Divided They Stand (Digimon Tamers: Episode 12)
Again, Hypnos is tracking a new disturbance, which seems anomalous and unlike anything they have ever seen before. Yamaki sits around with his lighter, smoking cigarettes and looking cool, even though we know he is no genius and has a difficult time keeping up with his duties. That he is, in fact, a weak and ineffectual government employee who mostly deserves the heckling he gets on weekly basis by his overseers. And yet, he complains about the Tamers, calls them a nuisance, despite their strength, their ability to clean up his messes, and the fact that he would be out of a job if it weren’t for them destroying the Digimon who have been emerging from Digital Fields into the real world over the past few weeks. (As Konaka has given us little to grapple with philosophically or psychologically thus far, I’m a little irritated at the series. Especially after having reviewed his far more challenging work Serial Experiments Lain).
Kazu and Kenta are now ignoring their friend Takato. Last episode, Takato told them about Guilmon and invited them to come see him. But when they arrived, they only saw the eyes and heard the growls of Guilmon from within his den before running away in fear. Kazu and Kenta believe that Takato tricked them with some lights and pre-recorded sounds, which is reason enough to avoid him. Or worse yet, they think he may have fooled himself into believing in Digimon. At which point, in their analysis, Takato is insane and ought to be avoided. Jeri passes by the group as Takato tries to get their attention and convince them that Guilmon is real, that Digimon are real. At this point, Jeri gets a feeling that Takato isn’t all there, mentally, as well.
Elsewhere, Rika sulks and whines about how Renamon must not really care for her after all. Otherwise, she reasons, Renamon would have come back around to visit Rika and make amends. If she had ever paid much attention, she would know that Renamon hides in the shadows and has been keeping a close watch on her for some time to ensure her continued safety. Given a little self-knowledge, Rika would understand how alike the two really are, how central stubbornness is to their characters, and how one of the two must bite the bullet and apologize for their friendship to continue, and their partnership to really begin. But she doesn’t.
And maybe this is a central key to understanding most figures in modern literature, film, anime, and narrativity in general: The physical quest once drawn to symbols and myths is now purely psychological. The quest has become one of finding the self, of obtaining self-knowledge, and thereby of conquering the self, of restraining the will. The older narratives pre-supposed this psychological journey, always already including it into a background for a character to be interesting in the first place. The hero not weak and unformed like a slab of marble, but complete, whole, and only in the final stages of movement before the ultimate quest: The quest which is Sisyphean, fundamentally insignificant, but representative of the human will’s power to push the limits and to throttle the boulder, to force it forward and up until the mountain is revealed as finite. And the boulder rolls down its opposite slope, and the eyes of man upon a virgin vista disclosed in the first instance upon a new journey, a new form, a new approach, a new goal, and a new challenge which breathes life into life by its very disclosure.
And in this moment an awakening. In this moment an understanding of the horizon of which Bukowski spoke and of which Heidegger only hinted, which Nietzsche foretold. But giving up on the task at hand would be to show a lack of resolve, a lack of will, and an inability to hone and sharpen my tools. So, for now I return to Digimon, despite the horrors that subject currently inspires within me.
In a local park, on a baseball diamond, three Flybeemon (abominably-designed Armor Digimon apparently the result of Hawkmon after contact with the DigiEgg of Knowledge) appear from within a Digital Field. Renamon arrives first and make short work of the first. Rika and Calumon show up next, and even though Renamon begins to lose the battle to her two remaining combatants, Rika still cannot muster up enough sympathy, friendship, or empathy to rise above her pig-headedness and support Renamon from the sidelines with Modify Cards, let alone even a word of support. Renamon manages to turn the situation around and ends up defeating her opponents without the aid of her Tamer partner.
