Digimon: Digital Monsters is a classic anime series about kids that meet Digimon partners and fight together to defeat evil. Premiering in Japan during the Spring 1999 season and then debuting in Fall 1999 for North America, the series has run for 8 anime series with several movies and gained a large fan following. Today, I revisit every Digimon series and rank them based on my personal likes and dislikes. This list will not include the Digimon Adventure Tri. film series, as only two of six movies have been released thus far. I will also be counting the three story arcs of Digimon Xros Wars/Digimon Fusion as separate seasons due to the nature of them being different plot lines as well as being of varied quality. Without further ado, let’s begin.
Number 8 – Digimon Xros Wars: The Young Hunters Who Leapt Through Time
The third season of the Digimon Xros Wars series takes place a year after the ending of the previous storyline and was the last Digimon series until Digimon Adventure Tri. In 2015. At a mere 25 episodes, the series is the second shortest in the franchise. The series features a new world between Earth and the Digital World known as the DigiQuartz where humans with XrosLoaders hunt Digimon to add to their collection. While the new premise is interesting, and several of the character designs are really cool, I find this series to be the worst in the franchise. Aside from poor writing and plot pacing, the characters themselves act very different from the typical Digimon protagonists. The themes of the series changes from befriending Digimon and helping to fight evil to hunting Digimon and forcing them to help the humans gain more Digimon for their collection. This change in tone is very unsettling as the new human characters show no caring for their partner Digimon when they are in danger nor seem to care if they get hurt. I also find Tagiru to be very obnoxious and he makes very dumb and dangerous decisions that Taiki and Yuu never question or try to prevent him from going through with his plans. What really makes this series land at the bottom of my list is the poor plot pacing. The series does not have a distinctive villain and most episodes are just random Digimon using human’s emotions to further their own power. The lack of depth to the show until the final four episodes in addition to its very strange morals make this the least enjoyable Digimon series for me to watch. Not even a massive crossover of all the previous series does not save this series from the bottom of the list.
Number 7 – Digimon Xros Wars/Digimon Fusion Season 1
The first season of the Digimon Xros Wars series features a war between multiple armies in the Digital World. As a reboot to the franchise, the series changed several aspects of Digimon including the removal of the Digivolution levels as well as standard Digivolution in general. Digimon now can be fused together in order to make stronger forms. This change made battles more exciting as the possibility for new combos to appear in battle is higher as opposed to past series when new Digivolutions would be set up before appearing. The series’ tone is quite light and very reminiscent of the happier tone from the early part of Digimon Adventure. The only reason this season is ranked lower on my list is due to the more episodic nature and having characters that don’t serve much purpose to the overall cause. However, several moments of the show are very memorable and the Beelzemon storyline is probably one of my favorites from the franchise and Nene Amano is one of my favorite human characters from the franchise as a whole. Digimon Xros Wars/Digimon Fusion Season 1 is a good series if not as memorable as other series higher on the list.
Number 6 – Digimon Frontier/Digimon: Digital Monsters Season 4
The four Digimon series as well as one of the least remembered amongst fans. Airing in 2002, it signaled the end of Digimon’s initial run before the series fell out of the spotlight. Airing on a different network in the United States, many American fans may not remember its original run. The series deviated from the standard Digimon formula by having humans use the spirits of ancient Digimon to become Legendary Warriors through Spirit Evolution. The different concept of the series turned off many fans from watching it but personally I found the change to be nice. The break from the trend that the first three series had set was refreshing, however I felt the concept never got to reach it’s full potential. I found the last story arc to be very drawn out and boring and I was frustrated at the fact no one beyond Takuya and Koji could combine their spirits. This series did have quite a few memorable moments and storylines as well as epic battles and really cool evolution sequences. This series also features some of my favorite music from the franchise including the evolution music in both the English and Japanese versions. While it had some issues, I really enjoyed Frontier, but not as much as the next five entries on this list.
Number 5 – Digimon Adventure 02/Digimon: Digital Monsters Season 2
As the second Digimon series and being a direct sequel to the very popular Digimon Adventure, Digimon Adventure 02 had a lot to accomplish in living up to the heights of the first series. The greatest strength of 02 is its balance of returning characters. The series is set several years after the first Adventure and instead of focusing entirely on the same characters that already had their stories told and instead introduces four new characters that are mentored by the returning Takeru/TK and Hikari/Kari. Continuing TK and Kari’s storylines worked well as they were the youngest of the original Digidestined and got the least amount of focus. However, while 02 did have it’s great moments and characters (Blackwargreymon being one of the best), the season was not as memorable as the first Adventure. The first and final arcs are probably what most remember and the controversial ending gains the series’ attention but the more I look back at the series and try to remember what happened in the middle, the less and less I remember. The series is not bad, nor is it the best and that’s why it lands around the middle of my list.
