Though I’ve been largely absent from the reader for the past month, I wouldn’t miss this day if I can help it: the first day of the month. That means it’s about time I send out an update here regarding all of the cool new things going on with theatrical anime, home video releases and manga coming to a North American audience, plus a review of my region’s best upcoming Anime and Otaku Conventions. So, without further ado, here I go.
For starters, Seven Seas Entertainment is releasing a very important Classic Collection title that all true manga nerds will want to get their hands on immediately: the Space Battleship Yamato complete collection in one volume, set for release on April 9th. This tome contains Leiji Matsumoto’s legendary space opera series in its entirety for what I believe is the first time in the West. Author of series like Galaxy Express 999 and Space Captain Harlock, Matsumoto is one amongst a godhead of classic manga-ka including names like Osamu Tezuka (Astro Boy), Go Nagai (Devilman), Shirow Masamune (Ghost in the Shell), and Rumiko Takahashi (Ranma 1/2) who have helped to influence and shape the current form and content of manga like none other. So I hope you check out this manga when it becomes available.
Viz Media is also releasing some pretty exciting books this month such as The Art of Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind on the 16th and a hardcover Nausicaa Picture Book on the 30th. Most interesting, however, is the publication of a new series of everyone’s favorite horror comics artist Junji Ito. Smashed: Junji Ito Story Collection is set for release on April 16th and will assuredly be filled with spine-tingling macabre art and head-trippy surreal concepts in spades.
As for home video releases, Discotek Media is back in the game this month after a short hiatus brought on by their distributor moving house. On April 30th, they have quite a few releases slated. The ones that most piqued my interest include a DVD of the 1988 Cyberpunk OVA Appleseed (based on Shirow Masamune’s classic manga) and an HD Blu-Ray of Episodes 1-26 of Lupin III Part IV The Italian Adventure.
Sentai Filmworks has a ton of releases set for this month, but the most important of these, historically-speaking, is their Gatchaman Collector’s Edition slated for release on the 30th. This includes the entirety of the over-100 episode series, the OVAs, the film, and a large artbook. This is THE definitive version of this classic series, and thereby deserving of its $99.99 price tag.
Then we have theatrical anime to consider for April. Funimation recently released some interesting material in February and March, but is currently not announcing any films for April. However, keep them in mind for the summer as they have two interesting films already set for release during that time period: Anemone: Eureka Seven Hi-Evolution (The newest Eureka Seven project) and POLYGON Pictures Human Lost based on an original story by famed Japanese author Osamu Dazai and directed by Fuminori Kizaki (Afro Samurai, Psycho-Pass). The latter of these two films looks to be an intense and arresting cyberpunk-tinged tale of future dystopian society, and thereby a film this anime reviewer will not be missing out on (if he can help it).
GKIDs is releasing two films they hold the North American distribution rights to through Fathom Events. The first is the long-anticipated 1st feature-length film by Studio Ghibli-veteran Kitaro Kosaka entitled Okko’s Inn. The film is produced by Studio Madhouse and thereby retains a high level of executive quality control in the process of choosing scripts and in releasing a film with their name on it. As Kosaka’s previous short film efforts Nasu and Nasu II were fantastic and even milestones in the history of anime (the former was the first anime filmed premiered at Cannes Film Festival), Okko’s Inn ought to be a great film. Catch it in theaters on the 22nd or 23rd of this month.
The second film being released by GKIDs through Fathom Events is the first film in this year’s Studio Ghibli Fest: Howl’s Moving Castle. As this is the 15th Anniversary of the film, expect to see some interesting bonus content about the film before or after its airing. Plan to catch this film on the 7th, 8th, or 10th at a theater near you.
And finally, GKIDs is releasing Mamoru Hosoda’s new film Mirai of the Future on Blu-Ray, DVD, and digital on April 9th. So pick that up when you get a chance to continue rounding out your collection with great films by anime’s auteurs.
I’ll conclude this update with a quick run through of my region’s upcoming anime cons of consequence. The first is Nashicon in Columbia, SC from the 5th-7th. Nashicon was the first convention at which I ever presented a panel and it means a great deal to me. I would be there myself this upcoming weekend if not for the fact that my band is releasing our debut EP in Charlotte, NC on Saturday night. If you live in the area and are interested in attending that, here’s a link to The Boron Heist EP Release Show.
From the 13-14th, TigerCon is going down in Valdosta, GA. From the 19th-21st, Middle Tennessee Anime Con is happening in Nashville. And on the 20th, a one day convention entitled KiraKira Con is being held in my home city of Charlotte, NC at UNC Charlotte!
This concludes this month’s anime update. If I left out any pertinent media companies, events, or types of information you wished I had covered here, please let me know and I will do my best to incorporate said information in future Anime Updates!
Ciao for now,
As promised, I’ve completed some much-needed repairs on my house and now I’m back here in this blogspace, back in my virtual home, my veritable nexus for all things in celluloid culture that beckoned to me throughout the week like an idinal mistress calling constantly for my return. Just as those urges to get back to writing, to get back to The Big O, to anime, to Western films, and to animation, were always there in the back of my mind, so too were you here, calling through phantom channels and announcing yourselves through the occasional like or follow of this blogspace. My average weekly view count for a week in which I post 9-10 essay-reviews is a little over 100 views per day. And this past week in which I posted almost nothing, it was still over 100 views per day. For that, I thank you kindly and salute you as comrades in the shared experience of hyping and reflecting on (and even often trashing) commercial pop art of all kinds, and specifically those made for the Gold and Silver Screens of this world. So without further adieu.
The sixth episode of The Big O is, again, one written not by the series creator Chiaki J. Konaka, but instead by one of his close friends and collaborators on past scripts. Unlike Keiichi Hasegawa, the screenwriter for Act 05 Masanao Akahoshi, the writer on Act 06, had much less experience in writing scripts hitherto. In 1998 and 1999 he wrote three episodes of Konaka’s Devilman Lady, which was his first job writing for any TV show of note up that point his career. The Big O became his second writing job, and on it he would go on to contribute the script to Act 12 as well before ultimately moving on to write for Tokusatsu shows like Ultraman, again alongside his pals Konaka and Hasegawa.
And like the previous Act, the story of Act 06 is largely episodic and has little to do with the developing story arc of Roger uncovering the mysteries of the City of Amnesia, The Event, and of his own past and identity. Dorothy awakens Roger once again as the Act’s opening number by playing a fugue on the piano of particularly upsetting speed, complexity, and underlying sturm und drang romanticism. The master of the house has once again overslept, this time far into the day, and slightly beyond noon. And although she is probably justified in awakening her host in this manner in order to prevent him from wasting his free day asleep in bed, he decides to take her to an old friend who may have the ability to rid Dorothy of her annoying instrumental proclivities.
The two ride downtown in The Griffon (Roger’s black sedan) and eventually find themselves outside of a club called Amadeus. Outside of the door, they hear an airy, elegiac nocturne being banged out ever so precisely and with such skill as to elicit an emotional reaction in Dorothy. She explains to Roger, in an ever so subtly envious tone, that the pianist inside is playing a piece from the classical repertoire, out of time and seemingly with little regard to the sheet music’s dictums. Roger explains that these changes are what gives the piece its emotional and lyrical resonance, are what gives it heart. When they enter the club, Dorothy is surprised to find that the pianist is an android like herself. Roger is pleased to find that many of the denizens of this dark place are enjoying their drinks just as much as the beauty of the music being produced by the resident android Instro whose music’s Elysian qualities lull all those who hear it into a restful calm.
