Spoiler warning: This article discusses plot specifics from Digimon Ghost Game episode 23, as well as the preview to episode 24.
Last week Ghost Game kicked off its post-hiatus era with a fun romp in a creatively rendered dream dimension. Does this week keep that momentum going with another enjoyable episode?
So what’s it about?
Here’s the official preview courtesy of Toei Animation:
You can also catch up with our coverage of the series thus far here.
This episode’s premise feels fresh because it centers a possibility that’s rarely been explored: Digimon getting sick. Outside of the context of status effects in videogames it doesn’t happen much, perhaps due to the question of how to adjust such a biological phenomenon to fit digital lifeforms. There’s been plenty of depictions of injured or aging Digimon in anime, but actual illness is rare besides Digimon Adventure’s Gabumon briefly having a cold (which seemed to affect him the same way it would any of the human characters).
Ghost Game tackles this topic the same way it does every topic: with horror. As a mysterious illness spreads, its victims sprout insectoid antennae and go on violent rampages. In Gammamon and co.’s cases this even includes attacking their human partners. These encounters highlight just how dangerous Digimon are physically, but the core horror comes from seeing beloved characters lose sight of themselves and the people around them. It’s a very “them, but not them” sort of terror.
Conceptually, the sickness is also tied directly to the concept of digital beings. It spreads by way of corrupted data so it only impacts Digimon. The broadcasting of the data is facilitated by human technology however, specifically in the form of satellite signals. Ubiquitous as these are, it quickly becomes apparent just how difficult avoiding contamination is and how quickly the situation could get much, much worse.
Returning allies save the day
With their own partners infected and on the prowl, Hiro and co. get aid from some friendly faces: Clockmon and Mummymon. Their continued involvement in the series is a delight, contributing to a sense of continuity that helps prevent the show’s very episodic nature from getting too tiresome. Mummymon’s appearance specifically highlights his being a doctor, and we get some delightful shots of him and Clockmon wearing face masks. These two’s involvement in solving the crisis is also a nice change of pace from how human-centric the series is by design.
Unfortunately, the explanation behind the original source of the sickness is lackluster. It’s all chalked up to a Digimon named Morphomon spreading its scales, which is an interesting thought but doesn’t make sense given the breadth of the signal’s spread. Morphomon is specifically trying to send an SOS upon being captured and imprisoned by a human, which…is an incredibly dark plot point that gets resolved immediately. Even if this gets brought back up later (which it may or may not), the cast having so little to say about it here feels off and like the result of very rushed pacing in the episode’s final minutes.
Wrapping up and looking forward
Ending aside, this is a great episode. The basic concept feels fresh and adds yet another type of horror to Ghost Game’s repertoire. The separation of partners is especially unnerving. The animation throughout is also well-done and Clockmon and Mummymon are very well-utilized. Even the Morphomon aspects aren’t all bad, but primarily just disappoint in how they’re wrapped up (or rather, glossed over). So far Ghost Game is two-for-two in delivering great material post-hiatus. Next week will mark the anime debut of Ajatarmon, and I’m thankful for yet another Digimon getting such a big exposure boost.
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