One of biggest franchises in pop culture over the last few decades has been Pokémon, which has expanded its reach from a video game brand to a collectible card game, anime series, films, toys, and more. Like any pop culture juggernaut, Pokémon has had to battle a huge field of competitors; some that are a direct rip-off and others that started around the same time and just got unfairly lumped in with all the other so-called imitators.
There's little debating that Pokémon's single biggest-- and definitely longest-lasting-- direct competitor has been the Digimon franchise. Starting at almost the exact same time-- and initially owing more to Tamagotchi than Pokémon, which both brands no doubt owe a debt of gratitude to-- it's probably not fair to dismiss Digimon as a "Pokémon rip-off," though Pokémon superfans are often eager to do exactly that. While plenty of people are fans of both franchises, the battle between the two has become akin to Star Wars vs Star Trek, with the implication that everyone needs to pick a side and can't be a huge fan of them both.
How does the internet respond to such a rivalry? Through memes, of course! While we aren't picking sides here, you will probably notice that this list tends to skew a bit towards the pro-Digimon side of the battle-- but it's to be expected that far more memes exist defending Digimon as it is definitely the underdog.
Here are 15 Hilarious Digimon Vs Pokémon Memes.
15 Who's Ripping Off What Now?
Most debates between Pokémon and Digimon fans very quickly go to which one came first. After all, whichever one came second is most assuredly the copycat, the logic goes. While it might seem like a fairly easy point to settle, it's not nearly as cut and dry as it should be.
The very first Pokémon product was the dual Red and Green Game Boy releases, which hit Japan in 1996. Digimon was technically born out of the Tamagotchi-esque Digital Monster electronic pet toy released in 1997. So Pokémon came first, right?
Well, it's tough to prove that Bandai had zero plans to launch Digital Monster/Digimon prior to playing Pokémon, and managed to scramble and have it all put together in a matter of months as a response. The most likely explanation is that both were conceived of and developed in tandem as successors to Tamagotchi.
14 The Protagonist Problem
The main arm of both franchises is their respective anime series. There are people who don't even play any Pokémon or Digimon games, but they enjoy watching the anime. It's obviously a matter of opinion which is actually "better," so that's not the route that the debate typically takes. Like with so much Pokémon/Digimon squabbling, the point of contention turns to which one has more originality and creativity.
The creator of this meme calls out Pokémon's creativity by saying that the creators of the show can't even come up with a new main protagonist for each season.
Worse still, Ash doesn't seem to grow or change in any significant way. On the other hand, Digimon has had protagonists that grow, age, evolve, and eventually give way to new ones as the series has gone on.
13 It's All About The Games
As we previously mentioned, various members of these two fandoms only ever engage in one particular aspect of each of them. Of those different aspects, the video games have the most amount of people who participate in those and only those, making a very real case for the video game branches of Pokémon and Digimon being the primary part of those franchises.
To that end, there's little arguing that Pokémon has that part of this battle well in hand, especially in the West where Digimon games often don't even get localized outside of Japan. Meanwhile, there is a new Pokémon game just about every year, sometimes multiple per year, and it continues to be one of Nintendo's top-selling franchises.
When the next core installment hits the Switch, the first time a mainline Pokémon game will come to a console, this part of the debate will more or less be settled for good.
12 You Say You Want An Evolution
Ah yes, monster evolution-- the heart and soul of both the Pokémon and Digimon franchises. Much of the appeal of both series is to watch these initially cute little creatures evolve into increasingly bigger, more menacing, and more fantastical beasts. For instance, in Pokémon, you have adorable little Charmander who eventually evolves into the epic dragon known as Charizard.
There tends to be a fairly low ceiling on how big and scary a Pokémon monster can get.
On the other hand, Digimon creatures eventually grow to the size of buildings, or in other cases, evolve into tough-- and sometimes, quite attractive and ill-dressed-- humanoid creatures. Unless you just really have an affection for Pokémon's particular brand of monsters, it's kind of hard not to side with Digimon on this one.
