Adventure Episode 28: It's All In The Cards

In this episode, the digidestined finally meet Gennai in person. He explains how they can return to the real world: they have to play a children's card game.

It's remarkable how this episode is better than its premise. It has no business being all that good. Myotismon's already gone, half the time is spent getting a lecture from Gennai and the whole thing centers around a basic card puzzle. It's not even a particularly difficult one, especially for Izzy, who seems like the kind of kid who could hack the passwords of old Mega Man games.

Yet everything seems to meld into an episode that flows well, creating intrigue at the beginning and tension at the end. It helps that Gennai decides to be a little more involved, inviting the digidestined to his undersea palace. During the journey to his house, the sea parts and they find a tranquil Japanese garden... that promptly fills back up with water once they go inside. Here, Gennai is slightly more useful, explaining that Myotismon has reached Tokyo and giving the team keycards to reach the other world. He doesn't explain how to use them, but it's a start.

Finally, we start to get a little information on Gennai, namely that there is no information about Gennai. He's not really human and not really a Digimon and claims to have no attributes- a null figure in the equation somewhere outside the distinction between data, virus and vaccine. It's an interesting characteristic for an advisor figure as nothing suggests that he should be either a good guy or a bad guy. Nothing even suggests that he should be a guy at all.

His exposition is interesting, however, especially alone with Izzy who probes further. It's the first time important established terms emerge such as data, virus and vaccine types to loosely denote neutral, good and evil Digimon. Incidentally, each Digimon Analyzer screen denotes this type in the upper-right. It's in Japanese, but once you work out the “digicode,” you can watch as the lines steadily blur: Guilmon's technically a virus type! It's also the first time specific levels of Digimon are called In-Training, Rookie and Champion... outside of the theme music.

All of this is much appreciated and useful for those of us trying to classify things better, but the second half is where things really take off. Megakabuterimon wastes no time in trashing the Devidramon guards... along with half the castle. As they are trapped in, there's a stirring moment where Tai is finally declared the leader of the group. It's a surprise to him, but not to any of the others, for reasons I've stated in prior episodes (namely that nobody can stay together or agree to anything without him). Tai ponders it over and makes a wise executive decision- make Izzy do it. It's one of his smartest moves.

For all the agony over the card code, it's ultimately pretty simple: each column represents the vaccine/data/virus classification while each row represents Rookie, Champion or Ultimate level Digimon. Izzy says the classifications in the wrong order and says In-Training/Rookie/Champion instead... but the cards end up in the right slots anyway. The only drama is who between Agumon and Gomamon belongs in the Rookie Vaccine slot. Izzy's stumped and leaves it to Tai to guess.

While all this is going on, Dokugumon shows up and all hell is breaking loose. Spiders are attacking, the castle is still falling apart, rocks are falling everywhere... it's pretty epic stuff and offering plenty of distractions to keep Tai from concentrating on this decision. Ultimately, he plays the Gomamon card and hopes for the best. WereGarurumon finishes off Dokugumon just in time for him to devolve and dive through the gate with Matt.

After the same stock dimensional void footage from episode one... they're all back home. It's all peaceful. The Digimon are there as well making bad jokes. Tai held onto Agumon out of personal sentiment, which was the correct call... probably for the correct reason. Heart of the cards, y'all.

My Grade: B+

Loose Data:
  • Gennai completely loses it when Tai suggests trial & error to figure out the correct card placement. It's a major departure for him, and quite amusing.
  • On that note, Gennai says the consequences are that they may end up in the wrong world. So... there are other worlds out there? Is this one of the crackpot explanations for the Digital Worlds in seasons 3-6 having different rules, mythologies and atmospheres? Please say yes.
  • Gennai mods Izzy's laptop to load analysis data from other digivices. He loads Joe's in this episode. Let's see how often he uses it after this.


  1. Guilmon being a virus-type actually makes sense in a twisted way. The circumstances of his creation were wholly unnatural--he doesn't really have any grounding in established Digimon code. Hence, he's a virus.

  2. The second episode of the Odaiba arc is the weakest, in my opinion. So this arc's worst is gotten out of the way quickly into it and is also pretty good, which speaks volumes about this point in the series. The best stuff was in the first half with the kids meeting Gennai at his house and talking with him, with lots of nice details and information given. I especially liked how Izzy stayed up later than the others in order to converse with Gennai about the nature of Digimon and the Digital World, as well as ask him to upgrade the Digimon recorder on his laptop. Gennai reveals what we've suspected for a while now - that the Digital World and real world are shadows of one another, with the Digital World being made and ever expanded through all the discarded data and information from the real world's computer systems. Therefore it's even more necessary to stop the distortions in the Digital World, because they could have terrible effects on the other world too if they worsen. He also clears up why the attributes of Digimon are notable. Gennai himself is fascinating because he is, as he says, neither human nor Digimon, but we get strong hints that he used to be human (his place is styled like old Japan and he has digital robots of real world fish in his tank) but has become a being made of digital data now. A shame he can't be more helpful most of the time.

    The second half was weaker due to the kids mostly just standing around and talking in a location that we've probably seen enough of by this point. The Dokugamon attacks were random but welcome in order to up the action and suspense of the final minutes, when Tai needed to put all the cards in right and figure out which was the fake card. This whole point was really screwed up in the dub - Izzy mentions Data while the scene shows Leomon (a Vaccine), Virus while it shows Centarumon (a Data), and Vaccine when it shows Etemon (a Virus), and says the star marks represent "In-Training, Rookie, and Champion" when very clearly it's Rookie, Champion, and Ultimate. Were they not paying attention? Later on we have Koromon saying "That's so nice" while looking completely unimpressed.

    Concerning what Gennai said, it's possible that a Digimon multiverse exists and he did have a line along those lines in the original, but not in the moment where he freaked out on Tai. Originally he said that the slightest error with the cards would send them to " a strange looking world" and they might not even come out right on the other side (which in the dub is the "switching skins" part). This actually foreshadows the dimension we see at the end of 02, when Oikawa unknowingly puts in the Agumon card on his computer code and they all wind up in the strange looking world instead of the Digital World. (On side note, the dub has Gennai say in episode 54 "It was a real eye opener for me, though of course, I've never been able to open them since". If you see his freakout moment in this episode, you'd see that line is untrue.)