Instro’s full name is R. Instro. The initial R. always signifying ‘Robot’ within the mythos of The Big O (as in Dorothy R. Wayneright as well) and serving as another important key that connects the franchise to Western sci-fi history as Isaac Asimov used this initial in the same capacity within his works. Instro’s creator, Amadeus, was the original proprietor of the club, which has now changed hands, but still retains its mechanical muse (its own Nightingale, if you will). Amadeus was a scientist (or one who has regained memories, or fragments of history or information, from prior to The Event) who died in a mysterious incident in his lab some years prior. Instro never refers to this man as Amadeus or as his creator, but merely as his father. The mystery of such a constant designation is deepened throughout the episode as flashbacks appear to show Instro as a child, a human child, and photographs within the home of Amadeus later reveal pictures of himself with a young boy coincident with the one Instro identifies as himself in his flashbacks. Meaning that either the boy died and Amadeus somehow managed to translate his memories into code, which he then incorporated into Instro’s mind, or Instro is actually the child whose mind was uploaded into a mechanical body for some unknown purpose or because of some ailment the boy’s physical body manifested. Either way, the obvious inner emotional life of Instro is apparent and pushes the envelope ever further within this dystopian cyberpunk transhumanist anime narrative toward a prescient dialogue about issues that will become increasingly more important over the coming decades.
As Instro begins to tutor Dorothy within the club before operating hours, a man named Gieseng enters and inquires of Instro whether he is now ready to take on the burden of his creators’ dreams for him. Once Gieseng realizes that Instro has company, he makes an abrupt departure and promises to return at a later date. Roger finds the whole situation odd, and out of concern for his friend Instro, he pays a visit to Police Chief Dan Dastun to find out more information about this Gieseng fellow. Dastun has a file on the man (seems to have a file on just about every person in the city) and alerts Roger to the fact that Gieseng was Amadeus’ scientific partner, and that during the accident that took the latter’s life, Gieseng was present, and managed to survive. The accident is revealed to have been caused by some sort of haywire phono-sonic machine.
When Roger and Dorothy next visit Amadeus’ Club, they find it closed and absent of Instro’s presence. Inside, a hole has been blasted into the piano and the wall behind it, though no debris from the impact is around. Furthermore, Dorothy finds Instro’s bow-tie sitting in the nook above the piano. When the two leave the club, they venture out toward Amadeus’ old house. There, they find that the home has a huge hole blown into the side of it. And then the Constanze Megadeus appears. Instro is piloting the machine and recognizes Roger along the ground. He explains to his friend that his father created him as the key to this powerful machine, which he created to exact revenge upon the Paradigm Corp. for wrongfully terminating him and cutting off his funding. Roger sees through this reasoning immediately, tells Instro that he is too human to have been created for destruction, and that Gieseng is merely manipulating him toward his own ends. But Instro has made up his mind and regretfully sends a phono-sonic wave blast toward his friend Roger who he recognizes is now standing in the way of him achieving his apparent life’s purpose, and potentially putting his father’s ghost at ease.
But Roger has already called upon his own Megadeus and Big O arises from the ground to protect his dominus from the blast. The two begin to fight back against Constanze, but are repelled by the sheer power of the phono-sonic machine’s blasts. Even Big O’s lasers and machine guns are not enough firepower to break through the waves of energy and all looks for naught as Big O begins to deteriorate and the bolts holding him together start to come loose. Just then, Dorothy finds a piano within Amadeus’ home and begins to play the nocturne that Instro taught her. Instro immediately recognizes the tune as well as the deep inner emotional truth that he was not created to destroy, but to create beautiful music for the world. He ceases his attacks, which gives Big O an opening to crush the arms of Constanze and render her immobile and impotent.
Below, Gieseng attempts to stop Dorothy by launching a wave of sound from his own handheld phono-sonic gun. Fortunately, though tragically, a large tree has become weakened in the soil behind him over the course of the battle between the earth-shaking Megadeuses. It falls directly onto Gieseng and ends this Caligari-esque villain’s life with one fell swoop. Instro, defeated, opens his cockpit and, still believing himself a mere tool for destruction, rips out his arms from the controls of Constanze and vows to never play music again. But Dorothy has different plans and reasons with Instro that he must continue to tutor her in her own playing. The episode ends with him doing just that, a new pair of arms and hands of lesser dexterity, but ample ability now sutured in where his father’s previous masterpieces of design once were. And although Dorothy becomes significantly better and more intuitive in her playing, she still on occasion hammers out the old sturm und drang to awaken her host when he oversleeps.
Cast in the Name of God,
In 1986, Clint Eastwood directed, produced, and acted in a war film that cost $15 million USD to make. Although it looked like a TV movie, had the lamest possible war as its central action piece (the 1983 Invasion of Grenada), and was one of Eastwood’s least distinctive projects as a director, it managed to net over a $100 million USD beyond its budget. There are no painterly compositions in the film, no great acting performances, no explosive action sequences, and no intrigue except for the least common denominator consumer of kitsch with a long attention span (surely an imaginary figure, no?), and yet it made a ridiculous amount of money based on the strength of Eastwood’s name alone.
In this Technicolor war film, Eastwood plays an aging Marine named Gunnery Sergeant Thomas Highway who seems to be in the force for good. He was once a great soldier who fought nobly and won the Congressional Medal of Honor during the Korean War for acts of valor during a skirmish known as Heartbreak Ridge. Later, he apparently went on four different tours of duty in wartime, three of which were in Vietnam alone. but his constant gungho mentality and will to kill and to fight in a combat zone led him to neglect his wife back home, to never raise a family, to never sit back and come to terms with who he really was at core, and as such, his wife eventually left him. Highway becomes a drunk and ends up constantly finding ways to start fights with other soldiers and with civilians as a way to get out his frustrations.
So when he lands a last chance to train a young group of recruits for the front lines, he takes it in earnest and tries his best to turn a new leaf. He spends much of the film attempting to shape up his green recruits into a fighting force worth their salt, whilst butting heads with his commanding officer Major Malcolm A. Powers (played to little effect by Everett McGill: Twin Peaks’ Big Ed) who is himself a young man with no current fighting experience. This desk chair general thinks himself a knowledgeable commander because of all he has learned at the academy before ascending to a respectable position as a leader at a small training camp and Highway does his best to prove the kid doesn’t know the first damn thing about military tactics, which are, he believes, first and foremost, about surprise, good timing, taking initiative, and having the guts to attack even if the odds are against you.
Meanwhile, Highway tries his best to stop drinking heavily and begins to treat his body better in his old age. He gets into a few fights, but mostly against his own platoon soldiers or against his superiors during sanctioned training exercises, which obviates the need to reprimand him for his actions. He begins reading women’s magazines in an effort to better understand the psyche of women and in particular, the needs and thoughts of his ex-wife with whom he wishes to reunite. The whole exercise is relatively campy without being shot in a manner that reflects this zaniness or acted in a manner that makes it apparent. It’s sappy without having a real emotional core as none of the cast of characters are particularly easy to identify with, partially because of the relative drowsiness of their acting, and therefore, I found it pretty difficult to care about any of the struggles of the film’s characters.
