Adventure: (2020) Episode 29: Escape the Burning Jungle

In this episode, Taichi is absolutely determined to save Hikari! But first let’s help evacuate some random and probably meaningless forest creatures from being victims of natural selection.

We enter this one with an instant sense of urgency and a clear direction. Hikari’s been captured, so pursuing her needs to be the top priority over everything. Whether she cares about it or not, Taichi certainly does and he makes that abundantly clear at the start. So what will SkullKnightmon put Taichi and Agumon through to test their mettle and prove that they’ve earned the right to rescue Hikari? Nothing… Taichi gets lost in the jungle meddling where he really doesn’t need to meddle to help Digimon that we’re not sure will have any significance. In a situation where we finally get a real test of Taichi’s character, he continues to prove why he’s one of the weakest protagonists in Digimon’s history.

When we measure a character, we look at their strengths and weaknesses, and how one overcomes the other. Taichi’s strengths are evident: a relentless determination, an open willingness to accept any ally as a friend, and the occasional ability to do something clever in a fight. It’s nothing we haven’t seen before, honestly, and each trait is better defined by Takuya, Haru, and Taiki respectively. So what are Taichi’s weaknesses? As we get deeper into the mire and he finds himself on his own more and more, there are fewer opportunities for the kind of critical mistakes we want to see, and it becomes a harder question to answer.

At our most merciful we could say his biggest weakness is too much emotion when bad things happen to his friends and family. Losing Hikari is one of those events that could and really should bring out the worst in him.  He does need a short pep talk from Agumon to get back on his feet here, and that’s something. But it doesn’t drive him to desperation and costly mistakes. It certainly isn’t diminishing his willingness to take time to help others. If caring too much is supposed to be Taichi’s signature flaw, the show is rewarding him for it instead of punishing him like it should.

The show is certainly punishing us though! Instead of this gripping rescue mission where Taichi’s fighting tooth and nail to rescue Hikari, who may or may not actually want to be rescued, we get Taichi trying way too hard to save a bunch of Digimon he just met. It’s all one big distraction, and we don’t get any inkling of why this could be important. It might be though: Taichi’s willingness to abandon his sister to help out woodland creatures could have been a point of emphasis (even if it does the aforementioned character flaw), and Lopmon’s silence and general uselessness makes you wonder why they’re even there if not to set up something larger.

It’s also important to remember that these woodland creatures aren’t falling victim to the war between good and evil. The Tankdramon and Megadramon and Allomon aren’t bad guys. Their thirst for more power is the new normal in the Digital World, and it’s happening across the entire continent. Taichi saving a couple of the weaker Digimon doesn’t make a lick of difference, making his determination to stay and help seem fruitless. He pulls off some slick moves in doing this, but given the bigger picture, including Hikari, it all feels pointless. At least when Sora insisted on helping Neemon and company it was from the actual evil forces, and Yamato was around to push back on that and provide a hint of conflict.

Speaking of Sora, she gets to be the big damn hero bailing Taichi out when he’s inevitably surrounded and overwhelmed. It’s a big moment for Sora, potentially even a good character note if the reports of Taichi’s situation motivated her to find him faster. Still, her intervention does mean that once again Taichi isn’t able to win a battle without some miracle assistance. Without a surprise evolution, upgrade, or feather magic, Taichi’s record is surprisingly poor. In a season where the lack of character make these miracles feel random and undeserved, it’s a problem when the main hero struggles to win on his own merits. At a time when we’re already doubting his value as a character, his value as a fighter is equally suspect.

My Grade: C

Loose Data:

  • Taichi reacts exactly the way you’d expect chasing Hikari, and the others aren’t exactly surprising in how they respond, but it’s a little more varied, which is nice to see. Yamato has some warm words of support and Takeru shows genuine concern.
  • Joe still being stuck in the bath better have an amazing payoff because it’s starting to look like they just don’t want to write anything for him this arc.
  • Once again, Koshiro gets information that people in the appropriate positions should already be aware of. Orbital shift is a very serious problem that can render these expensive satellites useless trash. What Koshiro means when he says it’s not a threat is that they won’t explode, which is clearly all that really matters in this show.
  • He also mentions that the online discourse over the tanker crisis is already beginning to subside. It hasn’t been that long afterwards, and knowing how loud the conspiracy theories were at its peak and how quickly and quietly the whole thing ended, it’s hard to believe everybody just stopped talking about it.
  • MetalGreymon’s power keeps fluctuating based on his situation. Last time he couldn’t beat a single Volcdoramon on his own. Now he’s taking out two Megadramon in one shot, flinging Allomon everywhere, and holding his own against Tankdramon all at the same time.
  • They’re really playing up Taichi coming up with smarmy clever ways to beat tough opponents, but the tactic for beating Tankdramon is essentially the same as beating Groundramon and it’s not impressing anybody.

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1 comment:

  1. Wait, did Metalgreymon actually react to getting bitten on his cybernetic arm? :/