"This doesn't make sense! Are these supposed to be animals or robots or what!?"—Sharon Marsh, South Park
(Also: "-mon(s)". Short for "Monster.")
Sometimes, magical powers just aren't directly available, or if they are, it's not enough to take down the Big Bad Monster threatening the world. That's when it comes in really handy to have your own servant Monster capable of massive property damage. Or several. You're The Kid with the Remote Control now.
Or maybe you just like fighting in tournaments without actually putting yourself at risk.
Mon range up and down the scale in terms of intelligence, power, and appearance. Some are almost mindless, while some are far, far smarter than their so-called "masters." Likewise, whether they're servants, partners, or just another race depends on the series. Some Mons may be controllable by The Beast Master, but it's not a requirement.
Relationships and emotions tend to have heavy emphasis in Mon series. Good relations with Mon are recommended, as The Power of Friendship usually serves to make your Mon more powerful and loyal to your cause. Apathetic or cruel treatment, on the other hand, may cause them to run away, turn on you, or bring about the end of the world.
- Type 1: The Pokémon style method. The Mon are either analogous to real world animals except with super powers, artificial beings, or intelligent monsters that join you to become stronger. The main characters goal is to collect all species of Mon and use them to fight as proxies in a tournament in order To Be a Master. This version tends to appear most often in games. Popular examples include Pokémon, Monster Rancher, and the Dragon Quest Monsters games.
- Type 2: The Mon are sapient beings who partner with humans to fight the Big Bad in order to Save the World. The Digimon and Monster Rancher anime are examples of this type.
- Type 3: The main character has limited or no magic ability and must persuade hostile Mons to join their side in combat in order to accomplish their own goals. This is the version seen in the original Shin Megami Tensei games.
- Type 4: Type 4 is often a deconstruction of Type 1. Often taking place in a Dystopian world where the Mon are depicted as slaves fighting in a Blood Sport, such as in Alien Dice. Or the Mon are a deadly Attack Animal/Living Weapon who's usage by humans leads inevitably to chaos, death and destruction such as in Devil Survivor.
The Trope Codifier, Pokémon is the poster child for this trope, being both the most famous and the most successful example. This means that a lot of Mons Series are falsely accused of being Pokémon ripoffs (especially if they dare to use the word "Mon" in the title or creature names) because many people seem to think Pokémon is the only original Mons Series and that all others are ripoffs.
May overlap with Our Monsters Are Weird if the roster of creatures is big enough. Also a type of Attack Animal. Occasionally, mons will get an Inconvenient Summons. Jarringly powerful Mons are Olympus Mons, while totally pathetic ones are Com Mons.
- Mon Colle Knights.
- Many of the fighters in Zatch Bell resemble humans, but have a mon-ish flavor to them.
- Yu-Gi-Oh wound up becoming a hybrid Mon series, in the form of a magical card game, and then with Duel Monster spirit "partners" in 'GX.
- My-HiME is an example of a series with Mon intended for an older audience.
- Narutaru viciously deconstructs the genre by showing in rather graphic detail just what could happen if misfit teenagers suddenly found themselves controlling awesomely powerful Mons.
- In the series Zero no Tsukaima -- set in another world where the nobility are Harry Potter-esque magi -- a hapless yet haughty mage named Louise accidentally summons a computer science student from Earth as her familiar. All the other mage familiars are Mon.
- Gigantor is probably the earliest example of Mon, where the mon is a Humongous Mecha -- the very first of the genre.
- The Angels in Kidou Tenshi Angelic Layer could be somewhat identified with Mon.
- Beyblade is a series that has mon, but focuses less on them and more on the humans who wield the eponymous Beyblades.
- Speaking of shamanism above, Shaman King has this, albeit with the spirits of the deceased and nature taking over mon duties.
- Summoning mystical, talking animals is one of the many varieties of Ninjutsu magic used in Naruto.
- Bistro Recipe, AKA Fighting Foodons, was a mons series where all the monsters were living food items.
- An Affectionate Parody in Hell Teacher Nube—a priest, who is a friend of Nube's, comes across a box full of capsules with miniature yokai sealed within. He then sells them as capsule toys to the children, who use them to battle exactly in the same manner as Pokémon. Too bad one of the sealed monsters actually was a real threat and starts devouring all the others, threatening the entire neighborhood.
- Bakugan, the spiritual successor to Beyblade and the less successful B-Daman, and from the same studio that did Tiny Toon Adventures, but without the top nouch animation due to bad outsourcing.
- Zoids are arguably just Humongous Moncha. And before they converted into Humongous Moncha of wartool, they are used as MONCHA CAVALRY!