11 It's Best Not To Overthink It
There isn't much point in trying to go down a logic rabbit hole with most video games or anime, but certainly not with fantasy video games and anime about monsters that evolve into other monsters.
The logic-- or lack thereof-- behind the evolutionary path of the creatures is probably the least of the realism issues with these two franchises, honestly.
This meme puts forth the idea that Digimon fans are much more willing to just go with the logic of their franchise, and realize that decisions are made entirely out of what the creators thought would be the most "cool" evolutions-- and that Pokémon fans aren't as willing to do the same. We don't know if we entirely agree that Pokémon fans have trouble suspending their disbelief for the sake of enjoying themselves, but it's still a funny meme and a good lesson in just going with the flow.
10 Sick burn, bro!
As productive and intelligent as a lot of internet debates can be-- even ones involving which monster-raising and -battling anime and video game franchise is better-- many of them essentially devolve into two people shooting "Oh yeah? Well..." back and forth and not saying anything of substance.
Though this comic ultimately takes the side of Pokémon, it is also poking fun at these kinds of arbitrary oneupsmanship fights that people have about their fandoms, fights that really don't-- and can't-- ever have any kind of logical, satisfying conclusion. They generally just go until one person either gets too irritated or too bored.
How fun would it be if these petty arguments could just be settled by whomever it occurs to first to summon their dragon?
9 No Monsters Were Harmed In The Making of this meme
When you really stop to think about it, the monsters in Pokémon are being held captive by their trainers, forced to fight other monsters mostly just for the entertainment of and prizes for their "masters." Even the way they are rounded up is cruel, going about their business, grazing on grass and drinking from a stream, when some human comes up behind them and whips a ball at them, trapping them inside and bringing them out when it's time to make them fight.
In Digimon, the monsters actually feel a bit more like pets, and the way the monsters are "caught" feels much less cruel.
Sure, they still fight, but it is usually for a more noble reason than just becoming the best at a gym or whatever - more on that particular difference later.
8 Evolutions courtesy of Napoleon Dynamite
Although a liger-- a cross between a lion and a tiger-- is actually a real animal and not one that Napoleon Dynamite made up, it of course looks nothing like his fantastical drawing of it. But, really, is anything cooler than the magical creatures that teenagers doodle in their notebooks between algebra homework and unsent love letters to someone in their history class?
The evolutions in Digimon feel very much like they were designed by nerdy teenagers taking animals and sticking things like guns, wings, and boxing gloves on them.
By contrast, Pokémon evolutions kind of feel like the creatures just get bigger and increasingly more covered in whatever element is their expertise. Sure, a dog with flames shooting off of his back is cool-- but not as cool as one with a rail gun mounted to him.
7 I Don't Know What We're Yelling About!
Let's take a little break here for some perspective. Much of the ammo that the two sides of the Pokémon/Digimon debate come up with is pretty arbitrary, and a lot of the time, they are saying the same basic things only in different ways.
We're presenting a meme that pokes fun at the futility of this whole debate, and shows how silly it must look to an outsider who probably couldn't tell a Pokémon from a Digimon from a Bakugan from a Chinpokomon-- and certainly wouldn't know which one of those is just a parody of the other three.
Having in-depth discussions about pop culture isn't necessarily a waste of time, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't all have a sense of humor about ourselves and how worked up we get about ultimately trivial things.
6 Is it better to evolve first...
Here we go, some more "which came first?" prodding. Technically, Pokémon did come first, and as such, it did most things first. It had video games first, it had an anime first, and it had a physical card game first.
We can spend all day talking about who did what better, but there is something to be said about who did it first.
iPhone may ultimately improve upon many facets of Android phones, but Android phones still deserve proper for credit for how many things it did first. There can't be innovators without there first being originators.
