Could 2021 be the year Digimon's popularity surpasses Pokemon?
Digimon and Pokemon are two mega franchises that came out of Japan in the late 1990's and we are now passing over 20 years and still producing new cartoons, cards, games and memorabilia to this day. Although Pokemon stands as the Champion of the two franchises overall but maybe not as much as you thought! Pokemon has done one thing consistently to stay on top and that is they have been phenomenal about the development of their video games that have consistently released games within two to three year intervals as well as revamping their style of play in the Trading Card game to the point where only Magic is it's real competitor. Digimon maybe not be as popular these days or as recognizable as Pokemon to the newer generations but now in 2021, it has the potential to once again rival Pokemon's success.
Digimon Adventure first came out August 1, 1999, while Digimon toys were released as early as 1997, it blew up in popularity following the release of it's first television show. The show was based on 7 children attending summer camp who after mysteriously receiving a digivice were all sucked into the Digital World, where they then met and befriended their Digimon partners. Utilizing their Digivices the children were able to digivolve their Digimon partners into different levels in order to defeat the Darklords in order to save the Digital World and their own world.
The idea of evolving your partners is very different in Digimon then Pokemon, whereas each Digimon's evolution line can vary. For example; not every Rookie Agumon will digivolve into a Greymon, some may become GeoGreymon or Agunimon or even Tyrannomon. Digimon are born/reborn from Digi-Eggs and their Digi-volution line goes as follow; Baby Digimon to In-Training to Rookie level.
I know it does get kind of crazy. To Sum it up, Rookie Digimon Digivolve to Champion usually growing in size, then Ultimate then Mega. If a Rookie Digimon has already Digivolved to Mega before they can Warp Digivolving straight to their Mega Form. Over the years there have been some additions to make these Mega Digimon look more detailed (and presumably to sell more toys) by creating an Ultra form (example: Wargreymon and MetalGarurumon fusing to become Omnimon/Omegamon) as well as Burst Mode. This is where Digimon separates itself from Pokemon as they can always revert to a prior evolution if need be and even into different Digimon evolution lines altogether. Now that we've covered how it's evolutions are different from similar concepts like Pokemon, let's explore ways this franchise can keep setting themselves apart.
Officially released in Japan last year the new Digimon Card will be expanding to North America and Europe come January 29, 2021 (unless you are a super nerd like myself and was able to get your hands on the early release booster boxes). They will be releasing booster packs (BT-01) in addition to 3 Starters Decks, highlighting the main characters of the first season as Taichi and War Greymon's Gaia Red, Yamato and Metal Garurumon's Cocytus Blue and TK and Angemon's Heaven Yellow and all three starter decks will be retailing for $9.99 each; and they come with a free booster pack as well!
The card game is simple once you get the hang of it, Digivolve your Digimon and take down your opponents defenses, and there's even an App that provides a turn by turn tutorial (which I highly suggest). Not only does the artwork on these cards look incredible the game but some of the backgrounds illustrate correlation with the new Digimon Adventure 2020 series.
Digimon Adventure 2020
2020 was a big year for Digimon as they released their new card game, released the film Digimon: Last Evolution as well as a newly rebooted Digimon Series based off the shows original show. Why? Well they needed to re-invent the series as it doesn't hold up to today's standard of entertainment and they figured reboot it with the same children and revamp the story they can bring in the old fans and new ones.
It worked, everyone that I knew growing up loved Digimon growing up loves the new series just as much if not more than the original. They cut filler and deepened the storyline with new Digimon lore that still makes future projects like Digimon Tri and Last Evolution relevant. The significant changes that were made with the rebooted series was to make the kids younger, and to set it in modern day 2020, where it accurately portrays just how crucial of a role the internet plays in our societal infrastructure.
Hopes for Next Series
Whether this show will pick up where it left off or if it will continue in the way the older series did with Season 2's Digidestineds. As much as I would love to the return of Season 2 kids, I want to see other new storylines more. Since it is set in Japan why not set series in the USA or Europe? Considering all of the modern world heavily relies on the internet for nearly everything it would only make sense for there to be other Nations looking into the Digital World that resides within the Internet. Such as the DATS (Digital Accident Tactics Squad) that works with Humans and Digimon as seen in Digimon Tri but this was also a major plot point of Digimon Season 5 as well.
How about a whole new series?
Set in 2021, Alanna, 13 years old and her group of friends wander near an old construction site as they cross the fence they look up to see a giant creature flying away from the site. They explore further only to find that it is abandoned and stumble upon mysterious eggs, they pick them up and they begin to glow. The children decide to each bring the eggs home being unsafe to keep them in construction site. Alanna wakes up the next morning to something eating out of her trash can and jumps awake when she hears it talking about how delicious old ramen is and then it evolves to its next form. Alanna screams and her parents come upstairs but she is able to hide the little Digimon talking, saying it was her TV, they believe her and go off to work (unbeknownst to her parents work for the Digimon Agency). She then heads to school only to see that she is being followed by her new partner, so she reluctantly brings her partner to school with her, only to be teased for having a stuffed animal. After school the same girls teasing her is attacked by an experimental Digimon that was created as a Virus Hunter, to prevent Digimon from coming to the Digital World as it is looking for Alanna and her new partner. Despite being bullied Alanna and her new partner digivolve together to defeat the rogue Digimon. They discover that someone is after the Digimon that have been re-born in Human world in order to take control on the internet and subsequently both worlds.
My pitch with this idea is not only new Digimon but new digivolution lines as well as giving a female character the lead. The Digi-egg hatching in the Human world could mean that the prior evolution lines are cutoff and can not access them until they get back to the Digital World and until then they have to learn of new evolutions by fusing with their Human Partners so that the characters and Digimon's character development influence what Champion, Ultimate and Mega forms they could digivolve into.
This idea combines the best parts of Season's 2 through 4, where character growth and circumstances would dictate the best digivolution for each battle. Also Armor digivolving can be used as more of a armor/weapon added on for flavor, much like the way that MetalGreymon in the new series gets a new arm cannon or WereGarurumon gets hollow light wings.
Digimon has done one thing better than Pokemon though and that is grow old with us, and we saw that in Digimon: Last Evolution. The movie picks up where the original Digi-Destined's are now entering Adulthood and deciding on their respective career paths while still having their beloved Digimon partners. It is one of the best anime movies I've seen in recent years and I highly recommend it and don't want to give any spoil any parts of the movie. Although we could get another movie, it seems more likely we're going to see a Digimon Season 2 following the the same formula they used to reboot Season 1, I'm sure they will keep up this pace and keep giving us some solid Digimon entertainment. Let's hear it though whose your favorite Digimon or what would you like to see in future shows/movies or games.....(it will survive!)
My Favorite Digimon:
Side Note: There is a Digimon Re:Arise app but fair warning it is highly addicting and can be really tough to get a specific Mega level Digimon if you had a favorite in mind!