Arukenimon and Mummymon have stopped their van (with Oikawa, Ken, and the Dark Spore Children in tow) by Highton View Terrace where Daemon has popped up again from out of a portal in the ground. He asks Oikawa to give him the Dark Spore once again, instead of merely taking it by force (he is a Mega-level, super-powerful Digimon who might easily do so if he had the inclination- must be very polite or something). But something is odd, Daemon seems to be familiar with Oikawa already and addresses him by name.
As the Digidestined have finished dispensing with the rest of Daemon’s corps of Ultimate-level Digimon; SkullSatamon, LadyDevimon, and MarineDevimon; they are on their way to Highton View Terrace to head off the head honcho himself, and to free their friend and fellow Digidestined Ken from Oikawa’s clutches. Davis, Veemon, and Wormmon arrive first and manage to achieve this latter feat with no problem (as Oikawa already has the Dark Spore seeds he desired). Veemon and Wormmon Digivolve into ExVeemon and Stingmon and begin their assault of the Mega-level demonic Digimon, who merely brushes them off and seems to beat them momentarily without even breaking a sweat. Arukenimon and Mummymon then attack Daemon and are just as swiftly beaten.
Next, ExVeemon and Stingmon collect themselves and DNA Digivolve into Paildramon. To this Daemon responds by growing larger and dwarfing the Ultimate-level Digimon. Shakkoumon and Silphymon arrive and begin to help out as Paildramon Digivolves to the Mega-level as Imperialdramon in an attempt to at least match Daemon’s strength. All three Digimon attack him at once, but are not even able to leave a wrinkle upon his clothes, it seems that Daemon is something of a special Mega beyond regular Mega-level strength and resilience. As we are shown a vignette of Ken’s parents back at his home sitting around and worrying about why he has yet to return home again (just the day before he had been gone almost all day and unknown to them all the way in Miami and Mexico City helping to return the world back to normal, destroy Control Spires, and return Digimon to the Digital World).
Daemon asks Ken to come with him immediately and threatens to incinerate the nearby Highton View Terrace apartment complex if he refuses. Imperialdramon transforms into his Fighter Mode at this point. He and Shakkoumon and Silphymon begin their attack anew and seem to be attacking vigorously enough to distract Daemon and keep him from destroying anything while their Digidestined partners develop a new plan. They decide that they should open a digital gate, or D-port, on Jim’s laptop and try to send Daemon back through it into the Digital World. Daemon just scoffs and asks what they think the portal he has been appearing and disappearing into has been this whole time. If they send him back to the Digital World, he will just come right back through it and fight them once again.
Someone suggests that they try to open a portal to the Dark Ocean instead, where it will be much more difficult for Daemon to escape. Because Ken used to be the Digimon Emperor, and he is holder of the Dark D-3, he can potentially channel all of his residual dark energy through it to open up a Dark Gate. He decides to do his best and begins to channel his energy into the effort, but is immediately drained by the excruciating process. His fellow Digidestined stand next to him and place their hands upon his, thereby channeling their own energy into him and his Digivice. This practice in solidarity proves effective as it helps Ken to beat his feelings of fear and guilt and to come to grips with his past more fully than he ever had before this moment. The portal to the Dark Ocean opens, Imperialdramon Fighter Mode redoubles his efforts and uses both of his cannon attacks to slowly force Daemon back into the portal where the dark Digimon is trapped in the domain of that most fearsome denizen of the Dark Ocean, the Cthulu-Digimon Dragomon.
Oikawa runs off while the Dark Spore-infected children, now fully brainwashed, follow behind him into the shadows of the city’s alleyways. All now potential Digimon Emperors and hellions of the future who must be dealt with and freed from their Dark Spores in due time. The Digidestined return to their homes at this point and ready themselves for some much-needed rest after something like 40 hours awake and travelling in the fight against the machinations of Arukenimon, Mummymon, Oikawa, and Daemon. Jim drops them off at their homes one at a time and makes excuses all the while for why they are being returned home so late. At Davis’ home, June seems to have developed a crush on Jim. Back at Ken’s house, he decides to finally have the talk with his parents and alerts to them to his designation as a Digidestined, explains the events that have been occurring for the past few months, and finally introduce them to his Digimon partner Wormmon. Hopefully now that they know what their son is up to when missing at dinner time or for days on end, they will worry a little less (though the idea that their son is off fighting Digital Monsters is probably pretty unsettling in its own right).
Finally, we see Arukenimon and Mummymon return to their van and drive off into the city. Their plot going along quite swimmingly thanks to the appearance of Daemon and his lackey’s who helped distract the Digidestined just long enough for their plans to inject young children with the Dark Spores to go off without a hitch.
Ciao for now,
The Digidestined Cody
(Check out my previous film noir essay on Jules Dassin’s Night and The City)
Sam Fuller’s 1953 noir, Pickup On South Street, was based on the premise of a story he had heard from a friend earlier that year about a group of communist spies who lose a piece of microfilm central to their operations and are being tailed by FBI detectives looking to find it before their Soviet counterparts do. Fuller molded the idea and developed the script on his own after this central premise and included a new element: the underworld. He new through his years of research for newspapers and editorial rags that all cops relied heavily on informers, on stoolies, so he included one. And he had the microfilm go missing not on account of some inexplicable circumstance, but through the unwitting misfortune of a pickpocket to pick the wrong pocket.
The film noir spy film was his first A picture, and as such, he had more casting choices than he ever had previously. In the role of the pickpocket Skip McCoy he cast the inimitable Richard Widmark. For the stoolie Moe, he cast six-time Academy Award nominee (more noms than any actress in history) Thelma Ritter. And for the role of the ex-girlfriend of the communist peddler, a hooker named Candy set to deliver the microfilm when Skip filches it in the subway, Fuller cast the extremely sensual Jean Peters. Though he tried and originally turned down Ava Gardner, Shelley Winters, Marilyn Monroe, and Betty Grable (who almost sued the production because her contract stipulated she could choose her roles, but ultimately demurred after Fuller promised to quit the production if she joined it and Zanuck laid on the pressure for her to give up the ghost).
