Adventure: (2020) Episode 59: Bolt, HerakleKabuterimon

In this episode, in the deepest, most subtle metaphor imaginable to highlight and empower Koshiro, his crest test turns out to be a literal Test of Knowledge.

Many of the challenges each kid faces to activate their crest power can fairly be accused of being a little off the mark. Mimi proved her sincerity by abandoning her gut and playing along with a bad situation. Yamato proved his friendship by shutting up and doing whatever Gabumon told him to. Koshiro’s challenge is not going to face this criticism. He proves his knowledge… in a literal Test of Knowledge. Not only is it extremely on the nose, the idea of a dungeon master subjecting the poor hero to a labyrinth of puzzles is awfully tiresome. It goes the way you’d expect, but at least it shows off that even this flat incarnation of Koshiro can be enjoyable to watch when the focus is on him and Tentomon.

We should be happy about the actual bad guys showing up again and possessing a hapless Digimon like in the good old days. It’s better than random bullies terrorizing random areas, right? It would be if it was at all consistent with what we’ve come to expect from Soundbirdmon. It’s been a long time, but giving Nanomon the freedom to defeat Koshiro through an elaborate puzzle runs contrary to their usual operation. Usually a Digimon gets possessed, under the control of a higher power, with no true autonomy. Any strategies executed tend to be in conjunction with other possessed Digimon, orchestrated from above. Nanomon feels more like a twisted distortion of his true self, a big fan of Koshiro’s that’s corrupted to test his mettle through arbitrary riddles. With enough established characters, that sort of possession would make for a great arc story. Instead it feels like the world is bending its usual rules to force Koshiro into an elaborate mental challenge.

In previous mental challenges, Koshiro breezed through them, showing an unbelievable range of information gathering and hacking abilities that singlehandedly saved the world multiple times. It was awful. It cemented his character as little more than a flawless computer expert and info provider with no exploration of why he’s so obsessed with the pursuit of knowledge, no punishment for pursuing too much, and only sporadic points of frustration when the answers are out of his reach. We’re still left asking on the first two, but the third gets some play when Koshiro gets two of the puzzles wrong. The first shakes his confidence as he realizes the stakes. The second shows him caving to the time pressure and leaves him in a deeper mire. It’s too late to expect any sort of depth from Koshiro, but the rare show of vulnerability is appreciated.

Tentomon is instrumental at picking Koshiro up after both failures. His personality is weird enough to shine, and always something to look forward to in Koshiro-focused episodes. It’s always inspiring watching him help Koshiro overcome his hurdles, and he does it plenty here. At times there’s an inventive tact, like encouraging Koshiro to take time to get a puzzle right, trusting his Digimon to make the logistics work under the clock. More often it’s just the usual assurances that he trusts his partner without condition and will ride with him no matter what. It would have been far more fun spinning this dynamic into a sort of confidant Koshiro can bounce ideas off of with sincere feedback, but either way Tentomon’s capable of making it endearing.

The emphasis on the mental game makes it disappointing that it all turns into a standard fight in the end. The evolution to HeraklesKabuterimon is as deserved as any of the Mega evolutions this season, but the fight with GranKuwagamon only seemed to drag things out. The real victory came with Koshiro solving the final challenge, first by deciphering the riddle and second by smoking Nanomon out with his usual hackery. Once that happened, the extra fighting seemed surplus and unnecessary, dragging out a sure win with some unremarkable action. It’s that kind of episode, really. There’s plenty to appreciate in seeing Koshiro struggling and Tentomon encouraging, and even the return of the Soundbirdmon gets noticed, with the right questions raised. It’s a good return for a scenario as humdrum as this one.

My Grade: B-

Loose Data:

  • Koshiro expresses surprise that he’d return to the mirror caverns again. He’s now the fourth kid, after Joe, Mimi, and Hikari, to return to a previously visited location while on their crest runs.
  • After Koshiro ended up going down the wrong path after the first riddle, how did he end up on the right path again for the second? Would have been nice to see him have to climb an extra staircase or something to get up there while spending extra time.
  • Taichi assures Koshiro that he trusts him to figure out the riddle and set him free. This is the exact reaction Agumon should have been looking for from the true Taichi in episode 57 and the one Taichi never gave him.
  • For a Digimon corrupted by a Soundbirdmon, Nanomon is extremely excited to give Koshiro a second chance after he fails the third puzzle. It’s a lot of leeway when leaving Koshiro trapped in there with Taichi and Agumon trapped would have given the enemy a major advantage.
  • Nanomon seemed to be using the camera on Koshiro’s tablet to see his progress. That doesn’t require an app or anything to hack into. So you wonder how Koshiro’s able to apply a Snapchat filter using previously recorded material and convince Nanomon it’s an undoctored feed. At least it was previously recorded material and not stock footage Koshiro randomly downloaded on the fly.

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