Many RPGs begin with a tutorial fight in the thick of the action. Instead of introducing the basics, it shows the protagonist at a vital point down the road in the story, giving the player not just a sense of the controls, but of the characters, the monsters, the nifty powers they’ll attain, and the story. Then the wham moment happens, everything goes away, and our hero is stuck back in the village at level 1. The first 2.5 episodes of Digimon Adventure: sends us back at the start telling us just three things: Taichi and Koshiro are delightful bffs, something is threatening real world networks, and Hikari and Takeru are magic. Is that really enough?
In classic video game RPG tradition, this comes off as being on rails, doing basically everything exactly as the previous episode, history, and common sense mandates. Omegamon defeats Algomon in the homage that extended itself so long it actually got boring, Omegamon makes himself scarce so he won’t interfere with the rest of the introductions, summer camp happens, and the kids get sucked into the Digital World proper. Credit the episode for righting the ship and resolving the Omegamon weirdness in the most sensible way possible, but in this sense it’s sort of like the final part of tri. where so many things needed to happen that you’re hesitant to give too much praise for just checking off the boxes. Both have moments where they do so with laudable grace, but in the end you’re more relieved than excited to see everything smoothed out.
The fight with Algomon is smooth and includes plenty of visually impressive moves on both sides, but both the miracle evolution and persistent Our War Game shot replications combine to form a sense of inevitability that sucks all the drama from the moment. Taichi and Yamato are barely sentient in this fight, action figures atop the real hero, frustrating at a time when we should be getting to know the regular cast. There’s a show of determination in their eyes that would suggest a dialed-in focus on the mission at hand… were these battle-hardened vets enduring fifty episodes to get to this point. In episode three from a couple newbies, it’s cold and empty.
Lamentably, the intensity of the scenario is jacked up so high that once it’s resolved, it makes the second half—the part with relevant development and purpose—feel like a drag. Which is a shame, since under normal circumstances this part’s doing everything right. Everything somehow going back to normal after Tokyo was nearly destroyed by a “whoopsie” nuclear missile launched by the Americans is ridiculous, but at least Koshiro puts this information out there, he and Taichi continue pondering what happened at camp, and in all it’s a nice reset into what has to be the story proper. We even get to meet Sora, with a bunch of useful character notes thrown at us at once. The cool girl admired by even Koshiro’s classmates, longtime friends with Taichi, and following him after he shows just a whiff of urgency? Remember this Sora? We loved this Sora! Maybe she’ll stick around this time!
Honestly, we could have used more of it, another drawback of the endless War Game arc. Joe and Takeru may not be essential right now (outside the latter’s feather powers), but the fleeting glimpses of them has us begging for more, and leaves Mimi as the only one we haven’t heard from yet- a grave dishonor to our princess. The string of brownouts driving Taichi (and presumably Koshiro and Sora) into the Digital World is an underwhelming crisis in comparison to the first. The Digital World is as stunning as the animation we’ve seen thus far would lead us to expect, and while ending the episode there is a totally fair tease, it’s not the lasting punch as it should be compared to Omegamon. Everything’s set up for smooth sailing now, but there’s going to be a lot of “compared to Omegamon” going on. Considering some of it has to involve actually meeting the other six kids, and knowing how much of a drag those episodes were originally, it’s an expectations game that may be hard to manage.
My Grade: B+
- Just in case there wasn’t enough to evoke Our War Game in the Algomon fight, the environment turns into a white dome seemingly at random. At least the “Diaboromon clone” effect was reproduced with a bunch of creepy eyeballs that fired lasers and not a bunch of tiny Algomons.
- Best sign that they’re doing too much in the tutorial fight is they go straight to the “play the opening theme during the big battle” trope in episode three already. That should be finale level.
- Addressing the electromagnetic pulse that followed after Omegamon yeeted the nuke into space was a good bit of realism, although it does mean his sacrifice (whatever that entailed) was to save the technology moreso than the people (not that technology isn’t important… hey, another note from the tri. finale!). At the same time, thousands of people looked straight into an exploding nuclear device. That could have not have been healthy.
- Yamato clearly does not appear to be stationed in Tokyo. They don’t give us an exact location, but we’re all thinking it’s Shimane, right?
- Sora… with the new outfit the visor fits a lot better than the helmet, but the way it’s drawn it’s like the size of her torso. Also makes the forelocks look weird.
- The summer camp imagery is as good a place to have Taichi and Koshiro talk and introduce Sora as anywhere, but to have them return home right away in the same episode makes that scenery change feel obligatory and a little pointless.