In this episode, Meicoomon’s rampage broadens and intensifies to the real world, making Meiko wonder whose brilliant idea it was to partner them up. As does the entity whose brilliant idea was to partner them up.
The second-to-last movie is always saddled with the task of making sure everything is set up for the big finale. Approaching it, you ask what has to happen to get everything in the right position for a clean finish. Coexistence is tricky since the rising intensity flies under the radar until the end, so it doesn’t feel like everything’s ready to be tied up. It’s a quiet process, but all the important details are framed for us and all the pieces are in place for a smooth resolution. The first part is sort of a microcosm of this movie- taking time out to reset the stage and set up everything that will come later. It all pays off eventually, but it makes for an episode that on its own doesn’t have much of interest.
Take the opening flashback for example. Between getting Meiko’s story at the end of movie three and the quick image of Meicoomon in a fiery lab, there isn’t anything new here other than Maki’s presence. But it frames everything to make an ominous statement: this random girl out in the sticks was chosen to become a digidestined, bonded to a violent, dangerous animal with no direction or objective. She’s been dealing with this for six years, and now this Mysterious Man is poking Meicoomon with a stick to push her overboard. Meiko didn’t know what she was doing when things were peaceful. Now that they aren’t, of course she’s totally lost and desperate for some sort of guidance.
We only get to see the buildup to the massive invasion of the real world Mysterious Man promised. We see the giant distortions. We see all the Digimon flying into the real world. We see electronics essential to communication and security going haywire. We see the invasion forces taking position. And then... for all the urgency the situation should demand, the media response is tepid. People are shown to be fairly chill about all this and government agencies pick a strange time to be calm and patient in their response instead of flying off the deep end and declaring the apocalypse. This will all be a sensational mess later, but for now... put a pin in this one too.
The conversations Hackmon has with Daigo and Mr. Mochizuki here aren’t the good ones. Those are later. As he was in Loss, Hackmon continues to be in exposition mode here, offering a couple new details but mostly confirming Meicoomon’s capacity to destroy everything and Meiko being called upon to prevent this. This’ll all lead to a pivotal moment for Daigo, but for now it achieves two things. One is that Homeostasis now becomes a proper character (whether it has any distinction from Hackmon remains to be seen), capable of making decisions and being praised and criticized for them. That leads to the second- we now are in a position to criticize the core mechanic of Digimon: selecting a child to partner with a Digimon and save the world. This fundamental concept is on trial throughout the movie.
Seeing the digidestined fleeing from a suddenly hostile Digital World doesn’t help the case. These scenes are where tri.’s format becomes a detriment, as escaping Digimon, plant life and the terrain itself could have offered some cheap thrills in a standalone episode, but is instead dealt with quickly with minimal investment in time or animation. Rather than action for action’s sake, it just makes the point of the world rejecting the digidestined. Hikari elaborates on it later (noticing a pattern here?), but the implication that they aren’t supposed to be here anymore looms large in the follow-up to a season that tried to sell the idea that humans and Digimon can reside peacefully in each other’s worlds.
After a surprise nightfall, the kids rest and the panic starts to set in. Meiko’s defenses have finally eroded to a point where she’ll tell the digidestined the truth about her messy relationship with Meicoomon, accepting responsibility for her failure to control her partner. The eight are nothing but sympathetic. Unlike Homeostasis, they know how hard the job is, especially Meiko’s, and accept and forgive results that are less than ideal, even when the consequences are this drastic. They even admire Meiko for refusing to give up on her partner when walking away from it must have been a tempting option. They’re the support group Meiko probably needed for a while. They also might be taking the worst possible approach to this situation. But we’ll get to that later.
My Grade: B
- Seeing the Meiko/Meicoomon relationship unravel like this, it’s fun to think back to all the seeds planted in the first two movies. Meicoomon was running around on her own for most of the first movie while Meiko was left looking for her. Her randomly ditching Meiko multiple times at the bath and during the culture festival were clear signs just how uncontrollable this Digimon really was.
- The sudden appearance (and eventually disappearance) of Maki’s rifle is a bit confusing, but I give it a pass since I wondered last movie why she’d attempt to go into the Digital World unarmed. Oh, and she’s still pretty damn broken.
- The kids looked to be surrounded by Digimon while stuck on the boat, but somehow managed to escape all that. You sure they couldn’t have shown how they blasted their way out of there? Just a bit? Pretty please?
- It’s hard to tell whether Tailmon staying in her Adult form is a force-of-habit error or evidence of the nature of the reboot. If everything really got rebooted, so did her experience with Vamdemon that made her a natural Adult to begin with. The kids probably wouldn’t dwell on this, but I bet Tailmon herself would be curious! If you ask me, having her defaulting to Plotmon from here on out would be a nice reminder that yes, the reboot really did happen and not everything can go back to the way it was.
- It’s short and a little obvious, but the scene with Mrs. Yagami tears at you knowing how she clearly misses her kids, but she’s almost numb to the sort of danger she knows they must be in.
- Meicoomon having Apocalymon’s data is one of the best-planned details that might be pointless background. Meicoomon’s design evokes his double helix theme, the timing works out perfectly, and it’s pretty clear what that egg and black datum in the prologue of Reunion was now.
- The best part of the campfire scene is noting what each kids says to Meiko and how fitting it is. We’ll tackle that next time, but on this side of the break Yamato tells Meiko partnership isn’t about the Digimon obeying everything the child says. Remember when Yamato was convinced to do something stupid and Gabumon went along with it despite his reservations?