- Jewelpet, although they aren't the fighting type.
- In Magic Knight Rayearth, there's Ascot who can summon all kinds of Mons he calls his friends.
- Blue Dragon's spinoff manga Ral Grad is mostly focused on monster-to-monster combat, being that these particular mons are parasitic. There is plenty of human-vs-monster action, however.
- Manga/Manga/JoJosBizarreAdventure becomes a sort of Mon series from Part 3 and onward, with many characters having their own creature that is basically a manifestation of their soul which they control.
- Medabots is mon series with customizable robots powered by medals instead of mons.
- Live On Cardliver Kakeru is a semi-Mon series fairly similar to Yu-Gi-Oh!, with cards to summon the familiars, done by TMS of Bakugan fame.
- In Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic, djinn are Type 2, with the magic lantern or other artifact acting as a "Pokeball" rather than trapping them as such.
- The "Giant Warrior" from Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind qualifies as type 4.
- Mon Suno
- Flint the Time Detective revolves around collecting Time Shifters from different time periods.
Comic Books[edit | hide]
- Depending on the writer, Johnny (and Jakeem) Thunder's Thunderbolt is more Mon than magical servant, though the distinction is subtle.
Literature[edit | hide]
- The daemons from Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy (the first book has been filmed as The Golden Compass). In addition, the protagonist of the first volume befriends an intelligent, armored bear, who, while not magical in nature, could be connected to this trope.
- In fact, Daemon' is a Greek word used by Socrates with quite the same meaning as "Soul", Pullman keeps this meaning in his book so, even though they have the suffix -mon in their name, there may be little connection with this trope.
- Very creepily used in And The Ass Saw The Angel, a novel written by Nick Cave, when Euchrid starts collecting wild animals in cages and teaching them to fight. He eventually unleashes them on the town, killing many.
- In the Jim Butcher series Codex Alera, Furies serve a somewhat similar role to Mons. Indeed, he admitted he was inspired by Pokémon in writing it. Only earth and fire furies manifest physically most of the time though, and it is truly Serious Business since the entire world's technology and culture has evolved around the use of Furies.
- A bit of a stretch on this one, but the "demons" featured in The Bartimaeus Trilogy perform in a similar manner to most mons: Various shapes and sizes, perform given tasks, different levels that can range from lowly imp to raging monstrosity, and the person who can summon the largest or most powerful demon is considered the strongest.
- Kamen Rider series, starting with Ryuki, use this in varying degrees. In some, the heroes draw power from a contracted (Ryuki) or sealed (Blade) Monster of the Week to use their unique traits. Hibiki has the Disc Animals, which mostly play the trope straight. Den-O and Kiva have the interesting spin of having the "Mons" (the good-guy Imagin and the Arms Monsters, respectively) being regular characters in their own right who can merge with the Riders to power them up, taking control of the body to boot.
- However, Ryuki's example is a deconstruction. The monsters are not friendly and will eat their owner the moment their contract is broken, their body parts are used as weapons, and a few of the riders use their monsters to attack and kill citizens.
- Kamen Rider Decade takes this trope, and runs it as the main plot element. The two main Riders, Decade and Diend are, respectively, a Megaman and a Pokemon Master, fighting by way of Yu-Gi-Oh!.
- Ultra Seven from the Ultra Series was often unable to transform because his Transformation Trinket had been stolen, so in order to fend off the Monster of the Week, he would pull out a small capsule and release a giant monster to do the fighting.
- Ultra Galaxy Mega Monster Battle is Ultra Series meet Pokemon.
- Phantasy Star Online Episodes I and II sort of has this with the mag. Mags are a race of living computers that are freely distributed to new hunters/rangers/forces, but more can be found in other places such as the mines in Ragol. When they are new, all mags share the exact same form except for their color (which they have a handful of options), and are almost widely useless for anything except to use up extra mates/fluids when they take up too much space in your pack. The mon part? If you feed them certain mates/fluids/cures/etc. or a combination of them that typical mag can quickly change its form into many other different and unique models (sometimes even changing back to a previous form, not including the infant model) and learn different combinations of photon blasts (up to three). Their transformations are based around their levels, their stats and a few other tricks (such as the owner's Section ID or other rare event items), and if the stats are tweaked the right way by the time they cap their level, they can make a permanent change into a very rare model of mag. While they aren't used to directly fight in battle (unless you count some of the photon blasts) and while the player has few reasons to go out hunting extra mags, some of the rarer mags can perform valuable techs aside from the photons, including reviving their owner if they die or temporarily boosting their attack and defense. Not to mention that their stats directly affects the players and also adds significant boosts to them for as long as that model is equipped (which can really shoot high with some more clever tweaking). They also have intelligence and feelings to watch for as well as a damage meter, the two formers of which are affected by their "food", such as if they like it or if it's good for them, or (for synch) whether or not you give them mates/fluids/cures/so on quick enough when they're hungry (the latter charges up energy for the photon blast the more hits you/they take). Ironically, although the game also makes an effort in a few missions to make it clear how mags are living creatures that try to protect and serve you well in exchange for care, and they made it also clear that every Hunter (and Ranger and Force) gets one upon becoming hunters (part of the Hunter's Guild/government on Pioneer 2, not just the class), there are only a small number of characters (besides player made ones) whom have one or were seen with one (Elenor comes to mind and supposedly Ult).
