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A fair amount of anime fans got their first exposure to anime through some of the biggest anime ever created, with one of those being Pokemon. It had everything you could want as a kid: adventure, unique creatures, superpowers, and so on. But while Pokemon began a worldwide phenomenon that still exists to this day, there was another anime also within the same genre leaving its own unique mark: Digimon.
While Digimon has multiple seasons with new reiterations of how the Digiworld works as well as a new cast that makes up the “DigiDestined”, Digimon Adventure was the one that started it all. A group of 7 kids at summer camp are mysteriously transported to a digital world where they, along with each of their new digital monster companions, must somehow save this digital world from a looming threat. As they explore this new world and take on stronger and stronger foes, each of the 7 characters and their companions learn to work together as a team and come to terms with their destiny. If you were a fan of the original Digimon Adventure, you probably enjoyed the self-aware Digimon Tamers and Digimon Adventure tri. 1: Reunion, which picks up 6 years from Digimon Adventure 2. However, if you want to watch other anime with similar experiences, here are 6 anime similar to Digimon Adventure.
Similar Anime to Digimon Adventure
- Episodes: 276
- Aired: Apr 1997 - Nov 2002
Ash Ketchum is a regular 10 year old boy who dreams of one day becoming the world greatest Pokemon Master, a person who can battle with and control the world’s strongest Pokemon, or little monsters. Ash’s dream gets off to a rough start when he oversleeps picking his starter Pokemon, ending up with a disgruntled electric mouse named Pikachu who refuses to obey him. But as events soon develop, Ash and Pikachu soon grow to work together along with new friends and allies in order to help Ash achieve his dream.
This is the obvious choice. Coming out at roughly the same time, Pokemon and Digimon both deal with characters growing over their journey with their monster companions as they strive to defeat their opponents no matter what. Ash ends up sharing some similar traits to Tai, the leader of the DigiDestined: they are both hot headed at first and prone to acting before they think, yet both learn to become leaders and consider what’s best for the team. If you haven’t already seen this series in some regard, definitely check out the 1st season that started it all.
2. Puzzle & Dragons Cross
- Episodes: 40 (so far)
- Aired: July 2016 – ongoing
Ace is a young kid striving to become a proper Dragon Caller, which is exactly what it sounds like. In order to do that, Ace will have to work with other Dragon Callers on Dorogoza Island in order to prevent what are known as “Drop Impacts” aka monster attacks via the use of puzzle challenges. The winners will acquire great rewards if they defeat their enemies through these puzzle wars, but only the brave can overcome them…
Definitely a unique twist on the genre, Puzzle and Dragons Cross sill bears a similar feel to Digimon Adventure in the sense that monsters are still present throughout both world. In addition, while it wasn’t the main emphasis nor as clear cut, the DigiDestined found themselves coming across multiple puzzles that appeared in various forms, with some of them lasting an episode and others lasting far longer. If you enjoyed the encounters where the DigiDestined had to figure out a puzzle to get past a certain obstacle or reunite with the team (especially early on in the series), then Puzzle and Dragons Cross is worth a watch.
Puzzle & Dragons Cross PV
3. Sword Art Online
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: July 2012 – Dec 2012
In the year 2022, virtual reality has advanced to the point where players can control their video game avatars with nothing but their thoughts. When a new game called “Sword Art Online” is released, Kazuto Kirigaya, also known as "Kirito," is among the first to get his hands on it. But what starts out as wonder soon turns to horror as the creator traps Kirito and the other players within this new virtual world, with the only means of escape being through the completion of all 100 levels. Kirito will have to form allies and strategies in order to survive: if he is killed in this virtual reality, then he dies in real life as well.
While Sword Art Online emphasizes the “video game” angle (something not done in Digimon”, it certainly captures early on the concept of suddenly realizing you’re trapped in a virtual world and working out how to get home the same way that Digimon does. The story and character development do leave something to be desired; however, if what interested you the most about Digimon was the concept of a virtual world in addition to the hijinks some of the DigiDestined found themselves in, then Sword Art Online certainly kicks it up a notch with its over the top interactions between Kirito and the girls that meet him.
Sword Art Online - Official Trailer
Any Anime Like Digimon Adventure ?
