I know, I know – I’ve basically just admitted to high treason. After all, Digimon is, at its heart, a franchise that was created when someone said at Toei said, “Hey, so there’s this Pocket Monster thing all the kids seem to be talking about…”
The Pokemon video games vastly outstrip any of the Digimon games in terms of enjoyment and quality – yeah, yeah, those handheld Digivice games were a lot of fun, but they were basically just Tamagotchis with enemies you could fight. I played through my D-3 three times, but it didn’t really have that staying power that even the oldest of the Pokemon games had – the internal clock on my Pokemon Blue was, at last check, in the ninety-nine hour range, and I’ll still fiddle with it now despite having defeated the thing.
I’m finally admitting what I recognized years ago, but never wanted to actually say – the various Digimon anime? Yeah, way better than the Pokemon TV series.
I’ve been re-watching the first and third seasons of Digimon, fansubbed, and I’ve been reminded of this simple fact. But I never wanted to actually say so before, because I’ve always really loved Pokemon. But the TV series got seriously derivative of its own self ages ago – I wouldn’t dream of checking out new episodes of it or new movies, because I’ve seen it all before. Meanwhile, I definitely followed the fifth season of Digimon (Digimon Savers) when it was coming out in fansubs a few years back. While Digimon seasons have had the same basic structure – beat the bad guys! – the production staff have managed to make them distinct enough from one another that I don’t get bored from one season to the next. And the casts are more varied (they also become more well-developed as the seasons ensue, despite switching up the casts with each season).
Pokemon, though… well, once you’ve seen one gym battle, you’ve seen them all. And once you’ve seen five trainer battles, you’ve seen them all. Its along the same lines as why I could never get into Yu-gi-oh – the whole battle thing got old very, very fast. Digimon pulls the battle-an-episode thing, too, but tosses some more character development into it than you get with your standard Pokemon episode (especially as concerns character development for folks other than Ash/Satoshi).
So, ugh, yes, I like the Digimon anime leagues more than the Pokemon anime. And I’d actually be willing to legitimately recommend something like Digimon Tamers (the third season) to an anime fan. No, really – don’t you know who was the head writer Digimon Tamers? Chiaki J. Konaka – y’know, the guy in charge of Serial Experiments Lain? He also did scripts for Shadow Star Narutaru, Princess Tutu, Big O, and Vampire Princess Miyu, and did work on… *cough* Futari Ecchi. So we’re talking about a pretty legit man behind the scenes for Digimon Tamers – and it shows, as we go from a fairly light-hearted story about a boy and his… creature, to a psychological struggle against evil involving the manipulation of a young girl in mourning. I’m not going to claim its the BEST THING EVAR but it is surprisingly good.
And its much better than anything Pokemon ever delivered.
Admittedly, Digimon is something which really doesn’t start off all that hot – the first season, for the first two or so story arcs doesn’t really stand out from much (although I still enjoyed it much more than the same period of time in Pokemon). The final story arc is much, much better than the early episodes – the second villain in this arc is delightfully creepy (Pinnochimon, who spends his time manipulating the children, forcing the youngest into playing a version of hide and seek with guns, and convincing one of the older ones that the other kids hate him – and, to top it all off, he speaks in an ultra-creepy voice), and things get darker from there. Digimon 02 brings the angst, Digimon Tamers brings the Chiaki J. Konaka, the fourth season can be ignored, and Digimon Savers brings in older protagonists. What the hell is really different about the tenth season of Pokemon versus the first? Ok, Ash has some different Pokemon and different friends… but is he really all that distinguishable from his mid-season self in the first season?
And, NO, I’m not just saying Digimon anime are better because they provide much, much better fodder for yaoi.
No, really, I swear!
But, legit – if you want to play a good video game, pick up your Game Boy… fuck, damn Nintendo changing shit, I mean ‘DS’, pick up your DS, and grab Pokemon randompreciousmetal/gem/element to play. But if you want to actually watch something worthwhile, watch Digimon – there are fansubs for the first and third seasons everywhere, you can watch 02 on Crunchyroll, and its still pretty easy to find fansubs for Digimon Savers online (fuck the fourth season, that was shit).
And now I’m going to the sixth circle of hell. Fucking anime.