As an epic war film, one might imagine that much of the picture would revolve around a war setting. However, much of Heartbreak Ridge is purely human melodrama on the way toward the battle. And when the battle comes, it is pretty lackluster. There is gunfire, and explosions abound, but the numbers of the characters is very restrained, the scenes carry no kinetic weight as they are shot head-on with little concern with crafting epic, sweeping scenes or painterly compositions and it becomes painfully obvious in these scenes that either Eastwood let an unskilled workman-like second unit director shoot much of this material, or worse, that he was uninterested in making the scenes interesting visually (we know he was able to do so as he had done so on previous films and would do so later in his career as well).
The pre-production period of the film was slowed substantially by the Army first endorsing the film, then reading the script, and finally taking back their endorsement as they thought that the character of Highway was too old-fashioned and did not reflect the modern teachings and instruction of the Army. It seems they had not enough intelligence to realize this was the intention of Eastwood: to produce a film in which the modern, weak-willed approach of the military, which often kowtows to progressive morality instead of taking on a total warfare/ war is hell approach, butts heads against a real old school hard ass of the latter mentality. Later, the Marines endorsed the film, but after receiving a screening of the picture, they too retracted their endorsement citing similar concerns to those of the Army. If fatigue at consistently being misunderstood by those institutions he meant to lionize wasn’t enough to weaken his resolve and thereby affect the film negatively, then I don’t know what did, but as established above, there must have been some lack of trying on someone’s part.
Some of Clint Eastwood’s films are amongst my favorite American films of the post-New Hollywood period and include classics like the Hitchcockian thriller Play Misty For Me (his directorial debut); the Westerns High Plains Drifter, The Outlaw Josey Wales, Pale Rider, and Unforgiven; the music films Honkytonk Man and Bird; the dramas Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil and Mystic River; and the War films Letters From Iwo Jima and Flags of Our Fathers. Many other Eastwood films are ones I enjoy on occasion, and consider good films, but would not place amongst the ranks of these former pictures. As for Heartbreak Ridge, I cannot in good conscience place it even amongst the ranks of his decent pictures and found it overwrought, a little lifeless, dated, and worse yet, boring.
(Catch part 50 HERE)
This is it. We’ve made it to the end of Digimon Tamers and I’ve managed to review every episode from three seasons of the franchise thus far. Now just four seasons and Tri remain ahead, not to mention whatever new series might be released before I catch up completely with the rest of these seasons. All in all, I’m about a third of the way there. Thanks for sticking around and checking out these reviews, I hope they’ve been entertaining, nostalgic, or even occasionally eye-opening or educational.
The episode opens to Gallantmon Crimson Mode ascending toward the Kernel Sphere of the Mother D-Reaper as Jeri sits inside attempting to find a way out of this mess herself. By the Reaper, MegaGargomon, Justimon, and Sakuyamon’s attacks have hitherto proven useless and completely unable to even leave a dent in the digital beast’s defenses. Justimon, however, has a plan. He asks Sakuyamon to send all of her strength to him, which he will then infuse into his Justi Blade to rend the Reaper asunder. Rika chides Ryo for trying to play the hero, for attempting to impress her through crazy actions in the face of insurmountable odds. The two are obviously flirting (and if a sequel to Tamers is ever developed, this burgeoning relationship is sure to be explored more fully there). She begrudgingly sends her power to Ryo, which gives him the strength to cut the Reaper from head to toe, completely in two!
Back to the Mother D-Reaper, she has sent out a series of OP ADR-06: Horn Striker’s to combat Gallantmon, though he easily destroys each and every one on his way to the Kernel Sphere to rescue Jeri. Inside, Jeri is using the power of her D-Power to completely crush dissolves the cables within the Sphere and seemingly free her from her bondage. However, blue fluid begins to seep into the Kernel Sphere, seemingly a defense mechanism by the Mother D-Reaper to either whip up Jeri into a frenzy as she fights for her life in the hopes of avoiding the acidic fluid, or even worse, an attempt to kill her outright, for the D-Reaper to cut its losses and start deleting all humans beginning with Jeri.
A modified version of the ADR-01 appears from without the Mother D-Reaper and begins to attack Gallantmon and even begins to defeat him just as the Reaper, on the other side of the D-Reaper Zone, re-forms after being split in half, revealing its relative invincibility. Hypnos engages Operation Doodlebug at this crucial juncture and Janyu informs his son that he previously installed a Juggernaut program into the core of Terriermon’s data, just in case it became necessary to go nuclear on the D-Reaper’s ass. And after being instructed how to use this power, MegaGargomon descends into the vortex from which the Reaper appeared and begins to spin in the opposite direction of the vortex. The end result is that MegaGargomon spins so quickly and violently that he reverses the vortex’s spin and thereby reverts time for the D-Reaper’s progression, eventually destroying both the Reaper and the Mother D-Reaper .
However, not before Gallantmon Crimson Mode overcomes the ADR-01 by refusing its claims that human life is unimportant. He repudiates the D-Reaper’s existence instead and finally defeats it. As the Mother D-Reaper is pulled into the vortex, Jeri’s D-Power creates a protection bubble in which she and Calumon are protected and remain behind for Gallantmon Crimson Mode to recover them.
Unfortunately, there is one more problem: Shibumi’s Red Card algorithm did not take into account the Human-Digimon biomerged Hybrids, and as such, they are not protected from the destruction of the Juggernaut program. He alerts the Tamers to this problem quickly enough that they are able to de-Digivolve and escape the Zone with he help of MarineAngemon. Finally, the D-Reaper Zone begins to diminish to negligible size before ceasing to exist entirely.
All of the Tamers meet up in the park after these events, including Ai and Mako and Impmon and suddenly, most of the Digimon de-Digivolve to the In-training level. Janyu appears and tells his son Henry and the other Tamers that the Juggernaut program worked partially by making the Real World a plane in which Digimon cannot sustain their structural integrity for long before disappearing entirely. As such, the Digimon are weakening and will cease to exist, just like the D-Reaper, unless they leave the Real World and return to the Digital World as soon as possible. Hypnos has opened a portal in the park through which they can return and as such, the teary eyed kids go to this area and say their goodbyes to their partner Digimon.
The scene is somewhat odd insofar as some of the Digimon revert back to their earlier forms while a few remain in their current forms. Guardromon reverts to Kapurimon, Monodramon to Hopmon, Guilmon to Gigimon, Renamon to Viximon, Impmon to Yaamon, Lopmon to Kokomon, and Terriermon to Gummymon (many of these Digimon are seen for the first time in the anime here). Calumon remains himself, which makes sense as he is not really a Digimon per se and may be unable to Digivolve or de-Digivolve, hence his remaining in his current Rookie-like form. But for some unknown reason, MarineAngemon, a Mega-level Digimon, remains MarineAngemon. Although he is diminutive in size, he is high in power level and should have reverted to some previous form like Pichimon. He may have remained a Mega because he was one for so long, but Cyberdramon reverted to Monodramon and then to Hopmon, and he was typically an Ultimate. Furthermore, Guardromon reverted back to an in-training level too. Oh well, you just can’t rationalize everything in the Digimon Universe.