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: Apr 2007 - Sep 2007
15 kids are enjoying their summer camp together when they discover by chance a mysterious place full of computers. When the owner, Kokopelli, tells them that he is working on a game which involves a giant robot designed to protect the Earth, he persuades all but one of the children to sign a contract in what he claims will be a fun adventure. However, this soon leads to dark consequences…
Bokurano definitely has the same feel that Digimon Adventure did in the beginning in terms of setting: both groups of kids are enjoying summer camp in their own ways until an outside force takes hold. Bokurano is definitely darker, however, in terms of what the fates of the 15 kids are as opposed to the DigiDestined. Not to mention that we learn the stories of each of the 15 one by one; we grow to learn the backstories of each of the DigiDestined gradually over time from what they share with each other until the focus turns to developing each of them further. If you enjoyed the darker aspects of Digimon Adventure with a similar setting, then Bokurano would be a good starting point for you.
5. Element Hunters
- Episodes: 39
- Aired: July 2009 – Mar 2010
In 2029, chemical elements such as oxygen and carbon suddenly disappear from the earth's crust and form what eventually becomes known as “Nega Earth”, located in a completely different dimension. With the human population having decreased by 90% in a span of 60 years, the "Element Hunters" are formed, consisting of 13 year olds and younger in order to be able to access “Nega Earth” and become the heroes Earth desperately needs.
Element Hunters stands out in the sense that most anime don’t focus on characters travelling somewhere to retrieve things and make return trips as needed. That being said, Digimon Adventure certainly shares that concept in the sense that the main plot involves the DigiDestined figuring out how to return home, only for them to go back when the season’s final antagonists start laying waste to the digital world. In Tai’s case, he makes multiple trips back to the digital world in order to save his friends. In addition, both sets of kids have to rely on key technological items in order to fight and win their battles. If you were fascinated with the aspect of travelling between worlds as well as the method of fighting, Element Hunters offers a unique but similar take on the subject.
6. Zatch Bell!
- Episodes: 150
- Aired: Apr 2003 – Mar 2006
Kiyo Takamine is an apathetic 14 year old genius that tends to skip school and keep to himself. That is, until his father sends him a young boy named Zatch, who brings with him a strange book. Kiyo and Zatch soon learn that Zatch is actually from the Momodo world and part of a strange tournament to become the Momodo King. The object of each fight between each human and Momodo paring is to burn the book of the other Momodo: the last Momodo left becomes King.
While Zatch Bell doesn’t have a virtual world to explore by any means, it actually takes the concept of Digimon Adventure and flips it on its head. The Momodos end up mysteriously travelling to the human world, find their partners, and battle in this new strange world as opposed to what happened to the DigiDestined. While there is a tournament involved in Zatch Bell that doesn’t exist in Digimon, the concept of fighting between partners from different worlds still remains the same. If you found a key element to why you liked Digimon being the pairing of the DigiDestined and the Digimon themselves, then you’re sure to enjoy the Momodo and human pairings in Zatch Bell.
Digimon may never have been as big as Pokemon or Dragon Ball Z was, but it still has a strong and loyal fan base that has resulted in multiple seasons, video games, and movies, and still continues to this day. With a classic concept, great characters, and a balance between both humor and drama, Digimon seems to still be holding up pretty well, and will appear to continue for quite some time. These 6 anime are certainly pretty similar to Digimon Adventure, some more than others. But what are your thoughts? Do you feel some of these don’t belong? Do you feel there should have been other choices, such as Beyblades or Monster Rancher? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.
Although Digimon Adventure, or Digimon: Digital Monsters, is an anime often dismissed as a Pokémon rip-off, it is a light-hearted adventure anime about the relationship between seven young friends transported from their Japanese summer camp to an alternate, internet-based world. And (of course) the titular Digimon, monsters that the kids command in battle, capable of evolution into increasingly powerful creatures. It’s all about heart-felt friendships and battling monsters, and because of its easy-to-like characters, it is perfect for a younger audience.
There is plenty of Digimon to love, between the original 54 episode run, various follow-up films, and spin-offs, once you’ve explored all the Digital World has to offer and hang up your Digivice, these 6 anime like Digimon Adventure will help fill the monster-sized hole in your heart.
Similar Anime to Digimon Adventure
1. Pokémon / Pocket Monsters
- Episodes: 80 (Season One)
- Aired: April 1997 – January 1999
As obvious as it seems, if you’re hankering for plucky youngsters forcing their adorable, exotic pets to engage in head-to-head battles, you needn’t look further. If you’ve been living on a desert island since the mid-90s and somehow don’t know, Pokémon tells the story of Ash Ketchum (or Satoshi, if you’re viewing in Japanese), an ambitious 10 year old boy who dreams of becoming the best Pokémon trainer the world has ever seen, by catching, befriending and training as many of the beasts as humanly possible.
Between its “case-of-the-week” style storytelling, the charming comrades and villains orbiting Ash on his journey, the sheer variety of Pokémon in existence (over 700 and counting), and the surprisingly catchy original musical score of the show, has a lot in common with Digimon. Catch the fever.
