by Christopher Farris,
How would you rate episode 28 of
Digimon Adventure: ?
It's nice that there are still some things that consistently work well about Digimon Adventure:. The music, for one. This episode opens with the promised big battle between Angemon and DarkKnightmon, and the strong piece of background music behind this brawl is really carrying it in presentation. It's not the most slickly-animated fight we've ever seen in the show, but continuing off how it was set up last episode and with the audio doing the heavy lifting in terms of conveying weight and drama, it manages to just attain that grand scale I think it's shooting for. It's one of just a few instances throughout the show that demonstrates where Digimon Adventure: could have been as a series by now, absent all the wheel-spinning on either side of this nicely-presented climactic clash.
And then, naturally, that fight finishes with Angemon's attack causing an explosion that somehow sends all the kids off to different locations for, uh, reasons. To Digimon Adventure:'s credit, this is a somewhat different spin on splitting the party compared to the last few times it's done this. This go-around, almost all the children are completely by themselves, with only their partner Digimon still with them. The exception is Hikari, who gets to keep tagging along with Taichi and Agumon, but even that gets changed up by the end of the episode. So despite being weary of the show doing this kind of thing again after we just barely got the band back together, I still found myself drawn into the kind of tone it was trying to convey. There's some nice scenery on display in this new section of the Digital World that the scattered kids take us on a brisk tour of, with rugged terrain stretching far and seeming that much more oppressive to traverse when contrasted with just a singular kid and their pet.
Even as spreading out all the characters this way means most of them hardly make any progress in their new goal of getting back together, I still found myself savoring this momentary setting shift just because it felt like the most we've gotten to just sit back and take stock in months. That's by degrees, of course, since Yamato and Mimi are both dropped immediately into confrontations, Koshiro's in hiding from hostile Digimon, and Taichi winds up in a battle that carries him and Agumon through to the end of the episode. But we also get quirky situations like Joe being stuck in a hot spring with an intimidating Nanimon, or Mimi and Palmon getting distracted from fleeing an encroaching Golemon by some ruby crystals they find. Stuff like that, or Takeru and Patamon surveying the terrain they have to navigate by themselves, speaks to that intriguing, strange sense of adventure that marks this franchise as so appealing when it really works.
I'll take that atmospheric appeal, since Digimon Adventure: is still no closer to resolving its other issues. Even as I was enjoying the mood of Takeru's situation, his phone call with Yamato prompted an acknowledgement from Garurumon that he had ‘grown up’ – a bizarre assertion regarding a character who's barely had any instances of characterization, let alone opportunity for arcs and growth. I could buy that being dropped into non-stop battles for a couple months of runtime should lead to Takeru hardening his survivability as a result of trial-by-fire, but somehow I doubt that's the kind of growth the show is trying to speak to. Similarly, splitting the kids up like this again already means Yamato still hasn't had the opportunity to discuss Agumon's Dark Evolution with Taichi, meaning that as cool as that episode was, it's been continuously kneecapped now by the inability to examine the deeper implications of that story beat. That's compounded by an element from that episode making a return here, with the WarGreymon form being teased again, but with the characters largely ignorant of the previous context that led to that. It's more a point of interest for the viewers instead of bearing any kind of meaning for the people being developed in the show's story.
Getting to that point also brings in the more expected issues of Digimon Adventure:. We already had one good fight and a respectable representation of the fallout this episode, so cramming in another one for Taichi and Greymon just comes off as superfluously entertaining the show's addiction to action. There's not even much to it apart from competitively overpowering laser blasts, capped off by Hikari reinforcing her role as the next deus ex machina power-up battery now that Takeru is apparently allowed to be his own character. It annoys me, because right before she's relegated to just contributing to Greymon's glow-up, it was heartening to see her express some passion alongside her brother in the moment of that fight. But instead it's another stark reminder of how much of a cipher Hikari continues to be, still repeatedly intoning that she has no idea why anything so far has happened to her, and Taichi even trying to convince us that ‘confusedly staring off into space’ really should be accepted as her primary personality trait.
It's an attempt, I suppose, but it still leaves things pretty inexplicable at the end when SkullKnightmon returns to kidnap Hikari and she just kind of goes along with him. There's a sense that the show is trying to provoke some intrigue into Hikari herself and why she's making these choices, but there's little entertainment value in speculating on the behavior of a character we still know basically nothing about. Instead it makes clear she's just being taken away to serve as a MacGuffin for the next chunk of story, the motivating factor for Taichi and the others to regroup and chase after. Maybe we'll at least see some more nice new scenery as we follow them on this trip.
Digimon Adventure: is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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