Stop me if you’ve heard this one: Haru watches some on-screen entertainment and catches an kid exuding tons of personality sporting an App Drive. Investigating further, Haru and Gatchmon meet the kid and are overwhelmed when they act the same in real life. Persistence reveals a softer side, but before too long a completely unrelated Appmon starts making a mess of everything. The new App Driver apprealizes their buddy for the first time to defeat it, and along the way we learn they were actually quite boring until their App Drive showed up. I know, it’s all very… two episodes ago.
Tora’s introduction follows the exact same line as Eri’s. What makes this especially annoying is this line being far more specific than your generic debut formula. Stuff like “Haru saw their App Drive while they were performing on screen” and “they weren’t always this insane” shouldn’t be recurring themes, you know? For a series with such creativity in its enemy abilities and solutions to overcome them, only once have we been teased with remotely clever storytelling. Tora isn’t poised to be a bad character, but it’s hard to tell from the way he’s introduced.
There’s an interesting story somewhere in Torajiro. We’ve got a kid who feels pressure to continue the family tradition of tea ceremony, playing the obedient son until he’s enlightened to the world of Apptube and Musimon taps into a side that just wants to be free, say yes to everything, and have food companies pay him to taste their new meat buns on camera. Under threat of a cease & desist letter from the Takenouchi family for copyrighted backstory infringement, Dad’s actually kind of cool with this, allotting him time every so often to film videos… and maybe fill the koi pond with slime.
The trouble is in the cautious stalemate between Tora and his father. Tora clearly wants to let loose and be a kid and find his groove, but he isn’t rebelling against his fate. He’s careful to limit his fun to the constraints his father puts in place, and appropriately formal in requesting permission. His father, in turn, doesn’t abuse this by being too restrictive. He’s stoic about all this Apptube business and permits it in terms that honor tradition. But how does they really feel? There’s a lot of presumed tension in the air here, but the reality suggests a healthy and respectful compromise. Early on it’s hard to tell if that’s sweet or boring.
Musimon pulling Tora out of his shell and unleashing Astora on the unsuspecting public still qualifies as sweet. After a drone from Definitely Not Amazon delivers his App Drive, sheltered, resigned Tora proceeds to have the day of his life. Perhaps it’s odd that for someone pushing so hard to get Tora to find his own groove, Musimon and Astora are in lockstep pretty much everywhere, down to the synchronized dances and catchphrases. It still gets a pass since partners are generally supposed to be on the same page anyway and it’s a nice switch from Haru and Gatchmon being compatible opposites. Tora needs more convincing that their relationship is more than a one-day fling, and as trite and played out as Musimon slow-clapping his way into his heart is, it still sort of works. Even if we don’t know how committed he is to tea ceremony, this kid resists so hard before finally succumbing to the groove.
It’s a shame it took a cool concept of an enemy like Watchmon to bring all this out. Not that we don’t want our enemies to be cool, but some episodes call for more limited or niche apps to mess things up, while someone like Watchmon had the potential to be used in a more expansive way when the focus can be all on him. An Appmon with the power to alter clocks and timers… save it for something serious that can occupy a whole episode! The ability to mess with time itself could give Haru and company a real challenge. Instead, he inexplicably elects not to fight his adversaries and instead shows them some home movies. That doesn’t even feel like something that should be in his repertoire. If you need to do that to get Tora’s flashback to us, at least burn something less interesting like an app based on Facebook Memories. Watchmon deserved better.
My Grade: C-
- It’s inexplicable that Astora would bite down on his App Drive as a joke, but it’s not like anyone told him (or Eri) that these were unique devices with powers that should have been secret. The worst consequence he’d face is commenters wondering what that thing was and where they can get one.
- After realizing that Astora continues his shtick in the real world (even bothering random classmates with it), Gatchmon notes to himself that, yes, there are things he doesn’t find “groovy.” Far as he could tell, Astora thought everything was totally awesome.
- On that note… groovy, huh? It’s a tough catchphrase to try to translate, but you’d think the subbers would pick a word that a Gen Z kid would actually use non-ironically.
- Just on seeing Watchmon, Haru gets his hopes up that it could be another Seven Code. Just seven Appmon in the entire world, Haru’s averaging one out of three collected, and he’s optimistic about that impossibly high rate improving.
- Watchmon has some strangely broad powers. Infecting countdown timers on laptops is fine and changing clocks makes sense, but he’s also seen changing the amount of stoppage time in a soccer game. Those are static display boards that don’t actually have a timing function.
- Iemoto is a grand master of a particular Japanese art form, responsible for the school that teaches it. It’s usually passed on within the family. Sora had the same thing going on with flower arranging in Adventure.
- “No Musimon, No Life” is spun from Tower Records motto “No Music, No Life.” It appears on a big sign outside the Tower Records store in Shibuya, replicated in Digimon Cyber Sleuth.
- The second Tora unlocks his App Drive, his hair curls out into Astora mode.
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