The Dark Heart of Friendship (Digimon Frontier: Episode 25)
(Catch my previous episode review HERE)
After the defeat of Volcamon in the Earth Area of Sakkakumon, Bokomon and Neemon can see that one of the Legendary Warrior of Steel’s ten sefiroth eye nodules has gone black, meaning that this area no longer contains a champion and our Beast Spirit Legendary Warrior of Evil is 10% defeated. As all five of the Legendary Warriors of Light have been nabbed by various arms and dragged unwillingly into different eye sectors, they may soon defeat up to 60% of this titanic maze-like Digimon and ready themselves once more for the journey toward the Rose Morning Star where Ophanimon awaits their arrival.
In this episode, however, we are only privy to the goings-on around Tommy and Koji, who have fallen into the Flame and Wind areas respectively. In the previous episode, J.P. just happened to wander off from his friends and fall into the Earth Area, which just so happened to be his weakness as the Legendary Warrior of Lightning. For Tommy, he too has managed to find himself in the heart of enemy territory as the Legendary Warrior of Ice who is most susceptible to flame. As Koji has already gone head-to-head with Darkness in his battle against Duskmon previously, he is thrown into the Wind Area instead, though he may later have to fight against the darkness within himself after all in the Dark Area of Sakkakumon.
Tommy, while alone in this hell-like region where flames and plumes of fire and lava come spurting out of the ground at irregular intervals, finds himself all alone and vulnerable. He reflects on past talks with his older brother Yutaka (who is voiced by the same voice actor as Tai in the English dub). At home, Tommy was babied by his parents constantly and given just about anything he wanted. Yutaka realized that his parents were potentially harming Tommy emotionally and often tried to talk to Tommy about it, relating to him that the outside world becomes harsher year after year once you become a teenager. Yutaka meant to tell Tommy to toughen up in the hopes that no one would take advantage of his childish manner and so he could get some real friends at school one day, but Tommy thought his older brother was merely mocking him and being mean because their parents seemed to like Tommy more as the baby of the family.
Within the Flame Area, an Ultimate-level legendary Digimon named Asuramon (from the Hindu god of fire and destruction, if I’m not mistaken) appears and attacks Tommy. He immediately begins calling out for his friends, the other Digidestined, which makes him realize that he does rely on others too often and maybe needed some of the harsh talk from his brother to become stronger-willed. Asuramon disappears, and a cloaked figure approaches who claims that he has scared off Asuramon for the time being. This Digimon is large and scary, but claims to have Tommy’s best interests at heart and wishes to become his friend. He purportedly leads Tommy to his friends and even brings him water to drink from time to time, which allows Tommy to wallow in reliance upon another for a time.
When it becomes apparent that this Digimon is not leading him back to his friends or to the exit of this world, and is instead driving him onward to progressively hotter, harsher climes until they reach the top of a lava mountain, Tommy asks his friend where they are really going. The ‘friend’ responds that he needed to go to the mountain first to grab something before bringing Tommy back to his friends on the outside world, but Tommy is not fooled. He understands that a true friend does not think of things in a tit-for-tat mode and instead is willing to help the other, even disproportionately if necessary. The friend reveals his true face as Asuramon and Tommy Spirit Evolves into Kumamon, and then eventually Slide Evolves into Korikakumon to defeat his relatively under-powered foe. When Tommy steps out of the Flame Area and into the eye portal to escape, he no longer holds any doubts about his older brother’s good intentions and he feels himself to now be emotionally resolved of his past problems. This feeling of wholeness and lack of self-doubt transports him out of Sakkakumon entirely and onto the shores of the precipice over which Sakkakumon floats. Most importantly, Tommy is back with Bokomon and Neemon.
Concurrently with the events described above, Koji finds himself within a grove in the Wind Area where those with a control of the air can dictate the battle. As he wanders about, a voice calls out and taunts him before appearing as the Tengu-Prince Digimon Karatenmon. This Digimon takes its appearance from a particular Oni in Japanese mythology that lives high in the mountains called the tengu who are associated most closely with the syncretic Buddhist-Shinto religion of Shugendo. and like that mythological beast, this Digimon is garbed in the ceremonial clothing of the Shugendo priesthood.
(A little aside, but about three years back, I spent a week at a little village called Dorogawa at the foot of Mt. Omine near Nara, Japan. This mountain is considered one of the holiest in Shugendo practice and is extremely difficult and treacherous to climb as it requires the use of ropes and chains with which to leap over precipices. As the climb is still forbidden to women and there were girls in my group, we instead made the climb up the secondary mountain of the region and performed cold water ablutions in 20 degree weather at the local Shugendo temple. The people of Dorogawa have a running tradition which states that they are not mere mortals, but are instead the mixed progeny of Oni and human beings. It was a great little place with amazing food and culture that I hope to visit again one day.)
Karatenmon continues to berate Koji from the trees and only descends for battle once he Spirit Evolves to Lobomon. The big bird wishes, like all Digimon in the service of Cherubimon, to defeat Koji and take his Spirits for the cause. And like all of his fellow Ultimate-level Digimon throughout Sakkakumon, he uses some mental games to his advantage in the fight. This time around the target is Koji’s lone wolf attitude and, displaying some mysterious knowledge about Koji’s inner life like all the previous enemies of this domain, he knows that Koji retains some sort beef with his mother who presumably left his father and him behind. Unfortunately for Karatenmon, he only succeeds in enraging Koji into Slide Evolving into KendoGarurumon and taking him out with an onslaught of attacks that makes overkill seem too light a word.
Koji exits the room, but Karatenmon’s words still weigh heavily on his heart, and as such, Koji remains within the complex of Sakkakumon generally. Three lights have now gone out in the outward eyes of Sakkakumon and he is 30% beaten. One can only surmise it is a matter of time before the others come to grips with their demons, defeat their foes, and make their way to the Steel Area where Mercurymon may be waiting as a last boss within Sakkakumon, a last boss whose defeat I surmise will be the end of Mercurymon as a Legendary Warrior.
Ciao for now,
The Digidestined Cody