It is hard to have a discussion about Digimon without first addressing its rival, Pokémon. Digimon and Pokémon have a lot of similarities for sure and they were released only sixteen months apart from each other. There might be some Pokémon fans who are unfamiliar with Digimon and may have misconceptions about Digimon. Those who are familiar with Digimon might know it best through the Digimon Adventure anime.
The Digimon Adventure anime made its debut in 1999. The well-received anime centered around seven, and later eight, children who were the Digidestined. They were destined to venture the Digital World and save it from the grasp of those who seek to do harm. They weren’t alone; the digidestined traversed the Digital World with their Digimon partners, Agumon, Gabumon, Biyomon, Tentomon, Palmon, Gomamon, Patamon and Gatomon. Eventually the real world was exposed to the Digital World, putting both words at risk. The differences between Pokémon and Digimon should be night and day from that description alone. Each Digidestined has only one Digimon partner, and they are primarily interacting with each other from within the Digital World. The stakes are also much higher. The Digidestined are tasked with saving two worlds.
There is much more to Digimon. For example, Digimon began as a virtual pet similar to Tamagotchi despite being most known for its anime series. As you will read in this article, there are a lot of different facts about Digimon and little intricacies that are overlooked. Here are 25 things everyone gets wrong about Digimon.
Just because they are called Digital Monsters does not mean they are only monster-like creatures. Digimon does not shy away from depicting Digimon as human-like figures. This is a contrast to Pokémon, which depicts its creatures more like animals. One of the most prominent examples of this is the main antagonists of the Digimon Adventure anime. The anime features Devimon, which is a devil-like humanoid Digimon. Above Devimon, there is Myotismon, which is a vampire-like humanoid. One must not forget Angemon and Angewomon, who battle these dark forces. There are actually several angel Digimon in the franchise. There is Lucemon and Ophanimon to name a few. Digimon also has the thirteen royal knights, which are a group of Holy Knight Digimon that guard the Digital World.
The Digimon Virtual Pet released in 1997 set the precedent for the Digimon franchise. It makes sense that one would not be able to care for multiple virtual pets at one time, so you were limited to one Digimon. This is also likely due to the influence Tamagotchi had on Digimon. This tradition of only having one Digimon carried into the anime, in which each Digidestined had one Digimon partner. This was also seen in some of the video games. In particular, the popular game for the PlayStation, Digimon World, only allowed players to have one Digimon at a time. This contrasts with Pokémon, where you can have a team of up to six Pokémon at any given time. However, there are some Digimon games where players can have a team of up to three Digimon, such as the Digimon World games for the Nintendo DS.
Most people remember Digimon from the 1999 anime which popularized the franchise. The anime is colorful and filled with a lot of different Digimon. Digimon first made its debut as a virtual pet in 1997. It was very similar to Tamagotchi, and was marketed towards a male audience. Being a virtual pet, the creatures were small and cute, but still had unique characteristics. With the Digimon virtual pet, you could check your Digimon’s status, feed your Digimon, train your Digimon, and clean up droppings. It is very reminiscent of Tamagotchi. However, the Digimon virtual pet also allowed you to battle another owner’s Digimon. Unlike the animated series, the virtual pet was not bright, colorful, and filled with various Digimon. Version 1 of the virtual pet only had seven “adult” or “champion” Digimon one could obtain.
As I have stated in the last entry, Digimon was released as a virtual pet in 1997. With Digimon, one cannot help but compare it to Pokémon, a similar, albeit more popular, franchise about monsters. Despite the obvious connection between both franchises, Digimon might not actually be as influenced by Pokémon as people are initially led to believe. Pokémon was first released as a game for the Game Boy in 1996 with the release of Pokémon Red and Green. In June of 1997, the first Digimon virtual pet was released. It is unlikely that the creators of Digimon saw the release of Pokémon and then decided to develop Digimon as a knock-off of Pokémon. Digimon was mostly influenced by the Tamagotchi virtual pets. With the Digimon virtual pets, there is no capturing of monsters and you only have one Digimon at a time.
Digimon was briefly brought into discussion among fans of the Pokémon games with the release of Pokémon X and Y in 2013. This is because Pokémon announced there would be mega evolutions. With mega evolutions, one could mega evolve their Pokémon which would temporarily make their Pokémon stronger. Digimon has had mega evolutions since the beginning, and some pondered if Pokémon would take a direction similar to Digimon. Mega evolutions in Digimon are strange. In the Digimon anime and in some Digimon games, mega evolutions are temporary. However, the Japanese version of mega evolution in Digimon is actually called “ultimate” and ultimate evolutions, which are before mega evolutions in English versions, are referred to as “perfect” in Japanese versions. It’s a stretch to say Pokémon simply took Digimon’s idea on this one.
