Digimon is short for "digital monsters," and these monsters live in a "digital world" (which has been described as a parallel universe that had its origins from Earth's communication networks). These "digital monsters" hatch from Digi-Eggs, and the monsters age through a process called "digivolution." "Digivolution" changes a monster's appearance and increases their power, but normally, the effects from "digivolution" are not permanent. A Digimon's human partner can use a device to bring about "digivolution"; however, in some cases, a special item has to be found for the Digimon to evolve into another stage. A Digimon can revert to its original form after a battle or if the monster is simply too weak to continue. Most Digimon possess large amounts of intelligence, and have the capacity for human speech.

Digimon had its start as a digital pet toy, which was similar to the Tamagotchi. The toy was released by Bandai on June 26, 1997. A second generation of the toy was released about six months later, and a third edition was released in 1998.

The anime got its start in Japan in March of 1999, with the release of the first Digimon film and the first television series (Digimon Adventure). In the United States, this first anime was dubbed by Saban and premiered in August 1999 on the Fox television network during the Fox Kids programming block.

The first anime introduced the Digimon life cycle: they age in a similar fashion to real organisms, but they don't die under normal circumstances. This is due to the fact that the "digital monsters" are made of reconfigurable data. An old Digimon, or one who has received fatal wounds, dissolve into infinitesimal bits of data. The data recomposes into a Digi-Egg, which will hatch when it's rubbed gently. Sometimes, these reincarnated Digimon may retain some or all of its memories from its previous life. However, if a Digimon's data is completely destroyed, then it will die.

In Japan, four other Digimon anime series have been released: Digimon Adventure 02, Digimon Tamers, Digimon Frontiers, and Digimon Savers. Nine Digimon films have also been released in Japan. The first two Digimon series take place in the same fictional universe, but the remaining three series each occupy their own unique world.

In the United States, the first four series were collectively retitled as Digimon: Digital Monsters. After Disney acquired Saban during Digimon Tamers, the first three series were moved to the ABC Family cable network. When the fourth series was brought over to the United States and dubbed, it debuted on UPN and the PAX Network; this was due to a deal between Disney and UPN, which concluded with Digimon Frontiers. Digimon Frontiers was syndicated on ABC Family at the conclusion of that deal.

Digimon has also spawned a collectible card game, and has appeared in manga and comic books in various countries. In the United States, Digimon videogames have also been released: five games were released for the Sony PlayStation; two titles were released for the PlayStation 2, Microsoft Xbox, and Nintendo GameCube; three games were released for the Nintendo GameBoy Advance; and three titles were released for the Nintendo DS.

Release Year(s)
N.A. Licensor
Digimon Adventure541999-2000Hiroyuki KakudouToei AnimationNew Video Group
Digimon AdventureN/A1999Mamoru HosodaToei AnimationN/A
Our War Game!N/A2000Mamoru HosodaToei AnimationN/A
Digimon: The MovieN/A2000Mamoru Hosoda/Shigeyasu YamauchiToei AnimationTwentieth Century Fox
Digimon Adventure 02502000-2001Hiroyuki KakudouToei AnimationNew Video Group
Digimon Tamers512001-2002Yukio KaizawaToei AnimationNew Video Group
Digimon Frontier502002-2003Yukio KaizawaToei AnimationN/A
Digimon Data Squad482003-2004Naoyuki ItouToei AnimationWell Go USA
Digimon Adventure 3D: Digimon Grand Prix!N/A2009?Toei AnimationN/A
Digimon Xros Wars792010-2012Yukio KaizawaToei AnimationN/A

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