Interpreting the Lore of the Digimon Reference Book

Chimera-gui

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I imagine level VI Digimon do exist as species rather than as single beings but the population of a given level VI Digimon species is gonna be considerably low compared to a given level IV species or even level V species.
 

Darklabo

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Yeah, I can see Levels I - IV being the natural lifespan of most Digimon with only the strongest being able to go further than that.

Even before Xros Wars Digimon were given Levels, Tactimon mentions that he's lived for centuries since that was how long it took him reach his current form, bare in mind that his species was established as Level VI in the Field Guide/Reference Book last year which gives the aforementioned line some interesting implications.
When I work on my own stories(all of which never see the light of day...) I usually go with an idea like that. Baby I to Adult are considered part of a digimon's normal lifestyle, and Perfect can be achieved through active improvement, but Ultimate levels are singular beings which only exist from special circumstances.
I also consider Digimon from Baby to Adult-Level as part of a natural progression, while Perfect and Mega Levels are effort-based evolutions or voluntary physical improvements.
On the other hand, the Mega-Level is, in my opinion, nothing exceptional, it is only the culmination of the improvement initiated by the Perfect-Level.
For example, Greymon is an adult Agumon, MetalGreymon is a Greymon who has undergone physical enhancements, and Mugendramon is a MetalGreymon whose body has been completely mechanized.

If there is one extraordinary stage of evolution, it is Ultra-Level.
After all, most Digimon at this level could only be born under exceptional conditions.
Omegamon is a fusion between Wargreymon and MetalGarurumon, just like Examon is a fusion between Breakdramon and Slayerdramon.
Arcadiamon was literally created to become a Super-Ultimate Digimon.
Imperialdramon PM inherited the essence of Omegamon.
Lucemon SM is the embodiment of the vice that inhabits Lucemon FM.
And Agumon - Yuki no Kizuna only exists because of the strong bond that binds Agumon and his Tamers, so definitely not a form that a wild Agumon could access.
 

Bancho

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@Darklabo I want to disagree and imagine Mega as much more rare and difficult to obtain, but the last 2 decades of Digimon material seem to agree with you that it's really just the end of what the Perfect level is trying to achieve without being more special than that, and that a Perfect level who keeps on improving itself while staying alive will eventually get to Mega. Wikimon lists 382 in their "Ultimate" category and 195 pages under their "Child" category. I'd be lying to myself if I said Mega was something exceptional anymore. Maybe to wild Digimon, but to tamers it's simply just an end goal
 

Chimera-gui

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I also consider Digimon from Baby to Adult-Level as part of a natural progression, while Perfect and Mega Levels are effort-based evolutions or voluntary physical improvements.
On the other hand, the Mega-Level is, in my opinion, nothing exceptional, it is only the culmination of the improvement initiated by the Perfect-Level.
That's kinda how I see it as which itself could explain the phenomenon @Bancho described regarding it being an end goal for partner Digimon which is admittedly when most Level VI Digimon come from.

The fact that it took Tactimon centuries to achieve his current, Level VI form while some tamers achieve the Level in as little as a few weeks shows how much the human factor can accelerate Digimon.
 

Muur

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I also consider Digimon from Baby to Adult-Level as part of a natural progression, while Perfect and Mega Levels are effort-based evolutions or voluntary physical improvements.
On the other hand, the Mega-Level is, in my opinion, nothing exceptional, it is only the culmination of the improvement initiated by the Perfect-Level.
That's kinda how I see it as which itself could explain the phenomenon @Bancho described regarding it being an end goal for partner Digimon which is admittedly when most Level VI Digimon come from.

The fact that it took Tactimon centuries to achieve his current, Level VI form while some tamers achieve the Level in as little as a few weeks shows how much the human factor can accelerate Digimon.

Humans are known to be crazy in making Digimon evolve super fast. Like in ReArise some Digimon heard a human (Mon) was spotted living in the MudFrigimon village and so a shit tonne of Digimon showed up wanting "the human" to evolve them because they couldn't do it on their own only for Jesmon to kill said Digimon because they were just gonna kidnap her and like absorb her I guess? those digimon didn't actually know how humans worked and so went about it the wrong way think if they absorbed her theyd evolve

I think the Adventure novel also mentioned Homeostasis was shocked at Tai/Kari causing Botamon >> Greymon in only a few hours and that's why she hired kids from then on to help save the World as they could Digimon to evolve super fast which was more reliable than waiting for other Digimon to get to Mega naturally over thousands of years. Humans have something in them that causes Digimon to evolve. So it makes sense really, the more Digimon and Humans coexist the more Digimon will get to the Mega level because of how fast humans cause Digimon to evolve. So the low amount of Megas at first (technically didn't even exist at first) was because Humans and Digimon hadn't met yet/only a few had met them. The more humans and Digimon partner the more Megas will show up. Doesn't even have to be heroic humans either since Analogmon/Machinedramon
 
