Despite Koshiro and Kabuterimon taking their sweet-ass time getting into the Digital World, Yamato’s return binds the team together in a way that instantly makes it feel complete. It isn’t—some of these kids still have a lot to smooth out and Takeru and Hikari will complicate everything—but Yamato creates a tension that was sorely missing, rounding out the team and pulling everybody into their own unique corners. This is the first time the group dynamic feels sustainable through an entire series, and it doesn’t hurt that everyone gets to be a little awesome in a major team victory.
The episode’s premise and opening engagements promise greatness. An suspiciously convenient lighthouse shines a path to a fortress on an otherwise desolate shore. Tokyo has already started hoarding essentials expecting the worst. The hope of reaching the continent doesn’t blind the kids to the ominous tone going on here, and they’re rewarded with a sniper shooting down Ikkakumon. He and Birdramon think quickly to get everyone out of the drink safely, only to be greeted with a Tankmon assault and more sniping from the “lighthouse.” The overwhelming danger, the dark and misty night, and the lucky intervention they needed just to hide in a cave puts everyone’s backs to the wall. This is where we get to see character.
While Taichi had the fortune to meet Koshiro and Mimi in peak form, and could already vouch for Sora’s potential, Yamato meets the rest of the team rattled, recovering from the closest shave they’d encountered so far. They aren’t exactly Taichi itching to save the day and quick to befriend his new battle buddy. Rather than put his faith in the likes of Joe, Yamato insists a larger group makes for a larger target and that he should storm the castle himself. Gabumon thinks he’s trying to keep them safe. That’s cute.
In fairness, Taichi’s not sure what to make of it either. Is Yamato actually that dismissive of the team, trying to protect them without admitting it, or just being tsundere again and being a decoy without telling anybody? It takes Joe and a poorly received attempt at surrender for Taichi to realize he can return the favor and draw fire away from Yamato. Taichi and Sora charge in behind, arriving in time to take a DarkTyrannomon off Yamato’s hands, while Mimi and Joe run screaming as the Tankmon use them for target practice. It’s a simple strategy, one used many times before in the series, but they come to it organically, with plenty of clumsiness and indecision. They struggle to get to this point, making it more satisfying when everybody aces their tasks to achieve an outstanding success.
Simple and effective is also the best way to describe Yamato’s narrative this episode. While he still recognizes Taichi (and by extension Koshiro) as a useful ally, his preference is still to act on his own. And to be fair, it must have worked for him to not only get to this point, but scout the nature of the fortress and its guards. His revelation at the end is more gradual than it appears, first from Agumon and Piyomon jumping into a fight he perceived as a problem, Sora introducing herself as she follows her partner in battle. The pivotal moment comes as he reaches Gorimon thanks to Greymon running interference and leaving Gorimon unable to pick a target. That’s when he realizes everyone’s contributions, and that the victory he’s about to seal belongs to everybody. Being Yamato and all he doesn’t give a big speech about it, just a quick comment to Mimi, but it’s clear he recognizes the impact and the power they all have if he’d accept it.
Mimi’s not wrong though: Yamato did save the team. A couple episodes ago, it was a little too one-note, with not enough diversion and disagreement to be all that compelling. Joe helped a little, but Yamato provided the spark we needed, the bass line to round the song out and reinforce all the other sounds. Now everyone’s stepping up, where Sora’s role as Taichi’s second becomes vital and Mimi’s blunt honesty is impossible to ignore. There’s plenty more to do with these characters, but the show is exactly where it needs to be.
My Grade: A
- Mimi braiding Ikkakumon’s hair and her ire at Joe stealing her (actually Sora’s) towel is the sort of cute little throw-ins that we can continue to count on her to provide. It’s reminiscent of Eri or Astora providing amusing antics in the background of otherwise straightforward scenes in Appmon.
- Sora quietly became the bearer of helpful observations this time around, questioning why there would be a lighthouse, showing concern over how quickly people in Tokyo are panicking, and recognizing that Yamato is a force to be reckoned with even on his own. She’s also bearing supplies again, which was mostly overlooked in the previous three episodes.
- While the focus will be on the teamwork of our heroes, we should once again point out the intelligence in the enemy setup, creating a fortress to occupy a chokepoint beyond the beachhead. Gorimon using the Solarmon to both draw in and blind targets from a distance is the chef’s kiss.
- Gabumon and Agumon are thrilled to see each other again, a nice callback to their pre-existing friendship in episode two. Although they seem to be more pleasant to each other in their Child forms than their Adult forms.
- Piyomon once again gets denied an evolution sequence, as do Palmon and Gomamon, leaving the only sequences for Gabumon and Agumon (only the former’s is full-length). Honestly, given the pace of the episode, this left the episode with one too many sequences. I’m on board with only using them in plot-heavy moments.