(Catch my previous Frederic Back film review here: Taratata)
Quebecois animator and short film director Frederic Back’s sixth film is important within his oeuvre for one principal reason: the innovative new approach to animation used therein. Rather than using large quantities of paper anymore to produce his animations, Back decided he needed to find a cost-effective and ecologically-sound way to make his films. The result of his search was a new process whereby Back used frosted cells, which he would animate, commit to celluloid, and then reuse by either making small changes for the next shot or by erasing his work to create a new scene entirely. Even though this process was more in keeping with Back’s ecological concerns, it was a slow process wherein multiple frames could not be worked on at once by a team. As such, even with two assistants on the film, it took the team 20 months to complete this 11 minute, 30 second long short film.
The story is extremely philosophically and theologically resonant while never making reference to any particular mythos and instead concerning itself with a sort of constructed or imagined creation mythos derived equally from Judeo-Christian tradition and Native American cosmology. A vague, personified cosmic force with the general appearance of a human being lives within a universe that is void and without form. This being decides to bring into creation other beings who may commune with it. The first are the birds who come into the world naked, featherless. They emerge from out of the void of Being into another kind of void where they now exist but live without direction, meaning, and in a cold world where their bodies are ill-equipped to handle the elements. The God-force directs their evolution through a one-time instantaneous change that allows all the birds to develop feathers and wings of ostentatious, beautiful, and varied plumage.
Next, the mammals are created to live upon the terrain of the Earth. They too are brought into being naked and afraid without fur. The God-force directs their evolution into hairy, warm animals who live in peace with the land through natural laws of predation and survival. The fish are born and the the heavens emerge to the light this new world wherein so much bounty has been established. And all things are good and well, are wholesome and gay in aspect.
And then the God-force creates a pair of beings in its image: the humans. They are endowed with the power of intellect, reason, fore-thought. But with this great gift, so too arise negative forces like desire. The animals, endowed with animality as opposed to God-gifts of language and intellect, live with the world and in the world. They do not desire things beyond the fleeting momentary ones needed for survival. Through this imbecility, they remain pure, sinless, and live without a fear of death because their thoughts don’t reach forward for very long into the domain of the future. They are, in a complicated German philosophical strung together word, Being-There, Dasein, and happy.
The human pair arrive and immediately covets the majestic potential of life undersea with the fish. The God-force grants their desires to appease them and changes them into merpeople who live amongst the sea’s creatures for a time before becoming tired of these surroundings and crying out to the heavens for a change. Next, the humans become hairy beasts who roam the land with the other animals, consume weaker forms of life with their claws and teeth, and generally live as Bigfoot-like monsters, which also bores them after a time. Finally, the people are changed into bird-people who admire their own plumage and attempt to live within the branches of trees. However, having heavy bones and large frames only makes life difficult so up high as they break branch after branch in their tree-domiciles.
Finally, the God-force decides to forsake these presumptuous human beings who thought they could just demand and demand again and again from their creator, progenitor, from the wellspring of their being. They are reverted back to naked human beings who then create their own weapons to destroy other forms of life once more. This time, however, this destructive work is not undergone for sustenance, for food, it is undertaken to artificially constrain the powers of nature to themselves. They kill all kinds and don the dead’s skins as fancy accoutrements to their newfound powers as murderous beings who kill for sport and comfort.
The generations pass and children are born to these beings. Those children are indoctrinated into the murderous lifestyles of their forebears. They travel and spread by foot before developing ships with which to conquer the world. They go whaling, harness the oil therein, create factories and oil refineries, deforesting operations and natural resource extraction, automobiles and planes arise. Industry booms as cities expand, and so too do production and wealth increase as waste and abject poverty become the norm for the majority of those wretched of the earth (to quote a Franz Fanon title). Human beings become more than a member of the animal kingdom. They become the master species whose exploits have the ability to alter the very inner workings of the world itself.
And they kill the God-force with their bows and arrows and other weaponry, just as we have killed spirituality and a belief in forces outside of our power through modern medicine, science, and technology. They rely on medicine for cures rather than on nature’s discretion about who will live and die, they rely on science to avert global catastrophe or lessen their effects, and they rely on technology to prolong their lives. All commendable things in a world where there is no God, but Back’s imaginative plain here is not such a world. And as such, the final action for these people is only to return to nature, to recognize their animality, and to become one with the world once again rather than coveting all its spoils. The God-force revives after this about face by the humans and all is restored to an idyllic world. If only such a narrative were true and such a return were possible in our own world.
[Continued here with Back’s award-winning 1981 film Crac!]
