Digimon Adventure Episode 4 Retrospective

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August 27, 2013 by ChainALM

For this episode, I’ve decided to try out the Netflix subbed version as opposed to the Ryuu-Rogue subs I have used for the previous episodes. This might just be a once-off, but we’ll see how I feel by the episode’s end.

So, here we go with: Scorching Heat! BIRDRAMON!
Or, “Biyomon Gets Firepower” if you wish to know the dub title.

Our group is strolling through another forest of road signs when a gear zooms past them.
They surmise that is could be anything from a UFO to a meteor, but it was definitely gear shaped.

TK’s foot steps on a fragile branch and his foot falls into a pit.
Tai pulls him out, much to Matt’s visual fear that once again Tai is being a better big brother than himself.
TK says it hurt, but he can bear it, but Sora says that isn’t necessary, and that if it hurts, he should say so.

They decide moving is the best option if they can decide where to go, and a very perturbed Sora notices Biyomon nuzzling against her and frowns. Biyomon doesn’t care where they go so long as she’s with Sora.
Sora advises the bird Digimon not to be so optimistic as she may “be gone”.
Biyomon questions what she means by this, but Sora tries to get the Digimon to forget she said anything. Biyomon’s response is that she wants to understand everything that Sora says, but Sora counters that Biyomon doesn’t need to know everything.

Tai and Matt tease the duo for their lollygagging, and Sora responds that she’s not playful.
Tentomon explains that Biyomon are a very sociable Digimon, and Izzy notes that he sees that each of the Digimon have different characteristics.
Biyomon calls to Sora like a child would a parent, and Sora wonders to herself if she can be friendly to the Digimon for much longer.

——
The Japanese version wins here. Hands down. In a nutshell, the writers of the dub version changed the entire make up of this whole exchange.
Izzy comments that his alien theory is gaining more ground. TK asks if there are snakes, and Biyomon replies that there are just giant bugs and other unpleasantries to which Patamon says he’ll protect TK from, where as in the original, when TK falls, it’s more about if he is hurt.
Then, when Tai says they need to keep going and find intelligent life, the whole bit of Biyomon nuzzling Sora is reduced to Sora explaining to Biyomon that Tai wasn’t saying that Digimon are un-intelligent and devolves into a speech about teamwork which is what gets her left behind.
The core of this episode’s character development is entirely stripped out so Matt can make a joke about the irrelevant road signs. Oh! And Mimi gets a quip in about new shoes at Joe’s expense.
——-

Finally, the group find themselves out of the forest as the gear that rushed by them earlier crashes into a mountain. For the kids though, it’s not as if being out of the forest is a great thing as they’re now traversing a desert filled with telephone poles.
Izzy comments on how it’s like an African savanna, which prompts Tai to question if they’ll see any giraffes or lions.
Matt comments that he wouldn’t mind seeing animals that he actually knows, and Gabumon and Tentomon interjecting that there’s no chance of that. Only Digimon exist in the Digital World. Period.
Matt asks if Izzy has noticed the telephone poles, and Izzy replies in a piece that I guess is supposed to sound sarcastic: No, I did not see them.
Joe meanwhile is convinced yet again that this means there are people about.

Mimi produces a compass for a bit of levity in this otherwise quiet scene, and the compass goes crazy trying to find North. Izzy realises that they’re not walking on sand, but rather iron powder and it’s stuck to the compass.
This, for whatever reason makes Sora feel she’s come to a place beyond dreams while Izzy reigns it in and suggests that since it’s hot, they should find fresh water fast.
Mimi cries to the heavens wanting to know where they are, and as the camera pulls out for the effect of her cry, we see a gear shape in the sand almost like a sand style crop circle.

Speaking of gears, we transition back to the gear that crashed into the mountain before.
It starts spinning and the camera shifts to the blue eyes of a fiery Digimon before we transition back to the children.

The heat has gotten to everyone. Even <strike>Uselessmon</strike>, er, Gomamon needs ice or water. Mimi gives Palmon her hat, and when Sora shows concern for Mimi’s well being without it, Biyomon chimes in the Sora should cheer up and walk.
Biyomon again calls to Sora like a child “Sorrrra? Sorrrra?” and Sora outright tells Biyomon to shut up because she is so tired and thirsty and that he’s walking and her legs hurt. She tells Biyomon that she doesn’t have time to be playing around with the Digimon because that tires her out even more.

Biyomon stops dead, apologizing to Sora and saying she’ll behave. Sora in a bid to save face with the group tells Biyomon they’ll walk together, which causes the Digimon to run up and nuzzle the girl, telling the human that she loves her.

