ByCraig Patrick Arnott, writer at
I'm currently studying a degree for Film Production and Cinematography.
Craig Patrick Arnott

Pokemon and Digimon have been compared since the day both franchises came onto the market. However when you get down to the core of how both franchises operate, it becomes clear it is like comparing superhero movies with sci-fi movies. Both use many different mechanics in all aspects of how they work and the mechanics they share are far rarer than those they differ in. With both celebrating big anniversaries it seemed the perfect time for this article which will aim to break down these aspects and hopefully show why fans of one franchise should never discount what the other franchise has to offer.

Their Debut on the Market.

Both franchises entered the world electronically, but both were quite different in their origin. Pokemon was introduced through a pair of RPG games in Pokemon Red and Green for Game Boy in Japan in 1996.

Original Pokemon Green and Pokemon Red boxes
Original Pokemon Green and Pokemon Red boxes

Now some may be questioning if my sources are correct as they remember the first two games being Pokemon Red and Pokemon Blue. Well this is where you will find your Pokemon origin information tested. In fact Pokemon Red and Blue were duplicate games of the third Pokemon game to be released in Japan, Pokemon Blue.

Original Pokemon Blue box
Original Pokemon Blue box

Pokemon Blue was the third game introduced into the franchise exactly like how later generations of games would introduce a third after the initial two.

  • Pokemon Gold & Pokemon Silver - Pokemon Crystal
  • Pokemon Ruby & Pokemon Sapphire - Pokemon Emerald
  • Pokemon Diamond & Pokemon Pearl - Pokemon Platinum
  • Pokemon Black & Pokemon White - Pokemon Black 2 & Pokemon White 2

So the story from Pokemon Blue was copied and duplicated to create the second game used for international release known as Pokemon Red and Pokemon Blue. Then for international and national audiences in Japan Pokemon Yellow was released as the first game to have aspects of color.

Pokemon Blue, Pokemon Yellow and Pokemon Red
Pokemon Blue, Pokemon Yellow and Pokemon Red

Digimon also saw a digital start, but in the format of Digital Monsters in 1997. These digital pets would require the owner to undertake many activities to raise it properly. These included feeding, training, playing and even cleaning up poop left by your digital pet.

An original Digital Monster
An original Digital Monster

Unlike Pokemon which allowed the player to catch many Pokemon and carry up to six, a Digital Monster only allowed for one monster at a time on the device. The first ever digital pet, the mark 1, had the following stages it could go into.

  • Fresh: Botamon
  • In-Training: Koromon
  • Rookie: Agumon, Betamon
  • Champion: Greymon, Tyrannomon, Meramon, Darkmon, Airdramon, Seadramon, Numemon
  • Ultimate: Metalgreymon, Mamemon, Monzaemon (Teddymon)

Like Pokemon with their games, Digital Monsters saw multiple generations or the device to be created. However unlike Pokemon, due to the simplicity of the device it allowed them to release them at a much quicker rate. Once the anime shows started the designs and monsters available began to emulate the shows. They even added a pedometer to the device so your digital pet would encounter foes to face in battle.

How the battling aspect between friends was integrated was by players being able to connect their Digital Monster, which was easier for players to do as the devices were designed to act like a key ring or have a clip to attach to the owners belt making them easier to carry around.

The Digivice toys based off the first anime series
The Digivice toys based off the first anime series

The Anime Shows

Both Pokemon and Digimon used anime shows to promote the sales of their games and toys, but both series operated under different circumstances for their story to play out.

Pokemon debuted in 1997 and has always used key plot points from the game to play out in their series. The main characters Ash and Pikachu have now been travelling together for a whopping 19 years! Ash's initial design was based off the character, Red, that players would take control of in the first generation of games. Much like in the games Ash sets off to encounter Pokemon, earn gym badges and finally enter the Pokemon League to fulfill his dream of being a Pokemon Master.