Arbormon finally returns back to the lair of the Legendary Warriors of Darkness, where he commences weight-training to get into the proper headspace for battle. Mercurymon enters the room and begins to insult Arbormon’s intelligence using terminology that Arbormon does not understand and thereby Mercurymon has his fun whilst preventing lighting a fire or provoking the ire of his dim-witted companion. Duskmon, however, understands Mercurymon completely and later picks up on one of the would-be thespian’s exterior monologues reflecting his wishes to hide the Seraphimon Fractal Code from Cherubimon and to later use it’s powers to become the Dark Lord of the Digital World himself.
Despite the fact that Duskmon has not yet fought any of the Digidestined and has remained on the sidelines, presumably planning some machinations for their later defeats, he is still a devoted follower of Cherubimon. As such, he relates the information he overheard from Mercurymon to Cherubimon who later summons his Legendary Warriors and requests all of their Fractal Code. Mercurymon, of course, withholds the Seraphimon code, and Cherubimon intimates to Mercurymon that he knows all about the data and will allow Mercurymon to keep it in trust for the time being, but will take this data anytime he sees fit in the future.
Elsewhere, the Digidestined have come to the end of the line for their Trailmon companion who has plenty of track ahead on which he could travel, but decides to end the journey abruptly. The reason? They are fast approaching the Dark Gate to the Dark Continent, which is an accursed space that no Digimon is known to have entered and escaped. Bokomon’s book of legends has a page about this territory. Unfortunately, the pages are completely blank as if no one had ever been able to fill these pages with a firsthand account. As this route is dangerous, Bokomon suggest they avoid entering it, but Takuya reasons that this path is the fastest one toward the Rose Morning Star and furthermore that they are five Legendary Warriors all with Beast Spirits who probably would be able to handle anything they encountered within the Continent of Darkness. As Beast Spirits are Mega-level equivalents in terms of power, Takuya is right here because they’re most powerful opponent, Cherubimon, is still only one Mega-level Digimon.
They head through the Dark Gate and into a pitch black morass of forested terrain. However, after a few minutes, the Digidestined gang come across a glade with glowing moss, which they investigate and eventually pick up as a light source to help them see their way through the forest. There are Digimon in the Dark Continent that seem to be trailing the Digidestined everywhere they go. And when the group reaches a cave, the Digimon start repeating everything the Digidestined team says, even tongue twisters, to a tee. Koji throws his moss in the direction of the voices and reveals a group of bat-like Pipismon who are adept at mimicking sounds, are known to be docile by Bokomon, and are even somewhat cute by Zoe’s standards.
Just as the Digidestined begin to enter the cave, Arbormon appears and threatens to defeat the Digidestined once and for all. First he destroys the Pipismon and absorbs their Fractal Code for extra energy before Slide Evolving into his Beast Spirit evolution as Petaldramon. And for the first time ever, the Digidestined do the most rational thing in response: they all Spirit Evolve to their highest level. BurningGreymon, KendoGarurumon, MetalKabuterimon, Zephyrmon, and Korikakumon all battle against Petaldramon to greater or lesser effect until the plant dragon Digimon consumes a few trees and thereby expands in size and power to a level beyond the other Legendary Warriors present. The effort all looks for naught as our heroes strain under the bondage of Petaldramon’s vines and malicious attacks until BurningGreymon uses his fire powers to free himself and then slowly the Digidestined combine their efforts to incapacitate Petaldramon at each turn by striking at vines, his tongue, his arms, and eventually flipping the big lizard on his back before doling out a decisive blow.
Petaldramon’s Fractal Code displays itself and KendoGarurumon Slide Evolves into Lobomon to absorb this data along with Petaldramon’s Beast Spirit of Wood. Petaldramon reverts to Arbormon and suddenly Duskmon appears from out of the surrounding darkness. Arbormon welcomes his comrade who is surely there only to help out in the battle at hand. Yet, Duskmon immediately cuts Arbormon in half and absorbs the remainder of his Fractal Code as well as his H Spirit of Wood, which defeats Arbormon totally and leaves only three Legendary Warriors of Darkness for the Digidestined to defeat. The audience is meant to have a feeling that Duskmon will be more powerful than any of the previous Legendary Warriors of Darkness, besides maybe Mercurymon whose reflective powers are seemingly impenetrable.
What’s even worse is that the Digidestined are all out of their element while Duskmon is within his domain as the principal Legendary Warrior of Darkness. We know he is of superior intellect as he understands the speech and intentions of Mercurymon quite well. We also know that Duskmon is mysterious and may have many powers that could prove surprising and thereby effective against the Digidestined, especially after their battle with Petaldramon that left them somewhat drained and weaker than if they had been going into this next battle fresh. Finally, we do not know if Duskmon has a Beast Spirit. But if he does, it would come as no surprise if that plus his advantage in the domain of darkness gave him the decisive advantage in this particular situation.
