Adventure: (2020) Episode 32: Soaring Hope

In this episode, the team struggles against the Digimon Takuya beat singlehandedly in episode one of Frontier, so they call in the Digimon Takeru got saddled with in episode three of Zero Two.

It’s too early to say the show is finding its legs again, but there are encouraging signs from every angle. It’s a rare time when a new evolution feels earned after we get time to get inside a character’s head. One of the kids is actually hit by an attack, in a way that even impacts the fight. Circumstances prevent Taichi from dominating the spotlight, useful as he continues to contribute nothing of value to the show. And there’s a new evolution mechanic that holds a lot of storytelling potential if it can be utilized the right way. That’s a big if, especially as evolution mechanics continue to be frustratingly vague. For all the good things offered here, there are just as many signs that the show still doesn’t know what it’s doing.

After all the time we’ve spent gnashing our teeth at the lack of any sort of character depth, of course the one to stand up and demonstrate how it’s done is Patamon. He’s been struggling ever since the DarkKnightmon fight, with only Komondomon’s intervention saving him and Takeru from Fangmon’s attack. The resulting feeling of inadequacy is explored beautifully as Lopmon reaches his subconscious. While meant to be encouraging, the reminder of everything he’s been through in the past only builds up that feeling of helplessness. This is a Digimon who has been through everything and given up so much, only to be stuck in a fragile body, unable to step up when everything’s going to hell again. As far as the Digimon themselves, this sort of depth is right up there with the main players of Xros Wars. As far as characters in this series, it’s near the top with that alone.

We even get signs of life from Takeru! He’s been an empty shell since his arrival, but he supports his partner in a more meaningful, more revealing way than we’re used to. He ties in a story from his past and his appreciation for Yamato’s patience through a struggle, extending that same kindness to Patamon. It doesn’t tell us much, but he’s opening himself up, something the other kids have been hesitant to do. It’s also a reversal from the usual norm of the Digimon supporting the children. Perhaps we should be treating the Digimon partners as the true main characters of this show, with the children resigned to blunt accessories. It’s a terrible waste of the Adventure kids, but building on the Xros Wars route and turning the partners into genuine featured characters would be an intriguing path if explored evenly and consistently.

The action is transparently tailored to let Patamon be the star, but all the contrivances in the world are worth it to take the spotlight away from Taichi. For the second time in the series, Sora is not granted the same immunity from damage Taichi and Yamato receive, laid up after a nasty hit. The nature of the chase jostles Taichi, MetalGreymon, and Garudamon out of position. Patamon and Takeru defiantly protect Sora, stirring something within Patamon to rise to the occasion and remember the fight that’s always been with him. It’s not a revolutionary kind of growth, but it’s effective and told well and we’re cheering for Patamon as he evolves to… Pegusmon??

It’s a head-scratcher, but it’s too early to say whether it’s the “intriguing twist in mechanics to be explored later” kind or the “hey, just for fun, let’s do this one instead” kind. Lopmon suggests that all the collective battles has shut down Angemon for good, but there’s no good justification for why Angemon was available before fighting DarkKnightmon but not after. There better be more going on here than just bad timing. If it’s something we aren’t fully aware of yet, using Pegusmon in his traditional role of evolutionary detour makes perfect sense. If not, this is blatant pandering to Zero Two fans and another bullet point on why this season is shamelessly bad.

We’re stuck waiting on two factors to really assess the idea of alternate evolution and the show’s commitment to it. One is when and how Angemon appears again, because he obviously will. If something beyond Patamon’s control is blocking evolution and something, likely involving DarkKnightmon, needs to be unlocked, that’s a good sign. Further validating the idea is if other Digimon have to resort to alternate evolutions at some point. If Angemon is blocked, could that be why Tailmon hasn’t appeared yet? There’s certainly a number of alternate forms her path can take. When thought out well and applied consistently, it’s a refreshing mechanic that could define a system that thus far refuses to show its work. But given how it hasn’t, we’re past the point of letting signs of promise in one episode generate too much hope.

My Grade: B+

Loose Data:

  • Komondomon was shown with a big enough saddle that we never considered that he could be another Digimon you could go inside. They really love those this season. Have to wonder how that works that Sora can just stick her hand out of his fur from inside.
  • While Takeru gets rounded a little more, they’re doing everything in their power to neuter anything interesting about Yamato. The kid who refused to work with or for others is now shown to be a supportive big brother who has no problem entrusting Takeru to Taichi’s care. So boring.
  • Taichi suddenly asking about the others is a terribly awkward segue, but it’s no surprise that Mimi’s in a far more interesting predicament than they are. We’d say we want to know more about this Golemon-Togemon fight, but Joe’s suddenly got a lot less interesting now that there’s actually a clear threat.
  • Koshiro actually seems upset that somebody other than him found out about the ISS situation. The prospect of misinformation doesn’t help anyone, but he really seems to think it would be better if he and he alone dealt with the crisis in secret. What an ass.
  • It’s laughably evident that the writers forget that the kids ride their Digimon into battle at every opportunity. Pegusmon goes into a spinning attack with Takeru on board and it’s never brought up.
  • To everyone’s relief, Pegusmon is treated appropriately given his apparent level. He’s permitted his standard debut evolution bonus, of course, but he’s only enough to hold off Cerberumon long enough for the much stronger MetalGreymon and Garudamon to get back in the fight. They even let him get off the final shot to save face!

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1 comment:

  1. "Further validating the idea is if other Digimon have to resort to alternate evolutions at some point. If Angemon is blocked, could that be why Tailmon hasn’t appeared yet? There’s certainly a number of alternate forms her path can take."

    I've seen people speculating already that the DarkMaildramon might be a corrupted Tailmon, since Maildramon is one of her armor evolutions. Maybe this is her equivalent of working for Vamdemon in the original? That'd be a cool twist on the formula; it's too much to hope, between that and Patamon's brief vision of ShadowSeraphimon (and Devimon way back), there's some corruption theme going on with the Celestial Digimon.

    Speaking of: it's also making more sense why Lopmon's in the story now, and maybe they're hinting Meicoomon will make a comeback. But I'm wondering how SlashAngemon and Valdurmon fit into all this. Do they have established child/adult forms?

    More immature points:

    I swear Cerberumon looks like he's eating giant glowing broccoli.

    Pegasmon getting a perfect evolution would be pretty cool. One thing we can praise this season for is upgrading the fighting skills and general badassery of already-established Digimon partners, because so far I've seen nothing but praise for how Pegasmon handles himself here.

    Also, holy fuck those Fangmon look boss. Digimon's answer to the Big Bad Wolf is a cross between a fox and a shark. I love it.

    And lastly: more Komondomon, please. :D

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