In this episode, Rika's sick and tired of being stuck with Kazu and Kenta, so in comes one more guy to annoy the hell out of her!
Did I say Kazu and Kenta were useful in adding character to the group while contributing nothing to the plot? Check this guy out! Let's welcome special guest Ryo Akiyama, star of video game, more video game and a couple of Ken's flashbacks in Zero Two. He'll be signing autographs after the show, and make sure to pick up a copy of his tell-all autobiography where he complains about not being featured in the big Hunters crossover.
But seriously, who the hell is this guy?
We all know that Ryo's primary contributions to the series are saving the day when the main cast gets backed into a corner and making Rika uncomfortable. We value these very much, particularly the latter. Having somebody that is actually on Rika's level forcing her to engage socially is brilliant and watching Ryo make her squirm is a feather in the show's cap. The problem Ryo faces is that we are supposed to accept on sight that this new face is instantly and automatically on Rika's level.
There is no getting around the fact that viewers outside of Japan are at a disadvantage here. Ryo had made a name for himself as the protagonist of several domestic video games, which not only flesh out what happened to Ken prior to his Digimon Emperor days, but also cover how and why Ryo left the Adventure world and ended up in Tamers. Anyone who's played those games would react to Ryo the same way Kazu and Kenta did. But the fact that the show acts as though everybody has played these things is not only presumptuous, it's as blatant a marketing ploy as integrating the card game into the mechanics of the world. It would be like Star Wars throwing Kyle Katarn into an Episode VII and expecting us to accept him as a Jedi comparable to Luke.
So here we are, this random vagabond showing up with an awesome Digimon, respect from man and mon alike, a potential way out and a killer smile. It's ridiculous, and this embodiment of a perfect tamer leaves the audience scratching their heads wondering if they're supposed to have heard of this kid. If the answer's yes, then it's irresponsible storytelling. If the answer's no, it's an overly aggrandizing introduction to a second-tier character and downright terrible storytelling. For all that we've heard about Rika's level of celebrity thanks to card tournaments, nobody's mentioned the predecessor who kicked her ass? It's not impossible to throw in a random character in spots like these (Data Squad certainly pulled it off with Keenan), but it must be done carefully and that is not the case here.
Rika's reaction to meeting Ryo, of course, is priceless. She's annoyed that he's here, annoyed that he wants to step in and run the show, and annoyed that Kazu and Kenta had levels of fanboy worse than what she had already experienced. It's a little irrational to show disdain for someone with so much expertise offering to help them out of a dire condition, but Rika's well past the point of being rational. It's not just that she hates his Mr. Perfect attitude. In fact, it's mostly Kazu and Kenta's fault. They've been wearing her down for a while now- leaving the rally point, not running away from a data stream, talking incessantly, etc. They've forced her into this freaky plain and she's fed up with both them, Ryo, and their fawning over Ryo. Her leaving the group at the end of the episode is not just due to her distrust of Ryo, it's also that she can't take it anymore and needs to go it alone to protect her sanity. Introverted folks are like that, especially when stuck with loudmouths like Kazu.
My Grade: C
- Kazu and Kenta's constant yammering does make you appreciate the kind of relationship Rika and Renamon have. They say more by looking at each other and nodding than Kazu and Kenta do splitting a hundred words.
- In case you didn't want to smack Kazu upside the head already, if he and Kenta had bothered to listen to Renamon's instructions, they would have been reunited with Takato, Henry and Jeri and wouldn't have had trouble finding Rika later.
- Somebody explain the mechanics of this clock world? When the clock is not working, the gears are working and everything is peaceful. When the clock is working, the gears stop and a giant monster shows up to kill everybody.
- One of the more interesting elements in this episode that will probably never get mentioned again is the urban legend among the Digimon that loading the data of a tamer's partner can send one to the real world. You don't think the Devas had anything to do with spreading that, do you?
- Does Renamon honestly think that she would have any chance against a Megadramon? Why bother attacking before Rika slashes an evolution card?
- On top of the awkwardness of not being familiar with the video games, viewers of the dub also have to deal with the fact that Zero Two is a cartoon in the Tamers universe. A cartoon which had Ryo in it.