Thursday, August 16, 2018

Digimon: The Movie & the Art of Bad Poster Design

Digimon: The Movie is kinda my favorite film ever made based on my favorite show(s) of all time. It’s ninety minutes of ultimate fanservice for any kid who loved the first two seasons of Digimon: Digital Monsters. But the poster? Holy crap, guys. Read on because I’m going to take it apart piece by piece.

The Digimon: The Movie poster, as it appears in Digimon: The Movie
Before we talk about this poster, we have to acknowledge the movie that it was attempting to advertise. Digimon: The Movie isn’t really a single film. It’s three completely unrelated Japanese short films based on two different anime series spliced together with a loose plot thread trying to hold them all together against the director's will. It doesn’t make a lick of sense, it’s totally stupid, and it’s my favorite movie.

Naturally, it’s kind of a hard thing to market. The trailer only focuses on the second of three films adapted. The text on the back of the VHS and DVD are a summary of the Japanese version of the third part - which is different from the US version. How the hell do you market a film that is three barely related mini-movies?

The poster? It oozes awesome. With its collage of no less than twenty-one characters truly capturing every possible thing you could want to know about this movie. Characters from the first two seasons, characters we’ve never seen before! Who wouldn’t want to watch this movie?

Well, you know who didn’t watch this movie? The guy who designed the poster. Pretty much every single pixel of this poster is wrong. It’s a visual disaster. And honestly - it’s just another reason why I love this movie. It’s so hilariously bad. So let’s break it down.

Terriermon and Terriermon again?

The most noticeable error even casual fans point out is the weird coloring of two characters that are supposed to be Terriermon and Lopmon. But... which one is supposed to be which? The one on the left looks the most like Terriermon. The colors are mostly right. His face does look super weird but so does everyone else’s. His horn also has this weird drill lines through them which are not something any version of Terriermon has had to my knowledge.

So that would make the other one Lopmon? But Lopmon is brown with pink accents. The eyes are right and the horns don’t have drill lines, but he’s also colored Terriermon creamy white and his accents are a darker green. You wanna know the weirdest part about this? LOPMON ISN’T EVEN IN THE MOVIE. He’s referred to as Kokomon the entire movie and appears in his In-Training form (who is actually called Kokomon) and then appears as Champion, Ultimate, and Mega forms. None of which are Lopmon.

Those Eyes

There are giant eyes along the top of the poster. Those eyes do not belong to Parrotmon, Omnimon, Diaboromon, Magnamon, Cherubimon, Antylamon, Wendigomon, or anyone else in the movie. I’m not even sure what they’re going for with this.

Fox Kids Presents

There is a Fox Kids logo up there that reads “Fox Kids Presents” but the word “Presents” has some crappy white JPEG artifacts on it. That’s not a weird design choice, just shitty graphic editing skills in general.

Why are they in space?

Saban created a bunch of weird “digital” backgrounds for licensees to use for things like trading cards and coloring books. For this? We got a space background. At no point in the film does anyone go to space. Some of it does look similar to the effect we see whenever a Digimon dies, but there are clearly stars in there too. Why?

The Adventure Cast

The six older members of the first season appear on some but not all versions of the poster. That’s fine. Tai is a main character in the first part and Izzy and Matt are in focus for the second. The problem? They’re in their season two outfits. Specifically their middle school uniforms while Mimi has her American pink hair. Guess what isn’t in the movie? Those outfits. The second part takes place about a year after season one and Tai and Izzy still wear their season one outfits while everyone else has new looks. The third part of the film does take place during season two, but at no point do any of these characters appear in those outfits. In fact, the six of them only pop up for one shot each.

Also, they’re all seen in these weird square shapes reacting as if they’re looking at something. It’s kinda like they’re looking through computer monitors which is a big thing in the second part. However, only Tai, Matt, and Izzy are involved in that and - again - they’re not in their season two outfits or even the right age.

The Zero Two Cast

The focus of the poster is the second season cast. They’re only in the third part. So the people front and center on the poster are only in one-third of the movie. I guess that makes sense since the movie came out when season two was airing. Davis, Yolei, and Cody appear in their “Digital World” outfits, which they don’t wear at any point in the actual movie. They also seem to be standing all over each other. It’s really noticeable with Davis kicking Veemon in the arm as if he’s jumping off his hand. To be fair, they’re trying to jam eleven characters into one space. It’d be a lot easier if Veemon wasn’t there in the first place. Which he totally shouldn't be as we'll get into in a moment.

Digivolution Confusion

If at first you don’t have a seizure from the sensory overload, your eyes probably go straight to Magnamon. He's a new character to fans and he's right in the middle. The poster shows Magnamon with three claws on his hand. If you throw his name in any image search, that’s how he’s gonna look. But in the movie? Magnamon has five humanoid fingers.

Also, Veemon is present with the other season two Rookies. Now, it’s just a poster and not a depiction of an actual scene, so that’s okay. BUT: Patamon and Gatomon are absent in the presence of Angemon and Angewomon. That’s inconsistent rules. Speaking of those angels, the perspective is kinda weird. Their foreground fists are HUGE but their back feet and legs are tiny. Nothing else in the image implies some kind of 3D perspective. Also, Angewomon only has six of her eight wings.

What went right?

T.K., Kari, Armadillomon, Hawkmon, and Willis,  are completely devoid of any awkward design choices. There’s nothing wrong I could say about them. Except for their faces. Literally, every single person on this poster has a stupid face. Except for Magnamon I guess?

Creating a single image that would promote the entirety of a film that is actually three unrelated films is not an easy task. Hyping all three parts of the film is important, especially since the film's nature was kind of kept secret before release. You want to advertise the current series while still having an appearance by the old cast so that kids aren't confused when Davis and Veemon don't show up until an hour into the movie. Removing Veemon might spoil Magnamon’s identity. There was probably a lot of meetings and notes that went into creating this poster. It’s a huge mess. It’s terrible. But I love it so much! As a Digimon fan and someone who works in art and graphic design, just looking at this image is to me like the experience of watching a cheesy, so bad it's good movie.

Is there anything else wrong with the poster that I didn’t catch? What do you think of this disastrous work of art? Let me know in the comments below.