In this episode, when a scouting mission turns into several irritating tasks to please the only living being for miles, you're gonna have a bad time.
Learning about Koichi was a pretty intense experience. In fact, the entire Continent of Darkness has been a pretty intense experience. As it looks like the bulk of the Duskmon situation is going to fall to Koji and Takuya, the other three are free to be utilized to give us a short break. There's nothing wrong with a breather episode now and then, and we are in desperate need of one. Still, attempting one here and now, while the drama should still be at its peak, is doomed to failure.
The run we're in right now should be Digimon Frontier at its peak. The series gets off to a so-so start and is destined to go down in flames, but this is supposed to be the crescendo that makes it all worthwhile. Now that we know about Koichi, Velgemon knows about Koichi and Koji doesn't know about Koichi, we're dying to see what happens next. While we need a breather from all the intensity, we shouldn't be getting one yet. We need to be excited and unsettled and anxious to feel the full impact of the situation, because that's what Koji's feeling. Taking a break now kills all the momentum.
While the “now” part is most important, the “here” part shouldn't be lost either. A breather episode is supposed to be light-hearted and fun. With Takuya and Koji running off to face their doom, JP decides to make himself useful and embarks on a scouting mission. Sounds great! He's going to see if he can gather information on this Rose Morning Star place they're supposed to be heading toward. Way to take some initiative! This is the perfect set up if not for one oversight JP & company quickly realize: they're in the Continent of Darkness and there are no signs of life in the immediate area. Start chuckling anytime!
You do have to give JP some credit for venturing forward. With the news that he, Tommy and Zoe are done evolving, he's starting to feel like this could very easily turn into the Takuya and Koji show. He's right, but at least he recognizes it and wants to find a meaningful contribution to counter that. In that regard, he's got a bit of Joe in him, and it's fair to acknowledge, even if his efforts are futile. Their eagerness to help, however quickly turns into boredom. Boredom quickly turns to horror when the trio find a scrapyard full of dead trains. It's a dark, frightening place, and stirring a rusty old Angler doesn't calm them down.
Once they discover that Angler's not some sort of zombie train, they find out that he is, instead, kind of a dick. The picture he paints is a grim one indeed, explaining that Trailmon ready to be put out of service come here to rust, wither and die, all alone, still alive as they decay. Think about that for a while and tell yourself this is a breather episode. Instead of turning into a lesson about spending time with and caring for the elderly, Angler takes advantage of these kids to get a free cleaning, before undergoing an instant revitalization for no reason. As they ride back, pretending to all be friends, his lone piece of information is that Ophanimon might be locked up at the Rose Morning Star. Of course she is; why else would she send them there?
For a season frequently termed a breather series following Tamers, Frontier sure spends an awful lot of time in the Continent of Darkness. That's great when you're dealing with the likes of Duskmon or waging war with Cherubimon. But when it's time to take a step back and not be as serious, it becomes difficult. The only times we've seen the sun in the last twelve episodes were the Wind and Water spheres within Sakkakumon. It becomes a serious drag, almost like a case of seasonal affective disorder. Frolicking in a Trailmon graveyard sure as hell isn't going to help.
My Grade: C-
- Koji's attitude when the others find him is perfect. Completely confused, surprised he's alive, too much to think about, and absolutely no patience for the other kids. He runs off because, seriously, there's more important things going on than JP, Tommy and Zoe. Takuya follows, probably for the same reason.
- While the horror movie analogy was not particularly appropriate as Takuya was following Koji (if anything, it's a reason to go after him), the comic book visual is a rare and kinda fun animation style change, akin to the “Two Takuyas on a Bridge” interstitial. This show doesn't do that often enough.
- You have to feel bad for Bokomon and Neemon here. The plan is for JP, Tommy and Zoe to walk around quick and get some information before Koji and Takuya get back. They travel for a long while and not only service Angler, they take a nap on top of him. Bokomon and Neemon are completely defenseless and waiting for close to a whole day in a spot near where Cherubimon was recently spotted.
- When Angler starts stirring, Tommy dives headfirst into Zoe's chest. Oh the things you can get away with when you're young.
- So much for Zoe realizing that spirit evolving isn't only useful for battle. Angler wants them to turn him upright and Zoe wonders how they'll do it.
- That's an awfully damn precise Thunder Fist if it can create a hole designed to collect only a small bit of pond water without overflowing.