Considering the team chases down and takes out who has been the primary villain for the last ten or so episodes, the actual fight turns out to be an afterthought. Really, four Ultimates fighting just one shouldn’t be that dramatic. Most seasons make the villain unnaturally powerful or let them cheese some overpowered move to even the odds more. Warudamon tries the latter, but once that fails her defeat is swift and decisive. Mienumon will end up going down as more of a pain in the ass than a fighter. She’ll never be confused for the big invincible beast the kids barely overcome through grit and a miracle evolution. So since she’s not the most impressive trophy, the trade off instead is the build-up to the battle and the lengths both sides go to give themselves an advantage. It’s a bold move, but the show ups its game to get it right.
When facing the final boss of an arc, the temptation is to rely on action and dramatic tension, abandoning humor, charm, and quirk to deliver a hard-fought standoff more devoted to showing off our heroes’ determination and heart. The chase does the exact opposite. Mienumon stops to taunt the kids. Eri tries to prove that she does indeed have more important things on her plate… and fails miserably. Haru tries subverting the battle by asking really nicely, and even gets his hopes up when Mienumon punks him. There’s a completely unnecessary side scene where unsuccessful decoy Virusmon warmly greets his family with fondness for his homeland and excitement over a possible promotion! We’re geared up for action and instead we get adorable!
We also get a welcome return to Appmon strategy taking center stage. Similar to Xros Wars, there’s a fear that as the show progresses, the tactical potential of an army of specialized monsters will lose favor to the less compelling but equally effective “get bigger and stomp the bad guy” approach. With Mienumon playing dirty to shake her pursuers, Haru gets equally clever in response, using Navimon to track her when she splits from Virusmon and finding Puzzlemon’s life calling against Shotmon. You still get the sense this will become rarer and rarer, but let’s appreciate it when it does come.
For a throwaway distraction, Shotmon ends up being surprisingly frightening, probably owing something to using children for live target practice. Haru shows his mettle here, recognizing that someone needs to go after Mienumon. After having the path cleared for him in the Waffle server, Haru this time draws fire to let Eri and Astora get out. It’s a little reckless, yes, but he also probably trusted himself to come up with a clever way out of the jam. As dangerous as it was, it’s a show of confidence in his own abilities, most significantly his brainpower.
When Mienumon becomes Warudamon thanks to the shadowy App Driver (that surely will be explained one day, right?) and gains control of Dokamon and Musimon, Haru is tested again. Does he bring out Globemon and plow ahead at the risk of endangering his allies? He refuses, even if it leads to Gatchmon taking a beating. It’s not a great moment for him: he’s frozen out with no options and needs Rei to bail them out. But it sets a tenor for his leadership style, refusing the mantra of getting the job done at all costs, establishing that everyone on the team is important and won’t be sacrificed for an easy win. Judging by their reactions when Revivemon blasts them, Eri and Astora don’t have the same faith in Rei.
It’s never stated, but Rei ending up with a glorified healer as an Appmon is a nice curveball to his loner role. It’s a similar vibe to Sakuyamon, but Ruki had already partially welcomed a team dynamic by the time she arrived. Rei’s not about that in the slightest, so even his vital healing comes with a scowl. Revivemon still gets to steal the show and use his alternate power of being a big scary dragon, but the role teases a more supportive future for him. Despite her ridiculous mode change, Warudamon goes down easily under the might of four Ultimates launching their strongest attacks and the kids reach the doorway to Deep Web with all seven crystals. Nothing like a few fireworks to celebrate starting a new chapter!
My Grade: A-
- Considering Coachmon literally just switched sides on a dime, maybe Haru wasn’t so naive falling for Mienumon feigning a change of heart.
- Anyone else actually feel kind of bad for Virusmon when he realizes Gatchmon wasn’t going to show and his hopes for promotion were dashed right in front of his family?
- One of the more lamentable things watching a subtitle-only release is realizing just how dub friendly most of the show has been so far. There aren’t any names a skittish network exec would be itching to change, all of the concepts are pretty straightforward, and content-wise there’s nothing objectionable. Anyway, this episode would be about five minutes shorter because Shotmon just wouldn’t be in it.
- Shotmon’s enthusiasm for live targets is infectious and I kind of wish Haru had just left Puzzlemon there so the two could live happily ever after. Besides, does anyone really think Haru’s going to need Puzzlemon again?
- In an episode where we commend Haru for his strategy, let’s take a second and give some credit to Eri for understanding that Ultimates can only stay out for 60 seconds and they can’t afford to burn them on Shotmon.
- Warudamon’s final form manages to hit the trifecta of being nightmare fuel, arguably an unwelcome sexual allusion, and completely pointless since it gets blown up in two seconds anyway. Good ol’ Mienu, disappointing us right to the end!