Adventure: (2020) Episode 15: Zudomon's Iron Hammer of Lightning

In this episode, Joe finally gets his big moment after Ikkakumon, the setting, and the scenario drag him kicking and screaming into it. Then the other team lucks into the dramatic twist.

One of the best ways to gauge new evolutions is to think about how organic it feels. Is it the right moment in that character’s arc? Is the evolution consistent with whatever power and/or necessary relationship seems to be fueling it in that season? Does the character rise to the situation in front of them or is the scenario tailored to present a situation for them to excel in? Given the way Joe’s been handled through this series, his moment of glory here works as a huge sigh of relief. It only took everything in the episode’s power to force him to that point, and the episode wrests control back as soon as it happens.

Not all of these manipulations are bad things. Sometimes an episode could stand to twist things more to sell its points! The snowy mountain primes you to expect Ikkakumon to have an outsized role. Taking down a teammate and introducing a race against time to save her is a nice way of raising the stakes. Isolating Joe spotlights his struggle without a safety net. And let’s be perfectly clear here: the summary of Joe’s journey in this episode and the action resulting from it is more than sound. He wants to be more involved as a leader and strategist, and after many stumbles finds his footing on both ends.

It’s in how these things are executed that raise eyebrows. Ikkakumon doesn’t just have an outsized role: he’s essentially the leader in this operation, dragging Joe around through most of the chase down the mountain, making his boldest moves like jumping the crevasse on his own. At first, Joe has that same poise everyone else is afforded when they’re riding their steeds into (or away) from battle. Halfway down, though, things fall apart and he’s back to being a hapless ragdoll. While this flailing makes him the most relatable and most human character in the cast, it continues to set him apart. In what should be a prime opportunity to bring him up to everyone’s level, Joe’s portrayal only changes in spots. Even in the aftermath he’s back to being treated like a joke.

Part of this is because you wonder how much Yamato and Sora are able to process of his big moment. They weren’t there. It’s less meaningful to only hear that Joe evolved Ikkakumon and took out Mammon on his own. Much of that’s on Joe himself, and how his determination to prove himself to Yamato is at odds with his wanting to be their responsible senpai. It’s hard to tell how much Joe picks up on the lack of respect the others have for him. He insists he’s the leader a ton, and Gomamon is quick to encourage him, so is that genuine or a way for him to mask his fear that the others don’t think much of him at all?

Despite the jokes at his expense, the latter is an exaggeration of reality: it’s not like they don’t give him responsibilities or he never comes through. But that mentality is the only reason Joe would tell Yamato everything was under control when any rational thinker (namely someone itching to be considered the responsible senpai) should understand that it was not. Joe’s right to engage Mammon on his own and we’re happy for his victory, but it would have been better appreciated had he done the mature thing and accurately reported his situation. Bonus: had Yamato decided intervention was necessary and left Sora in Piyomon’s capable wings, he could have witnessed Zudomon’s win first-hand. That might earn the guy a little more respect.

One more slight the episode has against Joe is the other team manages to make more of an impact with far less of the screen time. On the run from some Kiwimon stampeding because Mimi tried to ride one (because it’s Mimi and honestly, when are you getting another chance?), they find a strange cave that all three are too curious not to explore. On the other end… is apparently the real world?! No matter how this actually plays out, this premise and the promise the episode’s ending creates have been used before to set up some all-time classic episodes. Even if it’s unlikely that’s going to be the case here, just teasing that becomes the top story, unfortunately rendering Joe’s obligatory moment in the sun too easy to forget.

My Grade: B+

Loose Data:

  • Considering this split is covering two possible detours around a single pool of miasma, these two teams are covering a ton of different biomes! After leaving the swamp, they’ve hit desert, forest, canyon, snow-capped mountain, and dry wasteland. Long way around indeed.
  • Thank goodness they did a rewind to show Garurumon sneaking everybody to safety because that first encounter was a situation dire enough that you can’t assume everyone’s getting away without seeing it.
  • One job involves getting Sora safely down to the bottom of the mountain and taking steps to heal her. The other involves using speed and possibly might to draw away all of the enemies. Wouldn’t it be more appropriate for the doctor-wannabe with the cushy Digimon (who can cross the river if need be) to take charge of Sora’s health while the speedy Garurumon with built-in Ultimate capabilities takes care of the enemies? Really want to know Yamato’s thought process here and what’s interfering with his common sense.
  • Also really want to know how Garurumon got across that river. That sucker was wide and cold and everyone was in consensus that fording it was Ikkakumon’s job.
  • While we still don’t know what’s powering everyone’s higher evolutions… it’s clearly the crests. There’s a lot to criticize in the way that creates a big disconnect between new audiences and ones familiar with the original series. But you can see all of the previous five demonstrated their attributes when it kicked in. That’s a struggle for English audiences with Joe, because there have been questions about how his crest should be translated since it was first introduced. Sources (both official and unofficial) define “Seijitsu” as Honesty, Faith, or Sincerity (confusing matters even more). The way you interpret the term could impact how you feel about Joe being so caught up in following through with his job that he’s less than honest with Yamato. You wonder if when it comes times to label their powers, they stick with Reliability. Might be the best fit for this Joe even if it’s not the best fit for the term.
  • That little comic book flair in Zudomon’s evolution sequence is random, stylish, and I love it to death.

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  1. English speaking audiences are not the only ones who struggle with Joe's crest. In Portuguese, they translate it into Sincerity or Loyalty, none of them seem accurate. In the end of the day, Reliability seems to be the better term – unfortunately we don't really have a good word in Portuguese for that term.

    A good alternative IMO would be Honor.

  2. I have to ask... Is this the second Joe-centered episode now where Sora and Biyomon got benched?