Anybody experienced playing a multi-release game series that has loose connections with each completed title? No, no, no. Not exactly a watch order type thing, since you still have to deal with slightly altered systems every time you play a different one.
That’s the general experience of a Digimon watch order. The overall lore of each series and how Digimons live and thrive is somewhat similar, but the universe can potentially be different. In fact, at least one of these universes treat Digimon as a popular kids franchise, not too different from how we ourselves treat Digimon in the real world.
Compare that to the Pokemon watch order, where you have to deal with an immortal protagonist traveling around the world. Or the Sword Art Online watch order, which is actually far too late with the logout fail plot twist compared to Digimon. Heck, even the Fate watch order has nothing to say with Digimon’s branching spin-offs and eventual crossovers.
Recommended watch order
The rules are simple. Watch each series by the separate franchise, and then watch the connected movies of that specific franchise afterward. If there are crossover specials, the prerequisite is to watch the related franchises as well. That’s it. You don’t even have to worry about the canonicity of specials and movies because a lot of these take place well before or after the main series begun/ is over (almost all of them are considered canon despite that, by the way).
Now as for the actual numbers of episodes that you need to crunch in total…
1. Chronological order
This is mostly just a timeline mashup of the original series, followed by the rest of the other series in release order with their respective movies.
Digimon Data Squad: Ultimate Power! Activate Burst Mode!! (movie)
Digimon X-Evolution (independent film)
Digimon Fusion (TV series, all Episodes)
Digimon Universe App Monsters (TV series, all Episodes)
Digimon Adventure (2020 TV series remake, all Episodes)
Digimon Ghost Game (19 Episodes as of February 20, 2022)
2. By release order
Mostly the same, but with the Digimon Adventure (first series) related stuff spaced in between. Also, the 20th Memorial Story was in the middle of its online release when Last Evolution Kizuna first premiered.
Digimon Adventure short movie (1999)
Digimon Adventure (1999)
Digimon Adventure: Our War Game! (2000)
Digimon Adventure 02 (2000)
Digimon Adv 02: Hurricane Touchdown (2000)
Digimon Adv 02: Supreme Evolution! The Golden Digimentals! (2000)
Digimon Adv 02: Revenge of Diaboromon (2001)
Digimon Tamers (2001)
Digimon Tamers: Battle of Adventurers (2001)
Digimon Tamers: Runaway Locomon (2002)
Digimon Frontier (2002)
Digimon Frontier: Island of Lost Digimon (2002)
Digimon X-Evolution (2005)
Digimon Data Squad (2006)
Digimon Data Squad: Ultimate Power! Activate Burst Mode!! (2006)
Digimon Fusion (2010)
Digimon Adventure Tri. (2015-2018)
Digimon Universe App Monsters (2016)
Digimon Adventure: 20th Memorial Story (2019)
Digimon Adventure: Last Evolution Kizuna (2020)
Digimon Adventure (2020)
Digimon Ghost Game (2021)
Plot of Digimon
The setting and protagonist will largely depend on which series you are trying to watch. But in general, Digimon (“Digital Monsters”) are often introduced as entities from an alternate dimension, with varying origins again depending on which series you are watching. In the case of Digimon Adventure, for example, the Digital World is fabricated by the Earth’s digital communication network. Though Digimon and their world can technically be dismissed as simply part of server data, it essentially exists as a different plane of existence. A digital isekai, if you will.
If the series starts the adventure in the Digital World, the conflicts are typically local within its realm, only crossing between the real world later on. If the series starts with the real world, the conflicts immediately revolve around the inevitable clash between the Digital World and the real world.
The idea of a single partner Digimon is a staple concept for each series, with the exception of one rather experimental series. This forms the basis of their fighting abilities, as well as the character development for the humans caught in between.
Whatever the immediate issues may be at the beginning of the series, or however the Digimon evolves, there is always one constant factor: the goggles. With the exception of Digimon Ghost Game and Digimon Data Squad, every main protagonist so far is always sporting a goggle of some sort, and a snarky dinosaur-type partner Digimon on their side.
Not a Pokemon rip-off?
For the longest time, western audiences have kind of written off Digimon as a knock-off version of Pokemon. But in reality, both came into existence at the same time, in 1996. Pokemon was first released as the Gameboy title (Red and Blue versions), while the Tamagotchi Digital Pet arrived in toy stores as a separate electronic device. The Tamagotchi update that will be known as the Digivice (directed more towards boys), would then be released a year later, in 1997.
Fast forward to today, and it spans several long arching seasons, with the original first adventure even being remade into a brand new rebooted series (in HD!). So it’s never too late to enjoy the magic of its cool, card game-esque, evolutions.
Want to watch extra anime that’s “directed more towards boys”? Hop on over to our best shounen anime list for more titles!