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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.