The nineties is remembered for many things, one of those being the sudden popularization of anime in the west. There was Cowboy Bebop, Dragon Ball Z, Neon Genesis Evangelion, and Sailor Moon. But out of all these shows, two would forever be locked together in bitter rivalry, leading to many heated debates and arguments on the playground, at comic book shops and arcades.
First there was Pokémon, which started out as pair of video games released for the original Game Boy in 1996. A year later it was adapted as an anime series focusing on novice Pokémon trainer Ash and his faithful Pikachu as he sets on a quest to catch as many Pokémon as he can, defeat as many gym leaders as he can find, and become a Pokémon Master. The franchise quickly took off with trading cards, games, toys and a bunch more merchandise.
Then came Digimon, and they made no hesitation to challenge Pokemon's dominance. Based on a series of Tamagotchi-like virtual pets, the franchise took off in 1999 with the release of the anime Digimon Adventure, which focused on Tai, his partner Agumon, and his friends from summer camp as they try to escape the Digital World. A video game was also released at this time called Digimon World, and the franchise eventually saw more animes, video games and even some movies.
Fans have been debating which series is better since 1999, and they continue to argue it even today. So in the grand tradition of "Kramer vs. Kramer," "Ali vs. Norton," and "Kasparov vs. Karpov," we bring you "Digimon vs. Pokémon" with some helpful fan made comics and memes as visual aids.
20 Before It Was Cool
When Pokémon X and Y introduced the concept of Mega Evolutions, fans were ecstatic. Pokémon that were already awesome before like Blaziken, Gardevoir and Charizard could momentarily go Super Saiyan, become more powerful and look even cooler than they already were, and then go back to the way they were once the battle has ended. That's awesome! Why didn't anyone think of this before?
Actually, someone did think about that before, and they did it long before Pokémon ever thought their idea up. The concept of Mega Evolving dates back to Digimon Adventure 02, and it referred to a rank that was somehow even more powerful than the Ultimate forms of the previous generation. Though Palidramon was initially the only one who could do it, by the time Digimon Adventure tri rolls around, all the original Digimon can reach this rank.
19 Someone Call PETA
The DigiDestined have a very special bond with their partnered Digimon. They feed them, talk to them, live with them. They help solve each other's problems and encourage each other, sometimes even training together to become stronger. Often times, the Digimon will become one of the DigiDestined's closest friends.
Ash and Pikachu have a special bond in Pokémon as well, but given the evidence seen in the anime as well as the video games, this friendship seems to be an exception, and not the norm. Every trainer seems obsessed with catching every single Pokémon they find, and they are not above beating that Pokémon into submission until they join their team. Sure, trainers may have one or two favorite Pokémon, but if they're trying to catch 'em all, they're not going to bother making friends with each and every one of them.
18 Much Power. So Deaden.
It very much make sense this on. I dont know wat the confuse about.
In all seriousness, this one makes sense. It's really clear. MetalGreymon is made of metal, and Pikachu is an electric mouse. When he uses the thunderbolt, MetalGreymon gets zapped. You can tell this by looking at his eyes. In the cartoons, we've seen that Pikachu can often go up against Pokémon that it's much smaller than, and will often win against them despite his size. This big guy might seem intimidating with his claws and teeth, but he's just no match for Pikachu. He's not even a ground type... so really, how could he hurt Pikachu?
17 Which Has The Better Anime?
Many Digimon fans remember the original Digimon Adventure anime fondly. Despite some corny jokes from the dub, it was actually pretty dramatic for a kid's cartoon. Each one of the DigiDestined experience quite a bit of character growth. The show was also pretty suspenseful and even dark, with the kids frequently being put in danger, and even some close allies were killed off in some truly heartbreaking moments.
Pokémon, on the other hand, was on the completely different end of the spectrum. Outside of the movies, no one's life was ever really in danger, and the show's villains (Team Rocket) quickly became comic relief. And outside of the first few episodes of Ash learning to become a proper Pokémon trainer, he never really experiences any growth, in his character or physically, leaving character arcs for any new companions he picks up on his journey.
