Mega Evolution: Did Pokemon Steal from Digimon? Let’s Settle This.

anime research

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:

  • DigiEgg
  • Baby
  • In-Training
  • Rookie
  • Champion
  • Ultimate
  • Mega

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
  • Child
  • Adult
  • Perfect
  • Ultimate


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
  • GaoGaiGar
  • InuYasha
  • Ranma 1/2
  • Magical Doremi
  • Moetan
  • Cardcaptor Sakura
  • Mermaid Melody
  • Sonic the Hedgehog
  • Naruto
  • Rosario Vampire
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!
  • Shugo Chara!
  • Voltron
  • Demashitta! Powerpuff Girls Z
  • Bleach
  • Q-Ko-Chan the Earth Invader Girl
  • Tokyo Mew Mew
  • Pretty Cure
  • D.N.Angel
  • 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.

Or if you’re a 23-year-old overweight woman that draws things like this.

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.

16 thoughts on “Mega Evolution: Did Pokemon Steal from Digimon? Let’s Settle This.

  1. Pingback: Pokemon vs. Digimon: Which came first? | Magnetricity

  2. dudebro

    no offense dude what about snatchmon and mega metwo y i am not here to offend you but they do look similar both have an ass tail head thing

  3. dudebro

    but like you said japan likes nick names so pretty much it was a coincidence tamagotchi means egg watch so it is a coincidence but digmon is more likely inspired by godzilla you can tell by looking at greymon

  4. Prowlered01

    The Pokemon and Digimon franchises have been fighting for a while, but in terms of popularity, accessibility, and income, Pokemon overshadows Digimon. Also, Digimon is not widely known in America anymore. (Where I live, only one other person knows about Digimon.) :3

  5. Isabelll

    Ok well my theory is this: If digimon or pokemon wanted to copy off of eachother, they would try to not make it obvious, and taking the information she gave us, which was that Pokemon came first, like you said dudebro, snatchmon and mega mewtwo DO look very similar, ( and even though I am a pokemon fan, I think snatchmon looks cooler ) the copying COULD go the other way around. Or we could both be completely wrong and it just could have been a coincidence. Thats what ALOT of things are. :3

  6. Honkel

    It doesn’t matter if something was ditched or not tbqh. And didn’t they use digivices to temporarily evolve a digimon? Im pretty sure they did, so yes digimon DID come up with the idea first.

  7. Digimonfanforlife

    agree with you only a true digimon would know this go watch digimon x evolution and you well see just how Many digimon can’t go to there full potential only the royal knights and some x antibody digimon can so yea they do need a tamer and digivice and crest to reach ultimate and if the US named them mega first then your saying pokemon did not steal it and your saying “probably” how do know that what makes you think someone names something without thinking of it in fact digimon has mega if ultimate is not enough umm Omegamon has it so yea……

    1. John

      The guy who made this argument Wikipedia everything to make a argument,not actually digging into Digimon hands on.I can tell you here now.Pokemon mega evolution completely ripped off Digimon.Why do you think Pokemon creators did it, because there are so many loopholes.Mega evolution since I was young in the 90s was a Digimon term state whatever.I don’t give a shit what this Pokemon brown nose says or the next.

  8. John

    So many holes in this guy’s argument,and must of never heard of copyright infringement.Guranteed he never played Digimon,there are some Digimon that have more evloutions than others.So that one specific order he has renders irrelevant.Then lables a list of dopie animes,that are not even the same genre as Pokemon not Digimon.Buddy I literally wanna choke the ignorance out of you.

    1. Raizen Post author

      Hi John, thanks for leaving a comment on this page. Your comment seems pretty airtight, with the exception of a few points that I’ll quote here.

      “So many holes in this guy’s argument,and must of never heard of copyright infringement.”
      If there are holes in my arguments, why not point out at least one? Unless you do this, you’re not refuting anything.

      “Guranteed he never played Digimon,”
      That’s an assumption that you’ve made. I actually have played Digimon. Not that anyone has to play a certain game to make observations based on information available to everyone.

      “there are some Digimon that have more evloutions than others.So that one specific order he has renders irrelevant.”
      Yeah, some digimon have more evolutions than others. This makes it different from Pokemon, right?

      “Then lables a list of dopie animes,that are not even the same genre as Pokemon not Digimon.”
      It’s almost as though I wanted to make the case that transforming characters aren’t unusual or exclusive to Pokemon or Digimon. If only I said as much in my post above. Hold on, I did say so, and you missed it. Oops.

      “Buddy I literally wanna choke the ignorance out of you.”
      You’ll save yourself a road trip once you realize that all the ignorance is coming from you.

      You’ve made some terrible arguments, but aside from that, your comment is quite eloquent. Of course, we’d also have to ignore the spelling errors, grammar mistakes, the threat of violence, and everything else about what you said. All this considered, you probably shouldn’t say anything. Aside from that, very eloquent, indeed.

  9. C

    “Or if you’re a 23-year-old overweight woman that draws things like this” You’re disgusting and rude.

  10. YourFatMom

    I saw you are still active, I hope you get to see my message.

    Saying “Kari Kamiya” doesn’t make you a fan, you mentioned the Japanese and English evolution names, but sadly, you used the dub name for that character, true name is “Hikari Yagami”, it is important? Probably.

    Isn’t just that someone created a “dub” that everyone got used to, the dub names and terms get carried on the whole franchise, just as how everyone is used to Bulbasaur but have no idea that its true name is Fushigidane… Ash is very well known, I wonder if even half of Pokemon fans know who Satoshi is… So even if you made a point, it is a bit useless once you realise that it is used officialy on their media… Or are you telling me that everything we got of Pokemon “in english” is fake too? Mostly names yeah, but it is your point, believe me that Pokemon/Nintendo despite being initially in Japan, they know perfectly what happens worldwide, so chances are that they were aware of the term.

    Digimon World 2 was the first game that used the term “Mega” as far as I know. (I know you aren’t a Digimon fan, but here is a little fun fact, “Mega”/Ultimate in japanese, didn’t existed in the first releases of Digimon media, which means that Ultimate was firstly used by the “dub” which makes my previous statement feel a bit weak because even knowing that, the japanese devs decided to call the new evolution stage “Ultimate” despite already being used in the dub)

    I hope you saw my message and managed to read it completely (I bet you won’t), anyway, sadly, half of the comments are from salty Digimon fans, no wonder why you put that image in the header, it fits perfectly…


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