Number 4 – Digimon Tamers/Digimon: Digital Monsters Season 3
Before everyone breaks out the pitchforks and comes after me, take a moment to listen. Digimon Tamers is good. It’s one of the best Digimon series ever made. However, I have made this list to be ranking my favorite series, not what I think are the best series. If this was a list ranking the best series, Tamers would be much higher. Tamers is only as low as it is because I felt the other three series that will follow on this list were ones I enjoyed more than Tamers. Tamers was a great Digimon series and the last one to air on Fox Kids in the US like ones that came before it. The series follows three kids who gain Digivices and Digimon partners and strive to stop invading Digimon from attacking Japan. I loved the premise of this series. After two seasons of being in the Digital World and jumping back and forth from it, the idea of staying in the real world for the majority of the series was really promising and I enjoyed it quite a bit. However, the series decided to move to the Digital World in the middle arc and that’s where the show lost me. While there was some good drama involving Beelzemon and Leomon, plus the emergance of my favorite Digivolution type, Biomerge, I felt as if the series didn’t know what to do with the time on its hands and several episodes of this arc felt like characters were walking for twenty minutes and not getting much done overall. To voice another unpopular opinion here, I did not hate Jeri at the end of the series, I felt sympathetic to what happened to her and felt the show handled it well. Chalk it up to me not having seen that part of the series as a kid and seeing the whole story come together over the course of days instead of weeks, or just take a look at the story again for yourselves. In the end, Digimon Tamers is a great show whose change in tone and odd character decisions leave it lower on my list of favorites.
Number 3 – Digimon Adventure/Digimon: Digital Monsters
The first Digimon series is close to the hearts of many as it was the series they grew up with. There is something magical about this series, a beginning of the franchise that has a fairly large cast of relatable characters that many still connect with to this day. The series progressively gets better with each arc that is memorable in its own right. Villains like Vamedramon/Myotismon are so memorable that even casual Digimon fans will still remember from childhood. What I enjoyed most about this series is how it handled its child characters. Child characters in media are typical one dimensional and very rarely have depth. This mature approach to the characters is what really sets Digimon apart from other children’s anime. The very realistic drama amongst the Digidestined’s families never tries to sugarcoat things and keeps very grounded in reality. This would inspire similar plots in later seasons but also give Adventure something that makes it such a good show. Classic heroes, despicable villains and really great Digimon designs make Digimon’s first series, a really great Adventure.
Number 2 – Digimon Xros Wars The Evil Death Generals and the Seven Kingdoms/Digimon Fusion Season 2
The second series under the Xros Wars name, The Evil Death Generals and the Seven Kingdoms picks up right where Digimon Xros Wars ended. The series follows Taiki/Mikey traveling through the newly formed Seven Kingdoms in the Digital World in order to defeat the Seven Death Generals in order to face Bagramon and save the Digital World. This series is so awesome and so overlooked. The series is quite short at only twenty-four episodes, which means it has no time to waste. Two characters from the previous series, Zanjirou/Jeremy and Akari/Angie were left in the human world which helped keep focus on Taiki/Mikey, Kiriha/Christopher and Nene. It continued Kiriha and Nene’s storylines that had been hinted at previously and introduces Nene’s younger brother, Yuu/Ewan as a third party to the conflict which opened up many story possibilities. The best part of the series by far is the fact that it delivers in every way. Epic battles, humor, drama and resolution. Every plot gets resolved, every fight provides something awesome with all the possible fusions and digivolutions that can occur. The very unique premise of Xros Wars finally comes to fruition in this series and the ride to the end is so enjoyable. This is not only one of the best Digimon series to come out of the franchise but also one of my favorites.
Number 1 – Digimon Savers/Digimon Data Squad
Digimon had a several year break after Digimon Frontier, when it returned it produced not only my favorite series but also what I believe is the best series overall. Digimon Savers stars the group DATS which is tasked with tracking down invading Digimon. These Digimon use human emotions to get stronger and DATS is in charge of keeping the city safe. While its premise is similar to Digimon Tamers, it never fell into the pitfalls that Tamers did. The Digital World arc was fast paced and kept moving forward every episode and the series never let itself drag. So many moments and episodes are memorable enough that I could make a Top 10 Digimon Savers moments list without having to do much looking back at the series. The series isn’t devoid of issues however as the first arc is very episodic but that arc doesn’t last long at all before the main plot begins. The older characters allowed for more mature storylines and the series feels like it was made for viewers that had been fans since the original Adventure. It’s got all the elements that make a good Digimon series, from using standard Digivolutions, to allowing every character to have a moment in the spotlight. One of my many issues with Tamers was that the side characters like Kenta, Kazu, Ryo and Suzie never got to have their Digimon digivolve or have digivolution sequences. Almost as in response to this, all four main characters get Mega digivolutions and every other digimon gets at least Ultimate and they all get digivolution sequences. No character was sidelined just for the sake of promoting the main heroes. The supporting characters actually support the story and enhance it instead of just being there to react and cheer. The series also had a single villain for the entire run that had lackeys that would serve as sub-bosses for the heroes to fight. Instead of feeling like several separate stories like other Digimon series, Savers feels like one story that is told in forty-eight parts. The story, the characters, the music, the high quality animation and the awesomeness of Burst Mode make Digimon Savers my favorite Digimon series of all time.
That concludes my Top 8 Favorite Digimon Series list. I hope you enjoyed it and I’d love to hear what your favorite Digimon series are in the comments or on Twitter where you can find me @Soundout12. If you’re interested in watching Digimon, you can find it on Crunchyroll and Netflix in the US as well as on DVD from Flatiron Film Company.