If you're a 90s kid like me, your childhood would have been dominated by some of the greatest cartoons ever to hit the small screen - Scooby Doo, Sailer Moon, Bayblade and so many more. However, two series that, to this very day, still hold a prominent place in our hearts (not just because they still air today) are Pokemon and Digimon. Admittedly, these two anime have caused quite a lot of debate regarding which one is better. I'm not going to go into the 'who came first' argument because, like I always said, except for the '-mon' in their names, they are totally different stories.
Over the last decade and a half, I must admit that Pokemon has grown to outshine Digimon, with new seasons being produced like hotcakes accompanied by a constant stream of new Pokemon and playing cards to collect, it may seem that Digimon has taken a step down in the eye of fans. However, contrary to popular opinion, although I do like Pokemon, I simply love and adore Digimon, even to this day. This is usually the point were people start to laugh and joke and make fun and argue that Digimon is just some cheap Pokemon knock-off, but I hope that I might, at least, make you, the reader, look at these wonderful digital monsters in a new light and not as some Pokemon copies.
There are a total of 7 digimon seasons so far and, generally, the story follows a group of specially chosen children, called 'Digidestined', as they fight the dark forces alongside their Digimon partners. Though, admittedly, for season 2 the initial Digidestined created in 1999 (and this year's anniversary season, but that kind-of makes sense since it to celebrate 15 years since their creation) do make an appearance, they are NOT the main heroes of the story. In the 7 seasons so far created, we follow different children, all unique in their own way and each one is an inidivual in his or her own right (not just a copy of another, unimportant character like we often see in Pokemon) as they attempt to survive and save both the digital and real world, but, i'll write more about the plot later.
Obviously it wouldn't be Digimon without the actual Digital monsters and, although like in Pokemon, these creatures evolve into more powerful versions of themselves they are not simply wild creatures but they actually have their own individual characters and are thus just as important to the plot and story as the digidestined. Also they have the ability to speak which makes them even more lovable and awesome characters. It is also interesting that their evolutions (known as Digivolution in the anime) are not just influenced by their strength but also by the actions and choices that both themselves and their partner make. And, because of this, a digivolution may go terribly wrong, thus even the nicest and most nobel of digimon may become evil and corrupted. Since, like I previously said, digimon have their own history and personality this further effects how they react towards certain situations the digidestined may find themselves in further enriching the story.
Whereas in Pokemon, the majority of plots (with the exception of the movies) focus on Ash as he tries to catch all the the pokemon he possibly can, in Digimon, most of the seasons usually possess their own, complex plots and vary from trying to escape the Digital World to stopping apocalypses from befalling the Real World and the digital world . Let's admit it, the digidestined have quite busy, but interesting lives, and it's never a dull day with them!
They Are Partners
Okay, we have come to accept Ash and Pikachu to be the dynamic duo of the series, but, we have to realise that most of the time Pokemon are captured and taken away from their homes against their will or in an attempt to save them from the bad guys. In Digimon, this isn't the case. For the first five seasons and the currently airing season 7, each individual Digidestined is partnered with a single digimon who they themselves didn't choose. Faith (and specifically crafted crests and tags) put them together and not the prospect of power and strength. Neither owns the other, this is not a relationship of master and warrior pet, but of friends who are willing to protect each other, whether they possess powers or not. Countless times we watch as the powerless Digidestined endanger their own lives to protect their Digimon partners when they would have been beaten to unconsciousness whilst trying to protect the children.
Yes, I know that recently it has been brought to the light that Ash is, very very slowly, growing up throughout the Pokemon seasons, but in Digimon this is actually a vital part of the story, especially when the season 1 Digidestined are involved. In the first season we first meet the digidestined as young, immature preteens who only want to get back home, only to suffer several hardships to escape. In season 2, set 3 years after season 1, the children have actually grown and matured accordingly. Here they know the responsibilities they bare, that the faith of the two worlds they have grown to love lie upon their young shoulders. In the currently airing Digimon Adventure Tri, another 3 years have passed and the Digidestined, now in their late teens, have actually learnt from their pasts, that although they mean to save humanity, their actions have dire consequences which effect not only themselves but the people around them. Throughout the series we can see how these characters that grew up with us and who we have come to love, are slowly moulded by the experiences they've had and choices they have been forced to make, no matter how tough or dark they may have been.
I don't want to convince you that Digimon is better then Pokemon, that wasn't my aim anyway. I just hope that my words have given you something to chew on. I hope that my words have helped me prove that Digimon is not just some cheap Pokemon Knock-off but that it is its own story and universe and that it is amazing and astounding to see unfold before your eyes, no matter how old you may be.