And well, we all know who the Legendary Warrior of Darkness truly is because no spoiler goes unspoiled for a series that has been around for over fifteen years. But for the purposes of this particular review series, I won’t give any of that away yet in the hopes that those who have not yet watched this series will do so and follow along with me.
Ciao for now,
The Digidestined Cody
(Catch the previous review HERE)
Since Petaldramon’s defeat a few episodes back, he has once again been out of the picture. At the beginning of this episode, we get a sense of how tired he is of fighting against the Digidestined because he has seemingly left his old party as a member of the Legendary Warriors of Darkness and has instead created his own legion of Chamelemon and set up a secluded forest hideout within a large mansion on the outskirts of Hamburger Village. His motives have changed from helping Cherubimon to fracture the Digital World further and instead, Petaldramon and his troop’s new objective is to eat as much good food for free as they can by using their brute strength and numbers to thereby live off of the land through force.
The episode opens as the Chamelemon and Petaldramon enter the Village in the dead of night, seek out and find the town’s best chef, consume all his burgers to taste test their quality for themselves, and then kidnap the Champion-level Burgermon to bring back to their hideout as their personal chef. However, this head chef has a wife Burgermon and many young TorikawaBallmon children who he must support and protect. They plead with Petaldramon to return their father, but Petaldramon merely responds that he will be back on the next night that the Digital World’s three moons overlap in the night sky, and if the mother can create a better burger than the one’s made by her chef husband, then he might consider returning the head chef.
The Digidestined enter town with their previously-won all you can eat burger tickets from the Great Trailmon Race in the hopes of stuffing and engorging themselves to near bursting with hamburgers. However, they learn about the Chamelemon from the family of the Burgermon who was abducted and decide that to eat the best burgers, they must first help out in some way and return the old chef to his home. Zoe decides that they ought to create their own new burger recipes for the Chamelemon to try out so that they can follow them back to their lair, defeat them and their master, and return the head chef back home. Unfortunately, none the Digidestined have any experience cooking and as such, Takuya and Koji’s new recipes are horrendous, and J.P. and Zoe’s are only so-so. However, Tommy accidentally drops the onions he dices for his burger into a boiler, which cooks them in an ideal manner and then he accidentally drops them into salad dressing. The result is a sauce that tastes delicious and unique, which goes perfect on a burger.
The Chamelemon arrive that night., try the burgers, and immediately kidnap J.P., Zoe, and Tommy, while the TorikawaBallmon follow behind in the shadows attempting to help in any way they can. The group eventually arrive at the large mansion in the forest where they are incarcerated into a kitchen with iron bars where the head chef has been preparing food for some time: none of which has managed to assuage Petaldramon’s hunger in the least. What’s worse is that the TorikawaBallmon are captured and also incarcerated within a bird cage. As Tommy teaches the head chef how to prepare his new burger recipe, Petaldramon gets antsy and requests a burger immediately, giving the crew no time to finish their work. As such, Tommy and the others immediately Spirit Evolve into their H Spirit forms as Kumamon, Beetlemon, and Kazemon, free the TorikawaBallmon with whose help they locate the camouflaged Chamelemon, defeat them, absorb their Fractal Codes, and then watch as they revert to Armadillomon and scamper off into the woods environs.
Next Petaldramon arrives and the Digidestined Slide Evolve into their B Spirit forms as Korikakumon, MetalKabuterimon, and Zephyrmon, which allows them to defeat their foe once again. The Burgermon finishes his masterpiece burgers and tells the weakened Petaldramon to go to the kitchen to consume them. He does so, eats them, and immediately falls asleep for a long nap, which is undisturbed even as the Digidestined destroy his mansion and the rubble falls all around him. The Digidestined return to Hamburger Village with the Burgermon and TorikawaBallmon in tow where they are well-received by their fellow Burgermon and the Digidestined seemingly have a place to stay for the night as well as the possibility of redeeming their Hamburger Village meal tickets at the best eatery in town.
Unlike the town in the previous episode, Hamburger Village is only seen at night and for very brief moments during the day when the Digidestined arrive. Therefore, we learn little about the daily goings on in the town and about the variety and number of Digimon living and working therein. World-building of this ilk is always an interesting matter when watching these episodes of Digimon Frontier that are mostly filler in nature, as not much else is going on. The Digidestined all have their Beast Spirit and Human Spirits, have not yet arrived at their next destination The Rose Morning Star, and are unable or unwilling to finish off Petaldramon, which would be important plot point that they could have easily accomplished in this episode after defeating him. Furthermore, we hear nothing more from Ophanimon over the D-Tectors and learn nothing more about the backstory of the series or about Cherubimon, and our characters don’t even really develop any throughout this episode in terms of character.
