Am I a glutton for punishment or do I just like to see if we truly can learn to avoid repeating history? You decide.
In Japan, our main protaganist was named Satoshi. But clever marketing execs in the US changed his name to Ash Ketchum. Like the name Pokemon itself, Ketchum is a play on words pretaining to the theme of the series which is to search the world for Pokemon, or Pocket Monsters and "Catch 'Em".
Ash begins the journey with a single reluctant Pikachu. He is given a talking encyclopedia called a Pokedex, that basically contains all Pokemon related knowledge and several "Pokeballs" which are used to capture said Pokemon.
He is later joined by Misty, whom, after he trashes her bike in an effort to save himself and Pikachu, follows him with the pretense of his paying her back for said bike. This is a running gag in the early parts of the series but is dropped as a "love interest" develops. They're also joined by Brock, who is one of many gym leaders, but has dreams of becoming a pokemon breeder. The name play theme continues as Brock and Misty are both indicivative of the type of Pokemon they specialize in, though Brock does gather a fair mix of Pokemon by what would be considered the second series.
The main villains are Jessie and James and one of the only talking (as in English or any other language the show has been translated into) Pokemon named Meowth. This trio routinely tries to capture or steal rare Pokemon, which for the duration of the first two seasons includes Ash's Pikachu.
The first two seasons could be seen as two chapters of the same story, wherease seasons three, four and presumably five each have their own take on the central theme.
Human children discover a Digital World, which is essentially a byproduct of the Internet. This world is inhabited by data packs which take on various forms of life known as Digimon, or Digital Monsters. The Digimon either partner with the children, or in the case of Series 4, act as guides, and together they explore the world, try to survive it, and usually try to find a way out of it. Series 3 differs from this as the story begins in the "real world" and they have to find their way into the Digital world.
The technology changes in each series. For example, like the sonic screwdriver of Doctor Who fame, the Digivices can have a range of uses and applications depending on the plot.
People who say one is like the other, you're right.
Pokemon and Digimon are both shows involving children of various ages and dispositions interacting with sentient monsters as the central theme. Both shows are essentially toy commercials, no doubt. But so was Transformers and to hear some people talk you would think Transformers G1 was Shakespere's lost play.
Digimon was inspired the Tamagotchi's, which were popular and trendy at the time. Pokemon was inspired by the videogame of the same name and alot of the influences in the show came directly or indirectly from the game.
People who stick up for one over the other, you're right as well.
I got into Pokemon the series around the eleventh grade. I watched it regularly up until sometime after Todd, the photographer, made his four episode visit and left before people wondered who the hell invited him to tag along in the first place.
It was one continuous story but if you had started watching it in the middle, relax. The show would start over at the beginning and you could watch the series in it's entirety.
I discovered Digimon at roughly the same time and like Pokemon, I got into it sometime late in the series. I loved the story telling and the character development. I liked how Seasons Three and Four were two entirely different stories from One and Two as well as being original and creative takes in their own right, much the same way Alien and Aliens are often considered as two seperate movies inspite of being parts of the same story.
Both shows are imaginative and exist in such an expansive universe that they really make it easy to imagine yourself in them. As kids, didn't you like pretending you were a Ghostbuster, or your favorite superhero? In Pokemon, I didn't have to be Ash. I could be my own person with my own pokemon and my own story.
Digimon's biggest strength for me is the fact that no two characters are the same. Each one has his own set of struggles to overcome and it must be very challenging for the writers to not fall back on the same concept in each retelling of the story. For example:
Cody is the youngest of the season 2 Digidestined. One of his main challenges was being afraid that he was useless to the team. He overcame this fear when his team needed him and he was able to open Digi-Egg of Reliability.
In Season 4, Tommy is the "runt" as it were. And it would be so easy to have another "I'm so small but I make a big difference" character here. But instead Tommy is the spoiled brat who got everything he ever wanted and needed the others to take care of him.
His big development turned into a phrase I often fall back on about not keeping score. When you do something for someone, it should be because you care about them and want to help, not because you want something from them. And here you have two similar characters in different parts of the same story that could be so much alike, yet are so completely different.
Pokemon's main weakness is the lack of character development. All right, Ash wants to be a Pokemon master just like kids who want to be firemen and acrobats when they want to grow up. Fair enough. But everytime I see a new episode of the newer shows, what has he really accomplished? He always manages to catch or recieve the Starter pokemon for whatever game the series is promoting, but is he any closer to being a master of pokemon?
It's also the lazy storytelling. Ash catches Primape. Primape doesn't like him. Ash puts his own life on the line in saving Primeape and Primeape loves him now. The same thing gets repeated when his Charizard (The final form of Charmander) gets owned in a fight against a water pokemon.
Oh and why did Ash match up a firepokemon against a water pokemon? Didn't he learn in the beginning that certain types are weak against others?
If it's not Ash learning the same lesson forty times over, it's some other character learning it for the first time, but we the viewer feeling like it was forty-one.
That's not to say that Digimon is perfect either. To me the biggest weakness with Digimon was it's attempt to dominate the Silver Screen. In that way I think Pokemon did it better.
Whereas the Digimon movie was essentially three entirely seperate stories tied into a very loose plot, the first three Pokemon movies each at least had a tightly contained story which made sense from beginning to end.
To look at it another way, everything I liked about Digimon series was what I liked about the Pokemon movies. Everything I hated about the Digimon movie was what I didn't like in the Pokemon series.
Whew. Long winded post, but I hope it provides a platform to move into a much more civilized discussion than what the last thread degenerated into.