In this episode, Sora’s childhood is ruined when the producers decide her cheerful, caring partner needs a gritty reboot.
We often chastised tri. for its slow starts to every movie. By the time it’s over, it will be half the length of a regular Digimon series. That would be enough time to tell this story, complex as it is, if not for the need to reset everything at the start of each movie. Barring a serious cliffhanger, nothing kills the momentum of a big fight or a tense revelation like waiting several months for the next chapter. Loss enters with a big advantage, however, since the ending of the last movie gives the slow liftoff of this one a subtle intensity hiding behind cute fluff. But hey, if they want to take a quick detour to artistically portray a climactic moment from one of the deepest mysteries in the Adventure canon, that works too!
The story of the original digidestined is part of a deep history of the Digital World that, by the time it’s introduced in season one, is pretty unnecessary. They tie in to the Dark Masters, who had already been established just fine, and Apocalymon, who was thrown in so late that introducing him properly was impossible. Neither of their stories change the nature of the objective- defeat the bad guys. But despite being little more than flavor text, the idea that our squad wasn’t the first to save the Digital World is captivating, prompting all sorts of speculation. Then you add in how four of them were partnered to the Holy Beasts, an idea originally proposed in the novels? Some fans were worried about tri. not respecting the wishes of the original head writer... instead it’s canonizing his season one rewrite fanfic!
More importantly, it has a purpose. Not only does it reveal that Maki and Daigo were former digidestined (Daigo as the gogglehead even!), it shows Maki losing her partner through some Homeostasis machinations. Their previous talk about letting go of childhood suddenly takes a profound turn, especially as we learn how Maki hasn’t been able to do so at all. Daigo, the poorly dressed manchild, is somehow on better terms with adulthood. His reward now is an inability to find Maki or Meiko. Meiko, meanwhile, laments being left behind and misses her partner (the feeling is somehow mutual). She gets into the tragic flashback game too- a very quick one of an angry Meicrackmon, some computer banks, and a lot of fire. That’ll be important later!
Our digidestined are back to cute, silly moments with their partners, but there’s no let off since these cute, silly moments are crucial to the story. Post-reboot, they’re establishing new relationships with their old partners. As simple as the scenes are, you get a sense of everybody’s method of bonding, from Mochimon admiring Koushiro’s inquisitiveness (and oolong obsession) to Nyaromon finding a familiar, comfortable scent in Hikari to Tokomon just taking Takeru’s word for it. It’s all very breezy, but knowing how much of a history they lost and how one false move here could be a huge setback to their bond, it’s stirring stuff.
Sora ends up making the one false move, stepping on Pyokomon’s petals and getting off on the wrong foot. It’s not enough to explain why Pyokomon’s this surly from the get-go, but the situation it creates is irresistible. Originally, Piyomon was overly cheerful and clinging, initially rubbing Sora the wrong way. Sora has changed so much since then that once Pyokomon starts acting as the moody teenager Sora once was, the Mom approach is too forceful and turns her off.
Whether Pyokomon was so put off by a bad first impression or she doesn’t want to be forced to choose whom she obsesses over, she views Sora as trying too hard and refuses to entertain the idea of partnership. Sora struggles to adjust, slipping into depression as the others make rapid progress. It’s a helpless feeling, even though she’s been in Pyokomon’s shoes before and knows how these reconciliations happen. After all, when Sora was the moody teenager, she had to figure it out herself rather than wait for her mother.
My Grade: A
- While the design is conventional, we’ve now seen different patterns on both Maki and Meiko’s digivices. Meiko’s helix pattern is obviously significant, but there’s something cool about Maki’s weird retro look.
- For the first time in tri. (not counting Maki’s gate opening bit), someone uses a D-Terminal! Takeru brought his to help communicate with the real world, anticipating trouble with cell phones. It may or may not have worked. Which may or may not be why everyone stopped using D-Terminals.
- We get a little scene for all of the Chosen establishing a new rapport with their partners except Joe. He’s certainly present when asserting the need to keep an objective in sight, but where’s his scene with Pukamon?
- The 02 epilogue is again making tropes interesting! In Determination, the only reason Sora helping Meiko sew the Daters outfits was interesting was because we know she becomes a fashion designer. Here, the only reason Mimi’s unusual flavor combinations is funny is because we know she becomes a chef.
- Hikari is surprised Nyaromon wants to be thrown up in the air with Koromon and the others. It’s a quiet nod to Tailmon’s maturity and her usual habit of refraining from such nonsense.
- Taichi seems to have regained some of his confidence, chasing after Meicoomon and rallying the troops to go after her later, but he’s not all the way there. His speech insisting that Meiko and Meicoomon are their teammates only echoes what Yamato told him earlier. In fact, Taichi glances at Yamato for approval after he says it. That’s not quite confidence there.