Digimon (デジモン Dejimon), short for "Digital Monster" (デジタルモンスター Dejitaru Monsutā), are mysterious lifeforms that were discovered in the Computer Network in 1997. They are central to the Digimon franchise. The word "Digimon" is typically invariable in the plural, though there are some cases where the term is pluralized as "Digimons". Digimon include almost all the creatures that reside within a parallel universe called the "Digital World." There are many different species of Digimon, as well as unconfirmed and new generations of Digimon yet to be revealed. The rate of new Digimon species continuously increase as the Digital World expands each year.
Digimon hatch from eggs called Digi-Eggs (デジタマ Degitama). They age via a process called "Digivolution" which changes their appearance and increases their physical powers. Some Digimon act feral, like wild animals. Most, however, possess human intelligence, speech, and personality traits. It was mentioned that, if a partner Digimon were to be separated from their partner, then they would start to become weaker. An example of this is Yolei Inoue's partner, Poromon. When Yolei is away in Kyoto, Poromon begins to feel weaker each day.
The first Digimon anime introduces the Digimon life cycle: they age in a similar fashion to real living organisms, but do not die under normal circumstances because they are made of reconfigurable data. Old Digimon and Digimon who receive fatal wounds dissolve into infinitesimal bits of data. The data then recomposes itself as a Digi-Egg, and the Digimon goes through its life cycle again. Digimon who are reincarnated in this way will sometimes retain some or all their memories of their previous lifespan. However, if a Digimon's data is "downloaded" as demonstrated in Digimon Tamers, in which all the data of a dying Digimon is absorbed by another, or if the data is completely deleted or destroyed, as happens in Digimon Data Squad, it will permanently die. In special cases, some Digimon do not get reincarnated despite their data still existing. A famous example is the Wizardmon in Digimon Adventure, whose data remains in the Real World following his death and thus is not reconfigured.
Digivolution is a legendary power, and the process by which a Digimon "ages" and grows up into larger and more powerful forms. Although the word "Digivolution" is a portmanteau for "Digital Evolution", Digivolution is in fact more similar to metamorphosis in that Digivolution changes a Digimon from one form to another, sometimes wildly disparate form, very quickly.
Digivolution for Digimon is similar to aging for humans—it is generally a one-way journey whereby a Digimon will grow into a new form as they age and gain battle experience and data. However, moving from one form to another becomes progressively more difficult. Therefore, very few Digimon will ever naturally digivolve into their final most powerful forms.
However, for the Digimon who are partnered with human allies such as Tamers or DigiDestined, Digivolution becomes far more flexible. Digimon who form bonds with a human are able to digivolve more easily, generally through the use of a Digivice owned by the human. In such cases, the Digimon is channeled large amounts of energy and is therefore able to instantaneously digivolve to a higher level. However, these Digimon will generally de-digivolve or degenerate back into a lower form after a fight. Digimon partnered to humans are also commonly able to use special forms of Digivolution not naturally available, giving these Digimon many different forms. These include Armor Digivolution and Biomerge Digivolution.
In some cases, Digimon have also been granted the ability to digivolve into higher forms by other, very powerful Digimon. In Digimon Tamers, Impmon is able to digivolve into his Mega form by using power given to him by Zhuqiaomon. Calumon is also able to help Guilmon, Renamon, and Terriermon digivolve, and with the help of the DigiGnomes he was even able to trigger the Digivolution of Digimon throughout the entire Digital World in order to prepare for the upcoming fight against the D-Reaper, because he is the the concept of Digimon, the "Digi-Entelechies", given form.
During Digivolution, a Digimon's appearance changes, and many of its other classifications (such as attributeand family) also sometimes do. The Digimon's fighting ability increases significantly, and the resulting Digimon is considered to be of a different species. However, Digimon species which are connected through Digivolution are generally similar in appearance. For example, Agumon is a small dinosaur-like Digimon; one of his Digivolved forms is Greymon, a much larger fully-grown dinosaur, and then MetalGreymon, a large armoured and winged dinosaur. However, Digimon can sometimes digivolve into forms that appear very different. Salamon is a dog-like Digimon but can digivolve into Gatomon, a cat-like Digimon. Gatomon is able to further digivolve into Angewomon, a bipedal winged angel.
