Frontier Episode 40: The Bully Pulpit

In this episode, the group runs into a second set of kids that are somehow even bigger assholes than they used to be.


Once again, we delve into the theater of characters that are more interesting than the main cast. As much as Ophanimon has the world's best interests in mind, it's easy to second guess her methods. Her track record of betraying Cherubimon helped spur both his corruption and defeat. Now we can confirm our suspicions that her method of choosing her saviors had several flaws. It may have been necessary, but it was terribly reckless. It endangered not only all of the children that answered her call, but stretched resources that were already tight and even put\ the entire real world at risk. For someone heralded as one of the wise guardians of the Digital World, to create a situation that not only allows these four kids to run rampant but practically begs them to, Ophanimon is exposed as irresponsible and naive.

That makes this episode delightful for us iconoclasts. Really, its biggest failing is that it doesn't directly wag a finger at Ophanimon. It comes awfully close though, showing the terrible consequences of sending an open invitation for any kid with time on their hands to travel to the Digital World. First, it tears down whatever barrier may have existed between the two worlds. Allowing these kids in, even ones there legitimately like our protagonists, is an ever-present reminder that the real world is sitting out there for any enterprising villain to take a whack at (the ShadowToyAgumon from episode 7 come to mind). On the flip side, is it really a good idea to show all these kids the way to this wondrous land, only to pull the rug out from under them the second they arrive? Even after they leave, they remember the place exists, and they'll tell all their friends. Some, like these four assholes, won't leave at all.

When describing what happened to the main kids, Angemon says that most of the children were decent enough to swallow their pride and turn right back around. I find this really hard to believe. Picture yourself as a twelve year old dropped off in a giant magical world with amazing monsters everywhere. You aren't gonna get back on the train! They were foolish to even open the doors for everyone not destined to find a spirit. But they did, and these four decided to remain behind. I'd wager they weren't the only ones. There were likely other delinquents that either decided to leave after some harmless sight-seeing, or worse, got in somebody's way and met a gruesome end. Imagine an innocent girl like Chiaki that was just a little too pretty for Ranamon's tastes. Her blood's on your hands, Ophanimon.

Honestly, while these four kids are the epitome of stubborn, they're probably the franchise's most realistic portrayal of average children. They bully those smaller than them, they take their protectors for granted, and they ignore warnings and run towards whatever's shiny. Makes you appreciate the good stock that are afforded a digivice in these stories. At the very least, it's verification that, yes, Tommy has had character development this season. After putting up with Teppei's abuse, he ends up saving his life. The Tommy we met at the beginning of the series would not have done either.

While the episode offers little more than a minor sidebar and a forced cliffhanger, having these new characters around is refreshing, especially given their faults. Katsuharu is high on being the leader and low on taking orders, but doesn't pass muster when his own courage is tested. Teppei's an asshole that relishes the chance to boss others around but is the first to beg for help under pressure. Chiaki doesn't appreciate the stability of a decent family life. Teruo marvels at the world without pausing to consider its dangers. That's a lot to work with, and it's impressive to learn this much about them this quickly. It's hard to imagine them making good digidestined, but then again it was hard imagining our crew as good digidestined when we first met them.

My Grade: B

Loose Data:
  • For as much as fans adore Mikey's “a hero needs goggles” line in Hunters, Koji's sarcastic “all the cool kids wear goggles” line doesn't get nearly enough attention, especially Takuya's weak response of “they will!”
  • Sagitarrimon was an appropriately comic oaf, and the dub did a fair job interpreting what was likely a tricky Japanese pun in the process.
  • Patamon being absolutely awestruck by Angemon was adorable beyond belief.
  • In keeping with the “imagining these four as digidestined” bit, all four have voices identical to Kazu (Katsuharu), Tai (Teppei), Davis (Teruo) and Yolei (Chiaki). Some work better than others, although it's odd that Teppei's seemed to fit the best. Double bonus is that it's the same voice as Tommy's brother. Unintentional metaphors ahoy!
  • There's a bit of missed continuity when an Angler was one of the trains spotted at Forest Terminal. An Angler delivered Koji to Flame Terminal. Maybe not the same one (there's obviously more than one of each kind), but why not mix it up a bit?
  • Some people have speculated that these four were somehow supposed to receive the spirits of earth, wood, water and steel. That would have been cluttered, desperate, terrible storytelling and these people should be ashamed of themselves.

4 comments:

  1. It might have been cluttered, desperate and terrible, but if it had happened ten episodes or so ago instead of the silly "Takuya and Koji use all the magic" resolutions, it could have been more interesting.

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  2. I always liked the theory that they would have gotten the other four Spirits had Lucemon failed to turn Cherubimon, and resorted to some other method of freeing himself.

    Course, that would be a bit off, the leader of the beasts giving his Spirits to humans, instead of fellow Digimon.

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  3. I feel like this episode proved that the others weren't useless like people like to say. Also it made me wonder if any other kids decided to stay. Angemon said, "Most of the children were decent enough to swallow their pride and turn right back around.". This means that if there were other kids that stayed Ophanimom is responsible for their deaths.

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  4. I wonder if there wasn't a gentle jab at earlier seasons here; "You guys are basically useless! You just get in the way while your Digimon partner does all the work for you!"

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