Spoiler warning: this review discusses specific plot developments from Digimon Ghost Game episode 10, as well as the preview to episode 11.
Last week provided a break from Digimon Ghost Game’s episodic shtick, with Clockmon returning and Bokomon providing some exposition about Digimon and travel to and from the Digital World. This week marks a return to the status quo however, with Kinkakumon and Ginkakumon serving as our villains of the week. It’s not a plot-crucial episode, but is it enjoyable nonetheless?
So what’s it about?
Courtesy of Toei Animation, here’s the official preview for Digimon Ghost Game episode 10 – “Game of Death”:
Courtesy of Crunchyroll, here’s a plot synopsis:
There is a strange rumor that if anyone who gets a 20-win streak in this fighting game, they will disappear shortly after meeting a mysterious and beautiful character. It turns out Kiyoshiro knows this game…
Familiar visuals not made fresh
This week’s hauntings are centered around video games and the horror of getting sucked into computer screens. Here’s the problem: that’s not an uncommon sight in this franchise. We’ve been watching kids get sucked into computers ever since Digimon Adventure 02, or even longer if you count this franchise’s videogames. It’s a familiar visual at this point, and nothing about how it’s presented stands out or adds any new twist. Once sucked in the children are slowly dissolved into alcohol within Ginkakumon’s gourd. The idea is interesting, but it’s brushed past too quickly to actually feel impactful. The gaming theme isn’t developed in a particularly scary way either, so this feels more like a standard children’s action cartoon than one with a horror bent.
The shift from horror would be forgivable if the villains and action here were at least fun, but they’re not. Kinkakumon and Ginkakumon are among the blandest villains in the series to date both in terms of design and personality. Kinkakumon is particularly bothersome. While there are plenty of cool exceptions (Angewomon, LadyDevimon, etc.) I’m beyond fatigued by the franchise’s recent reliance on uninspired, skimpily-clad designs for its female humanoid creatures. A little bit of cheesecake is fine, but characters like Kinkakumon just look patently ridiculous. There’s no cool factor, unique flair, or sign of effort put into her design whatsoever. Neither her nor Ginkakumon contributes anything of note in terms of contrasting against our protagonists in a meaningful way or standing out from past foes. There’s not a single aspect of the conflict that feels like it matters.
Plus, the animation quality also drops significantly again this week. It’s not the worst in the series by any means, but there are some very egregious shots of Bokomon and Bakumon in particular.
Partner bonding, evolution, and the link between
Traditionally speaking, Digimon episodes featuring new evolutions have used said evolutions as metaphors for character growth and triumph. This can be triggered by the human partner maturing within themselves, and/or deepening their bond with their Digimon. In this week’s case…neither happens. Kiyoshiro and Jellymon’s dynamic here isn’t any different than it has been in episodes past, and frankly it’s still difficult to reconcile the different sides of Jellymon’s personality. While it’s clearly conveyed that the pair have affection for one another, there’s little sense of where said affection comes from. What do these two bond over? What philosophical stances or personality quirks do they share? How do their differences compliment one another? None of these questions are given satisfying answers, and Jellymon’s evolution ultimately feels dictated by the series’ schedule moving forward instead of by actual character development.
As for the actual evolution itself…meh. TeslaJellymon isn’t remotely as cool as her name sounds. Instead, she’s another example of the type of female humanoid monster design I disparaged earlier. There’s no commitment to any aesthetic concept that would meaningfully differentiate her from her Rookie form. Rather, her hat just covers her eyes, she changes into shorts, and she grows some extra tendrils. Jellyfish are extraordinarily diverse and beautiful animals, and this design fails to draw upon their beauty in a new or inspired way. For there to be an entire evolution line themed around jellyfish and for it to restrict itself needlessly to humanoid body structures is criminally disappointing.
The wrap-up and looking forward
All in all, this is easily my least favorite episode of the series thus far. There’s not a single part of it that carries any sense of narrative weight or that helps develop the characters. Even Jellymon’s evolution to the Champion level is arbitrary and unexciting. The villains are equally bland, the animation is middling, and there’s virtually no horror to speak of. The charming protagonists and some funny dialogue prevent this episode from being outright terrible, but it’s not one remotely worth revisiting outside of a full-series rewatch.
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