On the surface, this is another uninspiring and conventional tale that leads to a new evolution. Pushing past the novelty of a Mega evolution for a partnership that had to wait until tri. to happen originally, it has all the trappings of a forgettable early-season episode where not much happens other than a kid and her Digimon figuring out their relationship better. It never escapes the orbit of its own mediocrity, but we can appreciate that they’re at least playing with the whole notion of characters having relationship stumbling blocks, a rarity this season.
In the process, Piyomon manages to get herself hurt, kind of an incredible feat considering the cast’s general invulnerability and Junkmon’s strict adherence to OSHA regulations. Sora’s behavior changes as a direct result of this, which is worth appreciating as such shifts are a precious rarity in this series. It’s always fun when someone loses their damn mind in response to something. Whether it’s Taichi being pushed to the brink against DoneDevimon or Tailmon thinking she needs to save the world singlehandedly upon regaining her freedom, these sorts of overdrive moments pull the characters to an extreme and let their true natures take over. Sora pushing herself to an unhealthy degree with Piyomon laid up pales in comparison, especially since it isn’t really called out or punished, but it’s still a curious reaction that makes you wonder and worry about her.
More predictable is Sora’s insistence on Piyomon resting. It makes enough sense at first in the immediacy of Piyomon’s injury, but as it fades and even Junkmon is comfortable assigning her minor tasks, it hints at this overprotection being as extreme as her overzealous approach to work. It’s something else to wonder about, as she’s never been this forceful about it. Her efforts to rein in Taichi in the past have been halfhearted at best. You can conclude this has to do with Piyomon specifically, and shows Sora’s perception of what it means to be her partner. It’s a subject the show has too often failed to explore beyond “they have a tight friendship and a powerful bond.” So credit the episode for going there and, with the nature of the crests a core theme of the arc, hope it’s not a fluke.
And yet, even if it’s totally basic, it’s the strongest Mega evolution trigger we’ve seen so far. WarGreymon and MetalGarurumon stopped at “tight friendship and powerful bond.” Taking the long route to realizing the need to trust each other and enduring a lava bath together? We’ll take that! After an arc that meandered forever and ultimately felt like it accomplished nothing, it is refreshing to see the first real trip in the new arc commit to the foundation of proper character storytelling. Even if it’s too safe to be anything outstanding, it’s nice to be reminded that these characters are capable of being something deeper than plastic action figures.
My Grade: B-
- While Junkmon’s crew is mostly populated by your usual regulars, Bakomon joins Ekakimon last episode in Hunters-era fan creations making appearances as general assistants.
- Happy that Junkmon made a point to say everyone on the island is happy to live there, enough to commit to protecting themselves against the volcano. There are enough historical parallels for that to sound not insane, but given how ornery this particular volcano is, it’s good to address, even if it’s undermined when Junkmon acknowledges there’s no staying once the big one arrives.
- Junkmon and Wisemon must have had a bet going to how much they can shoehorn their increasingly irritating catchphrases. Let’s hope no one in future episodes got in on that action.
- Anyone notice that once Taichi compresses all that hair into a helmet, it kind of makes him look like a darker haired Takato? Also, it’s terribly amusing that Junkmon insisted on Sora replacing her helmet with another helmet.
- Nice way to sneak in a reference to all the material falling from the human world. They still need to circle back to what’s causing that.
- Taichi and Agumon are very much resigned to a support role, which makes the double evolution sequence to MetalGreymon ridiculously extra when it’s just to round up everyone to take to a safe place.
- After Sora and Garudamon were coated in lava (which I’m giving a pass only because I vaguely recall reading something about Birdramon’s forms protecting its rider from fire), they didn’t bother to cut in to get Taichi’s reaction (we got MetalGreymon’s, but he’s not that expressive). That’s why we appreciate episode 49.
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