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Bancho

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@Muur there's also the iconic Tamers scene where a whole bunch of shadowy digimon were begging Rika/Ruki to be her partner in order to digivolve and become stronger until it was decided that Renamon is the one who's worthy
 

Theigno

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For a few months now I had a little post marinading in a text file on my pc. And especially since only recently discussions of similar (if not the same) topics sprouted up in other places I think it's time for me to take on some unfinished business here in this thread... Plus it's kind of an premature christmas present.

I'd say there's plenty of reasons to take them into account if the newer publications don't actually go into detail about the same topic and generally a single aspect of the older publications being updated does not inherently indicate anything else about them having been overturned.
In regard to truthfulness, the fact that in the end we're dealing with fiction should in some ways modify the way we think about sources; since generally any untruthfulness in fiction exists for a specific narrative purpose and otherwise I'd be skeptical about being skeptical for reasons elaborated further down.
And I say there are even more reasons not to consider a source that has already proven to be unreliable.
Being skeptical of a source, whether fictitious or not is legitimate, if one were to take everything for granted the canon would be obvious to everyone and this kind of discussion would be pointless in the first place.
That any sort of skepticism towards any source is legitimate is honestly humbug unless there's actually something backing it up. Flat-Earthers claim to be merely skeptics after all.
In the realm of fiction overly skeptical arguments in general are themselves something to be skeptical about, or rather they are hard to take seriously. Because why should one have any confidence that these arguments are meant to be constructive and that they are made in good faith, when it often feels like someone just tearing something down because every perceived "failure" in a setting or story makes them feel as if they are better and smarter than whoever wrote it. And it is exactly in those sort of situations when one is inherently more eager to accept the arguments in favor of one side than the other when there is actually more straight up bias happening than skepticism.
Because skepticism is always a two way street. If it is used one-sidedly, by being applied to any views that are not your own but never to any claims that you assert, it's just denial.
A similar issue that comes up especially often with the dreaded appeal to "common sense", which is often about something that feels intuitively right, but often intuition is based on an aesthetic preference or a value judgment rather than a rational argument. This is a problem because truth is often counter-intuitive. Sometimes a valid argument results in ugly and messy implications but people often conflate implications that violate actual rules of a setting or their interpretation thereof with implications that are merely inconsistent with their personal values or even just their taste. This is often apparent when people complain about some character or ability being broken or "unfair" when in truth the setting never promised any sort of fairness in the first place. The expectation itself was unfounded.

And no, it is not the presence or absence of absolutes which determines the necessity of discussion. The source is the source, it's literally the something, the thing-in-itself being described. The mistake in your statement is equating definite knowledge of something existing to the exact knowledge of what it specifically is or what exactly it signifies.
Fiction would not exist if it did not have the freedom to decide which facts or rules exist in its setting via the sources it presents, and at that point skepticism for the sake of skepticism basically goes against the whole point of it.
Yet at the same time, fiction is by its nature chronically underdetermined, all our impressions and interpretations are by their nature relative to individual experience. That's where the need for discussion comes from. Even after accepting that the idea of some fanon hypothesis overriding a canon source is silly (because it is), there's more than enough room for nuanced discussion of fictional content.

The matter of taste brings us back to the question of objectivity and how to deal with us all as humans not possessing the truth itself but only our individual mental models of it. When trying to decide between many of them, the most useful guideline stems from statistics via a saying that goes: All models are false but some are useful.
It just so turns out you might not be able to argue about taste but you sure can argue about consistency, contradictions and usefulness. I would argue a model is more useful the more it describes of the subject it represents, and the more it predicts. Because what is there to describe outside of what is released?
To me a model that throws out a significant amount of data is already missing the point. As to the rigor involved, sure, on an internet forum no one is expecting P-values, definite confidence intervals or the like. But what about expecting at least some self-awareness and the ability take a step back and asking ourselves:
Are the right questions being asked? Are fitting definitions being applied? What exactly are we trying to determine and with which tools?
Are we nitpicking the data to fit a theory or adjusting the hypothesis to describe the data more accurately?
I experienced this necessity for myself when it came this very topic; If you told me your views on the profiles about five years ago I actually would have agreed. Because for a long while I used to parrot that sentiment in regards of the profiles' alleged shortcomings until I actually sat down and read more of them. Then it dawned on me that the evidence simply didn't support the conclusion. Rather the attitude towards the DRB had become so ingrained that no attempt was made to discover other viewpoints. And if anything that's the death of skepticism. But unfortunately it is not exactly surprising because often on the internet you end up running into the sort of circular group mentality that's just based on the notion that to meme on something is more fun than actually looking at it objectively and taking it seriously.

