Etemon proved that you don't have to be important to be great
When creating villains for our heroes to conquer, we usually strive for some kind of weighty depth. For example, in Chris Nolan's Dark Knight films, each villain represents an innate theme of the Batman mythos. In My Hero Academia, villains typically reflect philosophical flaws in a hero-based society. Even in Digimon, antagonists like Devimon controlling others with his Black Gears is the opposite of the friendship that the Digi-Destined are fostering with their own partners.
But what if a villain is just kind of a jerk? I bring up Digimon because after Devimon gets angel-punched, the kids run into Etemon, who's a mean dude... and that's about it. He doesn't represent some ambitious opposite to the Destined, aside from being cruel to everyone. He doesn't wax poetic about the nature of evil like Devimon or Myotismon, or seem particularly interested in omnipotent domination like the Dark Masters. He's loud and obnoxious and gets a thrill out of beating the crap out of the good guys.
And I think that's why he's one of my favorite villains, not just in Digimon but in all of anime. He doesn't really need to provide a counter-argument to the moral arc of the show. Just take a glance at his petty relationship with Datamon, someone he once nearly slaughtered and is still peeved at even though Etemon imprisoned him long ago. Etemon could've crushed him, but instead he houses Datamon in his own pyramid base and treats him like an uninvited party guest. There's no real logic to Etemon's malice. He's a bad dude that wants to keep doing bad stuff.
That's what makes his return as MetalEtemon so beautiful. Because you have all of these villains that are desperate to unleash eternal nightmare on the world, and the one that gets brought back in mecha form is the ape with the Elvis Presley accent. He even has a little song prepared when he comes back. That's not something you do when you're good at time management. Other villains would've created some intricate plan that fixed any weaknesses they had before, but all Etemon could think of in his revenge scheme was to show up with a dope musical number at the ready.
In Digimon, Etemon isn't the villain that forced the Digi-Destined to question everything they knew (though he does make Tai really, really sad at one point.) He's not the one that threatened both the Real and the Digital Worlds. He's just a quirky jerk that happened to be obscenely powerful. And that's why Etemon is great.
Are you a fan of Etemon? Who is your favorite Digimon villain? Let me know in the comments!
Daniel Dockery is a Senior Staff Writer for Crunchyroll. Follow him on Twitter!
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