In this episode, the clockmaker needs an island swept, so invites a bunch of Hunters over for a little Hunger Games action. The past victors stay on the boat for now.
At this point in the series, we're so starved for plot that any sign of the clockmaker is reassuring, even if his last couple appearances have been slight. Today, he's pretty much the center of attention, inviting hunters from all over to an island for a special event to test their mettle against a daunting Digimon that poses all sorts of troubles. It gives Taiki the chance to grill him about some troubling observations. It gives Team ARR a chance to develop by throwing them out of their element. It gives us a chance to catch up with Kiriha and glimpse the big surprise still to come. This episode would be the savior we've been waiting for... had anything of consequence actually happened.
When you get past the smoke and mirrors of Kiriha and all those begoggled heroes on that rickety boat, it's still about a renegade Digimon that the hunters have to deal with before it causes too much harm. The only outcome is it's captured by someone we won't see again until close to the end of the series. Taiki fails to get any real answers, Tagiru fails to win anything, and Ryouma and Ren fail to succumb to painful fiery deaths. It's a step up from the crap we've gotten before, but it's still disappointing.
Not only does this episode try to fool us into believing something happened, it tries convincing us that prior episodes were notable. Kiichi and his Locomon are actually useful means of transportation! The presence of DigiQuartz in Hong Kong is actually a troubling sign! Hideaki will invite himself in every once in a while! Hideaki's presence is weird and mostly unnecessary. Presumably it was to give someone for Tagiru to play off of while Taiki questions the clockmaker and Yuu repels whatever disturbing relationship the writers are trying to give him and Airu. Truth be told, Tagiru has never had a problem talking to himself and Gumdramon. Hideaki bails first chance he gets anyway.
In lieu of actual developments, we have to settle for information. The clockmaker's keeping his cards too close to offer a Gennai-style plot dump... not that those were ever entertaining. Instead, we have to rely on observations throughout the episode. Such as the fact that most hunters, at least the ones that intend to be taken seriously, are more Ren than Tagiru. Tagiru rushes out intending to win the hunt on spunk and moxy. Haruki, Ken and Noboru go after him instead, intent on thinning out the competition in the spirit of Anything Goes Martial Arts Digimon Hunting. It should be a disheartening reality check as Tagiru faces serious competition. He remains, of course, but he gains the upper hand with a moment of actual brilliance- drawing and putting a charge through the groundwater that draws out Volcdoramon.
Ultimately, Kiriha shows up out of nowhere and executes his plan to capture the beast. His appearance is confusing, and his masterful work takes away from any credit Tagiru would have otherwise earned. Even so, he's tracking DigiQuartz and its slow spread across the globe, a worrying trend that has major implications later. He also hints that Japan is the focal point of all this, entrusting Taiki with keeping things in check back home. All this has long term dividends, but doesn't do us much good now.
Knowing what happens down the road actually makes this episode disturbing in how sinister the clockmaker looks. His big “event” is little more than a convenient way to rid the island of an otherwise-uncontrollable Digimon, and shrugs off a non-invitee winning it. He doesn't explain much of anything to Taiki, nor does he seem all that surprised or concerned about the spread of DigiQuartz, going so far as to dismiss the invading Digimon outside Japan as “strays.” And just having five kids from other seasons on standby and menacingly promising that they'll get to see action soon? He may end up being an ally, but this episode makes it really hard to call him a good guy.
My Grade: B-
- Taiki needs Wisemon to decode the barcode? None of the other kids had Wisemon handy and they figured it out. There are apps for that now.
- Yuu discovers the bar code and earns a headlock from Tagiru and a declaration that the team found it. Yuu absolutely should have punched Tagiru in the face. Later, Tagiru takes full credit for finding and decoding the invitation.
- Hideaki openly states that he wouldn't have come along if he would have had to pay for the ride.
- Perhaps barring some of the nameless international kids in Zero Two, Haruki is so far the only male with a Digimon partner considered female. Also, after Masaru a couple episodes ago, we now have a Ken as well. Curious name choices these, considering the original Masaru and Ken both appear later.
- Volcdoramon is an impressive specimen indeed. Powerful Digimon show up every season, but this one is designed to look and feel physically intimidating in a way we rarely ever see. Nice work there.
- Perhaps the funniest thing about the Yuu/Airu exchange is that Yuu just leaves her tied up back there, and her traps ended up being necessary if they wanted any chance of hunting Volcdoramon.
- Seriously, give Tagiru some love for not only coming up with his plan, but for calling Sagomon and Ballistamon out of the bullpen to do so.