The original premise of cold war paranoia and FBI intrigue was pretty anathema to the interests of Fuller, who was not communist but understood how unethical preying upon people’s fears could be. He transformed the narrative until the focus was on the lives of the three underworld characters on South Street and kept the original plot as a device to heighten tensions and add intrigue and action to the story. After Skip McCoy filches the purse of Candy, FBI detectives look up their stoolie Moe. She hustles the feds and the local police captain Dan Tiger for money in return for the information, and gets a pretty hefty sum of $38.50 (worth $360 bucks in today’s money) for the names of eight pickpockets who fit the description of the methods of the man used on the train, seen by the feds onboard trailing Candy, but unable to deboard on time to catch Skip.
Dan Tiger notices Skip’s name as one amongst the eight handed over by Moe. He shows the feds in his office a photograph of Skip that they have on file (Skip has been pinched by the cops and done time three times, so his file is always at the ready). The fed recognizes him and Moe tells them where he is currently staying, for a price. The cops and feds go down to Skip’s place, but are unable to find any stolen goods on him at the time, so they haul him into the police station. Once there, Skip looks and feels comfortable with his surroundings, relaxed even. He is filled in on the contents of the purse he snatched and their importance for national security, to which he responds, famously, ‘Are you waving the flag at me!?’ Incredulous that the police would make an appeal to his non-existent patriotism, Skip skips out of the place, and we as audience members understand that he is an underworld figure, that he could live anywhere in the world and feel just as comfortable as in the u.s., and that he doesn’t fall for the pitfalls, the trap of patriotic sentiment to a mere concept. (Fuller himself was much the same in being politically uninterested and loved to quote Benjamin Franklin’s famous line that ‘Patriotism is the last resort of a scoundrel’, and indeed it is).
Meanwhile, Candy has reported back to her communist ex-boyfriend that the money was filched by cannon on the train. He requests that she find the microfilm as an extension of her final duty to him, this delivery mission. Candy then moves through her underground connections and eventually finds herself at Moe’s door. Moe gets another tidy payday and Candy is on her way to Skip’s shack, where she searches through the place in the darkness. Skip returns and punches out the intruder in the darkness, though he is much less vicious once he turns on the light and realizes what he hit. the plot moves along as the two develop an emotional connection, the communists give Candy more and more money to buy the film off of Skip, the feds and local police offer Skip greater and greater deals for his return of the film to them instead of selling it to the communist agents, and Candy realizes the nature of the film and refuses to work for her ex-boyfriend Joey any longer. As a reply, Joey knocks her about in a scene just as viscerally destructive and manic as Kane’s destruction of his lovers bedroom in Xanadu thirteen years prior.
When Skip visits Candy in the hospital, she has been beaten and shot up pretty badly, but is not quite on death’s door and seems like she may pull through. Joey’s violence hasn’t ended there however. He has gone to Moe himself to find out where Skip lives so he reclaim the microfilm. But Moe, seeing the murderous intent in the man, refuses to inform on Skip for a third time. Her fate is sealed, and the old woman who worked her whole life and had little to show for it, ends up on ice, before she could pay for the funeral plot that would have kept her from a common burial. Skip is pissed off and decides to make his choice of alignment at that moment, with the feds and cops, but not for any anti-communist purposes or patriotic inner drive. He buries Moe himself, with his own money, ensuring she will get better than a pauper’s burial. He then moves in on Joey and the communist agents, using his skills as a pickpocket, and the asset of being unknown to them physically, he retrieves all of the microfilm, beats Joey nearly to death, and finally receives a clean record from the police department. He and Candy walk off together back into the shadows from whence they emerged, in love, but sure to fuck it up somewhere down the line.
What emerges from the film in the final analysis is a picture of people living in adverse circumstances. They feel, emote, and act like any other people under the same circumstances. They live for love, for money, for pleasure, and occasionally for noble purposes like preserving honor and dignity of their compatriots. Like Fuller said, ‘people are people’ and because the ‘camera can capture anything’ there are ‘no barriers’ except those one sets for oneself. Fuller’s agitprop, punchy, yellow journalistic approach to film was meant to excite and entertain, but also to unveil, to make apparent the vital truth that people everywhere and under all social conditions are ultimately the same. And that it’s the political ideologues that fuck it all up and give us the wrong perception in the first place.
[Next up: Advise and Consent]
After having destroyed SkullSatamon, many of the Digidestined are noticeably shaken up. Especially Yolei and Cody are having a difficult time coming to grips with the necessity of defeating their new Digimon antagonists with brute force, but will quickly learn to come to grips with their fears as the dangers caused by LadyDevimon and MarineDevimon make their destruction the moral choice: the decision that will ultimately save more lives than it takes. Though this utilitarian calculus is obvious to T.K., Kari, and the older Digidestined who have been through enough to lose much of their idealism by now, the newer Digidestined of Adventure 02 still retain much of theirs at the beginning of this saga.
As Davis, Veemon, and Wormmon chase down Arukenimon and Mummymon’s van in the hopes of reclaiming their friend Ken from within it, as well as saving the morbid, creepy children smiling inside, heavy traffic keeps them within distance for some time. But soon it disperses and the two Ultimate-level Digimon and their van appear to be moving much too quickly to catch up with. At this point, Joe’s brother Jim shows up with his car and picks up Davis and the others, the chase is on and the gang look set to catch up with the van. Until they reach a train crossing that is. Arukenimon and Mummymon run the warning lights and barely make it across, while Davis, Jim, and the Digimon are stuck for quite some time as more than one train passes along the multiple tracks.
Inside the van, Oikawa introduces himself to Ken and reveals that they have met one time before. Oikawa attended Sam’s funeral and shot a creepy glance in the young Ken’s direction, with bone-chilling consequences. Later, Oikawa was the one who sent Ken the emails on his brother’s laptop and was ultimately the one who initiated Ken’s molding into the Digimon Emperor. As bats begin to obscure Mummymon’s driving, the van jostles all of those riding within it, knocking Ken to the ground in the process. LadyDevimon is in the air above attempting to stop the van and claim Ken for the leader of her corps: Daemon. Aquilamon and Gatomon DNA Digivolve into Silphymon and begin to fight LadyDevimon, distracting her from her pursuit of the van, though the bats gave Davis and the others enough time to catch back up in their pursuit of it.