——-
Biyomon wasn’t flying in this scene. They were already walking together, so how exactly does that make sense?
Anyway, already 7 minutes into the episode, and you should have an idea of Sora’s current personality. She has a friendly exterior, but the idea of somebody, in this case Biyomon, lavishing so much attention on her is enough to make her skin crawl, and by Sora’s own admission there is only so much of that she can tolerate.
——-

As they haven’t seen anything after all this walking, Matt suggests it might be a smart move to head back to the forest. Joe is liking this idea, but Tai seems to have caught something, taking out his mini-telescope to get a better view. He sees a village.
The group gets ecstatic. Especially Joe, because village = people, right?
The Digimon comment on how hungry/thirsty they are, and that’s enough incentive for Tai to lead the charge to the village, the camera once again panning above them to show the gear shapes in the terrain.

That’s our segue back to the revving up gear from before. It’s now built up enough speed to break free of the mountain and flies straight into the fiery Digimon from before, impaling itself in the Digimon who growls and snarls in pain.

YOKOMON! Yokomon by the truckload is what greets us as the kids arrive at the village Tai spotted. Biyomon immediately acknowledges them as friends, as you’ll recall that Yokomon is the pre-evolved for of Biyomon, and the Yokomon want to know what kind of Digimon the humans are. Biyomon explains while Joe is still astonished that they haven’t found humans.
Tai loves how everything in the village is Yokomon sized, while Mimi says it reminds her of Gulliver’s Travels.
Matt and Izzy wonder if it’s even possible to spend the night here with everything being so small.

The Yokomon want to know how Biyomon evolved. She tells them that she was with Sora and it happened automatically. That’s all she knows.
The Yokomon can’t say automatically and ask if that’s Biyomon’s word. Biyomon tells them it’s not, it’s the human’s word. She learned it from Sora.
Sora, while this is happening has sat down against a hut and is eavesdropping on the conversation. At first bewildered by the discussion, but then smiles.
The Yokomon question if they’ll evolve if they stay with the humans too, but Biyomon says she must protect Sora. Sora’s not pleased to hear this as she continues to listen in, muttering that Biyomon is just an optimistic Digimon. She then thinks back to what happened with Agumon and Gabumon and pieces together that if she were in danger, the same might happen, but shrugs the idea off as not possible.

While the group get excited about the idea of the Yokomon treating them, TK spots a well, it’s more of a fountain really, and we’re told that Mount Panorama is the source, and that the water is delicious.
Mt. Panorama just happens to be the same mountain where the gear crashed before and in a segue back to it, we see the fiery Digimon convulsing, screaming “BURNING!” as he explodes and the scene shifts back to the Yokomon village where the fountain erupts with a column of fire.
Nobody has any idea what’s going on and the group are led to a pond by the Yokomon… A pond so deep there’s the remnants of a sunken SHIP in there! Anyway, the “pond” is dried out too.
At an ACTUAL well, Tai and Matt toss a bucket down and it hits the very bottom. When Tai attempts to pull it back up, the rope is burnt away and another pillar of fire erupts in Tai’s face.

The group put two and two together that the gear that hit the mountain (Huh, the Japanese version acknowledges that? In the scene transition, it’s made to seem like it happened after they started moving again as there’s no commentary. The dub version acknowledges it immediately after fact.) and that’s what is causing the problems for the Yokomon village. The Yokomon tell the group that Meramon protets the mountain.
Tai, tossing his telescope like it’s a ball in the last pitch of a game, takes a look at the mountain to see it erupting with fire at the peak, and that a burning figure is coming down the mountain at alarming speed. The burning figure is Meramon, the same fiery Digimon we seen get impaled by the and explode earlier. The Yokomon panic. It’s not like Meramon to leave the mountain it seems. And he’s still screaming “BURNING!” as he comes down.

As you might imagine, he’s making a beeline for the Yokomon village, his body causing a forest fire as he tears through the forest the kids had come through earlier, Meramon’s scream of “Burning! I’m burning! I’m really burning!” giving the idea that the Digimon is either psychotic, or in a lot of pain.
We’ll later learn that it’s both – Spoilers.

Charging toward the village, as he reaches the savanna, Meramon is now screaming that he will burn everything, and Tai tries to get everyone to run.
Meramon comes closer, and now human and Digimon are rushing for the sunken ship, the humans guiding the Yokomon into the gaping hole in the ship’s hull, as Matt brings them all on deck. And as Tai tells TK to hurry up, Sora has… I want to say a moment of clarity or a revelation as she looks up to the cliff as sees Biyomon guiding the hordes of Yokomon down and to the ship. The Yokomon tell Biyomon to get to safety, but she insists she’ll be fine, that they’re the same.
Sora calls Biyomon an idiot, helping the little ones and rushes off to her Partner.

It’s too late as Meramon is already behind Biyomon and knocks her off the cliff, diving to catch Biyomon who’s happy that Sora came to help her out.
The two have a moment but it’s cut short as Meramon charges an attack, and leaves Biyomon with no choice but to fight back.
Biyomon attacks, but has little effect as Meramon tosses a fireball at Biyomon and sends her crashing to the ground to Sora’s dismay.
The other Digimon get in on the battle, but the attacks from Agumon, Gabumon, Tentomon and Patamon only serve to cause Meramon to grow like a Power Rangers monster of the week.
(Maybe try not hitting the fire based Digimon with a bunch of attacks that end in Fire or Flame, eh guys?)