In all Digimon media except for Digimon Fusion, Digimon do not have physical gender, and reproduce not through sexual reproduction but through a universal system of data recycling. Furthermore, although several species of Digimon have obvious femininity or masculinity in their species name or secondary sex characteristics, such as LadyDevimon or BanchoLeomon, any discussion of an archetypal member of that species will use the pronoun "it", as done in Digimon World Data Squad. The concept is directly explained by two major sources: Chiaki J. Konaka's official Digimon Tamers character design notes for Renamon, and by Renamon herself when she states that "Digimon aren't divided into gender."
Despite their lack of physical gender, as characters the individual Digimon will often be addressed according to male or female gender roles, unless they behave as a mindless animal. Konaka alludes to this by explaining that "gender seems fairly easy to identify in Digimon. However, these gender roles vary from character to character despite any apparent genderedness of their design; for example, the "Renamon of Digimon Tamers and the Renamon of Digimon World Data Squad are almost identical, down to their voices, but are treated as if they are female and male, respectively; this continues for the "male" Renamon even when he digivolves into more powerful forms with female secondary sex characteristics, like LadyDevimon or Lilithmon.
Unlike in previous series, Digimon Fusion does not depict any real difference between how gender works for humans and for Digimon. Digimon couple and reproduce sexually, form romantic relationships between genders, and have distinct physical genders. When both male and female members of a species appear, they are either depicted with obviously different designs between males and females, as with Beastmon or Mervamon and Ignitemon, or they lack secondary sex characteristics altogether.
The name of a Digimon species is usually based on its form, and may be a pun. For example, Hyokomon's name and design are derived from the Japanese onomatopoeia for unsteady steps (「ひょこひょこ」"Hyokohyoko"), as well as the Chick (Gallus gallus domesticus) (雛 Hiyoko). The species's name always ends in "-mon".
Digimon generally do not have individual names, and are instead simply referred to by the name of their species. So the word "Agumon", depending on the context it's used in, can either refer to the Digimon species or a single individual Digimon of that species. The Centarumon in Digimon Adventure and the Centarumon in Digimon Frontier share the same name because they are of the same species. However, they are not the same individual, and are different in appearance and voice.
When a Digimon digivolves and assumes a new form, its name changes to match the species of its new form. However, it is still the same individual, despite having a different name.
Some Digimon are given names or nicknames separate from their species, such as Zeromaru from Digimon Adventure V-Tamer 01.
Digimon species are given many different classifications. With the exception of level, these are generally only important in the Digimon card game, and play a very small role in Digimon anime.
Digimon species are classified by their "digivolution level".
Digimon generally hatch out of Digi-Eggs as Fresh level Digimon, the lowest and weakest level, roughly equivalent to human infants. Most Digimon of this level are small and do not have well-defined body parts.
Eventually Fresh Digimon digivolve to the In-Training level, a slightly bigger and more complex form that generally still has undefined body parts.
In the anime, most Digimon encountered are of the Rookie or Champion level, with Ultimate and Mega-level Digimon being progressively rarer. Digimon of one Digivolution level are generally far stronger than Digimon of the previous level. There are exceptions where a Digimon has been able to defeat an opponent of a higher level. There are also cases, such as with Lucemon and Arukadhimon, where a Digimon is far more powerful than what its actual Digivolution level would imply.
For most Digimon, there are six Digivolution levels:
- Fresh - The "newborn" stage of the Digimon life cycle. In this stage, the Digimon has only a very simple shape or appears as an amorphous blob with minimal features.
- In-Training - At this level, the Digimon becomes slightly larger and takes on more complex features. It is still rather weak, however.
- Rookie - This can be considered the "childhood" phase of the Digimon life cycle. At this level, Digimon take on more complex forms with clearly defined physical features and greater abilities.
- Champion - The "adult" phase of the Digimon life cycle. Digimon of the champion level are often very large in size, comparable to many large animals of the Real World. Champion-level Digimon possess great power in battle.
- Ultimate - Digivolutions beyond the Champion level rarely occur naturally in the Digital World. Most Ultimate-level Digimon that have been seen are usually the result of Digivolution via a Digivice, a tool of the DigiDestined. Ultimate-level Digimon possess a tremendous level of power in combat and are near-invincible compared to Champion-level Digimon.
- Mega - For most Digimon, the Mega-level is the final phase of Digivolution and occurs almost exclusively among DigiDestined Digimon. Mega-level Digimon are unstoppable powerhouses capable of unleashing great destruction.
In some media, there is a level beyond Mega named "Level VII" in the virtual pets, "Super Ultimate" (超究極体Choukyuukyoku-tai) in Digimon Adventure V-Tamer 01, certain Digimon Dictionary entries, and the card games, and "Burst Mode" (バーストモード Bāsuto Mōdo) in Digimon Data Squad and Digimon Masters. The Digimon that fall into this classification are generally considered Megas by other sources.
