When you think about the contents of a standard new evolution episode, there’s a common formula, putting the spotlight and extra pressure on one kid and expecting them to dig deep and come through with the magic. Whether the episode succeeds or not hinges on the problem that kid faces and the hidden source of energy providing their miracle. The debut of MetalGreymon goes through all the motions you’d expect it to have, so it’s structurally complete and looks just fine. But while it technically includes the two key elements of problem and solution, it does seem to forget they exist.
The centerpiece of the episode is a massive fight between Greymon and MetalTyranomon. It’s loud, well-drawn, and everything you’ve come to expect from the action set pieces this series. As a scrappy underdog fight trying to buy time until the others escape and then find a sneaky retreat (or the others bother to help out instead), this would be gold. But no, the premise here is that Greymon’s actually supposed to beat this thing. The longer it goes, the less appetizing theforegone conclusion becomes.
Start with the problem: MetalTyranomon is gigantic, has limited vulnerabilities, and enough destructive power to level a fortress. Greymon’s tactics against it are simple but don’t show of the sort of exemplary evasion, resilience, and timing needed to stay in this fight long enough for new evolution to enter the equation. He just doesn’t seem to get hit much at all, and when he does gets up unfazed. The action does more to undersell MetalTyranomon’s power than prop up Greymon. We know he’s tough, and we’ve seen him beaten up worse, so this isn’t all that impressive.
As for the hidden energy, it’s both achingly straightforward and more complicated than the show wants to acknowledge. While the mechanics haven’t been covered yet, it’s clear that each kid’s crest attribute powers those little mid-battle boosters and this new evolution. So if Taichi needs to show some courage to make Greymon evolve… yes, of course this qualifies. It also amounts to the old cliche of staying in the fight and refusing to give up until fortune smiles on you, which in its rawest form is incredibly dull, especially against an opponent becoming less and less scary. That bit endures because of the twists and nuances added to it, which are totally absent here. The real complexities, meanwhile, are left unspoken: the difference between blindly rushing at a stronger opponent out of arrogance or brazenness versus bravely occupying the enemy while the rest of the team escapes. We know this is the sort of behavior that earns higher evolutions. The show fails to distinguish why.
This isn’t the first time someone hit their second evolution this early. Kouji found his Beast Spirit in episode 10 of Frontier and Daisuke got his second digimental in episode 11 of Zero Two. But those came with challenges deeper than the enemy in front of them. Those are the kinds of challenges we’re still waiting for Taichi to experience. The hope has always been that the higher evolutions would have to be earned in ways more involved than a simple need to overcome in a battle. So although the situation allows Taichi to earn MetalGreymon based on that need, the fact that there isn’t more to it, and the fact that several other characters are lined up to get their Ultimate forms in the next few episodes, makes for a troubling loophole that stands to be exploited further.
My Grade: B
- Koshiro getting a batch of Digimon data from the fortress, combined with asides from Piyomon and Agumon in previous episodes, suggests that we’ll actually have a source for the Digimon scouting reports this time around instead of a disembodied voice chiming in or a handy digivice having all the information. Yay for keeping it in-world.
- Sora preventing Joe and Mimi from interrupting the Taichi-Yamato staredown might be the most interesting thing she’s done so far. We’ve gotten little bits about her character here and there, but not jumping to Taichi’s defense and letting Yamato air his disagreement is a good surprise.
- While Koshiro discovering a base in the general direction Ogremon pointed lends credence to his information, it doesn’t disprove Yamato’s point about a possible trap. The trap may just be in a base.
- That lake filled with poison and darkness is spooky enough to buy that flying over it wouldn’t be a viable option somehow, but they really needed to address that in show. As it stands we’re having unwelcome flashbacks to the whirlpool dilemma in Frontier.
- Look at Yamato being Mr. Negative, suggesting that splitting up won’t help if neither path yields a solution, and then agreeing to it because it means the other half would survive if the other got wiped in battle. I hope he ends up with Joe.
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