Tamers Episode 28: Blame it on Ryo

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

Loose Data:
  • 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.


  1. Well, there was mention of ryo, but it wasn't by name; kazu or kenta or some guys mentioned that Rika won because the winner of the previous year hadn't shown up, but it was way back in the early episodes (3 or 4?), so naturally nobody watching the show would remember.

    And I agree, he could have been mentioned more often; maybe someone wondering where did the missing champion had gone to, or even better, Kazu and Kenta wondering if they would meet said champion before entering the digital world.

    Honestly though, I don't get why he's called such a sue. It's clear he has many problems, namely in terms of pathological solitude. It is noticeable considering he is alone for over a year and a half and upon finding other people he takes the first chance he gets to remain alone, not once but several times (in the digital world, upon arriving to the real world, after meeting up while finding the D-Reaper).

    Isn't the clock a reference to the nuclear detonation countdown Our War Game, AKA Ryo's first animated appearance (however inconsistent?).

    1. I wish they'd made more of the "pathological need to be alone" thing. He could have been a much more interesting character.

      Addressing the review in general, in the original it's not entirely clear that Digimon 01 and 02 was a cartoon. All we know is that it's a popular children's franchise, a card game, but none of the Adventure characters are ever directly referenced. The dub alluded to Adventure characters, but the Japanese version didn't.

    2. I've played the Adventure game on the PSP and when it gets to Tai's encounter with Takato. He is suddenly shocked to see that Tai is real and goes sort of fanboy-esque on it. He even asks Tai if he can shake his hand, to which Tai awkwardly agrees to and Takato saying "No one back at home will ever believe this." Him and the other protagonists' memories of encountering each other gets erased in the end though. But back to what you were saying, it makes more sense to me now that Takato recognized Tai and saw that he was real, in the Japanese version at least.

  2. Oh, right, I forgot about Ryo showing up to offer an alternative to those who didn't want to go the "opposites attract" route and pair Rika with Henry.

    ...Yeah, the idea of the main female ending up with the goggle-boy this season is pretty much shot.

    1. I agree. Goggle head is already paired up with Jeri, I don't know why they pair him up with Rika. And Ryo flirts with Rika whenever he makes an appearance in the show with her around.

      They brought Ryo into the Tamer season because of his popularity of being the protagonist in the WonderSwan games.

  3. Ryo, ah Ryo. Why must you make things so much more complicated....

    I believe in one of the games he willingly jumps to the Tamer's dimension and leaves behind the Adventures/Zero Two dimension. Why, I'm not sure that game was only in jap... OTL

  4. Frankly, I think Ryo's the low point of Tamers. He's just dropped into a story that doesn't need him, and the few interesting things about him (his uncontrollable Cyberdramon, for instance) were neither developed nor very important to the plot.

    Megadramon has one heck of a kick-ass voice in this season. I also liked how there was such a size difference between him and Cyberdramon, especially in that shot where the latter is flying right by Megadramon's eye.

    Also, Clockmon and Hagurumon were a pretty funny comedy duo. I think Clockmon's strange speech pattern was based off his card description, in which he effectively holds some great forbidden power and has to remain unbiased to prevent it from causing havoc, which means whenever he goes extreme, he has to reel it in with a counterpoint.

  5. I didn't even know who the heck this 'Ryo' character was until I watched this episode. To me, he's just another random Tamer who happens to be able to Biomerge with an ULTIMATE.

    And even though I watched the whole Zero Two series, I didn't even notice Ryo was in it, and he wasn't a main character so I never ever heard his name until Rika got all pissed with him in this episode. Speaking of which, it was rather funny watching her ACTUALLY get pissed with someone for no real reason.

  6. I agree. Goggle head is already paired up with Jeri, I don't know why they pair him up with Rika. And Ryo flirts with Rika whenever he makes an appearance in the show with her around.

  7. One of the only things that I don't like about Digimon is how heavily they rely on outside video games for fairly significant character development. Like, it turns out that Ken's entire backstory from the previous season was also covered in a Japan only video game and if you didn't see it you basically had to piece it together from the few hints given in the show. This Ryo guy seems even worse since his backstory isn't even really explained, the characters just react to him as if he's been around before. Would it have been so hard to throw in a few flash backs or something to help us get up to speed??