In this episode, a perfectly decent round of annoying filler is drastically interrupted by an actual villain and some other goggleheads deciding to barge in on Tagiru's turf. About damn time, really.
There are a lot of reasons to suddenly be excited. This mild-mannered filler story suddenly and dramatically turns intense and important in an instant. Ryouma goes from being an insufferable jerk to being an insufferable jerk that may have some ulterior motives. We have our first incarnation of a villain, and what a splendid entrance it makes. Speaking of splendid entrances, Taichi and Masaru ride in on their flying horses and just kick all sorts of butt. Arresterdramon gets a new mode, which is actually pretty cool. Kiriha and Nene are even back in the picture with a couple new friends! If you think trying to fit all these dramatic developments into half an episode would make it a whirlwind of chaos, you'd be right!
After sixteen and a half episodes of basically nothing, there is so much to process here. Each of the singular developments could have gotten its own episode- Quartzmon's appearance, the cavalry charging in, Arresterdramon's upgrade, and the international situation. All of these are a big deal, and nobody would begrudge building entire episodes to these points. Use all these to build up Sneaky Ryouma, interrupt some of the prior mundane cases with actual drama, and you can even get Kiichi and his Locomon to play Imperialdramon for another Hong Kong trip.
The solution that isn't on the table? Cutting out the filler. Stretching out the important bits of the episode and skipping all the insect boy business sounds like an obvious move. Funny thing is, it's among the most interesting filler in the series. Kaneda is an annoying weirdo, but that only makes him a distorted funhouse version of Tagiru (odd that Hideaki is the one who notices this). He's obsessive about his hobby, but in the interest of not harming his targets. And he is neither a kid with a problem nor a victim when he stumbles into Digi-Quartz. That means he's stuck watching as MetallifeKuwagamon fights the gang, putting Tagiru in the unfamiliar position of having to protect a clueless bystander. He fails miserably. Then you have MetallifeKuwagamon himself, his lack of catch-able data, and his disdain for hunters and their methods. Why is he the first one to finally articulate the problem from a Digimon's perspective? This is good stuff here!
Everything else is just a barrage. Trying to get a feel for Ryouma is nearly impossible. He's eager to join Taiki in the hunt against MetallifeKuwagamon, but is off in the distance being all shady at the end when Taiki suggests that they need to stop fighting (incidentally, they've only directly fought in two episodes). It's also hinted that he's the hunter that offered MetallifeKuwagamon as a sacrifice to Quartzmon. Quartzmon's introduction is spot-on, eliminating MetallifeKuwagamon just as he was becoming useful and reminding the hunters that sometimes bad guys are actually hard to beat. Like, seriously hard to beat and needing more than a trick digixros. You remember how bad guys used to work, right?
At some point, Tagiru and Arresterdramon are being dragged toward certain death, and only an act of deus ex Masaru saves him. Now, we all know this whole inter-season crossover business is the most blatant fanservice we've seen since Sexy Dynamite. Also, because of how lousy Hunters has been, it overshadows everything. The good news is that it's supposed to be confusing right now, as it's intimated that Taichi and Masaru are jumping the gun to get the good guys out of this pinch. For now, it's okay to not have an explanation and enjoy War/ShineGreymon tearing up a storm. It's even okay to be a little annoyed that Arresterdramon managed to hit Superior Mode in the middle of all this, no matter how much the usual narrative would suggest Tagiru's earned it. In the future, when we're supposed to know what's going on and we're supposed to cheer Tagiru's moment of glory, it won't be so okay.
My Grade: B
- If I ever get a GPS system in my car, I'm naming it Naviko-chan.
- Tagiru notes that hunting has been slow lately, with fewer recent incidents. This should be a plot point, and it should have been addressed this episode. After what happens in the second half, no one's going to remember this bit from the first.
- That scarab thing that scouts for MetallifeKuwagamon may not be detectable by scent, but it's shocking that Gumdramon didn't see it given how close it was.
- Ren has caught 100 Digimon. Let that sink in for a bit.
- Yuu absolutely should have punched Tagiru in the face for it, but tricking Taiki and Yuu into distracting Kaneda was hilarious and brilliant and I can't give Tagiru enough credit for it.
- The Hong Kong scene is as straightforward as this plot gets, but it shows how much more fun Kiriha and Nene are compared to the main cast. Nene accuses him of being dramatic in his late rescue, Kiriha has this little blush... Mimi's standing there in the background with this smile that says “I ship it.”
- On that note, is anyone else dying to see how Mimi and Ruki would actually get along as part of a team? It's hard to imagine two more disparate characters.