Comparison image of Ash and Red
Comparison image of Ash and Red

This format has been pretty consistent with each series, however unlike the games where players control a new character with each generation of games. The anime has seen Ash transfer from one region to another. He is typically joined by new characters from new generations of the games and new mechanics introduced in the game will feature in the anime to correspond. This has included such aspects as Pokemon Contests which have seen his female travel companion compete in in some of the series. Throughout the 19 year run Pokemon has been split into the following separate series with only one being an original story outside of the game franchise.

  • 01 - Indigo League - Based off of Pokemon Red and Pokemon Blue
  • 02 - Orange League - Only original story set outside of the games
  • 03 - Johto League - Based off of Pokemon Gold and Pokemon Silver
  • 04 - Hoenn League - Based off of Pokemon Ruby and Pokemon Sapphire
  • 05 - Kanto Battle Frontier - Based off of bonus material from Pokemon Emerald
  • 06 - Sinnoh League - Based off of Pokemon Diamond and Pokemon Pearl
  • 07 - Best Wishes - Based off of Pokemon Black and Pokemon White
  • 08 - XY - Based off of Pokemon X and Pokemon Y

However the anime will differ from the games at times, perhaps the best example is the Pokemon League. In the games once a player has collected all the gym badges they simply traverse some sort of cave maze facing strong opponents along the way and obstacles to get past, before facing the Elite Four at the Pokemon League. If successful in defeating all four they will then face the Pokemon Champion to win and gain the title themselves. In the anime series Ash has entered every Pokemon League at the end of each series but is instead faced with a league battle. Having multiple rounds trainers face off against each other with winners progressing to the next round until they reach a final two. Ash so far as accomplished the following positions.

  • Kanto - Top 16
  • Johto - Top 8
  • Hoenn - Top 8
  • Sinnoh - Top 8
  • Unova - Top 4
  • Kalos - Top 8

Meaning Ash has yet to complete a game and be Pokemon Champion. Some of the mechanics behind the Pokemon themselves do not line up with the games.

Pikachu from the anime series
Pikachu from the anime series

Pikachu for example is the only Pokemon to appear in every episode, meaning with 19 years of battling he should be level 100. This would mean Pikachu would be practically unstoppable when Ash first arrives in a new region. So unless Pikachu reverts back to level 1 at the start of each series, it means they ignore the rules of leveling Pokemon up in the same sense as the games. But with me saying this, given Ash left on his journey at 10 it would also mean he is 29 by Pokemon X and Pokemon Y.

Pokemon have additionally given extra series to fans such as Pokemon Chronicles which acts as special episodes. These episodes typically cover a character that was once in the series but has now left, such as Misty and Brock. However they did start this series off with a three part story set during the second generation of Pokemon. It effectively was a movie when combined which featured three brand new characters with two being based off of the male and female characters from the game. It also featured the legendary Pokemon Raikou.

Another series was Pokemon Origin, which followed the plot of the first generation of computer games, but was only four episodes long. This made the story pretty fast paced but it was intended as a special short series from the start to promote the new Mega Evolutions set to appear in the next generation of games at the time. In a similar fashion they did another short four episode series called Pokémon XY - Mega Evolution. This series brought in a new character who has a Charizard that can Mega Evolve into Charizard X. The series was designed to showcase many of the Mega Evolutions created in the games and the character is intended to appear in the main Pokemon anime series with Ash and Pikachu.

All leaders and their partner Digimon
All leaders and their partner Digimon

Digimon's anime series debuted in 1999 and has never used any preset story line based off of their Digital Monster toys. This has allowed Digimon to change their characters and story from series to series and be completely original each time. To date only two series of Digimon have had sequel series.

