Digimon, short for "Digital Monsters", is a Japanese media franchise, which encompasses virtual pet toys, anime, manga, video games, films, and a trading card game. The franchise focuses on the eponymous creatures that inhabit a "Digital World", which is a parallel universe that originated from Earth's various communication networks. The franchise was created in 1997 as a series of virtual pets, and it was intended as the masculine counterpart to Tamagotchi. The creatures were first designed to look cute and iconic even on the devices' small screens. Later developments had them created with a harder-edged style, which was influenced by American comics. The franchise gained momentum with an early video game, Digimon World, released only in Japan in January 1999.
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