Adventure: (2020) Episode 38: The Blazing Blue Friendship

In this episode, Gabumon’s about to be crucified and sacrificed to the devil, giving Yamato the perfect excuse to be a dramatic bitch for half an hour.

The Yamato/Gabumon partnership was an source of intrigue early on in the series. The novel idea of having this established relationship for Taichi and Agumon to aspire to generated some early tension and posed questions about how this more experienced pair came to be. Thirty-six episodes later, everyone’s forgotten about that. They’ve had some good moments throughout the show, but nothing capturing the story potential hiding in their past. Out of nowhere, after being absent the last ten episodes, Yamato and Gabumon’s history is finally explored and we discover that it wasn’t all that interesting in the first place.

As we feared, it was indeed the case that Yamato spent several days riding aimlessly through the wilderness and Joe spent several days stuck in a hot spring. Here’s hoping they were able to eat and sleep somehow, and a moment of silence for Joe’s shriveled fingers and toes. Unlike Mimi’s tale of corporate warfare, which included video footage, catching up with Joe and Yamato neither warrants nor receives any fanfare. Joe’s entire story is told to us by him, with only the climax slightly entertaining before getting cut off. Yamato’s only picked up very recently with Gabumon’s capture.

It’s left up to us to observe Yamato’s character development, a negative in that there wasn’t any where we’d normally expect it but a positive in that it plainly does exist. Rather than put it in the story’s resolution where it belongs, it’s in its set-up. For starters, the fact that Yamato agreed to try to rescue all the Digimon from Mephismon is a shift from his prior reluctance with Sora’s crusades. It’s a little different now in that he doesn’t have an excuse to refuse now that Takeru’s in safe hands, but Gabumon didn’t get much of a voice in the earlier debate. This time he’s calling the shots. The bigger note is how he doesn’t hesitate to ask Joe for help. Given how the rescue functions, you can tell he plotted that mission out hoping he could go solo. Acknowledging its impracticality and showing some vulnerability to a team member he’s never taken that seriously is an honest moment for him.

Less effective is suddenly revisiting his origin story. At the start of the series, you would have thought this a highly anticipated moment, featuring a unique situation given how few kids get sucked in solo. Instead, it goes exactly the way you’d expect, with Yamato as tsundere as ever and Gabumon finding a way to make it work. The reason for his early arrival isn’t explored, there are no new sides of either character revealed, and it comes far beyond the point when it was on the top of our minds. Early Yamato gaining respect and concern for Gabumon is supposed to make us gush at his thawing heart. Too bad both his current iteration and Takeru’s comments before the flashback already made it clear that he’s a big softie, leaving no room for the story itself to make any impact.

Taking a lesson from Hunters, if we can’t count on the featured character for value, it all comes down to how entertaining the weirdness is. The weirdness may not all be engaging here, but at least there’s plenty of it! They jump right into Gabumon being crucified, as strange a visual as it is disturbing. Mephismon’s creepier here than in his last appearance, which is saying something since his last appearance was in Tamers. This all helps bolster the main story. On its own, it’s pretty hollow, but show Yamato struggling through a painful demonic seal to get to Gabumon, and at least you have a slick package.

Nothing is as weird or redeems the episode as much as Joe. Yamato asking for help hits different paired with the elation of Joe being asked. Ikkakumon’s torpedoes used as handholds is a different use for him. And countering Mephismon’s chanting by reciting boring facts he needed to memorize for school? Both complete nonsense and a brilliant way to homage his Buddhist sutras in the original series while being nothing at all like that. The glimpses of decent character storytelling we had with Patamon and Tailmon seem to be fleeting, but in its place the show may have rediscovered the art of entertaining absurdity. At some point, they might even put the two together.

My Grade: B-

Loose Data:

  • As overdramatic as Gabumon’s crucifixion is, it was awfully nice of Mephismon to install a platform for him to stand on. Clearly the point is the ritual and not the cruelty.
  • Once again, Yamato is not at all fazed by the Troopmon’s laser fire. The explosion on the other hand…
  • Any credit we give the episode for incorporating a Millenniumon shard is taken away with Gomamon clumsily reminding the audience that the shards are connected to the main plot Taichi abandoned two episodes ago.
  • While Takeru’s comments would have been far more productive at the end of Yamato’s flashback or layered over his big moment, he does go into more detail about the divorce than the original series gave us. It remains to be seen if that’s going to be at all useful, but it is appreciated.
  • The only takeaway I could gather from Yamato declaring Gabumon his first friend is that he only considers Takeru a little brother. It is something different, but does create a point of separation between the bros that could be explored further, because Takeru probably wouldn’t hesitate in calling Yamato a friend.

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1 comment:

  1. Joe, Mimi, and the Holy Digimon are the best parts of zoomerland.