Adventure: (2020) Episode 56: The Gold Wolf of the Crescent Moon

In this episode, Gabumon takes it upon himself to risk his neck to end an ancient curse, knowing there’s a cool alternate evolution at the other end of it.

For most of the child-Digimon partnerships, it’s pretty evident who’s in charge: whatever situation they’re being dragged through. The lack of true agency has been an issue throughout the series. Gabumon has, strangely, been an occasional exception. While Yamato has complied with every situation since DarkKnightmon, Gabumon still likes to call the shots sometimes, and even if much of his decisiveness here stems from a recurring dream, it spurs him into actions when everyone else is stuck. Nobody shows off much personality here and the story is as basic as it gets, but it avoids recent pitfalls and manages to showcase an alternate evolution without feeling forced or arbitrary.

It’s a simple pleasure, but there is something refreshing about the trouble going after them for once. Yamato and Gabumon are just chilling by a fire, pondering their next move, when they’re wrapped up in the rampage of a cursed spirit. While in survival mode, they witness the local resistance and its tragic failure. Actual death! How about that? Right away, we have Yamato and Gabumon in the thick of it, experiencing actual loss and getting true sense of the danger, realizing regular attacks don’t affect Zanbamon, and at a point where running away would be kind of a dick move no matter what the locals say.

You do kind of miss the days when Yamato would try, however. Were he in his earlier, harder, Takeru-starved days or he actually had something important to do, he might be less inclined to play along and stay in the fire, seizing whatever opportunity he could to continue the main quest. He would have been wrong and it would have made him look bad, but the lack of basically anything from him here, doing all the right things and following Gabumon’s lead, makes him the least interesting thing in the episode. It’s a clear, sustained growth—few others have anything like that—but it would be a shame if the first sign of intrigue the series gave us is already done and stuck in this neutered form through the duration.

At least Yamato calling Koshiro for information yields results. He’s the first to recognize the value of having a teammate stationed in the Digital World’s knowledge base. Koshiro comes through not only with the background they needed to unravel the mystery, but sending a ringer to help. It’s yet another instance of Taichi jumping in only to not contribute very much, but here there’s a logic behind it. Yes, that’s what Koshiro would do to offer Yamato some support while gathering the information. Would it have been more fun to throw in another kid that isn’t over-exposed? Sure, but if Taichi’s bound to make pointless run-ins all the time, better that they make sense.

In the end, this is Gabumon’s episode and he’s not sharing with anybody. In the same way that Patamon and Tailmon have proved to be the true main characters of this story, Gabumon seizes his moments. While the role of the steadfast, loyal pupper doesn’t always translate into a cool leading role, it’s interesting to see how that translates when the drive is internal. He’s curious about the dreams he’s been having, and when he spies a connection to them and the legend cursing the forest, he’s all-in on taking the steps to make the dreams reality. He doesn’t take them as a warning, but a destiny to fulfill. It would have been nice if Gabumon felt the need to communicate some of this with his partner, but as Yamato’s become a steadfast, loyal pupper too, it’s all good.

Once the legend is introduced, the rest of the episode goes exactly as expected: they’re going to find the sword, Gabumon’s going to use it to evolve to ancient rival CresGarurumon, and that’s going to be able to harm Zanbamon. Taichi will help. Strange how ancient spirits and a curse make for the most fundamentally reasonable alternate evolution we’ve had so far, but that’s Digimon for you. BlitzGreymon was tacked-on and kind of pointless while Ponchomon was a spot of madness in response to an inundation of it. The episode doesn’t offer a whole lot, but in avoiding mistakes it’s easier to appreciate the flashier elements of CresGarurumon and what brought him out. We’re still a far cry from any substance, but that sound foundation makes it all right to be cool.

My Grade: B

Loose Data:

  • It can’t be understated how much this episode hinges on Gabumon realizing his dream was a good prophecy and not a bad omen. There’s enough fire and steel in the dream that it would be easy to imagine that as a doomsday scenario to avoid at all costs.
  • Taichi ditching Sora, Joe, Takeru, and Hikari made sense since they presumably still have arrows to follow (not sure why Sora still does after getting Hououmon, but it wasn’t suggested her path was fulfilled), but what’s Mimi supposed to be doing right now?
  • Also, it’s pretty unclear whether Yamato’s reached his destination. Awfully anti-climactic if it was since he really didn’t do anything.
  • The legend surrounds two swordfighters, which is timeless and all, but it’s really stretching the definition to call CresGarurumon’s weapon a sword. That’s a long-ass hilt! The kiju engetsuto comes off more like a spear, albeit one with a sword-ish looking blade at the end of it. It’s one of those weapons in Digimon that’s better off not trying to categorize.
  • In keeping with the episode getting the fundamentals right, they picked a perfect time to use a longer evolution sequence for WereGarurumon. The action elements often come off like the whole thing’s in slow motion, and this just helps feed into that. It comes together well.

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  1. "The legend surrounds two swordfighters, which is timeless and all, but it’s really stretching the definition to call CresGarurumon’s weapon a sword. That’s a long-ass hilt! The kiju engetsuto comes off more like a spear, albeit one with a sword-ish looking blade at the end of it. It’s one of those weapons in Digimon that’s better off not trying to categorize."

    Although it takes an interesting turn with a bit of Internet digging: apparently, CresGarurumon's whole concept was based off the "Green Dragon Crescent Blade" of Chinese legend (Wikipedia classifies it as a guandao). The Crescent part was the influence behind CresGarurumon's name. Also goes some way towards filling in the rival-swordsmen aspect of this episode's plot, as Pan Zang and the Guan family possess the blade depending on who killed the other for it.

    Even makes a kind of thematic sense for Zanbamon to be this week's enemy, as the Zanbato is a type of fictional sword with a dubious real-world connection. I think it's pretty neat how the episode brought those concepts together like this.

    One thing I love about Digimon is how the references behind the Digimon creatures themselves can spin off in a totally unexpected direction. In this case, it adds a kind of cool resonance, I think.

  2. So at no point does anyone think to try using Metalgarurumon against Zanbamon. Instead choosing to stick to weaker forms.
    I know the general public love Weregarurumon a lot more, but this is really forcing the drama.

    1. They did use Metalgarurumon. And WarGreymon too! Both of their attacks had no effect but they certainly lasted until daybreak.

    2. Metalgarurumon gets slept on worse in this reboot more so then the original frankly. Cres recieves more hype in a single episode alone, making a point of it essentially being Weregarurumon putting on some armour.