This is indeed a most disturbing Digital World. And all the Lovecraft allusions don't even kick in until season two.
Imma talk about Sora in a second but MERAMON?! Dear God! A Digimon made entirely of fire gets corrupted via a gear drilling itself into his body, which makes him feel the pain from having a body that is constantly on fire!! He has no mouth yet he must scream...
It's one of several unsettling moments today, which is pretty full of them for an episode about the loving relationship between Sora and Biyomon and their efforts to save all those cute little Yokomon from the volcano they so ignorantly settled next to.
First off, the endless walking through territory unfamiliar is giving our team a nice case of the crazies. They're out of food, out of water and traipsing through the forest of random road signs and the desert of random telephone poles. Everybody's losing it, to the point where Mimi's whining just sort of blends in with everything else. She actually has a nice selfless moment where she lends Palmon her hat, so let's give her credit for that.
It's clear this was going to be a Sora episode right off the bat when she pauses to give Biyomon an “it'll be fine if we stick together” speech as the rest of the team walks away from that noise. They know she's right, but they must all be driving each other insane by now and would love to just get away from the rest of these clowns for a while.
So just as Mimi loses her mind, Biyomon loses her energy and Matt loses patience and is ready to mutiny his way back to road sign land, they find their adventure of the week- a Yokomon village whose water supply is interrupted by GUSHING FIRE.
In the meantime, Biyomon explains all the cool powers she's getting teaming up with Sora. Sora's quietly loving this, and she seems to accept Biyomon as a BFF before any of the others are really sure what this whole partner thing is about. Tai sees Agumon as an interesting new buddy, Matt sees Gabumon as a protector for him and his brother, Izzy sees Tentomon as a colleague, Mimi sees Palmon as a curiosity, TK sees Patamon as a talking pet and Joe's wondering who the hell thought it would be funny to give him Gomamon. They all get better, of course, but Sora and Biyomon seem to be making a serious connection already. Good for them.
It still brings up the most disconcerting part of the episode (other than Meramon): Sora states that they are somehow lucky kids for having guardians that respond to them being in physical danger. Being in a world where they are constantly in physical danger (and often hungry, thirsty, tired and losing their minds) is not lucky. The least the world can throw them is a fighting chance. This'll be worth revisiting when we get to Frontier and Xros Wars (the other seasons where they enter the world involuntarily) to see if the kids take Sora's mindset or are all about getting the hell out of there... before that sense of purpose and duty kicks in of course.
The episode itself... meh. It's fairly standard “rescue the innocent, get a new evolution” business, balanced out by all the dark layers and the slightest hint of a recurring plot. I found Sora and Biyomon's bond sweet in this episode, but we all know those two stray towards sappy pretty quickly. This is the first time we get a Champion despite their partner not being in much more danger than anyone else. How lucky for them.
My Grade: C
- Anyone who wants to accuse the show of having lousy voice work can point to this episode. It starts with Sora's “Wh... hey!” like an amazon that just got robbed from under her nose. There's all sorts of weird notes in this episode that don't sound quite right.
- Pretty sure this was added into the dub, but Izzy's constant alien theory works well for me. It's simultaneously silly, in-character, and consistently held throughout the early episodes to give him a little more flavor other than “the smart one.”
- Stay perfectly silent and perfectly still! It's an awful, awful strategy in this scenario, but in journalism school we're taught to write to the pictures and sure enough we get lazy, still-frame shots of panic during Meramon's charge. Silly dub.
- Lemmings do not actually charge off cliffs in packs. Yokomon on the other hand... keep Mufasa and Simba away from those things.
- Remember in episode two when it was established that Digimon can't evolve while hungry? Wasn't Biyomon starving with everybody else?