In this episode, Tagiru and Gumdramon are determined to get in on this human/Digimon partnership thing, even though neither have any clue what goes into it and both are pretty damn incompetent.
Back at the beginning of Xros Wars, our first glimpse of Taiki was through a basketball game, where we learned that he's smart, selfless and more concerned about team success than personal glory. It's appropriate that we first learn about Tagiru through the same medium. One year later, the name of the army that saved both worlds from a vicious would-be tyrant now represents a 3-on-3 team at the local park. There's the leader Taiki, the talented Yuu... and this one kid they apparently got saddled with to make it fair to the other teams. Tagiru is over-confident, over-excitable, and laughably under-qualified. First time he gets the ball, he ignores Taiki's orders to steal the glory, only to make an ass of himself. Good to know.
Yuu apparently can't stand Tagiru, to the point where the once overly sensitive boy who didn't want to harm anything is mocking and insulting. Taiki sees a bit of Shoutmon in this kid, which feels like an insult to Shoutmon. Yes, Shoutmon was loud and confident, but he was also capable, smart enough to know to rely on friends, and with a good heart eager to help everybody. Tagiru is simply looking for the next thrill and the next chance to prove his worth to somebody. There's nothing wrong with that, but it sure as hell isn't Shoutmon. Nor has it ever been a good motivation to get into the Digimon business.
Tagiru isn't the first one with this mentality. Other than Taiki himself, there are bits of that in every gogglehead. Taichi saw the opportunity to explore, Daisuke wanted recognition from Taichi, Takato wanted a playmate, Takuya wanted an adventure, and Masaru wanted to be the strongest. All of those, however, proved to be dangerous desires when confronted with the reality of the situations they ended up in. At first glance, it appears Tagiru will end up in the same kind of trouble. Gumdramon sees Tagiru as a mark that will help him achieve his own goals. He shows Tagiru just enough of the Hunt in action to get him excited, and Tagiru is all too eager to sign up for what is clearly a dangerous game with dangerous beasts.
While it's easy to get annoyed at Tagiru, Gumdramon makes that attitude look fun. It's one thing to have an eager kid who has no clue what he's doing. Watching Gumdramon carrying out his concept of a devious plan is delightful. Usually when a Digimon is trying to manipulate a susceptible human, you end up with angst-filled stories like Ken or Koichi or Yuu. Gumdramon's not smart enough to be dastardly. He knows he needs a human to get in on this hunting business, but until his first fight he doesn't know why. He also doesn't realize that humans are rather limited physically and he probably should have been more selective. DarkKnightmon he ain't. But while Tagiru's false sense of confidence is grating, Gumdramon's is rather charming.
It's also appropriate that, in the end, Gumdramon figures out why having a human partner is so damn important. While it's jarring that he gets his evolution so cheaply, especially compared to others this season, it's not for free. Tagiru does need to give him a pep talk and they do need to have a moment. It's a moment where they collectively realize that neither really knows what they're doing, but they reason they'll figure it out together. It's not the most dramatic or heartfelt evolution scene, but it's legitimate.
There's also still plenty of reason to think that the story is going somewhere. The decayed atmosphere of DigiQuartz makes you wonder what it's actually supposed to represent and how it came to be. The clock shop guy clearly has some hidden motive. The Hunt concept, as well as the notion of capturing Digimon, should make all of us uneasy. Tagiru's enthusiasm for it puts him on the same level as the sinister-looking kid, the rude snot, and the femme fatale-wannabe. None of these characters come across as likeable, but for all we know it's a misdirection and it'll be up to the true-hearted Taiki and Yuu to unravel all these mysteries. That would make for an interesting story... right?
My Grade: B
- We seriously need to know how and why Tagiru ended up on the AND1 Xros Heart Tour. Given how poorly regarded he is among his teammates, how did he last so many games into the season before someone other than Mami pulled him aside and told him how much he sucked.
- Also... who played the second half while Tagiru was out with concussion-like symptoms? “Concussion-like symptoms” is used here as a euphemism for “being Tagiru.”
- Yuu's flat dismissal and discouragement of Tagiru is really alarming. It's one thing to be annoyed at him. It's another entirely to tell him that he has no chance of reaching any of the heights Taiki accomplished. I get that nobody can match his beloved Taiki, but that's downright mean.
- Clock Shop Guy says something about DigiQuartz having something to do with time affecting humans and Digimon separately. We hope he means the human world and Digital World separately (and even then we have to wonder how Bagramon tearing a hole between the two worlds screwed that up). Either way, that doesn't explain DigiQuartz or why it looks like an accelerated human world.
- It's understandable that Tagiru jumped into DigiQuartz as the gate Ryouma created was closing. But how did Taiki and Yuu get in later? Even if their Xros Loaders did have the capability, they wouldn't know the magic words.