Oikawa continues his lecture and informs Ken that he and his father were once friends, but in what capacity they worked together or met we are still not privy as viewers. Oikawa claims that there is a Dark Spore within Ken and that this spore will allow the children onboard to become smarter and more athletic, and eventually to become Digimon Emperors and begetters of chaos in their own right. The children have not been brainwashed as of yet, except by their culture’s cult of personality, which has given such weak self-concepts and strong feelings of inadequacy compared to relative ‘stars’ like Ken that they came willingly with Oikawa, Mummymon, and Arukenimon in the hopes of becoming like Ken, even if it means being injected with a foreign object of evil like the Dark Spore. Oikawa then produces a barcode scanner-like device and scans Ken’s neck, removing some of the seeds of the Dark Spore from within him, which he will later inject into the children aboard the van.
Outside, there are dark tendrils moving through the city as MarineDevimon rises once again from the depths of the Tokyo Bay to terrorize the city and try to steal Ken for his boss in the process. As Jim decides to chase the new Digimon with Cody and T.K. in tow, Davis Armor Digivolves Veemon into Raidramon and rides after the van with Wormmon in tow. Meanwhile, T.K. and Cody Digivolve their partner Digimon, then DNA Digivolve them into Shakkoumon to combat Daemon’s nautical henchman.
Here, the young Digidestined finally learn that they must sometimes destroy evil Digimon to save others who are more important than them and have more moral weight in virtue of their innocence and lack of malice. LadyDevimon is defeating Silphymon because of her killer instinct and Silphymon’s lack of one. LadyDevimon takes a young boy hostage and threatens to choke him to death if Silphymon doesn’t give up his/her attack. Yolei seems ready to let LadyDevimon have her way, but tries to save the boy by attacking LadyDevimon directly, by herself. As LadyDevimon strikes out and is about to decapitate the naive young Digidestined, Silphymon uses all of his/her energy to incinerate the evil the Digimon and save Yolei’s life.
In a nearby hospital, T.K., Cody, and Jim run about frantically trying to evacuate children as MarineDevimon and Shakkoumon fight outside in the street directly adjacent. As MarineDevimon looks set to attack and destroy part of the hospital, and some of the un-evacuated lives within, Shakkoumon makes his own judgment call and incinerates him the evil Digimon. Cody is heartbroken about the incident and conflicted in his emotions, but after seeing the smile of a young sick girl his Digimon saved through their actions, he lightens up a little and begins to understand the killer instinct that his DNA Digivolution partner Digidestined T.K. has had all along.
Finally, back in the van, Oikawa instructs Mummymon to drive toward Highton View Terrace, which he reveals to be something of a dark portal between worlds. An area where the rules of space and time are warped and the planes are close together than most else places nearby, and hence why Parrotmon and Koromon were able to appear in this area in the early days of the Digidestined, during the events of the Digimon Adventure pilot movie. Once there, a dark portal opens up once more in the street ahead of them, but it is not the dark portal they are after. Out of this portal comes Daemon who insists that Oikawa hand over Ken to him.
The Digidestined Cody
The Digidestined are back in Tokyo once more after their world tour to send back rogue Digimon to the Digital World and destroy Control Spires. (And Yolei inexplicably has a different voice actress in this episode) Once back home, T.K.’s mother mentions that she spoke to one Mr. Oikawa and explains that he was acting strange and mentioned that the vents currently unfolding worldwide were just the beginning. She asks T.K. if he thinks that Oikawa has some connection to all of the incidents that have been going so far, but he has no clue who Oikawa is in the first place.
Back at Davis’ home, June complains about Matt picked another girl at the concert (she saw him there with Sora). She sits in front of her desk in her bedroom moping around with the ripped up concert ticket in front of her. At Ken’s house, he sits with Wormmon in his room, in the dark, and witnesses an unidentifiable Digimon whiz past in the air above the street below. Ken isn’t sure if what he saw was real, due to the brevity of the appearance, or just his mind playing with him.
At Cody’s, he is sitting in his grandfather’s dojo where in front of the shrine for Cody’s late father. He asks how his father died, which he apparently already knows the answer to. Cody’s grandfather explains again that his father was a police officer who died in the line of duty by jumping in front of an assassin’s bullet aimed for a local politician’s chest. Back at Kari and Tai’s house, Tai advises her that difficult decisions will have to be made by her Digidestined team in the coming days. So far they have not destroyed any real Digimon, but they may be forced to do so soon to stop Arukenimon and Mummymon for good.
Then back to Ken in his bedroom. He is dreaming of a time in the Digital desert. He is still a young boy and has just defeated Millenniummon with the help of Ryo Akiyama and Wormmon. A group pf black gears come flying toward Ryo from the thrashing body of the Millenniummon. Ken jumps toward him, knocking him out of harm’s way, but is instead hit by a gear, in the neck. Ken awakens and asks Wormmon about the incident, who confirms that it actually happened and that thereafter Ken began to grow sick for a time before becoming more and more cruel, and eventually, developing into the Digimon Emperor. Ken has forgotten all about what happened during this time, but his memory seems to be coming back. Outside, two figures in shadow watch Ken through his window from an adjacent building, two Digimon no doubt.
On TV the next morning, there are reports that children all over the city have gone missing. Ken feels as if he knew it was going to happen all along, but can’t explain why. Ultimate-level dark Digimon are appearing all over town too. MarineDevimon appears in the bay and interrupts a wedding ceremony onboard a small cruise ship passing through. Lady Devimon appears on the east side of town. Finally, SkullSatamon appears in the north.
Submarimon, Angemon, and Ikkakumon take on MarineDevimon. The first two focus their energies on rescuing the cruise liner’s passengers, while Ikkakumon Digivolves to Zudomon and holds off their Ultimate-level adversary. Aquilamon, Angewomon, Garudamon, and WereGarurumon attack LadyDevimon, which proves overkill as LadyDevimon disappears as soon as she realizes how badly outmatched she is in the fight. Finally, Paildramon and MegaKabuterimon fight SkullSatamon, but find him to be extremely dexterous and evasive. Paildramon Digivolves into Imperialdramon, and when MarineDevimon disappears below the waters of Tokyo bay, all of the other Champion and Ultimate-level Digidestined Digimon come running to help out.
We are shown an image of Arukenimon and Mummymon driving through the city, planning something as SkullSatamon uses his Nail Bone attack to paralyze Imperialdramon and defeat MegaKabuterimon, Garudamon, Zudomon, WereGarurumon, and now, MetalGreymon, who are weak from being in the Real World for so long without returning back to the Digital World. SkullSatamon lifts a bus full of school children and threatens to crush it at any moment. The crucial time is upon the Digidestined and they have no more time to mess around and try to return him to the Digital World. they must destroy him totally.