Digimon Adventure made its debut in 1999 as the first season of the Digimon anime saga. It was a popular series and ran for 54 episodes. It began its run in Japan before coming to the United States a few months later. Like all dubbed anime, there were some differences between the dub and original material. At the time, dubbed anime typically went through a great deal of localization for American audiences, but Digimon retained a lot of material. The names of characters were not changed for the most part. The term “Digivolution” is a term created for American audiences. Digimon in Japan kept the word for evolution. The dubbed also has a lot of dialog changes, and some scenes were cut out, like a scene were Tai was slapped by his mother.
Although it is not as popular as similar franchises, the Digimon franchise is pretty wide in terms of its content. For example, there are several distinct and separate universes. The first season of the Digimon anime had a cast of characters that were only slightly present in the second season. The second season had a completely different cast of characters. The third season rebooted the series entirely and was not connected to the second season in any way. Same with the fourth, fifth, and sixth seasons. In this way, Digimon could be comparable to the Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise, but sets it apart from Pokémon. The Pokémon anime follows Ash for several seasons. Ash maintains his age and goes on adventures in relatively the same formula. Digimon, on the other hand, decided to spice things up with new elements each season.
Many might now know this, but there was actually a short lived Digimon trading card game called Digi-Battle Card Game. I have never actually seen anybody play the game before, but there are some obscure websites online dedicated to it. The rules seem convoluted and easy to misinterpret. For this reason, the cards are mainly just collectables. The card game might also have something to do with the Digimon cards seen in the third season of Digimon. However, the card game existed in Japan far before the third season of Digimon. The card game existed in Japan as early as 1997. There are also several iterations of the card game which I would imagine makes it hard to keep up with. Digimon just wasn’t meant to be a card game, but at least they’re nice to look at.
As if mega evolution was not confusing enough, burst mode was introduced to Digimon in Digimon Data Squad, the fifth season of the Digimon anime series. It is essentially a better version of mega evolution. There are a lot less burst forms than there are mega evolutions in total. The most commonly seen burst forms of those of ShineGreymon, MirageGaogamon, Rosemon, Ravemon, BanchoLeomon, and Agumon. The Digimon Next manga also included burst mode. In this series, burst mode was used to Digivolve to mega if a Digivice is not present, but there is a catch. Using burst mode would consume the tamer’s life-force. Like many other gimmicks that are introduced, burst mode was forgotten after the fifth season. One may still see burst mode Digimon in the Digimon video games.
Digivolution can be very confusing, if you could not already tell based on what you’ve read in this article. Let’s go over the basics. Digimon go from fresh, to in-training, to rookie, to champion, to ultimate, to mega. In Japan, these stages are named differently. For example, mega is called ultimate and rookie is called child. In the Digimon anime, any Digivolution past rookie is temporary. That’s not always the case in the video games. There are also a variety of gimmicky special Digivolutions that are typically used for one season until they move on to the next gimmick. There is Dark Digivolution, Armor Digivolution, DNA Digivolution, Warp Digivolution, Biomerge Digivolution, Shining Digivolution, Burst Digivolution, and Spirit Digivolution. I am sure I missed others as well. Digimon are very versatile with what they can Digivolve into since it is all technically data; they do not have biological restrictions.
Digi-eggs are the items used for the form of Digivolution introduced in season two of Digimon Adventure. One may think that Digi-Eggs are just Digimon eggs, but they actually aren’t anything of the sort. Digimon eggs are something completely different. Digi-Eggs are rare ancient items that are used to Armor Digivolve various Digimon. It is said that Armor Digivolution was used in ancient times in place of normal Digivolution. Here is a list of the various Digi-Eggs: courage, friendship, love, sincerity, knowledge, reliability, hope, light, kindness, miracles, and destiny. There are also four Digi-Eggs that are exclusive to the Wonderswan Digimon video games. What is a Wonderswan, you ask? It was a handheld game console that was manufactured by Bandai in Japan, the same company in charge of Digimon.