16 Digimon Vs. Pokémon: The Next Generation
Everyone remembers how great the first generation of Digimon and Pokémon were. That's an indisputable fact. They were perfect. Our childhoods say so. Even so, the true test for a franchise's longevity lies in whether or not they can come up with great new characters. Digimon seems to have nailed it with this one, as they have a Gundam-inspired warrior of shininess in their newest generation that would make any mecha fan jealous.
Pokémon fans, meanwhile, get Trubbish, a Pokémon that's literally garbage. Don't get me wrong, they've had some pretty cool newer Pokémon as well, but after more than 500 creatures, it seems they're starting to run out of ideas. I'm sure with the next generation of Pokémon we'll see a computer Pokémon, a lamp Pokémon, a cup of ramen one, and some more based on whatever was lying around the offices of Pokémon's creative department at the time.
15 Just The Tip Of The Diglett
Here we have Ash running into what appears to be a run of the mill Diglett, only to presumably get rekt by what appears to be a very powerful Digimon. As ridiculous as this is, it does bring up one of the greater mysteries of the Pokémon universe: what does the rest of Diglett look like? In all the cartoons and video games, all we ever see of the Pokémon is their head poking out of the ground.
What secrets lie beneath the ground? Maybe the rest of Diglett really is much larger than we anticipated. What if all the Diglett's really are powerful Digimons from another world, just hiding beneath the earth, biding their time, waiting for the perfect time to strike?
Better train even harder, Ash.
14 So Many Forms
When it comes to Pokémon evolution, things are pretty simple and straightforward. Most Pokémon get two or three evolutionary stages, with the possibility of another stage being added in future generations. The addition of Mega Evolutions was another interesting touch, but it's still straightforward. The Pokémon with the most dynamically diverse evolutions, though, is Eevee, who can currently evolve to seven different Pokémon depending on what kind of rock it's touching.
Digimon, however, have much more complicated evolutions, with some of their stages not looking so much like a line, but a tree. Here we see Veemon, one of the Rookie Digimon from Digimon Adventure 02. Like most Digimon, he has the standard evolutionary stages of Champion, Ultimate and Mega, but he's also one of the few Digimon who can use Digi-Eggs to "Armor Digivolve" into various other forms, as well as fuse with other Digimon into even more powerful creatures.
13 Redesigning Your Old Favorites
It's been about twenty years since Digimon and Pokémon were at the height of their popularity, so what's the best way to get all those grown 90s kids as well as newer generations interested in these old properties again? How about we redesign all their favorite monsters, so they have something familiar but still new to experience? That seems to be the idea behind Digimon Adventure tri and Pokémon Sun and Moon.
But while Digimon went for a more subtle, realistic look for their creatures, Pokémon seemed to go in the completely opposite direction with their Alolan forms of original Pokémon. From rainbow-colored Muks to palm tree-sized Exeggutors to Dugtrios with Matthew McConaughey hair, the Alolan variants can be kinda weird. Fans seemed to be into them, though, as Sun and Moon quickly became one of the best-selling games of 2016 and the Pokémon franchise as a whole.
12 Fight Someone Your Own Size
If you think about it, Ash really is kind of a jerk. He goes from town to town, looking for the next gym leader or strong opponent to fight. When he finally does find a Pokémon trainer who can put up a decent fight, he almost immediately challenges them. Then he defeats them with just one thunderbolt from his super powered Pikachu, laughs in their face, takes the badge, and leaves for the next town to do it all over again.
Sora, on the other hand, is a very nice and polite girl who only fights when she needs to, or in this case, when some punk kid challenges her. Pikachu is admittedly pretty strong, but even he'd have trouble taking on a giant bird monster the size of a house. Ash might be better off just apologizing for once.
