Digimon Partners interview with Digimon Ghost Game director Masatoshi Chioka

(Full title: “Digimon Ghost Game broadcast commemoration special project: Interview project with series director Masatoshi Chioka-san!”)

A translation of an interview posted on the Digimon Partners website on November 14, 2021 with Digimon Ghost Game director Masatoshi Chioka, featuring responses to user-submitted questions.

Digimon Ghost Game is currently being broadcast every Sunday at 9:00 AM.
> Click here for the official website
Thank you for sending in many questions and comments to our recruitment post the other day.
> Click here for article [Request for questions] Digi Communication Article
We selected several questions from the article, presented them to series director Masatoshi Chioka-san, and got answers from him!
Now, we’re presenting them to the public!

About the story

Q: When putting the story together, did you reference any real-life urban legends or literature? (From ⚡Netfa⚡-san)
A: We didn’t refer to “urban legends” in themselves as much as we did the framework and structure of the story. If we used existing urban legends without changing them up, I do feel the audience would already be familiar with them, but in the end, they wouldn’t match up well with the actual profiles of each Digimon. So we’re trying to incorporate the concept of “urban legends”, how they spread, and the origins of such folklore in such a way that their style and way they’re solved will fit.

Q: How did you decide on the characterization and particular skills for our current protagonist, Hiro? (From Hibari★-san)

A: We wanted to make him a bit of an unprecedented character, so while he’s not a poorly-behaved child, we focused on making him more of the outdoors-y type, who takes interest in all kinds of things and has initiative. This goes for his father as well, but we made Hiro because we thought it would be good to have a somewhat unconventional character. We didn’t set his exact skillset in stone from the get-go, but we had the staff members exchange opinions about what kind of things would be fun for him to do in the course of the story, so that there’s room for the audience to take an interest in him. In the era Hiro lives in, electronic locks have already become standard, so things like lockpicking would be “old-school”. We’re working on the story by combining those kinds of elements.

About the worldbuilding and lore

Q: In the real world, Digimon cannot be seen by ordinary people unless they’re properly materialized, and people who can’t see them can’t be affected by their powers, so does this mean that Digimon like Clockmon and Mummymon are temporarily able to be seen by ordinary people under certain conditions and use their powers on them? (From Kojikoji-san)
A: We can’t reveal the secret behind it right now, so please look forward to more about it in the actual series broadcast (laughs).

Q: Do you have any plans for some particularly scary story developments or scenes from here on out? Also, is there a particular reason why the characters are of middle school age for this series? (From Ameame-san)
A: I think each audience member will find different things to be scary, but we’re going to continue working on making scenes and story portions that will frighten you, so please look forward to it. We had the kids be middle school age because we felt that they wouldn’t be able to handle “fear” if they were too young. The protagonists need to have the strength to keep pushing on forward even in spite of their fear, so we felt that kids from middle school would be the right age for it. That’s how important “fear” is to this series.

Q: In the first episode, when we saw a smartphone screen in one scene, it seems that they’re using 7G networks, so what specific year is this world from? What kind of technological things can they do with 7G now? (From Boro-san)

A: It’s not something we can say in terms of specific numerical years, but we hope you can see it as “somewhat in the near future” where 7G has now become prevalent. It’s a world where holograms have been developed, so large pieces of data such as hologram signs are used to communicate things through their displays, and IoT* has considerably permeated into society. There’s also a hidden piece of lore that they’d developed so-called “3D TVs”, but they were hard to look at and didn’t really catch on in households…(laughs).
*IoT: “Internet of Things”. Refers to “things” such as automobiles and home appliances utilized by being directly connected to the Internet without needing to go through a personal computer.

Q: I’m interested in the fact that Gammamon and his evolutionary forms that have been revealed so far are named in relation to “stars and outer space”! Is there any reason for combining these themes of ghosts and space? (From Zero-san)

A: I happen to personally like things related to space and science fiction, so whenever I start something new, I end up thinking about space. When I was thinking about Gammamon, I saw that he had three horns, so I thought of “gamma” in the sense of “three” from “alpha, beta, gamma”. Then I brought in the space-related meaning of “gamma rays”, and proposed that “data from space came to Earth and became a Digimon in the Digital World”. Once we’d solidified Gammamon’s profile, I thought that the name of the protagonist should also be related to space, so we made some suggestions, and decided on “Amanokawa”1 and “Hiro”2. The same goes for his father “Hokuto”3. Bandai decided on the names for Gammamon’s evolutionary forms, but they were probably following that same line of thinking.

