Digimonukkah 2018 Day 4- Keitaro Motonaga Interview from tri. Memorial Book


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Sep 8, 2006
We're about halfway done...

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A few months ago Gakken Mook released the Digimon Adventure tri. Memorial Book. One of the primary draws of the book was that it contained most of the gorgeous tri. artwork that had been made for various magazines.

On top of those images it also contained some behind the scenes details such as character designs, staff/cast messages, etc. On top of that, it included an interview with tri. director Keitaro Motonaga.

In the interview he gives various details regarding tri. in a candid manner. So for the 4th day of Digimonukkah, we have a translation of much of what he talks about, plus a few additional fun details.

Translated by onkei. Rewrites and notes/annotations for clarity have been made by onkei and myself based on her original translation. Changes may be made after further reading based on request of onkei. Certain terms may be tweaked for clarity, others may be left for a more literal translation.

Images have been inserted for example and to break up the text, only one image is of the actual book.

If you haven't finished tri. yet, be aware there are spoilers.

Motonaga likens Yggdrasil & Homeostasis to the 'real thoughts' and 'facade' of the adult world.

Yggrasil is the real thought of "Use power to stop the opposition" while Homeostasis is the path of "Let's all get along... but we will use force if we have to."

The Children don't necessarily agree with either side, but they aren't in the position of being "adult" yet, and are thus forced to obey their decisions. That's the premise, children dealing with the world of adults.

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Motonaga was working on "Date A Live" when the initial offer to work on tri. came to him. He notes this is roughly 6 years ago. He doesn't clarify with version of Date A Live, or if he's giving a more specific time-frame, or just musing on how long ago he thinks it was. It's 'most' likely he's talking about late in the production of the original Date A Live, either in the middle of 2013, or late 2013 working on the OVA.


The initial offer that came to him was making a simple 'fan' movie. (It isn't clarified what this means, but it is likely a reference to various one off 'not much happens, it's a simple production for the fans' movies that tend to be made with not much happening in them. What he says next tends to agree with this estimation.) By the time he accepted, it ended up being decided to give the project a full proper story, along with character designs by Uki Atsuya.

Motonaga worked the most on the battle scenes, as he's stated in the past it's his preference. He muses that he got yelled at because he kept asking for 'too much' for the battle scenes, and Juria Matsumura was in charge under him for the deeper human drama scenes, such as the conversations between Mimi and Jou in Part 2, and Yamato and Gabumon in Part 6. Matsumura was credited for various positions throughout tri.'s production, including Assistant Director, Unit Director, and Storyboarding.

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Motonaga spent time watching and rewatching the original series to study it. He did this to develop the Ultimate evolutions, and to see how the characters fought and moved.

Motonaga says the toughest action scene was all of them Omegamon Merciful Mode, as he had difficulty "showing it's hero-like aura, even though he might not be a hero at all..."


He notes that he you should watch the scene where Merciful Mode kills Ordinemon. Ordinemon lowers her head for that moment. She goes to him, choosing to be killed, and even chooses not to fire her laser anymore. This appears to be a musing on what is left of Meicoomon knowing it has to end.


When Meicoomon says goodbye to Meiko in the final scene, they ended up likening it to the image of a child waving to their mother as they're being dropped off to school, "See you later, Mommy."

Motonaga received comments/opinions from fans asking if Meicoomon could have been saved. He says that in the context of the world, Meicoomon is a glitch. They have to get rid of the glitch, or the environment simply can't survive. At the end of Part 5, Taichi has realized Meiko's feelings about this, and is why he makes the choice he does to kill her.

In the previous series, there was a happy ending where things worked out. With tri., Motonaga wanted to show the children accept something inevitable that they couldn't simply change/force into a happy ending. This ends up leading to Taichi's decision to become an ambassador in the future.

This event is meant to be a pivotal moment in his life that leads Taichi into thinking "I want to make is so everyone has a path to live properly."


The reason Yamato seems flippant about wanting to be an astronaut is because, according to Motonaga, it isn't so easy to become one that he could just say "I'm gonna do it!"

They ended up casting new actors for the chosen children after much thought. In the end, the staff all wante to choose people who had grown up with the original series.

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Their first, and easiest choice, was Yoshimasa Hosoya as Yamato. Their toughest, and final, choice was Natsuki Hanae as Taichi.