It is always cool to learn more about the Digimon native to the Digital World of the Frontier Universe like the Burgermon who have both Rookie and Champion-level forms that are both referred to as Burgermon. And that the previously seen EbiBurgamon is a Rookie-level variant form with Shrimp based attacks. Or that TorikawaBallmon Digivolve into Burgermon and that Armadillomon can Armor Digivolve into things like Chamelemon. This episode also tells us that Arbormon/Petaldramon’s interests lie less in destroying the Digital World and more in living a comfortable life wherein he can have fun through battle and eating. But beyond that, there is very little of interest in this episode that helps move along the plot in any tangible manner.
Ciao for now,
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
(Catch the previous episode review HERE)
As the Digidestined travel upon their raft along a rapid river current, Arbormon awakens beneath the ocean where he was left after Grumblemon’s defeat and the subsequent cave-in a few episodes back. Arbormon appears unscathed as if he had just taken a long nap, and he is somehow alive despite having been under water for quite some time. This would make sense if Arbormon were the Legendary Warrior of Water. However, he is the Legendary Warrior of Wood, and there are no trees that can grow and survive whilst completely submerged in water as they require sunlight. And while earlier Digimon shows played a bit with the rules of their series, they were at least internally consistent and did not play so fast and loose. The reasons why this season is considered the worst of the first four are becoming more apparent with each episode I watch.
As the Digidestined reach the Autumn Leaf Fair, the Toucanmon begin to depart with the camera they traded for the D-Tectors. The town is full of Digimon of all levels from Baby to Mega. This is to expected of a large trading fair, but is once again unsettling as the entire Digital World is currently at under threat of destruction by Cherubimon and there are many Digimon present who could easily help in this battle against evil. There are fourteen Ultimate level Digimon at the fair including very powerful ones like Phantomon, Etemon, Myotismon, Lilymon, Piximon, Taomon, and Vademon. There are seven armor Digimon including the Mega-level equivalent Golden Armor Digimon Kongoumon. Finally, there are three Mega-level Digimon: Jijimon and Babamon (arguably not fit for fighting) and the Royal Knight Gallantmon who could defeat any of the Legendary Warriors of Evil even when in their Beast Spirit forms and potentially even Cherubimon himself. The team who helmed Frontier no doubt just populated this event with tons of recognizable Digimon without giving pause to think about this inconsistency or even without explaining it away as a group of selfish Digimon who only care about turning a profit.
The Digidestined immediately begin searching every shop and stall in town as soon as they arrive, but find no leads on the whereabouts of their D-Tectors. J.P. and Zoe take a 30-plate Restaurant challenge that J.P. surprisingly loses as Zoe wins and is rewarded with a handful of train tickets for use all Trailmon lines in the Digital World. Tommy finds a little hole in the wall shop run by a Datamon more obsessed with playing an arcade machine game than making sales. The game is a Space Invaders variant in which the good guy is a Togemon shooting spikes toward enemy Pagumon. And Datamon is absolutely terrible at the game.
As such, Tommy intervenes, reassuring Datamon that he is a great gamer who has had tons of experience playing video games back in the Real World. And Tommy’s no joke after all as he quickly ascends through levels to reach the final mothership boss and manages to beat the game. A cartridge is released from the system as a prize and Datamon immediately stores it away in a locker behind the counter of his shop. A locker wherein the four D-Tectors are spied by Tommy. Tommy tells Datamon that they belong to he and his friends, but Datamon refuses to return them. However, Tommy is persistent and manages to get Datamon to relent just a tad. Datamon promises to hold the D-Tectors for up to an hour while Tommy goes out and searches for something to trade for them.
Luckily, Tommy quickly runs into the Toucanmon on the outskirts of the city and is able to chase them down and take the camera, which they drop when falling through the ice and into the waters below. Tommy is too good-hearted unfortunately and he goes back to save the Toucanmon who reward his kindness by immediately taking back the camera and running away. Neemon saw Tommy leave town and reported this to Takuya and Koji who, as a team, go to the outskirts of town and find Tommy crying. They console him and after learning of his ordeal head off toward Datamon’s shop. But Arbormon, who tracked down the Toucanmon and Datamon arrives first with the Toucanmon in a sack. He plans to trade back the camera to Datamon for the D-Tectors, but Datamon checks out the camera first and finds a short film thereon that shows Tommy saving the Toucanmon from drowning. He refuses Arbormon’s trade deal, so he Slide Evolves into Petaldramon, destroys the shop and beats up Datamon before the Digidestined can arrive on the scene (sans J.P. and Zoe who are still out at the eating competition).
