In this episode, a Digimon is so big on teaching kendo he can turn Tagiru's frantic button-mashing approach to all-city quality in less than a week.
Everybody has their Xros Loaders, Damemon's back to Yuu, we've been properly introduced to the trio of terror... time to settle down to a long run of filler that makes up the bulk of Hunters. Tangible story elements will be few and far between, little progress will be made on the DigiQuartz mystery, and most of the kids spotlighted will be either one-time appearances from old friends (if we're lucky) or forgettable nobodies getting caught up in the madness (if we're not). Are you sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin.
The only way to derive any sort of enjoyment out of such a terribly plotted series is to take a long look at the story each episode attempts to bring us. In this case, a kid starts training under a Digimon kendo master, but lets his pursuit of domination get the better of him. Most of the time, if the three prior incidents similar to this are any guide, it's the Digimon's fault and therefore huntin' time. Instead, this is a unique case where the Digimon isn't doing any corrupting. It makes you wonder why this was dropped now instead of later on when we need a break from all the identical corruption cases. Plus this is now the third consecutive episode where we see Ren being a total asshole. We get the point.
That's not to say that Kotemon isn't entirely a saint here. He's a wise old master (bit of a departure from previous Kotemon appearances where he's either a naive kid or losing to Zenjirou) that just enjoys helping students improve their craft. But how fair is that, really? He must be an impossibly good teacher if he can turn a fool like Musashi and a Tagiru like Tagiru into city champions in a week. Doesn't that throw off the cosmos of this tournament and all the proud kids who studied for years to get to that point?
The biggest flaw of the episode might be the way it perpetuates Tagiru as somehow being talented. At first, this kid is terrible at kendo, to the point where you wonder why Taiki and Yuu wanted him on board (Taiki at least is implied to be a ringer helping the real team members) in the first place. After Musashi is shown beating up older kids on the street (apparently the addition of bamboo swords makes it something more legal than going around picking fights), Tagiru's reckless button mash jutsu is somehow a bigger challenge that requires additional cheating. Even as Musashi is determined to fight Taiki, Taiki puts Tagiru at the helm of the team for unclear reasons. Perhaps Taiki wants to be able to watch the illegal assistance Musashi's receiving, but it's not like the two teams don't have to go through several rounds of fighting to meet each other. There's plenty of scouting to be had in the early tournament montage.
Still, there's just enough sentiment in Kotemon to feel for his character and push the episode into something close to tolerable. While Taiki and Tagiru jump to the conclusion that he's responsible for the attacks, he's actually more of a victim. Musashi takes advantage of his training to seek irresponsible glory. Kotemon is calm in his admonishment, but he has to be disappointed and it has to be part of what leads him to train Tagiru. Partially because he wants to give Musashi a challenge. Partially because he's looking for someone that won't abuse his power.
The villain here, of course, is Ren. In case anyone was afraid Airu had seized the Akihiro Kurata Memorial Award for Worst Person Ever, worry not. Ren used Musashi's greed to fuel Dracmon into an evolution used to hunt the Digimon that enabled Musashi's power trip in the first place. Kotemon submits himself to Tagiru's Xros Loader (which itself should have ended the fight anyway) to provide the digixros that fends him off. Ren shrugs and makes a retreat. At some point, someone's going to realize these three are bad guys, right?
My Grade: C
- Kotemon's intentions may be sincere, but there has to be a better way of gaining a pupil than sucking him into Digiquartz.
- Musashi is named after legendary swordsman Mushashi Miyamoto. Anyone who knew this was waiting for a kid named Kojirou, his most famous rival, to appear. The two names are often seen together in anime, probably most famously as the Japanese names of the Team Rocket duo.
- Even the newly evolved Yashamon doesn't understand Ren's intentions. The power grab, while sinister, made enough sense, but hunting Kotemon must have felt like just being a jerk.
- Given that Musashi was corrupted by greed and could very easily have only gotten to the final round by cheating, is it really fitting that he advance just because he learned his lesson? Yes- because it's still better than Tagiru winning.
- So we have a whole episode about kendo fighting culminating in an all-city tournament, and there's no sign or mention of Zenjirou whatsoever? The way Musashi challenged Taiki was definitely an allusion, but Taiki doesn't even run with that!