The primary joke of corrupt Appmon wrecking a comically dependent society naturally leans on exaggeration. Nothing’s really collapsing if YouTube’s app goes on the fritz. This works fine when the problem is secondary to the real action. It’s all a good laugh and usually leads to a resolution to the main story and maybe even a clever battle. Things are different when a corruption is the real action and we’re supposed to feel the effects in a more personal, less silly way. There’s a ton of heart here that deserves to be commended, but it’s all grounded in the most eye-rolling response to an infected Appmon yet.
A common trope in Christmas stories is where the characters face a situation where circumstances separate them from their traditions and comforts. Weather strands somebody, someone steals all their decorations and presents, a bunch of monsters interrupt the concert… the usual yarns. A common thread is that the human spirit is strong enough to understand that Christmas happens despite the complications. Understanding that and celebrating the holiday anyway is usually vital to either the miracle that somehow restores everything or the drive to take everything back. When Calendamon outright erases December 24 and 25 from all digital calendars, humanity just sort of gives up and cancels everything rather than rallying to make it the best damn Boxing Day ever.
Both the buildup to the bookstore’s big holiday event and the reaction to its disappearance, insane as it is, show off the adorable dynamic between Haru, Ai, and Yujin. Haru and Ai are close childhood friends that both seem to suspect could be more. Haru and Yuujin are playful chums whom everybody suspects could be more. Despite eight episodes of Ai relegated to spying alongside Watson and Yujin totally absent, the moment they’re reunited with Haru the warmth returns. Eri and Tora are gaining a foothold, but they still feel like Haru’s teammates more than friends. You need to turn to Ai and Yujin for the friendly teasing, heartwarming gestures, and romantic tension. It’s all very sweet, but we miss it when the attention’s on the main trio.
It’s such a sweet bond that the scenes we get of Ai hold up despite the ridiculous reason for them. We learn the uniqueness of the bookstore and the history of their Christmas event, adding a meaningful stake when everyone acts like it’s threatened. Ai is so pure and so upset that we just want this poor girl to have her Christmas! And so does Gatchmon, enough to reveal his world to her… he’s totally not trying to hype up Haru or anything. Ai was already praying to a fairy in a tree growing indoors, so believing in Appmon isn’t a stretch for her. She instead emphasizes her appreciation for Haru opening up this part of his life to her.
The fight itself isn’t bad. Calendamon uses dates to trigger memories and manipulate Tora and Eri, a cute tactic that even weaponizes August 1. Haru parries with some clever mind games of his own. Still, Calendamon doesn’t feel like the kind of enemy that warrants a big show out of Haru’s first Super Apprealize. It’s a little shoehorned and completely unnecessary once Haru punks Calendamon out, but we may as well get it over with rather than pretending a new way to summon the same Appmon is a massive level up.
The epilogue also helps save the episode from its premise. Leaving the AR Field reveals a hidden basement the gang can use as a hideout, giving the Appmon more room to breathe and Ai a chance to be more involved. We also recall all the loose ends still dangling: Yujin’s Terminator eyes, Mienumon scheming from her corporate fortress, Rei spending Christmas alone in a doorway. Then the App Drive starts screaming Haru’s name in the middle of the night. That’s new!
My Grade: C+
- While Ai is upset about losing a beloved family tradition passed through generations, Eri and Tora are bemoaning minor blows to their career. We know there will be more sincerity from them later, but that’s a stark contrast.
- Speaking of sincere heartbreak, some of the more tangential effects of the holiday disappearing are just as personal: the guy with the afro loses out on a date and a woman worries about losing a paycheck.
- There’s something cathartic about regular people realizing something has been going on. Watson commenting that it’s been a weird couple months is a rare acknowledgment that people might be noticing patterns here.
- As if canceling Christmas because Definitely Not iCal is on the fritz isn’t stupid enough, there’s a clear shot of Ai’s dad’s office and a giant calendar on his wall with the dates still intact. Because that’s how dates work.
- Then again, Ai’s dad also didn’t know about an entire floor of a building he not only owns, but has been a part of his entire life. Who dusted and replaced the lightbulbs down there?
- Eri and Tora’s bickering is supposed to be a reminder that they still can’t stand each other, but their mocking of each other’s Christmas media reveals one thing: they both went through the trouble of watching each other’s Christmas media.