There is at least some order to be found in the madness known as the Digimon franchise. Every Digimon (more or less) has one of three attributes: virus, vaccine, and data. These attributes create a combat triangle of sorts. Vaccine has an advantage over virus. Virus has an advantage of data. Data has an advantage of vaccine. Digimon of the same name can have different attributes, which is why there are some Digimon that are identical except one is a darker color. Vaccine Digimon are typically those who favor justice. Virus Digimon want power and portray several vices. Data Digimon fall somewhere in between and typically desire harmony. To complicate things, there are two more attributes. Variable is an attribute that has neither an advantage of disadvantage compared to other attributes. Unknown is an attribute that has an advantage over all attributes.
The Digivice is an important tool for Digimon tamers. It serves as the conduit between the Digimon and the Digimon tamer. The Digivice first appeared in Digimon Adventures, and was given to the DigiDestined. This Digivice allowed tamers to channel their energy to their Digimon, allowing them to Digivolve. The Digivice concept was expanded upon time and time again. In Digimon Data Squad, Digimon tamers can actually store their Digimon in their Digivice and communicate with them. The Digivice was inspired by the Digimon virtual pet, even though the first iterations of the Digivice looked very different from the virtual pet. The virtual pet was rectangle shaped, while Digivices in Digimon Adventure were somewhat round. The Digivice may also have been inspired by the Pokédex, but they have different uses.
Digimon technically started out as a virtual pet, but Digimon became much more than pets. Even during the virtual pet days, tamers would fight side by side with their Digimon. Digimon and human tamers have a partner relationship. In most iterations of Digimon, tamers just have one Digimon. The tamer and the Digimon have a close connection and their emotions strengthen each other. It should also be stated that Digimon have the ability to speak. Tamers and Digimon often have heartfelt talks and are able to communicate with each other on a level comparable to how humans communicate with each other. If the tamer and the Digimon have a bad bond, the Digimon is at risk to Dark Digivolution. It is only appropriate that the Digimon is referred to as a partner.
Everyone knows that Digimon battle, but Digimon do not battle for the fun of it. Digimon would honestly prefer not to fight. It makes sense, why would they willingly want to hurt themselves? This is especially the case since Digimon can perish. Throughout the Digimon anime, multiple Digimon have passed away. Leomon is one example. However, Digimon still do fight, so there must be some reason for their fighting. There are two reasons Digimon fight: to be evil or to be good. Sometimes, a virus Pokémon becomes too powerful and tries to control the Digital world. This is the case of Myotismon. Sometimes they are controlled by someone else, such as the Digimon Emperor. With these Digimon trying to take over the Digital World, there must be some Digimon to stop them.
The first season of Digimon Adventure has a lot of imagery relating to angels and devils. In particular, there are multiple angel and devil Digimon. These Digimon definitely bring a more serious tone to the anime. One of the biggest moments from the anime that sticks out to me is when Gatomon first Digivolves into Angewomon. After Wizardmon was defeated by Myotismon, Gatomon Digivolves into Angewomon. She gives a brief lecture to Myotismon about justice, and then prepares to defeat him with Heaven's Charm and Celestial Arrow. In the anime, Devimon and LadyDevimon also make an appearance. The inspiration for those Digimon should be glaringly obvious. Aside from Angemon and Angewomon, there is also MagnaAngemon, ClavisAngemon, and SlashAngemon. There are also other devil Digimon, such as Death Devimon, MarineDevimon, NeoDevimon, and SkullSatamon.
Digi-modify was introduced in the Digimon Tamers anime series as the new way to modify a Digimon’s capabilities. While it is not a form of evolution, I would consider this Digimon Tamer’s own gimmick. Season 2 had armor digivolution, and digi-modify is the gimmick of season 3. Digimon tamers each have a D-Power, season 3’s version of the Digivice. There is also a popular Digimon card game in this universe, which hold some sort of data. These cards can actually be used with the D-Power to power up a tamer’s Digimon. The series explains this by pointing out Digimon have the inherent ability to absorb data. Some cards may give a Digimon wings, increase the power of a Digimon, digivolve a Digimon, or give a Digimon weapons belonging to other Digimon.
The first Digimon video game came out in 1998 in Japan. It was Digital Monster Ver.S: Digimon Tamers on the Sega Saturn. It was essentially a port of the Digimon virtual pet. Unlike the virtual pet, the Sega Saturn game allowed you to raise multiple Digimon at once. Unfortunately, the game was never released outside of Japan because anime-style games were not yet popular in the West. Eventually, the popular game, Digimon World, was released on the Sony PlayStation. Unlike the game on the Saturn, Digimon World was an RPG and featured 3D graphics. It was the first time many Digimon were ever seen in a 3D form. Digimon World spawned more Digimon World games, but none were able to live up to the standards set by Digimon World.
