All Aboard (Digimon Frontier: Episode 01)

Digimon Frontier is the fourth series in the popular Digimon: Digital Monsters franchise. Whereas the previous Digimon Adventure (encompassing two different series within the same universe) and Digimon Tamers involved young human characters (Digidestined) who connect and partner with Digital Monsters in order to save both the Real World and the Digital World, Digimon Frontier changes the dynamics of the game. This time around, the Digidestined are drawn into the Digital World in order to track down ‘Spirits’ of Ancient Legendary Warrior Digimon that can be scanned into one’s Digivice to transform the Digidestined themselves into Spirit Transformed beasts with awesome power.

The episode opens onto our first protagonist Takuya running through the streets of Tokyo toward Jiyuugaoka Station in the Meguro Ward. A child drops his soccer ball and Takuya runs to catch it, but finds himself immediately in mortal danger as a large truck comes careening around the corner toward him.

Flashback to a few minutes previous. Takuya is reclining at home when he receives a mysterious message asking him if he wants to start. Takuya responds in the affirmative and is prompted by another message to head toward a specific station platform.

Flash-forward. Takuya makes it to the station with one minute to spare only to find he forgot to bring money with which to purchase a ticket. Distraught, he headbutts the ticket machine, which prompts it to glow redly before administering a Red Ticket unlike those all surrounding would-be passengers. Takuya takes the ticket on faith and tries it at the turnstile. He is admitted onto the station platform and barely makes it onto the train before its doors shut.

From here, Takuya is prompted to change trains at the next station and head toward Shibuya Station. but he is unfamiliar with this part of town and unable to traverse it quickly enough without using an time-losing aid like the station map (which must first be tracked down). Instead, he scans the current train and finds another young kid like himself who seems to be hyper-fixated on his cell phone (a sign then- in 2004- that this kid might have received the same message, but one that would be of little help today when 99% of that subway’s denizens would all be hyper-fixated on their phones). Takuya follows this kid and makes his way successfully to an elevator, which spits the two out onto a seemingly secret Underground Platform in the Shibuya Station (known colloquially as the D-Terminal: a nod to the Japanese connection cable that links one to the internet, amongst other things).

The D-Terminal contains 12 separate railways spread centrifugally from the elevator at the station’s centre. Many children are found throughout the station, revealing thereby that in this case, many kids were called by the Digital World to become potential Digidestined. Only those who chose to take up the challenge and made it to this terminal have the chance of a lifetime. But there is little time to lose as the earliest trains are already beginning to depart the station. Takuya, and the kid he was following who we will later learn is Koji, run off toward the trains and end up on parallel lines rather than the same line as Takuya had hoped. From here onward, Takuya and Koji’s story’s split ways for a time and Takuya once more becomes the central focus of the narrative.

when Takuya boarded his train, it was already taking off, so he only managed to grab onto the back of it. As he enters the cabins, he eventually finds three other riders: Zoe, J.P., and Tommy. The first two are affable enough, though Tommy is the youngest and reveals he was bullied into entering the train and wants more than anything else to return home. In a word, he is the cry-baby who will have to come up against challenge after challenge within the Digital World before gaining the strength of character and courage to take up the helm as a true Digidestined.

Along the way, a flock of flying Poyomon are seen outside and interpreted as either ghosts of children who made this trip and failed to return home. Though the burly J.P. likes to think of them as marshmallows that would be great with chocolate sauce. Also along the way, the train reaches a rough section through a tunnel where the four children fall from their seats to the cabin floor below. Takuya notices, for a brief moment, that his fellow traveler’s appearances glitch heavily and reveal a layer of themselves as Digimon, after which their cellphones morph into D-Tectors (the newest form of the Digivice). Once the trip draws to a close, the children find themselves at Flame Terminal near a village of malevolent and more-generally mean-spirited Pagumon who tell the Digidestined horrible tales about the Digital World and how they will most likely not survive their sojourn therein. The kids also find that their train was no mere human creation, but a variant of the Champion-level Trailmon with the appearance of a Worm not unlike those on Arrakis (Dune) or in the Hollywood film series Tremors.

After the train leaves the station, Tommy tries to follow it back home along the tracks. This is a precarious situation as the tracks are hundreds of feet above the ground resting, as it were, in mid-air. As Takuya tries to coax Tommy off of the tracks by referring to a vague premonition from Trailmon that the only way they will survive is by tracking down the ‘spirits’, Bokomon and Neemon appear, bowling over Takuya in the process. They are being chased by a dangerous Ultimate-level Darkness-type Digimon known as Cerberumon (named after the Greek three-headed dog monster Cerberus) who seemingly has the power to absorb data from the world around him and destroy it irreparably (which explains why the land beneath the train tracks is missing). As Takuya, Tommy, Bokomon, and Neemon fall below the tracks to the one area that is not hundreds of feet below, Takuya’s D-Tector senses a force in the vicinity.

Perched on a platform mere yards from Takuya is a Spirit Crest covered in flames. The object calls out to Takuya and he enters the flames that Cerberumon finds unbearable. Takuya has a spiritual encounter with the Legendary Warrior housed within, Agunimon, and in this spirit vision he becomes one with the crest before Cerberumon can destroy it. Takuya exits the flames, unburned, and uses his D-Tector to Spirit Evolve into Agunimon and take down Cerberumon. This is no mean feat as all previous protagonists in the Digimon franchise began their battling careers with Baby, In-training, or Rookie-level partners fighting only slightly stronger foes. The ease of which Agunimon finds the dispensation of an Ultimate-level powerhouse like Cerberumon is testament to the starting strength of our Frontier protagonists and a sign of good fights to come.

The episode ends as Agunimon absorbs the ‘Fractal Code’ (or Data) of Cerberumon and once more becomes Takuya as he and the others depart the station. Koji’s Trailmon (an Angler variant), meanwhile, arrives at its own station someplace away in the Digital World.

 

Ciao for now,

The Digidestined Cody

[Continued HERE]

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