Motonaga approached the series in his mind as if he were making a 2 cour TV anime. He ended up receiving ideas from the producer that helped inspire scenes, as well as adding comedic moments so that the audience didn't end up bored. In his opinion there wasn't enough time allowed in the end.

For instance, tri. mainly dealt with the point of view of the humans, but he wanted to show more of the Digimon in despair when they realized they were slowly going mad. Despite that despair, they choose the reboot themselves because they deeply love their humans.

The reboot was Motonaga wanting to show the mental evolution of the Digimon. When the new bond from after the reboot joins together with their memories from before the reboot, the bond is more unbreakable than ever before. That's what made them invincible for the final battle.


Agumon was made to be 'in charge' of humorous moments because Motonaga wanted to make sure humor was injected into a story that continuously became more serious. Agumon's voice keeps things from being negative.

The interviewer muses on if this is why Agumon spoke to Meiko in Part 5, but Motonaga comments it's because Agumon got the feeling that Meicoomon had become a sacrifice. It was to convey to Meiko that none of them hated Meicoomon, and they didn't have ill feelings towards her. But they also had to take in Taichi's feelings, and the reality that they would have to face Meicoomon and take her down. It's with respect to his feelings that the Digimon would not back down.

Hikari, and Koushiro, are against Taichi's decision, because they are the type of people who think there must be a better way, and will look for it.


Hikari's "I won't forgive you" isn't said out of hatred to her brother, but because she believes he is wrong. Despite this, she won't ignore that decision and it was meant to show her growth. Prior to that, she would always follow her brother, and is able to speak her objection clearly.

Motonaga says that in the close-up of everyone's faces in Part 6, you can see that even though they are all united in doing the same thing, they are all thinking something different: there are those who are mad, who are sad, who feel powerless...

He wanted to show that inwardly, they are each in unique positions with how they feel, because each grew their own way...


For example, Yamato had to deal with the fear of losing with someone with Taichi's 'death' in Part 5. When Yamato is alone he begins to think he is powerless by himself. When Taichi comes back, Taichi treats him with the attitude of 'you did well.' In movie 6, when they run together to settle things once and for all, Yamato takes a step back, because he's kind. Taichi is there to knock his fist, as if to say "Don't worry, I'm here."

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Motonaga was originally going to have them hold hands, as an homage to the scene in Adventure (which is flashed back to in the climax of tri. Part 1), but when it was sketched out, he dumped it, because it had a different look from what he intended.


Sora was a mother, who was a good person. Part 4 was made with the intent to show her growing into someone who acts more her own age. To allow her to feel OK to say things that might be selfish, but that she needs for her own self.

Sora comments that everyone is doing their own thing, and not paying attention to her, but the truth is actually the opposite. Everyoen does pay attention to her, and her well-being. Piyomon, who actually wanted Sora's attention the most, only does so when Sora reaches out to her with her own wants.

Motonaga had the depiction like this to show it akin to best friends, who fight, make up, and grow closer than before.


Takeru is the one who most sensitive to Sora's mood, not because he's a 'player', but because he's a considerate gentleman, so he notices changes in women.

It's also suggested that it helps that Takeru is younger than Sora, it allows him to be more aware of changes than Taichi and Yamato, who are around her on age.

Motonaga says Takeru lied about Patamon's infection because he wanted to protect what was important to him, but it ends up bringing feelings of repentance in him because "I've caused the others to be infect" and "there might be fewer casualties if I had spoken sooner."

Patamon understands Takeru's love for him, which is why he's able to tell him to kill him. Motonaga says he used the word kill speifically because the chosen children, being a bit older, know what that means.

Motonaga believes Takeru is the most pure among the kids (pure in this context being the one who is most truthful to following his feelings.) He does what he shouldn't do because he doesn't want to lose Patamon. At the same time he understands Meiko's pain.


Mimi initially feels confusion over the differences in behavior between 'overseas and Japan', but reaches the conclusion of "it's OK to be me."

Jou reaches the same conclusion about himself actually. He feels depressed comparing himself to his family, and believing he's useless because his grades don't improve. He realizes that as long as he knows who he is, and what he values, there isn't a problem he can't face.


Motonaga says Koushiro thinks of himself as someone who doesn't think there is something he can't understand, which is partially why he panics in Part 6. Motonaga believes Koushiro has the strongest sense of justice.


