All right everybody, Digital Gate- Open! App Drivers… Zutto! It’s time to go to the Digital World… or the Surface Web… or the Sea of the ‘Net. We’re not used to what they’re calling it, we’re not used to how it’s presented, and it’s not going to be a regular fixture the way it was in at least segments of series that don’t have an intermediary realm for weekly fights. The first dive in doesn’t even have fanfare, with Gatchmon leading them on a breezy tour that makes Zero Two’s routine entrances look like the big one in Tamers. It feels more like a progression than the start of a new chapter, but that only means we’re seeing signs of real progress.
What it lacks in momentous energy it makes up for with imagination. Every season we look forward to its new perception of the Digital World, but for the most part they’re more attached to the world part than the digital, insisting on terrain in a single world with only vague effects signaling transitions between zones or layers. Appmon isn’t saddled with any baggage, including the world’s name, and can mold anything it wants to present the net in intriguing and narratively useful ways. Here networks connect various islands representing different servers in a giant ocean we actually see the protagonists navigate. While the link between the Digital World and our internet has always varied, here we have an actual physical representation of an actual virtual space that goes beyond assigning computery names like “File” and “Server.”
Other ideas show off creativity that wouldn’t be out of place in other seasons. Like Tamers, the water is made of data so it’s breathable and doesn’t get you wet. The sea is accessed by going into an AR Field and just shifting to a space beyond. The entrance to the sea is a lazy beach with a humble cabana. In contrast to his manic absorption of everything in Haru’s world, Gatchmon is at home here, donning shades and ordering the usual from Cookmon and snickering at the younger Dokamon and Musimon’s excitement. It seems obvious that Gatchmon would be comfortable here, but we’ve been burned a few times by Digimon failing to have a good grasp of their home world.
Word on the street leads them into the sea to the island of Reviewmon and Kosomon, more palette swaps to frustrate Eri. They’re entirely pointless silliness, but pointless silliness is where Appmon’s a viking. Reviewmon over-scrutinizes their clothes, calls out tropes and complains that Haru is too anime and Eri’s not idol enough. Kosomon’s a gossip, and trades information about Rei in exchange for Haru, Tora, and Dokamon utterly ruining Eri’s public image with stories about how she’s actually a sweetie. It’s adorable, especially when she promises to sock the lot of them.
Sakusimon’s presence puts an end to all the fun, sending the Reviewmon and Kosomon scurrying to criticize the new Pokémon game or something. His gaming strategy gimmick and penchant for speaking in haiku has just enough quirk and personality to be an effective midboss… and not an ounce more. Good thing that’s all he’s called for. After he traps the trio on his board of inconsistently dangerous traps, Rei bails them out, exposing that, yes, Haru was actually convinced he was working for Leviathan. Huh.
Rei’s still not on Haru’s side though, using the rescue as an opportunity to squeeze info from Sakusimon. In fact he’s entirely indifferent to Haru’s presence, and even his desire to keep the stolen Seven Codes. That changes when Haru gets too inquisitive and Raidramon lets slip that it’s about a missing brother. Instead of telling his sob story, Rei retreats further into his shell and shuts out any chance of cooperation. It sets up nicely for his tactics and demeanor continuing to create conflict. With this new information, he comes across as a mean Nene/Kiriha hybrid. Who isn’t here for that?
My Grade: B-
- Is it me or is the art really off in this episode? It’s not something I tend to get finicky about, but some of the faces just look weird.
- Everyone’s priorities early on says a lot about Haru’s brand of leadership. Eri wants to settle things with Rei personally and Tora wants to record fights for his channel, so the fact that Haru just wants his seven code back tells you he’s a capable leader simply because he has nothing else going on.
- It’s easy to gloss over with the big reveal about Hajime at the end, but Kosomon’s assertion that Rei has a reputation among the Appmon is worth noting.
- Were there any safe spaces on Sakusimon’s board or were they really helpless? Maybe the best strategy would have been to only trigger the spaces with yappy dogs and pies and miss the ones with explosives and lightning.