Now that Haru has his marching orders, it’s understandable to fear a straightforward path. Even if actual process will have obstacles, when the road to Leviathan is spelled out in such a plain fashion there’s a risk of getting too linear. Thankfully some signs of intrigue are here to break up and even distract us from the main plot. Rei nabbing one of the codes last time was a promising sign of the challenges to come. Another is a Digimon rarity: the final villain is already aware of the protagonist and taking him seriously.
We’re so unfamiliar with this sort of early menace that there’s a weird disconnect between Caméramon’s spying and what he finds: a humble little story exploiting the differences between Haru and Gatchmon. The previous two episodes, and the second half of this one, demonstrated that Haru has plenty of protagonist in him and can rise to the occasion as well as anybody. This is a pleasant return to form, as he’s back to being thoughtful and indoorsy, learning what he can about artificial intelligence to understand what he might be dealing with. A more traditional main character might blindly charge out to hunt down more plot advancement.
The conflict therefore comes with Gatchmon dying to experience Halloween for the first time. It’s cute that neither get too riled up about it since it’s so trivial (not that it stopped Masaru and Tagiru when they had similar rows), but the tiny rift in their personalities and intentions caused enough problems to leave them both scrambling to apologize. It shouldn’t have been major drama, so credit to Caméramon for turning it into one.
Choosing Halloween was a nice touch, as all the costumes and festivities means everyone has their phones out Instagramming everything. That makes it especially easy for Caméramon to track Haru and Gatchmon, even if tricking Haru into thinking Gatchmon was captured was decidedly less smart than actually capturing Gatchmon would have been. He makes up for it deploying a phone contest challenging randos to capture Haru for him and an impressive Super form in Scorpmon.
This battle is the first time the action felt intense, and the use of combat psychology on both sides is something we don’t get enough of. Scorpmon hides away using his camera network to snipe unseen, while Haru relays blind spots to Dogatchmon to help sneak up from behind. Not only does it demonstrate Dogatchmon’s improved searching ability by incorporating Navimon’s mapping function, it feels like a hard-earned and deserved victory. It comes out of nowhere, but it’s one of the sharpest fights in the series.
In some ways that works against the episode’s real goals. It was a great fight, but it was also a conclusive one ending in Scorpmon’s defeat and Caméramon’s dramatic farewell. The main points were really the Haru/Gatchmon relationship and giving us a taste of how Leviathan operates. There are signs for and against the notion that Leviathan will be a typical Digimon villain. On one hand, the “formless sentient computer program who likes to delegate” isn’t new at all, joining the ranks of D-Reaper, Yggdrasil, Yggdrasil, and Yggdrasil (counting manga and games, there’s also Yggdrasil and Yggdrasil). In that sense it’s easy to get the sense we’re not in for anything new. On the other hand, targeting the protagonist already is a rare and exciting sight! Not only is Xros Wars the only other time the final boss demonstrated a clear intent to take out the hero so soon, it’s the only other time the heroes already knew who the final boss was! Half the time it takes longer than this to meet even the first boss!
It all means a lot of early intrigue as Leviathan and its cohorts hone in on Haru. Leviathan’s “voice,” Gatchmon’s inability to talk about it, the resources at Caméramon’s disposal, and Haru’s research into AI are hopeful signs. The way his network of accomplices specifically target Haru’s App Drive lends more mystery to its nature and reinforces the question of how and why Haru got it. If some of these henchmen stick around longer than Caméramon did, we might even break out of the monster of the week loop earlier than expected. Where the previous episode made us dread the upcoming story, this one excites us.
My Grade: B+
- It ends up being pointless, but in a show where rogue AI programs are front and center, it’s hard not to view that one friendly robot taking selfies with everybody with high suspicion.
- The dog dressed as a Super Saiyan is the greatest thing ever and I wanted more of it.
- As annoying as Gatchmon is demanding to go outside and get snacks, Haru mostly ignores it. Until he says reading is dumb. That’s when Haru shoots him the look.
- Those kids were getting full-on boxes full of sweets. Everyone mark down Fujimizaka as a prime trick-or-treat destination.
- Where Ai wonders why Haru isn’t with them, Yujin correctly assumes that Haru found a new book. That’s adorable.
- Haru evading everyone looking for him by simply wearing his goggles is such an unconvincing costume I’m hesitant to count it as an ever-popular, ever-rare case of goggleheads actually using goggles as goggles. Just borrow Yujin’s spooky skeleton suit next time.
- Let’s take a moment to acknowledge the excitement of seeing a mystery App Driver cloaked in shadow and a scheming Mienumon before they both massively disappoint us down the road.