It’s that moment we all simultaneously look forward to and dread. At long last, somebody’s going to finally serve up some answers to what’s going on with this world! Of course, the timing is usually such as right as the pace was starting to pick up and things were getting interesting, this run of extended dialogue drags everything down. And usually only a fraction of the information presented is actually relevant, with the rest background details that may or may not be interesting. And tends to raise more questions than answers. And forget about meaningful action or character moments. Appmon’s mostly guilty of all of these. It still kind of pulls it off.
You can thank Haru for that. It’s a bit arbitrary that he’d bring up the App Drive screaming his name from the Christmas episode now, but better late than never. Nothing’s worse than giving us an intriguing plot development, then completely forgetting it (somebody wake up that shady App Driver that fused Scorpmon). Other less intrepid protagonists might take it as a foreboding sign but not act on it. Haru and Gatchmon go all out to track down answers, treating the lack of online information as an important clue and interrogating mom when she recognizes the voice of dead grandpa. They use landmarks in a photograph to identify the location of his office. They earn their explanation.
Their reward? An Appmon that can take them back in time to show them Deneimon at an actual historical event interacting with actual visionaries in the field of AI. Leave it to this show to combine the wild concept of an app capable of warping time with something as grounded and real as the Dartmouth Workshop. Appmon’s never afraid of stretching the imagination, and showing us a strong foundation with which it builds its ideas off of emboldens it further. The Workshop inspires Deneimon, who developed his own AI, who split off into the more chaotic Leviathan. It doesn’t make the more fanciful notions more believable, but the more we see the science behind them, the more we can accept this world’s exaggerations.
It’s also the first time Digimon has really leaned into history. Tamers presents a realistic world filled with real places and a story of his its Digital World came to evolve, but its past is still a product of fiction. Adventure works artifacts from the history of the internet into its deeper lore, but it’s almost never featured in the show itself. Even if the Dartmouth Workshop isn’t a big factor going forward, it’s fun to see and presents some cool information to the kids watching.
Of course, the critical information amounts to “Grandpa’s lost AI program led to both Leviathan and the Appdrivers, plus this is what the Seven Codes do.” You don’t need a full episode for that. It’s fair to ask if the little else we got was an effective use of our time. Besides Haru and Gatchmon’s sleuthing, at least there are a few good character bits. Haru’s mother is modern enough to use a tablet for pictures. Haru uses Tora’s catchphrase to get him motivated to snoop around the university. Deneimon fears retaliation from Leviathan so much he purged all digital records of his existence, relaying information to Haru through VHS tape. Tora’s complaint about Timemon having tea in the middle of a fight is his overuse of the leaves. It’s just little bits, but it’s nice to be treated to that little bit of seasoning.
There’s no such seasoning in the Timemon fight. Timemon shows off his power, shows up Dogatchmon, and says the next level of App Fusion will be there when he’s ready for it. It’s short, and only exists to announce that there’s another level of App Fusion… which nobody doubted anyway. This looks poised to be like Adventure where we’ll be waiting half an arc for the promised higher forms, but it’s more exciting to anticipate than seeing who’s the next Seven Code. We have yet to see Appmon build off the momentum it generates with useful episodes like these, but we can never complain when they deliver one.
My Grade: B+
- Haru first heard his App Drive screaming his name in the Christmas episode. In real-time, that’s almost a month before he decided to bring it up with the others.
- This is the first time we’ve heard any reference to Haru’s dad. This might also be the last time we hear any reference to Haru’s dad. Good thing Rei’s around with his tragic backstory or we’d be arguing whether Haru’s enough to meet this season’s dead parent quota, met by every season save Frontier!
- Deneimon having Haru’s ahoge is the greatest genetic inheritance we’ve seen outside the Daimon family.
- This is the first time ever in Digimon real people have been seen and referred to by name. And in case anyone’s still thinking the show takes place in 2040, the Dartmouth Workshop was in 1956. Marvin “Minnie” Minsky died in 2016, almost exactly one year before this episode aired in Japan.
- On that note, props to Deneimon for even going so far as to remove himself from the handwritten roster of Dartmouth Workshop attendees!
- One of the more uncomfortable ideas confirmed in this episode is that some of the early shots of cameras spying on Haru were from benevolent entities, and not the dystopian overlords we would have expected.
- One of the arrows on Timemon’s head has “FUTURE” written on it and looks almost identical to the one on Nanimon’s head.