“That Boy is Joe Kido”
Taichi and the gang attempt to cross the sea, but are attacked by a mysterious whirlpool. They’re saved by Gomamon and his partner, a rather neurotic 6th grader named Joe.
I’d probably describe this episode as workmanlike at best – it gets the job of introducing Joe done with a minimum of fuss, invokes the required evolution and fight and generally goes from point A to B without any egregious mistakes. Now that we’re seven episodes in though, I’m not sure ‘competent’ is enough to get by, and it’s certainly not something to get fired up for. There’s also a pretty fundamental issue I have with this episode, which is based around how Joe’s character has changed and evolved since the original show.
Here, Joe is presented as obsessed with his studies, to the point that he’s still hitting the books even though he’s been literally sucked into a parallel world. This is, to put it mildly, a little unbelievable, and it’s a major disservice to the character. Over time Joe’s portrayal has come to be dominated by his focus on his academics – it was a major thread in Digimon Adventure Tri and again here. Thing is though, while that aspect has always been there, the first Adventure portrayed it as only one facet of his personality, representative of a larger, more complex character.
Joe is the oldest of the Chosen Children and (provided the new show sticks to his established backstory) the youngest in a family of high achievers, with his father being a doctor and one of his brothers a medical student. The combination of these two things mean that he both feels responsible for the rest of the children, and at the same time has a deep inferiority complex. The original Digimon Adventure used this as a reason to make him the ‘sensible’, conservative member of the group, the one who advocated for the party to stay in place and not get involved, to wait until the grownups sorted out the problems. Sure, his academics were sometimes referenced, but it was far from the defining aspect of his character, instead being just one piece of the many neuroses that he had. Adventure Joe was a bit of a stick-in-the-mud, but you knew he always wanted what was best for the crew and that he’d come through when the chips were down.
In contrast, 2020 Joe seems much more like the writers plucked the low-hanging fruit of the irritable nerd, and it’s a pretty sharp downgrade. To be fair, this is off of the back of only one episode, and my hope is that the writers can develop him a little more down the line. There’s encouraging hints here and there – his bitter question about whether their quest will help them get back home is very much in character with his ‘cowardly lion’ persona, and he does pull through in the end – but I was hoping individual focus episodes would dig deeper into the characters and I think this one instead actually gives us less depth than its predecessor. However, Joe is a character who works best when he has others to gainsay him, so I’m hopeful that once his integrated into the group he’ll begin to shine. For now though I have to confess I was disappointed with this episode, and I hope that the show can do more with its characters in the near future.
- While I wasn’t a big fan of this episode’s Joe, Gomamon is a delight as always.
- The evolution sequences seem to be getting more and more half-arsed every episode. In general this is not a great looking installment either, and the fight is occasionally painfully limited.
- One thing that’s really missing from the show is a really good evolution/battle theme. It’s going to be hartd to ever top ‘Brave Heart’ but the current generic rock number just doesn’t do it for me on any level.
- Only a very brief appearance from Koushiro in this episode. Clearly Kabuterimon is not the future of transport.