11 Digivolve Into Weapon-Of-Mass-Destruction-Mon
Pokémon vary depending on type and generation, but most of them seem to follow the same central design. You take a real world animal or plant, change the color scheme and give it some elements to associate it with whatever type it's supposed to be (plant on Bulbasaur's back, flame on Charmander's tail, etc.), and make it look cute and adorable (or cool and intimidating, if it's an evolved Pokémon).
Rookie Digimon seem to follow those same rules, but once they go into Champion or beyond, things get a little more extreme. Metal variations of Digimon seem to be particularly popular, and these often have them wearing armor plating, equipped with large knives or claws and huge cannons and missile launchers. Apart from Blastoise's shoulder-mounted water cannons, I don't recall any Pokémon that looked like they just walked out of an NRA meeting.
10 What's The Difference?
Parents often mean well, but they just don't understand. To them, all Japanese monster franchises are the same. Woe to the Pokémon fan who ended up getting Digimon World for their birthday instead of the Pokémon game they asked for, or the Digimon fan who got Pokémon cards instead. Nothing's more embarrassing than showing up to your friends and being the only one who didn't get the correct monster franchise's merchandise.
And when they're confronted about this mix up, what do the parents have to say for themselves? "Well, son, aren't they the same?"
No, Mom! They're not the same thing at all! One of them is about kids teaming up with cool monsters that can fight and the other's just a crappy ripoff! Get your act together!
9 Size Isn't Everything
I'm not really sure why the first half of this comic has Ash and Tai looking like preschoolers. Or how Ash is a girl's name. Or why pointing out Tai's goggles would be considered an insult. Honestly, the original portion of this comic isn't very funny and it takes way too many panels to build up to the punchline of Charizard burning Tai, but I'm getting off topic now.
Charizard is a pretty big dragon who breathes fire, but he's nothing compared to Tai's partner when he Digivolves into his Mega form, WarGreymon. He wastes no time in avenging Tai's humiliation by charging up his Terra Force, an attack that concentrates all the energy in the atmosphere into one powerful blast. He may be smaller than his previous forms, but WarGreymon is stronger than any other Dragon-type around.
8 Pitching To The Wrong Team
In this Hejibits strip (a comedic webcomic by John Kleckner about video games and superheroes and stuff), the cartoonist imagines how Game Freak and Nintendo must have come up with the idea for including Mega Evolutions in Pokémon X and Y. Honestly, though, any Digimon fan who saw the new gameplay features introduced in these titles must have noticed that the Holo Caster device and Mega forms were a little too familiar.
Now, is Kleckner saying that Pokémon directly ripped off gameplay mechanics from their competitor years after their popularity died down, thinking that nobody would notice? Yes, he is. But is that really what happened? Maybe it didn't go down exactly like in the comic (if you're pitching to the guys who make Pokémon, what game do you think they're going to make?), but it's probably close.
7 Guardian Angel
Here we have Ash picking a fight with another DigiDestined, and this time it's poor little T.K.. Now, I'm going to give Ash the benefit of the doubt and assume he never actually bullied little kids like this in the show, but in the games, player characters frequently battle against youngsters and even preschoolers. A nice person might decide to take it easy on these kids, so as not to crush their self-esteem or hurt their cute pets in front of them. Player characters, on the other hand, have no mercy, beating the snot out of those preschoolers' pets and then taking their lunch money.
Like divine justice, Angemon comes forth to avenge the injustice caused to these children by trainers like Ash. Fortunately, Pikachu's got the right idea. Just cut your losses and walk away while you still can.
6 Entering The Digital World
There are many comics and cartoons depicting what life could be like for Pokémon inside their Poké Balls, but very few actually question what it's like storing your Pokémon on the PC. How do you do that exactly? Is there some way to connect your Pokeballs to computers like a storage device, or do you just try to shove them into the CD drive? Or maybe it's like in Tron.