- Grand Chase has the "pets" who get to attack with you during dungeons and pvp.
- World of Warcraft is introducing a Mons system in the Mists of Pandaria expansion, using the pets that before now have always been there to look cool. It is constantly referred to as "Pokemon" rather than the official "Pet Battle System" by fans, though rather calling it that is a Take That or not depends on the individual person's opinion.
- Small-scale games of Privateer Press's WARMACHINE and HORDES tend to be duels between two opposing magic users and a handful of either steam-powered robots or giant angry monsters on each side. As the games scale up, though, the robots and monsters stop being Mon so much as units in a larger military force.
- Arguably played somewhat straight with the Warjacks - if a specific 'Jack is used by a Warcaster frequently for a long period of time, they can gain a level of personality. This is likely what has happened to Stryker's faithful Ironclad Ol' Rowdy and Haley's special Lancer Thorn. Drago could also be viewed as this to Vladimir Tzepeci, and Beast 09 for Sorcha is most definately this. Likewise, said Warcasters can also get very defensive about particular 'Jacks as well (case and point - this is the reason Haley refuses to have Cygnarian Mechanics "examine" Thorn).
- The Tabletop RPG Monsters and Other Childish Things presents a Mon setting in which the mon are things like dark and malevolent forgotten gods and Lovecraftian abominations against the order of our reality. Unlike some examples, it has a strict "one monster per kid" rule, so there's no collecting or catching.
- Let's not forget Pokéthulu. It's what it says on the box.
- Project Nephilim introduces Cthulhu Tech's own take on the anime genre, with genetically engineered mini-mecha horrors that have to be kept under control by psychic handlers. There's also a plethora of spells which allow sorcerers to summon various Eldritch Abominations, usually to serve as assassins or bodyguards.
Video Games[edit | hide]
- Started with Digital Devil Story: Megami Tensei back in 1987. Interestingly, both the original novels (yes, the series is based on novels) and the game are viewed as Deconstructions in retrospect, making the Mon trope Unbuilt.
- Pokémon, Digimon and Monster Rancher are the flagship Mon series, because all were licensed and released around the same time in North America and all have "mon" in their name (not to mention have/had their own Anime). Comparing the three shows the diversity of the genre. Pokémon came out the victor in terms of popularity, which, led the others to be thought of as "Pokémon knockoffs".
- Ironically, the Pokémon franchise was criticized early in its history for having alleged Satanic themes. Fortunately, one can only imagine what the critics would have thought of the Shin Megami Tensei series.
- This may well have roots leading to an "Oldest One In The Book", in that Pokémon, for one, has strong stylistic overtones of shamanism. However, Pokémon itself was originally inspired by its creator Satoshi Tajiri's hobby of Bug Catching. He reportedly wanted to create a way for people to have the same experience searching for bugs (and other wild creatures) as he did after realizing that many of the forests he used to play in had been destroyed.
- In the Megami Tensei series of JRPGs, the main character usually can't use magic directly, so depends on recruiting demons, angels, and other monsters to fight alongside him. It was also the first video game to use the concept. The "mons" range from pixies and goblins to Cthulu and Satan.
- The Persona spinoff games use many of the same mons, as well as the mechanic of leveling them up to gain powers... except now they're inside your head.
- One of the newest entries into the franchise, Devil Survivor, offers a much more scathing and horrific direct Deconstruction of Mon games that sprang up in the wake of SMT; it features all the trappings of those games (digital device to store mons, teens as the player group, unquestioning mon loyalty, etc) and then goes on to demonstrate how kids (and adults) being able to call deadly creatures out of handheld devices would lead to chaos and death. Sure, there's a good bit more contributing to the chaos, but many of the game's most heartwrenching scenes stem from the simple fact that young people have access to creatures that can kill others with practically a flick of the wrist.