There are also levels which run parallel to the standard progression, the most notable being "Armor" and "Hybrid". The "Armor" level appeared in the Digimon Adventure 02 series, and is reached when a Digimon uses a Digi-Egg to digivolve into an Armor Digimon. The "Hybrid" level contains several sub-levels and is exclusive to the Digimon Frontier series for Digimon who are formed by "Spirit Evolution".
In Digimon Fusion and its related media, Digimon have no level. Digimon Masters introduces the "Xros" level for Digimon who are the result of DigiFuses.
In Digimon Masters, a "Jogress" level is given to any Digimon obtained through Jogress Digivolution.
Mode Change Edit
There are some Digimon species who have multiple "modes", and are able to "Mode Change" between them. Often, this involves going from their normal form to a special mode that is more powerful in some way. For example, Beelzemon and Beelzemon Blast Mode. A Digimon's different modes are generally very similar in appearance (in this case, Beelzemon Blast Mode is simply Beelzemon with a giant blaster on one arm, green eyes instead of red, and two pairs of wings (two large, two small)). Another example is Gallantmon and Gallantmon Crimson Mode where Gallantmon Crimson Mode is Gallantmon with red armor, a spear and sword, and the cape being replaced by angelic wings.
Different modes of a Digimon are generally considered to be the same species. This is because a Digimon who goes through a Mode Change remains at the same Digivolution level (Imperialdramon Dragon Mode, Imperialdramon Fighter Mode, and Imperialdramon Paladin Mode are all Mega level Digimon in all appearances, despite going through two Mode Changes), and retain the same name (except with a suffix giving the name of the new mode).
Although Mode Changing does not result in a change in a Digimon's species or level, it is considered a form of Digivolution. There is but one exception to this, Lucemon. In Digimon Frontier, the Mode Changes Lucemon goes though alter both his form and level; going from his regular Rookie level, to an Ultimate level in Chaos Mode, and then to Mega Level in Larva and Shadowlord Mode forms.
In Digimon Data Squad, the transition to Burst Mode is called "Burst Evolution", showing that this Mode Change is also considered to be a form of Digivolution.
Most Digimon species are classified into five attributes—Data, Vaccine, Virus, Free, and Variable. Most Digimon fall into the first three categories, with "Free" being rarer and "Variable" exclusive to Hybrid Digimon. Some Digimon either have their attributed by unidentified or lack them entirely.
The main three attributes have a Rock, Paper, Scissors arrangement where Virus is generally advantaged against Data, Data is advantaged against Vaccine and Vaccine is advantaged against Virus. However, these attributes don't play a very important role in Digimon fights. A Digimon can generally defeat an opponent regardless of attribute if it is stronger than the opponent in Digivolution level and experience.
Digimon are also classified into different "Digimon families", a concept derived from the Digimon Pendulums. Although most of the card games present these classifications as an inherent trait of each Digimon species, this quality is usually ignored in the series fiction, with one exception: in Digimon Next, the DigiMemories are manifestations of the eight most prominent families, and serve as the archetypes of the various classes of Digimon. In other series, the families only ever receive allusions from various concepts; for example, in the last arc of Digimon Adventure, the Dark Masters' armies are named after four of the families, and in Digimon Adventure V-Tamer 01, the V-Tamer Tags which Taichi seeks are named after five of the families.
Each Digimon family have a different colored background in the Digital Monster Card Game and Digi-Battle Card Game, and the Digimon within a family usually have something in common. For example, the Dragon's Roar family consists of Digimon who resemble dragons.
These families become more important in the Digimon World Data Squad and DS Digimon Story games, where these families help determine what attacks Digimon are strong or weak to, as well as influence Digivolution requirements.
As another form of classification, all Digimon species are given a "Type". A Digimon's type is a loose categorization based on general characteristics such as physical appearance--e.g., Agumon is a "Reptile Type" Digimon.
A Digimon species is usually classified into only one "Type". Some types, such as "Insect Type", include dozens of Digimon, whilst others, such as "Ancient Insect Type" are unique to only a single Digimon (in this case, AncientBeetlemon).
Like the "Family" classification, "Type" is considered to be a fairly trivial and unimportant classification. It has some minor gameplay effects in the Digimon card game. "Type" is referenced occasionally in the anime, particularly when a new Digimon species is introduced, but has little bearing on the action of the show.