Ankylomon, Aquilamon, Angewomon, and MagnaAngemon give their power to the immobilized Imperialdramon who suddenly changes forms into his much more powerful Fighter Mode. He uses his Positron Laser to incinerate SkullSatamon and then rushes forward to catch the bus and place it safely upon the road below. Next, a portal opens in the street in front of the Digidestined. The Mega-level mantled Daemon appears from within it and asks Ken to come with him. He alerts Ken that there is a Dark Spore (the material shot into his neck by Millenniummon) inside of him and that he has need of its power. Arukenimon and Mummymon then pull up in their truck, unveiling its cargo as dozens of creepy, smiling children within. They threaten to harm the kids if Ken doesn’t discount Daemon’s words and come with them instead. In order to keep the children safe, Ken begrudgingly goes with them in the back of the truck, leaving behind Daemon, spurned. The episode ends on this cliffhanger with Wormmon and Davis chasing after the truck.
A quick word about Daemon. A Daemon is one of the seven Great Demon Lords of later Digimon lore. His title is ‘Hellfire of Chaos’, his sin is wrath, his demon is Satan, and his astrological sign and Grecian god is Jupiter. I currently don’t know what all of that information means practically for him,but I do know that it is important not to confuse this Daemon with the Daemon in Adventure 02. They are separate entities in different Digimon universes as far as I can tell.
Ciao for now,
The Digidestined Cody
(Check out the previous essay in this film noir essay series here: Fury)
1950’s Night and The City was the final film that esteemed American noir director Jules Dassin ever created for the Hollywood system. By 1948, he was already butting heads with a burgeoning HUAC crowd, and after being outed by the traitor, and his friend, Kazan, as a communist (which Dassin was not), his studio pushed for him to complete the final film in his contract in London and promised it would be his last film (he subsequently made dozens of pictures for the European market before returning to U.S, years later where he made independent features). Once in London, Dassin was set to adapt the 1938 pulp novel by Gerald Kersch, Night and the City, but had no time to read the novel and instead adapted a screenplay from the book summary on the back cover (much to Kersch’s ire, but assuredly not to Dassin’s critics and fans who found the final filmic project great in its own right).
The film shows the exploits of a racketeer always out for a quick buck, but who rarely has the good luck to capitalize on his schemes. The man is Harry Fabian (Richard Widmark) who is shown running away from a creditor to whom he owes five pounds. The city is shown intensely gray and foggy, the cinematography of a arthouse drama more than a crime film. The city streets are teeming with life in the darkness of the night, almost a somber blue the sky permeating its essence through the black and white film stock. Down streets unpopulated, figuring Fabian an outcast from society proper, the man runs until he makes it to the home of his spurned fiance Mary (he only shows up when he needs money and the romanticism of their early relationship before his descent into the underworld is wholly spectral to the reality of the present circumstances). Mary Bristol (Gene Tierney) goes outside and gives the money to the man who is waiting in the road below and Harry is again on his way out moments after attempting and failing to hook her into a get-rich quick scheme he has concocted.
Later, we will see Fabian enter a wrestling match where a man is making a scene about the wrestling of the day being only a corrupted shade of its past glories. Fabian hears that the man is one Gregorius the Great (played by the real old-time wrestler Stanislaus Zbyszko), a famous Greek wrestler, a legend, who has come to visit London to see this new wrestler The Strangler (the character actor and one-time professional wrestler Mike Mazurki) and found his skills wanting. Gregorius leaves infuriated, but Fabian capitalizes on the moment by sneaking out into the concessions and pretending to complain about how terrible the match was to the attendant. He demands his ticket money be returned just at the moment when Gregorius enters the room, impressing the man. Fabian then pretends he knows Gregorius and is a huge fan of his work, thereby making Gregorius into an unwitting sucker who falls hook, line, and sinker for Fabian’s plans to take Gregorius’ son Nikolas and create his own mark on wrestling promotion in London.
Fabian goes to his girlfriend’s boss, Phil Nosseross (the Hitchockian Francis L. Sullivan, a powerful screen and stage actor who coincidentally attended the same Jesuit school in his youth at Stonyhurst in Lancashire as Charles Laughton, only a year after Laughton graduated), at his burlesque club and asks for a loan from the man. He refuses to give Fabian 400 pounds, but Fabian persists and asks if Phil will match 200 pounds if he can secure it by the end of the night. Phil agrees, then Fabian goes on his doomed quest to find the money, eventually dealing with Phil’s wife Helen behind his back to get the money. Phil learns of their agreement later and of their romantic involvement, which incenses the man and eventually leads to Fabian’s downfall as Phil holds back his financial backing at the most crucial moment.
Fabian has all of London wrestling tied up, but he has no money to move the deal along any further, and a catastrophe at the film’s climax deals him an even worse hand as his major star and one man keeping the mob bosses at bay is killed in the ring during a brawl with his nemesis the Strangler. Phil prophesied earlier to Fabian that “you’ve got it all, but you’re a dead man Fabian, a dead man.” A sentiment he will later mouth himself as the underworld closes in on him as he waits in the shack of the last faithful underworld contact he has, the old boat rental woman Anna: “All my life I’ve been running. From welfare officers, from thugs, my father…. I’m a dead man Anna.”
Assuredly, he is found and decommissioned, just another death of another morally crippled man. The film was seen as exceedingly dark and brutal by critics and audiences upon its release. The only characters who are not morally corrupt turn out to be Mary and her neighbor, and always hopeful potential suitor, Adam Dunne. The protagonist is a man corrupted by visions of riches and power to do unnecessarily dangerous things and put himself into morally compromised positions. He is killed at the film’s denouement and no great heroic statement is made about beating the odds or the underground, which will inevitably swallow one up when they dare enter that domain. Finally, the racketeers and mob bosses who own wrestling promotion in London end up solidifying their position and making damn sure that no one muscles in on their territory. In the end, they are the only true victors and the system, though a black market one, still prevails against the small man crushed under its cogs.
It would be another four years before the creator (Dassin) of some of noir’s most gripping tales and most powerful aesthetic statements like Brute Force, Naked City, Thieve’s Highway, and Night and the City would be able to find work again. But when he finally did begin his next film, it was in France, in 1954, on the 1955 film noir classic, and quite possibly his greatest achievement, Rififi.
