Digimon And Pokémon certainly similar in many ways, and those similarities have inspired countless comparisons within the broader anime fandom, though despite all of them, Digimon actually proves to be more similar Dragon ball in a big way.
Dragon Ball mainly follows the adventures of a Saiyan warrior named Goku, who came to Earth as a baby and grew up to be trained to be the greatest warrior in the universe. The first series chronicles his adventures around the world as he and his friends search for the wish-granting Dragon Balls while stopping the bad guys along the way. As the series moves from the classic Dragon Ball to Dragon Ball Z, things get a little more intense, especially when the Z-Fighters first confront the intergalactic tyrant, Frieza. During that battle, Goku learns that he has the power to undergo a transformation unique to his legacy: the Super Saiyan. By concentrating his ki, Goku can temporarily transform into a stronger version of himself—and it doesn’t stop there. Since then, Goku and the other Dragon Ball Saiyans have unlocked Super Saiyans 2, 3, 4, Super Saiyan God, and Super Saiyan Blue. While strength levels vary, each acts as a temporary increase in strength accompanied by physical transformation.
Digimon evolves like Dragon Ball’s Saiyan, unlike Pokémon
In Digimon Adventure episode 3 (written by Satoru Nishizono, directed by Hiroyuki Kakudo), Tai and the group are trying to find their way back to Earth with the help of their new friends, Digimon. In the first episode, the kids are swept away by a strange weather anomaly (which, at this point, has yet to be fully explored) and land on the strange Digital World. Immediately after landing, they each encounter their own Digimon, who are willing to join them in their journey to find their way home. However, this journey has not been without obstacles and not all Digimon are as good as them. After the party encounters a dangerous wild Digimon, Tai’s Digimon partner, Augumon, evolves into Greymon to save Tai and the others in danger. Later, in this episode, Gabumon must digest into Garurumon to save the party from another dangerous wild Digimon, which proves that all Digimon possess this ability and can perform unique transformations this under appropriate circumstances.
While the action of a companion monster evolving into a more powerful version of itself is very reminiscent of a Pokémon, the way it’s done is actually much more similar to how a Saiyan becomes a Super Saiyan. In Pokémon, these evolutions are mostly permanent, but in Digimon they are only temporary bursts of power accompanied by full-body transformations, much like Super Saiyans. In addition, Digimons have different levels of evolution such as the increasingly powerful Super Saiayn. For example, after Augumon evolves into Greymon, Greymon can evolve into SkullGreymon, WarGreymon, and even Omnimon. He’s still Greymon, just like Goku is still a Super Saiyan, but his ‘Greymon level’ increases each time. Then, when the Digimons are mined, they revert back to their rookie form. Greymon becomes Augumon again, just like SSJ4 Goku reverts to being a normal Goku without the Super Saiyan power-ups.
The transformations themselves are not only functionally similar, but also similar in terms of what produced the original transformations. When Goku first became a Super Saiyan, it was because Krillin was killed right in front of him and his son was in immediate danger. Likewise, Digimons can only evolve when their partner is in mortal danger – which only makes these already comparable transformations even worse. Although there are still some undeniable similarities between Digimon and Pokémonthe Digimontheir ability to differentiate is not one of them, because that power makes them much more similar Dragon ballthe Super Saiyans.