Now, when it comes to franchises about a range of odd little pocket monsters (some of which are thirty-foot sea monsters that could wipe out an entire village with just their pinky toe, but ‘pocket monsters’ is the term regardless) fighting each other, most would tell you that Pokémon is the biggest deal around.
This is freaking Pokémon we’re talking about, after all. The Pokémania of the mid-to-late 90s is still one of the greatest media phenomena the world has ever seen.
Satoshi Taijiri created the franchise back in 1995, and… well, we all know the impact this series had when it first arrived in our schools, lives and general brain-spaces. Don’t go getting too uppity, though, Pokémon. You aren’t the only big monster-catching name around.
Digimon first arrived on the scene in 1997, right when Pokémon was still establishing itself worldwide (Pokémon Red and Blue weren’t released globally until the following year). Of course, as people have repeatedly noted over the years, it’s a very similar concept, but with an emphasis on the digital world. A parallel digital world, where the ‘Digidestined’ fight alongside Digimon to defeat the evil ‘mon and humans who threaten this high-tech realm.
While Digimon never quite reached the dizzying heights of success that Pokémon has (about as darn high as the Chrysler Building, give or take a couple of feet), it’s still a big darn deal in its own right. Fans won’t want to miss our rundown of the most hilarious Digimon memes ever.
In the Pokémon series, fans will know, nobody ever stops prattling on and on about the importance of the Pokémon themselves. Just about every NPC you encounter will tell you something about the invaluable partnership between people and Pokémon. They’re allies, friends, trusted partners, work buddies, all of these sorts of things. It’s so cutesy it makes my crusty heart ache a little.
The whole concept of Pokémon battling negates this idea a little. Just ask the vast majority of Pokémon players, who will mercilessly toss a ‘mon aside because it doesn’t have absolutely perfect stats. It’s a ruthless world, all told.
What if they were perfectly happy there in the wild, and didn’t fancy being captured? Nobody thinks of that around here. At least the Digidestined are nice.
So, onto another issue we’ve already touched on: the controversial subject of creature designs. There are those who feel that Game Freak have long since lost their touch, that only the first generation of Pokémon designs were worth anything and nothing but trash has come afterwards. Literal trash, in Trubbish and Garbodor’s case.
Whether all of this Poké-bashing is warranted or not is up to your personal opinion. One thing nobody can deny is that Digimon took a totally different approach to its designs. Generally, Digimon more closely resemble the Elemental Heroes of Yu-Gi-Oh!, as opposed to the kinda sorta realistic animals that are the Pokémon way.
When you shoot for cool factor, you’ll sometimes try a little too hard, and it’ll show. If you try enough times, though, you’re sure to get it bang on at least some of the time. There are some fantastic-looking Digimon, don’t deny it.
Since the early days of Pokémon Red and Blue, two decades ago, this universal concept has been drummed into our consciousness: don’t sleep on something because it looks teeny and pathetic. Of course, this whole thing stretches all the way back to that most ancient of life lessons, don’t judge a book by its cover.
Why did you bother catching and raising that worthless Magikarp? Because it evolves into the formidable, crush your teeny human form into spam Gyarados, that’s why. The more irritating a Pokémon is to raise (ie Dratini to Dragonite), the more powerful they’ll be.
And so it is with Digimon. So it didn’t look like much at first? You just wait until it Digivolves, my friend. It’ll be a whole different kettle of fish then.
As is the case in any underdog situation, it’s always self-esteem boosting to point out the things you do have over your much more successful and handsome rival.
Say what you will about Digimon, then, but there’s one thing you can’t deny: these creatures have style. They may have tried a little too hard to pander to the cheesy notions of coolness and attitude that were everywhere in the 90s, but I think that all worked out in Digimon’s favor. These guys have weaponry mounted on their weapon-mounted weaponry. It’s dangerous and more than a little edgy, which is exactly what the 90s were all about.
Meanwhile, genwunners are complaining that Game Freak are losing their touch, designing things like the trash bag Pokémon (Trubbish) and the ice-cream-cone-with-a-face Pokémon (Vanilluxe).
Not convinced that Digimon brought us the cooler creature designs of the two? Well, why not feast your eyes on this little doozy here?
Behold: one of the most feeble, worthless Pokémon this side of Magikarp. Farfetch’d only exists to be a living joke (a reference to a popular duck and leek dish in Japan), and its stats live up to that reputation perfectly. In its original Pokémon form, this thing’s about as formidable as a one-legged arthritic kitten with a limp. After being given the Digimon treatment, though, just look at it.
