This is a story about my quest for a Digimon I didn't know existed until late last year. Pinochimon, the Ultimate Puppet Digimon, a classic child's novel protagonist turned sinister. His puppet strings lead no where; he controls himself. He wields a revolver-style hammer that I assume can shoot you and hit you at the same time. And it’s pretty cute when trapped in a Digivice.
I’m new to Digimon. Besides the anime theme song, I really don’t know a thing about the franchise. During the 90’s when owning digital pets were the most popular, I owned a Tamogachi, although that didn’t last long when I dunked it in water. I knew of the Digimon anime, but I dismissed it as a knock-off Pokémon show and moved on. I’ve lived a very Digimon-free lifestyle.
But my spouse loved his Digimon, so much so that he still owns his original toy. 2017 was the 20th anniversaries for Tamogachi and Digimon, both created by the toy company Bandai. When the news broke of new digital pets, he immediately found some on Ebay. Not counting his original device, he now owns six. He gave one of them to me.
Love is weird, and being a good partner for someone is very difficult. He and I have been dating since 2014, and just recently got married at the end of December. Companionship means a lot. The traditional wedding spiel is about staying together despite sickness, money, general badness until death ends it. That’s certainly all true, but as Digimon taught me, being together is also about holding someone’s memories gently, and treasuring the fact that they let you see them.
I was hesitant to invest time on Digimon because I knew it would require a lot of my attention. With me at the healm, I knew digideath would be imminent. But I also knew that in my hands wasn’t just a digivice, but a small glimpse into my partner’s youth that he actively wanted to share with me. I couldn’t give up on myself so quickly, so I turned Digimon into a quest to please my husband and to maybe find my own Digimon to make my own memories.
It turns out there’s a lot of stuff that goes on in Digimon.
One major difference between the 20th anniversary digivices and the original is that the new versions let you tend to two Digimon at once, which is honestly a lot to handle for a diginovice. When I turned on the screen, one egg was already selected for me. My preselected egg was a dark-spotted Yoshi-like egg. Very cute. Before selecting a second egg, I looked at all the digimon available and searched for whichever looked the coolest. I came upon Pinochimon. His mischievous demeanor intrigued me, so he became my goal.
Now, with two eggs selected, I embarked on my Digimon Journey: The Quest for Pinochimon.
(Since I was so unfamiliar with Digimon, and disliked looking up monster names all the time, I decided to give each pet nicknames. I provided a word key to help readers figure out who the hell I’m talking about.)
Two Little Blobs are Botamon and Zurumon
A Bigger Blob is Koromon
Surfer fish is Gizamon
Poopmon is Numemon
Slimemaggeden is Raremon
Puppymon is Pagumon
Dragonmon is Ex-Tyranomon
Eventually, my eggs hatched and I had Two Little blobs staring at me through a tiny screen. The Little Blobs only lasted a few minutes before evolving into A Bigger Blob and Puppymon, both of which were incredibly cute, but ridiculously intimidating. For six hours I watched them diligently, wiping away poop, feeding them until their hearts were full, and training them until they were strong. I was a good digiparent!
Tending to digibabies was stressful because it requires more than simply feeding them and flushing their poop. There’s also training, and battling, and turning off the lights so they can sleep. But don’t feed them too much, because overfeeding is a care mistake. And don’t wait too long to tend to them, because that can be a care mistake. And don’t fight too much, because they can get wounded, and too many wounds can kill them (which is a fatal care mistake). It’s a lot of work to do everything perfectly, but luckily not every digimon needs perfection. It turned out picking Pinochimon’s route was perfect because it actually required me to screw up. And screw up I absolutely did.
Soon my digivice played a little jingle, and my babies transformed. Blob turned into Mohawk Fish, and Puppymon turned into Surfer Fish. I learned Mohawk Fish was Betamon, my partner’s favorite Digimon. I prided myself in getting Betamon, so much so that I made sure I knew his name. Betamon! It’s Betamon, everybody!
I tried hard to keep Betamon and the other one satisfied, but my schedule did not sync well with my digibabies. They slept at around 8 or 9 at night and woke up in the middle of the night, pooping themselves sick while I slept. Care mistakes piled up, and while I needed quite a few mistakes to follow Pinochimon’s evolution path, I still worried my little digibeasts would come to resent me.
After a day, Betamon and Surfer Fish transformed into to the ugliest pieces of shit I’d ever seen, lovingly nicknamed Poopmon and Slimemageddon. Players are rewarded these monsters when, basically, they really fuck up. I felt bad neglecting my pets (especially since most of my neglect was pure accident), but their presence meant I was following Pinochimon’s path perfectly. Technically, only Slimemageddon could evolve to Pinochimon, but clearly if I was careless with one monster, I was going to be careless with them all. That was my rationale for why Poopmon was along for the awful, awful ride.
Nothing changed much when they evolved. I fed them and cleaned them, and they continued to get sick at night. At the adult stage, digimon need thirty-six hours to evolve to their next stage. I patiently waited for the little tune, the next sign that I was done with the gross monsters and only one step away from getting the coveted Pinocchimon.
Well, Poopmon died. I admit, finding his little grave was jarring, especially with how jolly Slimemageddon hopped around, unaware (or maybe apathetic of that fact) that his roommate kicked the bucket a few feet away. “Well,” I thought, “At least Slimemegeddon isn’t dead. I need him to get Pinochimon!” A few hours later, Slimemageddon died next to two piles of shit. I’m still not entirely sure why he died, but I think he may have been sick for too long. Usually, mistakes reset after an evolution, but my understanding is that sickness doesn’t. So basically, I was doomed from the start.
I couldn’t stop myself from laughing at my horrendous job at tending to my digital pets. I swear I tried.
The death tune the digivice sings when a monster dies is high pitched, long, and grating. It doesn’t sound like music. It’s more like screaming, a long wail to remind you of your mistakes. “Did you even love me?” I hear it asking. I don’t have the heart to answer back.
I wiped the two graves off the screen and tried again. This time, I could select both eggs, so I picked the same egg that led to Pinocchimon, and another egg that led to King Etemon, another creepy puppet monster. I also changed the time on the device so it matched closely with my sleep schedule. I was ready for another attempt at being a Digital Master.
To make a long story short, they died again. That time, Slimemageddon did evolve to Dragonmon, the form right before Pinochimon, but he never made it past that . I think maybe I didn’t do enough battles with him. Even my partner couldn’t understand why they died again. I thought I followed the path perfectly, but maybe Digimon are not meant to be completely controlled.
Love has no digidestined route. I had fun, and I do want to try again, but I would never have attempted this without my husband, who I love and who I want to share memories with. Digimon is not like marriage at all. Digimon is all sickness and death until you restart and get a new egg. But I know those little eggs are special, in some way, because my husband loved them and me enough to say "I want to do this with you." Digimon hasn't taught me a thing about being a newlywed, but it's reminded me how precious and active memories are. They can evolve, with enough care, into new experiences with loved ones. I can't wait to have more in the future.