Home » The Lesser Mon, Why Digimon Loses in Popularity Against Pokemon

The Lesser Mon, Why Digimon Loses in Popularity Against Pokemon

Who doesn’t know Pokemon, the multi-billion dollar franchise created by Satoshi Tajiri. It was introduced by Nintendo through a game called Pokemon Red & Green on the Game Boy and ended up as the most successful franchise ever created. According to Wikipedia, Pokemon has estimated a cool $88 billion combined in sales compared to the second one on the list Mickey Mouse which only has a measly $52 billion dollars.

But did you know of its similar sounding brother from another mother, Digimon? The younger brother that likes computers and digital stuff but looks up to its older sibling, Digimon is often overlooked because of numerous reasons. The most unanimously agreed upon answer however is that Digimon was just too hard to comprehend. Look at Pokemon, when a pokemon evolves there’s usually only one path except for some that have a couple of evolutions.

But Digimon? Oh boy, you’re in for a ride. We’re talking super digivolution, warp digivolution, biomerge digivolution, even degeneration. The list goes on and on. I mean just look at their respective fandom page for digivolutions and evolutions. Digimon’s digivolution clocked in at 9,338 words meanwhile Pokemon’s has 3,586 words. That’s almost (let me get my abacus real quick), 2 and a half times more!

Digivolution chart of Poyomon from r/digimon by u/ej92892

So, it makes sense people are more gravitated towards Pokemon and their simple system for evolutions. Pokemon 1 while Digimon nil. Let’s next compare the amount of pokemons and digimons that exist canonically, fanfic don’t count. According to the same fandom page, there’re 1,450 digimons and 1,010 pokemons that exist. Technically, there’s only a difference of about 440 big. That’s only like 1.5 times more so I’m going to count this as a draw totally not because I’m biased and I want a certain side to win

Trivial comparisons aside, I think the reason why Digimon isn’t as big as Pokemon is because of three factors which are poor creative decisions, less aggressive marketing and inconsistency across the whole franchise. Of course it’s not solely due to these three reasons for the downfall of Digimon. There’s other factors at hand too but generally all of those fall under those three umbrellas.

Consistency and Kawaii over 9000 are Why Pokemon is In the Lead

The original idea of Digimon came from a tamagotchi game in which players nurture the so-called “Digital Monsters”. It released an anime adaptation titled Digimon Adventure in 1999, a short two years after Pokemon first released its anime. This poorly planned release date shapes the public perception of Digimon as the copycat. 

With the already poor public perception, Digimon also had some poor creative decisions. Such as the design of the various digimons being aimed towards boys and the overly convoluted and sometimes dark story. Not to mention the careless addition of new ways to digivolve which makes it hard to keep track of. The main protagonist changing after every few seasons also doesn’t help because we don’t care about the new guy yet. We still want to know more about a character that we’ve followed along from the start, not a random dude or girl that showed up.

Another thing they chose wrongly is the icon to represent their series. With Pokemon, we got Pikachu. The yellow rat with two chubby red cheeks that can sprout lightning from its tail. From Digimon, we got Agumon. A fire breathing dinosaur that I admit is pretty cool. But that’s it, some people would think it’s cool and some would think it’s ugly. Pokemon’s designs are more inline with everyone, because cuteness overload. 

Pikachu and Agumon side-by-side

It’s also inline with the culture of Japan where every major character that’s popular has cute or kawaii designs. Digimon with its unorthodox designs are bound from the start to be less popular all simply due to its artstyle. This can be mitigated with a good story and strong character building yet as we know, that’s also a failure.

Digimon is just filled with confusing creative decisions that it sometimes baffles me how Bandai has the Gundam franchise be so successful. Speaking of Bandai, for some unknown reason it just doesn’t like marketing towards a broader audience. Instead more focusing on its homeground as Digimon games and mangas are sometimes Japan exclusive only. 

Nintendo is the complete 180 of Bandai as it heavily marketed its product for the global market, not complacent staying in Japan. Just take a look at how many weird official Pokemon crossovers exist. You got Pokemon Oreos, Pokemon Heinz pasta, Pokemon Air Val perfume even so far as Pokemon portable X-Ray machines. Nintendo’s marketing team ain’t no joke.

The same goes for their game development team, because if there’s one thing Nintendo are known for aside from its lawsuits addiction is the stellar games it always pumps out. Pokemon games especially have always been a joy to play and the simple unchanging mechanic it has guarantees every game to be received positively. “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it” seems to be Nintendo’s MO when it comes to everything they do. 

Which is a shame that consistency doesn’t influence Digimon. Some games are praised highly while some are treated as flaming hot garbage. The same goes for the anime, some seasons people really enjoyed the heck out of and some are hated by almost everyone. This inconsistency is what makes people end up not liking Digimon anymore.

But not all hope is lost and gone. Digimon still has a strong following in Japan and China, even if now it’s only fueled by nostalgia. We just need a spark to light up the fire and it may come with the release of Digimon Adventure 02: The Beginning. Though with the track record of inconsistency and the remake of Digimon Adventure in 2020 being a flop, it’s hard to hold out hope for this series going forward.

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