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Reviewing a Digimon I've Waited 22 Years For.

*Oddly enough, warning for "Fullmetal Alchemist" spoilers.

So this review, at least in my dumb mind, warrants a little more buildup and introduction than most, beginning with the fact that I'm one of the only people alive whose singular, uncontested top favorite Digimon is Raremon:

There are certainly other Digimon with gruesome, malformed and noxious properties who enjoy plenty of fandom, but that's probably because Digimon like Skullgreymon package that heinousness within a powerful, dramatic presence while Digimon like Sukamon balance it out with a zany sense of humor. Raremon, on the other hand, is a sluglike mound of rancid meat with beady, vacant eyeballs over a slack-jawed and snaggly-toothed grin, a visual combination of grotesquely edgy and comically pitiful that's kind of a hard sell as a Virtual Pet, even before we address the fact that a Digimon evolving into a Raremon canonically becomes "mindless," effectively dying and rotting but kept autonomously alive by its cybernetic elements. There's fans who even think the design is cool, but just find the general idea of it too saddening to want to actually keep one in any of the games.

So, kid-me fell in love at first sight with what everyone considers the ugliest, saddest and most undesirable monster in the franchise, then watched twenty years creep by without it ever receiving a new variant, a dedicated evolution, an alternate form, or even the appearance of ANY other Digimon with the same vibe.

But shortly after I began this new round of reviews, after saying they felt almost like they were marketed to someone just like me specifically, I read that an episode of the new anime would not only feature Raremon, but something translators were calling a "Super" Raremon.

At first, I doubted that we were in for anything too new, since descriptions made this sound like nothing more than a "scaled up" Raremon, similar to a past episode in which a giant-sized Numemon was treated like an evolved form. The premise at least sounded cute, though: a filler episode in which a couple of the kids encounter a Garbagemon "scientist" in a vast junkyard, and we're going to do a very short review-synopsis of this story before we get to the real draw here:

So the garbage in the junkyard turns out to consist of discarded objects from *our* world, the seemingly useless materials providing an endless wealth of information on the relationship between the two realms, and this unusually brilliant Garbagemon is capable of building almost anything out of miscellaneous scrap. Unfortunately, this precious resource has begun to disappear down the gullet of a new intruder, and so has something else, even more dear to Garbagemon than garbage!

Though we meet this Garbagemon with a single Chuumon assistant, it turns out it once had an entire fleet of the little helpers, until one by one they were eaten alive by Raremon. Considering every last one of them a friend, Garbagemon's mind as well as his scientific work have been subsequently consumed by nothing but an obsession with destroying Raremon even at the risk of his own life, like an even smellier Captain Ahab and Moby Dick.

This is actually the first time a Garbagemon has been anything other than a minor villain or bully, and one of the few times Chuumon has had a story role that didn't involve Sukamon. The idea of an academic trash monster decoding another world's refuse is also really clever and original, and it's just a shame this one-off character will likely never be important again. It's kind of funny, though, that Garbagemon is actually a higher level Digimon than Raremon and even one of its possible evolutionary stages, so imagine all your stuff getting wrecked and all your friends getting murdered by what's basically a doppelganger of yourself as a child. Also, it has no brain and doesn't bathe. I guess that'd drive anyone a little wacky.

To get back to the story, though, the kids are roped into helping Garbagemon on his suicidal quest, and he nearly does get himself killed when he tries to take Raremon head-on, modifying his bazooka into a freeze ray with the intent of solidifying and smashing the sludgy beast. Unfortunately, Raremon quickly breaks out of the ice to begin absorbing "black lightning," a mysterious energy that has been causing trouble throughout the digital world...

...AND THEN...



...AND THWIUSKjkd,dmQk..!~??!!?


THIS IS...WHAT!!????? I...?!



...I always try to describe in text what we're seeing in a creature design, no matter how redundant that might seem, because it not only helps me pick up on little details myself, but I happen to know some of you reading this site have problematical eyeballs, and I'd hate to think you're missing out on such a fine drawing of a big weird horrid thing. For a drawing of a big weird horrid thing this momentous, I need to be thorough, so let's go:

The original Raremon, for comparison, was a legless, lumpy pile of blue-grey, dripping flesh with a neckless dome of a head, a gaping mouth full of long, jutting, sharp teeth, a pair of large flipper-like arms with enormous claws (common to Digimon), protruding ribs, circuit-like skin patterns, a few haphazard metal tubes and a pair of irregular metallic patches bolted onto its forehead, a lidless little eyeball bulging out of a gash cut in the center of each panel. I also find it interesting that some depictions (such as this "Digimon World" 3-d model) skew the creature's eyes so that one of them is centered towards the front, a detail I kind of wish was more "canon," and even plays pretty well into the new upgrade!

