One of the downsides to the total party kill last time was making the subject of this one pretty predictable. There’s nowhere left to turn, so of course something would happen to allow the Appmon to return. It’s just a question of how and what sort of trials the kids would need to go through to reclaim their buddies. There’s also a question of the mechanics of Appmon rebirth, and even then it was only death in a figurative sense. Even if we all knew the destination, the journey the kids take to their reunion with their partners forces them to prove their mettle and is immensely satisfying.
We don’t get as much Sad Haru as we expected or deserved, but it’s enough to sell the point. The room’s dark, the tricycle’s unoccupied, and he’s crying over both his broken App Drive and Yujin. And yet all he can come back to is his dream to be a protagonist. With that, he realizes, is the obligation to overcome the inevitable tragedies. This period of grief and how it pushes him to wonder where he can go next both prompts Deneimon’s intervention and asks an important question the episode returns to later.
We’re at that weird point where we get more of the Deneimon/Minerva history and some strange developments, but they beg for an overarching development we’re not sure we’re going to get. There are more locked doors and secret rooms in Ai’s dungeon, revealing a connection with Deneimon and a room requiring Haru’s retinal scan. Inside is naught but a rotary phone there for the sole purpose of pulling Haru’s team into the internet. This should suggest something deeper with Ai and her family. It’s something we want, and it’s not unprecedented after Yujin’s ascendance to relevancy, but we may have to accept that some bookstores just have underground labyrinths beneath them.
After episode 16, it was fair to wonder whether Deneimon was really dead. Now that question becomes more philosophical as we find he’s created a digital backup of himself and lives online, free of age, disease, injury, and all that other stuff everybody thought Taichi was nuts for believing in season one. Seriously, dwell on that for a moment: the very thing Taichi spent an entire episode being obnoxious about before getting slammed hard into the turf turns into a reality for Deneimon!
It continues Appmon’s radical inversion of the usual lines about its monsters only being data and the implications of existing in a digital world. The threat of Leviathan shows the needs to have a hard distinction between humans and the AI-driven Appmon, and now there are circumstances allowing someone in this world to subvert human mortality. There are all sorts of questions about the beauty in the flaws of being human, and even as Deneimon proudly goes full Shibumi, we wonder if he still sacrificed something along the way.
While the lost Appmon drove the story here, they’re insignificant as anything other than a goal. The destroyed App Drives are the real problem, leaving the unpaired Appmon in a rebooted state, in some cases echoing tri. and getting new factory setting personalities. They were quite jarring, and it’s a shame we didn’t see more of them, or that the App Drivers weren’t forced to Sora their way through them. Not that the direction they went is bad. Actually, it’s a twist we wouldn’t expect to work: make the kids do something themselves.
You wouldn’t think a season would need to shine more attention on the human characters, but the quest for the holy phone booth does so in a wonderful way: it removes their superpower apps and shows us how strong each of them can be on their own. In many ways, their question becomes their crest: Astora stays positive in any situation, Eri refuses to let her personal suffering get in the way, and Rei demands everybody push through together. Haru sees this in others and realizes his role is to lead the team forward, breaking potential stalemates through actions that aren’t often wise, but are always necessary. By realizing his inner Daisuke, he finds humanity’s potential advantage against AI, which may ultimately be more valuable than winning a copy of the hot new toy.
My Grade: A-
- Hilarious of Appmon not wanting to risk the wrath of Nintendo in not mentioning Mario’s name even though Deneimon’s pixelated form suggests it. Deneimon even cuts Haru off with an “It’s me!” scream. Rei covering Astora’s mouth for no in-world reason was kind of meta in that sense.
- It never comes up, but there’s an implication that this is the first time everybody’s bailing on what they need to be doing (school, work, tea ceremony lessons) for the big rescue. To be real, Eri should be going nowhere near Appliyama after the L-Corp reveal, but I like the sense of importance and urgency.
- Good luck figuring out how it works, and how Deneimon programmed a retina scanner to recognize Haru when he left not long after Haru was born, but the rotary phone is consistent with his need to avoid anything internet to avoid Leviathan’s tendrils. Whatever sweeps the App Drivers into the “world of the net” (they really don’t want to call it the Digital World do they?) is also smart enough to leave Ai.
- The wish for more time with the factory setting personalities does sort of validate the distinctly different personality Piyomon had in tri. While it took some straining to rationalize why Piyomon would suddenly behave that way, maybe the problem was that the other Digimon were more or less within their usual range. Much as it would have taken the heat off Sora in her own movie, all of them acting as off would have been smoother.
- Was Rei not awesome in this episode? He incurs Ai’s wrath by sneaking into her meth lab again, saves Haru when he trips, pushes the other team to quit mourning their Appmon and do things for themselves, and plays off his emotional reunion like it’s nothing.
- The sledding scene is so hilarious and absurd I feel compelled to make a note of it just to point out how hilarious and absurd it is.