Digimon and Pokémon were both released in the late 90s. It's no secret that Pokémon was released first in 1996. Thanks to Nintendo's marketing strategies, Pokémon quickly became a household name. Gamers felt the overwhelming need to "Catch 'Em All," collect all of the gym badges and defeat Team Rocket. Anime lovers both became highly invested in the adventures of Ash Ketchum, who still dreams of becoming the world's best Pokémon Trainer.
Digimon was released one year after Pokémon. Fans had already given their hearts to Nintendo's series of portable monsters. After hearing about Bandai's new series, many automatically assumed it was a rip-off. Faithful Pokémon fans believed that Bandai was trying to market off of the popularity of Nintendo's new series. Many ended up changing their minds once they watched the more serious Digimon cartoon on Fox Kids.
Both series do share several similarities. Although Digimon isn't a complete rip-off of Pokémon, there are some moments in the series that would make anyone think twice. Nintendo and Bandai wanted to become the very best at marketing to children. Bandai just focused more on creating a handheld for boys, while Pokémon is more open to all ages. It's not a huge surprise that Pokémon has gone on to become a series that is loved by both young and old of all genders.
For a series that is considered a blatant rip-off, Digimon did many things much better than Pokémon. Our list compiles what Digimon did much better than Pokémon, but also what could be considered a copy.
20 Did Better: More Accessible To Children
Tamagotchi were digital keychain pets. They became incredibly popular with young children. If you raised your egg with love and care, it might turn into an adorable creature. Bandai decided that they didn't like the primary function of raising a "baby" pet. They soon developed a similar toy called Digimon. These were toys that anyone could buy and take on-the-go. Unlike Pokémon, kids only had to buy a digital device for under $30. They didn't need to buy a Game Boy handheld console plus the Pokémon game, which could equal over $100. Bandai made Digimon was more accessible to children, unlike Pokémon.
19 Ripped Off: We Need An Egg-Splanation
Pokémon all start off their lives in colorful eggs. In the first Season, Misty took care of an unknown egg until it hatched into Togepi. The new Pokémon knew that Misty watched over it the whole time, and shared an unbreakable bond with her.
Digimon's creatures are also born from eggs, even though they are digital creatures.
The egg must be cared for before it hatches into an unknown creature. Bandai could have developed a more futuristic method of hatching a new Digimon lifeform but had to choose eggs. It's no surprise that this is a reason many Pokémon fans consider Digimon a rip-off.
18 Did Better: Don’t Expect Plot Armor
The Pokémon anime series has been ongoing since the late 90s. The series always features Ash Ketchum and his loyal Pikachu. They come across two new companions, have a few adventures, Ash loses the Pokémon Championship, and the cycle repeats itself.
Digimon actually has a set story for each new season. Seasons 1 and 2 are intertwined. The first batch of kids from the beginning are now older. They help the kids in the second series. At the end of each Digimon season, their story concludes, and a new one begins in the next season. Fans actually feel some tension since they know the story won't start with the same protagonist from the previous series.
17 Ripped Off: Both Have Monstrous Roots
Pocket Monsters was originally released in Japan by Nintendo. After seeing how successful the game was, they decided to bring it over to North America. The name of the series was changed to Pokémon. Devoted fans of the series always knew the original title was localized for North American audiences. This may be a reason why they decided that Digimon was a rip-off. Digimon's title is also a shortened version of the Japanese title Digital Monsters. Both titles use the word "Monsters" and have the suffix "-mon." These may appear to be small similarities, but it's enough for some to consider Digimon a copy.
Artwork by SELT0N
16 Did Better: Their Stories End
In many children's stories, the characters remain the same age during the entire duration of the series. Pokémon's Ash has remained a ten-year-old boy for over ten years. He will continue to be ten until Nintendo decides the same formula isn't working anymore.
Digimon allowed their child characters to grow older and become adults.
Bandai wasn't afraid to make their characters grow up. In Season Two, we see the children of Season One as teenagers. By the end of the season, everyone has grown up, had children, and even possibly gotten married to their childhood sweethearts. Digimon has a happy finale for their characters, unlike Pokémon.
15 Ripped Off: Humans Are The Real Villains
In Pokémon, Ash and his friends befriend their loyal pets. To these good guys, Pokémon should be befriended and protected. Team Rocket thinks differently. Jessie and James want to kidnap Pikachu for their boss, Giovanni. This villain believes that Pokémon are to be used as soldiers instead of as pets.