Monsters living in a digital world does sound awfully familiar. Maybe this virtual world is the same one seen in Digimon. Considering the many dangerous monsters found in the Digital World, this could be a very harrowing experience for your countless Pokémon. What if there's a mix up when retrieving your Pokémon, and you end up with an Agumon instead of your Charmander? So many questions...
5 Cute And Cuddly Vs. Cool And Edgy
Though Digimon and Pokémon may have some similarities, there are various things about each franchise that make the two stand apart. One of the main things that we saw earlier was their differences in creature design. In this example, we see a Zigzagoon, a third generation Pokémon as he appears in his original franchise. On the right we have the same creature, this time imagined as a Digimon.
While Pokémon tend to be smaller and cuter, Digimon try to look a bit more aggressive. Rookie Digimon tend to be larger than starter Pokémon, and have much larger claws and hands. They also seem to have a fondness for accessorizing, as seen by Zigzagmon's cool leather straps and tail bracelet. Now I wonder what Agumon would look like as a Pokémon...
4 One Of These Things Is Not Like The Others
It's a near universal truth that when a series or franchise starts to see universal praise and popularity, countless bootleggers and imitators will jump on it, looking to leech off that success with little care for the quality of their own products. Here we have some Chinese knockoff Pokémon lunch bag, and it actually doesn't look that bad. We got all our favorite Pokémon here. There's Pikachu, front and center as he should be, as well as Piplup, Pichu and... Palmon?
Once again, we see someone who doesn't know (and doesn't care about) the difference between Pokémon and Digimon. I like to imagine that the Pokémon just gathered together for a group photo when Palmon walked by and suddenly decided to photobomb them for the hell of it. Only later, after the photo has been passed around by friends, will someone ask "Who's that weird plant girl in the corner?"
3 Triggered Pokémon Fans
While Pokémon undoubtedly has some really great and addictive games, most anime fans generally agree that Digimon has the better series. Pokémon isn't necessarily bad, but it's nothing more than a fun kid's show. Digimon may be aimed at children, but each series has a variety of characters, with most going through some serious arcs, as well as plenty of dramatic tension and tragic consequences.
Of course, be careful saying that around any die hard Pokémon fans, as they may take you calling their favorite childhood show "mediocre" as a personal insult. Nostalgia can be very strong for these people, and they will not hesitate to get all up in your face about how truly amazing and groundbreaking the anime is and how Digimon was just a "tryhard rip-off."
2 Why Not Yu-Gi-Oh?
While Digimon vs. Pokémon was clearly the main playground rivalry of the late nineties and early 2000s, there were some detractors who would pop in, bringing in completely unrelated animes and declaring them superior. With Yu-Gi-Oh's debut in 2001, Digimon and Pokémon debates would frequently be interrupted by someone saying "You guys still play those games? You know they're for babies, right? Yu-Gi-Oh! is a real man's game!"
I liked Yu-Gi-Oh!, but I always thought it was weird how teenagers and adults on the show would take a children's card game so seriously. It doesn't even make sense to compare it Digimon or Pokémon, since the monsters weren't even real. They were just cards and some crazy holographic projections. Sorry Yugi, I don't buy your "heart of the cards" nonsense. As for the game, I don't trust a card game that makes cards you aren't allowed to play with.
1 And The Winner Is...
Looking through all these comics and memes, it seems to me that Digimon should be declared the winner. The anime really is better, given the series dramatic and sometimes dark plots as well as actual character progression, with each new season introducing a whole new cast of characters so the series stays fresh. The Digimon also look cooler overall and are definitely more powerful. So Digimon wins, right?
Unfortunately for Digimon, this is a popularity contest, and seeing as Pokémon did come first, they're the ones that still get all the love. The franchise is still so popular, that they were able to make record-breaking sales on a mobile game that lacked any actual gameplay. Of course, having a best-selling and critically-acclaimed series of handheld games doesn't hurt either. Sorry, but Digimon World just wasn't as good.