The first series Digimon Adventures introduced the first seven Digidestined who would eventually become eight to audiences. Set in a world constructed by the digital data created by the real world the young children fought the evils trying to destroy it with their Digimon partners, Agumon, Gabumon, Biyomon, Tentomon, Palmon, Gomamon, Patamon and Gatomon. Getting stronger as they went they eventually exposed the digital world to the real world only because evil set its sights on the real world. Unlike Pokemon the children were not aiming to fulfill dreams but instead were charged with saving both the Digital World and the real world, talk about pressure. They each also only had a single Digimon for the entire series. Digimon Adventures received a sequel series which was set three years later and introduced three additional Digidestined to the roster and their partners Veemon, Hawkmon and Armadillomon.

It focused more on the new three along with the youngest two from the original eight. The new team were also eventually joined by a reformed Digimon Emperor and his partner Digimon Wormmon. It further expanded the universe created in the first series and added new mechanics to how the Digimon could evolve, including armor evolution and DNA evolution which saw two Digimon merge to create a new Digimon. Much like the first series the group had to save both worlds and ended up changing it forever by the series conclusion. The third series Digimon Tamers broke away from the first two series, having Digimon established in the series as a fun card game for kids.

However a lucky few end up gaining Digivices and partner Digimon known as Guilmon, Terriermon and Renamon. This series added a mechanic to how the child could aid their Digimon partner in battle. This was known as Digi-Modify. Digi-Modify allowed them to swipe cards from the game into their Digivice. This granted their Digimon new abilities, attacks and evolutions. In time some of the friends of the original three also become Tamers. Tamers however, was also not all fun and games as in this series it was established that once a Digimon was defeated it was gone forever. In prior series if a Digimon was defeated it would actually have its data converted back to an egg and be given a second chance. However in Tamers fans witnessed the heartbreak as the Tamer Jeri watched her partner Leomon get killed protecting her and all the other Tamers. Could you imagine them killing Pikachu off? If they did it would probably be the end of the anime series. This series also had the heroes facing an enemy that was not human nor Digimon but threatened to destroy both worlds. The forth series Digimon Frontier radically changed what fans had come to expect from a Digimon series.

This series did not see any of the chosen children receive Digimon. Instead they themselves turned into the Digimon. Using the ancient spirits of fire, light, ice, wind and thunder, the five traveled the Digital World and faced multiple foes including the ancient spirits of earth, wood, metal, water and darkness. Darkness was revealed to be the brother of the one who used light and joined them making a team of six. The series was very different to the previous series as this team pretty much failed at their mission until the last minute. By the finale of the series all the "fractile-codes" of the Digital World had been scanned, meaning it had all absorbed. So when they won the final battle the "fractile-code" was released but it would take time for the Digital World to rebuild. When this series finished Digimon took a few years out until it returned with a fifth series Digimon Savers.

Savers saw those who had partner Digimon work for an organisation charged with protecting the real world from threats of the Digital World. The pair were also be bound through a DNA bond which allowed the humans to grant more power to their Digimon Partner. This series also saw adults with Digimon Partners as apposed to children like the past series. This series also introduced an aspect to Digimon that Pokemon would not introduce for many years. Digimon Savers introduced a Burst Mode, which acts in the exact same fashion as a Pokemon Mega Evolution. All the potential energy of the Digimon is harnessed to create a new form with more power at the Digimon's disposal. The end of this series had the heroes facing off against none other than the "God" of Digimon Yggdrasill. After Digimon Savers all went very quiet on the Digimon front for several years, until Digimon Xros Wars was announced.

Xros Wars was a longer series compared to other series of Digimon, but this was due to the way it was written and set out. The series is actually split into three separate stories, the first brings our hero into the Digital world along with two friends. Unlike past series only the hero is granted the Digivice while his friends are more their for support. They encounter many Digimon with some even joining them on their journey. This marked the first time the characters have ever had more than a single Digimon. The group also encounter another boy with a blue Digivice and a girl with a black Digivice that eventually turns purple. For the first story the Digimon do not evolve, but instead combine to create new forms in a fashion similar to how the Power Rangers combine their Zords. In the second story of the series the two male characters succeed in getting some of their Digimon to evolve while the girl gains a mega level Digimon on her team. Many of the foes they face throughout the series as they traveled the different areas of the Digital World were from past series of the show including the primary antagonists. The third part of the series emulates Digimon Adventure and Digimon Adventure 02 and has a time jump of a few year.

