3 Episode Rule is a series in which I watch the first three episodes of a new anime and decide whether to stick with it or drop it based on those three episodes alone.
I haven’t watched a new (original) Digimon series since I was a kid. I was kind of surprised to see this one pop up on Livechart.me, especially because I’ve seen literally nobody else talking about it. Normally, you might think this was a sure sign that the series isn’t really worth investing the time in. And while that was my initial thought with Digimon Ghost Game: something of a curiosity that might get me a blog post, I’ve actually found there to be something a little more to this one.
I’d probably describe myself as a Digimon fan, more of the franchise as a whole than the animes specifically. First being obsessed with those Tamagochi spin-offs as a younger kid and then the video games that followed them. Sure, I was prime age to watch the original anime as well, but ended up falling off midway through the third, Digimon Tamers series until the original series got remade last year.
I’m only really familiar with three of the, now, nine Digimon anime series. But in my head, I’ve always imagined the stock original series as the framework for every show that followed. Despite the fact that I have zero reasons to think that way at all, I guess it might be because the two Digimon games I invested the most time into also followed similar narrative arcs: Digimon World and its sequel Next Order.
The point, that I’m beating around the bush to get to, is that upon reading the synopsis for Digimon Ghost Game, it felt wholly different enough for me than what I was used to with the Digimon franchise that I had to check it out.
I guess I should get into what I’m talking about. In a near-future world, we’re introduced to Hiro Amanokawa; he’s a middle school (I think) Freshman at a live-in school, left alone when his eccentric, programmer father suddenly disappeared some time previous. For the most part, the world feels familiar to any other modern anime set in modern Tokyo, except for the presence of hologram technology.
Technology is always a common theme within Digimon shows, and this one is no different. And within this technology-driven society where holographic projections of all sorts of characters, both human and fantastical, Digimon begin to leak into the real world and mess with the humans they encounter.
The whole approach to these interactions between Digimon and humans is what ended up attracting me to this show: As the Digimon start bleeding through, unseen, and start causing major chaos amongst the population, everyone in the city starts talking about it online, through social media. And like most people would in a culturally superstitious nation; they start attributing the events to yokai, ghosts and all manner of other popular urban legends.
Which is what’s cool about this series to me. The entire show is framed as almost a detective mystery every episode, with Hiro and his new Digimon partner Gammamon discovering the presence of Digimon and then pursuing them to put a stop to whatever, pretty messed up, mischief they’re getting up to.
For Hiro’s part, he is after these Digimon because he discovers that. when his father disappeared, he was actually transported to the Digital World. So he chases these rogue monsters down to question them and find out if there is any way to travel between the two worlds and reunite himself with his dad. Who admittedly doesn’t seem too concerned about being trapped in another, internet-based, reality.
Within the first three episodes, we meet what appear to be our main three characters, if the opening credits are to be believed. One is Ruri Tsukiyono; a girl who obsesses over urban legends and investigating the strange phenomena that are happening around the city. She only meets Hiro and her own partner in the third episode after an encounter with Dracumon; who has slowly been evaporating her hands, Back to the Future style.
The third is a character is Kiyoshirō Higashimitarai, a kid I actually also find entertainingly unique in his personality quirks. He has the aura of the cool, mysterious character archetype when we first meet him. Easy smiles and school heartthrob, all of that. But at the same time, he is terrified of all things supernatural and breaks down into a blubbering mess at even the slightest notion of something scary going on.
While I haven’t met his partner Digimon yet, I already like him a lot and feel like I want to continue watching the series a bit longer just to see how that interaction ends up playing out for him.
For the most part, this is your typical kid’s anime. While it’s not explicitly violent, a lot of the implied violence and things that are happening to the people because of the Digimon invading are actually pretty horrible. Being aged to near death, being kidnapped and encased in a cocoon until you starve to death or totally losing control of your body.
It leans into the horror and ghost story aspect of the shows inspiration, even if none of the Digimon that have shown up so far appears to hold any relation to any real urban legends of genuine yokai stories as far as I can tell. They’re all fabricated for the purposes of the episodes they appear in, but they get the tone and the feel of them down enough that I know exactly what they’re going for.
Verdict: Surprisingly, I’m going to keep on this one for a little longer.
Like I said, I was sure this was going to be a show I would drop after the three episodes. And maybe I will end up dropping it anyway after four of five. But for the time being, my nostalgia for the Digimon franchise and the charm of the characters wants me to see how much father this concept can carry me.
It’s interesting seeing a Digimon series where I don’t know any of the Digimon or the tropes. I’m sure we’re going to get there eventually when battles start calling for a lot of Digivolution, but for now, I’m still intrigued enough that I will keep it up for at least a little bit longer and see how well it keeps my attention.
Man… when I saw how many series I genuinely wanted to check out this season, I was super sure I’d end up dropping most of them, but so far I’ve gotten something out of everything I’ve watched. Guess I’ll just have to see how many of them I can cram into my busy schedule after I’m finally through all my 3 Episode Rules.