Digimon Films: Digimon Tamers: Runaway Locomon
(Catch my previous Digimon film review here: Tamers: Battle of Adventurers)
The second and, thus far, final Digimon Tamers film was released on March 2nd, 2002, in between the TV release schedule for episodes 46 and 47 of the anime. However, unlike the previous film, it doesn’t take place at roughly the same time of its release. Instead, Runaway Locomon is situated six months chronologically after the D-Reaper was defeated at the end of the series. Like the film before it, Chiaki J. Konaka, the Tamers series writer, had nothing to do with its development and instead a different screenwriter was hired to create the scenario. Konaka himself criticized this move as some confusion arose from potential continuity errors between this film and the series. However, Konaka has also given his support to the film as it further develops Rika’s character in line with the psychological acuity and attention present in the series.
The film begins with Rika at a train station with her mother. She is on her cell phone speaking with Takato and she seems mad that he didn’t tell her about a party or outing that he had planned with all of her friends and even family invited. It seems he has been planning some sort of a surprise party for Rika and the cat has been let out of the metaphorical bag. Suddenly, a large black antique train passes by at blistering speed in the terminal. The machine does not stop to load passengers and upon closer inspection is not actually a train at all, but a Digimon with the appearance of a train. Further down the tracks, Takato has been trying to meet up with Rika. When the train passes through his terminal, he manages to scan it on his D-Power and finds that the digital being is called Locomon. And boy is this thing crazy hell bent on getting someplace or other.
Now, here is where the big point of contention arises among fans of the series. Takato has Guilmon with him just as Renamon is by Rika’s side, though off in the shadows. In the following scenes, we find that Calumon is living with Jeri at her house, Kenta and MarineAngemon are out about town shopping, and Kazu and Guardromon are hanging out in the park. Later, Beelzemon will enter the picture, as will Justimon. This means that not only did the small DigiPort that Takato found at the end of the series at the back of Guilmon’s den eventually allow for Guilmon to return to his Tamer partner in the Real World. But so too have all of the other Tamer Digimon returned. And this despite the fact that Janyu’s use of the Juggernaut program at such a fundamental ontological level between the Digital World and the Real World supposedly made the Real World uninhabitable for Digimon. While not exactly a continuity error, we have yet to receive the full explanation of how this became possible in the interim between the series and this film, and as such, it comes as quite a surprise to attentive fans and viewers of the series.
Takato has Guilmon Digivolve into Growlmon to attempt to stop the train Digimon head on. As expected, the Champion-level Growlmon is not up to the task of stopping an Ultimate-level dead in its tracks, though he does stall the train just long enough for Takato to climb aboard the train. Rika and Renamon join him shortly thereafter by jumping down from a bridge farther ahead on the tracks directly on top of the Locomon, before then climbing inside of his classy chassis. The trio find a boiler, but even the most OP water-based Modify Cards administered to Renamon are not not enough to put out the fire powering Locomon. They eventually find out that he is acting so oddly because a Mega-level push-over Digimon named Parasimon has infected him with his parasitic self and is controlling his movements, throwing him thereby into a frenzied race to no particular place.
Henry, Kazu, and Kenta eventually catch up to one another and find an unused train car, which they power through Guardromon’s flying ability and attempt to get as close to Locomon as possible. Meanwhile, the train commission techies have no clue what to do except for cancelling all routes, closing the train’s circuit into a closed loop, and getting all of the other trains off of the tracks as soon as mechanically possible. After some time scrambling to restore some semblance of order, Yamaki arrives and takes over the department, and directs the construction workers on call to manually move Locomon’s track in a different direction off toward a DigiPort that will absorb him and send him packing back to the Digital World.
Unfortunately, Parasimon complicates matters as he continually targets Rika as a parasitic host and turns her against her friends, which makes it difficult for them to jump ship and get out of the way of the DigiPort up ahead on the tracks. Furthermore, Parasimon has a broader plan that involves forcing Locomon to Digivolve to Mega-level as GranLocomon, making him practically unstoppable, even by the DigiPort, which is now of minuscule size relative to the train Digimon. Finally, Parasimon is able to call hundreds of its friends through the DigiPort once it comes within close enough proximity to it. All of the main Digimon Digivolve, but Sakuyamon, MegaGargomon, Gallantmon, Justimon, MarineAngemon, Guardromon, and Beelzemon Blast Mode astride Behemoth (which should be destroyed completely and serves as the only true continuity error in the film) are still too few to overcome the parasitic menace. That is, until Gallantmon takes on his Super Mega form as Gallantmon Crimson Mode and uses his Quo Vadis special attack to defeat all of the Parasimon throughout the city in one fell swoop.
The destruction of the parasites frees up Locomon’s mind, though he is comically still hell bent on chugging along, seemingly without any goal in sight. He turns back into his Ultimate-level form and enters the DigiPort, the situation is resolved and the Tamers return home to celebrate the win, and to celebrate Rika’s birthday together as a group. However, while she was being possessed by Parasimon, she was forced to reflect on the loss of her father, her father who is separated from her mother, seemingly left his family behind, and now is never around for her. Rika leaves the party to collect her thoughts and makes herself seem stand offish in the process. But unlike the old Rika, she has matured and grown stronger in will and in confidence. She stands back up and walks back toward the party after a few moments of reflection, illustrating her growth as a character and as a person even since the D-Reaper was defeated so few months prior.
All in all, the film is nothing to write home about. It’s a fun little adventure, but there is never an instant in which the pressure is really on as the Parasimon never succeed in overtaking any really powerful hosts and the threat of Locomon was, in reality, something of a non-threat. Even if he never ran out of steam and had to go along manically forever in the Real World, he could be put on a closed loop. This would really slow down traffic for a time, but would in no way be the end of the world or anything close to an existential threat to humanity like the Devas once were, or like Zhuqiaomon, the D-Reaper, Mephistomon. The film is interesting, but very little of consequence occurs therein. At any rate, I’m glad that the creators of Digimon made this film and gave us fans what amounts to an extra episode of the series almost just for the hell of it.
The Digidestined Cody