So, now we have Rare Raremon, seen in this screenshot when the kids successfully solidify and defeat it for real this time.

Standing tall and upright, this beast's gigantic head comprises its entire upper half and is roughly cucumber-shaped. This head opens from the top into a tremendous mouth full of white, blocky teeth, so the overall impression is like the jaws of a whale pointing straight up in the air. The head is also completely covered in those rugged scrap metal shards and now has many scattered eyeballs peeking from their various gaps and crevices. One especially prominent eye on the front surface is centered and surrounded by flesh in a larger, jagged socket, and below this is a thin row of metal plates that, to my mind, sort of recall a cicada. Below this are two asymmetrically aligned eyes, and to only one side of these eyes is a second, smaller mouth with those same white teeth.

The remaining lower half of the creature is entirely formed from veiny, dripping, sludge-like flesh, much more liquid than its previous form and tinged a sickly, muddy green. From this mutated tissue sprouts several lumpy, blobby, dinosaur-like heads on short, thick necks, each with its own large mouth, more of those human-like square teeth, and a purple tongue. Some of these heads appear to be eyeless, others have one or more eyes and at least one has an extra mouth. Instead of legs, the whole thing stands upon an array of oozing pseudopods flowing in every direction, which bear their own random mix of mouths, eyes, and most disturbingly, a number of human-like arms and hands.

Finally, this design also has a number of metallic cables dangling from its flesh or dragging on the ground, a scattering of metal spines, and a dark orange or yellow sphere faintly visible through its translucent slime, like the nucleus of an amoeba, which would have to be the "core" possessed by other Digimon.


Promo doodle by Digimon art director Kenji Watanabe

What you came here for is my actual opinion on this design, but it's kind of hard to know where to start. My favorite creature designs were of enormous importance to me as a kid, and Raremon was one of my favorites out of anything for a number of reasons. I obsessed over slimy and amorphous creatures, toxic waste and pollutant characters, undead or decaying beings and anything with themes of unstable, abominable mutation; I guess anything "unwanted" or "wrong" that really physically looked the part, right? Naturally, I must have imagined a hundred different ways a dedicated Raremon evolution might have looked since 1999, but I never hit on anything remotely like Rare Raremon, which appeals so point-for-point to my childhood mind, and many tastes I still have, that if I had been hired to work on Digimon I would have avoided designing anything like this because then I would be stereotyping myself. Everyone would have rolled their eyes over how predictable my contribution might have been. Why, if I were somehow some kind of world famous billionaire anime investor, this Digimon could have read as cheap pandering for my attention. What I'm trying to say is that I'm really being called out by this year's whole crop of Digimon, and this one's like the bow on top. I'm really mangling these allegories now. You don't put bows on crops, I don't think.

So anyway, What also strikes me as remarkable is that it really doesn't look that much like Raremon...but it......also really does?

I don't even know how to precisely express this, but this evolution simultaneously feels like a wildly different direction for the creature and still couldn't have evolved from anything else in the franchise, breaking down Raremon's basic elements and rebuilding them into something else entirely. It's at once a more traditionally terrifying, threatening looking horror and still that shambling, awkward thing that looks confused to even exist, the wretchedly dorky charm of the original still present if you care to look and especially if you zero in on the "central eye:"

See, now there's an eye that's just seen what it's attached to and thought "uh oh!"

Regular Raremon, or what I predict scholars will hereby know as merely Uncommonmon, also always struck me as something like a giant sea mammal, almost walrus-like, which I suspected was based on the "globster" phenomenon, so I love that I can easily interpret a messed-up whale carcass in Rarerare. It also leans harder into an Akira reference with its gooier pseudopods and many gloppy hands, and I'd be remiss if I didn't acknowledge the similarities I've already seen drawn to some imagery from Fullmetal Alchemist; namely forms taken by Envy and Pride, with the latter also having obvious influence on the recent Eyesmon.

This digimon is like a loving homage to every disorganized body horror abomination in anime and manga, visually just what you'd get if something as biologically damaged as Raremon still kept trying and failing to grow into something more complete...which is precisely the idea according to its official bio, released only more recently!

"The Perfect of Raremon who survived by further mechanizing its already decaying body and took on a bizarre appearance. Its body repeatedly breaks down and reconstitutes itself, and eyes and mouths keep emerging and decaying. The foul stench it gives off from its entire body has increased so much that even Ultimates have difficulty approaching it. Because it consumes energy to keep its body intact, it supplies itself with energy by dissolving enemies with its "Digest", in which it swallows them whole via the mouth on its head. In addition, it spews a toxic gas out of its many mouths (Decayson), and enemies that inhale it die instantly. "


Is this my longest review for a single Digimon species? At least the longest I took getting to the actual review and rating? Well, we obviously aren't done yet, because we have to talk evolutions!!