As their friends enter the Digital portal, Takato promises to meet Guilmon once again. And later, in the episode’s final scenes, set months in the future, we see him visiting the park and finding a Digimon portal in the back of Guilmon’s old den supporting the view that they will one day meet again. And if we’re lucky enough and the Akiyoshi Hongo decides to deign us with its creation, one day Tamers may be given a sequel and we will be shown this reunion firsthand. At least head series writer Chiaki J. Konaka has voiced his willingness to work on such a project if given the chance. There’s always hope.
The Digidestined Cody
(Catch my previous Ralph Bakshi review here: Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures)
During the production of Mighty Mouse in 1987 and 1988, Ralph Bakshi was developing a follow-up series based on a series of independent cartoon strips he created before beginning work at Terry Toons at the beginning of his professional career. The strip was called Junktown, but for this new series, which CBS was initially supposed to pick up after Mighty Mouse’s run, Bakshi changed the title to Tattertown: a fantastical place where things that disappear end up, become vivified, gain personalities and intelligence, and live together in a city of seedy, urban decay akin to a 70s New York: a time and place Bakshi new well, and one in which I myself wish I was around to walk.
Unfortunately, after the bs with the American Fascist Association’s ‘misunderstanding’ (I’ll be a little generous) over the content of the first season Mighty Mouse episode, ‘The Littlest Tramp’, CBS pulled back from the new property. Fortunately for Bakshi, Nickelodeon was willing to pick up the property. Though not as originally intended as a 39-episode animated series, but as a mere 30-minute long Christmas Special that they could air in late 1988. There was very little compromise in this proposal between Bakshi’s vision of the project and what Nickelodeon ordered, but it was a chance for Bakshi to get the project released and to move on from the Mighty Mouse scandal as quickly as possible. So he took the job, delivered the film on time, and in the process, created the first animated work for Nickelodeon, which would continue to program specials over the next three years before finally moving into the episodic TV animation market in 1991 with the series Rugrats, Doug, and Bakshi’s friend Kricfalusi’s series The Ren and Stimpy Show.
Christmas in Tattertown, which was released four days before Christmas in 1988, briefly explored the dark city life of this imaginary town concocted by Bakshi. Throughout its short run-time, viewers are treated to a characteristic, if not toned down, Bakshi animated urban landscape. There are dive bars and speakeasies, what appear to be drug dens and cathouses, squalor and trash littering the streets, much of it alive and breathing anthropomorphic trash at that. Many of the interior scenes of clubs are animated in a traditional style more akin to 1930s animation than to the modern creator-driven animation revolution that Bakshi and Kricfalusi had helped to usher in with Mighty Mouse, while many of the main characters of this TV special are very modern and closer to an Animaniacs style. The result is an eclecticism that is pretty refreshing and rare in the medium of commercial animation work in the West, but also holds interest as a historical place-marker between two eras of animation.
Running throughout the film is Bakshi’s love for American music, and especially for music with a roots tradition to support it. In this case, Big Band Jazz plays whenever a scene moves to a bar or a club, which often heightens the kinetic energy of those moments and gels perfectly with the classical animation style of many sequences therein. Bakshi even names his narrator after quite possibly the greatest Jazz cat of all time: Miles Davis. This character, Miles the Saxophone (interesting not a trumpet, which was the instrument Davis played throughout his career) has a gruff voice like his namesake and seems to always know what’s on the up and up, what’s on the lowdown, and what’s been happening in and around his town. The referentiality of the short film is something that those in the know will respect and probably enjoy whilst watching the work, though these elements by no means raise it above the level of a mere kitsch, workaday film made seemingly on the fly and with none of the typical overt social commentary or deep reflection of Bakshi’s other street films.
The story told within the film is that of a young girl named Muffet with something of a chip on her shoulder. She treats her toys badly, throws them around, and even rips them asunder occasionally. So when her doll Debbie comes alive, she immediately runs off, gets lost, and finds herself in Tattertown. Unfortunately, so too does Muffet who begins to boss around all of the toys in the area, eventually corralling the forces of the largest, oafish, bumbling morons about who lead her to the area of the town reserved for military toys. She builds an army out of toy soldiers and fighter planes and plans to solidify her power from the defensive foothold of a large doll castle on the outskirts of town.
Meanwhile, back in the city, her doll is becoming friendly with the inhabitants of Tattertown. She finds the decay, the poverty, and the general lack of social mobility in the city appalling, and as such, decides to enliven them by introducing them to the concept of Christmas by celebrating it. As Tattertown becomes increasingly cheery, Muffet loses adherents to her regime who would rather listen to no one and have fun in the city with their friends. Eventually, she launches a full-out attack on the city with her air force, but the fools end up only attacking each other and diminishing Muffet’s air support to zero in the process. She dresses up as Santa Claus and dons her lackey Sidney the Spider (a direct analogue to the Fleischer Brother’s Mr. Bug Goes to Town design) in a reindeer suit. they power their flight into the city with the help of an overzealous fly minion, but are ultimately defeated by the real Santa Claus who has never appeared in Tattertown until this moment as no one had believed in him before hand.
The film, for all of its minor intrigue to a Bakshi scholar or fan, has very little import to an adult and flies in the face of Bakshi’s prior avocation of an animation by and for adults. Moreover, despite its occasional forays into harder edged dialogue, the resulting ethos is distinctly saccharine, unpleasant, and unpalatable. Instead of making the damn thing as quickly as possible for the first person willing to take it in any form, Bakshi would have done better to have toiled away for a few years in meetings with media execs to get it released in some other form than to have released something so supremely disappointing, in the context of his body of work, as this mindless piece of kitsch animation.
[Next up: The Butter Battle Book]
(Catch part 49 HERE)
Here we are. It’s been two and a half months since I began my reviews of Digimon Tamers and now I’ve finally made it to the penultimate episode. Hope you’ve gotten a nostalgia kick by following along if you’ve seen the show before. And if not, I hope this review series alerts you to the strong character development, complex metaphysics, and unique iconography distinct to this, quite possibly the best Digimon series.
At the beginning of this episode, Takato leaves his family’s seaside retreat and Biomerges with Guilmon into their Mega-level form as Gallantmon. Grani seeks him out and the two are soon on their way to the centre of the city of Tokyo, in Shibuya, where the Mother D-Reaper agent holds the world in thrall. Sakuyamon likewise heads in that direction. Inside the Mother D-Reaper’s Kernel Sphere, Calumon is being methodically crushed by the wires of the D-Reaper. Jeri does her best to free him and to keep him awake and lucid to avoid what might happen if he passes out within this hostile zone. At this point, her D-Power falls from her pocket to the floor of cables below, and she remembers that it has power and might come in handy if retrieved.
When Gallantmon and Sakuyamon finally arrive, they find a large white orb hovering over the scene. Within this force field, Henry and Terriermon are waiting for them. This protection sphere formed due to the power of the Red Card gifted to the Tamers by Shibumi. Soon Ryo arrives inside the bubble as well and the four Tamers all scan the Red Card through their D-Powers, which modifies the wavelength of themselves and their Digimon partners to harmonize with that of the D-Reaper’s Zone, meaning when they now enter the Zone they will not be attacked and potentially destroyed as foreign bodies invading the larger organic structure.
