The Digimon Reboot Desperately Needs Some Filler

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Episodes 27, 28 and 31 of Digimon Adventure: (2020), "To the New Continent," "The Children's Fight for Survival" and "A New Darkness, Millenniumon," now streaming on Crunchyroll.

Digimon Adventure: (2020) is a show with a single-minded focus: getting its characters from point A to point B while creating spectacle through life-or-death battles... Every. Episode. And it gets tiring, not just for the characters, but for the audience as well. The fact is, anime desperately needs some filler episodes to allow both the kids and the audience a chance to relax and get to know each other better.

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While filler episodes may be decried by many, they often have some of the most memorable off-the-wall plots, and can even reveal key aspects of the characters by giving them some time in the spotlight. They can also help to build up the world by introducing characters and bits of lore that will be important later on, saving time in the "important" episodes by removing the need to reexplain the process.

For example, My Hero Academia's Season 2, Episode 32, "Everyone's Internships" expanded three pages in Volume 7, Chapter #57 into a full-blown episode. It took time to set up Uraraka's training with Gunhead, even showing her learning the exact move she'd use against Toga during the Training Camp arc, while also giving fan-favorite character Froppy an expansive, original story that showed how Marine heroes operate. But perhaps most importantly, after the high-tension of the Stain arc, the episode was a chance for the audience to breathe and relax while enjoying seeing the comparatively low-stakes efforts of the non-main characters take center stage.

This is exactly what Digimon Adventure: (2020) needs right now. After many questionable choices, the show has hyper-focused on Taichi, sidelining the other DigiDestined in favor of episode after episode of showdowns. While finally reintroducing some talking Digimon -- rather than making them proper characters with a culture or unique problem -- the show basically turns into damsels in distress, victims who must be protected by Taichi, and later Sora.

The kids can't seem to get a break, and have been battling non-stop for almost 16 episodes straight now, with one brief pause upon their return to the Digital World in Episode 27, "To the New Continent" and again after Angemon separates them in Episode 28, "The Children's Fight for Survival." As a result of having this non-stop action-filled pace -- if not the characters, the audience is exhausted.

The show could easily fit some fun and interesting filler into the foundation already laid -- while Taichi and Sora search on Komondomon for the rest of the DigiDestined, the show could catch up with the other characters -- though no plotline would be riper for filler-styled antics than Joe's hot spring adventures with the Nanimon. Or they could explore Mimi's vice of greed by having her find a marketplace of Digimon who want to buy the jewels she and Palmon have collected.

After all, it was this kind of filler that allowed the first series to be so memorable -- by leveraging the juxtaposition between the fierce fights and silly situations, the original Digimon Adventure was able to make us cry, cheer and laugh within the space of a single episode without it seeming out of place. From finding a "church" haunted by Bakemon in Episode 11, "The Dancing Ghosts! Bakemon," to singing karaoke to wake up a giant frog in Episode 25, "The Sleeping Tyrant! TonosamaGekomon," these varied episodes paved the way for more meaningful events such as Wizardmon's death to hit hard.

Even recap episodes, when done right, can be an absolute blast, as Avatar: the Last Airbender's Season 3, Episode 17, "The Ember Island Players" proved. By giving the characters some downtime right before the penultimate fight, it allowed the titular play to be lighthearted fun and a chance to reflect. As a result of the play's predictive ending (where the Fire Lord wins), the Gaang ends up thinking about what should happen if they fail.

Imagine now, a similar episode for 2020's Digimon Adventure -- perhaps Leomon's rebels have put together a play to recruit new allies and the predictive ending of the DigiDestined's flawless victory causes our heroes to wonder if they can live up to the hype?

In short, the constant spectacle of over-the-top fights has long grown stale, and a slower-paced, off-the-walls character-focused filler episode may be just the refreshing change-up the show needs to inject some new lifeblood into the fatigued story. Bring back the Elvis-impersonating monkeys, Digimon wrecking Shibuya in the name of fun, and explore the deep interpersonal relationships the original excelled at.

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