wanted to give that chance to something done in a style Digimon never really attempted before, featuring a story independent of any of the major anime releases, closer to lore that had mostly been confined to V-pets before and presented from an actual Digimon perspective; a story where the monsters themselves are not buried under the generic juvenile melodrama of humans and instead can indulge in their own melodrama (and that's alone is already worth celebrating). Maybe that was too much to ask, maybe that's why they didn't go through with it in the end but the important part is that someone at some point thought this was a good and viable idea, and someone actually tried to make it work... for a certain amount of time at least. In short it was a project that actually required some balls.

I think if executed correctly it could actually have been this intended renaissance, reviving the franchise and pushing it to exciting new directions. They had greatness in their grasp but then let it slip away, leaving only faded remnant. And so the revival never happened. For the next years the franchise stumbled around, struggled, just kind of spinning its wheels for a while, then eventually started to build itself up again until only now, fifteen years later we finally have enough momentum going for Kizuna to have a feature length theatrical release that X-Evolution could have gotten all those years back. And Kizuna still supports itself on Adventure nostalgia training wheels.

In summary, X-Evolution ended up as a smudged, shattered window into a better future that never was. The weirdness and ambition you can still feel from its remains were one of the main aspects that made Digimon stand out to me from all those other franchises and a key reason for joining the fandom; And at least half of the reason of why I'm even still here is the faint hope that at some point another the franchise will spawn another project as ambitious and different as X-Evolution, something that really pushes boundaries... and maybe next time it could actually be successful.
 
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Ragnalord

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Man the journey from then to now must have been painful for you.
 

Nagatem

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I wish they would have at least subbed this movie for a dvd release especially since it was the coolest and only full cgi digimon movie experience
 
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