In this episode, Nanami shows us that the quickest way to a man's heart is through his... sense of isolation as a tragic side effect of his superior intellect.
One valid criticism against Data Squad is that despite its efforts at creating an intense story that appeals to more mature sensibilities, it carries a Gurren Lagann style mentality that endorses machismo and passion while intelligence is treated as a liability, and in some cases outright vilified. As unique a villain as Kurata is, it says a lot that the traits that we despise the most are his cowardice, his xenophobia and his incredible genius.
In viewing Spencer as the uberMarcus that exemplifies all things right and good about The Marcus Code, we're starting to notice parallels between Thomas and Kurata. While Thomas is braver and not a bigoted asshole, he is a genius. Just as Kurata detested everything about Spencer, Thomas is starting to resent Marcus's ability to command a crowd with short-sighted tactics. Part of that is due to Spencer's legacy, but Marcus keeps it simple and the sacred city responds well to that. Let's launch everything straight at Kurata and take them out! Never mind that it fails to take advantage of their advantageous defensive positioning, that the exact size of Kurata's army is unknown, and that Kurata's way too smart to lose to a direct frontal assault.
The compromise is fair enough, where Marcus and Keenan go on offense and everybody else hunkers down. It's still not ideal, as Marcus learns when he finds himself up against infinity Gizumon XT, but it doesn't involve the village folk leaving their fortress, so it's tolerable. If there's anything that gets in the way, it's Thomas's pride. His plan has one weakness, blowing up the waterfall will neutralize their natural defenses, but rather than emphasizing this and defending it properly, he tries to take care of it alone.
Nanami's work here is a rare treat to those who like mind games, and her verbal sparring with Thomas is as enjoyable as any action sequence. It's also a treat to those who assumed she and Yoshi would be the designated opponents in a mirror of last season's Kazemon/Ranamon fights. Along with the occasional sneak attack, she appeals to him to abandon the fight with several tactics. Chief among them is the notion that only she can sympathize with him being a genius surrounded by lunkheads.
It's a good gambit, very similar to Cherrymon's successful effort at subverting Matt. Thomas is too good to have to put up with all the idiocy surrounding him, both with Marcus and with the general structure of DATS. She asks the question we asked when Thomas was first introduced: why does he bother with all this when his time could be better spent in other endeavors?
With both her actions and her words, Nanami's goal is to get Thomas to do what he's best at- think. Make him question his service to DATS, the possibility of the two of them breaking off and taking over the world themselves, and the best way to ensure her defeat if that's not in the cards. Thomas only finds victory in not thinking, a very unnatural thing for him. Only then does it reveal that his satisfaction in working for DATS is secondary to the fact that he has a good thing with Gaomon, what Kurata's doing is wrong and he and Gaomon need to do their damnedest to stop it. His fight against Bio-Rotosmon is won when he jumps on MirageGaogamon and goes for a direct frontal assault.
Defeated, Nanami uses her last act to blow up the waterfall, achieving her mission before she falls. She also observes that Thomas only succeeded by copying Marcus's technique. This rattles him, challenging his mentality and perpetuating the show's anti-intelligence streak. It's hard to fault one episode for staying consistent with the show's mantra, so we're left to just stand back and admire the genius of Nanami's victory.
My Grade: A-
- Kurata's cockiness doesn't suit him. Marcus's strategy and Thomas's failure to defend the waterfall put him in fantastic shape, but saying stuff like wanting to toy with the Data Squad and pulling back the Gizumon XT to let Kouki take a swing just feels sloppy. He's not in a position to gloat, especially as the upgraded Bio-Hybrids haven't been tested yet.
- Nanami probably believes that, despite no real effort at it, she's using sex appeal to sway Thomas. She probably could have tried harder, since Thomas doesn't seem to be into the whole goth thing.
- It's a shame they haven't been keeping up with Thomas shouting attack patterns for Gaomon. It would have made it a little less forced when he brought them back here.
- Even as Thomas goes all Marcus for his maneuver, there's a lot of thought behind him standing on MirageGaogamon. Putting himself at risk makes Nanami assume he has some complicated plan, making her suspect everything except a straight charge.