This story expanded the cast more and introduced a new focus character. Eventually it linked all the past Digimon series together as in the finale battle all the past leaders and their Digimon joined them in battle. It was here that they established that all the series of Digimon are set in separate realities and each has its own Digital World and how it links to the real worlds.

Both Pokemon and Digimon offer different stories when it comes to their anime franchises as made clear above. Where Pokemon follows the games it forces it to follow a set story pattern, Digimon not being held by these restrictions allows them to create varying stories and introduce new ideas freely from series to series.


Both franchises include movies in their history. Without a doubt Pokemon is clearly leading in the number of their movies and it is where Pokemon is able to go more freelance than in their series when it concerns the story. The only real rule they follow is the movies must reflect the legendary Pokemon of the games.

Some of the Pokemon Movies
Some of the Pokemon Movies

With the huge number of 18 movies and a 19th on the way Pokemon movies are something fans of the franchise look forward to as it debuts the powerhouse Pokemon on the generation. It is also a place they sometimes showcase future Pokemon for the next generation. The games distributors even use the release dates of the games to release exclusive Pokemon to the games that are normally unobtainable. In order of release, the movies have introduced the following Pokemon.

  • Gen 1 Movie - Pokemon: The First Movie - Mewtwo Strikes Back - Mew and Mewtwo from Gen 1
  • Gen 1 Movie - Pokemon: The Movie 2000 - The Power of One - Moltres, Zapdos and Articuno from Gen 1, Lugia and Slowking from Gen 2
  • Gen 2 Movie - Pokemon 3: The Movie - Spell of the Unown - Entei and Unown from Gen 2
  • Gen 2 Movie - Pokemon 4ever - Celebi: Voice of the Forest - Suicune and Celebii from Gen 2
  • Gen 2 Movie - Pokemon Heoes - Latios and Latias from Gen 3
  • Gen 3 Movie - Pokemon: Jirachi Wish Maker - Jirachi from Gen 3
  • Gen 3 Movie - Pokemon: Destiny Deoxys - Reyquaza and Deoxys from Gen 3, Munchlax from Gen 4
  • Gen 3 Movie - Pokemon: Lucario and the Mystery of Mew - Mew from Gen 1, Regirock, Regice, Registeel from Gen 3, Lucario, Weavile, Mime Jr, Bonsly and Munchlax from Gen 4
  • Gen 3 Movie - Pokémon Ranger and the Temple of the Sea - Kyogre from Gen 3, Manaphy from Gen 4
  • Gen 4 Movie - Pokémon: The Rise of Darkrai - Dialga, Palkia and Darkrai from Gen 4
  • Gen 4 Movie - Pokémon: Giratina and the Sky Warrior - Dialga, Giratina, Regigigas and Shaymin from Gen 4
  • Gen 4 Movie - Pokémon: Arceus and the Jewel of Life - Dialga, Palkia, Giratina, Heatran and Arceus from Gen 4
  • Gen 4 Movie - Pokémon: Zoroark: Master of Illusions - Raikou, Entei, Suicune and Celebi from Gen 2, Zorua and Zoruark Gen 5
  • Gen 5 Movie - Pokémon the Movie: Black—Victini and Reshiram &Pokémon the Movie: White—Victini and Zekrom - Reshiram, Zekrom and Victini from Gen 5
  • Gen 5 Movie - Pokémon the Movie: Kyurem vs. the Sword of Justice - Codalion, Terrakion, Virizion and Kyurem from Gen 5
  • Gen 5 Movie - Pokémon the Movie: Genesect and the Legend Awakened - Mewtwo from Gen 1, Genesect from Gen 5
  • Gen 6 Movie - Pokémon the Movie: Diancie and the Cocoon of Destruction - Xerneas, Yveltal and Diancie from Gen 6
  • Gen 6 Movie - Pokémon the Movie: Hoopa and the Clash of Ages - Lugia from Gen 2, Mega Latios, Mega Latias, Primal Kyogre, Primal Groudon, Mega Rayquaza from remake of Gen 3 game, Regigigas, Dialga, Palkia, Giratina and Arceus from Gen 4, Reshiram, Zekrom and Kyurem from Gen 5 and Hoopa from Gen 6
  • Gen 6 Movie - Pokémon the Movie XY & Z: Volcanion to Karakuri no Magearna (not yet released) - Volcanion from Gen 6 and Magearna presumably from Gen 7