[Next up: Pickup On South Street]
There are two more regions left with Digimon the Digidestined need to clear out and return to the Digital World. First, to Mexico City. Outside of an apartment complex in the city, Ken and Matt and their partners Stingmon and Garurumon clear out a Control Spire (which has no attendant Digimon nearby for some indiscernible reason). After completing their first mission in the city, night begins to fall and the group head off toward the Mayan ruins and pyramids in Palenque where they expect to find the next Control Spire and the Digimon that were absent from the city.
Once they arrive at the ruins, Matt inquires as to the whereabouts of the Mexican Digidestined who were supposed to meet them there. Ken tells Matt that there is s strictly enforced curfew in the country, so they must not have been able to make it out in time to help. The pyramids are guarded closely by armed members of the country’s military forces who are stationed there to prevent desecration of the site by vandals. When Ken and Matt try to enter by telling a guard that their little sister is lost in the ruins, he knows they are lying and accuses them of just wanting to go inside to tag the ruins with spray paint, and turns them back.
Next, Gennai’s Mexican clone Jose appears and offers to help them sneak into the ruins. He goes right up to the guards and starts showing off weird acrobatics and martial arts moves in an attempt to stall for Ken an Matt. they take the opportunity to sneak into the pyramid and soon encounter a Gotsumon and his human partner Rosa, a young girl who is immediately enamored with Ken and calls him bonita, or pretty. Rosa feuds with Wormmon over his connection to Ken, which she envies, and the group head farther into the pyramids searching for the Digimon surely waiting within.
When they find Minotarumon and Dokugumon hidden within a chamber deep inside the pyramid, they decide that they can’t fight them there without causing damage to the historical monument of the Mayan people. Ken and Matt drive them outside into the open air and Digivolve their partners into Stingmon and WereGarurumon. Rosa joins in the battle and Gotsumon Digivolves into Monochromon (and even gets his own Digivolution sequence, which has been unique to only main Adventure Digidestined thus far). They knock out the Digimon and return them to the Digital World, Rosa falls asleep while on Ken’s back and murmurs something about how cool Stingmon is (defusing their feud), and the group drop her off at her parent’s home where they have been worried sick about her being missing for some time.
Finally, in Moscow, Sora and Yolei meet up with the Digidestined Sonya, Anna, and Yuri, and their respective Digimon partners Snimon, Unimon, and Kuwagumon. There is a huge swarm of Flymon in the sky above that need to be defeated and sent back into the Digital World, and luckily all of the Digidestined present have flight-enabled Digimon partners. however, there is a bigger problem: the two groups of Digidestined don’t have a common language and are having difficulties just getting a plan off of the ground with their inability to communicate. This should be no problem, as Gennai’s Russian clone should be around to help out and translate, but he is nowhere to be found.
The only Russian that Sora know are terms for Russian foods: Piroshki (fried bread dumplings), Borscht (a type of sour soup), and Caviar (fish eggs). Yolei decides that these words will do and designates new meanings for the words through the use of charades. Piroshki will mean go left, Borscht will mean go right, and Caviar will mean attack. The Russian Digidestined understand what Yolei wants them to do, though they must be somewhat confused by the use of food names, and they prepare to for flight as Hawkmon Digivolves into Aquilamon and Biyomon into Garudamon to fight the swarm of Flymon hovering over the city. (I wonder why they couldn’t have just said go left, go right, and attack, as these words would have made more sense to Yolei and Sora and potentially led to less confusion for them, as well as being constant and easy to verbalize quickly. Plus, the Russian Digidestined would have had no difficulty in figuring out what these words meant through the charades at the beginning of their introduction to the terms, just as they were able to differentiate the food words with different directions after the words were re-codified.)
After they defeat and drop all of the Flymon from the sky, Ilya, Gennai’s Russian clone, finally shows up and tells the group about an attack by Mammothmon in Siberia against Russia’s other Digidestined children. Yolei and Sora were looking forward to going out to eat with their friends in a victory dinner, but that will now have to wait as they jet off to even colder climes. The three Siberian Digidestined each have a Frigimon partner and need all the help they can get as Frigimon are merely Champion-level Digimon and Mammothmon are Ultimates. After a near close call when Sora falls off of Garudamon due to the harsh winds and is narrowly caught by Aquilamon moments before almost falling to her death, the team collect themselves, fight the Mammothmon and find themselves still too little to stop the herd.
Imperialdramon then shows up and defeats the Mammoth Digimon at the last moment and send them back to the Digital World through Davis’ D-3 and a laptop Digi-port. Although Sora and Yolei want to go eat with their new Russian friends in Moscow, the plan will have to wait for another occasion. Something is going down in Tokyo and Imperialdramon still has to stop in Hong Kong to pick up the last of the Japanese Digidestined abroad, Izzy and Kari.
Back home, we see a young boy, Hiroshi Shibata, picked up by a van and placed in the back amongst other children. The van is driven by Arukenimon and Mummymon who are obviously up to no good. But what purpose could they have for abducting Japanese children?
The Digidestined Cody
Le Cercle Rouge is the the consummation of french-director Jean-Pierre Melville’s career. The 1970 film would not be his last, 1971’s Un Flic would be, but it was final great picture before his death in 1973. And ultimately, it was his most expansive, the one work that pushed farther toward masterpiece than any other in his esteemed career as prototype for the French Nouveau Vague in the 40s to his work as a neo-noir filmmaker with uniquely American themes and genre formulas.
The film opens with a quotation, presumably from a Buddhist sutra though actually a Melvillian invention: “Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, drew a circle with a piece of red chalk and said: ‘When men, even unknowingly, are to meet one day, whatever may befall each, whatever the diverging paths, on the said day, they will inevitably come together in the red circle’.” The sentence structure is a little unfamiliar to texts of the orations of the historical Buddha and strikes one who has studied the teachings of Buddha as a definite fabrication. It is less Buddhism, than characteristic noir fatalism.
