Adventure: (2020) Episode 13: Garudamon of the Crimson Wings

In this episode, yes, even a giant laser-mounted airship Digimon isn’t going to deter Sora from rescuing innocent captives. Even Yamato’s not questioning this anymore.

Pop quiz- how many times has Digimon featured new evolutions in more than three consecutive episodes? You know, that run in seems like it’s in every series where everybody needs to get up to the next level pronto? This marks the second time this season has done it, after the streak of four in episodes 4-7. That ties all of prior Digimon history: the introductory arcs of the original Adventure and Frontier being the only cases. Maybe there’s an unspoken understanding that these strings wear everybody down and get less interesting over time. It must be: Adventure 35-37 and Zero Two’s openers are the only times we get even three new evolution episodes in a row.

On top of this evolution fatigue, this season’s problem of having Ultimate evolution sequences too early in everyone’s character arcs makes for an experience that fits the bare minimum of requirements without giving us much in the way of an interesting story. It picks up from two episodes ago, leaning on the same debate between Yamato’s pragmatism and urgency in fulfilling the main objective and Sora wanting to do every side quest if it means saving innocent Digimon. The only differences this time are that the threat is so large Sora has to double down on her convictions, and Yamato has given up fighting her on this.

For a pair with such divergent yet valid philosophies, they make a great team. Much of that is owed to their mutual willingness to not only leap into battle but also do so with a clear strategy in mind. Both of them get turns to mastermind a raid on the CannonBeemon. Yamato’s involves getting caught on purpose, then raising as much hell as they can before grabbing Joe and getting out. Sora backs up her compulsion to save all the FanBeemon by having Birdramon provide the cover fire while WereGarurumon rounds up all the prisoners. It’s a devastating partnership they have. Too bad that if anyone’s showing character growth in all this, it’s Yamato for not raising a fuss.

Sora, on the other hand, is just tracking along with her Team Xros Heart mentality. Her signature moment comes after rescuing Joe and Gomamon and flying back up to rescue the FanBeemon without a second thought. The problem is… it’s without a second thought. It’s so fast, so natural, and so obvious that until Yamato calls out her predictability we don’t consider how unnecessary and dangerous this is. Consistency isn’t a bad thing, and the way it powers Garudamon’s evolution is no different from MetalGreymon’s or Lilimon’s, but it’s all static. We’re not getting any of Sora, Taichi, or Mimi’s hidden facets, or learning more about their stories, or any of the progressions that you feel should be attached to these evolutions. They are who they are, only louder.

Unfortunately, that seems to include Joe as well. This poor kid isn’t hurting anybody, and helping when he gets the opportunity, but can’t seem to help but end up in the most pitiful light. His air sickness is an easy joke, and his capture doesn’t even happen on screen. He’s shown complaining about the conditions after being thrown in the garbage heap. None of what happens to him is his fault: he and Gomamon were at a disadvantaged position after falling off Birdramon, of course the Waspmon are going to separate the two, and it’s not fair to shame someone for having a weak stomach. But while everyone else gets to be poised and resolute under moments of extreme duress, it’s only Joe who has reactions that feel like an actual human child. In a weird way, that’s unfair.

If there’s something to be desired in the way the kids are being developed, we are getting depth in the scope of villain logistics. CannonBeemon isn’t just capturing the FanBeemon for the evils: they’re corrupted and become additions to the ranks. It’s good to know where these forces come from, and knowing so much of it is involuntary is helpful, particularly the size of their operation. At least it will be helpful if that comes into play, namely with the Chosen disrupting their conscription methods. It’s a little unnerving that we might have more confidence in something like that than meaningful development for the cast.

My Grade: B-

Loose Data:

  • Sora and Yamato stand in front of Piyomon and Gabumon to signal they aren’t resisting in order to be captured by the Waspmon. Bold of them to assume the bad guys don’t just kill them there. They aren’t FanBeemon after all and Devimon is squarely focused on destroying the Chosen.
  • There’s a lot to admire about the kids riding their Digimon into battle in this series, but putting them into the heat of the action does create visuals like Yamato and Sora standing in the middle of a room filled with enemy fire with absolutely no reaction or fear of getting hit.
  • Sora’s plan of having Yamato gather all the FanBeemon in one place does imply that she thought up a way to get them all out in one heave. Not convinced Birdramon would have been capable of lifting that.
  • Mimi drops her connection to Tachikawa Industries when Koshiro’s having trouble with his tablet. I’m not saying he needs to be completely starstruck, but can’t he be a proper computer nerd and have some reaction to this information?

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