Adventure: (2020) Episode 33: The Hikari of Dawn

In this episode, by the time Taichi’s done goofing around, DarkKnightmon and Hikari are all set to get down to business. All that’s left for him is the dramatic rescue. No need for emotion or anything!

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.

You can’t say the Vademon cult attempting to revive Millenniumon isn’t at least interesting. It’s not a surprise that something was guiding SkullKnightmon’s actions, and this has far more pop than saying it was another higher power or the voice of Millenniumon himself. It’s an ideal and fresh use of Vademon, assembled en masse to create some creepy hive mind effect. But for now it’s just color for a scheme we’re already aware of, filling in the who, how, and where of a revival effort that’s been ongoing for a long time now. And while the visuals of the Vademon are fun, the prospect of fighting them all in this state doesn’t intimidate us the way a doomsday cult really should.

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.

What’s more jarring is Hikari’s sudden personality shift once she has Tailmon. Her distance and lack of hard emotion set her apart from other characters and tracked well enough with her original persona to work. Once she’s inside and gets to business, she shows the necessary determination, but is otherwise cheerful, confident, and trusting that her big brother will still come to the rescue. In other words, she’s too normal, and not an encouraging sign that she’s going to provide anything to add life to a group dynamic that still needs establishing.

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+

Loose Data:

  • 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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  1. The best use of Vademon yet (though I tip my hat to the literal curiosity shop owner from the original). "Alien" indeed. Damn, that cult's creepy! Just look at that screenshot!

    Really disappointed as to how this arc just fizzled out like this. I mean, once you get Hikari involved, there just has to be some sort of "light eldritch" power involved. It worked well even for Zero Two ("His Master's Voice" and "Opposites Attract" being good examples).

    They keep laying this fascinating corruption groundwork for the angelic/demonic types and the theme of corruption (shades of Frontier's backstory, as you point out, except we have the chance to see it happen in real-time). Only, I just want it to start paying off already. We've been floundering since Devimon's attempts to get Tokomon on his side, and that was a rarity, not the norm.

    Come to think of it, the more this season goes on, the more I just think of it as a showcase of spectacle than as any kind of narratively satisfying entity. I mean, the fights and setups are suitably epic and awesome, and far more complex than most of the other series'. I still get excited when I see certain Digimon pop up per episode to strut their stuff. There's just no getting around the excuse plot and its increasingly blatant hollowness, and the fact that it gets so close to a substantial storyline is part of what makes it so exasperating.

  2. Honestly I'm just bored stiff of Taichi full stop now. They keep trying to make him come across as all cool and fearless, but instead that has the effect of turning him into this static lump who sucks the life out of every scene he in.

  3. Talk about an introduction to a new main character. While it was odd for it to not be a 2 parter. I will say Vademon was funny.