The film is heist film in which a small group of figures cross paths, as they meant to do as it were, and develop an idea to hold up a store specializing in fine gems and jewelry. Corey (Alain Delon), just freed from prison, visits his old boss, takes the money he his owed for doing time in his employ, and after killing one of his boss’ cronies, drives off in an new car through the countryside toward Paris. Vogel (Gian Maria Volonte) is a revolutionary or terrorist (the same thing defined differently through which party in political conflict wins in the end) who has been captured by the police and is being escorted by a supercop, Inspector Mattei (Andre Bourvil), to court for his case. He escapes and manages to circumvent a huge series of police road blocks by hiding in Corey’s trunk. Once they near Paris, Corey opens the trunk, knowing inexplicably that he has had a stowaway since his stop at a cafe earlier that day. The confrontation looks as if it could turn deadly, but eventually turns friendly as Corey tells Vogel that he too is a criminal, and shows him his release papers from earlier that morning. They team up, and Vogel re-enters the trunk, making sure to keep himself hidden from police.
Before they reach town, Corey is pulled over by more of his boss’s men who are ready to execute him. Just in time, Vogel exits the trunk and using the two handguns Corey had hidden a briefcase, eliminates Corey’s would-be killers. The bond is sealed and the two drive into Paris. Once there, the two add a third member to their party: Jansen (Yves Montand), an ex-cop who was fired for being unable to kick his alcoholism. He is a sharpshooter whose skills in the upcoming heist are necessary to its success, and the heist’s success necessary for Jansen to pull himself out of his DTs and back into a respectable frame of mind. Meanwhile, Mattei is on Vogel’s trail and by proxy, on everyone else’s as well. The heist goes off without a hitch, but the target was so high profile that their pre-established fence won’t take the goods. Mattei works with Santi, Corey’s old boss, as his inside man in the underground to find out who pulled the heist, and eventually Mattei presents himself as a fence, undercover.
The heist itself is an interesting phenomena. Coming in at almost half an hour long and in complete silence, the sequence mirrors Jules Dassin’ earlier heist sequence in 1955′ Rififi. Another famous heist sequence that Melville knew and liked was in John Huston’s The Asphalt Jungle, a 1950 film noir that was a huge influence on Melville’s filmography. However, Melville envisaged his heist sequence in the same year as that film was released, in 1950, and he didn’t see it until 1951. When he did, he decided to put off making his own heist film. Then Rififi appeared and Melville waited another 15 years before he felt confident enough to create his own heist sequence powerful enough to stand on its own. Just as the characters circled around and met with their fates in the red circle, so too did the concept for the film’s core sequence circle around in Melville’s mind and alongside film noir classics for twenty years.
Fates sealed, all are within a circle, pre-ordained, and destined to meet and turn it blood red. Just as the great french filmmaker, Jean Renoir, before him, Melville liked to use strong quotations to sum up his film’s ethos and ethical-moral or metaphysical framework. Renoir’s most devastating and poignant came in his classic Rules of the Game, where he has a character say “Everyone has their reasons,” meaning that no one has evil intentions, everyone is a moral being, and hence, evil is something other than pure evil that most understand it as. Evil is banal, evil is following orders, evil is the consequence of interpretation of unwanted outcomes resulting from overwhelmingly good intentions. For Renoir, he has Mattei state that “all are born innocent, but it doesn’t last.” Everyone is guilty in the end and thereby no tragedy is undeserved.
Melville was the director’s birth name, he copped it from the inestimable Herman Melville, quite possibly the greatest American writer who ever lived. Melville was an enigmatic figure and a great man of french cinema whose importance in that medium may be just as protean and influential as Melville’s was and has been within his own. Melville wore a cowboy hat, aviators, and a trenchcoat. He watched American films and recognized the brilliance of American auteurs within the studio system before Andre Bazin and the theorists in Cahiers du Cinema who would become the French New Wave. He saw American cinema as both beautiful and extremely morally problematic, as both “the sublime and the abominable,” the genesis of some of the most beautiful films ever made and many which were the creations of auteurs with such powerful imprints that their visions and personalities came alive even through the crushing Hollywood system. But also a place in which racism and discrimination were rampant, a society in which lynching was common, with a history of genocide and slavery as its foundation, a beautiful, erupting society with an extremely dark shadow.
Le Cercle Rouge hints at France’s dark past of colonialism. It shows the dark underbelly of French society, a criminal base that is always there, waiting to erupt out into the open air. Or at least an imagined base that Melville found interesting, or even inevitable. The film is large, sprawling, more than two and half hours. The man who made it was likewise enigmatic and complex, too large a figure to sum up in any number of words. Protean. And like that other great American writer, Walt Whitman, both the film and its creator certainly contain multitudes. Multitudes I will most certainly be interpreting and peeling back for years to come, if not the rest of my own life, however amorphous and undefined at this early period it happens to be (and I mean that with regard to both referents). [Not quite Derridean, but I may be moving in on something close to it yet]
(Check out the previous essay in this series on all of the films from Studio Ghibli: Ocean Waves)
1993’s ‘Ocean Waves’ may have been Studio Ghibli’s first gamble at having younger animators, animators other than Hayao Miyazaki or Isao Takahata, take the helm to direct a feature-length animated film. However, that film was made for television audiences and the funding and money for the production was pretty financially secure. Ghibli had a deal with Tokuma Shoten and the Nippon Television Network to make the film and take a commission on it, thereby making money for the studio in the process. However, two years later, Ghibli would take a real gamble with 1995’s ‘Whisper of the Heart’: their first feature-length theatrical film not directed by one of Ghibli’s two maestros.
However, knowing that they would be gambling a lot of money on the production, they made sure to give the film to tried and trusted friend and co-worker within the Studio Ghibli fold: that man was Yoshifumi Kondo. Kondo was an animator who had been in the business for almost as long as Miyazaki and Takahata. His work with the pair’s productions began in the 1960s and 70s as provider of Key Animation work on the ‘Lupin III’ television series, both early panda-films ‘Panda! Go, Panda!’ and ‘Panda! Go, Panda! Rainy-Day Circus’, and on the classic TV series ‘Future Boy Conan’ and ‘Anne of Greene Gables.’ Through the 1980s, Kondo worked as Animation Director on the ‘Sherlock Hound’ series as well as Takahata’s 1988 classic ‘Grave of the Fireflies’ (an important job as Takahata cannot actually draw and relies heavily on his Animation Directors to create the visual worlds of his films) and Miyazaki’s 1989 film ‘Kiki’s Delivery Service.’ Finally, in the early 90s, before taking on ‘Whisper of the Heart,’ Kondo worked as Animation director on ‘Only Yesterday’, and as Key Animator on ‘Porco Rosso’, ‘Ocean Waves’, and ‘Pom Poko.’