Later, Rika walk-mopes about, reflecting on her belief that Renamon only wants her as a partner so that she can Digivolve. Henry and Renamon walk about together elsewhere, and he reveals the nature of partnership as one of friendship with an equal. In this relationship, one knows the other’s strengths and weakness, and as such, knows the key to defeating them, but chooses not to in favor of watching their back, protecting them from the exploitation of their weaknesses by enemies. He explains that partners also have commonalities that tie them together and make the relationship more than a mere instrumental defensive pairing. That is to say, in a partnership, the two get along.
Takato, meanwhile, walks about the city (as these characters are constantly won’t to do, which I understand insofar as they are children with little money to afford doing anything of consequence and still of the bent that engenders the desire to explore constantly. However, the monotony seems stifling to me, a viewer, and as such, must be absolutely suffocating to these kids). He runs into Yamaki, who knows Takato’s name, his identity, and tells him that he and his friends are under observation. Yamaki issues a warning that Takato ought to get a new hobby as soon as possible (which would, as I have previously established, actually result in the loss of a job by Yamaki whose inability to stop Digimon from Bio-emerging, or to put them down once they have, would immediately render him persona non grata to the organization and to the government). Later, Yamaki will be spied spying on Takato outside of his parent’s bakery.
Takato runs into Jeri shortly after his encounter with Yamaki, and decides to bring her to see Guilmon. Jeri responds favorably to Guilmon, finding him to be a quite cute and affable fellow indeed. Guilmon asks Takato if she is Takato’s girlfriend, quite openly in fact. And once she departs, Takato asks Guilmon if he believes that Jeri likes him.
Next we have a vignette of Impmon watching two children, Ai and Mako, as they fight over a teddy bear. He has a flashback to a time when he was being pulled apart similarly by the two. He seems to take joy in the fact that he is now a free Digimon without such destructive Tamers. Renamon appears just as the two pull the teddy bear apart, and Impmon laughs at their subsequent sadness. She asks Impmon what is wrong with him and he gives her his whole shtick about being free and powerful without the need of a Tamer. Renamon humors Impmon and inquires further into how one might Digivolve without a Tamer, and as one expects, the clueless little guy has no real answer, leaving Renamon to continue pondering the problem all on her own, as well as the ancillary problem of her destiny and whether it is intertwined with the being (her Tamer) whose will summoned her from the void itself (a seemingly simple question to ascertain the answer to, even at a glance).
At home, Rika acts bratty and isolates herself from her lonely grandmother. She throws away her D-Power again. Her grandmother tells her that ‘no one can make it in this world on their own,’ which is not strictly true. Taken in an emotional-social sense, plenty of people enjoy isolation and in fact thrive on not being around others. Those with the strongest wills are those who really don’t need others at all, and might even be able to survive off the grid, given enough space in which to forage and hunt for sustenance. But, point made. Rika could be more social and would probably benefit emotionally in the process.
A new Digital Field emerges in the park and Harpymon appears. Renamon fights this Digital beast, almost gets killed in the process, and Guilmon and Terriermon watch from the sidelines. Renamon has made no claims about this being her fight and made no demands of the others to stay out of the fight, and as such, they could intervene at any time and wipe out Harpymon quickly, as a team, but they choose not to. Rika arrives and finally decides to help, but she has left her Modify cards in the trash at home. Just as Renamon is about to be killed, Rika rushes forward with a sharp stick and stabs Harpymon in the back. The being turns and is about to kill Rika when Calumon’s head-symbol glows once more, which gives Renamon the power to Digivolve into Kyubimon and defeat Harpymon with her Fox-Tail Inferno attack.
Kyubimon doesn’t absorb Harpymon’s data because she recognizes its unimportance in helping her to Digivolve. Rika and Kyubimon reunite and both reflect on their hardheadedness while Yamaki sits around in Hypnos complaining about ‘data walking around like living creatures.’ But they have become living creatures through a sufficient concatenation of programming complexity and the ability to manifest themselves physically in the real world as creatures, Yamaki. Surely, your background in computer programming included a bit of philosophy of mind on AI, right? If this is a vision of Japanese Cyber-security qua surreptitious technocracy, then they sorely need a better technocrat.
The Digidestined Cody