Adventure: (2020) Episode 34: Hikari and Tailmon

In this episode, Tailmon is free and gung-ho about completing her ancient crusade of stopping Millenniumon. Hikari just wants to cuddle her new kitty. 

With Tailmon joining the team you would hope she’d get some sort of proper introduction to establish herself. New additions often get featured to show how they change the group dynamic: Koichi, Nene, and Yujin got broken in quickly, while Ken, Juri, and Ikuto had more gradual but well-defined build ups. Pessimism regarding anything related to character is well warranted with this series, however, which might be why a straightforward character episode like this is so revitalizing. There’s a clear story in Tailmon’s actions, it creates a conflict with her partner, and she resolves it in a critical moment. It’s so simple and so effective you can’t help but wonder why they can’t be bothered to do this more often.

They even go to the trouble of justifying and adding a history to the random underwater city the team visits. It’s not even a pointless worldbuilding exercise, not that those can’t be fun. It’s directly tied to the ancient war, a group of refugees going underwater to escape the endless conflict above. The locals aren’t receptive to their squatting, hence the vigilant Manbomon defenses and eventual arbitrary attacks. It’s visually interesting, it connects to the current arc, and it allows a wide variety of Digimon to inhabit the place. They’re still pretty much all Deep Savers, but at least there’s a lot of different kinds!

Still, it’s just a stopover on the road to FAGA, and the real value of the episode is what they do there. Priority one is establishing Tailmon, and the message is clear. Now that she’s free, she’s fulfilling her sacred duty and stopping at nothing to prevent Millenniumon from returning. She’s not letting a couple invading Mantaraymon get in her way, charging in on sight. But this introduces a snag: that same focus also means she doesn’t view Hikari as a real partner but rather someone to keep safe during her quest. Hikari feels the same way about Tailmon, setting up one thing we’ve been sorely lacking this series: conflict between partners.

When discussing conflict between partners, we’re aren’t just talking about Masaru and Agumon getting into fistfights over eggs. It also applies to personality clashes, or differences in philosophy that prevent a team from clicking the way it needs to. Look at Tamers and how little disagreements within the three main partnerships fueled the development of all six characters. That dynamic seems to be the biggest thing fueling evolution this season, which makes overcoming such conflicts essential to everyone’s growth. Although there’s no lack of love between Hikari and Tailmon, they need to see eye to eye on what their relationship actually is. It’s not going to work if Hikari wants to be close to her kitty at all times while Tailmon is the first to finally recognize the utter lunacy of kids riding their Digimon into battle.

Of course, to accept this divide, we need to accept this version of Hikari. It shouldn’t be difficult to get behind someone so warm, caring about not just Tailmon, but everyone around her. She comes off as a normal loving eight year old, which is a far cry from what we’ve seen of her up until the last part of the previous episode. She realizes her vacant nature was because she always sensed Tailmon calling for her over the years. That fine for an explanation, but fails to acknowledge that Weird Hikari is the only one we’ve seen before. Normal Hikari is the oddball to us. The solution to that is having others notice the difference. This is where Taichi and Sora could have had some involvement, remarking on Hikari’s shift in personality to ease us through it as well. Even Hikari could have commented on the sensation of what must have been an oppressive feeling, even a a positive one, being released.

The resolution of Hikari and Tailmon’s differences makes the battle against Anomalocarimon worthwhile. Rather than focus on the spectacle of the battle itself, it’s all about Tailmon realizing she’s not going to do this without help. It’s not that she actually was fighting alone, but it’s clear she feels like she’s leading the charge and Hikari’s job is to stay out of the way. Hikari embracing Tailmon’s crusade, and Tailmon accepting Hikari’s partnership, becomes the key to victory. It’s more growth than we see in most evolution episodes in this series. It all looks smooth and effortless, worth celebrating, while also leaving you wondering where this has been all season.

My Grade: A-

Loose Data:

  • We’ve gushed over Komondomon’s barking this whole time, but Tailmon talking to him in his language and playing it completely straight goes to new heights.
  • When diving into the whirlpool, the visuals Sora, Taichi, and Takeru completely thrown for a ride is best taken with the implication that Hikari is completely unfazed by it.
  • MarineAngemon’s presence, while always adored, adds a nice bit of layering to Tailmon’s Holy Ring. Not sure if it’s building up to anything more than a basic power artifact, but if there is more going on, this, plus Takeru noticing Patamon doesn’t have one, is doing it right.
  • Just having Daipenmon in an episode is a victory, but using his popsicles to propel the city around is an inspired touch.

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1 comment:

  1. I found it very disturbing how the 180 occurred. Like from slightly creepy Hikaru to fearless and talkive Hikaru