Trailmon vs. Trailmon (Digimon Frontier: Episode 18)
This is quite possibly the most fun episode of Digimon Frontier ever made and for years I mistook this episode in my embellished, half-memory for a short film from the Digimon Tamers series called Runaway Locomon. However, this episode is at least on par with that episode for pure entertainment value alone.
The Digidestined have boarded a Trailmon heading in the general direction of the Rose Morning Star where the next episode of their journey will commence. They are all oddly talking to their unresponsive Beast Spirits within their D-Tectors and Bokomon is speaking to the DigiEgg of Seraphimon as if he its mother, much to the confusion of J.P. and Neemon who find themselves currently within the out of place position as the voices of reason. A train salesman enters their train car pushing along a cart full of burgers and candy and other food and snacks for sale. The attendant is an EbiBurgamon (or Shrimp-Burger Digimon) whose wares entice Zoe most of all (despite her having already eaten thirty plates of food in the previous town where the Autumn Leaf Fair was held). As none amongst the Digidestined party have Digidollars, they all must grit their teeth and bear their hunger until they reach the next town however.
Once they arrive in another bustling Digi-tropolis (based upon Monaco), they find that a big event is being undertaken called the Great Trailmon Race. Each Trailmon has an attendant/rider who aids the Trailmon as a smaller partner in the race. As the prize is purported to be cheeseburgers, Zoe jumps at the chance to pilot a Trailmon in the race when she hears that one’s partner has not shown up on time. Unfortunately, a ShadowWereGarurumon and his partner Doggymon get there first and commandeer the Trailmon for themselves. The pair are whimsical with an edge of danger and dastardly tactics, and are obviously modeled on Dick Dastardly and Muttley from beloved Hannah-Barbara cartoon series Wacky Races. This can be corroborated by the fact that this episode’s Japanese title is directly taken from the Japanese name of the Hannah-Barbara cartoon: Chiki Chiki Machine Mou Race.
As ShadowWereGarurumon and Doggymon take over the Trailmon, all of the other appointed racers at the meet run in fear of being destroyed during the race by this demickey duo of dastardly dogs. As such, all five Digidestined and Neemon are able to pilot their Trailmon as partners in the race. A Piddomon (an Angemon variant with red highlights where Angemon’s are blue) moderates and commentates on the race as it unfolds through straight and curved runways, tight tunnels and turns overlooking canyon precipices, and various traps set along the way.
The entire event begins at a bad start as Neemon falls asleep before the race even begins and is immediately disqualified. Later, J.P. will run into a Raremon on the tracks that halts his progress: potentially because the Raremon is too big to fit inside a Trailmon and was thereby annoyed he could not be a part of the race, so he decided to sabotage a racer instead. Zoe’s cart becomes unusable, and Koji and Tommy’s eventually derail and fall into one of the precipices along the way, leaving only Takuya and his wily foes. As they pass through a tunnel, Takuya’s Trailmon falls into a hole along one of the remaining tracks. DemiMeramon live within the cave, and after the dastardly duo depart its main chamber, Trailmon begins to leak gasoline, which is ignited by the little Fire-spirit DemiMeramon.
All throughout the race, the Digidestined use their H Spirit and B Spirit (as a last resort) forms to aid their progress and prevent themselves from being defeated too early on in the race. This works to greater or lesser effect depending on the Digidestined and on the particular events at hand. However, for Takuya, he is able to use his Beast Spirit, BurningGreymon, to escape the cave, torch the opposition, and thereby win the rally. And don’t worry. If you are interested in watching this episode, but believe I may have spoiled something by giving this information away, knowing the outcome does not in any way lesser the experience of watching this episode, which is about as perfect and as entertaining as entertainment can get (at least in my eyes).
At the end of the race, Takuya and his Trailmon are given a one-year supply of Digi-Lube with which to keep the Trailmon running, as well as passes into the Digimon Hamburger Village for Takuya and all of his friends. Zoe finds this latter bit of information troubling as she was led to believe by onlookers of the race before its beginning that she would win cheeseburgers and hamburgers directly after winning the race. Unfortunately, this is not the case and the Digidestined must travel once more to reach a new destination before they are afforded this opportunity to chow down on all-you-can-eat hamburgers.
Before moving on and ending this episode review, I would like to mention something about this town. As it is modeled on a real European principality, the city feels as if it has a real internal consistency and logic and life of its own. There are tons of Digimon littering the streets here. And unlike the city from the previous episode wherein the Autumn Leaf Festival was housed, most of the Digimon here are Champion-level and below. There are a handful of Ultimate-level and Armor Digimon, but no Mega-level Digimon and no Golden Armor Digimon, which means this town makes sense with the events of the series wherein Cherubimon and his evil forces have been destroying the Digital World and any OP Digimon of conscience ought to be banding together to battle the evil forces that threaten to destroy their world.
Furthermore, this city contains Digimon never before seen anywhere in the anime like the red variant MegaKabuterimon, the red variant Angemon Piddomon, and the dark variant ShadowWereGarurumon. We see the first train workers in the EbiBurgamon and find out that they have a corresponding village all their own. There are tons of Trailmon variants, and a few we have not seen hitherto. And we see a cave wherein the native Digimon are DemiMeramon who we recognize by their Champion-level form Meramon and potentially from some Digimon games previously but never in the anime. These variants and new Digimon help to create a sense of world-building unlike anything we’ve seen thus far in Digimon Frontier and hearken back to original Villages in Digimon Adventure.
Ciao for now,
The Digidestined Cody