Childhood Cartoons Revisited

Cartoons from our youth dissected as a young adult

Digimon: Pokemon’s Younger, Lesser Known Brother

on March 24, 2012

I’m willing to bet that if you asked anybody aged 15-25 if they’ve ever heard of “Pokemon,” just about all of them would say that they are familiar, whether it be the cartoon, video games or trading card game. However, if you asked that same age group if they’ve ever heard of “Digimon,” a noticeable number would look at you strangely, wondering if you meant to say “Pokemon,” but had just horribly mispronounced the name. For as great of a show as “Digimon” was during its prime, it took a backseat to “Pokemon” during the late ’90s and early 2000s. While most people would argue differently, I believe that looking back, “Digimon” was the better show. It was better written and had more human characters that the audience could relate to.

With that said, I don’t feel like “Digimon” was as memorable. Off the top of my head I couldn’t tell you any of the characters’ names or any of the Digimon themselves. All I remember is that every Digimon’s name ended with “mon.” There were no trading cards in connection with “Digimon,” but there were toys and video games to add to the animated series. However, the video games didn’t have the success that Pokemon Stadium, Pokemon Red and Blue and Pokemon Snap! had when they debuted. In the battle between “Digimon” and “Pokemon,” “Pokemon” will be known for generations to come, while “Digimon” will begin to fade out into obscurity. That doesn’t mean that “Pokemon” was the better cartoon. “Digimon” will always be my guilty pleasure.

“Digimon” debuted in Japan on March 7, 1999, and made its way over to the United States on August 14 the same year, premiering on Fox Kids. The show ran consistently for four years before going on hiatus for four years. The fifth season debuted in 2006 and again found itself on hiatus, this time for three-and-a-half years. The sixth season premiered in 2010, and there are currently plans for a seventh seven in the upcoming year.

The aspect of the show that sets “Digimon” apart from other anime shows is that every season was different. Season 2 wasn’t just a continuation of Season 1. The characters got older and new villains and Digimon appear. Season 3 takes a radical turn when it is set in the “real world.” The first two seasons of “Digimon” are portrayed as a cartoon show in the third season and the characters in this season are creating their own Digimon that they saw from the cartoon show. This is a rare feature that just about no cartoon show dives into. There is always a sense of familiarity between seasons. Cartoons like “The Simpsons” and “Family Guy” are virtually the same episodes over and over again. While the plot of the episode may be different, each season revolves around the mishaps of an average family. The characters stay the same and nothing groundbreaking changes.

Every season of “Digimon” was in itself a whole new show. Like most anime shows, the first season was the best. The first season focused on a group of seven kids in Japan being thrust into a digital world where digital monsters, or Digimon, reside. In order for the kids to return home, they have to bring peace to the digital world by defeating the Dark Masters, which are four evil Digimon that wreak havoc on the digital world. The seven children, Tai, Matt, Sora, Izzy, Mimi, Joe and T.K., all befriend a Digimon apiece. Tai, the main protagonist of the show, befriends Agumon, who is arguably the most recognizable Digimon in the show. The concept that sets “Digimon” apart from “Pokemon” is that the kids in “Digimon” befriend just one Digimon that fight along their side for the entire season. They aren’t trying to capture numerous Digimon and train them. It is a symbol of friendship between human and animal.

My favorite character in the series was Mimi, a self-described girly-girl whose favorite color is pink. She is fascinated by all aspects of life, and although she complains a lot throughout her journey in the digital world, she is full of energy. She also has the coolest Digimon in the series. Her Digimon, Palmon, a plant-style Digimon, evolves into Togemon, the greatest of all the Digimon. Togemon is a giant cactus with boxing gloves. How freaking bad ass is that?

The cutest Digimon award goes to T.K.’s Patamon, a guinea-pig like creature with bat wings. It’s so cute to look at, which also means that it isn’t the greatest at fighting. It usually tends to hide. But it’s still adorable.

The evolutionary idea of the show is very interesting, as each character is given a crest that allows for their Digimon to evolve into a more powerful form for a short period of time. After a set amount of time, the Digimon resorts back to their original form. I like the evolution idea of “Digimon” much more than “Pokemon,” because once Pokemon evolve, they can never devolve and therefore

the audience loses that connection with that particular Pokemon. In “Digimon,” that is never the case because they will always devolve back to their original form. Each Digimon can go through three evolutions, with each evolutionary form being stronger than the last.

“Digimon” may not have had the success that “Pokemon” had during its run, but that hasn’t stopped me from enjoying this great cartoon show. I loved everything about this show, from the characters to the Digimon to the plot to the music, which was way too catchy to be legal. If you’ve never watched “Digimon,” check out the first season and you’ll be pleasantly surprised. n being stronger than the last. The level at which they evolve to is based solely on how strong the Digimon has become through protecting their masters.


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