There’s no shortage of style here, filled with cool anime tricks and motifs and pacing that scream Dragonball as much as Digimon. The drawn-out duel between two rivals, the willpower thrown into each attack, the themes of pride and silent respect simmering underneath every blow. It’s a hell of a watch. But as striking as the visuals and fight scenes are, there’s also a sense that things don’t quite add up. Stylistically, it’s a fun tribute to a particular brand of storytelling. For its place in our serial, it tends to trip over itself as a Digimon entry.
For one thing, the episode trains us to get excited for one thing, then makes its highlights something out of left field. Not that that can’t work, but when the title of the episode promises Ultimate Digimon and the first few minutes foreshadow the enemy making its own beachhead invasion, we’re anticipating the worst. The kids don’t know where to go next to find the Holy Digimon, Yamato observes how the base was built to keep out attacks from the sea, and wants to extract information from an enemy. That all happens eventually, but they’re side notes, overshadowed by the only thing that matters, and initially the only thing that washes ashore: Ogremon.
Ogremon becomes one of those characters we’re expected to care about in a hurry. His work performance hasn’t been at all bad, using solid tactics in two fights and only barely edged out by narrow escapes, but Devimon has no patience and brings in the big guns. It’s a raw deal, and Ogremon stems his troubles back to his fight with Greymon. His urges and way of expressing them are rudimentary, but he gets his point across: he wants his rematch. The slow pace here sets the tone for the fight about to happen and the emotion thrown into it. It’s then quickly abandoned because there actually is a proper siege going on and those Coredramon aren’t going to wait for these two to settle their grudge.
The Coredramon almost make good on the episode’s premise, attacking the kids directly and overwhelming Garurumon. Enter another distraction: Koshiro has landed! Kabuterimon swats away the attacks and he and his kid get a quick word in before everyone realizes swatting the attacks doesn’t actually stop the Coredramon themselves. Ogremon takes care of that in order to steer everything back to his battle and leaving us with two clear takeaways. One is that Ogremon’s motives are entirely his, and his teetering standing with Devimon isn’t worth much next to the fight to salvage his own pride. The other is that Koshiro finally joining the team after five episodes adrift should be more than a distracting sidebar.
The battle between Greymon and Ogremon itself looks exactly the way you want it to, slow and charged with emotion, filled more with grapples and throws and only sparingly using moves from the Skill menu. It’s a more intimate battle than we’ve seen so far, which has plenty of appeal. But we’ve been spoiled by all this great action, and with the heavier attacks only punctuation, this feels like just another one, neither better nor worse, just kind of different. These slow fights also hinge on strong expression from its combatants, which is a challenge when one of them is bound by nature to have his mouth hanging open at all times. The replacement is commentary from the peanut gallery about how they seem to be enjoying this, which is just kind of weak.
Before we get any meaningful resolution, MetalTyranomon shows up and now everything’s on fire. It’s straight from the playbook of how to introduce the next level up, and damned if it isn’t effective. Nobody has an answer for this thing, and the outcome you’d expect would be all the good guys squished or char-broiled. There’s enough to appreciate how powerful the enemy can get and how the Chosen Ones aren’t anywhere near strong enough to fulfill their mission. At the same time it’s weird that the Ultimate we were promised feels like another interruption. At least Ogremon treats it as such.
Ogremon’s sacrifice is sold and executed well. He’s been disrespected and stepped on (literally) by his allies and if they won’t let him regain the honor he lost against Greymon, what good are they? At least Tai and Greymon were willing to entertain the idea, so helping them along becomes the most honorable thing he can do. Even this has its issues—there’s not much logic in MetalTyranomon acknowledging him when he had Tai and Agumon cornered and an attack charging—but it’s the sort of lucky intervention you need at this point. The sheer look and feel of the episode makes up for its underlying flaws, but their presence does suggest this sort of thing should be reserved for rare occasions.
My Grade: B+
- Apparently the subs have shifted the evolution terminology to the dub equivalents, going with Rookie-Champion-Ultimate-Mega rather than Child-Adult-Perfect-Ultimate. We’ll run with this as well.
- One of the bigger issues of the episode on a macro level is the way it kills the nice run we’ve been on introducing the kids and seeing how the group evolves with them. There’s too much going on to take in everyone’s responses to Koshiro. For that matter, none of the six kids do much of anything this entire episode, even Taichi, who mostly cedes the spotlight to Greymon.
- Not sure if it’s interesting or convenient that Taichi couldn’t interpret much of the tablet. The process seemed to allow him to understand the message almost telepathically, so it’s weird there would be confusion in the context to the point where he can’t even repeat it.
- Last time Gabumon’s evolution sequence was exciting to see while Agumon’s slowed things down. This time Agumon’s was absolutely appropriate, even at full length, while Gabumon’s felt like cheap padding.
- Considering how Kabuterimon only stopped the Coredramon attacks, that was an awfully long window before they tried attacking again to let him get his shtick in, which was apparently the substitute for a meaningful exchange. Still, it does need to be acknowledged that this might be the longest span for a Digimon to sustain an evolved form.
- Joe having the audacity to call himself the leader was bold, but Gomamon’s enthusiastic clapping for him saved it.
- Reinforcing why Ogremon was no long as hung up about his horn was losing both his other horn and an eye to MetalTyranomon’s foot.