by Christopher Farris,
How would you rate episode 9 of
Digimon Adventure: ?
In this week's episode of Digimon Adventure:, Koshiro and Tentomon finally join up with the rest of the group!
Okay, okay, seriously though, it's a genuinely momentous occasion, and played as such. The kids are still in that fortress they took last week, under fire from new enemies, and it looks like they're about to be blown away, only for Kabuterimon's attack to blast in from offscreen, saving everyone and leaving just enough of a free moment for both Koshiro and Tentomon to quip about how long the trip seemed to take. Tentomon especially has already proven himself invaluable to the rapport of the gang, and as with so many other continuing elements of the series, I'm looking forward to seeing how he and Koshiro adjust to the group dynamics now that they're actually here. Sure, we're still conspicuously short a younger sibling or two, but this still feels like the team of chosen kids in some form of "complete," finally.
So of course that means it's time for an episode that otherwise almost entirely focuses on Taichi. That's fine; we've got to rotate focus, and with all the team members added for now, it makes sense to go back to the group-leading goggle-head, especially as the next-episode preview indicates that he and his partnered dinosaur dude already have a new power-up on the horizon. I've got my own thoughts on that choice as well, of course, but that can wait until we actually get there. Instead, I can focus on what this ninth episode here does right, which is a lot, given its focus on character development for both our heroes and villains.
He's popped up several times now as the first of the show's no-doubt multiple recurring rotation of villains, but Orgemon (a spelling I emphatically don't agree with but hey, it says what it says) builds up to being a full-fledged character in this one, possibly just in time, as it turns out. What we get for him is relatively simple: He's actually an honorable warrior who, after the loss of his horn an episode ago, sees Taichi and Agumon as worthy rivals and wants to settle the score properly. It's fairly standard anime opponent stuff, but it works here because Digimon Adventure: knows not to overplay its elements. Orgemon's only been skirting around the other plots and battles so far, so a more robust exploration of his honorable side might come out of nowhere here. Instead, they strip his characterization down to make him a pointedly simple creature of few words, whose blunt communications tell us in the audience all we need to know while also making clear that there are heretofore unseen depths behind that presentation.
What makes it even more interesting is what it does for Agumon/Greymon. Anime rivalries exist to push both characters, especially the main heroes we're following, forward on their powers and abilities on a more personal scale than just beating the next major villain. Digimon's rivalries in previous iterations were previously mostly limited to inter-team races of measuring up: Any group's given Taichi and Yamato analogues grappling for maximum relevance in the team until they realized that unifying their power was the correct answer. Here, Taichi and his partner are confronted with an outside agitator that wants to push himself and them to the next level for an almost entirely recreational aspect of combat. It's remarked upon by the other characters that Orgemon and Greymon actually seem to be having fun as their battle wears on. I think it's known by most these days that, for as frequently as they get compared, Pokémon and Digimon actually have relatively little in common in regards to their stories, and one of those many differences is that fighting in Digimon is almost always in the name of survival of some sort, while Pokémon's battles much of the time are for sport. So this new take on a rivalry between Greymon and Orgemon is something previously unseen, leaning into the idea that Digimon are generally built for fighting and might actually like it that way to some extent. That's a concept that could really stand to be explored as we still have plenty of episodes of this show left.
This is still ultimately a Sunday morning kids' show, of course, so that contemplative conceptual battle gets interrupted by the setpiece the episode title already spoiled for us, with an Ultimate-level Digimon attacking (Side note: It's interesting to me that after weeks of carefully transliterating all the character and Digimon names with their original Japanese versions, down to "Orgemon," that the subs on Crunchyroll title this evolutionary level as "Ultimate," when the more classically-accepted term has been "Perfect"). Metaltyranomon's appearance here is mostly in service of motivating that power-up next week I mentioned earlier, but that still brings up an issue of accelerationism that concerns me at this point in the series. It's not just evolution levels, as the robo-rex's attack prompts dang near a full side-swap from Orgemon, clearing the path for Taichi, Greymon, and the others under the auspices of wanting to defend his honor and the rival only he is allowed to defeat. I joked last week that Yamato felt like he was speedrunning his old character development, but that pales in comparison to Orgemon here, who seems to have shot through a version of his classic arc at absolute warp-speed. Much as I was getting to like Orgemon here, I'll be immensely disappointed if they skipped any pretense of build-up and properly paced pathos just to knock him out in service of motivating Greymon's new transformation next week, but I'll stop short of judging that now and give them a chance. After all, it's not ogre yet.
There is some great stuff in this week's episode of Digimon Adventure:, coming off as a continuation of its successes last week. The team's all together, and they're doing something somewhat different with Greymon even as they continue to teeter on overexposing him and Taichi. Issues like that and where they may be moving with Orgemon does give me pause, meaning it's hard for me to judge this episode without factoring in my concerns about where it's going next week. It's good on its own, but Digimon has always worked as a strongly serialized story production, meaning it can be hard to separate the effective parts from the overall whole. On the other hand, my best boys Tentomon and Koshiro are here with everyone now, so that's a quantifiable success any way you look at it.
Digimon Adventure: is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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