Of course, Pokémon fans aren't necessarily willing to concede that their fandom isn't the originator and the innovator, but that gets into personal opinion territory. Facts are facts, and Pokémon was not only the first, but the first to evolve.
5 ...or evolve best?
There is a lot more to this whole evolution thing beyond who did it first, even if you are sticking to facts. How about this for a fact: the average Pokémon character only evolves a handful of times, and it's generally in a linear fashion. Digimon creatures, as illustrated by the chart in the meme above, can not only taking different evolutionary paths but can ultimately evolve into nearly a dozen different creatures.
There is really only one way to side with Pokémon on this one, and that is to point out the beauty of simplicity.
There is definitely something to be said for keeping things simple, streamlined, and elegant.
There's also something to be said for being as complicated and elaborate as possible. That's exactly what makes fantasy so interesting in the first place.
4 Now You've Done It
One of the biggest things that separates the creatures of Pokémon and the creatures of Digimon is that Digimon's monsters can evolve into humanoid beings that look almost like Greek gods.
Maybe you don't want your pet monsters to become voluptuous, godlike superheroes.
Maybe you prefer your pocket monsters to stay cute animals. If that means you would rather have Pikachu fighting at your side than, say, Superman or Thor, that's entirely your prerogative. Maybe it would be extremely ill-advised and wouldn't make very much sense as a realistic choice-- but, again, that's your prerogative. Nonetheless, Thor can control lighting, talk, and swing a giant superpowered hammer around, so maybe humanoid is better sometimes. TK and Angemon would certainly agree.
3 Pacifism is overrated
Despite what politicians and certain news outlets would have us believe, video games aren't nothing but ultra-violent firearms simulators. One need look no further than Nintendo as proof that plenty of games-- and in fact, some of the most acclaimed and best-selling of the last few years-- have little violence and almost no guns to speak of. In fact, when Nintendo does make a "shooter," they make it about adorable squid children shooting brightly-colored ink-- mostly at the floors and walls-- out of glorified squirt guns.
It should go without saying that the "violence" in Pokémon games is largely that of the Saturday morning cartoon variety, without a firearm in sight. Digimon, on the other hand, has no shame in not only arming its monsters, but giving them enough weaponry to take on an entire field of Call of Duty players.
2 The Sincerest Form of Flattery
It might seem like we're revisiting this particular argument a lot, but it's hard not to have it occupy a significant percentage of this list as its one of the biggest points of debate between Pokémon and Digimon fans. We've established that Pokémon was first. It's a cold, hard, indisputable fact. But does that automatically make Digimon a Pokémon clone?
The argument for Digimon's originality typically focuses on how it was a direct descendant of Tamagotchi, and any similarities it has with Pokémon are a result of Pokémon also drawing inspiration from Tamagotchi. Where things get a little more questionable is that Pokémon had established its overall look and vibe well before Digimon did, and the Digimon anime and games have a distinct Pokémon flavor to them.
Essentially, the two franchises have grown and evolved together and borrow liberally from each other, so it's probably all a wash.
1 How Do You Like Your Stakes?
Obviously, reducing the whole of Pokémon lore to being a battle with the bumbling Team Rocket leaves out a lot of significant events with genuine, terrifying danger. That has still been one of the main through-lines of the anime series, and Team Rocket is generally seen as Ash's primary rivals, so it's not entirely unfair to suggest that Pokémon is very often a rather low-stakes affair.
Then again, Digimon "saving the internet" doesn't seem like all that much more significant of a reason to fight, either. What the meme is really getting at the heart of is why Pokémon is so beloved, while Digimon is largely forgotten, especially in North America.
Could it be stronger marketing? Better video game quality? Characters that make for cuter plushies? Pokémon's presence in Super Smash Bros? Who knows. Just enjoy whichever one you enjoy, and don't sweat public perception.
What do you prefer: Pokémon or Digimon? Let us know in the comments!