- On the other side of the coin, the earlier Devil Children/DemiKids games were SMT games cut from the same cloth as Pokémon and intended to be Lighter and Softer for kids to discover the franchise (with the exception of a few adult themes), such a shooting themselves in the head.
- Also, the Japanese-only Red & Black Books (two versions of the same game, a la Pokémon) and their sequel, White Book, had stories that were more-or-less about angels turning human children into soulless killing machines to wage war against the demons.
- The Summons in the various Final Fantasy games occasionally resemble Mons, particularly in VIII and XIII where GFs/Eidolons are both closely tied to the characters and play a notable role in plot.
- Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings has most of your troops being summoned monsters. The main characters also fight, but the main point is using these summoned monsters that you steadily gain a better selection of by recruiting them from a ring with auracite.
- Final Fantasy XIII-2 makes use of a Pokémon-esque gameplay feature that involves capturing and training the random battle monsters that usually plague you out in the field and then using them as a de facto third character alongside Serah and Noel.
- Fate/stay night is a Visual Novel set in the Nasuverse where the main characters get control of "Servants." (The souls of former heroes, now in various RPG-esque classes.)
- Medabots and Custom Robo are both Robot versions of the standard Mon design. Medabots anime and games being a cross between Yu-Gi-Oh and Pokémon when it comes to making fighting Robots for Children Serious Business.
- Medabots somewhat Justified it (or Hand Wave it, YMMV) as the Medabots are ARMED WITH ACTUAL ARMATURE, especially the Game and the Manga.
- Custom Robos started as tools for work and toys to play with, but they became very hard to combat conventionally once effective weapon systems were developed for them.
- Geomon is a mobile phone based game where you catch 'spirits' using GPS and our area.
- The Chrono Trigger DS remake allows you to raise a monster which can become pretty much any enemy in the game, although sadly you can only own one per save state.
- The Chao of the Sonic the Hedgehog series in the first two Adventure games. Collected as eggs ingame or online, raised with fruit to eat and small animals/drivers to influence stats and looks, can be bred, grow up and change appearance based on stats and looks, and used for contests like racing and sparring. If raised correctly, Chao can evolve into Chaos Chao, immortal beings with superb stats.
- Azure Dreams is a game where a human takes monsters with him to fight other monsters in a tower. You need monsters as your stats reset every time you return to Town. It is a more hands on form of this genre.
- Although it's not a Mon series, per se, both Summon Night and its spinoff Swordcraft Story have elements of it, as in the setting, humans can't use magic directly, and have to rely on various summoned creatures to provide it.
- The Cyber-Elf gathering and utilization system introduced in the Mega Man Zero series had this sort of feel to it.
- The Mega Man Battle Network series went a step further—not only do Navis do all the fighting, they are also relied upon for using the internet and fixing or utilizing all manner of electronic equipment.
- OTOH, you're not collecting the Navis themselves, instead you're collecting battle chips to use for virus busting and netbattles.
- In the third installment, however, you do collect viruses which you can use to battle with...
- All of this was later continued in Mega Man Star Force.
- Even Dragon Quest got into the Mon craze by releasing the Game Boy games known as Dragon Quest / Warrior Monsters, where one can capture and raise many of the enemies in the game, including an entire family based on the Slime... although even before this—and before Pokémon -- Dragon Quest V and VI let you recruit and train monsters.
- Dinosaur King is this with dinosaurs.
- Oddly enough, Bomberman also did this with Charaboms, creatures that many claim are too similar to Pokémon simply because... well... they are. Started in the Game Boy Color games called Bomberman Max.
- Mario Party 3 also had a Duel Map Mode where each character essentially had one of the various enemy species as their mon, also released around the height of Pokemon's popularity.
- Folklore, where the captured Mons are actually forest spirits.
- Jade Cocoon, which was partially designed by Studio Ghibli artists.
- The little remembered Dokapon, which had a translation but was kind of interesting. When the series was revived on the Wii/DS, though, it came back as a mon-free RPG with Party Game elements.
- Dragonseeds, a Follow the Leader version of Monster Rancher/Farm. Most of the monsters didn't look anything like dragons, with some being animated coffins, shakōkidogū, or owlmen. Monsters were created by scanning other PlayStation save files.
- The Too Good to Last/mismarketed franchise, Magi Nation, which was more or less Lord of the Rings/Magic the Gathering meets Pokémon.
- Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World includes a monster-pact system which is pretty much Tales of Symphonia meets Pokémon. However, the cast of the previous game shows up often enough that there are really only a few bosses and dungeons where you have to make use of the system, if you don't like it.
