Spoiler warning: this review discusses specific plot developments from Digimon Ghost Game episode 20, as well as the preview to episode 21.
Digimon Con was last night and…let’s just say it didn’t go well. After the first hour and a half or so with virtually no actual announcements, I was happy to have a new episode of Ghost Game to watch instead. Did Gammamon come through as our lovable mascot character and ease the pain?
So what’s it about?
Courtesy of Toei Animation, here’s the official preview for Digimon Ghost Game episode 20: “Prison of Fire”:
You can catch up on our coverage of the series thus far with our reviews of past episodes.
Our little Gammamon’s all grown up
This episode continues the arc Gammamon’s been on ever since episode thirteen, and it serves several important purposes narratively. As far as Gammamon is concerned, the main takeaway is that he can now control which of his Champion forms he evolves to at any given time. This has obvious implications in terms of making scripting easier going forward, but the execution is such that it doesn’t feel like a cop-out. After all the attention that’s been paid to Gammamon’s maturation over the last several weeks, it feels like an earned accomplishment.
This sense of the growth being earned also owes to just how this episode’s battle is structured. Ruli, Kiyoshiro, and their partners are all quickly trapped, and even Hiro gets injured so he can’t quickly escape from the baddies of the week, Saberdramon and DarkLizamon. With no one else there to help him, Gammamon has to step up in a major way and he does.
His ultimate victory is also sweetened by how difficult it is to achieve. With the number of times he got brutally knocked down along the way I fully expected another character to show up and diffuse the conflict but that never happens. The key to victory is just good old-fashioned getting back up and trying again. It’s cliche but this is a children’s cartoon and that sort of upbeat message is part of the fun of it. It also helps that Ghost Game has relied so heavily on verbal reconciliation as a means of conflict resolution, so a character tapping into unseen reserves isn’t something we’ve already seen regularly.
BlackTailmon and the looming promise of plot
As usual, the villains’ rampage is rooted in a misunderstanding. This time Saberdramon and DarkLizamon think that Hiro knows where BlackTailmon is and is refusing to tell them, when he actually doesn’t know any better than they do. Long story short they just want to return to the Digital World and they know that BlackTailmon can open up portals.
This is just speculation but it seems like the heroes will be journeying to the Digital World in no time. The expectation has been there ever since episode one, especially since Hiro still hasn’t tracked down his father. Now that the core trio’s Digimon have all reached Champion and Gammamon has grown up a bit, it seems like the perfect time to dive into the series’ mysteries. As far as this week is concerned though, BlackTailmon’s mysterious comings and goings continue to be an enjoyable tease.
On the downside…
At this point, it’s long been evident that Ghost Game’s animation quality is going to be a consistent con. One implication of all of Gammamon’s evolving this episode is that the reused footage can contribute to every more of the runtime than usual, saving money. Given how integral evolution sequences are to building hype and tension in this franchise, that alone isn’t bad. The pacing and integration of the evolutions into the battle in this episode is quite well-done.
Unfortunately, the rest of the animation is still notably bad. There’s a lot of awkward panning and tilting of frames, characters’ movements don’t feel smooth, and Saberdramon in particular looks terrible. Even the fire traps DarkLizamon uses serve to keep the other heroes in one place and unable to move (so they don’t require more involved animation). It’s still an enjoyable episode as usual, but it’s regrettable that the animators aren’t being given enough budget for the visuals to match the story’s level of quality.
The wrap-up and looking forward
The closer we get to seeing this series’ take on the Digital World, the more excited I get. Gammamon’s character arc also continues to be well-written, and if the animation weren’t so poor this week’s episode could have been a great one. As is, it’s just decent, and I’m not particularly excited about next week’s preview since Arukenimon has never been a favorite of mine. Here’s hoping the character writing continues to be be strong, or that the show really sells spider horror in a fun way.
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