Adventure: (2020) Episode 35: The Glowing Angewomon

In this episode, Tailmon’s scars resurface as she tries to reconcile her past existence as a cruel servant of Millenniumon. They begin to seize control over …aaand they’re gone.

The central internal conflict sure looks like it has a lot of meat on it. Tailmon is haunted by the ghosts of her past existence. There’s a darkness within her threatening to come out and endangering everything she cares about. She fears evolution as it invites the possibility of corruption. Her mission necessitates colliding headfirst with the same darkness that created these scars in the first place. These are all tried and true Digimon angles, explored in successful, satisfying ways in past seasons. They’d fit right into the scenario this series presents, with a ton of potential given how much of Tailmon’s story we’ve already established. What we get of it is plenty intriguing, so it’s a shame Hikari seems to hug it out of her before it ever gets a chance to blossom.

Clinging to last episode’s deep sea landscape has mixed results. MarineAngemon allowing everyone to breathe underwater lets Agumon and Piyomon enjoy a new experience, but removing a logistical constraint also removes all the tension from the setting. Underwater fights are about the constraints of the oppressive atmosphere and it makes the Gusokumon fight feel more like it’s in a dull empty cavern, especially once the Chikurimon are dealt with. It ends up being nothing but a long buildup to Tailmon’s freakout, but at least it’s a buildup to something.

What we’re left with is a promising bit of angst about someone grappling with her identity and potential for destruction. Now we’re talking! Setting aside the questions about how Tailmon came to become SkullKnightmon, we can think of it as a Koichi/Duskmon situation, someone forced into becoming something awful and struggling to pick up the pieces of what just happened. Where her concerns take an interesting turn is realizing SkullKnightmon’s appetite for destruction stems from somewhere inside her. It links the obvious distance between hero and villain, it’s consistent with her ferocious drive to stop Millenniumon again, and it’s something she can justifiably worry about emerging again. As poorly as DarkKnightmon’s end was and as dubious an idea as Tailmon being him remains, this is one of the meatier concepts the show’s given us so far.

Well, at least it was for this episode. The whole narrative is introduced, developed, escalated, and resolved all at once. MarineDevimon holds one of Millenniumon’s shards and its impact on Tailmon is excruciating. She’s visibly tainted, her eyes start to glow, the shadow of DarkKnightmon appears… it’s all intense stuff. Of course Hikari is going to be the one to help her through it and she does with a nice speech that lets Tailmon get herself under control and build the trust to evolve the right way. Given how flimsy prior situations leading to prior evolutions have been this season, it’s hard to knock it for running with something this heavy. But in a way, Tailmon’s conflict was too good to burn all at once.

This had all the makings of a story worth bringing to a boil slowly, maybe not even right now. Let her scars creep up slowly, a fleeting moment here or there in unrelated battles. As they continue, others begin to worry, and perhaps she’s too ashamed or stubborn to admit anything’s wrong. Then let it come to a head, where the resolution is trickier than a simple speech from Hikari. As solid a moment as it was for her Ultimate evolution, it would been better suited building up to her eventual Mega form.

That’s worth noting because while the situation itself was executed too early and too quickly, there’s nothing wrong with Angewomon appearing now. Introduce a different situation requiring Hikari to soothe Tailmon and we’re good. Now there always is a possibility that Tailmon isn’t completely free of the essence that brought out SkullKnightmon and it will continue to pester her as we continue along. But it’s hard to believe we’d be that fortunate. We’ve had promising plot threads before, most notably Taichi and Greymon losing control over themselves in the fight against DoneDevimon. They’ve always been abandoned too quickly. Until we see one actually develop into something powerful, our only source of contentment is that Tailmon’s situation was resolved at all.

My Grade: B

Loose Data:

  • At this point, we’ve been so used to seeing new or obscure Digimon show up to torment Taichi that it’s a little disappointing when it’s someone conventional like Anomalocarimon or Ebidramon. When he evolved to Gusokumon, the immediate reaction is to shrug and call it fair enough.
  • There was a fleeting hope that Chikurimon would demand tactics besides Greymon smashing the bad guy into oblivion. The solution was Tailmon taking care of them in order to let Greymon smash the bad guy into oblivion.
  • It’s important to specify that while we certainly have questions about how exactly Tailmon sacrificing her life to defeat Millenniumon resulted in her becoming a puppet to his revival, there are enough potential answers out there that not only can we be patient about the possibility of one, it’s not even essential. If it’s never spoken of again, blame it on the Vademon cult.

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1 comment:

  1. "It’s important to specify that while we certainly have questions about how exactly Tailmon sacrificing her life to defeat Millenniumon resulted in her becoming a puppet to his revival, there are enough potential answers out there that not only can we be patient about the possibility of one, it’s not even essential. If it’s never spoken of again, blame it on the Vademon cult."

    I disagree strongly with this. It sounds less like "the show has provided enough clues to point at a few theories" and more like "the show has just done this and we're supposed to do the writers' jobs for them". Especially given their poor track record for explaining anything, up to and including where Taichi keeps pulling out these handy new evolutions, which is a central mechanic of the entire Mons concept.

    It's tempting to cry that we shouldn't compare with the original Adventure, but... this is a reboot deliberately trafficking in the nostalgia of the original. And even if it wasn't, we can point to literally any of the other Digimon anime for examples.

    Tailmon/Gatomon in the original wasn't just corrupted. It was revealed she was specifically brainwashed and conditioned into it by Myotismon, in an attempt to suppress her natural defiance. Her whole character arc revolved around breaking his influence, and the one Digimon who did the most to help her - Wizardmon - was a beneficiary of one of her good moments.

    Ken? Had an unhappily complicated relationship with his brother, an escapist motive, and despite the dark spore providing an easy explanation for his descent to madness, consistently treated his own corruption as though it was his own fault.

    Beelzemon? We saw an ongoing arc detailing how his love-hate relationship with himself and obsession with power (which had an in-universe explanation as the result of how the Digital World works) got the better of him.

    Koichi? Already a torn-up kid due to painful family issues, which only got worse when Cherubimon used them to mess with him further.

    ShineGreymon Ruin Mode? A direct result of his partner Masaru/Marcus letting his emotions get the better of him, a recurring theme in his character arc.

    Nene and Yuu/Ewan? Blackmailed, tricked, and manipulated by AxeKnightmon/DarkKnightmon, due to caring too much for her brother and caring too much for the suffering of others respectively.

    One thing they all (and possibly some others I don't remember right this minute) have in common is that they get explained and explored as their respective series' progress. You don't have to take it on faith that there's a good explanation for their corruptions, because we see it happen and see the consequences of this.

    I know it gets repetitive hearing the same old complaints over and over, but this reboot really is squandering its story and character opportunities, even when it seems to find some juicy ones. It absolutely should get penalized for it, because so far the only things it does better than the original seem to be related purely to superficial things like production value or fight choreography.

    When it's basically a flashy toy advertisement with little to no substance beyond that, it's hard not to view the whole reboot as an extremely cynical nostalgia trick. Given the other seasons managed better than this, it comes close to being an overly lenient double standard.