by Christopher Farris,
How would you rate episode 26 of
Digimon Adventure: ?
It says a lot about Digimon Adventure: that the hardest transition to the next story arc so far comes not from the jaw-dropping fight with DoneDevimon, nor the inventive setpiece of the plummeting Eldoradimon last week, but is instead found in this episode, wherein Taichi and Yamato...fight a couple of Seadramon. You'd almost be forgiven for thinking that this is the usual kickoff of the latest status-quo: the Digital World team finding themselves in a new part of said world and doing their usual thing of needing to fight their way through some new enemy. But it becomes apparent by the end that this (and the previous episode) is really all just time-killing to get the relevant pieces in place for the show to move into its third cour.
It's obvious just how perfunctory a lot of the resolutions here are. The most obvious anticlimax has to be the Real World team's plot. After eight weeks of sitting around Koshiro's computer trying to figure out how many more Digimon they have to beat in order to clear up the ship-hacking scheme, a surprisingly technical explanation for this show is detailed as the actual solution. I'm a little galled at how long Koshiro's explanation of SOS signals and glitched navigation systems drones on, since it mostly seems to be an exercise in justifying him being able to push a few buttons and fix the problem that their Digimon have been fighting for their lives against for a month and a half now. More than anything it comes off like something the writers came up with at the last minute to justify their hasty wrapping up of the plot, particularly in how the new enemy Digimon introduced last week, Zurumon, simply leaves without fighting after Koshiro clears up the system on his end. Will they amount to anything later? Nobody seems terribly interested.
The entire reason for this nonchalant resolution seems to be so that group of kids is cleared to be whisked back to the Digital World by Hikari. Taichi's mysterious waif of a sister has always traded in plot-relevant deus ex machina powers in one way or another, but as with Takeru in this series, she's still severely lacking in any kind of characterization to back up that obligated plot relevance. She's still standing around the other kids in the park as she has been last episode, and no sooner do they confirm that people other than Sora can see her, she glows and teleports everyone away from this singular backdrop Toei's been graciously conserving their energy using all this time. It's okay, since where they're going has so far just been ocean scenery, their resources will continue to be rightly constrained.
So with that part of the story amounting to the narrative equivalent of packing peanuts, it's up to the requisite big fight of Agumon and Gabumon and their continuously-growing yet oddly forgettable collection of allies. Leomon and Falcomon get one attack animation each this week, with Leomon's being utilized no less than four times throughout the episode – now that's the economical Digimon cartoon I remember! I think it just speaks to the well-worn priorities of Digimon Adventure: there's no chance for exploration or development of these adjacent allies since we can't even let Yamato have a conversation with Taichi or his own younger brother for several weeks. We manage to get some exposition right at the beginning of this episode that thankfully clarifies what the deal is with the Cloud Continent and what falling through it entailed (it was a singular massive continent floating on a literal cloud in the sky), along with just a moment for the squad to eat and actually rest up a little before some sea monsters pop out for them to fight.
And like I said, this being the impetus for the rest of the Chosen Ones to ride in as cavalry feels underwhelming at best. Never mind that the show continues to play fast and loose with access to evolutionary levels, as the freshly-fed Agumon and Gabumon inexplicably insist on not utilizing their Ultimate forms or fancy mode-changes to take on the Super Seadramon Bros. The real issue is how this obligatory battle also has that same feeling of time-killing to lead to being an excuse to get the band back together. It's time-consuming, and even when dragged underwater several times, Taichi and Greymon never feel that much endangered in fighting the sinister serpent. I guess it's appreciable that this seems to be the last instance (for the time being) of this particular formula for the show, but it's still been repeated enough to render the exercise almost impossible to criticize separately from the dozen times the Taichi/Yamato setup has already done this. There really wasn't any reason the writing couldn't have magically solved the boat-hacking plot and whisked Koshiro and the others to reunite with Taichi's team a couple of weeks ago after the actual climax, but they had to stretch this to episode 26, I guess.
All my complaining here is really just built-up frustrations with this arc and the show as a whole. As an episode, this one slots right back into that ‘Fine’ category. And even if it's two weeks too late, there is a sense of triumphant relief to the other children and their partners returning and almost immediately getting down to business. Plus it's anchored by the mysterious possibilities of Hikari's contributions, bringing it all up just a bit. The tempting taste of potential is back on the menu for Digimon Adventure:, particularly after that aforementioned climax and the possibility that we might be going into a new plot with a new enemy wholly separate from Devimon.
Digimon Adventure: is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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