As to your specific claim, it seems the only argument you present flat out presupposes its own conclusion. If it can be proven that your prior arguments that declare the DRB unreliable are insufficient... the entire hypothesis is void. This insufficiency and its origins is something that I am naturally willing to prove and discuss in detail.
And I am not even saying that my approach is 100% consistent. Perfection is not the point.
What I am saying is that a broader view incorporating the DRB will be at least as consistent as anything the anime or manga established (which clearly seem consistent enough for your taste) and all I have to prove is that your model is worse in terms of practicality.

Plenty of settings don't bother being absolute about anything whatsoever and don't provide proof for much at all, yet that doesn't stop them from having a canon, and people having discussions about said settings and its canon and so on.
That Digimon even offers the concept of Digimon research going on and its results being released is already far more generous in its specificity than what we get from many other franchises, even if the data isn't flawless.
There is no point in taking into account a source that contradicts itself.
Indeed you can consider it as canon, and I can consider that it is not, for quite legitimate reasons, the result is that we will all stay on our positions, making this discussion useless in the first place.
I see what you are trying to do here, feigning to compromise while reasserting the correctness of your claims.
True, if "legitimate reasons" are presumed the discussion is meaningless. But your position is not backed by legitimate reasons. it's mostly just double standards, moving goalposts and manipulative wording. Sneaking in the presumption of legitimacy is one manipulation, as is the idea of the argument actually having anything to do with canon.

Canon has never been something to be "considered" because fans don't decide what is canon and what isn't.
Canon means nothing more than being officially published by Bandai or Toei with the exception of anything that they explicitly exclude from the story or setting.
They could release a statement that all Digimon are are dead fish and even if every fan on the planet hates that, it wouldn't change anything about the canonicity of that statement.
For this reason stating "this is not canon" as code for "I am not taking it into account because it does not align with my interpretation of the franchise" just seems sneaky and manipulative because it implies some sort of official endorsement of that position that simply doesn't exist, some sort of absoluteness that makes it sound much harder to argue with than with just a personal preference or interpretation.

Feats by their nature are much more credible in that they fit into a specific context, which is not the case with DRB descriptions which will always be subject to interpretation if not factually false.
Feats are neither less ambiguous nor more meaningful.
The reason is simple: Every line of dialogue, every frame of animation is subject to interpretation, just like you can question a the use of the term or any particular instance of wording in a profile.
No medium is inherently free of ambiguity and I don't see what would make one kind of ambiguity less of a deal breaker than any other.

As for context… the reference book is its own context. Profiles don't exist in isolation and never did. They reference each other and piece together a single expansive setting.
How does that not count as context?
And just to get an idea of the amount of context we're talking about: Let's say that the average Reference Book profile has 90 words (and that's low-balling it very much) at over 1100 profiles in the DRB to date that's over 99000 words.
That is as much content as you find in a novel of around 300 pages, plenty of text and context to go around and it keeps on expanding. Eventually, if not already, the argument can be made that the sheer amount of context and worldbuilding that the profiles provide actually exceeds anything that a season of the anime, or a game, or most other entries in the franchise could produce by themselves.
That most people who make bold claims about contradictions and inaccuracies in the DRB usually haven't even read most of it also doesn't help their "case" against it.
The profiles are also not just a one-off thing, all of the information on the official website relates to that specific setting and entire guidebooks have been written that cement its place in the franchise. So there is absolutely a context to the reference book, it is just not a narrative focused context.
Which brings me to the first primary argument against relying on "feats":
Plot, narratives and game mechanics are vehicles for bias, distractions, ambiguity and all sorts of contrivances that diminish factual relevance.

For example the kinds of stories we find in Digimon tend to dictate that the heroes triumph over their enemies. When analyzing a battle and its outcome, how do we account for the metaphorical cards being stacked in one side's favor? Especially since as a species the Digimon involved also exist outside of that specific narrative context.
If an enemy is easily defeated at the end of an episode, did he lose because it makes sense for him to lose or because the writers were forced to squish the fight into the last few minutes? How lucky did the protagonists have to get to achieve their victory? If everything was based on a situation unlikely to arise in any other battle, how significant is that outcome practically?
I don't believe that this only describes rare instances, a battle is a complex situation that, when presented in stories that don't deal well with complexity in general, tends have tons of obviously missed opportunities, tactical slip ups, contrived decisions loaded into a set piece to force the outcome that the story or more likely the company demands. That's something to be skeptical about.

