Digimon, short for “Digital Monsters”, is a Japanese media franchise encompassing virtual pet toys, anime, manga, video games, films and a trading card game. The franchise focuses on the eponymous creatures, who inhabit a “Digital World”, a parallel universe that originated from Earth’s various communication networks.
The franchise was created in 1997 as a series of virtual pets, akin to—and influenced in style by—the contemporary Tamagotchi or nano Giga Pet toys. The creatures were first designed to look cute and iconic even on the devices’ small screens; later developments had them created with a harder-edged style influenced by American comics. The franchise gained momentum with its first anime incarnation, Digimon Adventure, and an early video game, Digimon World, both released in 1999. Several anime series and films based on them have been released, and the video game series has expanded into genres such as role-playing, racing, fighting, and MMORPGs.
Digimon first appeared in narrative form in the one-shot manga C’mon Digimon, released in the summer of 1997. C’mon Digimon spawned the popular Digimon Adventure V-Tamer 01 manga, written by Hiroshi Izawa, which began serialization on November 21, 1998.
- C’mon Digimon
- Digimon Adventure V-Tamer 01
- Digimon Chronicle
- Digimon Next
- Digimon Xros Wars
- Digimon World Re:Digitize
- Digimon World Re:Digitize Decode
- Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth
- Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth – Hacker’s Memory
- Digimon Chronicle X
Yuen Wong Yu manhua
A Chinese manhua was written and drawn by Yuen Wong Yu, who based its storyline on the television series. This adaptation covers Digimon Adventure in five volumes, Digimon Adventure 02 in two, Digimon Tamers in four, and Digimon Frontier in three. The original stories are heavily abridged, though on rare occasions events play out differently from the anime. The Chinese-language version was published by Rightman Publishing Ltd. in Hong Kong. Yu also wrote D-Cyber.
Two English versions were also released. The first one was published by Chuang Yi in Singapore. The second one, which was adapted by Lianne Sentar, was released by TOKYOPOP in North America.
The three volumes for Digimon Frontier have been released by Chuang Yi in English. These have not been released by TOKYOPOP in North America or Europe. However, the Chuang Yi releases of Digimon Frontier were distributed by Madman Entertainment in Australia.
Dark Horse Comics published American-style Digimon comic books, adapting the first thirteen episodes of the English dub of Digimon Adventure in 2001. The story was written by Daniel Horn and Ryan Hill, and illustrated by Daniel Horn and Cara L. Niece.
The Italian publishing company, Panini, approached Digimon in different ways in different countries. While Germany created their own adaptations of episodes, the United Kingdom (UK) reprinted the Dark Horse titles, then translated some of the German adaptations of Adventure 02 episodes. Eventually the UK comics were given their own original stories, which appeared in both the UK’s official Digimon Magazine and the official UK Fox Kids companion magazine, Wickid. These original stories only roughly followed the continuity of Adventure 02. When the comic switched to the Tamers series the storylines adhered to continuity more strictly; sometimes it would expand on subject matter not covered by the original Japanese anime (such as Mitsuo Yamaki’s past) or the English adaptations of the television shows and movies (such as Ryo’s story or the movies that remained undubbed until 2005). In a money saving venture, the original stories were later removed from Digimon Magazine, which returned to printing translated German adaptations of Tamers episodes. Eventually, both magazines were cancelled.
Conception and creation
In 1996, the Tamagotchi was released, created by Akihiro Yokoi, Aki Maita and Takeichi Hongo. The Tamagotchi was one of the inspirations for the first release of the Digimon franchise, a device marketed in June 1997 with the name Digimon, short for Digital Monster. Aiming at the male audience and created by Akiyoshi Hongo (a pseudonym that refers to the creators of Tamagotchi), this device shows to players a virtual pet composed entirely of data and designed to play and fight. In February 1998, the DigiMon fighting game, compatible with Windows 95 and developed by Rapture Technologies, Inc., was announced. The one-shot manga C’mon Digimon, designed by Tenya Yabuno, was published in the Japanese magazine V-Jump by Shueisha in 1997.
A second generation of virtual pets was marketed six months after the launch of the first, followed by a third in 1998. Each player starts with a baby-level digital creature that has a limited number of attacks and transformations and to make the creature stronger by training and nourishing the creature; when the player is successful in a workout, the Digimon becomes strong, when the player fails, the Digimon becomes weak. Two devices can be connected, allowing two players to battle with their respective creatures, an innovation at the time, however, the battle is only possible from the moment the creature is in the child level or bigger. Playgrounds and subways were where the majority of users of the apparatus were concentrated; The virtual pet was banned in some Asian schools by being considered by parents and teachers as very noisy and violent. The first Digimon were created by Japanese designer Kenji Watanabe, influenced by American comics, which were beginning to gain popularity in Japan, and as such began to make his characters look stronger and “cool.” Other types of Digimon, which until the year 2000 totaled 279, came from extensive discussions and collaborations between the Bandai company members.
Digimon hatch from types of eggs which are called Digi-Eggs. In the English iterations of the franchise there is another type of Digi-Egg that can be used to digivolve, or transform, Digimon. This second type of Digi-Egg is called a Digimental in Japanese. They age via a process called “Digivolution” which changes their appearance and increases their powers. The effect of Digivolution, however, is not permanent in the partner Digimon of the main characters in the anime, and Digimon who have digivolved will most of the time revert to their previous form after a battle or if they are too weak to continue. Some Digimon act feral. Most, however, are capable of intelligence and human speech. They are able to digivolve by the use of Digivices that their human partners have. There are currently over 1400 Digimon.