by Christopher Farris,
How would you rate episode 31 of
Digimon Adventure: ?
Alright, here we go, new year, new Digimon Adventure:! The characters split up across the recently-named Eternal Continent and their running around has honestly felt pretty aimless for the past few episodes it's been going on. Even the initial goal of Taichi going after Hikari seemed to fall by the wayside of forest fires, fights, and final evolutions. But as underwhelmed as I personally was by WarGreymon's intended-as-triumphant debut, that event does seem to herald an ever-so-slight shift in Adventure:'s ambitions this week. Or maybe it was just that extra week off that led to this soft-rebooted sense of momentum. Or it might even be that there's enough generally cool stuff in this episode that I didn't let myself get too bored or distracted during it. Whatever the case, this one works out alright.
I still don't know much about what Adventure: is actually trying to do at this point, but I do know my Digimon series story structures, and after big, momentous events, they always have to settle in for some mysterious force to hijack the proceedings and dispense some new world-building. WarGreymon and MetalGarurumon's fight in the original series was punctuated by a flashback from a magically-possessed Hikari, moving the last Destiny Stone summoned Azulongmon to do some explaining, and this week Lopmon, who's been lurking around for weeks, gets their own Hikari-style lightshow to point us and the Chosen Ones in the current direction of their quest. I was a bit incredulous towards this choice at first, the too-convenient assertion that Lopmon was actually a remnant of the ancient Digimon army and had just now awakened to their true role and memories, but as things went on I cottoned to it a bit better. We'd established way back that WarGreymon (and the other, presumably forthcoming Mega forms) were the main members of that Holy-Digimon-led team, so it works thematically that his own reawakening could prompt Lopmon's. It's the kind of fantasy-world storytelling structure I can get behind, especially as I continue to be all-too-eager for Adventure: to actually develop its world.
Indeed, this episode gets very close to purposefully highlighting some thematic elements of this point of the story. Lopmon calls attention to the fact that the connection between human partners and Digimon is what fuels the evolution of characters like Agumon. In theory that's a clever conceptual contrast to the Eternal Continent's more brutal established method of powering up by its natives – that is, eating each other. Perhaps this will come into focus more in future episodes, highlighting the difference between the slowly-reforming ancient team and their Holy handlers, and the vicious monsters fostered by the nominally evil side. Is that kind of peace in the Digital World the key thing they're to be striving for, apart from stopping some new scheme to trash Tokyo in the Real World every few weeks? That's sadly not highlighted, but like all the hopeful parts of Digimon Adventure:, I can at least grasp at the interest in the possibility that's there.
What we get instead is, naturally, another fight breaking out heralding the entry of who purportedly seems to be the next official Big Bad of this show: Millenniumon. He looks a smidge different in silhouette than his previous appearances, but at least he's not a rote repeat legacy villain like Devimon. There's of course little explication on Millenniumon as an individual, which is instead tied up in Lopmon feeding the characters flashbacks and visions while they're also running through a forest fighting ghosts. I wouldn't consider that the safest situation for playing that out, but then I'm not a magical glowing rabbit, so what do I know. I do think it's funny that Digimon Adventure: can't even dispense world-building exposition without having some kind of punch-up happening alongside it at this point in its storytelling. Maybe this will lead tp them figuring out character development as well, so long as folks are smashing into each other and hurling fireballs at the same time.
I'll give the fight props anyway, which in general is more engaging and entertaining than what brought us to Wargreymon's arrival in the previous episode. Sora gets to do stuff again! She's proving to be a more effective erstwhile travelling companion for Taichi than Hikari initially was, so if Taichi's little sister had to get kidnapped for these two to chase after her, I'll take it. Birdramon gets in some cool maneuvers before even needing to evolve to fight her selection of MetalFantomon, and the overall involvement had me thinking we might see her Mega evolution before the episode was over. That's not the case, as instead the always-cool but critically-underused-until-now Gokumon put in an appearance, letting WarGreymon return and do just a bit more than before. They're still supposed to be selling us on this guy; his moves are looking a bit more interesting and the fight more engaging than previous, even as the animation in this one remains clunky and purely functional at this stage.
It's a testament to how much I want to be interested in the story portions of this battle-obsessed anime that probably my favorite part of this episode comes in the wind-down at the very end. This iteration of Taichi has always seemed a bit sharper than his initial incarnation (perhaps as a result of having to get so much done on his own by this point), and it was refreshing to see how quickly he clocked that there must be a second Holy Digimon, and Hikari must be its partner. It's an especially appreciable irony given how artificially that mystery of the ‘Eighth Child’ was dragged out back in the classic show. It gets us straight to the point that Taichi, Sora, and their partners, now atop the massive moving good boy that is Komondomon, are pursuing. It's just a smidge of momentum and purpose, pushing up at the end of an episode that worked a bit better for me than Digimon Adventure: has in the past few weeks.
Digimon Adventure: is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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