First, let's take a moment to acknowledge that Raremon's official evolution was originally Extyrannomon, which was basically a kaiju mascot suit. This followed from Numemon's traditional evolution into Monzaemon and Sukamon's evolution to Etemon, and already I've seen a few Digimon fans disappointed that Rare Raremon "overshadows" poor Extyrannomon, a Digimon who never even got a chance to appear in the anime before it was upstaged like this.

(Meme by Humulos!)

I do think these two evolutions coexist quite well, however, because the "stuffed toy" evolutions were player rewards for putting care and effort into these "undesirable" monsters, and basically represent what the different garbage monsters would desire to become; something not only more powerful (and the plushes were, at one time, the strongest creatures in the canon!) but much more "charismatic."

So Extyrannomon is what happens when a Raremon receives a lot of love and attention, the "healed" version of a broken creature, but now we finally know how badly things can go if the corruption is just left to fester.

Speaking of Numemon and Sukamon, it immediately stood out to me that Rarex2 is equally believable as an evolution for either one of them or any any fusion combination with or without Raremon; the metal elements obviously come from Raremon at a glance, but it has the more humanoid teeth of the other two, its chartreuse slime follows more from the slug or the dungheap, and you could even argue that its possession of little humanoid arms is a more Sukamon-like detail. As for further evolutions, Rare Raremon is too new to have made an appearance in a virtual pet, so there's no telling what Ultimates it may ever be assigned, and it's more challenging than ever to pick an appropriate one from the canon. Bless you if you've read every word of this and are still going by the way.


So previously, I preferred Parasimon as Raremon's final form, which was already canon in one of the video games if Raremon first evolved into Nanomon/Datamon. There are arguably more overt similarities between Rare Raremon and Parasimon - like having a huge mouth on the "other side" of the creature, or the presence of gooey green tendrils - and I could definitely buy that a brain parasite somehow emerged from that chaotic, mutating mess the way some decrepit genetic abomination might give birth to a deadly new embryonic lifeform in its final death throes. For that matter, if the design really references Envy, a much weaker parasitic organism was in fact the Homunculus's truest form!

(Another creature design I consider all-time top tier, if you're wondering)

HOWEVER! While Parasimon was always my first choice and one of Raremon's canon Ultimates, Rare Raremon is such a unique creature that I do hope there might one day be an Ultimate stage following from it more closely. The question is just how they can ever possibly top what already looks like the epic final boss of a survival horror series. Where do they even GO from here?!

So I've never really done this before in a Digimon article, but, here's my own hasty concept to end this review:


Having absorbed countless other Digimon, Rare Raremon has evolved a gargantuan form that knows only simple minded hunger. From its exoskeleton spills forth a biomass which attempts to reproduce Digimon it has previously eaten, but they are unable to maintain form or thought, and their babbling is said to drive enemies mad as they are subsumed in a process that has been named the Cronen Hell. As it feeds, it also belches gouts of its Thriller Effluvium, a fetid gas so toxic that exposure can corrupt a digimon's data into a horrifying form. When its food supply runs low or it is bothered by powerful foes, it instinctively develops wings and migrates to new territory. However, its body sheds countless fragments as it takes flight, which contaminate and devour everything they can even as they decompose (Romero Havoc).
This isn't necessarily my "ideal" evolution for this Digimon, per se, but it's what I came up with first, anyway. While I'm at it, though, I may as well give these fellas a dedicated child stage! I realize the idea behind Raremon is that it could be any Digimon who botched their evolution so badly, but if its evolution is going to reference the larger form of Envy, then...


A strange being that is rumored to have resulted from unethical experimentation with digital life. Since it was first found with many discarded samples and equipment, it is thought that its creators intended to dispose of it, and did not expect it to survive. It is repulsive to other Digimon and subject to many frightening rumors, but it is a peaceful creature that would rather scavenge on waste data in solitude. Its special move is Mystery Antigen, a blast of toxic gel that can make an opponent feel gravely ill, but it is also said to have medicinal value if carefully processed. Sometimes, Biotamon tastes leftover data from powerful Digimon and desires to evolve, but its rate of failure is abnormally high, and many Biotamon have destroyed themselves or undergone strange mutations in the process.

Written by Jonathan Wojcik ( bogleech@hotmail.com )