Even though the Digimon Adventure reboot is just as much a story about kids journeying to a wondrous digital world of imagination and monsters, the series has incorporated elements of our world. For instance, workers’ needs for unions and how information systems really control the modern world. To no surprise, the most recent episode also happened to tell an interesting real-world tale in animated form.
“Mon-Mon Park in the Fog” isn’t quite the show’s foray into commentary on the ongoing covid-19 pandemic that’s forced certain kinds of businesses to close down. But the episode’s plot features a number of beats (and a new character) that makes it seem very likely that the show’s creative team’s been reading the news along with everyone else.
Having recently encountered the Digital World’s equivalent to a highway rest stop fast food restaurant and helped the employees figure out a way to introduce potato-based products to their menu, the Digidestined have since moved on in search of both new adventures and relaxation of a different sort. “Mon-Mon Park in the Fog” opens as brother Yamato and Takeru wander off to find food for the rest of the group and immediately break the most basic common sense rules one should stick to when adventuring around in unknown dimensions. As a strange mist rolls around the boys while they push deeper into a forest they’ve never encountered, neither of them stops to consider whether the mist in the Digital World—a place where they’ve narrowly avoided death multiple times—might be dangerous. Being kids with the uncanny ability to evade danger, though, the siblings manage to make their way through the trees, and their communication devices begin to fail them just as they stumble upon what appears to be an abandoned amusement park.
The episode doesn’t go into exact detail about what the titular amusement park’s larger significance is in terms of how the Digital World’s constructs generally reflect real-world things like, say, the systems that keep track of how many people are in theme parks. But Mon-Mon Park’s emptiness and the oppressive fog surrounding the place make it obvious that it isn’t safe to venture into alone. Of course, Yamato and Takeru do just that partially because one of the last happy memories they both have from the time before their parents’ divorce takes place on a day they spent together at an amusement park as a family. That same nostalgia is what keeps the kids rather clueless when Opossumon—a Digimon that bears a much stronger resemblance to a mouse even though it’s actually a possum, and not even a real opossum (Digimon’s silly)—floats in with a fistful of balloons and insists that they stay a while.
Though it could be purely coincidental, Opossummon’s desperate pleas for the children to hang out in its abandoned amusement park that’s been beset with a mysterious fog calls to mind the closure of Disney’s theme parks the world over last year as the (still ongoing) covid-19 pandemic made it unsafe for people to congregate in large groups. While showing the kids around, he insists that Mon-Mon Park’s mascot is the massive statue of a Monzaemon, a stuffed bear-like Digimon, but this episode’s framing of Opossummon as a machiavellian, Mickey Mouse-like representative for the park is your first clue about the monster’s true intentions.
As casual as Opossummon is about how the Mon-Mon Park used to welcome in all kinds of friendly Digimon, it’s somewhat surprising when Takeru finds an injured Xiaomon who tells the children the truth about how Opossummon’s the cause of the park’s troubles. It’s common for Digimon villains to deliver some excellent monologues about their evil plans before the show’s heroes and their partner Digimon level up to save the day just in time for the credits, but Oposummon’s explanation of its motivations is rather inspired when you read “Mon-Mon Park in the Fog” as an unsubtle dig at the Walt Disney Company’s prominence in our real-world media landscape.
In true, the Monzaemon standing before the Mon-Mon Park is a kind of mascot, but one that hungers for the life force it’s able to draw from the helpless Digimon Opossummon kidnaps and drops into a behemoth “statue’s” gullet. Both Takeru and Yamato have witnessed multiple Digimon’s destructions at this point, and even participated in quite a few, but it still alarms the boys when Opossummon drops the Xiaomon into the Monzaemon’s (which is actually a WaruMonzaemon in disguise) void where it becomes trapped with the park’s other victims.
Opossummon’s whole schtick bears an uncanny resemblance to the way that Disney attempted to re-open Disneyland last summer despite the fact that mass vaccine distribution was not a thing at the time, the novel coronavirus was still actively spreading, and park employees legitimately feared that returning to work would endanger their lives. The fact that, through WaruMonzaemon, Oposummon’s ultimate objective was to consume everything in sight in the Mon-Mon Park’s name, reads a lot like Disney’s undeniable dominance within multiple branches of the entertainment industry, as does the way that the Digimon inside are seen being drained of their energy by parasitic tendrils.
Of course, Takeru and Matt are able to overpower Oposummon and WaruMonzaemon by the end of the episode because the pair of villains are small potatoes in the grand scheme of Digimon’s current arc that’s building to its proper big bad. Given the show’s track record, it’s very possible that its true villain could wind up being introduced in circumstances inspired by the past year’s events, and considering how wild a year it’s been, that entity would probably end up giving the kids an all-new kind of hell to grapple with.
The Digimon reboot is now streaming on Crunchyroll.
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