In this episode, we leap straight into The Young Hunters Who Leapt Through Time! If Digimon ever really was going to be a Pokémon ripoff... this is probably what it would look like.
The first half of Digimon Xros Wars featured the battle for the code crowns and culminated with Tactimon's defeat in the human world. Death Generals comprised the second half (hey, we can call them Death Generals again!). The Young Hunters Who Leapt Through Time is the third half of Digimon Xros Wars. Anyone with any respect for math may develop a headache over the use of the term “third half.” That's why it's perfect to describe Hunters.
The concept of Hunters raises some questions right from the start. We've already seen the idea of Digimon influencing human behavior and requiring other humans with stronger bonds to Digimon to stop them. It was a central part of the early episodes of Savers, the ones that often prevent people from sticking with the series long enough to get to the good stuff. And that stronger bond stuff? Hunters don't just take care of the threatening Digimon. Oftentimes captured Digimon are forced into serving their captors.
While each hunter's workhorse Digimon volunteers for the job and thus has something resembling the traditional partner relationship, it's not nearly to the extent that we expect. Most of the teams feature both the child and the partner having their own independent, and often selfish, motives. That may sound sort of intriguing, and that arguably applies to Tamers as well. But those characters had to develop an appreciable bond in order to overcome the dangers facing them. We never quite get that here. Most of the dangers are overcome by either partner simply being stronger... or random ringers coming in from other seasons to take out all the cannon fodder.
The idea of strength is also a radical departure from we've come to expect from Xros Wars. The idea of digixros and the story itself has emphasized friendship, teamwork, camaraderie and unity as a greater source of strength than raw power. It was the only way Xros Heart was ever going to defeat Bagramon. Even after traditional evolution was introduced, it ended up having limitations. Evolved forms had to be incorporated into the digixros process to be useful. It's the other way around here. Evolution reigns again, and is the first tactic hunters will turn to in crisis. Digixros is still around, but used mostly for accentuation. Limiting the process to two Digimon feels arbitrary and diminishes everything digixros was trying to stand for in the first place.
Then there are the characters themselves. Remember how we were frustrated at how rarely Taiki's beliefs and practices were ever questioned? At least Taiki had beliefs and practices that were admirable. Tagiru comes in as an excitable, confident simpleton and leaves basically the same way. He's not the first gogglehead with this sort of MO, but the others were all challenged at some point and forced to either change or prove their hidden depths. Tagiru may have to save the world, but he never shows any sort of complexity or improvement. And while Taiki and Yuu get moments here and there, there isn't any real break from Channel Akashi.
There are good moments here and there, and in the interest of maintaining sanity we will do our best to find them. Likewise, there are many elements that only narrowly miss the mark and could have been great. We'll find those too. But mostly, we're going to romp though this disaster with as much humor as possible and keep track of the number of times Yuu absolutely should have punched Tagiru in the face. We reckon it's a lot.
Like New World, the song is plenty catchy, even if it's a radical departure from our usual fare. It's the video that's remarkable for being completely subtle, yet as big a nostalgia bomb as the essence of digimemories. There are elements from openings of almost every prior season, most notably Tamers and Frontier. You almost want to complain about it, but hey, Tamers and Frontier nostalgia!