Premiering in Fall of 2021, Ghost Game was a very different idea for a Digimon anime: a horror series in which a brand new, pervasive hologram technology has allowed digital monsters to leak into reality like electronic "hauntings!" Now nearing the final episode of its first season (or final episode altogether?) Ghost Game has been fairly light on continuity or character development, opting instead for the kind of weekly mystery formula you might expect from its genre. I actually find it varying quite a bit whether a given episode holds my own attention span, but we're looking at ten that stood out to me above the rest for one reason or another, and put them in order from lightest to darkest of my picks!
10 FAVORITE DIGIMON GHOST GAME "HAUNTINGS!"
This was only the second episode in the series, and brings back the beloved Mummymon! Haunting a museum display of actual mummies, he begins to kidnap humans, wrap them in bandages and imprison them in an abandoned subway tunnel. As they beg and plead to be released, Mummymon only argues that what he's doing is all for their own good.
"THE MYSTERY OF THE MUSEUM"
The Digimon came dangerously close to subjecting a large number of people to a hideously slow, torturous death, but now realizing that he has more homework to do, he takes Hiro's suggestion to move his haunting activity from the museum to a modern hospital, and Mummymon will in fact reappear from time to time in the series as an expert on at least the medical treatment of fellow Digimon.
EPISODE 4: "THE DOLL'S MANOR"
It's the Halloween special! Of course it stars the pumpkin-headed Pumpmon! Harmless and fun-loving in past appearances, we first see this Pumpmon kidnapping a child to wrap them in vines, encase their head in a pumpkin, and then start carving it into a Jack O' Lantern, just barely missing the victim's actual face with his dagger.
Pumpmon is also assisted by a gang of Digimon minions: two Candlemon and two of the pencil-like Ekakimon! Despite having these neat pals, Pumpmon's motivation is apparently loneliness, or at least loneliness for human friends specifically.
This is another Digimon whose reign of terror ends as soon as his misunderstanding is explained to him, and despite having just been threatened by him with a knife, the kids agree to consider themselves his friends. Who wouldn't!
EPISODE 34: "WALL CRAWLERS"
This time, we have reports of "human geckos" around the city; noseless, toothless, green-skinned kids with bulging, yellow eyeballs and the ability to scale walls with their adhesive fingers and toes, but these creatures don't aren't Digimon at all, nor do they really bear any resemblance to any Digimon we've ever seen. In fact, it's pretty clear that the "geckos" were once human children.
That master, strangely enough, is a Salamandamon, a fire-element lizard that was originally one of Agumon's armor evolutions, here in its first prominent anime role since a brief appearance in Xros Wars. The Digimon craves pure carbon to fuel its flames, and believes a diet of diamonds will make its flames burn "more beautifully." It's the touch of its saliva that transforms human beings into half-lizard monsters, but that only raises ever more alarming questions about what exactly Digital Lifeforms are and how exactly they can manipulate actual matter-based lifeforms to such an extreme.
As disturbing as its methods are, Salamandamon is another that needs only a brief battle and a stern lecture to resolve the issue, agreeing to change the children back and accept delicious, graphite pencils instead of diamonds.
In this episode, the kids hear a rumor that a "procession of monsters" - a classic concept in yokai folklore - and be seen on the freeway at the right time of night. This turns out to be a pack of Digimon engaged in a nightly race, with the violent nun-fetish Digimon, Sistermon Ciel, hilariously leading in a go-kart.
"NIGHTLY PROCESSION OF MONSTERS"
EPISODE 23: "MOANING BUG"
Moaning Bug differs from most episodes in that the "victims" aren't humans, but other Digimon already in the human world. It's a strange outbreak of viral data that can befall seemingly any Digimon at any time, causing them to sprout antennae and behave like aggressive, scurrying insects.
Another happy ending to a Digimon's innocent mistake, but it's interesting just how wrong human-digimon interactions can go in this series. Every single monster, even the most benevolent, can pose its own unique threat as the two drastically different worlds continue to clash.
EPISODE 30: "BAD FRIEND"
This episode is the first-ever animated appearance by Ex-Tyrannomon, despite being one of the first few dozen Digimon ever released! Together with Warumonzaemon, the two creepy, towering mascot costumes befriend a troubled little girl, Kayono, who feels misunderstood and unappreciated by her family and friends. It isn't actually true, mind you, but the Digimon inflate her ego and egg on her spitefulness, convincing her that she's more important than anyone else and that she doesn't need anybody but her two new hologram friends.