As the four exit the bubble and once again Biomerge with their partner Digimon whilst heading toward the D-Reaper’s noxious Zone of deletion and hegemonic power, Hypnos is all in a tizzy. Janyu is worried about his son going off once again to fight this seemingly insurmountable foe. Yamaki is too busy initializing some new scheme called Operation Doodlebug to respond to Janyu’s concerns. And the remainder of the team are working to align satellites in the skies as part of this as yet unexplained plan of attack. Later, each member will make reference to more obscure actions like linking sectors, and Shibumi does something with a Higgs Field that causes him to respond, ‘Einstein had it easy!’ Tamers sure knows its literary and philosophical references, but errs here on the side of confusion regarding its physics.
As the Tamers approach the Mother D-Reaper, an ADR-08 appears with thousands of potential ADR-04s constantly pouring out of its hangars. Along the ground, numerous OP ADR-05s wander about and attack the Tamers when they hover to close the surface. Henry and Rika end up fending off these opponents as Ryo and Takato continue forth in their bee-line to the Mother D-Reaper. And inside of this being, Jeri breaks Calumon’s bonds and holds him closely as she recovers her D-Power and begins to activate its powers to shoot out of beams of light that immediately wear away at the Kernel Sphere, and thereby give Gallantmon a potential opening to save Jeri, if he can muster up the strength to reach it.
Back in the city, Guardromon and MarineAngemon are wandering about with their partner Tamers Kazu and Kenta. An ADR-07 appears, which they swiftly decommission, though a military attack helicopter appears overhead and targets them as its enemy. They later inexplicably escape the plane, which is never mentioned again, leading me to believe they merely ran away from it, or had a confrontation with the plane that led to its destruction. At Ai and Mako’s home, Impmon is recovering. The two congratulate him on how great of a fighter he was out there. And finally, a D-Power appears to them, which confirms their relation to Impmon as Tamers. Finally, a DigiGnome is seen fluttering about the city streets. It was thought at the time that all of the DigiGnomes remaining had given their life energy to cede power to Calumon that was then used to Digivolve all the powerful Digimon in the Digital World to the Mega-level in the fight against the D-Reaper. However, this new DigiGnome is a beacon of hope representing the possibility of renewal, and the dawn of a new day over the horizon, as well as a sign of the Digimon Sovereign’s success in the Digital World’s skirmish against the D-Reaper.
Inside the Kernel Sphere, a new ADR-01 appears and tries its best to torment Jeri once more. But it finds itself unable to rustle her jimmies any longer despite claiming that human beings are worthy only of destruction for their violent tendencies in relation to the Earth, to other creatures, and to each other: ‘Human beings desire destruction. human beings desire annihilation.’ The agent explains that humans wage war, fight and kill and hurt each other, and that they only created Digimon to fight and load one another’s data, and ultimately to satisfy the human urge and need for destruction. Jeri rejects this logic, realizes that her destiny is within her own hands, and refuses to be deleted before kicking the unit out with the strength of the light within her D-Power, not to mention the apparition of Leomon that emerges from within it.
The Tamers also hear this conversation and reject the Mother D-Reaper’s logic, but the enemy responds with a blinding light that prevents further advancement by the biomerged Megas. A vortex appears in the floor of the the Zone, which the Hypnos cats recognize as the D-Reaper reaching out and attempting to make a material connection with the D-Reaper in the Digital World. At this point, they believe that the D-Reaper is at its most vulnerable and decide to finally initiate Operation Doodlebug. But before this can happen, the Reaper appears from without the vortex and begins to battle the Tamers with its scythes, rending them asunder and appearing seemingly unbeatable. Its vocalizations, like machine presses colliding, are oppressive in and of themselves and strain the resolve of our heroes.
As Henry, Ryo, and Rika battle the Reaper, Takato hears Jeri’s calls for help by the Kernel Sphere within the Mother D-Reaper. He goes gallivanting off to save her from the D-Reaper, which appears to be trying to absorb her if it can no longer scare her and drain her energy thereby. As Gallantmon approaches the Kernel Sphere, the D-Reaper manifest a large head with which to attack him that appears visually akin to Jeri’s head. Its strength is such that Gallantmon seems surely defeated after suffering from one hit by the being. And when all seems lost, a voice is heard: ‘Do you want to fly Gallantmon?… I will give you my wings.’ Grani descends from the clouds and speaks to his friends: ‘I can no longer move on my own, but I can give you the strength that you remains in me. You can have my wings Gallantmon…. You are my friends, you talk to me. This is my gift to you.’
The remaining energy gives Gallantmon the strength to become Gallantmon Crimson Mode and to manifest magnificent, aethereal wings of light and hope. And more importantly, the strength to fight back against the D-Reaper once more, to destroy the copy of Jeri’s head, and to move toward the Kernel Sphere to retrieve Jeri and return her into the presence of her friends who she has been disconnected from for so long.
One episode to go,
The Digidestined Cody
(Check out part 48 HERE)
The episode opens to our defeated friend Beelzemon Blast Mode falling through the air, blades sticking out of his back compliments of the ADR-09: Gatekeeper. As he phases out and falls toward the D-Reaper Zone wherein he will surely be deleted in his current weakened state, Gallantmon attempts to reach him. Unfortunately, the ADR-09 sends out a series of wires to grasp him, which prevents Gallantmon from reaching his friend in time. Furthermore, Sakuyamon and the others are all too far away from the action, still on the ground fighting the D-Reaper’s agents as it were, to assist him at the moment. He continues to fall and Jeri watches his descent from the isolation of her bubble in the Kernel Sphere of the D-Reaper’s consciousness. At the same time, Ai and Mako are watching these events unfold from the TV at their grandmother’s home in Hongo. At the last minute, Grani, who hasn’t been seen in a little while, appears below with Impmon on his back, and the tension of the moment dissipates as everyone lets out a sigh of relief.
Yamaki contacts Gallantmon once more over his improv satellite communication network and alerts him to the presence of a group of stealth planes from the Global Taskforce arriving swiftly, seemingly to bomb the area. Although Takato is worried about the well-being of Jeri on the off chance that whatever bombs these planes drop are actually effective, he listens to Yamaki’s advice and alerts the rest of the Tamers to get the hell out asap. This they try to do promptly as the planes were 30 seconds away from Shibuya when Yamaki first alerted Takato of their presence. So when they do finally arrive, no on has managed to get sufficiently far enough away to avoid taking recoil damage from, say, some sort of MOAB to bloody the nose of the D-Reaper.
And fortunately, this is not the sort of payload the stealth planes have been carrying. Instead they drop a ton of glowing jamming devices, which stop the D-Reaper’s outgoing communications with its fellow D-Reaper’s throughout the world and back in the Digital World. This plan seems actually rational and helpful and as such, seemingly outside of the purview of military logic in Kaiju scenarios. But when the Monster Maker’s at Hypnos current HQ receive a live stream message of the man who ordered the mission, everything becomes clear. It’s Johnny, an ex-member of the Monster Makers and apparent class act with some head on his shoulders. Hopefully, the jammers will hold up and make a difference over the long haul in preventing the coordination of D-Reaper’s Zones throughout the world.
