Digimon: Half-Assed Historical Overview

I’d like to revisit the history of the Digimon Franchise at some point, but for now I’ll settle for this brief. It’s quite undercooked, but I wanted to have at least an incomplete historical primer for folks before I started covering the series proper. I’ll do the citations when I have something more complete.
Digimon is a multimedia franchise with its roots in the virtual pet industry of 1997, but for most Americans it’s primarily a series of television shows describing the adventures of young children with their friendly digital monster friends. The first, Digimon Adventure, was produced by Toei in 1999, and proved popular enough to launch a new series in each of the following three years: Digimon Adventure 02 (2000), Digimon Tamers (2001), and Digimon Frontier (2002). Further entries would be produced in 2006 (Savers) and 2010 (Xros Wars), along with a series of films which are still being released (Adventure Tri), and a new series which has only just been announced (Appli Monsters).

I don’t know if Savers and Xros were popular when they were released (as “Digimon Data Squad” and “Digimon Fusion” respectively), but the first two series proved very successful. Airing during television network FOX’s children’s programming block, creatively called “Fox Kids”, the first three series served as a rival to the then-popular Pokemon series airing on the competing WB network (which joined with the similarly struggling UPN to form The CW).

Tamers and Frontier were never quite as popular as the Adventure series, which prompted FOX to drop Digimon from its line-up after Tamers during the first of many attempts to re-brand their kids’ programming. Frontier would air in the States on UPN, but there was no attempt to explain this attempt to viewers on FOX, so I’m not sure how much of the audience made the jump. That, combined with that installment’s creative choices, probably explains why Frontier is missing from a lot of streaming services.


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