Digimon's villains are similar. In Season two, the Digimon Emperor uses Dark Rings to enslave creatures. He believes that not only should the Digital World be under his command, but also all Digimon. The Digimon Emperor forces his enslaved creatures to hurt the heroes.
14 Did Better: No Collateral Damage
The Digi-Destined children were transported from Summer Camp into the Digital World. In this land, there are few modern luxuries. The kids have to travel through dangerous environments on foot to make their way home. Since these battles can't hurt innocent bystanders or accidentally demolish buildings, it means that Digimon can go all out when they fight. The battles are not restricted to land. Digimon can fight anywhere in the Digital World without worrying they might hurt someone. The Digi-Destined stay close by to their friends, even though being eliminated in the Digital World means disappearing from the real world. These kids also know that the battling monsters are more interested in destroying each other than humans.
13 Ripped Off: Digital Evolutions
In the Pokémon games, it can take hours or weeks to level up your strongest characters. Once your Pokémon meet the requirements, they can evolve into more powerful forms. These evolutions are essential if you want to defeat tough gym leaders and eventually, complete the game.
Digimon also focuses on evolving with the help of your partner.
Bonds don't happen overnight. It also takes hard work to ensure your Digimon meets the requirements to evolve. There are multiple evolution paths your creatures can transform. To most fans, this process seems similar to Pokémon. Some may accuse the Digimon of ripping off the evolution process.
12 Did Better: More Risky Battles
Pokémon has a more structured set of rules. The Pokémon Championships and Gym Challenges have set guidelines with penalties. Break them, and the trainer will be forced to leave the field. Battles outside the battlefield also have unwritten rules. If a Pokémon is injured, trainers can stop the fight and take them to a Pokémon Center. Opponents are often kinder and won't try to destroy another's Pokémon.
In Digimon, the DigiDestined primarily battle within the Digital World. Their battles may occur at any time, so Digimon have to be ready. When Digimon do fight, there are no rules. They fight until they're too injured to continue. Some may even fight until they're eliminated.
11 Ripped Off: Almost Like Looking Into A Mirror
The world of Pokémon contains several different creatures. Many of them are combinations of animals, such as the "electric mouse," Pikachu. Meowth also resembles a cat with a few golden accessories. Charmander looks similar to a dinosaur: the brontosaurus.
When Digimon was released, many accused Bandai of ripping-off the adorable characters of Pokémon. While Pokémon has a white cat-like creature named Meowth, Digimon also has a white cat-like character named Gatomon. Digimon's Agumon is a small, orange dinosaur-like monster that is very similar to Pokémon Charmander. There's no doubt that some of the creatures from Digimon look like Pokémon characters.
10 Did Better: Communication Is Important
The majority of Pokémon characters can't speak in words humans can understand. Their form of languages saying their names in different tones. Still, humans can't understand everything their Pokémon are saying. The only character that can talk throughout most of the series is Meowth.
In Digimon, all of the digital monsters can speak in human languages.
Not only can they speak, they understand basic communication and have human-like emotions. These creatures may not know slang or about the modern world, but most of them are open to learning. Digimon fixes the frustration of understanding what a Pokémon is trying to say.
9 Ripped Off: Overpowered Devices
Professor Oak first gave the PokéDex to Ash in the first episode, but all Trainers of exceptional skill have one. The PokéDex contains information about all of the Pokémon in their world. Trainers can learn where certain Pokémon like to roam, along with their background information. It's a handheld device that can be carried anywhere.
Digimon also has an all-in-one tool called the Digital Device, or Digivice. This device contains information about Digimon, data storage, and even radar. DigiDestined can also use this device to help evolve their Digimon.
Both series contain an overpowered device that gives its trainers the upper-hand in battle.
8 Did Better: No Hoarding Monsters
The tagline of the Pokémon series is "Gotta Catch 'Em All!" The series emphasizes catching as many Pokémon as possible. Unfortunately, it's not possible to carry around all of those monsters. Trainers can only carry six Pokéballs at once in the game. Any extra Pokémon are sent to the Pokémon Center until the trainer needs them one day.
