Digimon finales typically have two parts to them- the climactic battle and the inevitable tearjerker that ensues. Some do one better than the other. Xros Wars had the action down but didn’t offer much else, while Adventure sort of breezed past the dramatic boss fight to get to its finale. Visually, the final fights against Leviathan are massive and striking and gorgeous, taking full advantage of its animation style. This needs to be acknowledged and credited. But after Minerva grants its equivalent of L-Power, the God grades turn the tide, Leviathan is forced into emergency protocol, and the real suspense begins.
After all of Leviathan’s pomp about planning this whole scenario, seeing it recognize the damage taken, leading to a simulation of fear and a fight-or-flight response, was important. We needed confirmation this wasn’t still part of the plan. Speaking directly to Haru through Yujin is the desperation ploy. It also suggests Leviathan is working off new information. It now recognizes how powerful humans can become when granted the power to make choices, even if said choices are also responsible for humanity’s problems. As the eternal thorn in Leviathan’s side, Haru gets to make one more decision: destroy or save both Leviathan and Yujin.
It’s hard to imagine Haru’s choice really being in doubt, but note who expects what. Dokamon and Musimon, the AI creatures, say it’s unfair Haru gets to choose to protect a love one at the expense of Eri’s and Astora’s parents. Eri and Astora, the human beings, recognize the agony involved with Haru willingly choosing to terminate Yujin. Haru comes to his conclusion in a satisfyingly smart way: even if it kills this Yujin, it gives Haru the time and freedom to discover a way to bring him back. It’s not that everybody wins—Yujin’s death still crushes him—but it allows Haru to continue to be a protagonist in his own personal mission, and that’s the only thing he can settle for with so much else on the line.
Once Haru’s choice is clear, Yujin fulfills his big question and gives up his life to protect a friend. It’s just not throwing himself in front of a bullet intended for Haru the way we might have expected. Instead, Yujin protects Haru by pulling the switch on the trolley himself. It’s a crucial gesture as Haru doesn’t have to live with the guilt of killing his best friend. It’s painful enough for him and his friends to watch Yujin’s last moments, but Haru was successful in turning Yujin around and Yujin dies protecting Haru’s soul.
At first, the epilogue feels conventional enough. Everybody goes back to their usual lives, with Eri, Astora, and Rei doing what they had always done before getting swept up in this fight with Leviathan. But the damage to the city didn’t get magically restored; humanity has to take it on themselves to rebuild everything lost. The news reports of rogue AI programs are replaced with deeper discussions on artificial intelligence and the concept of singularity. Deneimon accidentally poofed himself back into existence, but he’s old and frail now. Most importantly, the show never concocted a reason to separate the kids from their buddies… so they didn’t! All the Appmon are still around and chilling in Ai’s hooch parlor! It’s a delightful surprise based on the expectation of prior seasons and makes total sense: kids may grow up and have to say goodbye to their pet monsters someday, but they’ll never let go of their apps.
The finale didn’t answer every question we may have had, but it closes off the important stories with excitement, emotion, and a positive message. It reminds us that artificial intelligence and singularity are very real things and possible threats for the future, but leaving the Appmon in the picture shows that AI doesn’t have to be the enemy. It will remain part of our lives forever; it’s all a matter of how we use it, and how we let it use us. This ending offers a stable future, but doesn’t hand everybody a good one, instead challenging them, and every one of us, to become the heroes in our stories.
My Grade: A
- Gaiamon saving Haru from the tower plummet is a stupidly obvious resolution to last episode’s cliffhanger. Glad they didn’t waste time offering any more suspense than it already got.
- After the first failed run against Leviathan, it’s hard to be more terrifying than Leviathan acknowledging the attacks were… about as weak as it expected.
- By the time Leviathan’s done, there isn’t much of a city left. It was pretty bold that all that damage wasn’t magically undone on Leviathan’s defeat. Since D-Reaper didn’t seem to destroy all that much infrastructure, it’s easily the most severe destruction to the human world we’ve ever seen before.
- Not much was made of Haru’s goggles cracking in the attack. Were this Xros Wars there would have been a full monologue attached to that.
- So that battle here, post-Minerva power? THAT’S where you play the opening theme! Not episode 3!
- After being absent through all of this mess, it was really important to catch up with Caught-Up Man one more time in Dark Web… which, amusingly, is blindingly white.
- It’s been hinted that Leviathan wasn’t necessarily evil and a couple things here reinforce that, particularly letting Haru have the final decision and its message to humanity. It goes down as an AI that thought it had all the answers for us, and “Good Luck” is that perfect blend of conciliation and being an arrogant bastard.
- Lovely as the epilogue is, it’s really hard to accept Yujin’s appearance at the end as anything more than hopeful fantasy. Haru bringing him back would take years of research and it just doesn’t fit the message of his character arc to have his final objective handed to him, even before trying to figure out who or how it would happen.