Adventure: (2020) Episode 61: A Place To Return To

In this episode, Takeru earns his merit badge by helping ElDoradimon cross a hill.

If the crests are all meant to represent attributes of each of the eight kids, that sure isn’t reflected in the kinds of stories we’re getting. While some of them are better at showcasing their traits than others, they’ve all fallen in the category of “needing additional power to stop the bad Digimon from doing bad things to not bad Digimon.” When you add in the variances among these bad Digimon, from evil spirits to possessed fanboys to not-really-all-that-bad pirates, it’s disappointing that the solution to all of them is still beating them into submission. That makes this story, slow and exhausting as it gets, an appreciated break from the norm, with no enemy other than physics and an outcome that still dials in on Takeru’s key attribute.

The most striking thing about this episode is that it doesn’t have an enemy at all. Or rather the enemy is a mountain if you’re into the whole “man vs. nature” brand of conflict. The fact that it’s anything other than some random antagonistic Digimon is eye-opening, to the point where you spend the entire episode waiting for someone (hey there Gravimon) to show up and try to kill everybody. That anticipation creates a sort of artificial suspense that carries you through until the end, when you realize the premise isn’t a buildup to anything. It’s just a long story about Takeru trying to do one good deed. Then it’s all kind of wholesome.

Wholesome doesn’t get far without substance, however, and along with Takeru’s unending need to get ElDoradimon over the mountain, there’s a quiet sociological examination going on with the other Digimon watching him. ElDoradimon wants to get over the mountain because his homeland or whatever is on the other side. The other Digimon in Leomon’s party don’t have homes at all anymore, refugees from Millenniumon’s destruction. Naturally more than a few of them are bitter about this. So is it worth going through the trouble of a cumbersome, maybe impossible task of helping somebody achieve the dream none of them will ever be able to realize? Not everyone’s on board immediately, and the fact that the show even takes time to ask the question deserves credit.

This is crystallized through Gravimon, a victim himself, one of the final holdouts, who even mocks the effort. Takeru wins him over with a surprising speech about how he’s in the same position. The low-hanging fruit here would have been talking about how he would like to go home at some point, a sentiment that nobody has brought up despite the length of their journey (and the fact that last we heard, this was all happening in real time!). Instead, Takeru brings up how the happy memories of his complete family will never happen again. That’s deep for an eight year old! For a series so afraid of diving into each kid’s story, it’s done an admirable job sneaking in genuine feelings over the Ishida divorce.

Takeru also gets a crest story that fully centers around hope without banging you over the head with it. After several dubious parables, Hikari and Koshiro’s certainly were about light and knowledge, but in a glaringly obvious way. Takeru’s show of hope comes in simply sticking to the belief that getting ElDoradimon up the mountain is actually possible. The task looks gargantuan, enough to make not only other Digimon, but the audience itself, question whether giving a single Digimon a spot of joy is really worth it. It’s honestly exhausting to watch. But he never wavers on this belief, and it’s that conviction that activates his power, wins over Gravimon, and leads to the miracle to make it work.

It’s not a shame that they resort to a miracle. Early on it felt like it needed one. The tragedy might be that even the most customized of stories all still amount to one of the kids digging deep and refusing to give up. Even without an actual enemy, it still requires a big show of force from a strong Digimon. It’s far too late for the show to redeem itself as far as character development or having a compelling narrative. It’s now in Hunters territory where the quality of an episode depends on its ability to tell a unique story on its own. Despite the format, we’ve only gotten a few in this arc. Its slow pace and lack of real action may not be the most exciting watch, but its success lies in doing things differently. With a show this banal, different is always appreciated.

My Grade: B

Loose Data:

  • It’s obvious why ElDoradimon was featured here, but his lack of vocabulary continues to make it hard to understand his thought process. He’s clearly relentless and he’s clearly happy to reach his goal, but everyone has to go off assumptions as to why.
  • This is now the second episode featuring the kids trying to make sure ElDoradimon gets from point A to point B without killing himself. A little strange that the emphasis with him remains his difficulty with elevation and not the fact that he’s a giant moving castle, the actual awesome thing that got him all the love in Savers.
  • He was first introduced on Cloud Continent. If we’re to believe this is his homeland, either this place is on Cloud or he made his way up there prior to the Devimon arc. Which means at some point, ElDoradimon somehow went from the lower continent all the way back up to Cloud. Now that’s what I want to watch.
  • Okay, A for effort and all, but I refuse to believe that Takeru and Patamon pushing ElDoradimon did a lick of good at the start.
  • Glad they started to work in ropes and pulleys and some sort of system to move him, but surely there had to be a smoother way to get to the other side of the mountain. Search for a pass or a river or swallows with string or something. You’d think it would cross somebody’s mind to consider possible smarter routes rather than straight over.
  • Boy, I’m already starting to cringe at how they’ll explain that the crest of courage could only be activated by Taichi bopping around from place to place helping his teammates out like original Sora in the Vamdemon arc. But man, that would have been the perfect framework for Yamato getting his crest of friendship.

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  1. Three words:

    It's the cliiiiiiiiiiiiiimmmb!

  2. No idea how you could rate this episode a B, it was absolutely awful. Easily one of the worst of the series. The animation in particular was incredibly poor.

    1. Opinions on the episode are divided, read What do you think of that?

    2. Not a lot frankly.

  3. "Which means at some point, ElDoradimon somehow went from the lower continent all the way back up to Cloud. Now that’s what I want to watch."

    That IS what you just watched. There's a panning shot fairly early on which makes it clear that what El Doradimon wants to do is not climb OVER a mountain, but climb UP the mountain, somehow transfer to the upside-down one that's wedged into the top, and then somehow flip back over onto the top surface of the continent. After that point, it's all close-ups of feet, and then he suddenly teleports to the top.

    (Possibly the thing that bugs me the next most is that Takeru's idea of helping is pushing on one of his hind feet. What's El Doradimon supposed to do when he needs to lift that foot? That, and pulling out Angemon like it's nothing.)

  4. Easily one of the most boring and pointless bits of padding yet.