Adventure: (2020) Episode 54: The Vagrant War Demon, Rebellimon

In this episode, we dust off our memories from when we had hope for the series and add an epilogue to Ogremon’s story. Turns out he got a happy ending: he’s only dead on the inside!

The annoying by-product of long-running series is the possibility of something mentioned in an episode from eons ago, whether significant or not, coming back and returning to relevance. It’s a common occurrence, but both demands an encyclopedic knowledge of everything that’s happened and leads you to suspect the writers aren’t aware of just how much tedious crap they’ve thrown our way since then. That said, they can do worse than recalling the rivalry between Greymon and Ogremon, a stylistic and memorable pair of duels the show has frequently tried and frequently failed to replicate. The end product yields almost nothing, but revisiting comfortable territory is a better use of their time than most of what we’ve been getting.

Ogremon died 45 episodes ago. That’s almost eleven months for everyone watching live. His character was memorable enough to bring back again, but this late? After multiple arcs and dozens of characters and a whole new continent? This is yet another episode better suited for earlier in the series, and the Devimon arc lasted long enough that a late reappearance within it wouldn’t have been too short a wait and would have been welcomed, especially since that was a time when we were begging for more filler. Throwing him back into the picture this late shows a lack of respect for time and doesn’t serve the way this story is told, relying on our memory of specific details to fill in the blanks. We like that approach, but it’s awfully demanding.

Of course, once you remove our nostalgia for earlier in the reboot, this is a really aimless episode. It’s a territory that seems to lack both consistent form and any function. Digimon just sort of gravitate there to duke it out with no motivation, reward, or ground rules. It’s a rare moment that Taichi’s motivation of “trying to pass through here alive” makes him the deepest character in the episode. Everything about the landscape makes Cutemon seem totally out of place, as he’s obviously not here to fight and all these new rowdy neighbors should have prompted him to scurry long ago. He’s mostly here to sing the ballad of Rebellimon and provide the big guy with someone to go all Dorulumon over.

Beyond his past, Rebellimon exists only to fight, has no patience with weaklings like Cutemon, and refuses any companionship. In other words, he’s BlackWargreymon without the introspection. While that sounds terrific, the lack of perceived torment makes him a pretty simple specimen. He’s pretty content going around laying waste to anything that moves, making for a pretty flat portrayal.  Without Cutemon around to glamorize it, it isn’t that different than the typical destructive monsters beaten every week like Boltmon. In fact, fighting with no purpose feels like the complete antithesis to Ogremon. The only thing Ogremon understood was his prideful desire to even the score with Greymon!

At least the way the story is presented is more subtle than we’re used to. There’s no moment where it’s flat-out stated that Rebellimon used to be Ogremon, and Taichi and Agumon even dismiss the possibility after the most obscure callback leaves them wondering. Rebellimon and Cutemon don’t share many words, but the symbiotic relationship they form quietly creates an additional purpose in Rebellimon’s life that he may or may not have been looking for. They could have bashed all these concepts over our heads and created a climax where Rebellimon’s memories are jarred loose and he gets some manufactured closure with Greymon that he didn’t need. He didn’t need this either, but at least it’s better than the obvious route.

And who’s to say he won’t be back? It’s entirely thanks to Cutemon and a past he doesn’t remember, but there’s enough in Rebellimon to make us want to see him again, and their path is open-ended enough to cross with Taichi again. Even as this feels like oversold filler, it leaves more of an impact and has the potential for more meaning than, say, last episode. While we wait for the series to put anything together into a proper package, we’ll have to settle for moments like these where the storytelling is more intricate and we’re left feeling like this wasn’t as much of a waste of time as usual.

My Grade: C+

Loose Data:

  • Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t Taichi’s crest compass spinning the last time we checked? If so, him having a solid direction is newsworthy and not commented on.
  • Cutemon has the same voice actress as he had in Xros Wars, but it still feels like a different, lower, voice.
  • Another nice subtle bit of memory manipulation is Rebellimon can’t have any memories triggered by MetalGreymon’s presence since MetalGreymon came an episode after Ogremon’s sacrifice. Fighting Greymon might have made a stronger impression.
  • The weird mix of wasteland and decaying city and the whole nature of Digimon going there for meaningless fighting has me wondering about the origin and geography of the place far more than it feels like we’re supposed to.
  • The reattached horn was as obvious a clue as they come given 45 episodes of distance, but admit that it took you a while to recall the significance of the “straight ahead” line.

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  1. Well, at least the animation was nice. It's possibly too much to hope we'll get this team back for Heraklekabuterimon's debut.

  2. Kind of funny that they actually tried being subtle about it. When the episode listings flat out told us in advance it was Ogremon.