There shouldn’t be any expectations of a big payoff here, not when all the fuss is about an idol election. It’s a big deal to Eri, which makes it a big deal to Astora and Haru, but this sort of thing probably shouldn’t be high on the list of things that deserve a two-parter. Not when you’ve got Cloud and the Ultimate Four ready to bear down on everything. Knowing what happens next time does change the calculations (wink!) a little, but going off this alone you couldn’t anticipate all that. Really we learn two things here: one is that Haru, Eri, and Astora are still the main characters, despite the recent focus on Yujin and Offmon’s issues. The second is they deserve their top billing, because they are all pretty awesome kids.
Yes, the episode is mainly about Eri, with Astora in a huge supporting role, but Haru steps up in his own way by allowing Eri to throw herself at these elections. Even with the threat of Leviathan and this Cloud wacko bearing down, Haru knows there isn’t a lot they can be doing proactively. So instead of insisting they hunker down and be ready for anything, he lets Eri devote herself full time to her dreams. He’s even awed and inspired by her work, even on the sidelines. The fact that two of these kids have lives outside of app driving that regularly get attention allows for a nice break every once in a while, even when it usually ends up feeding into a fight of some sort.
What makes this work more than previous episodes where infected Appmon mess with someone’s professional life is how many admirable traits we see out of the entire cast. We already know Eri works hard, so that’s no revelation, but seeing her applying it to a nonstop media blitz shows off how incredible she is when she’s pushing herself to the limit. When she wants more, she turns to Astora. What was once a rocky relationship with him becomes symbiotic when she jumps on his Apptube channel to capture more votes. Astora’s skeptical and only signs on for the chance to mess with her, but he gets good videos and a lot of views out of her suffering. Eventually, he’s humbled by her ability to tackle everything he throws her way, enough to be the one to force her to take a break.
We also get more insight about what’s driving Eri, namely her mother, a single parent who gives everything she has, and originally had Eri trying to do the same in return. It’s a more humble, less drastic kind of backstory than we’re used to, one founded by love for a living relative and the realization that she has the power to improve their lot through tangible, positive activity. Rather than allowing both of their lives to be a difficult chore, Mom encourages Eri to pursue her dream, probably sacrificing some of her own comforts at the same time. Eri doesn’t forget this, and it adds an additional incentive to the elections: winning opens up doorways that surely have some financial element to relieve mom’s burden.
Calcumon tampering with a preliminary poll result is about as smooth an interference job as you can ask for. By that we mean they had to do something to get some action in here and it might as well be this. Calcumon’s just an Eri super-fan trying to rig things in her favor. Eri refuses the help not only because of the foul play, but because she recognizes her own limitations and how she hasn’t earned first place yet, a sound yet obvious moral stand. Calcumon has abilities just creative enough to be interesting, but not enough that you wonder why Haru didn’t just app fuse Gatchmon into something stronger. Either way, Dokamon Masaru-ing his way past them is a simple, yet awesome, resolution. There’s plenty left to be desired in all this, and it’s still unproductive for this late in the series, but when these characters are portrayed this warmly, it’s really hard to spend all your time complaining.
My Grade: B
- Summer clothes! Everyone gets another change of wardrobe, which is always refreshing and something more seasons could have utilized. Granted, Tamers and Hunters are the only seasons where time passes and they don’t change clothes at some point, but that’s still two too many!
- Eri plowing through ten ghost pepper curry buns seems like the perfect Apptube content and deserves every view it got, but I’m not so sure about the appeal of tacking on her catchphrase to 100 sayings.
- The only one of the kids who isn’t unsettled by Eri appearing at the top is Ai, who just goes with it. That sweet summer child.
- Calcumon seems like just a random one-off corrupted Appmon and not part of a larger scheme. It’s sort of a shame, since Leviathan engineering a win (and thus additional attention and work) for Eri could be a good ploy.
- Eri rejects the idea that she’s not ready to be raised higher than Izumi because she’s seen the goddesses perform up close. There are a few subtle signs of these limitations, but more hints at why Izumi’s better would have been nice to see. Also, it’s a fan vote, so how much do qualifications actually matter? What if pink twintails was just the hot look that year?