by Christopher Farris,
How would you rate episode 29 of
Digimon Adventure: ?
Reviewing Digimon Adventure: can be such a roller coaster these days. Watching the show constantly upending itself and confusedly changing directions in bids to figure out its identity while also trying to be basically entertaining as a kids' show feels like the ground constantly shifting under my feet at times. That means this anime is still as exhausting to watch as ever, but every now and then it manages the all-important task of actually surprising me. Is it broken-clock syndrome, or just a symptom of the overall fatigue the show provokes that any interest spike feels like a stroke of brilliance? I can't say for sure, but at least Digimon Adventure: isn't putting me to sleep or anything.
That's a very real fear I had at first with this week's entry. With Hikari airlifted out of the plot by SkullKnightmon on account of the show already having no clue what to do with her, we return pretty much immediately to the show seemingly fulfilling its long-running threat of becoming simply The Taichi Show. Even Yamato is on intermittent background exposition duty with the others, as it falls to Taichi's partner Agumon now to provide immediate encouragement and direction for the goggle-headed glory-hog to pursue the current sister-rescuing plot. Singularly-focused Digimon stories aren't inherently a bad thing – plenty of video games have gotten by with that centralization, and an iteration of Taichi himself saw a long-running solo adventure in the classic V-Tamer manga, which itself predated the original Adventure anime! So there's precedent here, is what I'm saying, and several viewers have noticed that Digimon Adventure: was giving off plenty of V-Tamer vibes already.
The thing is, even with the dedicated laser-focus on Taichi now, the show still doesn't seem to break out of the formulaic shell that has defined it up to this point. Taichi and Agumon take five steps and run into some new antagonistic Digimon to have a big fight with, and the battle is stretched out to fill the episode. It's almost funny, since the sheer size and ongoing scale of this episode's fight might actually be a novel introduction to how Taichi will be carrying the show now, were it not exactly the sort of thing the series had been doing even before it decided to play 52 Pickup with its cast of characters. So instead we get a solidly-storyboarded if unremarkably-animated fight in a forest fire that treats us to Agumon's various forms taking on different enemies. Hardly a character kids still need advertised to them, I'd say.
There's passes made in the middle at trying to make the whole experience not be completely shallow, to be fair. As we've found ourselves in this terrifying new section of the Digi-World where monsters consciously compete to consume each other and evolve, the show brings back the idea of ‘civilian’ Digimon for our heroes to interact with and to fight at the behest of. As a concept it's a welcome inclusion, giving Taichi and Agumon something to focus on in this immediate conflict apart from simply throwing fireballs at the bad guys. But I feel there's still a missed opportunity here, as Taichi hardly demonstrates any emotional interaction with these victimized Digimon he's trying to protect. There was the possibility of suggesting he was projecting his failure to protect his sister onto his efforts here, or that his desperation due to that might emotionally undermine those struggles. But there's no attempt at that despite Taichi's character ostensibly being the only personal tether we have to this story at this point, only rote motions of him protecting those we know need to be protected.
Even with a somewhat victorious sense late in the episode that Taichi and Agumon's influence has already started to upset that purely-power-based balance of this world, I can't get excited by any prospective possibilities of thematic ambitions since Digimon Adventure: continues to demonstrate its propensity for flitting from one element to the next. I was mildly anticipating this episode because old favorite Lopmon was set to pop up, but after some conspicuous focus early on she just gets carried out of the forest fire by Taichi and seemingly disappears for the rest of the runtime. A new hacking sub-plot gets exposited on that indicates the Digimon behind that are attempting to attack space for some reason, but Koshiro almost immediately puts that on the back-burner admitting he hasn't the foggiest clue where they're going with it. These are snippets that feel introduced to fill time more than anything else, while I was still waiting for the episode to run out the clock on the combat it had spent all this time showing.
So the actual surprise we do get to punctuate this episode is way beyond what the series had trained me to expect. At this point I was ready for something like another new power-up for Agumon to save the day, or a previously-unknown new big bad guy to show up out of nowhere, but I don't think any Digimon fan in a million years was ready for the show to let Sora actually do something! It's a genuinely triumphant moment, her swooping in on Garudamon as only an air-capable cavalry can, specifically to help out the kind underpowered civilian Digimon she was the only one to previously show genuine empathy towards, all while ‘Be The Winners’, the insert song from those stronger earlier days of this show, roars over the action. It's such a simple choice that should be obvious in more tightly-constructed action cartoons, but here offsets the doldrums of the previous minutes of the episode to such a staggering degree that I can't help but have it push up my opinion of the whole entry. It reads as a relieving statement: That this is not, in fact, going to be The Taichi Show for the foreseeable future. Admittedly, this is still Digimon Adventure:, so there's plenty of room for them to renege on that statement. But overall this was an episode of this series that continued with the ‘just okay’ version of itself I'd pretty much forced myself to accept, reinvigorated by one shocking, refreshing decision at the very end.
Digimon Adventure: is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
discuss this in the forum (121 posts) |