In this episode, a "power of friendship" moment that gets surprisingly badass. Plus Yamaki has an innovative solution to this Digimon problem of his.
Okay, I know what you're thinking. Indramon ditches the initial battle for structurally convenient reasons. Kazu hand-draws a blue card thinking it'll help Takato. Indramon returns and is pretty much invincible until this stupid-looking card works and WarGrowlmon owns Indramon. Sounds pretty tacky, right?
It works, and it took an amazing job pushing some crazy concepts over in order for this insanity to pass muster. Over the course of several episodes, we've come to accept modify cards and this blue card mystery to the point where we don't bat an eye at Kazu's homemade wreck working as well as the real thing. In fact, what should probably be dismissed as “power of friendship” wank instead adds to the intrigue. Imitation blue cards... how do they work? The fact that we trust that there's a perfectly good explanation to this is a pretty good show of confidence in this series.
For starters, we have to buy into modify cards an an important feature of this world and not some marketing tie-in. This has been addressed before, but selling this element of the series is extremely crucial in an episode where all three tamers slash up a storm in the second Indramon battle. Instead of an endless parade of stock sequences, it's a chain of maneuvers where each of the three take a different approach in an attempt to gain the upper hand (Henry uses defense, Takato uses power, Rika uses speed). It's primitive, but it's the most tactical the show will get until Xros Wars, which has the same need to sell its strategic elements.
Then we get to the blue cards themselves. As a mystery, it's hit-or-miss as the kids are either obtaining them through magic or the convoluted scheming of a renegade researcher. Either way, it doesn't hold water. But as a plot device, it does its job, regulating Ultimate evolution until it doesn't need to be special anymore. The inconsistency of how the tamers get these cards plays into this episode's favor. Given how they've just sort of appeared in the past, when Kazu convinces Takato to try his homemade version, we all just throw up our hands and think why the hell not. Had there been a firm rule associated with this sort of thing, we'd be calling BS. It's easier to swallow when the whole conceit has been shaky, as long as we know what the end result it supposed to be.
Capitalizing on wobbly storytelling is, of course, only going to work if the scene in question does. The key things that make it kick have little to do with Kazu. First is the fact that Indramon is having his way with the tamers' Digimon and Takato is desperate. Second is that instead of looking at Kazu, Takato looks past him to an exhausted Calumon. Being the only one to have guessed Calumon's little secret, Takato realizes that he's not putting his faith in Kazu's stupid card, he's putting his faith in Calumon. Calumon and Takato are both willing to give it a go, and that's what makes it work. The card was just a sort of placebo.
The other half of the episode focuses on Janyuu, who is summoned for some unknown purpose. This whole thing could have been handled pretty quickly, sparing more time for additional footage of the kids slashing modify cards. Instead, they space it out over the course of the episode, showing Janyuu feeling uncomfortable, alone and forgotten in a meeting room. Just as he's about to leave in frustration, he stumbles upon the Hypnos thunderdome and meets Yamaki and four of his old monster maker chums from college. Suddenly polite, Yamaki explains what has happened to the Digimon since their old project and how they need to work together and help him find a solution to this problem.
Like, say, killing them all.
My Grade: B+
- The whole “takes forever to devolve” conceit hasn't been used much lately, so it's nice to see them revisit it from time to time as the three Champions are forced to sleep it off in the drainage tunnel.
- Takato has such great facial expressions and is excitable enough to use them, such as when Kazu and Kenta pester Mr. Matsuki for Guilmon bread.
- Hey! That weird-looking kid again! He just lunged for Takato's D-Power! And there he is observing the Indramon battle and cheering for the bad guy! I'm still sure he's not important.
- Considering how Henry and Rika act like mere professional acquaintances rather than friends, it was fun to see Henry giving her a rough time for showing genuine concern for Impmon, and Rika's cute reaction. I don't think she's comfortable with Henry giving her the tsundere label.
- I'm not going to try to repeat the exact process for how a digital life form manifests itself in the real world, but holy crap do they get credit for creating and delivering a valid-sounding explanation.