When you can make even Farfetch’d look like Arnold Schwarzenegger wrapped up in Sylvester Stallone wrapped up in… everyone else in The Expendables movies, you know you’ve made all the right life decisions.
So, yes. As we’ve already covered, it seems totally unfair to have to pick your companion Digimon or Pokémon so early on. This isn’t a decision to take lightly, after all. A lot of these things start out lookin cutesy and innocent enough, but eventually develop into real beasts. Others, meanwhile, Have questionable final forms that totally weren’t worth the effort.
How can you know what you’re going to end up with? You can’t, that’s how. If I knew that this was what awaited at the end of a long Digivolving process, I might’ve been on board, but that’s the power of hindsight. All we can really do is get lumbered with whatever we’re lumbered with, and hope that everything works out in the end. It worked for darn Froakie, after all.
Let’s be real here for a moment. Much as the whole internet loves to spot the slightest mistake and land on it like a sumo wrestler, I’m going to be honest and say you can’t entirely blame this person.
Well, I suppose you could. I don’t know, I’m all conflicted. On the one hand, you’ve got a huge DIGIMON logo across the top there, in bold font and bright orange/yellow letters. So, yeah, there’s a case for a light dose of stupid here. On the other hand, though, Mimi does look very, very much like a Pokémon NPC. It’s sad that, for some uninformed onlookers, the two franchises are pretty well interchangeable.
Diehard fans, needless to say, will not stand for this. If you tried to pull this sort of thing, they’ll look at you like you personally roundhouse kicked their grandmas in the teeth.
Now, I’m no professional relationship guru. I’m not about to drop seven shades of pure Doctor Phil wisdom on you, but there are some things I do know. One of those things would be that shared interests are crucial in a relationship. You can’t share every interest, because that’s a one-way ticket to poopville as well, but some.
If you’re finding things difficult in this area, there comes a time when you’ve got to decide what’s true important to you. Is it your partnership, the rare and special bond that you’ve forged together, or is it your collection of Digi-figurines?
Personally, I’d have doubts about anybody who forces such ultimatums on you without valid reason. And besides, those figures are pretty sweet. Those big guys at the back? Nice.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. I’m drawing parallels between Digimon and Pokémon all over the darn place here. I hear you. I totally get it. Here’s the thing about that, though: It’s totally warranted, and it’s unavoidable really.
When you cut all of the impossible, fantastical shenanigans and really get right down to it, the two series share one big, key, central ideal. The meat of the whole thing is the empowerment of the hip young 90s kids watching. It’s relatable. You could be this young hero or heroine, we’re told. You’re freaking powerful.
How does Digimon present this concept to us? By showing the absolute fearless resolve of the Digidestined (well, sometimes). We’ve got no time for strategy or logic here, let’s just go barrelling towards that enormous beast.
If you’re not super well versed in either or both franchises, though, it isn’t always that easy. There are certain Digimon and Pokémon that could totally be from either universe, and fit in quite happily.
What’s the difference between Agumon and Charmander, though? Really? Let’s be frank here, you could swap them at birth and even their mamas wouldn’t know, except that Charmander’s hindquarters wouldn’t be on fire anymore. So it’s not always that simple.
But hey, let’s not get distracted by the joke within the joke here. This snarky meme is actually a little deeper than it might seem. Doraemon isn’t a Digimon or a Pokémon, but rather a robotic cat that features in the eponymous manga. A mainstay of Japanese culture, Doraemon and its series has existed in some form or another since 1969.
As we’ve already seen, Digimon are often much more mechanically-based than their Pokémon counterparts. This is primarily because they’re digital, obviously, which allows the creators to take all kinds of liberties. Game Freak has done some nutty things with their designs themselves, but they tend to stick to Pokémon with characteristics based o real-world animals.
By the same token, then, the Digimon creators can deviate from that too. Renamon is an Animal Digimon based on a fox (renard being the French word for fox), resembling Vulpix and Ninetales of the Pokémon series.
It is known to be a calm, collected and logical creature, not the frat party kindof guy/gal at all. As such, it’s usually to be found pulling this sort of face. Super serious is the Renamon way.
Renamon may be the Queen Victoria of Great Britain, we are not amused type, but that’s not to say that everyone’s a sour britches in the Digimon world.