Pokémon Season One: Indigo League – Opening Theme
2. Bakugan Battle Brawlers
- Episodes: 52
- Aired: April 2007 – March 2008
Bakugan Battle Brawlers is another show about friendship and competition. It’s also somewhat meta, in that the premise of the show itself is that its characters create the game they play, Bakugan, before being pulled into a battle to save the world in danger of merging with an alternate dimension.
Again, it is all about young friends trying to find their way in a world where danger lurks around many corners, and the Bakugan they summon from their cards make for some epic battles, just like in Digimon Adventure.
Bakugan: Battle Bralwers: The Abridged Series (SEASON 1) Intro
3. Monster Rancher / Monster Farm
- Episodes: 73
- Aired: April 1999 – September 2001
Monster Rancher is a show based off of a popular game series by Tecmo. It is about a young, determined, and super genki boy named…Genki. His love of, and skill at, the Monster Rancher game franchise is rewarded with a special disc. But when he boots it up, he’s pulled into a world of (you guessed it!) monsters, and he must battle his way out.
Strangely cute monster companion? Check. Absurdly named omnipotent baddy (Moo…)? Check. Power of friendship conquering all? Most definitely. Much like Digimon Adventure, it’s a perfect entryway into the world of anime for a younger crowd.
Monster Rancher Eng Dub Opening – Monster’s Rule
Any Animes Like Digimon Adventure
4. Beyblade / Bakuten Shūto Beiburēdo
- Episodes: 51
- Aired: January 2001 – December 2001
Beyblade is another series with a childhood bend, and an easy way to introduce kids to anime. Unlike the previously mentioned shows, the outspoken characters in the show inhabit a world where competitive culture revolves around Beyblades, ostensibly spinning tops that people “battle” with in “arenas” around the globe.
The flashy, dramatic battles aren’t without their zip; initially the battles are interspersed with elemental effects when the tops clash together, sometimes going so far as to evoke the monster-battling shows we all know and love. But as the series progresses past the first season and the stakes rise, the battles come to resemble something more akin to Digimon Adventure; giant battles, special attacks whose names simply must be shouted, and environmental destruction abound.
Beyblade Season One Opening [HD]
5. Yu-Gi-Oh! / Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monster
- Episodes: 49 (Season One)
- Aired: April 2000 – April 2001
Another titan of the battling monster/card game genre, Yu-Gi-Oh! had a bit more dubious origins than some of the others. The original series is referred to as “season 0” by fans, and what most Westerners know as Yu-Gi-Oh! goes by a different name in Japan. Yu-Gi-Oh! is about youngsters with big hair battling with even bigger monsters, this time awakening from cards that represented the different types of creatures.
One thing that sets it apart is the fact that the show is a bit heavier in some ways, with the main characters often in battles where the stakes are for their very souls. There’s also a very prevalent undertone of Egyptian mythology also adds an interesting element, but there’s still plenty to love as a fan of Digimon Adventure.
Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters Season One, Version Two Opening Theme
6. Shaman King
- Episodes: 64
- Aired: July 2001 – September 2002
To change gears slightly, my final recommendation is Shaman King. It takes place in a world where mediums aren’t simply entrepreneurs capable of tricking a population into calling their psychic hotline, but warriors capable of channeling spirits of the dead in battle. The anime tells the story of Yoh, a boy dead-set (heh) on becoming the Shaman King, a medium capable of channeling the powers of the Great Spirit and reshaping the world however they desire. A lofty goal, considering the battle to become the Shaman King only comes around every 500 years.
The story itself deals with a lot of adult themes, most notably death, as it is not only present in the world of Shaman King, but responsible for the abilities of the protagonists and villains. Without spoiling the story, the idea of how to cope with the death of a loved one is an essential theme to resolving the show’s main conflicts, and helps separate this particular series from the somewhat kiddy fair of those previously mentioned. Despite its more adult-themed content, it has an ensemble cast of youngsters that are very child-friendly, just like Digimon Adventure, and the battles will have viewers young and old on the edge of their seats.
Shaman King ~English Opening~
There you have it. Six anime that channel the things you love about Digimon Adventure. I have to admit, outside of Shaman King, I find it interesting how strongly merchandise ties into the popularity of these shows in particular, including Digimon Adventure, in the form of games, collectibles, action figures, and more. That’s not to say that anime mainstays like Dragon Ball Z, or Attack on Titan, or the various Gundam iterations don’t have their own incredible saturation of the toy and video game market, especially here in Japan. What do you think? Are there some that I’ve overlooked? Feel free to sound off in the comments, and share the wealth.