In this episode, the sights, sounds, and smells of the school festival give everybody the chance to fool everybody else into thinking everything's just fine.
One of the key themes in Determination is how open a person is willing to be with their thoughts and feelings. Mimi shared everything openly and acted on instinct, and ended up pissing off most of her class and accidentally shot down a helicopter. Joe is keeping everything bottled up, leaving everybody from his family to his partner to the other digidestined guessing what he's struggling with. Both of them continue to face the aftermath of their decisions. While they're at it, however, everybody else follows Joe's lead and spends much of the culture festival not talking about their problems. You know it's serious when it feels like the only one who's communicating properly is the goddamn moe girl.
Meiko does single-handedly save both the cafe and Mimi by volunteering to wear Haruhi's bunny girl costume. By this point, Mimi's done with the whole concept and expecting another half-assed classroom cafe filled with the unrealized hopes of what she wanted Daters Tsukishima to be. It says a lot that Meiko actually wants to wear that outfit- a sign that she values her new friends and wants to see their ideas come to fruition, even if it means totally embarrassing herself. Mimi is completely reinvigorated by the act, and the cafe becomes a hit as a result.
Joe and Gomamon, meanwhile, have never been farther apart. Gomamon is doing what little he can to support Joe, while Joe is doing everything he can to focus on his work with his beloved childhood literally staring back at him. It's a terrible situation for both of them, and neither can tell the other why. Gomamon takes this rift to mean he's not wanted and crashes on Tentomon's couch. These sorts of barriers between partners always hit hard, but when you compound all the history they have and how much they need each other, it's all the more powerful. It's no surprise Joe is finally forced to act, unable to concentrate when he's so undeniably worried.
Taichi isn't doing any better. While he takes a back seat in this movie to Mimi and Joe, his hesitation in Reunion hasn't been forgotten. Yamato is still bothered by it, and is at least able to tell him why (albeit in short, intense, wall-slamming fashion): Taichi only barely got through that Alphamon battle. His doubts were kicking in again towards the end, splitting up Omegamon and putting both their Digimon in a precarious position had Alphamon decided to stick around. Taichi refuses to talk about it. He won't even discuss it with someone more sympathetic like Hikari, even after she admires the way he stood up for Joe and hints that a good talk would serve both of them well.
Even the grown-ups aren't talking! Maki is well aware of a possible distortion on festival day and even catches a glimpse of the Kaiser walking around, but rather than alarm the digidestined, she's content with ensuring that the Digimon are safe with Koushiro and patrolling the grounds with Daigo. Her childhood seems to parallel Joe's as she endured a difficult adjustment to adulthood, losing interest in things like culture festivals as she transitioned from elementary to high school and beyond.
Hell, some other strange entity is getting in on the lack of good communication with a cryptic e-mail to Koushiro and Maki. They're left to ponder the meaning of two different messages- one referring to two sides of the universe and another about going beyond the darkness to claim true power. What they mean and who they're from are obviously mysteries to be unraveled later, but such mysteries are the reason Determination puts us more at ease than Reunion. Between these e-mails, the whole Kaiser business, Maki identifying the Kaiser as Ken and... well, pretty much everything Maki does, we're left with major questions. But unlike Reunion, where we weren't sure if the series is aware of the questions we have, at least Determination deliberately throws them our way. It's communicating to us that they will get around to answering them someday.
My Grade: A-
- Koushiro endures a semi-lengthy process to translate the digicode in the e-mail to Japanese while Tentomon looks on. Gotta ask- can Digimon normally read digicode?
- Poor Gomamon. He runs away disappointed that Joe's not fighting only to end up having to listen to a conversation commending Palmon and Meicoomon for how bravely they fought.
- Given how the rest of the movie unfolds, it's easy to wonder if Maki somehow knew that texting Koushiro a saucy Mimi pic would lead to both him and the rest of the Digimon all heading over to the culture festival and serving Meicoomon to the Kaiser. Maki anticipating all of this happening is about as realistic as Bagramon popping out of the next distortion to applaud her amazing foresight. Koushiro would never have abandoned the Digimon if he had any fears about their safety, sexy Mimi be damned. And Maki wouldn't have gone all the way to visit the office, and definitely wouldn't have bought them all snacks if she knew they wouldn't be there (or planned on taking them to the festival herself).
- Yamato's sparkling teeth in the concert was silly. Takeru's sparkling too was ridiculous and probably saved that whole bit. Also, was this actually Yamato's band reconfigured a third time, or some supergroup assembled just for the festival?
- As if moe-Meiko wasn't cute enough, you've got Takeru's flirting to make her more uncomfortable, much to Mimi's dismay (and Hikari ignoring the whole thing).