In this episode, Tagiru and Yuu encounter mysterious phenomena caused by either a supernatural presence or Airu being a horrible person. Go on, guess which!
To the lazy eye, this might be little more than another round of filler. It certainly doesn't advance the plot, nor is it a spectacular departure from the usual routine. Does it mean a whole lot that Yuu takes the lead with an absent Taiki and a scared Tagiru? Does it change anything that instead of a Digimon reaching out to a desperate human, it's crying out for help? Does it matter that the one responsible for the trouble seems to show genuine emotion and concern for her partner? Probably not, but it makes the episode far more bearable. It's probably still pointless, but it's an entertaining kind of pointless.
It's amazing how Hunters always seems to be better when it's actually focusing on Yuu. There's no development or insight into his character, and plenty of the spotlight goes to other kids. But Yuu takes over as clear leader. It's even his idea to explore the mystery of what has to be the last remaining phone booth in Japan. His cool head shines against a Tagiru afraid of ghosts and a Kaoru who rushes forward too blindly. He even treats Airu as a normal human being, despite the fact that this mess was pretty much her fault to begin with and she spends the whole time clinging to him in the most disturbing ship tease since Frontier accidentally left the door open for twincest fanart.
Airu becomes the focal point of the episode the moment she bursts into Tagiru's arms. Her presence is amusing and her interactions with Yuu are at least unique, but it's hard to figure out what we're supposed to pull from it. Stranded in the plant with Opossumon captive, she's cooperative and seems genuinely grateful for Yuu and Tagiru's help. She also is loyal enough to stick around until Opossumon's safety is confirmed and is relieved to see her safe. At the same time, her ruthless traps were what ensnared Patamon in the first place. Furthermore, when Poyomon possesses Opossumon, Airu's response is to evolve her, literally fanning the flames on an already tense situation. A competent hunter would have reloaded another Digimon, pulling Opossumon into her Xros Loader and sparing us all the dramatics.
Airu, thankfully, isn't the only girl in this episode. There's also this Kaoru, who manages to subvert the usual guest role by helping the team fix the problem without her own Digimon partner. Usually the walk-on gets corrupted by the Digimon and needs to be rescued, and if your definition of “corrupted” is loose enough she still is. But she has the right combination of grounded and crazy that makes her a more memorable character than others of her ilk. You get this from her first appearance, where she rushes frantically out of a tent the moment Yuu and Tagiru get the phone call, but does her best to find non-supernatural explanations for everything. She's basically the opposite of every ghost hunter on TV that stays calm and methodical until the faintest wind has them freaking out about paranormal activity. She also manages to out-Tagiru Tagiru when she gets into trouble by charging into every situation before Yuu is ready.
It all adds up to an episode that is as flawed and meaningless as all the others, but is at least fun enough to hold our attention. Taking Taiki out of the picture opens things up for Yuu, while Tagiru is restrained by his fear of ghosts. Silly moments like the phone booth idiocy, Airu's glomping mishaps, and Cho-Hakkaimon's mere existence liven things up. Patamon and Poyomon bring the cute, and how nice is it that there aren't any captures or anything and the resolution is to leave them alone and let them occupy the plant in peace? And yes, we can all hope Airu's interest in Yuu might lead to his kindness and calm demeanor rubbing off on her. Weirder things have happened.
My Grade: C+
- Tagiru and Yuu are struggling to get their bikes up the hill while their Digimon are riding in them and being worthless layabouts. Why aren't they in their Xros Loaders?
- Kaoru is pleasantly rational, but Yuu is always that way, recognizing that rumors evolve and get distorted as they're passed on and not being too worried about there not being a hospital nearby.
- Yuu absolutely should have elbowed Tagiru in the stomach when Tagiru almost spilled that their Xros Loaders were for Digimon hunting. We're glad Yuu did, and we're glad Tagiru had trouble introducing himself to Kaoru. That said, Tagiru jumping (and staying) on Yuu at the first spooky sight absolutely earned him a punch in the face on top of that.
- It's hard to decide which was funnier- Damemon attempting to comfort Airu after she accidentally glomped him or Gumdramon insisting on being skeptical of her story even as she gets increasingly violent.
- How the hell does Patamon catch and support Kaoru with his tiny little corgi paws? Even more impressive is how Kaoru lifts herself up to grab Patamon's itty bitty feets.
- So... after throwing Airu on a bus home, did Tagiru and Yuu just leave an unconscious, injured Kaoru in her tent and leave?
- Yes, that picture of a passed-out Taiki and Akari wearing his goggles is adorable. The odd detail in this picture, however, is the losing team in the background looking absolutely distraught.