I’ve heard it said over and over again that Pokemon stole from Digimon with it’s new Mega Evolution game mechanic introduced in Pokemon X and Y. And while this is not true, it’s repeated again and again by uninformed people who didn’t bother looking into it.
Their statements basically come down to this:
Pokemon, after coming up with original content and implementing new and novel gameplay mechanics for well over a decade, decided to steal the concept of Mega Evolution from Digimon, and thought it would go unnoticed in spite of the fact that millions of people have played Digimon, and that there would be plenty of geniuses out there who notice the vague similarities.
The main reason anyone makes this mistake seems to be because of the use of the word, “mega”. But here’s the thing:
There are no mega digimon.
This might sound surprising, but it’s actually true. I know that if you’re playing the English version of Digimon, the Digimon growth stages are listed as follows:
And I know what some of you are thinking: “Look Raizen! It’s right there! Mega! Its the last one on the list! Did you miss it?”
However, what most English players of Digimon don’t realize is that, in the English versions, the assignment of the words Ultimate and Mega for the last two stages is the result of a mistake.
Here is what the stages were called in the original Japanese version:
- DigiTama (DigiEgg)
- Baby I
- Baby II
This is what the stages are actually called. Notice how there is no Mega stage? It is actually called “Ultimate”.
When Digimon was being translated to English, a mistake was made: The “Perfect” stage was instead called the “Ultimate” stage. The translators were probably informed that the final Digimon stage was called “Ultimate”, and thinking that the Perfect stage was the last one (as the word “Perfect” implies completion), they assigned the name to that stage, instead. When the real Ultimate stage was revealed to them, they had already given the name to something else. Oops. So the last stage was called “Mega” instead.
So there you go, the only reason anyone thinks that there is a mega digimon stage is due to a mistake made by translators. There are no mega digimon.
Some, being informed of this irrefutable statement of fact, might still take issue with the temporary nature of Mega Evolution as being too similar to the temporary nature of Ultimate-level digimon. Does it really need to be pointed out that both Pokemon and Digimon came from Japan, which are very familiar with the concept of transforming characters?
The following is an incomplete list of Japanese IPs with characters that can transform:
- Dragonball Z
- Kamen Rider
- Sailor Moon
- Ranma 1/2
- Magical Doremi
- Cardcaptor Sakura
- Mermaid Melody
- Sonic the Hedgehog
- Rosario Vampire
- Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha
- Shugo Chara!
- Demashitta! Powerpuff Girls Z
- Q-Ko-Chan the Earth Invader Girl
- Tokyo Mew Mew
- Pretty Cure
- Most or nearly all super sentai genre anime and manga not already on this list
- Most or nearly all mahou shoujo genre anime and manga not already on this list
And there’s more. Lots more.
There is a reason that the concept of transformation and reversion occurs so frequently in manga and anime: it’s a sweet concept. So don’t be surprised if, after nearly twenty years, GameFreak finally decides to implement it as a gameplay mechanic in Pokemon (counting characters like Rotom, Castform, Shaymin, Meloetta, Kyurem, Giratina, and Deoxys, they’ve been doing it for a while).
At this point, someone might grasp for straws, saying, “What about Digimon crests? They’re like mega stones! Pwned!!” What about them? Crests were pretty much discarded as a concept after the end of Digimon Adventure 1 and 2, when Digimon was still young. They were a plot device that emphasized character development rather than a necessity for digivolution. Digimon could reach the Ultimate stage without their help. Now if only the Digimon anime emphasized that point… Oh yeah, it did, and legions of Digimon fans missed it. Some fans they are.
A thing about fans: it seems like a lot of people take the word “fan” lightly, and apply it to themselves not knowing what it means. People seem to like calling themselves “fans” of something if they like a concept or sometimes watch an episode of a TV show. What most people don’t seem to realize is that “fan” is short for “fanatic”, and that it implies a consummate level of involvement that perhaps goes well beyond nerdhood. A person isn’t a “fan” of House M.D. if they watch an episode now and then. A person is a fan of House M.D. if they’ve watched just about every episode, maybe some of them several times.
A person isn’t a Digimon fan just because they watched the Digimon anime on TV once. Also, a person doesn’t get to call themselves a Digimon fan if they didn’t know that there wasn’t really a mega digivolution stage, because they didn’t know one of the most basic things about Digimon. However, if you have a poster of Kari Kamiya bathing on your bedroom wall, you probably are a Digimon fan.
A lot of people miss this, but mega evolution isn’t in every case from a third stage to a fourth one. In some cases, it’s from a first stage to a second one (such as for Mawile and Absol). In this sense, mega evolution could perhaps be more closely compared to “burst digivolution”, but most people who are familiar with Digimon aren’t even aware of what burst digivolution is because most people who are aware of Digimon don’t know much about it outside of the anime up to Digimon Tamers. After that, Digimon fell from cultural relevance, and the show and games could have been about just about anything, and people would largely not even notice what they were doing.
So some might point to burst digivolution and say that Pokemon stole that idea. Nope. Yeah, there are digimon that require an item to digivolve, but Pokemon has been doing that for a long time. It’s been a thing since the year 2000, when Slowpoke and Onix needed hold items to evolve to Slowking and Steelix, and there were others like them. Remember that?
However, it’s a moot point. Pointing out coincidental similarities between two very similar intellectual properties pretty much gets nowhere, especially considering that one of them (namely, Pokemon) still sells Nintendo handhelds and has had characters that appeared on commercial airliners, among other things, while the other (namely, Digimon) hasn’t been culturally significant in well over a decade. Really, why would a highly successful intellectual property that’s going on to two decades old want to emulate a different one that hasn’t been popular in a long time, and wasn’t really a big deal to begin with?
I think any reasonable person would be persuaded by now. Pokemon did not steal the Mega Evolution mechanic from Digimon. If you know someone who disagrees, there is something that you can do for the winning side: provide them a link to this article.
Digimon fans, don’t get upset. You can still enjoy your favorite game while knowing that Pokemon didn’t steal from it. It’s been the case for over a decade, anyway. This isn’t an article about how Pokemon came first (you can read more about that here). In fact, you probably just learned something about your favorite game (that there is no Mega digivolution stage). Everybody wins.