Datamon gives Tommy his D-Tector, which has been upgraded with the data that was within the cartridge from Space Invaders: the B Spirit of Ice! Tommy immediately Spirit Evolves into his new form as Korikakumon and doles out a beating to Petaldramon for a time before losing control of his Beast Spirit and becoming trapped in Petaldramon’s vines. Datamon returns Takuya and Koji’s D-Tectors, and they Spirit Evolve into Agunimon and Lobomon, respectively, to free their friend from Petaldramon’s bondage. Why they don’t just Spirit Evolve into BurningGreymon and KendoGarurumon to help destroy Petaldramon for good? One reason could be that they wish to only aid Tommy and thereby allow him to take all the glory in this battle. The result is that Petaldramon retreats and is not destroyed right there and then. Overkill was the proper decision that Takuya and Koji once again refused to make, and thereby the proper answer to why they did not Spirit Evolve into their Beast Spirits is that they are idiots.
The episode ends as night falls and the Digidestined team have regrouped. Ophanimon speaks through their D-Tectors and tells them that they must make a choice right now to either return home or to continue their journeys as this is the point of no return. Everyone agrees to continue onward and they are advised to head next toward the Rose Morning Star, which is quite some distance away. But the team do have those train tickets Zoe and as such they use them now to get as far they can toward their destination. All five Legendary Warriors of Light now have Beast Spirit Mega-level equivalent forms. They have the egg of Seraphimon. But the Legendary Warriors of Darkness have only four members, three of which have Beast Spirits and one of which (Duskmon) is so aloof as to currently cause no problem for the Digidestined. Things are looking up.
Ciao for now,
The Digidestined Cody
The Swiss Family Robinson is a classic novel, which this episode’s title references. The story of this book is one of a schooner, which is shipwrecked somewhere near the isles of the East Indies. A family onboard decides to craft a makeshift raft out the remainder of their ship on which they sail to a nearby island. There, they work together to collect as many supplies as possible from the ship, including a wide array of livestock and food stuffs they were lucky to have. They build shelters and explore the island until they come to understand it’s ecology well enough to sustainably use its resources and to thereby live for as long as possible there until being rescued at the book’s end (though, notably, a few amongst their number decide to remain on the island).
The tale is a Christian allegory expressing the socialist ethic at the core of Jesus’ message: to share all resources amongst one another fairly to live a harmonious, communal existence without simultaneously pillaging the earth of its resources and instead being good shepherds and retainers of the world’s store and goods. As expected, this episode of Digimon has very little to do with such a message or ethos, and is instead so named merely as a pun on the fact that the Digidestined build a raft in this episode, despite its construction’s purpose being totally different from that of the aforementioned Robinson family from Switzerland.
The Digidestined are still searching for the wily Toucanmon who nabbed their D-Tectors during the last episode. J.P. and the other Digidestined boys are also reflecting on just how creepy they found Calmaramon to be and how they hope profusely that Zoe’s Beast Spirit will not be similarly monstrous and scary to set one’s upon. All the while, the Toucanmon recline on a cliff-side high above the Digidestined, where they debate what to do with the D-Tectors now that they have become disillusioned by Ranamon’s vicious Beast Spirit and have thereby revoked their memberships to the Ranamon fan club: Begone thot! They decide that they may be able to sell the D-Tectors to other members of Ranamon’s club who have not yet seen her new Beast Spirit form, and thereby fly off to a nearby island to deliberate once more upon the best place to seek out a buyer.
Zoe and the others see the Toucanmon flying through the sky towards the neighboring island and decide to swim off in pursuit. However, a group of Gomamon surround the Digidestined and warn them to return back to shore as there are a series of powerful whirlpools near the other island’s approach. These Gomamon explain that they once lived on the other island, but after a mysterious earthquake these whirlpools appeared that threaten to drag anyone who swims near them beneath the waves. What’s more, a few of their friends were still on the island at the time and have no way to escape. Zoe offers the Digidestined’s aid in returning the Gomamon to their island and into the fins of their friends once more. To do so, they construct a raft to approach the island, which is sturdy and big enough to avoid being pulled beneath the whirlpools.
All this time, Calmaramon has been back at her hideout training herself to master her Beast Spirit Evolution so that she can defeat the Digidestined once and for all. It comes as no surprise then that when the Legendary Warriors of Light approach the shore, a tidal wave appears and Ranamon within it who immediately attacks the crew. Zoe Spirit Evolves into Kazemon, but it once again no match for Ranamon who is within her element at sea as the Legendary Warrior of Water. Kazemon is dragged into a whirlpool, but finds a mysterious glowing light that leads her to a large clam shell that opens to reveal her Beast Spirit of Wind. Zoe emerges just as Ranamon attempts to destroy her friends, and then Beast Spirit evolves into Zephyrmon.
