Anime Digimon Review

Digimon Adventure: 2020 Episode 2 Review – War Game

A classic retelling with a few twists.

Digimon Adventure: 2020 Reboot returns with an episode that is likely to be more divisive than last week’s pilot: fans craving a shakeup of the Digimon Adventure formula will love the episode’s willingness to break the mold, while those who were concerned about the first episode’s breakneck pacing will be dizzied by how much happens here. Warning: full spoilers ahead! 

As many predicted, Episode 2 “War Game” is essentially a retelling of the Digimon film Our War Game. A mysterious rogue Digimon is attempting to hack the U.S. Navy to take control of a missile, and our heroes Taichi, Koushiro, and Yamato (Tai, Izzy, and Matt) lead a mission to stop this digital threat. 

The Story Continues

Taichi and Yamato meet following the battle of Episode 1 and begin pursuing the evil Digimon to stop its impending attack. We’re given some important character establishment in these early interactions between Taichi, Yamato, and Koushiro: Taichi is as friendly as can be while Yamato exhibits the signature lonerism you’d expect from both O.G. Yamato and the anime rival archetype in general.

What’s different in 2020 is the delivery of Yamato’s quiet nature: viewers will note that this ten year old kid isn’t necessarily mean, rude, or cocky per se. It’s clear that his distance has a cause — some trauma — that is forcing him to put up walls. That’s presumably going to have to do with T.K. and his parents, and I’m excited to see how Adventure 2020 tries to tackle the character of Yamato.

A Certain Darkness

When the DigiDestined arrive at the digital equivalent of the Navy site, they enter a dome like area swarmed by clones of the enemy Digimon (another callback to Our War Game!). We witness some impressive animation during these fight scenes, particularly when it comes to the attack blasts and the dim, cinematic lighting of this scene.

Between the hits Greymon and Garurumon take, their own visceral attacks, and some of the injuries Yamato and Taichi receive while riding their Digital Monsters, there’s a certain darkness on display that I truly didn’t expect to be seeing in Episode 2 of a Digimon Adventure remake. The show creators deserve credit for trusting a hypothetical young viewing audience to be able to handle this stuff.

With all else failing and time running out, Yamato and Taichi agree to work together, crystalizing their  friendship with a good old fist bump. At this moment I had joked to myself that any minute now, their newfound unity would result in the birth of Omegamon. But that couldn’t happen in Episode Two, right? Right?!

Deus Ex Omegamon

Much like last week where the final few minutes of the episode contained huge bombshells, “War Game” jam packed its final moments with a big changeup that left me scratching my head, though mostly in a good way. After another failed attack, the Digimon and their human partners are out of time. A missile is headed for Tokyo (cue the ska music) and the evil Digimon we thought was defeated rises and fires a massive blast towards the protagonists.

At this moment in real world Tokyo, two feathers fall from the sky and lands in the hands of Takeru (T.K.) and Hikari (Kari). Somehow, we come to realize Taichi and Yamato survived the blast, and out of a giant egg, Omegamon / Omnimon appears. The episode ends on this glorious reveal.

Those who are used to a conventional arc in Digimon stories may no doubt be put off by the idea of a mega level fusion Digimon appearing before ultimate or even previous megas. After all, is there ever any threat if Omegamon can be brought out at any time?

My read is that what we saw was a complete anomaly, something out of the team’s control, and that after this fight wraps, the characters won’t be able to reforge Omegamon again for a long, long time. We may see the kids strive towards rebuilding Omegamon on their own without needing whatever divine intervention T.K. and Kari supplied via the angel feathers.

Debuting Omegamon in Episode 2 of the new series essentially acts as the show creators screaming to the audience, “this show will be different!” In this regard I can’t fault the show creators for using Omegamon so early: it means nothing is set in stone. We’re in uncharted territory as far as predicting what comes next is concerned. It also gives Yamato and Taichi something to aspire towards through the season.

Where Do We Go From Here?

It’s a bit hard to make a prediction considering how the last two episodes have had such shakeup endings. That said, I feel that next week we’ll see Omegamon defeat the enemy Digimon, though it’ll come at a cost. The requirements to stop it may result in Yamato and Taichi’s being thrown into the true Digital World and leave their Digimon weakened. This may lead the way to the other kids entering the Digital World too, seeing as we last saw Koushiro / Izzy with an egg appearing on his computer screen.

My hope is that the way they introduce the other Digidestined continues to be one at a time. I wrote last week that the slower rollout gives the audience (and the characters) time to actually understand each team member. Week one was about Taichi and Koushiro, with week two focusing on Yamato via interactions with Taichi. These iconic characters deserve individual time to shine. Perhaps the Digidestined arrive in the Digital Word at once but not in the same place, or maybe they’ll arrive at different times.

Conclusion

“War Game” was a fascinating followup and one of the busiest second episodes of an anime I’ve ever seen. A big brawl, a literal world ending threat, and the appearance of one of the series’ most prolific characters all feel like end of an arc material, not second episode stuff. This will no doubt worry some fans, but I can’t shake the feeling that the show creators know exactly how strange this all feels and know exactly what they’re doing. We’ll have a better idea of how to analyze this intro arc once the battle presumably wraps up next week, but on its own, this episode was a thrill to watch. 

War Game: 8/10

While its breakneck pace and decision to debut late game characters so early will shock and potentially turn off diehard fans, doing so cements that the creators have not just a goal they want to get to, but a completely unknown one that will be a joy to uncover week to week. 

More Digimon Stories: 

Is Digimon Adventure Last Evolution Kizuna Getting An English Dub? 

New And Old: Digimon Adventure 2020 Reboot Vs 1999 Original: Character Art Side By Side

Digimon Adventure: 2020 Episode 1 Review

 

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