Not regarded as movies in the same form as those above, Pokemon have released to feature length specials to their list also. The first is Pokémon: Mewtwo Returns, which acts as a direct sequel to the first movie and covers what happened after Mewtwo and the clone Pokemon left. The other was Pokémon: The Mastermind of Mirage Pokémon, which saw Ash and co reunite with Misty and Professor Oak to witness the creation of fake mirage Pokemon that were not the same as the real Pokemon.

The primary purpose of the Pokemon films is to go further than the series allows them. This is both with story content, visual effect and even the music used.

Now this may surprise some Digimon fans and even the odd Pokemon fan, but Digimon is set to have a total of 17 films in the near future. This comes extremely close to the 19 movies Pokemon is soon to have. The reason for the confusion is because fans outside of Japan are most likely to have never seen them. The first three films were edited down and combined to create the Digimon Movie fans will be more aware of.

Promo for the Digimon Movie
Promo for the Digimon Movie

Much like Pokemon, the Digimon movies are typically linked to the Digimon series and tell a unique story separate from the series. In order so far there is the following movies.

  • Digimon Adventure - Acts as a prequel to Digimon Adventures
  • Our War Game - Set between Digimon Adventures and Digimon Adventures 02
  • Digimon Hurricane Touchdown/Supreme Evolution! The Golden Digimentals - Set during Digimon Adventures 02
  • Revenge of Diaboromon - Set after Digimon Adventure 02
  • Battle of Adventures - Set quarter of the way into Digimon Tamers
  • Runaway Locomon - Set half way into Digimon Tamers
  • Digimon Frontier: Island of Lost Digimon - Set half way into Digimon Frontier
  • Digital Monsters X - Set outside of all series and only features Digimon
  • Ultimate Power! Acivate Burst Mode!! - Set before Burst Mode arrives in series but unspecified exactly when
  • Digimon Grandprix! - Special OVA featuring the Digimon from Digimon Adventures
  • The Digital World in Imminent Danger! - Special OVA featuring Digimon Savers
  • Digimon Adventures Tri. Reunion - Set three years after Digimon Adventure 02 and is the first of six movies
  • Digimon Adventures Tri. Determination - Second movie of the series of six
  • Digimon Adventures Tri. Confusion (not yet released) - Third movie of series of six
  • Digimon Adventures Tri. 4th movie (not yet released)
  • Digimon Adventures Tri. 5th movie (not yet released)
  • Digimon Adventures Tri. 6th movie (not yet released)

The six Digimon Adventure Tri. movies can also be considered a third series to Digimon Adventures and Digimon Adventures 02, as the six movies can be broken up into 24 episodes. Which means all six movies are actually one big linked story adding to the original two series.

Much like Pokemon movies the Digimon movies tend to introduce brand new powerful Digimon and evolutions for the Digimon that may or may not feature in the series. However unlike Pokemon movies they do tend to have a shorter run-time making them more special episodes instead of movies. Which is exactly why the first three were edited and shorted to create the Digimon Movie for international audiences.

Computer Games

Granted we have covered a lot of information on the Pokemon computer games, however they have evolved over time. As the handheld Game Boy evolved itself over time into now the 3DS and the 2DS, Pokemon has been featured over many handhelds over time.

