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.
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.
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
- 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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