Not counting the opening, ending and “last time on...” recap, an episode of Digimon has about 18.5 minutes of actual content. That should give you an idea of just how many toy commercials you've been watching in that half-hour span.
This episode contains 3.5 minutes of evolution sequences. That's right... roughly a fifth of this episode is nothing but “so-and-so-mon digivolves to... Uber so-and-so-mon!!” One. Fifth. I timed it.
I haven't really been commenting on the “lengthy transformation sequence by lengthy transformation sequence” element of this site's tagline. I've always taken it along the same lines as a mecha changing into a new form or a magical girl's transformation sequence. These are still commonplace, even in either genre's more ambitious entries. But I can't ignore an episode that includes extended sequences to go to Rookie, then Champion, then Ultimate, then Mega. Especially when all of them prove to be either unnecessary or futile.
The extended sequences are either a cause or effect of the episode having little substance, serving only to introduce the new villains of this arc- the Dark Masters. Separately, they're all pretty awesome, and we'll cover them in depth when they each get their turn. Together... it's a pretty random team given their objectives. Their goal is total conquest of the Digital World, even going so far as to manipulate its very geography to make domination easier. That's fair. But the team consists of a renegade sea dragon, a giant mech, a demented marionette and a psychotic clown, and somehow they all work together harmoniously for the sake of evil. What brought these four together? Some grandiose timeshare?
The entire episode is all about disorienting and discouraging the digidestined after their big win over Myotismon. Each of the Dark Masters, in turn, take on all of the good guys and beat them handily. Outside of all the evolution sequences, that's where the bulk of the time is spent, and it's not all that productive. What is interesting is all the disorienting and discouraging that surrounds all the muscle flexing.
It's not a smooth landing, and Joe quickly discovers that the world is shifting all around them when he nearly falls off it. The group finds a distraught Chuumon, who was barely relevant in his lone appearance in episode 10, but now relates his tragic tale of how he lost Sukamon and witnessed the rise of the Dark Masters. Not only does Mimi no longer consider him a nuisance, she actually goes to great length to protect of him throughout the endless barrage they're put through.
In the beginning of the show, it was hard to get behind Mimi because of all her whining and complaining. When she does it here, you really feel for her. After the Dark Masters have toyed with the digidestined long enough and prepare to deliver the final blows, Mimi's the first to break. As far as they've come, she reminds us that they still didn't volunteer for this job and the whirlwind of violence that they've been through is starting to take its toll. When Piedmon decides to eliminate her first, Chuumon takes the bullet. Somehow this doesn't encourage Mimi much.
Neither does Piximon, who tells the group they aren't ready for this battle yet and gets them the hell out of Dodge. He faces the Dark Masters themselves to buy them some time. Hmm... frail mentor going up against immensely powerful evil. This'll end well.
My Grade: C+
- Nice shot of the Earth behind Piedmon's observatory on Infinity Mountain. Japan and North America are featured on either side of the building.
- The strangest of the massive evolution sequences was the one with all the In-Trainings reflexively responding to the Digimon that startled Joe. All of them outrun Gomamon in the process.
- Before all those Rookies can find and destroy the monster, Kari reaches out to Chuumon and leads him out. It's a nice reminder that she's on the team now too.
- Clever job knocking Angemon out ahead of the Machinedramon battle, conveniently disguising the fact that we haven't seen his Ultimate form yet.