Let battle commence

by Elise Harris

You might think Pokémon are a one of a kind phenomena. You might also think that once they’re gone you can save your money as your kids stop pestering you for the new toys.
You would be wrong.
But of the three biggies on satellite TV at the moment - Pokémon, Dragonball Z and Digimon - which is the mightiest?


Where can I catch it? Sky One

Longevity - Pokémon began after Digimon and the tamagotchi craze, but is now the biggest in global popularity. Its success continues to be overwhelming. 9

Movie monsters - The first Pokémon movie was released in Britain in April. Its worldwide success means a sequel was also released. A fourth feature has already been released in Japan. 9

Story and characters - Ash Ketchum journeys the world and encounters many Pokémon (which he catches in little red and white balls). He has many adventures along the way. Main character Ash is joined by gym leaders Misty and Brock and electric mouse Pikachu. Bad guys come in the shape of Jesse and James, inept members of Team Rocket, and their cat pokémon Meowth. Apart from Meowth, who speaks in full sentences, Pokémon communicate by repeating their names in different ways. eg Pikachu might say “Pika, pikka, pika-chu? Pikapika, Chuuu.” 8

How many monsters? There were 150. With the introduction of MewTwo in the movie, and 100 new pocket monsters appearing on the gold and silver versions of the GameBoy game the poké-count has risen to 251. New movies could see the introduction of even more.10

TV animation style - cute and cuddly. Pokémon don’t die in battle, they faint. Ash, Misty and most of the other human characters have huge, round eyes. The exception is Brock who has lines instead of eyes (but how does he see?) 8

Marketing - many Pokémon-based mags (eg Pojo’s Pokémon), comics, graphic novels, a card game, Gameboy and console games (including the newly released Pokémon stadium on the Playstation) cuddly toys, talking toys, confectionery, you name it there’s bound to be a Poké-version of it. Even bigger than the Spice Girls were a few years back. 10

Internet fanbase- Biggest internet following of all. There are more than 950 email lists on the egroups site alone. 10

Total score - 64


Where can I catch it? Fox Kids

Longevity - Digimon was created before Pokémon but after Dragonball. It’s popularity has only just begun to grow in Britain. 9

Movie monsters - The first Digimon movie was released in America in August 2000. The second was out in Japan at the same time. 9

Story and characters- seven kids are transported from summer camp into Digimon World. A similar concept to the American cartoon serial Dungeons and Dragons. The cartoon was sparked off by the tamagotchi craze. The Digimon talk rather than repeat their names. Like Pokémon they evolve into more powerful creatures, but they can also choose to turn into huge, scary monsters for short periods of time while they battle. 8

TV Animation style - The human characters are even cuter than their Pokémon-trainer rivals. They have colourful hair and are smaller. The voices are high pitches and translations play up the humour. 7

How many monsters? Each of the seven humans has a digimon protector. As they continue on the quest they come into contact with many more digimon creatures. So the number could grow and grow. 8

Marketing - Lots of Digimon products and more on the way. Fox Kids has already given more than 45 companies the franchise rights for toys and products. 10

Internet fanbase - as big as Dragonball, not quite as big as Pokémon. Many fanfiction and ‘yaoi’ stories about the human characters. 9

Total score - 60

Dragonball Z

Where can I catch it? Cartoon Network

Longevity - the grand-daddy of them all, Dragonball has actually been around since 1985, although the UK has only just caught up with the phenomenon. The cartoon of Dragonball-GT, sequel to Z, ceased production in 1997, but the comic books are still going strong. 10

Movie monsters - a Dragonball Z movie was released in 1997. 8

Story and characters- Based on the ancient Chinese legend of the Monkey King (also the inspiration for Monkey, the classic live action Japanese serial from the 1980s). The main character comes to Earth as a baby in an egg-shaped craft, so there are also comparisons to be made with Superman and Mork from Mork and Mindy. In Dragonball the characters are all children. They grow up and journey the world in Dragonball Z, and in Dragonball GT they even get to explore the rest of the universe. 10

TV animation style - More traditionally animé. The characters are cute but they have a darker side. 10

How many monsters? In DragonBall there were seven dragon balls, containing helpful monster spirits. There were seven more in Dragonball Z and a further seven in GT. 6

Marketing - Comics, graphic novels, games. You can also buy dragon balls. A Dragonball game was released on the Super Nintendo way back. More games are reputed to be in production. 7

Internet fanbase - very big,. There are sites to tell you all about the series and many fan fiction sites for all ages and tastes. 9

Total score - 60

Winner - Pokémon wins but the score is close. With Digimon and the long-life Dragon ball series nipping at its heels it has a lot to live up to.

  • Who's that then? What your favourite Pokémon character is called in Japan.
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