Friday, May 29, 2020

Friday Creature Feature - Digimon

Digimon. Digital Monsters. Digimon are the champions.

Often misunderstood as a ripoff of Pokemon, Digimon is one of my oldest fandoms. I’ve gone out of my way to defend the franchise in the past, but today is more of an educational moment about what Digimon really are.

In an era that was full of monster/human team ups (Pokemon, Monster Ranchers, Yu-Gi-Oh, etc.) Digimon took their own spin on it. Instead of being based on Pokemon, as people think, it’s actually more like tamagotchi, as Digimon started out as virtual pets. While tamagotchi was marketed towards girls, Digimon was marketed towards boys. But enough of Digimon history. Let’s get into the monsters themselves.

There are eight animated Digimon continuities thus far and at least five of them exist in the same "multiverse". Depending on the universe in question, the origins of Digimon varies. That being said, there are some base characteristics that define what makes a Digimon, regardless of the universe. Digimon, or Digital Monsters, are made up of living data. They have a physical form, formed from computer data instead of DNA. Because Digimon are made of data, in most continuities they cannot be permanently destroyed, just reconfigured and reincarnated.

Digimon grow and develop through the process of Digivolution. Like evolution from Pokemon, Digimon change their physical form to become something stronger. In contrast to Pokemon, Digimon can typically only digivolve suddenly with the help of a human partner. Other Digimon seem to digivolve through natural progression of gaining experience from battle, much like Pokemon. Depending on how a Digimon is raised or how it grows, a Digimon can digivolve differently (kind of like Eevee in Pokemon). A prime example is how Guilmon digivolved to Megidramon when his partner was filled with anger, but when his partner was calm and collected, he became Gallantmon.

Unlike Pokemon, which exists within its own universe separate from ours, Digimon is set in what could be our universe. The Digimon themselves exist and come from the Digital World, a parallel world to our own created from computer data. The basis of the Digimon anime usually stem from the fact that Digimon slip across the border into our world or humans (usually children) slip into the Digital World. The fact that the anime is set in our world is part of the allure of the franchise for me.  Digimon and humans can travel to and from the Digital World through a sort of portal, depending on the continuity. Sometimes the portal is like a wormhole in space. Other times, the portal is literally created from a computer or other digital devices.

For the most part, use of these portals requires a Digivice, a piece of technology that links the a human (usually a child) to their Digimon partner. The design of the Digivice varies based on the season and the particular universe, but there are basic aspects that are pretty standard. Essentially the Digivice is modeled after the tamagotchi-like devices that began the franchise. In the anime, the Digivice is often an important key in the human partners reaching the Digital World, as previously stated, but more importantly they help the Digimon jump-start their digivolution process.

What did I miss, Digimon fans? Who's your favorite Digimon and who would you want as your partner?

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