Adventure: (2020) Episode 44: Hikari and the Moving Forest

In this episode, the group puts its quest on hold to help out a random Digimon just for the hell of it. If you’re thinking that’s the same thing as always, you’re wrong! This one features Hikari!

The lack of character in the main cast has been a hindrance all season, but lately they’ve been able to make up for it in two ways. One is to shine so much light on a single character that what they lack in actual depth is answered by overwhelming raw personality that makes you cheer for them anyway. The other is to take the spotlight away from the main cast to feature a one-off Digimon who’s far more interesting. Both tricks are attempted here, with Hikari eerily desperate to meddle in the affairs of a Petaldramon, who silently and stoically pursues a vengeance that favors style over substance. When the style doesn’t land either, there’s not a whole lot left.

It’s another drawback to stacking all these meaningless episodes one after another, at an awkward point in the story where the early rush of intensity makes it difficult to trust this changed pace, while also makes it too late to still be learning about the cast. The base concepts too frequently approach halting their journey upon meeting one or a group of Digimon and helping them fend off whatever bully they’re struggling with. When these Digimon are charming or it brings out the best in the kids or it’s just plain entertaining, we forgive the lack of progress. This one banks on all three applying and doesn’t quite succeed on any of them.

Of the three, the character focus is the most successful, but only because featuring Hikari has historically brought out the show’s most novel and most mysterious moments. Suffice to say it would have worked better had it been done back when this Hikari was actually novel and mysterious. But we are back to Hikari being attune to beasts crying out in secret and responding in ways nobody else can understand. It shouldn’t be out of place for this normalized post-Tailmon Hikari to be uniquely empathetic and pick up on these signals, but it certainly feels unusual based on what we’ve seen. Although it’s nice to see this weird, sort of creepy side of her again, in the end it’s really little more than one of the kids getting very emotional over the plight of a Digimon they’d just met. We’ve seen that before.

As far as Digimon charm and entertainment value, it’s a total loss. Petaldramon falls into the same trap as ElDoradimon, manufacturing the impression of grace and nobility just by virtue of being very large and not trying to kill the children on sight. Like ElDoradimon, someone needs to tell us his life’s story to try to get us to care. What we see is a lot of lumbering, and one time responding to Hikari’s sympathy with flower and fruit. The concept of a creature constantly pursuing an enemy isn’t that novel, and there’s no surprise that the kids agree to help him because they always do. The battle against Entmon is slow and plodding and consists of the two colliding with each other in slow motion as Koshiro feels the need to narrate whatever intricacies are behind what’s happening.

The one action he doesn’t need to narrate is the one that perpetuates the show’s problem of artificially excluding anyone that isn’t featured. When they agreed to fight with Petaldramon, the plan assumed everyone would able to fight together. This would be just the second time it’s happened in seventeen episodes: the first time they were almost beaten by a sentient potato. But no, Entmon separates everyone except Hikari and Tailmon from the fight. That hangs the entire climax on those two and Petaldramon, and they just aren’t up for the challenge. Hikari’s passion and Angewomon’s intervention aren’t in the least bit surprising, and Petaldramon’s inability to win us over leads to an ending that feels like it’s just going through the motions. The previous episode worked not just because it had two entertaining guest appearances, but because all of the Digimon were allowed to join in the madness. When it’s Hikari on her own, it takes a lot more.

Attempting a graceful story isn’t a bad idea. It worked wonders with Mimi and Guardromon. But assisting that was that it came at a busy time when the kids were experiencing their first wave of difficulty and only starting to gain the tools to fight it. In the middle of a run where absolutely nothing is happening, the only known real enemy is still in gestation, and the kids are running unchecked through the continent, it’s another side story in a string that’s become as tiresome as the run of intense story was overwhelming.

My Grade: C-

Loose Data:

  • You know it’s getting bad when even the kids are looking bored traveling on Komondomon’s back. They’re grateful to hit the forest just for the change in scenery, not because they expect anything interesting to happen.
  • There’s something very off-putting about the way Petaldramon is drawn and animated. It moves like a robot in almost all of his exterior shots, making him hard to sympathize with, or even connect him to the gentle forest creature generating offerings for Hikari.
  • ElDoradimon had Patamon fangirling over him to lend him some sort of credibility. Petaldramon has Palmon. I’d rather see a Digimon prove its legendary status through its actions than by having good references.
  • Tailmon points out that even though they’re in a hurry, they need to rest once in a while. They’ve been pursuing this FAGA place for eleven episodes now and have gotten absolutely nowhere.
  • It’s not that surprising, but it looks like Patamon can still become Pegasmon. It’s hard to say whether he actually can choose which form to take or Angemon is only available in especially dire moments. Either of those would be interesting to discuss. Let’s hope they do.

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  1. I'm pretty sure it's at least the second time Tailmon says some variant of "We're in a hurry but sure, we can stop to rest and sidequest". Kinda loses credibility since all they've been doing is sidequesting.

  2. This genuinely felt it needed to be a stand-alone movie on the pattern of Frontier's Island of Lost Digimon. Give them an hour, establish some character for Petaldramon and Entmon, maybe add more denizens of Petaldramon's forest (and some actual characters on Entmon's side?), and then the usual climax of one of the kids' digimon gaining some awesome new powerup that we'll never see again (though given that already seems to be the pattern of the regular filler episodes, that may lose some impact).

    I mean, the episode's already got the big sweeping orchestral climax, massive explosion, and cut to a hopeful dawn.

  3. Never expected a Hikari episode to be a catastrophe near the level of the Nidhoggmon and Mamemon episodes. I'll still say this episode was better than those episodes, but not by much.