The D-Reaper responds to this attack by re-forming its ADR-09: Gatekeeper protective shield around its Kernel Sphere. It then sends its ADR-01 spy unit to speak with Jeri and to torment her as much as possible in an effort to increase her fear, anger, frustration, and other negative emotions, which the D-Reaper feeds off of. At the fever pitch of Jeri’s distress, the ADR-01 is suddenly yanked out of the bubble by the cables of the D-Reaper. An explosion reverberates deep within the D-Reaper Zone and a new agent begins to form out of the combined power of the D-Reaper Zone’s Kernel Sphere, the ADR-09 surrounding it, the ADR-01 unit, and all the architectural and mechanical items like telephone wires, fiber optic cables, cords, buildings, cars, and rubble. The being that emerges from this fusion is the Mother D-Reaper, an ability synthesis agent akin to the monsters of the Cthulu Mythos who absorb the strengths of those they destroy, and with a similar drive to delete all things irrational, including humanity. It wears a mask upon its face, which is iconic and makes it appear godlike and omnipotent whilst simultaneously mysterious and uncanny and very visually and aurally similar to the fiendish Lilith of Neon Genesis Evangelion.
After the being appeared, a large red wall of red mass rose up around it, blocking off any view to the inside of its domain and providing a potent second layer of protection that all of the Tamers are wary about attempting to break through. They regretfully retreat and begin to wait it out in the hope that the Monster Makers, Hypnos, Yamaki, or Johnny will come up with some new plan or design some new technology to combat and defeat their foe at last. A week passes and the D-Reaper begins to connect physically with other D-Reaper nodes around the world through long red cables that circumnavigate the globe to found paired cables. Hypnos has moved HQ once more to a new building far outside of town, and all of the Tamers have left town for hotels or inns likewise far away. Everyone’s hands are tied and nothing seems to be giving, no new developments beyond the constant move of the D-Reaper, closing in total world control and eventual deletion.
And then finally, everyone makes their moves at the same time. Takato leaves home at the urging of his cousin Kai (voiced by Davis’ voice actor in the English dub!) to launch one last attack against the D-Reaper. So too does Rika head out, and presumably the rest of the Tamers begin to make their way back to Shibuya as well. Calumon seems to be finally making some headway with Jeri insofar as he has convinced her that by being joyful and happy, she will thereby weaken the D-Reaper, or at least give it no more energy with which to grow more powerful. Finally, Johnny has been analyzing the state of matter and energy within the D-Reaper Zone using a series of probes and devices dropped by the Taskforce stealth planes under his command. They have found that inside of the Zone, all laws of physics are seemingly warped and out of whack: things exist, but the balance of energy, positive and negative, equals out completely as if nothing should be there at all. Further, particles zip around at faster than the speed of light, which is technically impossible. Janyu believes (and this is some warped, weird, constructed fictional physics here) that the D-Reaper Zone is something called a quantum bubble wherein the destruction of the field can be accomplished only by creating a miniature Big Bang that will somehow create a Black Hole and absorb everything therein.
At hearing this news, Shibumi too puts his brain to use to impossible ends and runs off to create a new Modify Card. Janyu continues to theorize and even puts Terriermon into an x-ray machine to study his composition and compare it, as a baseline for all Digimon, to the D-Reaper’s composition. This points toward a new discovery ahead. Johnny continues to analyze the D-Reaper Zone and finds that if they do not do something quickly, the Zones will expand to such large sizes that the intense heat given off by the Zones may increase the temperature of the globe significantly enough to melt the polar ice caps and flood much of the Earth. Finally, Shibumi returns to the lab with a Red Card, which he gives to Henry with advice on its potential power to help them save the world. And finally, like his friends, he too exits the lab and heads toward town for the final confrontation with the D-Reaper (unless Chiaki J. Konaka writes that 2nd Tamers season like so many are speculating).
The Digidestined Cody
(Check out part 47 HERE)
The new Hypnos building is currently in danger of being absorbed by the D-Reaper Zone any day now. But they are working as fast as they can to modify Grani and help the Tamers in the fight against the D-Reaper to the best of their abilities. While studying Grani’s data, they come across his memory banks and realize they can view footage, from his perspective, of the Digital World on the day prior, just before Grani bio-emerged into the Real World. And what they find is distressing to say the least. 40% of the Digital World has now been totally deleted, though Zhuqiaomon is seen briefly, still fighting back against the D-Reaper and holding onto what’s left of his world, but just barely.
Furthermore, the D-Reaper as begun to appear all over the world in any area with a communications hub. Yamaki rallies everyone to keep working as hard as they can. And in the meantime, he has Riley install the Yuggoth program within Grani as a Yuggoth Blaster attack, which will later come in handy, big time.
Inside the Kernel Sphere of the D-Reaper’s consciousness, Calumon finally succeeds in awakening Beelzemon Blast Mode who fights against his restraints and tells Jeri that he will do his best to release her from her prison. As he begins to break a few of the cords wrapping him up within the sphere, it repels him from its innermost core into a larger, secondary protective core, which starts to sprout. Outside the perimeter of this sphere, a new D-Reaper agent begins to form: the ADR-09: Gatekeeper. This agent functions as a potent base defense, which will prove very difficult to pierce.
From Hypnos, the Tamers can see that Beelzemon is trapped inside this secondary core. All six kids exit the building and Kazu and Ryo’s partners Guardromon and Cyberdramon end up fighting off a veritable horde of ADR-04s while the other Tamers Biomerge Digivolve into Sakuyamon, MegaGargomon, Gallantmon, and eventually Ryo gives Cyberdramon a break to Biomerge into Justimon himself. Kenta and MarineAngemon round out the team, though they will do nothing to help out in this particular battle, and only Suzie is left behind. Henry is overly concerned for her well-being, as an older brother ought to be. But he forgets that she too is a Digimon Tamer and may be needed in this world-historical evental clash of forces.
Once Yamaki re-initializes Grani, he is sent out to join Gallantmon who flies off toward the ADR-09 just as Beelzemon breaks free from without it. The two supplemented Mega-level Digimon fight together and launch their most powerful attacks directly for the ADR-09’s defenses, which end up having absolutely no effect. What’s more, the ADR-09 fires back with its own laser attacks and serrated projectiles that weaken our heroes handily. Back at Hypnos, Yamaki has found a way to use satellite feed to interact directly with Takato inside of Gallantmon. At first, this revelation that the Tamer shave been physically fusing with their Digimon partners is upsetting and freaks out the parents of the Tamers. But as they come around to the idea and realize that their kids might be more safe in these forms than if they were just running around near the D-Reaper in frail, child bodies, outside of Hypnos, the video feed is being sent out over the TV networks in town.
As Takato is practically naked inside of Gallantmon, and all of his classmates, friends, family, and teachers, not to mention random strangers, are watching the feed, this could proves pretty embarrassing down the line for him. For now, Takato is too caught up in battle to think about this and is instead emboldened and strengthened by the experience as all of these people throughout the city cheer him on in his fight against the ADR-09. The new development also gives Yamaki the opportunity to alert Takato to the tactical improvement recently added to Grani’s arsenal. After Beelzemon throws everything he has at the ADR-09 in a last ditch attempt to break it down, and loses his toy pistol (a gift from one of his two Tamer partners), Takato finally initializes the Yuggoth Blaster and destroys the outer layer of defense around the Kernel Sphere.
Back on the ground, Kazu and Kenta have become overwhelmed by a glut of ADR-04s that are now surrounding them. Lopmon decides that she can no longer stand by and watch her friends be defeated. She leaves the Hypnos building, Suzie gives her the strength to Digivolve to Antylamon, and then she uses her first Modify Card: ‘Radiant Glow.’ The extra energy gives Antylamon the power to defeat the ADR-04s closing in on her friends.
