Seeing as we're kind of in a waiting state right now, after the initial announcement buzz has blown over, this seems like the right time to collect my thoughts about everything we know about Ghost Game and everything that went on around the reveal of Ghost Game.
The most important aspect for me right now: I can't wait for Ghost Game to start and not involve cryptids at all.
"Cryptids" seems to be the number one expectation regarding the show and it all snowballed from people mistaking a big rabbit for Bigfoot because the first artwork didn't really show his ears.
This followed by the other 2 Partners getting squeezed very awkwardly into the cryptid category with no real evidence.
Gammamon has to be the worst with a very strained phonetic resemblance to an uncommonly used name for a not especially famous cryptid who was never even really associated with a Triceratops since one of its main traits was having one horn.
And then people going on about atmospheric jellyfish UFO connections for Jellymon which is one of those interpretations that you can make sorta kinda work, even though the most "alien" looking thing is the style of her eyes which we've seen before in decidedly non alien fairy Digimon...
...But the point is that no one would even attempt to force those specific interpretations onto the other two designs if they were not already convinced of Angoramon being Bigfoot...which was a misinterpretation in the first place and if the DiM or chocolate art clearly showing his ears and rabbit paws had been our first look at him it would never have gotten to this point.
But hey, a misidentification getting blown out of proportion is exactly how actual stories about cryptid sightings play out in real life.
So I expect that particular expectation to go unfulfilled and I'd be happy to have it out of the way because as far as monster designs are concerned... we can do without such limitations.
I have nothing against stuff like a certain groups or organization sticking to the same theme, but when it comes to the entire plot or setting necessitating designs centering around one topic or even all evolution lines of all main characters being confined to a singular theme, it just wastes too much potential.
Part of what is amazing about Digimon is the diversity of themes, you can have an episode featuring a Samurai in one episode and a talking trash can in another and I wouldn't want a season to restrict this for the sake of a gimmick.
Remember how awkwardly Appmon struggled with fitting into the "smartphone app"-box it put itself in?
You had a bunch of really obvious ones like your navigation, messaging and calendar apps etc but then you could literally feel the sensible ideas just fizzle out and degenerate into just random monster concepts but somehow "on your phone".
Surely people have "comet" apps on their phones and signal jamming apps or apps that teleport things? Or an app for GPS based assassinations or gothic lolita spyware (that one probably exists)? shutting down and rebooting your phone is an app right?
Don't get me wrong, I think most Appmon designs are really nice, easily above anything the XW era put out, but thematically it was a complete joke, like someone who has never even seen a smartphone guessing what people might use them for.
So basically I don't see how the advantages of sticking to a theme outweigh the pitfalls. You'd get anything from designs adapting their thematic source too directly and sacrificing the general franchise aesthetic to existing monsters getting shoehorned into contexts that really don't fit them. So yeah, we could do without that.
But speaking of the danger of shoehorning things, now onto one of the only things we actually do know about the show: The Digivice being a Vital Bracelet.
This is not really a good impression for me.
Sure, the Digimon anime always tries to sell you something, but enjoying a commercial product does not mean giving up all standards about how much you like that commercialism to be rubbed in your face. And I would argue that in many cases Digimon did manage to keep a healthy distance to overly brazen product placement.
The Adventure Digivice wasn't just the Pendulum. The Digivice iC wasn't trying to be the Accel, You could argue that the Digivice Burst looked kind of similar to the Twin but that's about it.
And yes you could buy toys based on all of those devices but the difference was that those were something exclusive to the context of show and that therefore those products had to be carried by the merits of the show itself because if the show was crap, no one would care about the Digivice. I can see at least some dignity in that.
But reusing an existing already popular product (technically a variation but eh)... that just leaves a bad taste in my mouth unless they really make it work for the series.
Because sure, the franchise isn't immune to less-than-subtle marketing, we all just need to look at how heavily Tamers plugged the card game but there was a somewhat redeeming factor back then in that the cards had their place as a necessary mechanic. Tamers deliberately slowed down the pacing of its first arc, turning even Adult evolutions from a once-per episode gimmick into actual climactic turning points for the story and it worked beautifully, but there still had to be some action and Child level abilities are not the exactly most exciting to watch, so something had to provide an extra layer of variation to the battles and the cards worked well to change things up and provide upgrades outside of simply evolving. And while there are certainly weaknesses to how the card system was actually implemented (a bit too arbitrary for my taste) it played its part to make the pace of the story work as well as it did (not to mention that the most important cards were not part of card game at all).
Long story short, I do not mind product placement if the product actually benefits the story rather than disrupting it.
But I just can't think of any good role the vial bracelet mechanics could play for the story. Maybe that's just me speaking as someone who doesn't see the appeal of the Vital Bracelet in general (outside of it being a V-pet that finally ditches the outdated 16x16 sprites), but most of what is added to the concept of raising a Digimon is random busywork that wouldn't be fun to watch.
I'm not too interested in characters obsessing about fitness or having to work out to be better tamers (Or whatever the human partners will end up being called this time). In an anime about sports that might be part of the deal but as far as monsters goes it lacks context as a mechanic. How would they write it into a sensible scenario?
"Oh no, my Digimon is losing, better find a bar so I can do some pull-ups!"
Are they going to bulk up over the span of the series they look like early JoJo characters when their partners reach Ultimate?
On a related note, people were bringing up the idea, mostly based on the newly added bandage and the "ghost" in the title that all the protagonists could be dead, but I don't think that they would put a Vital bracelet on someone who isn't alive. Clearly that wouldn't even work.
Anyway, can the VB add actual value, actual substance to the anime? I am still skeptical about that.
They could limit the influence to the Digimon being influenced by the human's condition and attitude in general which would pretty much the same as usual partnerships and that point it would be promotion for the sake of promotion and the true danger of that concept is that they might go the next step and turn it into some contrived "this will solve all problems" plot device when it doesn't make any sense.
I remember vividly when Digimon Next pulled the Digimon Twin out of nowhere as some super magical key to the rest of the story and it was literally one of the most cringeworthy, on-the-nose marketing stunts we've seen in the franchise, it was just so blatant and intrusive. And it was made even worse by happening right after the Manga had built up steam and delivered some really great chapters... and then this slap in the face.
Imagine the Last Supper but Jesus takes the apostles to McDonalds® and gets them all Happy Meals®, that's what it felt like; And I wouldn't want Ghost Games to feel like that.
I think on the whole Ghost Game still looks promising and by that I mostly mean that the character design doesn't look obnoxious or childish.
There's certainly anticipation but undoubtedly the best part about it so far was the uncertainty at the time of the first leak.
Sleuthing around, checking four sources and hints of either legitimacy or a hoax was amazing and exciting. It goes to show how some of the best experiences with a franchise have basically nothing to do with what the franchise or its creators actually do or intend.
And the reactions of people during that period also lend interesting perspectives about what expectations and standards we have about fan-work and official work and much else.
In the end I'm glad it wasn't a hoax but if you really think about it, an actual season of Digimon is nothing more than an incredibly elaborate hoax fabricated by hundreds of people at Toei and Bandai.