The generations of Pokemon
The generations of Pokemon

But in addition to the games the majority know, Pokemon has spawned games outside of that style. The first were games using the consoles made by Nintendo. Through these games you could connect your Pokemon RPG Game Boy games to use the Pokemon you had trained on there to fight in Colosseum battles and play mini games. Several of these game came out, but none in this style have been released since the forth generation.

The only other console game released at the moment were seen on Game Cube. These were Pokemon Colosseum and Pokemon XD: Gale of Darkness. Both used an RPG style of game play with the player taking on a character with you having an Espeon and Umbeon at the beginning of Pokemon Colosseum, while Pokemon XD gave you an Eevee to begin. Unlike the handheld counterparts in these games you would actually steal Pokemon from other trainers. These Pokemon however would be infected and you would have to release them from the infection before you could do much with them. Once you had done this you were free to trade them to you handheld game and this would allow you to obtain Pokemon normally unobtainable.

Pokemon have released other games on their handheld consoles which are also RPGs. One being the Pokemon Ranger series of games. These games act different to the normal games where instead of capturing the Pokemon as a trainer, the player would instead borrow abilities of Pokemon as a Pokemon Ranger. The other RPG series is Pokemon Mystery Dungeon series of games. These have the player taking on the role of an actual Pokemon. You would create a team of Pokemon who would explore dungeons and complete missions to progress in the game. There have been a few other games released for the handheld consoles but these have been games focused on aspects such as puzzles or racing.

Perhaps where Pokemon is branching out is with the release later this year of their mobile game. Pokemon Go.

The basic premise is you will be able to find and capture Pokemon in the real world using your smart phone. Then when you encounter others near you, you will be able to battle. The end of the trailer suggests there will be special events using the legendary Pokemon also. How this will be portrayed through the phone screen however is yet to be revealed. It could be possible whatever your camera is showing on your screen will be shown with your virtual Pokemon appearing in the scenery or if it will have a virtual battle field, are both possibilities.

Digimon have had many console based releases themselves. The first being a Japan only released, Digital Monster Ver. S: Digimon Tamers. The goal of the game is to raise a Digimon from an egg to a Champion or Ultimate while collecting several coins scattered throughout File Island. However, there are several enemy players, named "Hackers", also trying to get the coins, and they will use their Digimon to attack the player's. The following game Digimon World did see an international release. The game was an RPG which saw the player raising and training their Digimon which much like the original toy that started the franchise and it would have a limited lifespan. Once it died the player would have a new egg and new possibilities of what they could evolve their monster into. Games following these formats have been seen throughout several consoles and even handheld formats. But like their anime series the games create their own characters and story to follow. They will also use the games to create new Digimon and even mechanics that can at times be contained to that game alone. To date only one game has emulated an anime series and that was a 15th anniversary game retelling the story of the original series. This game however was another Japan only release.

The RPG format of games did transfer primarily to the handheld PSP models with the majority being only available to the Japanese market. However through a petition the game Digimon: Cyber Sleuth has received an international release. Digimon have also released a few battle style games called Digimon Rumble Arena. These games see the partner Digimon from various series compete in battles in various arena. The Digimon will have a gauge that fills up allowing them to evolve, but they revert back once the meter is eaten up. Where Digimon has truly broken away from Pokemon with their gaming is through MMOs. In total their have been two Digimon MMOs, one of which is now closed down. However one Digimon Master Online is still running today.

Digimon Masters Online
Digimon Masters Online

The player chooses between the four main characters from Digimon Saver and can then choose one of the main four corresponding Digimon from the series. From there you enter the Digital World filled with other players and many areas to explore. The game also allows you to gain new Digimon through very tricky means. The best part is it is completely free! The game makers make their money like many MMOs through micro-transactions. However this does not stop the player from achieving most things within the game. The only thing the shop does is guarantee you a new Digimon when you purchase its egg rather than going through the steps to acquire one, and it has a couple of Digimon and items unobtainable in the game. An MMO for Pokemon is something fans have wanted for a long time, but as of yet there does not seem to be any signs of such as game being even considered by Nintendo.

