Appmon Episode 34: Thank You, Future! Welcome to the AI City!

In this episode, the team is enchanted by L-Corp’s AI-driven town that feels like Leviathan’s fantasy world and encounter a guy that sounds exactly like L-Corp’s CEO preaching Leviathan’s visions. A connection between L-Corp and Leviathan? Nah…

Wow, talk about big ideas! There’s a ton of them in this one! They raise a ton of questions, and the answers to them dictate the necessity of what we’re watching. Is L-Town going to be a recurring element for the rest of the season and will the societal implications of it be explored? Are we really going to talk about cyber terror, including the kind that extends beyond Leviathan? Is the Appdrive Duo’s Overdrive feature the coolest new thing all the kids want to buy or a disturbing twist on the traditional tamer/mon dynamic? Was Haru actually swayed by Cloud’s arguments? Were the show to push for the more intriguing answers, the episode would have marked the beginning of something wonderful. The actual outcomes suggest this strays closer to a high-concept filler episode.

L-Town sounds like the premise for an episode of The Twilight Zone (or at least Kino’s Journey). The idea of a city powered by AI where humans don’t have to lift a finger is heavy, especially once you add in the security cameras, thought police, corporate control, and automated academic curriculum. Honestly, it sounds exactly like something Leviathan would dream up. Since the kids are still in the dark about its transparently obvious connection to L-Corp, it never hits home that this model town, and the rest of the world’s envy of it, is probably part of Leviathan’s scheme to get humanity to surrender all control to it. Instead the kids think L-Town is the greatest thing ever, overlooking the dystopian elements and assuming nothing can disrupt this behemoth.

This makes Haru’s inability to be suspicious of L-Corp more and more unbearable. Not only is he not connecting L-Corp to Leviathan, he doesn’t see them as a player in this fight at all! They briefly connect Appmon to AI on the train, but such a big corporation has to be considered either an ally of Leviathan or its target. Instead, the biggest concern Haru and Yuujin have about L-Town is the possibility of cyber terror. Now in reality, cyber terror is a totally valid worry complicating stuff like utilities and home automation. There’s no reason to think it isn’t the same here, but why is that on the top of their minds when they’re regularly confronted by dangerous Appmon directly infected by Leviathan? They’re pondering hypotheticals when they’ve been dealing with the real thing all this time!

Once Knight realizes his targets are in town, Leviathan put them there intentionally, and that he has four Ultimate Appmon cloaked in darkness hanging around his office, his move is obvious: send in a Standard level enemy to terrorize his own town and draw them into what should be an easily winnable fight for the App Drivers. Using Batterimon instead of Charismon (hell, all four) tells you everything you need to know about how important this episode really is.

Luckily for poor Batterimon, the App Drivers handicap themselves by keeping their Appmon at Standard level themselves, turning this into a close fight. The difference becomes the App Drive Duo and this new Overdrive mechanic. Whether Yujin’s giving up energy, life force, or blood, the idea of a human directly sacrificing part of themselves for their partner is the natural extension of all the times it was done symbolically in the past, even as recently as Globemon’s debut. It’s fascinating, but only if the show portrays it as disturbingly as the concept actually is. This is a human draining his own power to feed an AI. It’s foreboding stuff and it’s hard to say if Appmon knows what it’s messing with.

Rather than reassuring us that they’re aware of the implications of Overdrive, we get Cloud, the most Code Geass-y thing in Digimon since Touma’s sick little sister rolled in on her wheelchair. Further eroding our ability to believe the kids don’t see an L-Corp/Leviathan connection, this guy makes it clear that he’s loyal to Leviathan, makes a few selling points, then vanishes. Pretty odd he’d show up in the middle of the L-Corp-sponsored town. There’s a moment where Haru ponders the merits of his arguments, and it begins an excruciatingly slow trickle of reasons for him to let Leviathan win, but he’s not wavering that easily. Cloud does nothing but chance the kids figuring out that he’s Knight in a disguise only the Digimon Kaiser could appreciate. Conceptually, it’s a smart episode. Too bad nobody’s smart within it.

My Grade: C+

Loose Data:
  • Haru, Eri, Astora, and Yujin win a lottery trip to visit L-Town. We know these are individual spots drawn since Ai and Watson were mad at not winning. Maybe four out of six of them, the four with App Drives even, winning spots should also be seen as questionable.
  • They marvel at the train being AI powered despite already having a (not very positive) experience with an AI-driven train in the past.
  • What do the people actually do if most of the work is automated? Advocates of automation and policies like universal basic income have good answers for this question, but when it’s not answered here it leaves the scenario incomplete. The family the team visits hints at escaping the rat race for the relaxing pace of L-Town, but that doesn’t constitute a full life. We never get to see what one actually looks like.
  • One answer- increased recreational activity. That skyscraper that comes out of the soccer pitch just disrupted a valuable part of the city, and going all Tokyo-3 should be unnecessary in a planned community.
  • The kids being fans of Eri and her “Big Bang Pants” is cute and all, but dad’s ideal lunchtime background music being Eri’s Appliyama song is kind of creepy.
  • You know how far detached they are when all hell starts breaking loose and their first thought is cyber terrorism instead of yet another corrupted Appmon.
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