- Geneforge. Shaping your own army of creatures, from cute mascot-like tiny dragons to acid-spitting worms to lightning coatl to full-fledged drakes and giants. Almost every character type depends on them in some way or another, and the few types that are designed for operate solo can still make use of them. They can develop along with the character, augmented with more essence, or have their essence reclaimed to build stronger monster types. Under certain circumstances they may go rogue. Different factions have their own ideology regarding their rights to life and freedom, but they never really demonstrate any personality of their own (as of Geneforge 4.)
- The semi-obscure RPG series Robopon is like Pokémon, but with robots!
- Enchanted Arms has golems you can collect by finding and defeating Preexisting Encounters. All the game's random enemies and some of the bosses are acquireable. Unfortunately the Arbitrary Headcount Limit makes the golems more or less useless as soon as all four human party members have joined.
- Titans from Huntik. They're summoned from amulets using the summoner's own magical energy. Some are unique, like Metagolem or Garghoul, while others are common, like Hoplites (lion-centaur-Spartan things) or the Redcaps and Mindrones the Organization Mooks use.
- Touhou Puppet Play (also known as Touhoumon), a Touhou ROM Hack of Pokémon, has you using the girls of the Touhou series much like Pokémon.
- Keitai Denju Telefang was a Game Boy Color release loosely based off Pokémon, although it has some Digimon elements to it.
- The series is most well-known for the mediocre bootlegs of the original games that actually tried to pass itself as Pokémon games.
- Culdcept is one of the few mon games/manga where the humans fight just as hard as the monsters.
- Disgaea has elements of mon games, in that you are able to create monster units if you've killed at least one of that type, though unlike most RPGs featuring monster allies, they're treated more like full-fledged characters, being able to equip weapons and armor, and possessing unique abilities to make up for the ones they lack in contrast to the humanoids.
- Ni no Kuni features Imagines, which fight alongside the human characters. In the Play Station 3 version of the game, they do all of the fighting in their owner's place while they're active, but as manifestations of their owner's fighting spirit, any harm that comes to them affects the owner, too.
- Invizimals attempts to bring Mons into Real Life by way of camera.
- Eternal Eyes
- Lil' Monster and its Japan-only prequel Kandume Monster, though the prequel was also rather "traditional RPG"-ish in its way.
- Golden Sun has Djinn. While your characters do most of the fighting, the Djinn provide passive stat bonuses, as well as a variety of attacks.
- Monster Galaxy
- Pocket Frogs is apparantly this with frogs. Which hatch as miniaturized adult frogs instead of tadpoles.
Web Comics[edit | hide]
- Alien Dice is a webcomic that advertises itself as being Pokémon In Space, but it's actually a deconstruction, showing the brutal side effects of having evolving monsters, self aware sentient creatures as slaves, and the side affects being captured and imprisoned in an itty-bitty dice would have on your body and your psyche. It's particularly Anvilicious since the main character is a Dice.
- But I'm a Cat Person is another deconstruction. The Mon owners have jobs, other hobbies, and personal issues to deal with aside from fighting, and not all of them are sure they want to participate in the first place. Well into the third chapter, there's only been one battle, and it was entirely off-panel.
- Monster Pulse plays with the genre. On paper it's a coming of age story about kids and their mons. The twist being that said monsters are made from the organs and body parts of the main characters.
Web Original[edit | hide]
- Bog Leech's Mortasheen is this, combined with copious amounts of Nightmare Fuel.
- Parodied on Atop the Fourth Wall. In the "Silent Hill: Dying Inside #5" review, Linkara captures the first Pyramid Head in a Pokeball after weakening it with his cluestick. ("*bong* Word! To! The! Wise! Wearing! A! Huge! Freaking! Echo! Chamber! On! Your! Head! Is! Not! Very! Smart!" *bong*)
- The Cheatball.
- In Chaotic, the creature scans don't possess sentience, but players do use them to become the creatures for the match and battle with them. Creatures in Perm are not animals but beings that form distinct societies and, of course, wage wars.
- Ling-ling of Drawn Together is a parody of Pikachu who was apparently abused by his trainer considerably, among other things said trainer: captured him using a bear trap, turned him into a sociopathic killing machine, and took his dance shoes.
- Arguably Stitch and his 625 "cousins" (Dr. Jumba Jookiba's experiments).
- About a hundred years before Pokémon, the Japanese played with "obake karuta", cards with folklore monsters ("obake" being a broad category of monsters in Japanese folklore, and also a term for ghosts).
- Well, that and fighting
- The later Pokemon games also stick a foot into a Type 2 approach (while keeping the tournament aspects), since the later villain teams have become world-threatening villains rather than nebulous criminal organizations.