The "mon" in Monsters

I can not write an analysis of Pokemon and Digimon without looking at the monsters behind both franchises. Apart from them both having "mon" at the end of their title that is about all that really binds them together. To begin with Pokemon are unable to talk and are more like animals in the way they operate. Digimon however can talk and as a result operate with more intelligence. Their physical appearance also greatly differ. Pokemon typically all look very much like animals or objects, Digimon tend be interpretations of many things. This can include creatures and beings from mythology from cultures all around the world. While some Pokemon can have a human shape classification, they still tend to remain very separate to the appearance of humans. Digimon however do have many which do resemble the human form far more accurately. Perhaps the best group to give an example of this are the 12 Royal Knights.

12 Royal Knight
12 Royal Knight

Some could easily be people simply in an extremely flashy and elaborate armor. When you compare this to Pokemon such as Jynx, it is safe to say Digimon will take their designs to a more human like appearance. The next part to look at is their evolution lines. Pokemon and Digimon both hatch from eggs, however that is the only part of the line that is the same. Pokemon will only have a maximum of two evolutions and now a few have access to a Mega Evolution granting them a forth form which is not permanent. However with the exception of the Mega Evolution, for Pokemon once they have evolved that is it. They can not return to an earlier form.

There are multiple ways for a Pokemon to evolve, most typically it is once they have gained enough experience. The second most common ways are through trading and items. By trading some Pokemon they will evolve, but many of these Pokemon must meet a requirement of holding a specific item. Items also have the ability to evolve Pokemon also by touching it or holding it when it levels up. The most famous Pokemon as far as evolution goes is Eevee, which is a special Pokemon with multiple options for evolutions.

Eevee and all of its evolutions
Eevee and all of its evolutions

There are also some who evolve due to how close they are with their trainer, the time of day and even weather condition. Pokemon has come up with multiple options, however they are limited with their options compared to Digimon. This is simply due to the fundamental difference between Pokemon and Digimon. Pokemon are intended to be real animals that exist, this mean natural reasons are need for them to work. Digimon are comprised of digital data. This allows Digimon to go even further.

To begin with Digimon have more than just two evolutions. In fact all have the potential of at least five evolutions. Each level is given a different name to signify the strength level of the Digimon.

Fresh - In-Training - Rookie- Champion - Ultimate - Mega

The mechanics behind how these have worked have varied from series to series. In the first series the Digidestined could obtain up to Champion level simply through their will and their Digivice, but for Ultimate all had to unlock the power behind a special aspect of their personality. Only two obtained their Mega levels and that was through divine prophecy, faith and a miracle.

The second series added two new forms of evolution. The first was through using armors to evolve their Digimon. The second however was even more interesting as it was something impossible for Pokemon to reproduce in the same fashion. This was the DNA Digivolving.

The reason why Pokemon is unable to replicate this is because Digimon being data means they can combine, as data can be added to. It is hard to imagine Pikachu and Charizard merging to create a new Pokemon. DNA Digivolution takes the strongest aspects of both Digimon to create a new Digimon.

Digimon Tamers used their card slashes with their Digivice to achieve up to Ultimate level, but to obtain their Mega levels the creators went to a place unexplored until this point. Matrix Evolutions.

Matrix Evolution saw the Tamers merge with their partner Digimon to become one. This meant the Digimon and Tamer worked as a single entity and was only achieved by those with a pure heart connection to their Digimon.

Digimon Frontier did not have levels in the same aspect as other series where the children themselves became the Digimon through the ancient spirits. However the spirits in a way did have a strength structure.

The human spirits were essentially the Rookie level, Beast spirits the Champion level, Hyrbid which acted as Ultimate and then Unified which was Mega level. They even have a further level when all 20 of the spirit are combined to create Susanoomon. However unlike other series where all get to ultimate level at least this series had a focus on two primarily characters, the users of fire and light, leaving the others on the side line.

