Kabuterimon’s Electro Shocker (Digimon Adventure Episode 5)
Last episode, Biyomon saved Yokomon Village by defeating Meramon and destroying the gear that had lodged itself in his chest. The group dined and slept with their diminutive hosts and continued on their journey the following morning.
By which point, Episode 5 begins with the Digidestined lost again, and in another desert. Tai picks on Izzy for being so focused on his computer all the time, but Izzy’s obsession will bear fruit soon enough. Tai spots a factory in the distance with his binoculars and in his characteristic gung ho, quixotian fashion charges headlong in that direction. The rest of the group follows reluctantly behind and upon entering the factory, finds it devoid of people or Digimon, but oddly still running. The machines have been programmed to create odd metallic objects and then to disassemble them immediately after their construction.
Later, Mimi, Matt and T.K. will form a group and investigate part of the factory on their own. Mimi muses about the machines seeming lack of purpose and remarks that “all this deconstructionism is so ten minutes ago!” And in the history of ideas it was indeed. Deconstructionism as a philosophy of dismantling traditions and metaphysical foundations found its heyday in the 70’s and 80’s with the emergence of Jacques Derrida as the major force in continental philosophy. By the late 90’s, artists and writers like David Foster Wallace, author of Infinite Jest and a number of other postmodern hyper-realistic fictions, would reflect on the postmodern, disentangled condition of living in a surreal, Kafkaesque nightmare: the modern world. This world without any foundational principles, no hopes, no dreams, no God, no anything, can free us from the dark night of the soul, some dangerous forms of group-think like nationalism or religious fervor, and most isms, though it creates its own existential-psychological problems. Wallace would later claim that the only possible recourse to redressing this issue was to move back into sentimentality and the belief in provisional absolutes like enjoying oneself and the company of others, back into sentimentality and emotion. Digimon is a sci-fi fantasy romp that emphasizes human connectivity as the one way to heal the existentially demoralizing conditions of a postindustrial world. That is to say, have fun, trust in each other, and live by the lessons you learn along the way.
When questioned by Mimi where the exit to the factory is, Matt will reply, “There is no door. This thing is based on perpetual motion, nothing ever stops or leaves this place.” This dialogue is unique for a show supposedly geared only toward children as I never understood the subtext of these notions as a child. The factory of ideas (and again this animated factory is an analogue for such a conceptual factory- Mimi already mentioned Deconstructionism offhand earlier) creates new categories and conceptions and technical languages to fit the experience of the world into one big, new paradigm. As soon as this process is accomplished, other thinkers find fault in the new system’s logic or they find complex new phenomena that do not fit the system. The burden of evidence against it becomes so strong that the system tears itself apart, appearing in an organic deconstruction, until a new system is formulated. This is the history of ideas in the world. Digimon’s repudiation of this process is a call to forget systematization and schematization and to just live with mysteries and complexities of the world, while recognizing evil and trying to diminish it with the help of others. This spiritual and emotional identification with friends is the only manner in which one can escape the spiritual disintegration of our age: in other words, we can fall back on constructed communities.
Next, we have Tai, Sora and Joe. They stumble upon an Android Digimon known as Andromon who has fallen into some of the factory’s gears and is stuck. As they try to remove him, another one of the black gears- like in the last episode- falls and enters into his leg, driving him mad. This is an example of, again, how technological progress gone unchecked can lead to aporias, existential dread, the feeling of being disconnected from the world and one another, and hanging above a monstrous abyss that stares back. Here, the machine quite literally becomes corrupted and attempts to take their lives. He states, “I will punish alien intruders!” I take this to mean that the black gear’s corrupting influence has manifested itself by interpreting the other Digimon and the human Digidestined as pests in the coding of Andromon. This might parallel the future of automation and/or the possibility of hostility in AI.
Izzy and Tentomon have found a large battery powered by binary runes. Izzy manages to tap into the power source of the battery and finds an algorithm that causes his Digivice to go haywire and ultimately allows him to Digivolve Tentomon into Kabuterimon and save the day by destroying the black gear in Andromon’s leg. However, while still inside the giant battery, Tentomon remarks to Izzy that he “can’t understand this preoccupation with who you are.” And asks, “Is there some deep dark secret in your origins?” Well, I know this secret, but you may not. So go watch the series and find out while enjoying the re-watching experience alongside me!
Ciao for now,
The Digidestined Cody
[This series continues HERE !]