Finally, back at the Kernel Sphere, Takato tries to get Jeri’s attention, tries to tell her to trust Beelzemon just this once, despite his past behavior. But she cannot comprehend why Beelzemon, of all people, would want to save her. Eventually, she comes to her senses and realizes that Beelzemon has turned over a leaf, as it were, and decided to repent for his past actions. His first action of repentance being freeing Jeri and attempting to save the world from the D-Reaper, which would more than make up for the comparably small quantity of suffering he wrought back when he was a servant of darkness and of the Digimon Sovereign Zhuqiaomon. Jeri asks for Beelzemon’s help and the demonic Digi-dude digs deep within himself and uses the Fist of the Beast King attack, Leomon’s special, to brute force a whole in the Kernel Sphere’s defenses.
This development surprises Jeri so much that she becomes confused and imagines, for a moment, that Beelzemon is actually is Leomon, returned to aid her in her current predicament. When she re-realizes that this being is not her Digimon partner, but instead the one who destroyed him, and who can only use Leomon’s past ability on account of his past destruction of said Leomon, she becomes enraged and refuses to go with Beelzemon, who has reached within the Kernel Sphere to grab her hand. The bubble closes before she can come back to her senses for a second time and take his hand. And just like that, the situation is once again hopeless. To complicate matters, the ADR-09 begins to reform and sends a barrage of sharp objects directly into Beelzemon’s back in an effort to finish him off for good. Can he survive such a barrage, or will he be deleted just like so many Digimon were deleted at his hand?
Ciao for now,
The Digidestined Cody
The title of this episode of the series refers to a line from William Shakespeare’s play Richard III. As the king’s enemies close in on him during battle, his horse is killed and he cries to the heavens this line: ‘A horse! A horse! my kingdom for a horse!’ In that tale, I believe that his subject Catesby fetches him a horse. The line has become an expression over time, which has come to reference the need for an otherwise simple item or service, which at the time has become a dire need of more importance than even a kingdom, and the sole thing that can ensure it continues to exist as well.
The writer of Digimon Tamers is one Chiaki J. Konaka who was apparently raised Christian in Japan and added the middle initial to professional name in a gambit to give it something of a Western flair. His works constantly reference the Cthulu Mythos of American horror writer H.P. Lovecraft, and Konaka himself has become an author in the extended Cthulu Mythos series. However, he also seems to have a preoccupation with the West’s greatest writer: William Shakespeare. When Shibumi was first introduced into Tamers, he was resting within his library in the Digital World, and when awakened, gave our heroes their first exposition and philosophy dump. When he returned to sleep, he quoted Shakespeare’s ‘perchance to dream’ soliloquy of which I went into more detail then. I note here merely Konaka’s enduring interest in Shakespeare as something to watch for in the future as I analyze Konaka-created shows like Big O, Ghost Hound, and Texhnolyze in the coming months.
As Calumon reclines within the bubble at the core of the D-Reaper’s consciousness, he continues to try to elicit a response from Jeri. Likewise, Calumon attempts to awaken his friend Beelzemon, who has recently been trapped and restrained within the bubble as well. Jeri reacts, for the first time, when she hears Beelzemon’s name mentioned. She begins to reflect once more upon the loss of her friend Leomon and has flashbacks to the traumatic event of his death. She then goes back further to her early childhood when her mother died and left her behind. On both occassions, she was told that these important figures in her life would always remain with her, in her heart, which she rejected as a lie and a mere rationalization for the sheer fact of their total destruction and inability to ever return (as far as we know. Konaka has not, by this time in the series, given any indication that humans or Digimon can return after death or deletion, respectively). A creepy version of herself and a group of horrendous doctors follow the young, flashback Jeri along in the halls of her memory, the halls of the hospital in which her mother breathed her last. And they torment her and ask her if she is running away from her destiny: revealing that these apparitions may in fact be on her side, may be idinal visions meant to shake her out of her current gloom and force her to accept her destiny as a Digimon Tamer, to awaken herself and fight back against the D-Reaper.
The morning after the battle with the ADR-06 has arrived and it is found that Ryo left the group early in the morning without explaining to anyone where he was going. The D-Reaper Zone continues to grow at a few square miles per day and is soon to absorb the new Hypnos facilities, as well as the homes of all of the Tamers. Because of this disturbance, everyone is relocating farther out of the downtown region of Shinjuku. But not before Yamaki and the Monster Makers conclude designing of the new Ark, which they deck out with a cool phoenix-like appearance and chrome digizoid, and name Zero ARMS: Grani, or Zero ARtificial MonSter Grani. Grani was the name of the mythical mount of the ancient German folk hero Siegfried and the team at Hypnos hopes that this new Grani will function in a similar support role to the modern heroes of their world: the tamers.
Shibumi asks to borrow Henry’s D-Power, which he plugs into his computer terminal in the hopes of copying its programming. With this, he can turn digital materials into biological forms, which means he will be able to bring Grani across from the Digital World into the Real World. If his theory about the D-Power’s capabilities is correct, that is. Jeri’s parents have finally arrived at the at the Hypnos HQ. Her step-mother appears sad and concerned, though her father looks characteristically angry at the whole situation. When he is noticed by Takato, he goes to leave the building and heads toward the elevator. Takato confronts him and tells him that all that has happened is not Jeri’s fault and that he should forgive her and support her in order to help her out. The man merely shrugs Takato off and enters the elevator.
Meanwhile, Janyu has been thinking of ideas to crack open the D-Reaper’s core. Rob McCoy says they might have to just brute force the lobotomy with the strength of the Digimon. But Takato overhears the conversation and gets upset as doing what they say might simultaneously injure Jeri in the process.
Out in town, Justimon is fighting against a powerful new D-Reaper agent called the ADR-07: Paratice Head. The being is a massive unit with many mouths that can simulate all kinds of speech patterns, including Jeri’s. It works as a reconnaissance unit, though it is heavily armed with attacks and is currently not so interested in studying Justimon. We will find that moments later, Jeri’s father has not returned home or even left the building to storm off in an angry tantrum of sorts. No, he has gone straight to the front lines of the D-Reaper Zone and means to combat the D-Reaper and his agents head on if need be to save his daughter. He has reflected on the harshness of his past behavior with Jeri and how his tough love may be too cruel at times. This anger at himself paired with love for his daughter gives him the strength to launch his truck headlong toward the legs of the ADR-07, which obviously has no effect. However, his calls to Jeri do take effect, and awaken her within the bubble for the first time.
By this point, Takato and Rika have realized what’s going on and left Hypnos to help Justimon defeat the ADR-07, and thereby save Jeri’s father from danger in the process. As they arrive, the ADR-07 analyzes Jeri’s father and seems confused, and even scared, a the concept of parenthood, which is revealed as part of his identity in relation to Jeri. The program has no clue what this concept denotes and connotes, and as such, has an irrational fear of this unknown factor that cannot be quantified into zeros and ones. Rika and Renamon Biomerge Digivolve into Sakuyamon just as Takato and Guilmon do the same and become Gallantmon. Kazu and Guardromon join in the battle, and together with Justimon, they defeat the ADR-07. But a new foe immediately appears: ADR-08: Optimizer. An agent of massive size, standing more than one hundred stories high and constantly growing larger and taller all the time. This Mother Ship unit is a carrier ship for hordes of ADR-04s, and itself wields a devastating beam attack called Mjolinir’s Thunder, which could wipe out much of the city in one fell swoop.