Unlike Calmaramon, Zephyrmon is physically attractive and far from monstrous. All the boys, and especially J.P., swoon as Ranamon goes on a tirade about how this new form means nothing because Ranamon still has a fan club who admires her beauty and Zoe has no such club. The argument is petty so Zephyrmon ignores it and instead begins to fight Ranamon who is forced to Slide Evolve into Calmaramon. Calmaramon has a new attack that involves spitting out acid ink toward her enemies. She directs this at the Gomamon and unarmed Digidestined below, which prompts Zephyrmon to block the attack and thereby take the hit. Her weakened state allows Calmaramon to capture Zephyrmon within her tentacular appendages and transform the mise-en-scene of the battle into an eldritch conflict between the sea peoples and the sky peoples.
Luckily, the other Digidestined have realized Calmaramon’s true weakness: her vanity. They insult her with a tirade of verbal abuse about how creepy she looks and thereby manage to distract her long enough for Zephyrmon to escape her grasp and begin her own attacks anew. Calmaramon decides to use her most powerful spinning top attack to diffuse the situation, but it seems she has still been unable to control this power and instead spins offscreen into the distance, once more finding herself ineffective through lack of control.
The Gomamon thank the Digidestined for returning them to their friends: finding the Beast Spirit of Wind stopped the whirlpools. And the Digidestined reflect on Zoe’s beauty in all her Digimon forms as well as her awesome ability (not unlike J.P.) to almost immediately control her power within her Beast Spirit. Finally, our crew questions the native Gomamon about the current whereabouts of the Toucanmon and are told that they left during the previous battle and were presumably heading toward the continent. Specifically toward the Autumn Leaf Fair: a trader’s market where they are planning to sell off the Legendary Warrior’s D-Tectors to the highest bidder.
Ciao for now,
The Digidestined Cody
(Check out the previous Digimon Frontier episode review HERE)
It’s been five episodes since the now-departed Grumblemon stole Zoe’s H Spirit of Wind and rendered her useless in battle. Now that J.P. ensured it was returned to her, it seems appropriate that she will be able to use it asap in this, the first episode since she regained the power.
The episode begins with Mercurymon and Ranamon at their home base discussing the events of the previous episodes from their own perspective. Ranamon orders Mercurymon to track down Arbormon and bring him back to the base. While Mercurymon accedes to this demand, he also tells Ranamon that he believes she must be terrified without a Beast Spirit since three of the Digidestined Legendary Warriors now have their own Beast Spirits and were able to destroy Grumblemon because he had lost his. Although, Ranamon objects to this line of reasoning, once Mercurymon leaves, we find Ranamon studying a map of the Digital World, scrutinizing every detail for some body of water previously overlooked wherein her Beast Spirit of Water may be hiding. When she zeroes in on such a place, Ranamon decides to head off in its direction.
By luck, or chance, or more likely the machinations of a screenwriter forcing forward the plot through a Deus ex Machina, the island that Whamon drops the Digidestined off at just happens to be in the area where Ranamon plans to search for her Beast Spirit. It also just so happens that one of Ranamon’s fan clubs (this one composed of Toucanmon) resides on the island and has received express directions to search for the Beast Spirit throughout their area. Instead of the Beast Spirit, however, the Toucanmon find the Digidestined and crew on their island’s coastline rejoicing and even boasting about how their good fortune as of late. The pieces of information that pique the Toucanmon’s interest most include Zoe and J.P.’s fawning over one another as Zoe boasts about the return of her H Spirit and thanks J.P. profusely, while J.P. boasts about now having his very own Beast Spirit and Zoe responds affirmatively about how cool he is. Besides being a deservedly saccharine moment (maybe one of the first openly romantic moments between Digidestined kids thus far in the franchise), it alerts the Toucanmon that these kids are the Digidestined and that they have Beast Spirits.
Therefore, the Toucanmon concoct a wily plan. They open up Toucan Paradise: a seaside resort that offers free food, lodging, and beach supply rentals to the Digidestined to get them to stay around. While the Digidestined are out lounging on the beach and in the surf, the Toucanmon enter the changing rooms and steal the boy’s B-Tectors in the hopes of giving them to Ranamon so that she can have the Beast Spirits housed within. The plan is a failure from the very start for a few important reasons. 1. These are the Beast Spirits of Fire, Light, Thunder, and Earth (as Gigasmon’s Spirit was absorbed by Takuya’s D-Tector) within the D-Tectors. None of which are usable by Ranamon, the Legendary Warrior of Water. 2. No one but Digidestined have hitherto ever been able to use a Digivice and even if Ranamon could use the Beast Spirits, she would probably not be able to draw them out of the devices. 3. Zoe is notoriously picky about what she wears, and as such, takes a very long time to pick out her outfit. So when the Toucanmon try to enter her changing room, she is still within it, gets freaked out and yells out to the others.