Digimon, being a multimedia force in its own right, has done a bit of everything. It’s been a video game series, a trading card game, a movie series and a manga. Most importantly (as far as this particular meme is concerned), it’s been an anime. And you know what that means.
As a medium, anime isn’t known for its restraint. It’s known for hyper-stylized, flashy fighting, melodrama out the wazzoo, and, of course, hilarious facial expressions.
Which brings us to Davis here. I think he’s surprised. I’m not sure why, it’s just a feeling I’m getting. Perhaps because he’s dislocated his jaw like a boa constrictor.
As ardent followers of the anime will remember, there was that one episode of the Pokémon show where Ash and his buddies fell foul of a Safari Zone warden. For reasons presumably best known to himself, said guard proceeds to brandish a revolver at the friends. Needless to say, this whole affair wasn’t too well received, and was quickly censored.
Little Jimmy’s delicate eyeballs were spared the horrifying sight, but it wasn’t all that unusual in the grand scheme of things. Political correctness wasn’t a huge deal in recent years, compared to where we’re all at today. Just look at this Digi-dude right here. I think we can see a little of the ‘cartoons are too violent’ debate in action here. This thing’s just a gun on legs.
You know, it’s funny. In a lot of ways, as I say, Pokémon is seen as the ultimate and definitive pocket monster collecting series. Digimon is an also-ran, a pretender, a Crazy Frog Racer to Pokémon’s Mario Kart (this isn’t my personal opinion, you understand, because Crazy Frog Racer was appalling). It came just slightly later, it didn’t reach quite the same heights, and so there it is.
The fact is, though, as easy as the memes make it seem to confuse the two, they’re not as identikit similar as you might have been led to believe. Here’s a simple rule of thumb to tell the difference: if its name ends with ‘mon,’ it isn’t a Pokémon. It’s odd to think, especially almost a thousand Pokémon later, but it’s true.
Speaking of the inevitable connections between Digimon and Pokémon, let’s take a look at what has to be the most blatant of all: the whole digital monsters thing.
Since generation one, Pokémon’s PC boxes have been a much-debated, bizarre and bat-poop crazy topic. In gameplay terms, this is just a necessary mechanic that allows you to access all of your Pokémon quickly and easily and swap party members; all of those simple things that an RPG needs to function.
When you stop and think about it, though, the whole thing’s quite sinister. What’s actually going on in there? Where do they go? How do they just ‘become’ digital? It’s like the question of Poké Balls, but even more of a mind-messer-upper. It’s best to simply not think about it.
So, yes. That’s the life of the underdog in a nutshell. It’s like that feeling you get, when you have a sibling who’s far more intelligent, attractive, successful and rich than yourself (or so my sister tells me).
It’s completely and totally straight-up unfair. Why should Pokémon get all of the limelight? Let’s not forget all of the dangers, the perils, the bowel-looseningly terrifying calamities that the cast of Digimon have had to deal with. As befits an anime, there’s been no end of dizzying, ridiculous, melodramatic disasters in Digimon too. When the battles have been epic, they’ve been epic in every possible sense of the word. So what’s going on here, world? Why do we just not show these guys the appreciation they deserve?
Oh, Steve. You’re so predictable. I knew you’d be a Pokémon guy. I just knew it.
So, yes. Up to this point in the Pokémon vs Digimon debate, we’ve had a pretty darn bleak outlook on the latter. In terms of popular culture, and the popular opinion, Digimon just cannot compete. Sometimes, however, that’s a good thing.
If there’s one thing that any underdog can always count on, it’s the cult faithful. The small but dedicated band, who have made movies like Donnie Darko as iconic as they are today. They may lack in numbers, but they totally make up for all of that in raw enthusiasm. You do not mess with a dedicated Digimon fan. You just do not. They go straight for the jugular, like rabid wolverines.
Now, as all of this so far has shown, it’s easy to be a Pokémon fan. Who isn’t? They’re everywhere. Just look at Pokémon Go, and how it hit a whole generation straight in the soft, squishy and vulnerable nostalgia-parts. Kids, adults, families, everyone was in on the action. I saw a huge, tattooed dude with a neck thicker than his head howl with girlish joy, because he’d found a rare Dragonite.
Whichever franchise we’re talking about, there are always those people. The ones who put the fanatic in fan (yep, I know that’s not how that works, but stick with me here). When you become one of them, that never leaves you. There you’ll be almost two decades later, loving it all over again.