Gallantmon, Justimon, and Sakuyamon can sort of glide, as well as jump to extreme heights. But none of these three Megas can reach the height of the head of ADR-08: Optimizer to decapitate it. Further, Beelzemon Blast Mode is all tied up, and Henry and Terriermon, who could conceivably become MegaGargomon and fly up to the ADR-08, are still stuck back at Hypnos while Shibumi downloads the D-Power coding. Finally, Guardromon is too weak to make any difference and MarineAngemon cannot do much in the way of dishing out damage. All looks for naught when finally Grani manifests consciousness in its new frame and begins to Bio-emerge within the Real World through the power of Henry’s D-Power and one of Shibumi’s will-powered ontological gate Blue Cards.
Sensing Gallantmon’s presence, Grani immediately approaches him as the one who helped him gain cognizance and awareness the prior week. Gallantmon mounts his flying steed and the two ascend to the skies where they pierce the ADR-08’s head and destroy it totally with one well-placed blow. Takato calls out to Jeri through Gallantmon’s voice, and finally, she hears his voice, seems shaken for a moment and stops, at least momentarily, ruminating on her past indiscretions and misfortunes.
The Digidestined Cody
Just after the ADR-05: Creep Hands is finally defeated, a new Mega-level friend appears. His name is Justimon and his outward appearance was consciously modeled after the Super Sentai fighters, or Power Rangers, as one of Japan’s most popular Tokusatsu shows. At first, Sakuyamon, MegaGargomon, Kazu, and Guardromon have no clue who this being is and are pretty wary about the situation. But it soon becomes clear that this is the biomerged fusion of their friends Ryo and Monodramon.
And it’s lucky that he appeared when he did as another D-Reaper agent soon enters the scene and threatens to cause more trouble. This time, the agent is an ADR-06: Horn Striker. This being is an extremely powerful melee combat unit who doubles as a Military Commander agent in the D-Reaper’s proxy army. Justimon decides to take on this unit by himself and advises the others to go and try to save Gallantmon from the D-Reaper Zone within which he was so recently pulled by an arm of the D-Reaper’s Zone’s red mass. While Sakuyamon and MegaGargomon fly off, Kazu and Guardromon realize they will not be able to follow along on account of their relatively lower speeds and instead decide to stay behind to help Justimon take out the ADR-06.
Back at Hypnos, the gang still can’t figure out how to create a new program that could incapacitate the D-Reaper. And even the schematics they’ve received about it’s initial programming reveal little helpful information regarding how one might destroy it or halt its progress. Janyu’s mind, as have the minds of all his fellow Monster Maker’s and Hypnos employees, is racing. He wonders how the D-Reaper could exist in both the Digital World and the Real World at the same time, and whilst studying the footage of the D-Reaper, locates a blue orb that his gut reaction tells him is the core of the program. This ‘brain’ is most likely the site of the D-Reaper’s consciousness. If destroyed or cut off from the rest of the surrounding mass, it would have no extension into the Real World and no way to manipulate its ‘limbs’ to act within the world. Now that he has determined this connection, and disclosed it to his colleagues, he must divine some way to take advantage of it.
In the park, inside of the D-Reaper’s Zone, the ADR-01: Jeri Type clone continues to antagonize Takato. She torments him repeatedly with past stories about how Jeri was cruel to her step-mother and considers herself to be a bad person thereby, as well as explaining that Jeri always thought Takato was weird and too interested in Digimon, even before he knew they were real. All the while, Guilmon does his best to keep his partner Tamer sane through the experience and eventually, the ADR-01 cracks completely and becomes totally unlike Jeri in aspect. She begins to chase Takato down, deleting trees all along the way. Until that is, Kenta and MarineAngemon finally arrive on the scene. The diminutive Mega-level Digimon uses his Kahuna Waves ability, which shoots out hearts of light that scare off the ADR-01 and confuse it simultaneously, as if manifesting some unknown force, the inscrutability of which threatens the D-Reaper’s claim to omniscience.
Outside of the D-Reaper’s Zone, Calumon and Impmon decide to enter the Zone if necessary to help Jeri: Calumon out of friendship and Impmon out of guilt for destroying Leomon. Calumon feels himself called to a specific area where he comes up against an invisible wall. He pushes and prods, but cannot move through the obstacle until Impmon Digivolves into Beelzemon Blast Mode and cracks the wall with his Double Impact hand cannon attack, delivers a well-placed roundhouse to break it open, then claws an opening through which Calumon enters the wall and finds himself within a Bubble. The same bubble, in fact, that Janyu had previously identified to his pals at Hypnos as the potential consciousness core of the D-Reaper. Therein, Jeri resides, sitting by herself, completely unresponsive to Calumon’s calls, and ruminating on her past failures, the loss of Leomon, and her apparent destiny to remain lonely forever. As Calumon continues to try and get her attention, he is pulled into the central bubble within the bubbles and Beelzemon is bound in a series of cables by the D-Reaper who recognizes him as a potential threat.
Meanwhile, Sakuyamon has created a powerful protective field, which surround herself and MegaGargomon and gives them the ability to enter the D-Reaper Zone unscathed. However, the process takes a lot of energy out of Sakuyamon, as does the mere presence of so much chaotic energy, constantly sapping away more and more of her strength. Just as she is about to grow so weak that she might de-Digivolve into her constituent parts as Rika and Renamon, they find Takato, Guilmon, Kenta, and MarineAngemon. The latter uses his Kahuna Wave attack on Sakuyamon, which restores her strength, and also doubles as a tool to immediately destroy any chaos globules it comes into contact with. All six finally exit the D-Reaper Zone and rejoin Justimon, Kazu, and Guardromon just in time to help fight the ADR-06.
Problem is, each time the thing appears to be defeated, it merely absorbs more energy from the D-Reaper Zone, engorges itself, and becomes larger and more powerful. Eventually, Justimon realizes they must cut the chord connecting the ADR-06 to the D-Reaper Zone in order to defeat this Hydra-like mini-boss. Antylamon arrives and grabs the chord while Justimon cuts it with his arm blade. And finally, everyone is back to together in one place. Everyone except for Impmon and Calumon that is, who Antylamon reports have entered the D-Reaper core (she was unable to aid them at the time). And Alice as well, who Rika remembers as being intensely sad after the loss of Dobermon, and regrets not being able to thank her for her help in sacrificing her partner Digimon to give the other Tamers the power to biomerge.
In Calumon’s case, we are given an image of hopelessness and despair as one of our final vignettes as he sits within the D-Reaper’s core unable to get Jeri’s attention and cheer her up. Juxtaposed with this vignette, however, is one of hopefulness. Alice walks the city streets alone, solemn, resigned to her loss. But behind her she feels the presence of Dobermon, turns to see a vortex of blue and red particles momentarily swirling about, and hears his voice, just for a moment. Once the D-Reaper is defeated and the need to Biomerge Digivolve is no longer necessary, will the Tamers be able to give back their ability and the life energy given in sacrifice by Dobermon in order to revive him. Or is such a thing even possible in a Digimon Universe like that of Tamers wherein the first 46 episodes give us not one mention of DigiEggs or of life after deletion for Digimon.
Ciao for now,
The Digidestined Cody