The much-hyped appearance of Agumon in an episode of Appmon was a source of both much excitement and much worry. Along with us all loving Agumon, featuring a Digimon mainstay lends a certain credibility to the show, as if it means nobody can accuse Appmon of being Digimon’s illegitimate cousin anymore. Correcting that mindset wasn’t necessary: Appmon is a fine show with or without any connection to its predecessor. But if handled poorly, Agumon’s presence can muddy the picture, making a futile attempt to place Appmon in an already muddled and conflicting multiverse and bending rules and logic to justify a cheap crossover. The show is smart to avoid this route in a pretty simple way: it isn’t a crossover at all.
Agumon appears in every season of Digimon. Even though he’s only a featured presence in Adventure and Savers, the only time we can truly call it a crossover is Hunters. The other times his presence is an established part of the world that doesn’t need hand-waving. So it is here: establishing Digimon as an old video game means it’s always been a part of the Appmon world. Agumon’s appearance is more like his cameo as a digimemory than an explosive cavalry charging in. It’s a lot cleaner, allowing us to enjoy his presence without asking too many questions.
At the same time, once we take out our own memories of Agumon, what we’re left with is emotion driven by a fourteen year old being nostalgic over a video game we just learned existed today. We get caught up quickly enough, but it still feels like our nostalgia is being directed into Haru just for the sake of us feeling sentimental. A similar thing happens in tri., but we have history with those characters and understand their nostalgia, and their memories of the old days are an important recurring theme in the series. Haru’s nostalgia for Digimon will be relevant for exactly one episode.
It’s not even an important episode. As easy as it is to criticize the Hunters crossover for prioritizing the spectacle over a deep portrayal of the characters, the episode also gets a lot out of the in-world team, advances the plot, and even sneaks in character development for Tagiru. Here, everything’s the same as it was at the start. It could have been worse: at least Agumon and the other game characters gaining sentience is part of Leviathan’s plot to find Bootmon. And while Haru dominates the episode, everyone else finds a way to chip in something in the little time they’re afforded.
It is a little unsettling that they strained so hard to portray Gatchmon and Agumon meeting as antagonists. With video game characters rampaging around looking for Bootmon, Agumon is hastily dubbed the bad guy for attacking them, and even lumped in as another Bootmon hunter later on. The titular “Gatchmon Versus Agumon” battle lasts a hot second. Even after Agumon recognizes Haru as his beloved embarrassingly bad player with the embarrassingly bad name, Gatchmon’s still not sold. He’s even a little jealous at Haru’s showing affection towards another monster. This all clears up in a hurry, but if they weren’t going to commit to Agumon being an enemy, why sell the episode on that premise at all?
At least by making Agumon a close friend, Appmon gets to show off its heart. The trip to Nakano evokes Cyber Sleuth without needing to make an actual reference. Fights against Etemon, Vamdemon, and Diaboromon are treated as game quests. Agumon is hungry, of course, and gets his first taste of Gatchmonaka. His home world evokes an art style similar to Adventure’s Digital World. WarGreymon’s arrival is greeted with a cute homage of an evolution sequence and Brave Heart. His floating away at the end even feels like a nod to the iconic shot in episode 21 of Adventure. The reasoning allowing all this may be shallow and unnecessary, but it takes full advantage of the opportunity. Xros Wars featured a rather cold crossover wrapped in a significant Hunters episode. This is the exact opposite.
My Grade: B+
- Watson’s Definitely Not Final Fantasy game is the same one he was playing in episode 3, with the same character glitching on him again. The way he moans about it to Haru and Ai, drink at his side, looks like he’s at a bar.
- Eri’s disguise to avoid being recognized in public is so bad and I’m kind of happy it finally caught up to her. And how about Yujin doing line control for her impromptu handshake event?
- Either we have to accept the unlikely chance of this Agumon coming out Haru’s particular save file, or Agumon remembers everything that happens in everyone’s save files. Agumon died at least 944 times in Haru’s file alone so that’s gotta be a rough life.
- The text filling in the CGI remnants of the two Ultimates (the differing levels between Appmon and Digimon somehow make them both Ultimates) are different. Globemon’s includes a bunch of random numbers and code. WarGreymon’s is strictly binary.
- Uratekumon increases his power by entering the Konami Code. Naturally.