Salutations my sweet Island guests. It is time to get back into gear and review some anime! Starting with Digimon! Last week we had a great week and even though the last episode was quite good , it ended up as one of the weaker in my top seven. Very good sometimes doesn’t cut it! Well.. this week this show offers some stiff competition for the fight at the top! As we include with the “final” of the ultimate evolutions in an episode dedicated to Joe.
Let’s get started.. and me just say.. this might be a confusing episode.. because the entire plot revolves around a group of evil digimon chasing the group again. Yukidarumon form the soldiery grunts of the group but they are led by the ultimate digimon Mammon. Why is this confusing?! Well because I know these digimon as Frigimon and Mammothmon. Both Digimon were changed for the dub.. one because it’s named after a demon and the other because it did not make a lot of sense in English I guess?! Regardless.. the setting is an Icey hill. Birdramon needs to recover her energy and when the group lands they get attacked by a group of snowmen bears.. called Yukidarumon/Frigimon and a Huge mammoth, with ripped Dumbo style ears and a metal mask on it’s face and trunk! When one of the Yukidarumon punches Sora.. she begins to slowly freeze to death from the inside. The only way this attack can be negated is by thawing out the digital ice inside her. So she needs a fire.. but there is a problem! The group is being chased by a superior force. Making a fire would reveal their position.
Piyomon is too worried about Sora to Digivolve and seriously drains energy from the prolonged flying. So One digimon has to stay with her all the time to protect her. Yamato is chosen for this role. He is the fastest, and can pull ahead of the group while Joe and Gomamon distract the group. Meanwhile we get a small subplot of the other group where Mimi sees a cute Digimon and tries to make it her mount.. resulting in (comical) disaster. Joe has seen Sora and Yamato step up when it was their time.. but he ended up feeling afraid .. and invalidated all the time. After all … he is the groups oldest and he feels he is not living up to that role! When things seem at their darkest and the plan to get away from the group fails Joe is met with a choice! Fight by himself and rely on Yamato or stick up for the group.. risk himself and keep Sora safe. He lies to Yamato and says he has the situation under control, now having to deal with the Ultimate Digimon alone. Wanting to be useful to the group and knowing Sora needs her defender.. fills the boy with a passion that allows him to Digivolve Ikakumon into Zudomon, who uses his hammer and lighting.. to kick ass and take names. With this monster defeated.. it is time for the groups to reunite and face their biggest battle yet.
While every episode is really simple I just love how they set up their episodes. Group 2 has Birdramon so obviously they would overburden her, of course that would make her vulnerable and of course that would mean Sora would try to defend her friend. So Sora being injured makes very much sense in the world they are trying to build. Of course Yamato would use his speed to take her out of the frey.. so we get a perfectly fine explanation while Joe has to fight alone! Ice and snow are not a good battlefield for him anyway so this is a great way to make Joe shine without making it feel obnoxious. I also love how Joe attempts to use the terrain to his advantage.. but this backfires.. As if the show is talking to us! No! This is not Koshiro, this is Joe. Those tactics are not his strong suit. His episode followed a few beats similar to Koshiro’s but we are reminded they are not the same. Joe’s strength is never giving up, his ability to keep on trying even though he sees so many obstacles in his way. He stands up to that.. and conquers … with issue.. but he does.
This leads into the second thing that was great in this episode, the characterisation! Sure the snowy fields are nice, and the movement on the slope is fun.. but it all pales in comparison to how great these characters are. The little moment of Mimi trying to make a Kiwimon into her mount.. fitting that princess theme again. The way Joe screams in panic for most of the episode.. but his realisation that there are things bigger than himself. It all feels unique. Nearly all the 6 episodes have the same format. Step 1: An Ultimate Shows up, Step 2: Bad Stuff happens , Step 3: Someone is Separated from the group Step 4: After learning a lesson their digimon evolves to the next level. It happened Six times now.. and yet these episodes are VERY different from another. Joe is constantly overwhelmed.. he can not rely on his courage because it is not in his nature, he can not rely on his friends, he can not even face his own emotions because he would succumb to panic. No he has to solve this as Joe.. and the episode allows for that. Joe just really had to be there.. and it felt very different from what came before.
What the show does bad.. is what almost every show in an ice setting does bad. It’s what I call “white” stacking. You make a fight set in snow, then make the enemies fight ice themed as well.. such as a yeti or in this case a white bear. Then you set everything on a mountain, because skiing and snow are so intertwined.. now half of your skyline is white as well. The main enemy you give blizzard attacks.. which is made by a lot of squiggly lines. Ikkakumon… is also white and the beams of the Yukidarumon/Frigimon fire.. are you guessed it.. white. I would not call it boring.. but everything feels very defined and sharp but for some reason I always get tired of watching it. Not bored persé.. but after some time.. I am just done with it. It feels disorienting.. in a sense off.. that you don’t know who is where and in a scenario where that matters.. it just feels a bit harder to sit through. As if my brain subconsciously just has to work that one step more..and it’s just slightly less pleasant.
Second issue I had was the final fight. Zudomon doesn’t feel as powerful as Garudamon, Weregarurumon or heck even Lillymon. The latters physical hits did not hurt but that grass thing seemed vastly powerful. Zudomon hammers a lot.. and while his lighting seems.. quite powerful, the enemy is in water when he uses it.. So it already would be amplified.. it doesn’t seem AS special as what the others did. Ice and Snow have that frail quality, so smashing someone through a slab of ice feels weaker.. then blasting back a mountain destroying beam attack. Zudomon’s fighting also felt a bit clunky.. for some reason he doesn’t digivolve into the form wielding his hammer.. he needs to summon it which takes time. Until then .. he kind of fills the role of a bit of a grappler and that always just looks more like punches, kicks or beams. The scaling isn’t done as well as it has done before.
I am torn about the score this time. It’s either a very high Berry Good, or a Low tier Star Fruit. In the end I think I will have to go or a Berry Good for me personally. That is mostly because I really do not care for snowy settings. I don’t have much against them but they do nothing FOR me. Then again I also did not like last week’s setting.. this one is significantly better as an episode.. maybe even as a setting. I am not sure. I just think the fact that once I took a peek to show how far I was watching this episode puts it under the Star Fruit rank.. but only just.
This episode has such a strong narrative, a great style and to a lesser degree even consequence. Nothing major happens in terms of consequences but there is a logic chain of cause and effect. “You can walk or fly?” .. Of course “We will fly” is chosen. Consequence is a spent Piyomon.. resulting in Sora getting hurt. It feels right! Things are still straight forward.. but it fits. Characters think like younger people, they make mistakes , but also gamify! They revel in new experiences.. but also get into trouble for it so they all feel just so much more human! That humanity is what makes every episode shine so much for me and this one is not an exception! Had there been a fire monkey instead of a polar-bear/snowman I think it would have pushed the episode into a higher range for me.. but if your biggest gripe with an episode is that it’s “too white” you got a pretty good episode on your hands.