Meramon’s Burning Harder now as he leaps off the cliff to face the children directly, Biyomon coming to to see an utterly defeated Sora. This fuels her will to fight as she vows to protect Sora, and with a simple spread of her wings…
PIYOMON SHINNNNKAAAA… BIRDRAMON! (Who in the dub seems to be voice by Dagget from Angry Beavers. Yeah, enjoy that feel!)

Meramon gets closer, Sora raising her head and calling for Biyomon. Birdramon rises, having caught Meramon in mid air and throws Meramon back onto the cliff.
Meramon attacks, throwing multiple volleys at Birdramon, and while Sora calls out for Birdramon to be careful, the attacks seem to be doing nothing to harm the newly Digivolved Champion level Digimon, who spreads her wings causing them to sparkle with starlight before Birdramon assaults Meramon with her Meteor Wing attack, streaks of fire tearing toward Meramon, and while they don’t defeat him, they do cause the black gear from earlier to be exorcised from Meramon, reducing him back to normal size. The gear explodes in the sky as Matt rationalises the gear is what drove Meramon insane.

Birdramon de-Digivolves to Biyomon and is caught by Sora, who is tremendously grateful for Biyomon saving her. Biyomon comments that it’s what she’s supposed to do since she loves Sora so much.
We transition to Meramon waking up. He has no memory of what happened, so the Yokomon promptly send him back to Mount Panorama. I am not even joking. This part of the story is resolved in all of four lines with Meramon remembering the gear, and then waking up and being told to go back to protecting the mountain by the Yokomon.

It’s finally dinner time, and dinner is… Bird Seed. The Digimon dig in, whether they be reptilian or plant based, but the humans are so confused.
They’re left with no choice. If they want to eat, they can’t be picky, and so they dig in.
The episode ends with Sora again grateful that Biyomon saved her life and was able to Digivolve just in time.

——-

And so ends a fantastic episode, and probably the one in the early arc with the most character development.
We learn not so much about Sora’s backstory, but we do get to see how being in the Digital World is affecting her psyche and what it means for those around her if she’s pushed to a limit of having to play Team Mom under so much stress.

The dub… the English dub goes completely the other way with this and makes her more of a Team Mom, and in doing so almost ruins the point of the episode.
The whole trek through the savanna for instance is also completely retooled to be nothing more than passing banter at ditzy Mimi’s expense, Izzy to mumble stuff to force his whole geek personality and for Joe to tell everyone how doomed they are. Sora does no complaining at all, and telling Biyomon to shut up just does not happen. Which makes the frowning at Biyomon’s nuzzling look visually inconsistant to what she’s just said about teamwork and sticking together.

It also becomes especially jarring when Biyomon is talking to the Yokomon about why she Digivolved. While Biyomon is talking about the special bond she and Sora share, Sora is making out of character comments like “She needed to protect ME?” and “Oh, that’s why she’s always following me around.” in a mopey voice, but then thinks she’s a lucky kid when remembering the previous two Digivolutions. I’m sorry, maybe it’s because I’m watching with nostalgia goggles off in this case, but, is Dub!Sora bi-polar?

For some reason Mount Panorama is Mihirashi Mountain in the dub.

The lead up to Biyomon’s evolution is probably what makes most sense when doing a comparison. Instead of getting a moment of clarity from Tai helping TK, she instead becomes worried when she realises that Biyomon is still on the cliff trying to get the Yokomon down and into the ship. It makes the mini flashbacks pointless, but it still conveys a better reason to have Sora run into the danger zone than the original.
I mean, you could say in the original that Tai calling to TK to stay safe, triggered an emotional response in Sora about Biyomon is always talking about keeping her safe, and then looks to the cliff to see her trying to save the Yokomon, but that’s not outright explained, it just happens. Though it does give the mini flashbacks a bit more bouyancy.

And good GOD does Dub!Sora’s insistance on calling Biyomon “Biyo” get grating on the ears. I understand that the dub script was still in it’s teething stages, but come on guys.

The Meramon fight is pretty much same as, with a lot of extra jokes thrown in on the dub’s part.

Overall, it’s an episode like this that shows just how drastically tone and feel can shift when you effectively re-write the plot.
It might be the same visuals and overall story, but how we get there is drastically different.
What was supposed to be an episode that showed the impact of a literal world change can have on the mind of an 11 year old became an excuse plot episode that simply had Biyomon Digivolve because it was her time to do so in the script.

In the dub, we’re painting by numbers and things happen just because. The original Japanese told the story of a friendly, likeable girl coping with the idea of a clingy new animal friend in a world she knew nothing about, but in time came to love her new friend and maybe even admire her.
This is important, because this is expanded on in much greater detail later on in the series when Love, Acceptance and Sora become major themes and pivitol in the overall survival of the group as their Digimon Adventure continues.

See you for Episode Five where we get a lil techie.

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