Fear and Loathing in Los Arboles (Digimon Frontier: Episode 12)
Fear and Loathing in Los Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream, this episode’s unlikely namesake, is a classic book recounting a fictionalized account of author Hunter S. Thompson’s drug-addled, insane trip to Las Vegas to report on a motorcycle race. The book details his exploits that are often hard to discern as real, dreamt, imagined, or hallucinated throughout this wild ride, while also detailing Thompson’s gonzo journalism wherein one becomes part and parcel of the world in which he is reporting on to better understand, but probably more importantly, to live life on a razor’s edge and to thereby truly live life rather than merely watch as it passes one by.
This episode of Digimon Frontier has absolutely nothing to do with this sentiment, and unlike literary titles in Digimon Tamers (like ‘His Kingdom for a Horse’) that also reflect the events of the episode thematically, this random use of pun titles seems to be common in the Digimon Frontier English dub. What the episode is about is a battle in the forest, however, thus the dub coordinators decided to entitle it Los Arboles or ‘The Trees’ instead of some more appropriate title referencing the emotional vagaries experienced by Takuya as he attempts to control his Beast Spirit evolution BurningGreymon.
The episode begins in media res as BurningGreymon faces off against Beetlemon and KendoGarurumon who are trying to calm Takuya and bring him to his senses. However, the animalistic intensity of an unrestrained form like the Beast Spirit of a Legendary Warrior is extremely hard to reign in and bloodthirsty to boot. Takuya finds himself questioning why his friends seem to be fighting him, which through the logic of the Beast Spirit, leads Takuya to conclude that his friends have become his enemies for some unknown reason. Tommy, at first on the sidelines, decides to show courage by approaching BurningGreymon to talk him out of fighting, and in the process is almost killed by Takuya’s Beast form before Takuya realizes what he is doing, puts down Tommy before he harms him, and runs off toward a rock that he commences to headbutt until he weakens his Beast form and reverts back to himself as Takuya.
From here on out, the group decides that they need to track down Grumblemon to retrieve Tommy and Zoe’s ‘Spirits’, but decide their best course going forward is to just head on to the Forest Terminal as Grumblemon seems to find them first anyway. And upon finding a vine maze with four X outcomes and one O outcome (for completion of the winner), the team splits up, and only Tommy and Takuya land on the correct outcome. Immediately the other Digidestined and team fall in pits of quicksand where they are immobilized, but find the sand pits to end only a few feet below the surface. When Grumblemon appears, the other Digidestined are not in any mortal peril, but also cannot help out Takuya and Tommy in the ensuing battle.
About said battle. It begins as more of a game for Grumblemon who immediately transforms into Gigasmon and toys with Takuya as Agunimon who is under-powered due to his unwillingness to Beast Spirit Evolve into BurningGreymon. Gigasmon next abducts Tommy and jumps through the trees of the forest along branches and vines, while Agunimon follows him, and is ultimately unable to save Tommy until he decides to take the risk and become BurningGreymon. Through Tommy’s earlier intervention, Takuya has seemingly gained the ability to control his Beast Spirit and thereby finds it easy to use his firepower to defeat Gigasmon once he lures the big lug into a open field where the prospect of burning the adjacent wood is unlikely. From this position, the charred and defeated Gigasmon reverts to Grumblemon and BurningGreymon is able to retrieve Tommy’s Spirit, as well as the Gigasmon Beast Spirit before Grumblemon awakens and burrows underground to safety.
Now, the Digidestined are in a better position as both Koji and Takuya have Beast Spirit Evolutions that the can control, J.P. and Tommy both have H Spirit Evolutions, and they no longer have to worry about Gigasmon giving them a hard time. Unfortunately, there was not enough time to return Zoe’s Spirit to her, and what’s worse is when the scene transitions back to Grumblemon, he is seen within a dark lair for Cherubimon’s evil hired hands. Therein, it is revealed that Ranamon, the Legendary Warrior of Water; Mercurymon, the Legendary Warrior of Steel; Arbormon, the Legendary Warrior of Wood; and Duskmon, presumably the Legendary Warrior of Darkness; are all in league with Cherubimon and his evil plans. Mercurymon makes an obscure remark that the absent Duskmon has no heart for battle and only stares at the three moons of the Digital World as is searching for something within himself. With this in mind, there are at least three Legendary Warriors raring to go who may all have Beast Spirit evolutions and wish to destroy the Digidestined to further Cherubimon’s fracturization of the Digital World.
A question I’ve been wondering about this series thus far is whether or not the other Legendary Warriors who are working for Cherubimon are also children like our good Digidestined. I know from the little I remember about the series whilst watching it as a youth that Duskmon is a human child who succumbed to the darkness because of emotional instability and confusion regarding his identity. However, at the beginning of the series, we did witness many children within the Shibuya Station Underground Terminal who may have also entered the trains and thereby the Digital World. As I’ve discussed earlier, it is possible that all children who entered the Digital World at that time were bestowed with the gift of destiny and became potential Digidestined with D-Tectors. More unsettling, if many of these children did not find their Spirits before the others, they may have been unable to defend themselves int he Digital World and thereby became Greymon gumbo or Parrotmon pate, or the like.
As I can’t remember whether or not Grumblemon and the others were originally children, there is at least a possibility that they are Digimon who (like we saw with Shamanmon) were able to locate the Spirits before human children and thereby became Digidestined who were themselves originally Digimon. Although protagonist Digimon from previous series seemed to be chosen or created to aid their Digidestined partners they were always only there in a support position to the human characters. This turn of events in the Digimon Frontier universe is interesting insofar as it yields the possibility that some Digimon are now able to take the helm of champions and become heroes themselves like the fabled Legendary Warriors once did.
Ciao for now,
The Digidestined Cody