We’ll say this much: episodes designed to introduce a new gallery of bad guys usually stink. Kicking this one off with Rei going full-on Mission: Impossible takes care of that! It’s a thrilling sequence as Hackmon uses every trick at his disposal to allow Rei to learn the location of and get into the terminal with information on various VIPs. Although Hajime is even more important, it kicks off a sequence of events introducing us to a dynamic new character. From there… it’s a pretty far-fetched drag to an obvious conclusion.
On the plus side, Rei is back and interacting with the cast again. Haru apparently has been worried about him and shooting messages, but 2017 was a big year for not caring whether your friends were dead in a digital world so we’re not sure whether to believe him. After his run against Leviathan’s data tower, getting into Ai’s meth lab to demand Gatchmon’s assistance is easy. He’s notably leery of Yujin and not sure what to do with Ai’s gentility. There’s a lot to take in there. Does he recognize the problems behind Yujin and what made him an App Driver? Has he never encountered the sort of kindness Ai’s presenting him? Or was accepting the help of Haru, Eri, and Astora so much work that more is just too exhausting?
There’s a lot of ridiculous after that. It’s an important kind of ridiculous, but everything sort of goes off the rails. There’s an overly long biopic of L-Corp CEO Umematsu that takes forever to make it totally obvious to us that Leviathan lifted his company to prosperity, while somehow leaving the kids oblivious. It’s been mildly annoying that the team has yet to even remotely suspect that Leviathan is running the gigantic corporation with its hands in a ton of tech industries, a suspiciously similar logo to Leviathan’s, and a CEO that refuses to reveal his benefactor other than saying it inspired the name “L-Corp.” I’d ask if they need it spelled out for them, but it only takes one letter!
If it’s a problem that someone as smart as Haru hasn’t pieced it together, it’s twice as bad that we don’t know if Rei’s figured it out. His mission for Leviathan data turns up a bunch of L-Corp data, and right after he destroys Leviathan’s data center there are news reports of L-Corp suffering a massive data breach. If Rei doesn’t know, he’s missed an unforgivably crucial clue that no amount of badass hacking missions can overcome. If he does know… he really ought to say something considering one of the kids literally works for L-Corp.
Despite the logical frustration there, one thing redeeming this episode is that the timing of Leviathan replacing Umematsu is perfect. On the public side, losing a ton of personal information to hackers is a PR disaster. It’s the kind of thing that demands a strong response. Making Umematsu the fall guy does the trick, especially when replaced with someone who can win over a crowd as well as Unryuji Knight. For Leviathan, hiring Sateramon to go after the kids would have been an appropriate response to them rummaging through Kowloon, but with him defeated and Rei pulling off his attack, that too requires action. Knight has some pretty scary lieutenants, an urgent objective to find Bootmon before Rei can, and the masses on his side. Whatever Bootmon does, Leviathan isn’t screwing around the way it did with Mienumon.
As for Knight, I didn’t think it was possible, but here we have a character introduction more overblown than Ken Ichijouji and Touma H. Norstein combined! At least here the pomp is justifiable: a clear media strategy on L-Corp’s part to win over the masses and get everyone on board with AI taking over their lives. Sparing us the need to figure it out is wise and at least Eri and Rei are a bit suspicious of this guy, but it’s going to get grating really quickly if Haru, Yujin, and Astora don’t get the glitter out of their eyes. Haru was introduced as being a more thoughtful, learned protagonist, but he hasn’t sniffed out any of Leviathan’s screens yet. Given what’s going to be thrown his way, he needs to step up.
My Grade: B
- So not only has Rei been ghosting the other App Drivers, it isn’t because he’s been stuck in Deep Web the whole time. He’s been going back and forth, offering tribute to Dantemon each time.
- Judging by past experience, Rei would be uncomfortable as hell in an unproductive story, but forcing him into one to show his first meeting with Yujiin and Ai would have given them some meaningful character interactions. Plus who wouldn’t want to see him walking away muttering “this is pointless” after Gatchmon runs away or during the whole Maripero business?
- Umematsu being a nasty old fart to the idols in private is sort of expected and only interesting in how obligatory it feels. Him being a jerk to the entire Appliyama organization in public makes you wonder how he survived being the face of the company for so long.
- That entire feature looked like it was a recorded program until suddenly it was revealed to be live. And how does a board even replace its CEO and have an elaborate press conference set up to announce the new one before the ousted schmuck even finds out?