If that wasn’t enough, his career outside of Ghibli productions, or pre-Ghibli productions by its founders, speaks volumes more. Before officially joining Studio Ghibli in January of 1987, he spent years at all of the following production companies doing work as a key animator, animation director, storyboard designer, and between animator: A Production Studios, Nippon Animation, and Telecom Animation film. From 1982-84, served as storyboard artist, pre-production artist, pilot film director, and finally general director on the American-French-Japanese co-production of ‘Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland’, the animated film adaptation of the Nemo comic series by America’s greatest, most influential comics artist Winsor McCay. Although the film had many problems along the way to completion and didn’t receive a premiere until 1989, Kondo’s work at a crucial early period in the film’s creation places him as one of its authors alongside the scriptwriter, and legendary science fiction author, Ray Bradbury, as well as one of two of the greatest French comics artist who ever lived Jean Giraud Moebius (the other being Herge). (American animator Brad Bird, of ‘Iron Giant’ fame, was also attached to the project for a short time)
‘Whisper of the Heart’ is the story of a young girl in middle school named Shizuku. Its summer time and she’ll soon be entering her final year before high school. Although she should be studying and preparing for her high school entrance exams, she is an avid reader and an avid procrastinator (two sensibilities I can understand all too well) and has decided to read twenty books before summer ends. But every time she finds a new book of fairy tales or adventure stories that interest her, she finds that one Seiji Amasawa has beaten her to it and has his name proudly printed above her own in the back of the book’s library check out cards. What is even more bothersome to her is that the few times she manages to find one that he has not yet checked out, they are often donated by one Mr. Amasawa. Shizuku can’t seem to escape the guy.
As she travels through Tokyo one day to drop off lunch to her scatterbrained father at his job at the local library, she sits on a train seat beside a large cat. That a cat should be riding the train at all is odd, but when he leaves at the next stop and seems to know where he is going, is altogether bizarre. She decides to follow the cat, who leads her to a neighborhood where he torments a barking dog by standing above him on a high fence in front of the dog’s yard. In the cul-de-sac where this occurs, Shizuku sees a shop window with a handsome, anthropomorphic cat statue in the window. She enters the shop and finds it to be a mysterious, but cozy antique store run by an affable old man who tells her that the cat statue is named Baron Humbert von Gikkingen, or just The Baron for short. He next shows her a beautiful antique grandfather clock he is currently restoring that was found some years ago in an abandoned castle. As the clock strikes noon, some dwarfs are shown mining ore and one rises among them, a prince, who stares solemnly toward a pasture where a sheep turns into a princess for a brief few moments and looks back at him, longingly. The old man, Shiro Nishi, asks her if she believes, as he does, that the maker of this clock was a man who had been separated from his lover. She replies in the affirmative, transfixed by the beauty of the moment, then realizes the time has gotten away with her, and quickly rushes off to deliver her father’s lunch, promising as she leaves to visit the shop once more in the future.
But she has left behind his lunch. Luckily, the grandson of the old man knows where she is headed and arrives on bike to meet her and drop off the lunch to her. Later, she will develop a connection with the boy and learn that he is budding violin maker and has plans to visit Cremona, Italy where he hopes to train to become a world class violin maker. She will later learn, as well, that he is in fact Seiji Amasawa, and Mr. Amasawa, the man who donated so many books to the local library, and to her school library, is his father. When Seiji gets the go-ahead from his father and mother to go on a short stint in Cremona to test himself, Shizuku is heartbroken that she may lose the love of her young life before they even get to know each other well. She endeavors to become a person worthy of him and his excellence, achievement and resolution and decides to write a novel in the interim, while he is away.
When the two finally reunite, they have both developed their skills considerably, but are also both still yellow, still rough around the edges. But like the gems hidden within the geode shown to Shizuku by Shiro to motivate her to complete her book, they are in the rough and have many things to contribute to the world and society artistically through their future creations. Both decide to go to high school and to study hard for their upcoming high school entrance exams, and to work hard to develop their skills, whilst also endeavoring to remain together, encouraging one another’s talents, for the rest of their lives. A strong promise for such young teens to make, and one they will no doubt have difficulty in keeping, but one that is ultimately worth the effort and beautiful, if not in reality (they are a fictional couple after all), then at least in concept.
Like all great films aimed toward youth and young adults, ‘Whisper of the Heart’ is a potent view of what life is like for youth budding into maturity and entering a period of romantic discovery. It is a film that tells youths to aim high, but to take real, measurable steps toward achieving their goals. It is a beautiful tone-poem, which brings magic to life, not through spirituality or apotropaics or mystical mumbo-jumbo, but through the idea that life can be a journey when one’s travel partners are idealistic, kind, compassionate, though pragmatic and realistic simultaneously. ‘Whisper of the Heart’ breathes and quakes beneath its celluloid frames in a way unlike most other features (whether animated or no). It is a profound yes-saying to life, an affirmation, and a call to go forward bravely and soberly, with all of the vigor and beauty that youth’s rose-tinted glasses can give you.
It is no wonder that this film, with its essentially humanistic and affirmative core, its classical and light sound score by Yumi Nomi, and its constant reprise of John Denver’s classic ‘Take Me Home, Country Roads’- a call for the trapped, existentially cornered city dweller to find his or her roots and go back to basics, away from the crushing corporatism and bureaucracy of urbanity- was the highest grossing Japanese film of the year in which it was released.
Isao Takahata and Hayao Miyazaki looked like they had found their man to carry on the legacy of Studio Ghibli after they retired. And Kondo’s commitment to the company hadn’t wavered after the success of the film either. In 1997, he continued his work with the company as the Animation Director once more on Hayao Miyazaki’s ‘Princess Mononoke.’ But he worked too hard for too long, and on January 21, 1998, he died suddenly of what coroners later reported as either an aneurysm or an aortic dissection. In a word, he died of karoshi, of that constant Japanese phenomenon of death by stress and over-work. He was 47 years old.
[Next up: The Cat Returns]
In a Space Shuttle orbiting Earth, astronauts are dumbfounded hearing the news that monster have invaded the planet, their home. They then see an unidentified flying object approach the shuttle and pass it at lightning speed. It’s Imperialdramon! And he’s busy destroying any Control Spires he can identify with his Positron Laser attack while dropping off the Digidestined in the places where they are most needed.
