So… that’s it then, huh? Given how early on in the arc Hikari was kidnapped and the fact that it’s the protagonist’s little sister, you’ll have to forgive us for thinking that her and SkullKnightmon were going to be focal points. As it turns out… not so much! What should have been the most emotionally significant part of the operation turns out to be a by-the-books formality. Hikari is totally up for rescue, but just had to do one little thing first. That one little thing, and the introduction of the forces and elements striving for Millenniumon’s revival, get all the attention. Other than a few vague stares from Hikari, this is the first we’ve seen from either. As a routine progression of the plot, that’s fair game. As a resolution to DarkKnightmon’s role in the story and a rescue five episodes in the making, it’s downright embarrassing.
But once again, it’s promising future returns with no regard for present value. The only thing that matters here is how Hikari’s rescue is executed. They took long enough to get to it, and her connection with SkullKnightmon hyped up enough to treat this like the culmination of an arc. By the time Taichi finally arrives, SkullKnightmon’s already most of the way through his business and Hikari’s too comfortable with all this to elicit any sense of panic from us. Even Taichi doesn’t freak out, stoic and determined and boring as always as he flies in to the rescue. There’s a big spot where he reaches out to grab her from being absorbed and she just says hi and lets SkullKnightmon take her in. Taichi is moderately vexed by this, but it’s a far cry from a pinnacle Beelzebumon/Juri moment. It feels like another box to tick as they go through the motions of what they think is supposed to happen.
While Taichi doesn’t do himself any favors with such understated reactions to everything, Hikari is the main reason for the lack of perceived intensity. Her calm demeanor throughout her captivity initially worked to provide some intrigue. Not fighting back suggested a deeper complexity to a straightforward situation. But her complacency when forces around her are explicitly talking about sacrificing her gives up the game. She knows what she’s doing here, and everything we’ve seen up to this point tells us to trust her. That leaves no room to worry about her rejecting Taichi’s rescue attempt or getting swallowed into SkullKnightmon. Sure enough, she knows exactly what she’s looking for inside, and the minimal resistance keeping her from Tailmon’s spirit doesn’t fool us for a second.
Everything else is just sort of a waste. The other four kids continue to do nothing. Yes, that includes Koshiro, who keeps giving updates on the developing real world crisis but has yet to tell anyone what to do about it. DarkKnightmon’s departure, as much sense as it made to happen, cuts short a promising villain well before he had the chance to become a proper menace. Even Tailmon’s long-awaited introduction was pre-ordained the moment we saw that glow inside DarkKnightmon, her reunion with Hikari foreshadowed well in advance. What should be a pivotal moment in the series instead comes off as trying to get all this stuff over with and move on. Nothing’s outright bad, but given how much was invested and how much we should be caring, it’s still hard to forgive.
My Grade: C+
- Splitting this episode into two would have helped improve the pace and maybe let Taichi have more than the bare minimum of reactions to everything happening to his sister. Failing that, skip the token update from the other four kids. Yamato is still on the move, we’re well past the point of being amused by whatever Joe and Mimi are doing, and Koshiro keeps finding ways to make the ISS crashing into Tokyo sound boring.
- Having said that, at least Kabuterimon is asking Koshiro if he needs a break. We’ve been burned by this sort of thing too often in the past to assume it will lead to anything, but we can still dream of Kabuterimon flinging that computer into a volcano.
- Sustaining the real world crisis past DarkKnightmon’s arc is the same trick they did with DoneDevimon to make it feel like the arc isn’t over. That was a big ruse as it was all resolved next episode and we’re not falling for that again.
- At least we got Pegusmon again, even though with DarkKnightmon being defeated it’s one fewer chance to provide any causal reason given when Angemon reappears.
- Another sad realization here is that it’s a coin flip whether or not they’ll actually explain why Tailmon was inside DarkKnightmon. Just as much chance they move forward without talking about it.
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