No Questions Please (Digimon Adventure Episode 24)
Tai, Joe, Matt, and T.K. are all back together and out searching for their other three Digidestined friends. Meanwhile, Izzy and Tentomon have been keeping themselves busy tracking down Gennai. It’s been over two months since their search for the continent of Server and Gennai began and now things seem to be coming to a head in the search, when DemiDevimon once again presents bulwarks to their progress. This time he sets up a series of wooden road signs warning of impending danger along various trails in the forms of falling sludge from the mountainside, a bottomless sludge pit, and “attack sludge”, whatever the heck that is. Of course these signs are over the top and meant to be humorous, but Izzy and Tentomon fall for them hook, line, and sinker and are soon right on top of DemiDevimon’s trapdoor.
The door is activated and they fall through into an odd seemingly endless space. A voice speaks to them in the midst of their cosmic space and offers his help if Izzy will relinquish his curiosity to him. Izzy protests, but eventually relents, as going splat from a fall like that would be far less preferable to some odd request to free his mind of curiosity and questioning. Then things get weirder.
Izzy and Tentomon find themselves in a micro-universe chamber, floating around. Vademon, a Mars Attacks-like alien with tendrils and a large external brain and ray gun welcomes them to his universe. His image is framed yogically as a teacher of eastern mystic religions. He is floating in space and advises Izzy that to become one with the universe he must stop thinking. If he thinks less, he will be happier. Then, in a powerful moment he relates a central theme of the darkness at the heart of Digimon Adventure’s core: “Indifference is the key to success.”
In this essay series, I’ve often made the point that Digimon Adventure is an answer to the postmodern condition shared by so many in our modern world. Sometimes the series makes this blatantly obvious with screenwriter nods to versatility in post-structuralist theories (like in Andromon’s factory) and elsewhere through the use of crests (Sincerity, Friendship, Courage) with names of quaint emotions and values that figures like David Foster Wallace believed could fight back against the emotionally devastating and ultimately true anti-foundationalisms of postmodernism. In this episode, we find that the blatant evil and darkness of the Digidestined’s antagonists is replaced by a softer evil in the form of eastern mysticism, which has aligned itself pretty thoroughly with many of the anti-foundationalisms of postmodernity. His advice to Izzy is to end his curiosity because it is not only a dead end intellectually (the more his curiosity grows, the more foundationalisms he must destroy for himself until he falls into the pit of nihilism), but also leads to unhappiness in the forms of malaise and aporia and existential dread at the vacuity of meaningful foundations and interactions in the world.
Vademon, with his yogic mannerisms of speech and posture, his vaguely Indian name (derived from the Vedas?), and his other-worldly appearance is ultimately unconnected to the Dark Lords who would corrupt and bring pain through their nihilism. Instead, he just deals with Dark Lords and attempts to bring happiness through nirvana, or the snuffing out into non-existence, to his prey by encouraging them to drop out and become like a drop of water into the ocean of all existence. To cease being entirely.
DemiDevimon arrives later and attempts to buy Izzy’s tag and crest from Vademon, but it turns out that DemiDevimon has nothing to offer in exchange (his own curiosity is too feeble and simple to even manifest in a physical bubble as Izzy’s has). They begin to fight over the tag and crest. All the while, Tentomon has seen his friend reduced to a vegetative state. He loses his energy as his Digidestined partner loses resolve, trust, and himself in the artificial cosmos of Vademon’s lair. Tentomon de-Digivolves into Motimon and then into Pabumon, and nearly returns back into the nothingness from which he was originally thrown into this world. Izzy awakens to reality at the last moment and saves his Digimon partner from the void of nonexistence in the brink of time.
The two then escape the room and steal back the tag and crest. Pabumon digivolves all the way back to Tentomon and then into Kabuterimon to fight Vademon, but is bludgeoned by meteors and asteroids in Vademon’s cosmos. Nearly defeated and Izzy now in mortal peril, the Digivice and Tag activate and Kabuterimon becomes MegaKabuterimon, blasts through the space debris, and then through an entire planet with his Horn Blaster attack. The Hey Digimon theme rings out as the two claim another win for the Digidestined team’s values of trust and friendship in the face of inscrutable, deeply-unsettling evil.
Now, Izzy and Motimon (all Digimon revert to their in-training forms after an ultimate level Digivolution) meet up with Matt and T.K., while DemiDevimon takes the punishment doled out by his master, Myotismon, for once again failing to perform his duties. Gennai appears and gives the team new information in the way of a Digimon file full of information on Izzy’s laptop (call it a DigiDex). This time the allure of evil was stronger than any other time before. Will the Digidestined be able to fight against what Nietzsche called our inevitable embrace of nihilism? Or is their fight the beginning of that move beyond nihilism he also predicted oh so long ago?
The Digidestined Cody
[This series continued HERE]