Spoiler warning: this review discusses specific plot developments from Digimon Ghost Game episode 19, as well as the preview to episode 20.
Another week, another new episode of Ghost Game. Last week saw the animation debut of Petermon, but the baddie this time is a returning classic: Piximon. No, goddammit, I will not honor this episode’s translation of “Picklemon.” I refuse. Flubbed name aside, is the episode good?
So what’s it about?
Courtesy of Toei Animation, here’s the official preview for Digimon Ghost Game episode 19: “The Witching Hour”:
You can catch up on our coverage of the series thus far with our reviews of past episodes.
Fears on fears on fears
In one of his now frequent bouts of narration, Angoramon tells Ruli that sunset, or the “witching hour,” is associated with danger. As such, this episode’s events take place across an extended twilight. As the night goes on more and more people go missing and it’s up to our heroes to save them (and each other) before they’re lost forever inside Piximon’s mysterious portals to the past.
On the whole, this week’s centering of the horror around a specific time of day is effective. The dark reds of the skyline are pleasing to look at but also ominous. The sun’s descent brings with it an inherent time crunch, one made all the more unsettling by the frequent shots of shadowy figures staring at and following our heroes around town. Fears of darkness, the unknown, and encroaching malevolent presences all snowball together into a layered yet primal source of gripping terror.
The creepiness doesn’t end there, however. Once the shades draw closer, we realize that they’re adopting the forms of our heroes. Said protagonists, meanwhile, are engulfed in shadows themselves once the doppelgangers finish assuming their appearances. This concept of being replaced in such a way that no one would ever notice further enhances the scare factor, and the shades’ facial expressions are horrendous (in a good way). Seeing the false Hiro and Ruli’s faces contort with sadistic glee is probably the high point of the episode.
With all that said, the episode loses points due to the fact that the explanations for its horror just aren’t satisfying. Piximon states that his powers send people into the past, but there are no moments of realization that sell how the landscape has changed over time or how the protagonists have come undone temporally. For all intents and purposes this could have just been a separate mystery realm without evoking time travel. Utilizing time travel wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing, but bringing it up without fully following through on the concept visually or thematically feels like a waste.
Gammamon’s growing up
One major plot point this episode is Hiro sending Gammamon out on an errand. It’s a seemingly simple one– just going to the grocery store– but given Gammamon’s childlike demeanor and maturity level, it’s still quite a challenge. Ever responsible, Hiro tasks the rest of the gang with following Gammamon so they can step in and help in case of an emergency.
One aspect of Ghost Game that I’ve grown to appreciate as its gone on is the focus on Gammamon’s maturation. From the death of Bokomon to the arrival of GulusGammamon, much of his brushing up against adult concerns has been in the context of trauma responses. This week, however, we get to see him performing a more everyday task and learning similarly to how real children would. It’s sweet to watch, as are the rest of the cast’s concerned parental reactions.
The subject of Gammamon’s development is also broached in a more mysterious way courtesy of Piximon’s time travels. We don’t get to see what Piximon does, but he indicates shock and confusion in response to witnessing Gammamon’s past, as well as admiration in response to his future. Between this and the quadruple Champion evolutions, it’s clear the show is building to a reveal about how Gammamon is different from other Digimon.
The wrap-up and looking forward
All in all, this is great episode. The horror is well-executed and multifaceted while the notion of Gammamon’s maturation provides a strong thematic foundation. My only complaints are with some occasionally iffy frames of animation and with the way the time travel element is (or rather isn’t) utilized. Looking forward the amusement park theme shown in next week’s preview is fun, and it looks like Saberdramon might be the big bad. If so, it will be yet another welcome instance of a very minor Digimon getting some time in the anime spotlight.
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