The other Digidestined enter the room quickly without thinking that she might be half dressed and quickly run the other way when Zoe screams again out of embarrassment. The Digidestined learn that their D-Tectors are missing, but luckily Zoe still has her own D-Tector. When Ranamon finally makes her appearance, Zoe is finally able to Spirit Evolve into Kazemon for the first time in five episodes and go head to head with one of the evil Legendary Warriors. Its the fan service fight all Digimon fans were waiting for (and it excites the Toucanmon as well), until Ranamon senses the presence of some force beneath the waves. She submerges and finds her Beast Spirit of Water, then transforms into Calmaramon. Although basically a more adult version of Ranamon with tentacles (which is arguably even better), this Beast Spirit form of Ranamon is seen as ugly and creepy by the Digidestined and by Ranamon’s Toucanmon fan club who all immediately revoke their memberships and run off with visions of the ethereally-beautiful Kazemon instead.
Although Kazemon stands no chance against Calmaramon, the Water Beast finds this form new and alien and thereby difficult to control. Thereby, Calmaramon attempts to use a spinning attack against Kazemon, but only ends up becoming dizzy and flying off into the distance where she is no longer a threat for the time being. With this pressing concern out of the way, the Digidestined return to tracking down the Toucanmon to find their D-Tectors, which will come in handy if Calmaramon returns. This is necessary because Zoe, the only one with a D-Tector currently, still has not found her Beast Spirit and a returned Calmaramon would soon overwhelm the team if she becomes able to control the unwieldly power of her Beast Spirit.
As the review of the events of the episode is over, and I’ve yet to reach my minimum word count (1000 words), I’ll discuss a point I mentioned above only in passing. Mercurymon seems to sense that Ranamon is searching for her Beast Spirit and has some sort of complex that she has yet to find one. A common response in such a discourse that we might expect from Ranamon would be to shoot back at Mercurymon by asking why he was so concerned with her Beast Spirit when he didn’t have one of his own. However, since Ranamon does not make this response, we now know that Mercurymon already has a Beast Spirit form.
By the episodes’s end, this means that Mercurymon, Arbormon, and Ranamon all have Beast Spirit Evolutions. Duskmon is still an enigma. But this increases the odds in the the Legendary Warriors of Darkness’s chances slightly as they have at least 3 Mega-level equivalents in their party just like the Digidestined, but as evidenced from previous episodes, the Dark Warriors have better teamwork and tactical fighting skills as a unit in battle. As of this moment, they may be stronger as a team than their Digidestined counterparts.
Ciao for now,
The Digidestined Cody
(Catch the previous review in this series HERE)
Better half an egg than an empty shell. Before watching this episode of Digimon Frontier, I thought it prudent to find out if the title had something to do with another piece of media of which I was unaware. Especially insofar as the past few episodes have all made reference through punned titles to pop culture references, unfortunately to lesser effect than any such title shave been put to use in previous Digimon series. Somehow, despite being an American from the South, I had not heard the phrase from which this title derives. Though the meaning is clearly something similar to ‘a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.’ Though the former proverb tells us to cherish the things we do have as we could have nothing at all, and the latter reminds us that it is better to hold/have an experience than to just observe it from afar. The meaning in this episode, however, is little more than a pun on the events therein, but a pun that actually makes sense within the context of the episode unlike the punned titles of the previous two episodes.
The Digidestined finally make their way to the Forest Kingdom, which they find mysteriously clouded by a deep fog. There are tracks for Trailmon to traverse all along the path followed by the Digidestined, but there are no Trailmon in sight to bring them to the Forest Terminal itself. However, there is a ramen shop near a sign directing them toward the Forest Terminal, which affords the group an opportunity to rest and refuel before continuing onward. What’s more is that the shop owner is a friendly Deramon who offers the weary travelers their first meal free. Unfortunately, Deramon has a faulty cookbook or horrible taste and therefore the food tastes horrendous and no one can even scarf down one bite despite how hard they try and despite how much their stomachs cry out in hideous gurgles for nourishment. The Digidestined insult Deramon by telling him the truth about the quality of his vittles, which enrages him enough to respond back that they ought to just go into the Forest Terminal: a domain from which he has never seen a single soul return.
The Digidestined are just about to leave and head in the direction of the Forest Terminal when they receive a message on their D-Tectors redundantly advising them to immediately head toward the Forest Terminal. So they do so, but we learn throughout the montage of sequences in which the Digidestined use their D-Tectors to find the correct path forward, that so too are Grumblemon, Ranamon, Mercurymon, and Arbormon slowly traversing this path, following the tracks of the Digidestined all along the way. Eventually, the path leads our diminutive protagonists to a large Castle where they are greeted with hostility and caution by Sorcermon who believes them to Cherubimon’s lackeys. Fortunately, the misconception is quickly cleared up and the Digidestined are revealed to be humans bearing the powers of the Legendary Warriors of yore who are not in fact in the service of the Dark Lord Cherubimon, but are instead being called toward their destinies by the voice of Ophanimon through their D-Tector devices.