Motonaga honestly believes that for the story being told, the original group alone wouldn't have been able to tell that story, which is why Meicoomon and Meiko were created. He had decided from the beginning that Meicoomon would fuse with Ophanimon Falldown Mode into Ordinemon.

This is why Meicoomon was designed to be the opposite of Tailmon. Both are cats, but one is long hair, the other is short hair Motonaga owned a Maine Coon at the time he was helping come up with Meicoomon, which is how the name Meicoomon came about.

Meicomoon's existence was saturated with chaos, but there was always a small single dot of a good soul in her, which had the power to potentially stop everything.

They decided to make Meiko a girl in order to help balance out the large number of human boys on the team. Much like Meicoomon and Tailmon, Meiko was designed to contrast with Hikari. She's a more plain girl to Hikari's 'maiden-like' attidude and her tendency to stand out.

Motonaga wanted to depict Meiko as a girl with a strong heart, and believes she's the one closest to a real high school girl.

Even after Meicoomon disappears, Meiko is conflicted over many things. Wondering whether Meicoomon going berserk is her fault, or even wondering if telling the others to kill Meicoomon was a good idea.

Because things being left "like that" would make Meiko a sad character, Motonaga added a scene at the end where we hear a sound from her Digivice. Motonaga says he meant it as a Christmas present to her. He leaves it up to the imagination of the audience what was delivered to Meiko in that scene.

A few small additional bits from the book...

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The scene of Taichi looking off at the sunset on the horizon with Agumon, he was actually looking at Haneda Airport, where the climax of the first battle in tri. took place.

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While recording for the first movie, Hosoya was bothered by the condition of the microphone, and he kept eyeballing the staff. Eventually he changed the microphone on his own. (No specific mention is what 'condition' means in this context. Since the staff would be monitoring recording quality with studio equipment, it's likely a reference to some type of physical scratch or bump on the microphone that bothered him, rather than a recording issue.)

These don't represent the entirely of behind the scenes content in the Digimon Adventure tri. Memorial Book (or even the entire interview with him), owing to timing, real life, etc. It should help provide a look into the thought process of Director Keitaro Motonaga, the director of the entirety of Digimon Adventure tri., along with his views on the characters.

There is a discussion thread where people are discussing various aspects of the book.

The Digimon Adventure tri. Memorial Book is still available to order from CDJapan: (Affiliate link)
Digimon Adventure tri. Memorial Book

Huge thanks again to oneki for her translation work, along with her assistance in cleaning up and clarifying bits for usage.

Lots of Digimon stuff is coming out soon and supporting us via our Patreon or donations would be greatly appreciated so that we can do more breakdowns and improve the site. Feel free to join us in the Discord if you want to chat about the figure.

More to come...



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Apr 27, 2017
that's an awesome load of behind the scenes for tri! Even though actual execution could have been better but the idea behind it was cool and it also clarifies quite something as well...


Ain't got no mojo...
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Feb 24, 2017
This is so lovely. This is why I can't hate Tri. The execution was clearly off, but the intentions and character direction is SO GOOD. Beautiful


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Apr 30, 2017
Agumon being comic relief (mostly food centric) was probably one of my least favorite things, I think. It felt forced.

Thanks for the translations! Always interesting stuff.


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Jul 10, 2016
Cool. I think most of his intentions with character beats were well-conceived and came across quite clearly.

The only two which didn't quite scan (for me at least) were Agumon telling Meiko they like Meicoomon, just so she know's that even if they have to kill her, they never hated her or Meiko. Because Meicoomon's ultimate fate wasn't as clear yet, it just came across as him trying to cheer her up.

The other was Sora's plot. I just got the sense that she was being so nice and over-bearing, to the point where Biyomon found it off-putting (plus bad introduction not helping), before eventually accepting that she is just a genuinely caring person. I didn't really see the other nuances in there.

She was clearly mad at Tai and Matt for not picking up on what was bothering her, but forgave them when everything worked out. In the end, the thing she wanted selfishly was for Biyomon to like her, which she achieves by being selfless as usual. And overall I never got the sense that Biyomon liked her all along, I thought she just hated her guts.
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Unknown Neo

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Sep 10, 2006
Thanks a lot. This was very interesting to hear about. Nice to hear how they created the Meis and why they needed to. I'm glad they did.