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?