T.K. and Tai are dropped in Paris, near the Eiffel Tower where they will meet up with French and European Digidestined and work to organize the French resistance (C’est drole non?). Kari and Izzy are let down in Hong Kong’s largest shopping district where they will organize non-Japanese Asian Digidestined from the South-East Asian Islands to the mainland. Cody and Joe are set down in Sydney near the famous Opera House where they will organize Australian and Oceanic Digidestined. Yolei and Sora find themselves in Moscow near the colorful domes of Saint Basil’s Cathedral in the Red Square where they will presumably work with the East European and Central Asian Digidestined to return their Digimon menaces back to the Digital World.
Finally, Davis, Ken and Matt arrive at Miami Beach in Florida, in the United States, where they meet up with Mimi’s blonde American friend Michael and his partner, the always adorable, Betamon. Michael has connections and has been able to secure air transport from here on out as Ken and Davis need to split up, meaning that Imperialdramon has to split up into Stingmon and ExVeemon as well. Ken and Matt take a helicopter to Mexico City to organize the South and Central American Digidestined as well as those near Mexico in North America. Davis and Michael take a private jet to New York, owned and flown by none other than the series’ fictional Hollywood star Michael J. Barton, who just so happens to be Michael’s father! Davis is immediately impressed.
At the Niagara Falls on the Canada-U.S. border, ShogunGekomon is reclining and bathing. the military is scouting him out, ready to attack if anything goes awry. An Airdramon approaches from the sky above, with a girl on his back (the Digidestined Tatum). She talks with ShogunGekomon, the Ultimate Digimon rises, and begins to follow her and Airdramon to the meet-up point where the rest of the Digidestined, Michael, and Davis are heading toward. In fact, Digimon all over the country are doing likewise and heading toward New York. Mimi lives in New York with her parents, and in a traffic jam, manages to leave their car surreptitiously and meet up with Davis and Michael as they enter an airport near the city. And luckily she still has Palmon in tow. The events of this World Tour occurring as they do only a few days after Christmas when the younger Digidestined brought the older Digidestined partner Digimon to the Real World for the holidays to surprise them. Gennai’s friend Benjamin, who looks identical to Gennai, also meets the two when they arrive in New York.
As Davis, Michael, Mimi, Michael J. Barton, Benjamin, and Veemon, Betamon, and Palmon head toward Central Park, we see vignettes of the other Digidestined doing likewise from throughout the country. Maria and her partner Centaurumon ride on an Okuwamon’s back and lead a Parrotmon, a Kuwagumon, and a Devidramon to the park. Lou and Tortomon lead a troupe of ground-based Digimon like Tyrannomon, DarkTyrannomon, and Tuskmon. Steve and his partner Frigimon lead Raremon and Monzaemon. And Phil and his partner Flarerizamon (making his first appearance in the Digimon anime) lead their own group of RedVegiemon and a Cherrymon who freaks out when he sees the Christmas trees in Rockefeller Plaza.
As Phil tries to subdue Cherrymon, an Ultimate-level Digimon on a terrified rampage, with only his Champion partner Flarerizamon and the two Champion-level RedVegiemon, he emails the rest of the party for assistance. Before jumping into action to help, Benjamin shows Mimi, Davis, and Michael Azulongmon’s DigiCore (which none of them has seen before at this point). He activates its energy, which Digivolves Veemon to ExVeemon, Betamon to Seadramon, and gives Palmon the power to once again Digivolve to the ultimate level as Lillymon. They arrive at Rockefeller Plaza backed up by Centaurumon, Tortomon and Frigimon and manage to subdue Cherrymon by knocking him unconscious, then saunter on down to Central Park where they return the escaped Digimon to the Digital World using Davis’ laptop and D-3 to open a Digi-port. Mimi’s parents, who noticed she was missing ages ago and have been searching for her, finally catch up to her. The first leg of the Digimon World Toru is completed.
In Hong Kong, a Mojyamon is terrorizing the town. An old man, thinking the digital beast an enraged spirit, throws an amulet at it, which obviously doesn’t work and only succeeds in enraging Mojyamon further. But the old man has three capable grandchildren in the Poi Brothers, three siblings of different ages each with their own Digimon partner Syakomon. They Digivolve their partners to the Champion level Octomon, and the three Champions easily defeat Mojyamon and are on the verge of finishing him off when Kari and Angewomon, Izzy and MegaKabuterimon, and Gennai’s Cantonese-speaking friend Jackie arrive and stop them. They explain that Mojyamon is not an evil Digimon, but just a scared and confused one and that they, the Poi Brothers, are Digidestined who must help them return Mojyamon and any other roving Digimon to the Digital World when they meet the rest of the Asian Digidestined later in Hong Kong’s Kowloon Park. The Poi Brother, finding Kari to cute and wanting to get on her good side, decide to team up with them.
As the Chinese mainlander Digidestined Yue Hong travels with her partner Apemon and leads a group of Airdramon to Kowloon park, so too do the Vietnamese Digidestined Dien and his partner Gorillamon lead a group of Tyrannomon there. But in India, the Digidestined Mina and her partner Meramon have hit a snag. At the border between India and China, the Chinese military threatens to attack Mina, Meramon and the Tuskmon, Raremon, Mammothmon, and Airdramon who attempt to cross over on their way to Hong Kong. Mina emails Izzy for help, so he, Kari, and the eldest Poi brother go to her and help to diffuse the situation by having Octomon write “We come in peace” in Chinese, in cephalopod ink, on the side of the mountain pass. The issue is resolved with Izzy’s characteristic diplomacy and the Digidestined and the Digimon they are leading are allowed to cross over (why Kari didn’t just open a Digi-port there and return the Digimon Mina and Meramon then instead of making them travel all the way to Kowloon Park in Hong Kong is beyond me. Maybe just so all of the Asian Digidestined could meet up and get to know one another for future world-saving reference?)
The Asian Digidestined finally all make it to Kowloon Park, Kari opens up a Digi-port, and the roving Digimon are returned to the Digital World. But back in Japan, trouble is brewing as we see Mummymon sitting on a playground swing next to a small, strange, and lonely little boy who asks him to be friends. The narration alludes to something much more sinister than this otherwise benign vignette would lead us to believe.
The Digidestined Cody