We all know how difficult relationships can be. Who doesn’t have their share of horrifying, humiliating and hilarious dating stories to share? When the average group of twentysomething friends meet these days, the whole thing plays out like a twisted episode of Sex and the City.
Part of this is due to all the additional issues we have to deal with now, like Tinder, social media lurkers and all of those sorts of things. And then there’s the dreaded friendzone, a phenomenon that didn’t actually have a name until relatively recently.
Many of us have our own friendzone stories to tell, too, and they’ll generally center around one key aspect: how darn difficult it is to escape. Apparently, in the Digimon world, things aren’t quite so hopeless.
As I’ve already said about the underdog, it’s the passion of supporters that really counts. Outnumbered but never outgunned, as the saying goes. When you know that little is expected of you, it can be motivating in an odd way. You’re driven to excel (not driven to spontaneously make a spreadsheet, you know what I mean), to prove the naysayers wrong.
Here’s a snarky case in point. You might not know the words, but who cares. Do sports teams care that their fans sound like 50,000 constipated donkeys when they’re singing? No, because they’re feeling the love and support. That’s what’s really important here, and that goes for just about every aspect of our lives, when it comes right down to it.
Man, was this meme deeper than it seemed at first.
Now, don’t get me wrong here. I can appreciate Pokémon’s gym badges. I most certainly can, and don’t let anybody ever tell you that I can’t. I once saw a range of perfectly-made metal replicas of them, and if I could track them to a store, I’d wear them proudly all year round. Because I’m super cool, that’s why.
While I dig Digimon as well, I’ll be frank and say that the franchise hasn’t been as influential on my life as Pokémon has. As such, there’s something I find a little more mysterious and enigmatic about these crests.
Each generation of Pokémon games has had its own unique set of badges (bar Sun and Moon, which did away with gyms), but I’ve seen them all way too many times. The Digimon crests I’m much less familiar with.
Now, those rabid fans we’ve been speaking of? Often, they’re a good thing. They’re the early adopters, they generate word of mouth, and they don’t really concern themselves with any bad rap you might pick up along the way. Most importantly, though, they keep buying your stuff.
They’re important people for any business to have around, in short. Sadly, though, there’s a downside too. They have long, snarky and pernickety memories. If you’re going to have objects named things like Crest of Hope and Crest of Knowledge, and bearers thereof, then you’re really inviting this sort of thing to happen.
The meme-makers of the internet took this whole idea and ran with it. Of course, they did, that’s what they do. At least the Crest of Light came out of it all unscathed.
But hey, that’s nothing new. We all know how hilariously obnoxious fangirls and fanboys can be. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about a TV show, a games console or Justin Bieber, it’ll have its vehement defenders and they will often be completely infuriating.
The key to all of this, the most important thing to bear in mind, is not to provoke them. You don’t hit out with something incendiary, and you don’t just try to hurt them. They will call their allies, through the power of the internet, and it’s never pretty when that happens.
Why can’t we just let people enjoy things in peace? Why can’t the Digi-faithful stage mock fights in peace? I’m still waiting and hoping that my Hogwarts letter got delayed in the post by two decades, after all.
Here we are back on familiar ground again. Remember when there was all of that talk about the Wii U failing, because it just didn’t differentiate itself enough from the Wii? How bemused moms in games shops would be holding a Wii in one hand and a Wii U in the other, squinting like Mr. Magoo, trying to determine the difference between them?
It’s the same thing here, really. Earlier in this rundown, we saw the copy of Digimon that had been labelled Pokémon, and our eyes rolled so far back in our heads we could see our own squishy brain-meat.
It’s just the sad truth that these things will happen, though. For many, there’s nothing at all wrong here, and it’s the easiest mistake in the world to make.
But that’s just the way it is. When you boil it all the way down to the crusty unpleasantness at the bottom of the pan, the many similarities are all that remains. However you feel about either franchise, or both, you can’t get away from it.
It’s tough to be the runner-up. Super tough to be the one that’s released second, and so bears the weight of all the scrutiny, the they ripped off Pokémon jibes. Some ‘inspiration’ was taken, that’s inevitable in the circumstances, but there’s more to the whole thing than that.
Digimon offers a robust and interesting world, one that exists entirely separately from Pokémon. There’s no need to get competitive and finger-pointy, can’t we just appreciate both on their own merits? Well, of course we can’t, this is the internet.