Q: Whenever something happens like Clockmon stealing time from a student or a scribble causing things to go strange, you can see a ring coming out of it. Is this ring supposed to be “something that appears when a Hologram Ghost causes something”? (From Luna☆Reni-san)

A: We also had this in Digimon Frontier, but it’s meant to be something digital that’s based on the idea of “DigiCode”. We hope you can watch what comes after this and imagine the reason it comes out and how it works.

About Chioka-san

Q: What is Digimon to you, Chioka-san? In what ways are you thinking about reflecting that in this series? (From Okaza-san)
A: I like things like Godzilla and Gamera, and even after 20 years, I still get excited at feeling the potential of “giant monsters”. I’ve been involved with the Digimon series ever since I was an assistant director4, so I’ve been studying it deeply. 20 years ago, Digimon came from a time when digital technology was just being introduced into the animation production process, and it was an era when we were able to try out new challenges by creating images with digital technology. I hope Ghost Game will be able to express new ways of expressing images even in this current era where digital technology has become a standard tool for producing animation.

Q: What comes first to mind when you think of “digital” and “ghosts”? (From Konto-san)
A: For “digital”…probably things like “digital clocks” or “CDs”. For digital clocks, I don’t mean the ones with LCD panels, but the panels that flutter when they change to display the time. I think that was the type I first saw (laughs). For “ghosts”, it would be the movie Ghostbusters. Like Marshmallow Man (laughs). Ghost Game is a horror series, but I actually really like comedy works. In the early 1980s, they were starting to really pack special effects into video footage, and I really love all of the science fiction works from that era. For instance, Alien, The Return of the Living Dead, or Tron. Or adventure works like Flight of the Navigator or The Last Starfighter. I loved science fiction and fantasy works, so I think my directorial style and way of thinking about things are influenced by those kinds of works. Actually, I’m not really good with pure horror works and get scared off by them, so things like Ju-On will get me to have to stop the video even just with TV commercials for them (laughs). I don’t dislike them, so I’ll sometimes go to see them, but…

Q: Do you have a favorite cute Digimon, a favorite cool Digimon, or a Digimon you’d like to have as a partner? (From Ao-san)

A: I love Lopmon. My first time doing direction for storyboarding was episode 48 of Digimon Tamers, and at the time I was in charge of the scene where Shaochung has Lopmon evolve with a Card Slash. It was really cute, and I have deep memories of making an evolution scene. As for “cool Digimon”, they’re all cool, so I can’t just choose one (laughs). As for a Digimon I’d like to have as a partner…Terriermon and Lopmon would be fun to be with every day. Gammamon, Angoramon, and Jellymon were made to be Digimon that I would have fun with if I could be around them. Jellymon would make every day fun, but she’d also cause horrible things to happen (laughs).

Q: Do you have any particular preferences, routines, or favorite work tools during your everyday work? (From Zero-san)
A: It’s not quite a routine, but whenever I’m feeling particularly fired up, I put on a bandana. In Digimon Adventure, they had a character based on me who was wearing a bandana (laughs).5

After reading everyone’s comments

I’m very happy to see that everyone is enjoying the charm and story developments of this new Digimon series that is different from anything we’ve had before. We’re going to continue working hard so that you can experience seeing Digimon and their stories that you haven’t seen before. Thank you for your support.

–Thank you very much, Chioka-san!
We will be awarding an autographed poster to selected winners from those who sent in questions, inquiries, and comments! Winners will be contacted separately, so please look forward to it!
We look forward to your continued support of Digimon Ghost Game!

Episodes 1 and 2 currently available for free
Episode 1: The Sewn-lip Man
Episode 2: The Mystery of the Museum

Translator's notes
  1. “Amanokawa” (天ノ河) is a variant spelling of the Japanese word for the Milky Way. []
  2. Hiro’s name uses the kanji “宙” and means “air” or “space”, and is present in the word “outer space” (宇宙). []
  3. Hokuto’s name 北斗 is Japanese for the Big Dipper. []
  4. Director Chioka served as an assistant director on Adventure and Adventure 02, making his episode directorial debut in Tamers and serving thereafter on Frontier, Savers, and Appmon. His extensive history with the Digimon series was a prominent advertising point for Ghost Game. []
  5. The character “Chioka”, who appears in Adventure and Adventure 02 as a subordinate of Yamato’s father, is visually based on Director Chioka. The character’s co-worker “Sakurada” is based on Hiroyuki Sakurada, producer for Ghost Game. []

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