EPISODE 21: "THE SPIDER'S LURE"
Digimon fans already know that this mysterious woman is the human disguise of a classic villain Digimon, making only her second-ever appearance in this form. "Sonya Molena" presents herself as a researcher with interest in the nervous systems of insects and the brains of humans, which is especially not a good sign.
But how does she get knowledge???
EPISODE 37: "HERD OF THE DEAD"
This episode begins with a couple of businessmen illegally dumping garbage into a pit that apparently once housed a forgotten cemetary. They fail to notice the greenish ooze slithering around the trash heap, even when it seeps into and reanimated a number of human corpses! Not just greenish ooze, but what appear to be metallic cables! These cyber-slime-zombies even spread digital undeath to living animals or humans with a bite, and once fully turned, zombies mindlessly make their way back to the trash heap where they're drawn in and eaten alive by something unseen. It even spits their bones back out!
EPISODE 26: "CANNIBAL MANSION"
This episode has Angoramon and his human partner Ruli investigating a mansion whose original owners and many subsequent visitors are said to have mysteriously vanished. There, he finds the mansion occupied by a Digitamamon who happens to be his closest personal friend from the digital world. The two apparently spent many years together engaged in personal research, sharing a love of scientific discovery and the pursuit of knowledge. That kind of feels like a reoccuring theme in this series, even just from the episodes we've looked at here, and actually a major theme throughout much of the Digimon franchise.
This is the first time the egg-like Digitamamon has been given a scholarly, intellectual persona, and it makes sense for a being that supposedly compresses enormous amounts of data into its singularity-like inner form. His wording implies that he, too, is studying the nature of the mansion and its former inhabitants, and he's strangely eager to show Ruli the "interesting" things they left behind while Angoramon is caught up reading. Digitamamon mentions something "shaped like a small human" in a room upstairs, and we're to assume he means the dolls scattered around a child's bedroom, but Ruli also notices an odd, little pile of sand on the floor...
His hunger only worsened from there, irreversibly addicted to the high of consuming human "souls," increasingly forgetting everything else important to him and relying on the Mansion as nothing but a trap. The "sand" is an especially unsettling detail to me; there's nothing that could be but the trace silicon content of the human body, evidently the one thing Digitamamon's black void can't "digest."
This is another explicit case of a Ghost Game Digimon murdering humans, but unlike Rareraremon's nearly mindless desperation or Arachnemon's megalomania, Digitamamon is a formerly intelligent, peaceful monster that unfortunately developed a debilitating new appetite, and more unfortunately lacks the human moral context to see anything wrong with appeasing that appetite. A harsher reminder than usual that Digimon are an entirely "alien" form of intelligence, no matter how anthropomorphic their behaviors or forms can be.
EPISODE 24: "TWISTED LOVE"
This exceptionally morbid episode begins with an inside view of a child's mouth as an unspecified Digimon forces it open to inject a single drop of a mysterious purple toxin, causing the as yet unnamed little girl to collapse in pain as her leg transforms into a tangle of thorny vines.
The Digimon considers this process a failure, and goes on to repeat the process with a series of other children, connected only by the fact that they've all interacted with the same teenage boy, Yuto. The longer the interaction, the more of the experimental fluid they're fed, converting more of their body mass to plant matter.
When she finally reveals herself to Yuto and tells her story, she's only told that her plan is too dangerous and can't possibly work. Conceding that this is most likely true, she concludes that she should actually be the one to become a human, injecting herself with her own concoction.
Ghost Game hasn't been my favorite Digimon series, but it is my favorite premise for a Digimon series, a novel way to explore its supernatural motifs and a rare break from the more cookie-cutter shonen tone of other Digimon series. It has also pushed its promises of "scarier" Digimon farther and farther over the course of its first year, graduating from tamer Scooby-Doo tier resolutions to the deadlier, more deranged villains that a lot of its child audience is already well accustomed to from other popular anime.
Many more episodes creatively reframe classic Digimon as spooky spectral phenomena; a Sirenmon who takes possession of a karaoke bar, a Dracmon that "edits" human beings in real life by editing their social media selfies, and rambunctious gremlin-like Zassoumon who multiply and grow as they absorb water. It's just a shame that so many stranger, more ghoulish Digimon happened to come out in the year before Ghost Game, only to make their anime debut in the much more forgettable 2019-2020 Digimon Adventure reboot. It's also a bit of a shame that only three Digimon lines, those of the heroes, were created for Ghost Game specifically, though we do have yet to see their remaining evolutionary stages, and there's no telling what future episodes may bring if this series sees renewal for another season.
MORE HALLOWEEN FEATURES: