Pokemon vs. Digimon: more proof that Pokemon came first

Pocket_Monsters_volume_1_coverBefore this.

A while back, I wrote an article that explored the question of whether Pokemon or Digimon came first. What I didn’t expect was for the article to be the big hit that it was. As of this writing, it’s easily the single most viewed article I’ve written for this blog.

From what I’ve seen, the article struck a nerve among Digimon fans, who didn’t like me saying that Pokemon came first. However, I likely wouldn’t have typed up the article if they didn’t keep insisting that Digimon came first.

In fact, to this day, Digimon fans continue to insist that their game came first, saying that Pokemon took inspiration for its concept from them. Some of them even continue to insist this after reading my article!

They might not have a strong history of accepting facts, but that doesn’t mean that I won’t continue presenting them.

As we are well aware at this point, the first copyright for Digimon was made by Akiyoshi Hongo, and it was dated 1997. Meanwhile, the first copyright for Pokemon was made in 1995 by Game Freak, even though the first commercially available Pokemon product wasn’t released until February 1996.

But what if it could be demonstrated that Game Freak, the owners of Pokemon, copyrighted creative elements that would be implemented into Pokemon years before Pokemon was officially released?



Pictured above is a concept sketch for Capsule Monsters. If you’ve never heard of Capsule Monsters before, it’s the original concept for Pokemon. The picture above depicts a boy releasing a monster from a ball to fight another monster. Notice that Game Freak placed their name on this cover. Also, notice the copyright date: 1990.

If that weren’t enough, check out the following:


That’s instantly recognizable as the map of the Kanto region from the first generation of Pokemon games. The copyright date is a little hard to make out, but it does look like 1990, and the copyright holder is Game Freak Inc.

So, what does this mean? It means that basic elements of the Pokemon franchise, such as using monsters to battle other monsters, pokeballs, and even the map of the Kanto region, have existed in concept sketches and have been copyrighted years before someone decided to make something similar and call it “Digimon”.

There are more images like these that can be found on Bulbapedia, but I’ve selected these ones because they display the copyright dates. Other Capsule Monsters images shows early concept art for what would become pokeballs, pokemarts, and interaction between trainers on a route. It’s clear that these are concepts that would be implemented into Pokemon.

So, does the date of 1990 precede 1997? Yeah, it sure does. Does this mean that Pokemon came before Digimon? Yep. And it was being developed much earlier than many people originally thought. As of now, there’s no evidence of Digimon existing in any form prior to 1997.

So, that’s it. This proves that Game Freak didn’t steal from anybody with the Pokemon concept. Not that there was any reason for anyone to think that they did, but there are Digimon fans out there that think otherwise, for some reason.

Now, can we accept the facts and move on?

5 thoughts on “Pokemon vs. Digimon: more proof that Pokemon came first

  1. nlpaulblog

    I had always assumed Pokemon came first, but these documents are really amazing to see. Plus, the way I see it is that Pokemon is the better game series, while Digimon had the better anime (seasons 1 and 2). Loved reading this!

  2. Li Yang a

    I am interested in digimon vs pokemon topic and this really heated argument, but one thing that everyone is for whatever reason ignoring, all facts state that pokemon did come before digimon, but how can you forget the english language so much (or that your teacher didn’t teach you anything, which then, blame your stupid grade 1 english teacher) that you don’t realize that pokemon coming before digimon doesn’t mean digimon copied pokemon, pokemon just came out a year or so before digimon and they share the same genre, that’s it. You even counter-stated yourself, the basic elements, monster to monster battle, pokeball, the map of the kanto region, like really nigga? Read over what you stated, you did so much research on pokemon and digimon copyright dates, and only the pokemon’s original ideas, that you have no clue what digimon even is, monster to monster battle is the only out of the 3 you stated that are actually shared between the 2 games, and potentially digimon copied, but that aside, pokeball and map of kanto…I don’t need to go into details about that to say that that was just simply stupid. Here are some ideas that you have to take in when you make your next pokemon vs digimon proofs. You have only currently stated the “end product” of the first appearance, what about the 2’s development stages, or the creators before the development began? Also the first point that i pointed out, pokemon did come out before digimon as all facts lead, but that doesn’t at all mean digimon copied pokemon, have you gotten any information to where or how digimon copied pokemon? From your statement that you thought the early concept of the map and pokeballs digimon copied, it appears as if you have not yet gotten to any information regarding that, i do recommend you doing that as the digimon content is as rich as pokemon, it is way deeper than what most only-pokemon fans think.

    TL;DR: As all facts lead, pokemon coming before digimon is true, but it does not mean digimon copied pokemon, and also author messed up his statement, thinking digimon had a similar concept to pokeballs and the map of kanto.

    1. Raizen Post author

      Hello Li Yang a,

      The purpose of this article wasn’t to say that Digimon stole from Pokemon, but to say that Pokemon’s creative elements go way back before the release of Pokemon itself, and by extension, the first copyright of Digimon. The examples of pokeballs and the map of Kanto was intended to demonstrate the connection between Game Freak’s Pokemon and Game Freak’s idea of Capsule Monsters, which conceptually existed as far back as 1990, as the available evidence shows.

      There are Digimon fans that insist that Pokemon stole its basic concept from Digimon. If these fans weren’t doing this, we likely wouldn’t be talking about this. But they are, which is why I’ve presented a counter argument showing that the main creative elements in Pokemon date back at least seven years before Digimon was first copyrighted. Consider what it would take to steal an idea that wouldn’t come along until the better part of a decade later. Stuff like time machines, teams of espers, and alien supercomputers come to mind. It seems safer to apply Occam’s razor and assume that Satoshi Tajiri and a few of his friends actually developed the idea for Pokemon themselves. After all, if a person has those kinds of resources, why not use them to seek out winning lottery tickets?

      If I wanted to make the case that Digimon stole ideas from Pokemon, I’d probably make an article pointing out the many similarities between the two. However, that would take quite a while, and as of this writing, I don’t feel up for that. At this point, I find it satisfying having defended one of my favorite games from a false charge of plagiarism.

      1. Li Yang a

        Maybe i just didn’t see those comments containing the debates, but it does seem to me a really stupid thing to debate about pokemon stealing its basic conecepts from digimon, I was going say this in the previous post, and I will say it now, other than the fact that the 2 games share the same genre, of monster fighting, the 2 games most likely stood independent from one another. Otherwise, yeah, your facts are true, I shall support.

        You know, it is true that pokemon has a way bigger fan base, and people say that pokemon is more targeted towards children, that having an article stating the difference between the 2 is neccessary. Maybe I was just brought up to the topic differently (death battle), but I see a lot of just one-sentence comments of “digimon just copied pokemon”, “POKEMON IS SO MUCH BETTER THAN POKEMON BECAUSE IT CAME FIRST”, maybe they are children without a brain or something, but I think they really need to be held down to their place, maybe they just read an article about pokemon came before digimon and taken it as pokemon was the first of all and digimon just copied. I hope you see my point here.

  3. Pingback: Pokemon vs. Digimon: Why does it matter? | Magnetricity

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