In this episode, the kids are dismayed to find that the world they leaped into is cold, brutal, desolate and disorienting. What the hell were they expecting, Narnia?
From the moment this episode began, it became clear that this trip to the Digital World was not going to be the happy adventure we're used to. Even when the place wasn't doing too hot, the Digital World had always been an exciting respite from real life, where fun random stuff like phone booths show up in strange places and any problems can be solved by finding the right bad guy and attacking him until he goes away. Instead, these kids need about five minutes before wondering if they've made a horrible, horrible mistake.
The transition between worlds, always handled a little differently in every season, emphasizes the “digital” in Digital World more than Adventure did. The kids fly through ASCII text and motherboard circuitry with no clue as to which way is up until Jeri makes a decision and they start plummeting. When they land, data packets blow by like tumbleweeds and pillar-like streams represent users on Earth manipulating content on the internet. And the Earth itself? A gigantic satellite floating up in the sky, reminding these kids of where they are and how they're so far away from home. It's not that different than the Earth during the Dark Masters arc, but that was far closer, illustrating how the actions the digidestined had in the Digital World affected the real world too. The big blue ball in the sky here works to the opposite effect and is even more powerful.
On terra firma (or digi firma?), there's no lush and lively forest environment waiting for them. They're in a desert, deprived of their primary food provisions and with their uplink back home on the fritz. This is the part where they realize they never quite worked out the details on how to get back, assuming that a solution would present itself somewhere along the way. Times like these, there's only one thing to do: plant a flag and take pictures... despite the camera also going on the fritz.
Despite contributing nothing to the operation, there's great value in having Kazu and Kenta along for the ride. This is a dire, dire situation and with the kind of realism the show tries to portray, the actual tamers are going to be down and discouraged right off the bat, struggling to gather themselves enough to focus on the mission. It takes two complete morons to ignore the situation and breathe some life into the party, even if it's anger.
As different as this Digital World is, some things never change: before long, they're wandering aimlessly through the desert. Just as they're starting to calm down and get back to business, the world has more fun in store. The transition to day and night is stark and instantaneous. Locals such as Meramon have taken the mentality of shooting first and asking questions later (and answering, after he gets a spanking from Leomon). Just as they befriend him to the point where he's explaining the cruel nature of the world and Kazu and Kenta both try to claim dibs, a Jagamon stampede kills him. The circle of life continues.
Any fictitious world, be it the Digital World, Narnia or El Hazard, can be defined as a character itself. Along with its inhabitants, the world has its own personality that impacts the tone of the story. Each season's Digital World has a different one. Adventure's was random and whimsical. Frontier's evolves from colorful and lively to stark and cold as it deteriorates. Tamers features a world that is cruel and unfair right from the start, and it's only proper that it takes an entire episode to delve into all of the natural hazards available to kick your ass. Sure enough, right at the very end, one of those data streams lines up, Kazu and Kenta's rear ends square in its sights.
My Grade: A-
- It wasn't possible in Adventure as the kids had no idea where they were, but the aspect of the tamers considering themselves pioneers exploring a new world is an important distinction and worth the time spent with it. They even had a flag to plant!
- Not only does it add to the anxiety, it's so appropriate and obvious that equipment such as the communicator and Kenta's digital camera face heavy interference here. The whole atmosphere is probably charged; of course things are going to see static. Makes you wonder why Izzy's laptop wasn't.
- Amusing as Rika's camera test line was, are we really to believe that she hates having her picture taken in any circumstance, not just in a studio?
- Did Rika climb that butte on her own? She just appeared at the top of it all of a sudden, then seemed to leap off of it and into Renamon's arms. Those suckers are probably fifty feet tall!
- While convenient for the story, there's something very troublesome about the digi-gnomes freeing Calumon from Makuramon. I'm sure I'll put my finger on it eventually.