Pokemon vs Digimon

Written by Alex Crilly-Mckean If you’re all ‘mons, can’t we just get along? Welcome to WatchMojo.com and in this instalment of Versus we are pitting Pokemon against Digimon. This is a rivalry that really doesn’t need explaining so lets cut right to it… Special thanks to our users Daniel Fong, Georgina Bransfield, and Thunder Chizz for submitting the idea on our interactive suggestion tool: WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Pokemon vs Digimon



If you’re all ‘mons, can’t we just get along?
Welcome to WatchMojo.com and in this instalment of Versus we are pitting Pokemon against Digimon.
This is a rivalry that really doesn’t need explaining so lets cut right to it…

Round 1: The Video Games



Despite branching out and finding great success in other forms of media, at its core Pokemon remains one of the most successful video game series around. With the simple yet engaging formula of setting out into the world, catching and training as many Pokémon possible, competing in battles and bringing down the occasional criminal organisations. Over the years the narrative has been tweaked and polished while still keeping the spirit of original games alive. But the series doesn’t close its doors there as its branched out to many different genres bringing awesome spin offs like Mystery Dungeon, Snap, Pokken Tournament and Pokemon Ranger series.

Unlike its counterpart, the video games centred on the Digimon franchise haven’t had the same success internationally despite its commendable list of releases. Long before Pokken Tournament, the Digidestined and their companions took over the fighting game genre with the Rumble Arena series. The bread of butter of the series remains in the role-playing genre however, with hits like Cyber Sleuth and the famed “Digimon World” series still continuing its run its course to this very day.

While many of the entries in the Digimon video game franchise hold a special place in the hearts of players, in terms of worldwide appeal, Pokemon takes this one by a landslide. Just look at what happened with Pokemon Go…

WINNER: Pokemon 1 / Digimon 0



Round 2: The Anime


Even to this day we are still getting new episodes of the show that defined 90s childhood, where we follow the journey of Ash Ketchum as he traverses the regions of the world, catching Pokemon and failing to become a Pokemon Master. Over the years we’ve seen him encounter all form of villains, legendary Pokemon and enter countless tournaments, culminating in a show that has almost a thousand episodes under its belt - not to mention been given the star treatment in terms of animation as of late. Yet somehow… we’re still supposed to believe Ash is still only ten years old.

While there’s still plenty of campy fun to be found here, Digimon definitely has a dark underbelly to it. With the majority of each season focusing on a new set of characters and their digital partners, there are plenty of awesome fights as well as some genuine character development to win fans over as they said goodbye to one group and were greeted by another. Special praise has to be given to the third season, which stepped way outside the bounds of kid’s anime, and also the continuation series Digimon Adventure Tri that brought back all our favourites in the best way possible.

While Pokemon may be looking better than ever, the argument can definitely be made it’s fallen into something of a pattern, which it is all too happy to repeat. Where as Digimon, for all its ups and downs, gave us some form of diversity with each series. It certainly wasn’t afraid to sprinkle on some mature content for additional impact.

WINNER: Pokemon 1 / Digimon 1



Round 3: The Monsters



The flagship of each of these series are the colourful and often vicious creatures that inhabit them, and oddly enough there are far more contrasts than there are comparisons. Each region has its own set of unique Pokémon that have wiggled their way into the hearts of all fans, from A to Z…or Abomasnow to Zygarde. There are no “hero or villain” Pokemon, but there are ungodly powerful ones that do not want to be messed with. These range from Pokemon that control space and time, the elements, emotions, there’s even a Pokemon God!

Digimon inhabit a world beyond that of humans, in the aptly named Digital World, where they are formed from all kinds of data. Some are highly intelligent peacekeepers, while others are deadly viruses, some of which are practically born evil. Good thing there’s a little human intervention to put a stop to all that and help their digimon partners ascend through digivolution! While some might argue that some Digimon are a rip off of Pokemon, we’d argue that there’s a lot more originality.

In a clash of strength, Digimon might just take home the gold. However, for the sheer multitude of beloved and memorable poke-pals, Pokemon clearly takes this round.

WINNER: Pokemon 2 / Digimon 1



Round 4: Franchise Evolution


In terms of video games, Pokemon has pulled out all the stops in taking advantage of the latest technology at Nintendo’s disposal, especially in recent years with releases such as Pokken Tournament and Pokemon Go. However, in terms of actual evolution, the franchise hasn’t really reinvented itself, only perfected what they have always done. Don’t get us wrong, it’s why we love the games, but for the most part it has remained comfortably within its boundaries. The anime is equally guilty of this, on which there isn’t as much leeway. Come on, at least give us a new protagonist or let Ash mature!

Digimon hasn’t had such a luxury, and has instead tackled that by actively growing up with its audience. Cyber sleuth is a shining example of this, as it borrows from more mature JRPGs like the Shin Megami Tensei series and even brought in Durarara! Artist, Suzuhito Yasuda for the character designs. The series is constantly reimaging itself, but isn’t afraid to pay homage to its roots, as is prevelant in Digimon Adventure Tri. On top of this, it doesn’t shy away from bringing in new, younger fans with series like “Applimon” and “Digimon Fusion”.

Sure, many of the new ideas that Digimon pushes out don’t hit their mark as well as others, but you can clearly see that they are trying to expand their horizons, way more so than Pokemon in more than one regard.

WINNER: Pokemon 2 / Digimon 2



Round 5: Cultural Impact



Even if you aren’t a fan of the anime, and can’t get into the games, chances are you’ve at least heard of Pokemon. Adored by fans all over the globe and still going strong in terms of its seemingly never-ending anime, movies and wide-roster of video games, people are more likely to recognise Pikachu than most world leaders! Its had its ups and downs, but seeing how excited fans are to get their hands on each new instalment and throw themselves back into that world, we’d say the evidence speaks for itself that it will be a long time before Pokemon leaves our cultural memory.

While not as well-known, Digimon still retains its hardcore fandom who are, no doubt, elated to see their favourite characters return for the new series of movies, try their hands at the sweet set of video games, and buy those notorious 300 dollar Angewomon statues. What’s clear is that Digimon has far from drawn its last breath as a franchise, and with its tendency to venture towards the new, it doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere in a hurry. But sadly, it’s always going to be seen as an imitator to Pokemon.

Digimon has more than earned its place in anime culture, but up against the mountain that is its pocket monster counterparts, there’s just winning at this point in time.

WINNER: Pokemon 3 / Digimon 2



As valiant as the like of Agumon and company try, Pikachu and his Poke-Brethren take the crown again. The winner is Pokemon.
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