Every Digimon Series Ranked From Mega to Rookie
Image Source: Toei Animation

Every Digimon Series Ranked From Mega to Rookie

There have been nine anime series in the Digimon franchise, and this is how we think they stack up.

The follow-up to Digimon Last Evolution Kizuna is coming to streaming services next month to cap off Adventure 02, so this seems like a fine time for a little retrospective. Digimon has been going since 1999 and has recreated itself several times with different seasons, so we’re doing the hefty job of ranking them. So join us as we go through every story of digital monsters!

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9. Digimon Frontier

Digimon Frontier
Image Source: Toei Animation

Not to act like a series purist, but Digimon Frontier never felt truly Digimon to me. It could be the fact that it lacks part of the vital (and titular) ‘monsters’ element. Five kids get taken to a different world, and instead of being given their own fated partner, they are given a Digivice that allows them to transform. Honestly, it feels more like a Power Rangers knock-off.

The first three seasons were always going to be impossible to follow, but it felt like the creators were doing the opposite of chasing trends, and it just didn’t work out. This would be like if the next season of Pokemon was instead all about human characters wearing Pokemon-inspired costumes, and you never saw a single creature the whole time. I’ve always wanted to like this, and the characters are at least fun, but it broke the series’ mold in a pretty unlikeable way.

8. Digimon Fusion

Digimon Fusion
Image Source: Toei Animation

Digimon Fusion also breaks the mold, but it still holds tight to enough tradition to make it the next step up. Similarly to Frontier, the Digidestined don’t exactly bond with a single partner. Instead, they befriend Digimon, which can then be fused like Voltron. This isn’t the worst way to take things, but it does water down the usual fun of watching the Digimon actually Digivolve.

While this is a definite improvement over Frontier, it still presents a change that makes it incompatible with the franchise. Like Pokemon, the series shines the best in its video games, but the fusion aspect doesn’t and can’t really translate forward. On the bright side, I still admire the series for adding new Digimon that have appeared in recent games.

7. Digimon Universe: App Monsters

Digimon Universe: App Monsters
Image Source: Toei Animation

We’re getting closer to the better seasons here, and I did like what App Monsters tried. Rather than Digimon all being some random creature, App Monsters translated them into incorporating some type of app. That link makes for fun interactions/fights between the partner Appmon and enemies, and that’s what Digimon is all about.

I’d say the thing I liked least was similar to my problems with Digimon Fusion in that the monsters don’t have many forms between them. Instead of a Digivolution line, there are only a few instances of power-up for each partner Appmon. However, I suppose the other problem for this series is that, once again, the Digimon/Appmon are so separate from the rest of the universe that they are unlikely ever to be seen again.

6. Digimon Ghost Game

Digimon Ghost Game
Image Source: Toei Animation

One of the things I liked most about Digimon Survive is that it was brutally honest about the threat Digimon pose to humans. Ghost Game does something very similar, which I definitely enjoyed. However, as it is a show aimed at kids, the interactions between humans and Digimon are much less lethal. I’m hopeful that as this is the most recent series, it shows more of a willingness to return to series roots.

Reworking the Digital World concept into something that is layered on top of the real world and mostly invisible was a solid choice. Taking the number of Digimon partners back to three was also a better decision, and it lets the story breathe a bit better. Plus, as far as characters go, Gammamon is one of the first partner Digimon of any later series to actually rival Guilmon in terms of being adorable.

5. Digimon Data Squad

Digimon Data Squad
Image Source: Toei Animation

On the whole, Savers is probably the most like the first three seasons out of any later season. This made it feel nicely familiar after the bizarre sequence break that was Digimon Frontier. One of the highlights of Data Squad is that while it once again put (an) Agumon front and center, this one is distinct from the one Tai knew. Similar to Adventure 02, the new series added in new Digivolutions, making this new Agumon the genesis of new evolutionary path lines.

Though it’s not by much, Data Squad has the smallest number of episodes, and the story does feel like it keeps an excellent pace. Out of every series post-Tamers, Data Squad has added the most new Digimon into actual video games. Gaomon and Floramon feel like legitimate Digimon in terms of the series, which is something that the other series don’t quite get right.

4. Digimon Adventure (2020 Remake)

Digimon Adventure 2020 Remake
Image Source: Toei Animation

The only thing keeping the remake from a higher ranking is that it was never going to recapture the first season’s magic. However, it is still a terrific remake that doesn’t retread old ground and actually tells a new story. One of the smartest things the new series does is introduce the Digidestined gradually rather than having everyone arrive at once.

The overall plot change of connecting the Digital World directly to the real one is terrific in that it actually sets up new stakes. This means every enemy is important to protect both worlds, and it motivates the Digidestined further. The pacing is even improved, and there seems to be much less filler. Though, that’s not to say the filler episodes from the original series weren’t still fun.

3. Digimon Adventure 02

Digimon Adventure 02
Image Source: Toei Animation

One of the things I like most about the first two seasons of Digimon is the feeling of progression. They work so well as a duology with actual time advancement. Adventure 02 brings the story three years ahead in time, with the original Digidestined more grown up but still very much connected to their Digimon companions. This conveniently also puts the younger two (TK and Kari) in a perfect position to join the new Digidestined.

The new Armor Digivolving allowed for new heights instead of letting the evolutionary line of the two returning Digidestined keep the same path. This made for a more exciting adventure as returning viewers knew there would be cool Digivolutions ahead. I also appreciated that the new Digimon were allowed out of the Digital World in their In-Training forms.

2. Digimon Adventure

Digimon Adventure
Image Source: Toei Animation

Even if I can’t claim it is my foremost favorite, the first season deserves every ounce of credit I can muster. Going up against Pokemon when it was released was never going to seem like a winning proposal, and yet Digimon held its own. While the first season might look like a Pokemon clone to someone who has never seen it, it’s far from that. Evolution not being permanent is perhaps the biggest change that sets things apart.

There is definitely something to be said about how well the show has aged, too. Sure, there is almost a set pattern to episode progression, but the spectacle never wears out. Though later seasons get away from some of the core of the series, the heart of Digimon being fated friendships and soulmates is what gives Digimon its charm. Plus, having cute monsters never hurts.

1. Digimon Tamers

Digimon Tamers
Image Source: Toei Animation

As much as I love the first two seasons, neither of them had as much of an impact on me as Tamers. I think that making the setting the real world rather than using the Digital World once more was an excellent choice. Narrowing the cast down to three Digidestined was also nice, as it let you get more familiar with the characters and partner Digimon. Due to this series, Guilmon is still my all-time favorite Digimon.

On top of that, Digivolution and certain enhancements were card-based interactions with the Digivice, which was a fun touch. This was especially the case after two seasons of the Digivice working in roughly identical ways. Even as the series clearly spun off of itself, as evidenced by some of the rest of this list, at least it went out with a bang.


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Author
Cameron Waldrop
Cameron is a freelance writer for Twinfinite and regularly covers battle royales like Fortnite and Apex Legends. He started writing for Twinfinite in late 2019 and has been lucky enough to review many really great games. While he loves a good shooter, his heart will always belong to JRPGs.