If you had never seen the show before, this would be a delight. Every character shows us a little bit of what makes them special, there’s a charming new year’s motif running throughout, the threat is silly and not all that dangerous, and utterly wrecked by three Super Appmon showing off a combined power level difference of 23,950. Without consulting Vegeta, we’d say that’s a lot. Of course, we have seen the show before. And other than some very minor points at the end, there’s nothing we haven’t seen before. Functionally, this is a recap.
Maybe if we had just survived a longer, more intense plot arc, a silly reset episode wouldn’t be so troublesome. But it was a lot of buildup only to get two decent episodes of Sakusimon trying to kill everybody, some Christmas fluff, and now this. It tells us that at their base level, the characters and setting are pretty shallow. By this point, we already need something layered on top to work. Twist a catchphrase, give some more meaning to the action, develop the characters a little more. Haru’s the only one with definitive growth so far, and there’s a lot of room to work on the other three.
Even if we’re stuck on the surface with Eri and Tora, their continued bickering continues to entertain. Until the inevitable growth kicks in, these two are frequently grating characters, both with annoying catchphrases, and both obsessed with building their brand. There’s something lovably ironic about their inability to stand each other’s attitudes. And, in contrast, they make Haru’s relative plainness refreshing and endearing. While their new year resolutions are to grow their popularity, Haru’s is simple and focused: stop Leviathan. This earns their co-endorsements.
Ai’s there to watch it all, offering a little sanity to back up Haru. He needs it with all the crazy around. Granted, it’s almost as crazy that her dad doesn’t know about this place, and adding a surveillance system only ups the ante. But if it provides the Appmon a cute little Batcave for hanging out and planning, it’s worth the gap in logic, especially if it gets Ai more involved with the team.
After all the intensity of Sakusimon and even the core sweetness Calendamon’s antics somehow provided, Puzzlemon just seems empty. Forcing everyone to finish a puzzle game to do everything from go to the bathroom to board a train is more annoying than threatening, and good only for big reactions from Watson and our afro friend’s reactions. There’s some mild entertainment as each of the three try to navigate Puzzlemon’s obstacles in their own… unique ways. But it still comes back to Haru being the brains of the team and three Super Appmon using brute strength. That undermines the abilities of the three Standards, which are more clever and useful than we’ve ever seen before. Why show off some regular old bigs slamming the enemy to death when you can be using searches and action controls and whatever the hell Tora did that first time?
There’s a little more after that as Rei realizes he needs to prioritize the actual enemy rather than the trio (boy it would have been nice if they had settled on a team name…). It helps to hype up Mienumon, not that she needs it getting a corporate CEO to fetch her hot cocoa. She ponders the benefit of using this company to manipulate humans further, hopefully something broader than her fake Apptuber. Fingers are crossed she can do better than inconvenient puzzle pop-ups too.
My Grade: C-
- Gotta love the little fourth wall breaking asides like the New Year’s greeting… even if it just leads to more Eri-Tora squabbling for attention.
- There’s also the Appmon Data Lab, a step up from a similar bit from Xros Wars, turning a weekly “who’s that Appmon?” segment into a character moment or comedy routine. This time Puzzlemon gets upstaged in favor of introducing Mienumon.
- Circling Tora’s family history back into the shuffle by focusing on his impeccable calligraphy was clever, gives him a quirk contrary to his personality, and bewilders Eri. All wins!
- Puzzlemon’s general antics were tired, but locking the path to the AR Field itself was inspired.
- As Haru was playing through level after level of Puzz-Puzz-Pon to reach the AR Field, Eri sits on top of Dokamon drinking Starbucks, just living her best life…
- Once again, they’re disappointed that Puzzlemon is not a super-rare Seven Code. Keep trying Charlie, you’ll find that golden ticket!