The most detailed episode to precede a departure into the Digital World
Much of this episode can be described as a laundry list of the kids' personal matters before departing to the Digital World. While I think it could have benefited from more contemplation amongst the central trio, it contains a sufficient sense of build-up to get the audience invested in the next phase of the journey (even if the target audience was no doubt bored by it).
A quick word on Takato's decision to go to the Digital World. The thing about him is that he's definitely not the leader of the group, even if he likes to think he is. He has a tendency to take charge during the bigger battles, but this comes by virtue of having the most powerful partner. When it comes to making big decisions and guiding others, he's largely a failure; this is the closest he'll come to truly serving in a leadership capacity.
I'll be the first to say that, with the exception of Rika, the stuff with the parents does not work. Janyu and Henry's scene just amounts to Henry being unable to confront his dad (again). You'd think that after seeing his son in the middle of a battlefield (twice) he would FINALLY show more concern than merely saying "stay out of trouble". It's easily the most impersonal subplot. I'll also admit to not being a fan of this running them of dishonesty and deterred communication between Henry and Janyu, because it mostly amounts to them being unable to confront each other. The communication between them never improves and nothing insightful is said until literally the end of the series. On the other hand, Henry revealing his secret to Susie is somewhat heartening, and would have been an acceptable stopping point for her role in the show.
Meanwhile, Takato's dad is bewilderingly confident in Takato's decision. This is a tough pill to swallow, partially because there is no semblance of concern or reluctance on his part. His decision may have been more credible if it gave the impression of an act of faith. Besides that, I can't shake the thought that NO parent in their right mind would allow a 12 year old (10 in the original) to travel to some mysterious dimension filled with monsters. It doesn't matter if the kid has thus far proved he can take care of himself, there's a HUGE difference between fighting monsters on Earth and traveling to a parallel world you know nothing about that is full of said monsters. Plus, you've got to feel bad for Takato's mom, who reacts reasonably until she yields to her husband for some bizarre reason, even though he handles her concerns with all the sensitivity of a tree trunk. Even the fact that Takato is the only one forthright with his parents feels too routine to be meaningful.
The scenes with Rika or Yamaki are the best, because Rika's relationships with her mother and grandmother have been explored to one degree or another, which has not really been the case with the others, and Yamaki makes a pivotal decision. Though I feel that Rika's grandmother stumbles upon Renamon with a little too much of a supportive attitude, the scene with Rika willingly wearing the designer dress to be nice to her mother is done excellently. Sometimes, gestures like this speak much louder than big, emotional speeches, which we know Rika is not prone to. Granted, it's kind of cheap that it took something as extreme as travelling to another dimension to get her to do this, but, regardless, it remains her most resonant action in the series. Among other things, the kids revealing their plans to Miss Asaji feels like more of a formality than a truly meaningful moment, but works much better in the dub because she comes across as more genuine and concerned. The final scene is interesting due to Yamaki, whose willingness to place trust and confidence in a factor he cannot control constitutes a step forward in reevaluating his outlook.
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