In this episode, Takuya confronts Koji about his one major character weakness: being a dick to children.
After every digidestined in the opening roster has earned their wings, the first recurring villain shows up, kicks their asses and sends them all flying in different directions. Why any self-respecting series would follow the template of the irritating first episodes of Adventure is beyond me, but Frontier's giving this road another shot (no rocket beds this time, sadly). We find ourselves with an episode where the leader and the rival square off over how much extra protection the youngest team member should be afforded. It's basically episode nine of season one with more toys and fewer yaoi overtones.
While that one featured Matt getting over-emotional and paranoid worrying about TK, heads remains cooler here. At least in the sense that Takuya and Koji don't quite exchange blows. The tables are also flipped, where Takuya welcomes the big brother role while Koji chides him for tolerating Tommy's immaturity too much. What we end up with is a pretty interesting debate on leadership techniques, our first hint of Koji's backstory and a case where an episode of Frontier handles itself better than its season one equivalent.
In spite of Zoe and JP, Takuya has gathered the impression that he knows what he's doing as leader. Much of this has to do with Tommy, who has gained respect for Takuya partially because Takuya doesn't dismiss Tommy's abilities on sight and partially because Tommy doesn't know any better. After landing in the amusement park version of Laputa, Tommy doesn't seem to mind that they're separated from Zoe and JP. After all, there's toy robots and flying cars and cotton candy and junk. Takuya is very gentle about steering Tommy back on course, but ineffective at it, often giving in to the distractions himself. Koji has no patience with such nonsense and doesn't hesitate to tell Takuya.
The end result is a legitimate debate: in a sticky situation like this, is it all right to handle a kid with kid gloves if he's supposed to be an equal? Koji's arguments are spot-on. They're in a serious fix and letting Tommy hold the team back with his goofing around or frequent waterworks could have disastrous consequences. At some point before this ordeal is over, Tommy will have to be worked into shape. For all they know, their lives could depend on it. While he's right, and Takuya even knows he's right, he's such an asshole about it that Takuya argues back.
If it were just a matter of Koji being tactless in making a correct argument, that would be well enough. However, there is a lot to be said in favor of Takuya's approach towards Tommy. Takuya isn't blind to the situation. He knows they have to find the others as soon as possible and he knows that Tommy stopping to play with toys isn't productive. At the same time, he recognizes that even if Tommy is a fellow soldier in whatever they're wrapped up in, treating him like one at this stage isn't going to get the desired result. It's not so much that Takuya isn't forcing Tommy to go a more appropriate pace, it's that Tommy may be physically and emotionally incapable of it. Yes, Takuya does hold up the mission by letting Tommy indulge in some toys and rest after a nauseous carnival ride, but it may be necessary for Tommy's survival in this world.
Beyond that, the rest of the episode is your standard fluff, even the parts that don't sound like standard fluff like a bunch of jilted Digimon planning to get their revenge on the real world (that's pretty much the whole plot of Data Squad). Tommy is kidnapped by WaruMonzaemon, but after bawling his eyes out and almost pissing himself, he's seen happily playing video games with the purified version. The idea is that it's a solution only a child could come up with. In reality, it's a sad ploy to keep Tommy credible.
My Grade: B
- After encountering the giant ball pit and the massive playground, the boys are sure they're going to find out who needs a ball pit that big, but they never do. It seem to be just aesthetic.
- It's interesting that Takuya and Koji are often dismissed for being clones of Tai and Matt, but when those two had a similar argument in the Dark Masters arc, it was Tai advocating sticking to the mission, while Matt want to stop and give the others a chance to rest.
- Seriously though, this is the first time Digimon even are shown to be aware of the real world. It should be a bigger deal than it is. The ShadowToyAgumon swear revenge because human children don't play with them, although judging by the popularity of the various Lego video games, that's probably not so realistic. Wouldn't we all kill for a Lego video game version of Digimon, even with the Adventure RPG that just came out?
- When Koji confesses to being an only child, Takuya reacts like it's some sort of scandal. Future spoilers aside, is it so ridiculous that somebody could be an only child, especially someone like Koji who lacks certain social graces? Not much is said about Zoe or JP's families, but it wouldn't be surprising to learn that they're only children as well.
- I'm shocked at Takuya's restraint in making fun of the castle being lavender without making a snide reference to Zoe's wardrobe.