Sorcermon next leads our friends into the inner chamber of his impressive domicile wherein Seraphimon is found encase within a crystal that is dissolved upon the Digidestined aiming their D-Tectors toward him. This event or encounter apparently passes all conditions in a prophecy once told that Seraphimon would be freed from his bondage by a group of humans. We learn furthermore that Seraphimon was entombed therein because he was close to defeat by Cherubimon, was saved by Ophanimon, and was left here to regain his strength in a place that Cherubimon could not track down.
Seraphimon himself eventually comes to and learns that the human children who freed him are actually bearers of the Spirits of the Legendary Warriors. He relates the ancient tale, which Bokomon made apparent to us once before, in which human type Digimon and beast type Digimon fought against one another and led the world to ruin. Lucemon appeared and managed to bind them and restore peace to the world as it benevolent dictator. But absolute power corrupts absolutely as they say, and so Lucemon became a true dictatorial presence of malevolence until the ten Legendary Warriors appeared, defeated him, and restored peace once again. The Legendary Warriors appointed three Champions to protect the order of the Digital World. These were Seraphimon, Ophanimon, and Cherubimon. The latter of the three eventually turned evil and you know the rest of the story. But the most intriguing part of this narrative is what has been left out. Namely, why exactly it was that the 10 Mega-Level Legendary Champions were unable to rule the Digital World and protect the peace themselves. Perhaps, the world may never know (or it might come up later when I rewatch that Digimon Frontier film I vaguely remember from the days of my youth).
Seraphimon advises the Digidestined to return back to their world now that he has been revived and should be able to take up the pressing battle himself. It’s a good thing that the Digidestined are hard-headed and refuse to do so, because, as we saw in the first episode of the series, an H Spirit Legendary Warrior Evolution is equivalent to or stronger than an Ultimate-level Digimon. Furthermore, a Beast Spirit Evolution is so much stronger than an H Spirit Evolution that it can take on and defeat at least five H Spirit Evolutions with no problem and is thereby at least on the level of Mega. Cherubimon is a Mega and he has five lackeys: 1 of which (Grumblemon is stuck as an H Spirit), the other 4 of which either have B Spirits or can find them. This means that the worst case scenario for Seraphimon in such a battle would be he and Ophanimon (if he could track her down) versus five Mega level Digimon of at least his strength level. These are not good odds!
Just as Seraphimon begins to plead with the children to leave this potentially life-threatening situation, Grumblemon and his goons enter the room. Immediately, the Digidestined Spirit Evolve into Beetlemon and Kumamon (J.P. and Tommy’s best option currently) and Agunimon and Lobomon (Takuya and Koji’s biggest derp moment in the entire series thus far). Because neither Takuya or Koji made the smart decision to transform to their Beast Spirit Evolutions as BurningGreymon and KendoGarurumon, they are in a four to four battle against opponents with the same power levels. However, Cherubimon’s forces have more experience fighting individually and as a team and thereby overwhelm the human Legendary Warriors and Sorcermon as he attempts to prevent Grumblemon from reclaiming his Gigasmon Beast Spirit from Takuya. Seraphimon manages to hold off the four aggressors, but is ultimately defeated when his attack is reflected by the metal mirror of Mercurymon, the Legendary Warrior of Steel.
Mercurymon then absorbs Seraphimon’s Fractal Code, which forces Seraphimon to revert back to a DigiEgg. Zoe nabs the egg, Sorcermon hits a secret wall switch when the team is backed into a corner, and everyone escapes to the secret Forest Terminal where a Kettle variant of Trailmon awaits them. However, Sorcermon gives his life to stay behind and distract the evil Legendary Warriors for as long as possible to ensure that the others make a clean getaway.
And then, just like that, the title of the episode makes sense. The kids have Seraphimon’s egg and were able to get it before the others destroyed it and rent it asunder into a mere shell. The hope now is that the Digidestined will be able to track down the voice in their D-Tectors and ask her to restore Seraphimon to his former glory as a necessary and formidable ally in their battle against Cherubimon. My second hope is that they will never again bring a knife to a knife fight by Spirit Evolving into weak H Spirit forms when they have the option to bring a gun to the knife fight and Spirit Evolve into their B Spirit Evolutions instead. But hey, that’s just wishful thinking.
Ciao for now,
The Digidestined Cody
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