In this episode, the tamers settle their affairs before heading into the Digital World. That includes talking to parents and teachers, then figuring out how the hell to get in.
There are no evolution sequences, card slashes, nor any action to speak of in this episode. There's no intensity as there's just mild frustration that they can't find a way in, then mild relief when a portal is right under their noses. The entire thing is simply the kids tying loose ends before taking their adventure into the Digital World, making it one of the most sincere episodes the franchise will offer.
The parent factor, while never insignificant, has rarely been given proper screen time. The return trip to the Digital World in Adventure was certainly heartfelt, but tacked onto the end of an episode with other major developments. Zero Two didn't even have that as there wasn't a prolonged trip to the Digital World to worry about. Tamers takes an entire episode to step back and remind us that on top of all the Digimon taming duties, these kids still have regular lives that are about to be brutally interrupted.
For that reason, as necessary as they know this mission is, they're all hesitant about leaving. They know how much it'll destroy their parents and can't spare the thought of being away from them and having them worry about all the perils in the Digital World. They persist because they must, not because they want to.
The Digimon aren't encouraging them along either. Both Renamon and Leomon warn Rika and Jeri of how dangerous the place is, with Renamon going so far as to ask Rika not to go. In the process, Rika's grandmother sees Renamon and takes it in stride, considering her Rika's guardian angel. Recognizing that regardless of their differences, Rika and her mother still care about each other, Rika tries to make the news a little easier to swallow by wearing that silly dress. She seems to look a little better in it this time around and Rumiko is very appreciative that her daughter is trying to look pretty for a change.
For entirely different reasons, Henry and Jeri both struggle with telling their parents. Henry's already gotten the hard part over with Janyuu aware of Terriermon and Suzie pretending to be. Reality doesn't faze her much at all. Still, Henry can't bring himself to tell his father face to face. Part of that might be the inherent difficulty in saying goodbye to a parent. Part of that may be that Janyuu knows exactly what the Digital World is and the thought of his son entering an electronic construct that he helped create might be a little too mind-blowing. Everybody else can just use a vague “going to another world” explanation. Jeri has Leomon break the news, possibly because the quick glimpse of her home life spotlights a grumpy dad and a different mother than the one in her baby picture.
As for Takato, his parents react exactly the way you expect, but these reactions are so authentic that it hits hard. Takato knows he can't shy away from it and barges on in with Guilmon, but it's still difficult because he too knows that his mother will freak out. His explanation is vague and undersells the severity of the situation, and she can't imagine letting her baby go with these monsters. It takes his father to recognize what's going on and let him go, but how can you not feel for Mom here?
Perhaps the most appreciated scene, however, is the way Takato, Jeri, Kazu and Kenta say goodbye to their teacher. Miss Asaji has had several questionable/hilarious moments, but she does care about these kids and doesn't let them go without a fight. She loses and is in tears by the end of it, but it's one more important adult that these kids are forced to leave behind, which is great to acknowledge.
Despite all this, they still charge into the Digital World with a hurrah and a thirst for adventure. So yeah, you know right away this will end in tears.
My Grade: A
- If there is any drama that could have been included in this episode, the race against time factor that was only hinted at could have been it. The implication is that Vikaralamon's bio-emergence was so massive that that it opened several temporary (and dissipating) packets that could be used to enter the Digital World.
- Takato lightly touches on how quickly people get past the destruction and get on with their lives. The media accepts Vikaralamon as an isolated incident and probably doesn't ask too many questions about these Digimon things. It's either deep social commentary or everybody is far too comfortable with living in Japan during an anime.
- Even at the onset, Leomon seems bothered by Jeri's simultaneous affection for him and lack of confidence in herself. He recognizes that she's either a hell of a trooper or has no idea what she's getting into.
- In perhaps the only documented case of a head writer throwing two characters together and shouting “it's canon, bitches!” to the rest of his staff, Yamaki and Riley are seen fraternizing in his cozy apartment well away from the workplace. Legend has it the other writers were surprised that they were apparently supposed to be an item. We shouldn't dismiss the possibility that this is another couple thrown together at the last second because someone thought Yamaki had a really rough stretch and needed to get laid.
- A not-so-sly religious reference is Takato's mother shouting “oh Lord” when she sees Guilmon. This is quite shocking as this sort of direct reference to God simply does not happen in dubbed anime... just ask the Digimon “Sovereign.”
- Even when Yamaki's a good guy, he's still overdramatic and creepy. Only he can make everybody uncomfortable, despite only being there to say “It's dangerous to go alone: take this.”