by Christopher Farris,
How would you rate episode 27 of
Digimon Adventure: ?
This episode of Digimon Adventure: does continue with a lot of the issues that have come to define the series. There's very little feeling of exploration or mystery (or indeed, ‘Adventure’ in the literary sense) in favor of big linear fight scenes barely motivated by ominous enemy action we still have so little context for. Supposedly-important new cast additions are glossed over in hilarious ways, and the actual events that occur hardly feel like we've moved past the stifling status quo of about Episode Eight. But with the next-episode preview indicating that the show is already planning to split the Digi-Team up again for the umpteenth time, the setup of this episode actually turned out to be a relief. I was pretty happy to see the group reunited at the end of the previous episode, and it turns out that was not unfounded, as in spite of Digimon Adventure: continuing to be Digimon Adventure:, I found myself having a pretty good time overall with this one.
I don't think it's any secret that despite the mammoth size of the cast, the multitude of group dynamics and interplay between the characters is the special sauce that has made the previous Digimon Adventure work. The Taichi-and-Yamato-only stretch felt so monotonous because while those two are decently strong heroic leads, this version of the story hadn't really played up any of the tension that's supposed to inform their working relationship. Even the addition of Takeru hardly did anything, since the kid was barely allowed to get a word in edgewise. But now that all the other kids are back to actually participating in the action, rather than just sitting around a laptop, things suddenly spring to life. We get fun little asides like Koshiro absorbed in analyzing data while Tentomon struggles to stop him from sliding off Eldoradimon. Joe and Mimi flaunt their classic quirks while also leading into bits that show their growth. And even as the battles continue to fall primarily on the over-leveled Agumon and Gabumon evolutions, seeing all the other monsters get to really be included – at this stage anyway – lends the resulting fights a bigger feeling of scale than the railroaded rumbles featuring only the Big Two we'd become so used to getting.
In other words, this half-hour of Digimon feels like it has more of its personality back. That carries it in places where the writing's still stumbling in what passes for plotting, or even the basic task of introducing new characters. If you thought Takeru was a vacuum of personality, just wait till you see how they handle Hikari. She continues to shrug off any possible explanations as to what she's actually doing here with an uncanny smile and little interaction with anybody else. There's this cute little bit at the beginning demonstrating how nonplussed she is by the Digimon to the point of immediately buddying up with Agumon, but beyond that she's barely a presence, even with the qualifier that she can't participate in the Big Monster Battle happening around her by virtue of being partner-less. I already wrote off her use in the story as a mere plot device last week, but my point is hilariously proven this episode, with Taichi just telling Koshiro to hold onto her while he jumps into action. That scene got a huge laugh out of me.
But the banal handling of Hikari, in this case, stands in contrast to how lively everything else feels. I can therefore accept it this time as more of a consequence of all the other balls Digimon Adventure: is trying to juggle at the same time. Like of course we can't make time for Hikari to properly acclimate to the group, since Takeru is finally showing agency and Angemon is actually participating in a fight himself, maybe! And sure, the other characters all seem to have pretty understated reactions to Yamato's brother being here and being partnered with the Holy Digimon himself, but at the same time they're expending their emotions reacting to a new section of the Digital World where enemy monsters demonstrably eat each other to power up! Adventure: has never exactly been great at communicating character connections, so I'll accept the horrifying implications of Digi-Vore in lieu of that.
As well, the writing just kind of wakes up overall for this week. They make clear that they haven't actually forgotten about the Zurumon or the role they're playing in the continued hacking schemes (including a memorable moment here of them blowing up a NASA rocket which everyone barely has time to digest before moving on to fighting for their own survival), and Darkknightmon returns as well! So even though we still have no idea where the characters are going or what their goal is supposed to be now, there's a decent sense of consistency holding it all together. Plus having this huge gaggle of characters to follow helps keep the events feel brisk instead of leaving us with space to notice how aimless much of it might seem. Moments like Taichi really showing off the ‘courageous leader’ role he's growing into are allowed to stand as singular events rather than something requiring a whole episode of padded build-up to arrive at. For all the show's persistent faults, this episode demonstrates how it can more or less make it work, and that's probably just going to make it sting more when it splits everyone up again next week. At least that new ending theme is a bop.
Digimon Adventure: is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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