Data Squad has the Digimon evolve using energy created by the partners. Using this energy alone allowed all to reach their Mega level. However beating Pokemon to the punch, this series saw the primary four unlock their Burst Modes, which harnessed the full power of the Digimon into a final form.

The final series as I mentioned earlier contained evolutions later in the series, but had more of a focus of Digimon combining to becoming stronger. This was very different to DNA Digivolutions.

The way it is implemented is much more in the fashion of the Power Rangers' Zords combining or a set of Transformers combining to create a super Transformer. However the biggest differences with Pokemon evolutions compared to Digimon made very obvious. The first is that Pokemon can only go forward in their evolutions and not back with some not even being able to evolve, where Digimon can go back and forth between forms. The second that Digimon typically with the exception of a few can only evolve into one option, with Digimon they have many potential options of what they can go into.

Another aspect which is different is the attacks behind Pokemon and Digimon. Pokemon all have a pool of moves they can potentially learn. These moves can be learnt by many Pokemon, for example Charmander and Vulpix can both learn flamethrower, but Squirtle can not. The only Pokemon that can have a move exclusive to them are a select few of Legendary Pokemon. With Digimon they all have their own unique attacks which is used only by their kind. Many of these attacks emulate the appearance of the Digimon especially in the later evolutions. An example of this is Angewoman, an Ultimate level female angel Digimon that has two attacks, the first being 'Celestial Arrow' which she fires from a wrist mounted bow and the second being 'Heaven's Charm' which creates two beams of purifying light in the shape of a cross.

The final aspect to look at is the battle mechanics of both franchises. With Pokemon they all have at least one 'type'. This type will determine what Pokemon it will be effective against in battle.

Pokemon type chart
Pokemon type chart

As if that was not complicated enough to get your head around, some Pokemon have two types, meaning the two types can counter each other. This can work out to a Pokemon's advantage and disadvantage. To further explain this we will look at the following Pokemon.


The Pokemon above is Swampert. Swampert is a water type and a ground type. Normally a water type would be vulnerable to electric attacks however being a ground type as well means electric attacks have zero effect on him. But this combination leaves him vulnerable to grass type moves as both water and ground types are weak against grass type moves, which would result in the effect being four times as effective.

Digimon operate in a similar fashion but with some key differences. All Digimon are one of four types. Vaccine, Data, Virus and Neutral. Vaccine types are strong against Virus types, Virus types are strong against Data types and Data types are strong against Vaccine types. Neutral types have a base effectiveness against the other three both offensively and defensively. Then all Digimon will have an additional type which decides their attribute type. Unlike Pokemon, Digimon attribute types do not have multiple strengths and weaknesses.

Type chart from Digimon
Type chart from Digimon

To help further explain we will look at Greymon vs Kuwagamon as to which would have the advantage.

Greymon vs Kuwagamon from Digimon Tri.
Greymon vs Kuwagamon from Digimon Tri.

Greymon is a Vaccine type with a fire attribute. Kuwagamon is a Virus type with a grass attribute. This means Greymon has double the advantage over Kuwagamon as his Vaccine attribute is strong against Kuwagamon being a Virus type, and his fire attribute beats grass. This would give him an overall times three attack strength against Kuwagamon.

Closing Thoughts

All-in-all both franchises use the same elements but deploy them in a different fashion. Pokemon is centered around making dreams come true while going on a wild adventure. Digimon is all about a group of a chosen few individuals charged with saving two worlds. How their monsters get stronger and change are based on completely different styles due to various reasons and how the monsters fight differs from each other. To be a fan of one franchise and ignore the other completely simply because you think they are copying each other means you are only depriving yourself of the chance to enjoy another franchise. Some fans will not like both series, but to say they are exactly the same is clearly proven inaccurate with the examples set out in this article.


Which franchise do you prefer?


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