In the world of Digimon, DigiDestined are only assigned with one partner. This partner will remain with them for the entire series. They don't switch out with other Digimon. The DigiDestined have to learn how to support their partners. The Digimon and their partners may fight at first, but they forge an unbreakable bond.
7 Ripped Off: Existed Outside Of The Game
The very first episode of the Pokémon anime series debuted in 1997. Young viewers were captivated by Ash, Misty, and Brock's adventures in the Kanto region. Ash was well on his way to earning every gym badge and becoming a Pokémon master.
Two years later, Digimon Adventures debuted on Fox Kids that would compete with Pokémon.
The show featured seven kids who were trapped in the Digital World. They also worked with cute animal-like creatures to overcome their enemies. Both animated series was targeted towards children. The showrunners hoped that children would become so interested in Digimon that they would rush to buy their merchandise, just like Pokémon.
6 Did Better: Being The Best Isn’t Everything
Pokémon has focused on the journeys of Ash and Pikachu for over a decade. Ash has remained a youthful 10-year-old kid who hasn't changed much.
Digimon is a much more serious show. The original seven DigiDestined were all going through tough issues. The leader, Tai, is coping with almost causing his sister's passing when he was younger. Joe had to decide if he wanted to follow family tradition and become a doctor or follow his own path. The characters all have a hidden issue that they bring into the Digital World. By working together, they manage to overcome their problems and emerge as stronger people.
Meanwhile, Ash remains the same kid who wants to be the best Pokémon trainer.
5 Ripped Off: Double the Profit
Pokémon immediately began releasing two different versions of the same game. One game might have a different unique Pokémon. This encouraged young fans to play trade with their friends or buy another copy of the game. Pokémon has continued to release dual versions of their games to this day,
Not long after, Digimon jumped in on the trend. In 2007, Bandai began releasing dual versions of their games. The first set of releases was Digimon World: Dusk and Dawn, followed by Digimon Story: Super Xros Wars Red and Blue. These games also encouraged trading and buying additional copies of the game.
4 Did Better: Evolution Isn’t Permanent
Evolving your Pokémon is a big deal. They must reach a certain level and be taught the right moves. In some cases, you must find the correct stones if you want your Pokémon to evolve into a specific type.
Once a Pokémon evolves, there is no turning back.
They remain in their evolved forms forever.
In the Digital World, evolutions also follow specific paths. Digimon can evolve with the help of their human partner. These forms have varying ranges of power. These forms are used to take down more powerful enemies. After the battle, the Digimon return to their base forms, unlike Pokémon.
3 Ripped Off: Both Are Training Missions
The Pokémon anime series is all about Ash's journey into becoming a trainer. He has to know every skill his Pokémon have and how to utilize their powers in battle. One wrong move and his Pokémon could be defeated. If their injuries are serious, their Pokémon will be sent away to Nurse Joy for help.
Digimon also has similar themes. The DigiDestined are young children who can command the Digimon. They use devices to aid their Digimon in battle. With a DigiDevice, the DigiDestined can lend their energy to help Digimon evolve. Both Pokémon and Digimon's children train their partners to win in a fight.
2 Did Better: For The Greater Good
Pokémon the animated series focuses on Ash and his friends. They all have unique goals, such as becoming a Fashion Coordinator, Gym Leader, or even getting back their property. Ash wants to be the best Pokémon Trainer. Their goals are ultimately to make their lives better. They aren't helping the world become a better place.
Digimon's storyline is much more serious. In the first season, the DigiDestined must escape the Digital World and return home. Season two shows their return to Earth, only to have their country invaded by a digital threat. The DigiDestined often face off against evil in the animated series, and not just in a feature film. Their efforts are to save Earth with less focus on fulfilling personal goals.
1 Ripped Off: A Story For Children
Ash Ketchum is a 10-year-old boy who leaves home to become the world's best Pokémon trainer. He's eventually joined by 10-year-old Misty and 15-year-old Brock. After he parts ways with his companions, he is joined by children around his age. The adults are often public servants like Officer Jenny and Nurse Joy.
Digimon also focuses on making children the star of the show.
The DigiDestined are all children whose ages range from 8-years-old to 11-years-old. The characters do age over time, but the protagonists of each season remain young. Bandai may have seen success with the young protagonists of Pokémon and decided to do something similar with the Digimon anime series.