I am going to be up-front and honest here: I do not like Digimon Frontier. In fact, a lot of fans do not like Digimon Frontier. This season is pretty different from the others. Even Japanese fans did not like Digimon Frontier, where it had poor ratings and eventually led to Fuji TV dropping Digimon. Digimon Frontier was not even aired at all in the U.K. One reason it was not very popular is because of Spirit Digivolution. Spirit Digivolution is a process that allows the human tamer to actually merge with their Digimon. It just did not seem right to merge humans and Digimon because I was used to the idea of them being separate and distinct entities. People want to own a Digimon, not be a Digimon.
This figure, Akiyoshi Hongo, is often credited as the creator of the original concept and character designs for the Digimon franchise. Not much is actually known about Hongo. He seems to be a very mysterious character that has no explanation. Despite this, he was credited in Digimon Adventure all the way up to the current series, Digimon Adventure Tri. So who is Hongo? Well, there are some theories. Some people suggest that Akiyoshi Hongo is a pseudonym for multiple people. Some people believe he is three people, and others believe he is two people. The two people in question would undoubtedly have to be Aki Maita, the creator of Tamagotchi, and Takeichi Hongo, the principal officer of Tamagotchi for Bandai. You can see how the names could be merged to form Akiyoshi Hongo.
It is commonly believed that the production crew of the second season, Digimon Adventure 02, were in constant conflict during production. Season 2’s plot seems to be rather disorganized and has many ideas and plot threads seemingly thrown about without the same delicate hand as the first season. To make matters worse, the composer of the first season left and was replaced by two people. After season 2, the Digimon Adventure storyline ended all together. The problem with this theory is that we do not actually have any proof. It is not uncommon for anime production to be stressful, but we can never say for sure without proof. In addition, Bandai probably never intended for Digimon to be based on the Digimon Adventure storyline alone.
There is a rumor that Digimon was meant to be a short series. The series would have been a 13-episode anime like many anime that only airs for one season. This rumor is widely popular, but there are some Digimon fans who call this rumor into question. The anime production schedule would have made it almost impossible for the anime production company to decide to lengthen the series after seeing how well it did. In addition, episode 13 was in the middle of an arc. It would have been weird to end it there. If the series was meant to be a short series, it must have been planned that way long before the production company actually started working on the anime. Even if it may be wrong, I still find the rumor fascinating.
One of the things that sets Digimon apart from Pokémon is the risk of perishing in Digimon. Countless times, important characters in the Digimon franchise have perished. This is true both in the video games and in the anime as well. In Digimon World for the PlayStation, once your Digimon grows old, it can be reborn into a new Digimon. However, if your Digimon loses in battle enough, your Digimon completely perishes. In Digimon Adventure, a close friend of Gatomon goes. Wizardmon is killed by an attack from Myotismon. In Digimon Tamers, Leomon is the Digimon partner for Jeri, a girl without much confidence. Leomon gets impaled by Beelzemon when he attempted to save another Digimon. His last words are “be brave, Jeri.” Permanent fainting is something that is not shied away from in Digimon.
The Digimon design philosophy is different from a lot of other franchises in the genre. Pokémon designs can be characterized by their animal-like influences. A perfect example is the Pokémon starters. In every generation of Pokémon, starters are based off of animals of some kind. In Digimon, the designs are a lot more varying. Various objects could be turned into Digimon. In addition, Digimon does not shy away from making humanoid Digimon. The Digimon franchise has a lot of Digimon based off of knights, angels, devils, and so on. This is not to say that Pokémon has not been branching out. People might be familiar with the unpopular designs of Trubbish or Vanilluxe. However, Digimon has been doing this from beginning, and it seems to be something that they excel at.
For one last time, I will point out that Digimon started as a virtual pet toy line. From the beginning, Bandai was focused on sales, and all aspects of the Digimon franchise were geared towards selling Digimon merchandise. One has to keep in mind the reality of the media and toys we enjoy. While we are connected to these characters and monsters, Bandai was concerned with sales. Perhaps this is why fans of the original anime series or the virtual pets are not as happy with the direction of the series after the first season. However, things have been getting better as of late. New Digimon games akin to the original Digimon World are already on the shelves. There is also a new well-produced series, Digimon Adventure Tri, based on the original cast of characters. This is the perfect time for fans of Digimon to speak with their money.