That the DRB is unfettered by all that baggage is a good thing. Being free from plot means being free from coercion, a neutral state in which there is no need for portrayals to be distorted. There is no single protagonist around which all other species are organized in some predetermined manner to play a specific part only relevant from the perspective of their story. That might lack the convenience of a narrative but narrative convenience doesn't make anything more meaningful or logical… just more easily digestible.

On the other hand, if the argument is made that in the case of anime and manga it is somehow not "legitimate" to question the influence or bias of writing obligations on the outcomes they produce and we're supposed to just take these results as gospel... then there is also no point in questioning which intentions or influences anyone could have had while writing the DRB entries and accept them just as readily. They are just as official as the anime after all.

If you want to reject a direct statement from a source, the burden of proof is totally on you to produce an "objective and irrefutable" reason for why you believe something else to be true.

And going back into the specific example of Digimon, it's just not feasible to expect anything to be proven or disproven as exactly as you demand it. The entire structure of the franchise isn't really suited for accumulating evidence "irrefutably" since for example different continuities portray Digimon differently and have wildly different rules. In Zero Two Mummymon's gun shoots warped lightning, in X-Evolution it shoots red lasers. In Tamers Orochimon was taken down by Leomon using LadyDevimon's power, so basically by the power of a single perfect if not less, while in Adventure: It takes the combined power of 8 perfects to take it down, etc.
This means that you cannot reliably use the abilities and/or strength of a Digimon in a certain setting to predict their ability or strength in a different setting.
So from this perspective it is questionable if any "feats" shown in the anime or manga would actually even apply to the setting of the DRB profiles in the first place, or at least not with the absolute certainty that you seemingly demand.
You don't have to know a lot of works of fiction to think so, well-written ones stay consistent from start to finish and concepts like power scales between characters are well established and don't contradict each other.
Ah, "consistent from start to finish"… And where's your proof that each and every setting of every Digimon you use in your power level reasoning actually meets those lofty standards? For example you'd have to prove that Adventure is consistent from start to finish, otherwise it literally can't be "canon" according to your logic and can't be used to justify any of your claims about anyone's power level.
On the other hand, if you claim that this or that inconsistency should not impact this or that fight if you take that fight in isolation, then I can just as well claim that even if there were contradictions between profiles, they do not necessarily impact the accuracy of statements in other profiles.
We can't just move the goalposts can we?

The DRB is not a reliable source, not because it is only made up of claims, but because these claims are contradicted by other sources.
Again, the question is what makes those other sources so special in your view? Many of these sources clearly contradict each other after all. If consistency was the issue this would make every single one of them unfit to be used as an example.

To take your example, if the character's eyes are repeatedly described as green, but a character sees them blue, it is legitimate to consider that the latter is wrong.
Same thing, if they were blue but have turned green in the course of history, those who still consider them blue will be wrong.
No, you are in fact describing a situation in which all parties are coming to wrong conclusions due to ignorance.
Someone who is actually watching attentively would notice that the appearance of the eyes is not limited to a single color but is instead related to the passage of time, without being biased towards any specific color.
Just like profiles can be related to the passage of time.

Ardhamon was weaker than Wargreymon in Xros Wars II, that's a fact.
The DRB claims that Ardhamon is as strong as AncientGreymon AND that AncientG is stronger than the current Megas.
At least one of these claims is false.
To say that the DRB is not a reliable source is not a theory, it is an observation.
One of the claims is indeed false and it's the claim that Ardhamon is definitely weaker than WarGreymon.
I wonder why you left out the very much relevant observation that Xros Wars pretty overtly ignored anything the franchise previously established about strength.
Maybe because it makes it very clear which one of the two sources actually has problems with reliability and consistency?

Even if we could take the XW crossover as canonically relevant as far as strength is concerned (not a very convincing case to make), the argument is extremely weak, as we don't see WarGreymon killing any BelialVamdemon. We only see his attack producing a big plume of smoke. We don't see what effect it actually had, how many actually died and it's even possible that it didn't kill a single one, seeing how we later observe one of them flying out of the smoke, seemingly not damaged whatsoever. After Dukemon kills it (and we do see that) he is faced with a group of three more BelialVamdemon, quite possibly the other three from the rooftop.
By the time Dukemon has charged Final Elysium there are are four of them but this alone is not enough proof to claim that it is another group entirely since it is also possible that a single fourth BelialVamdemon could have joined the other three.

As we can see, your claimed "feat" is a questionable implication at best and it's telling how lax the standards of proof become the moment it's about something that you want to use to support a claim.
In truth, everything about that scene is up to interpretation, it's ambiguous, it does all the things that you accuse the DRB of doing, except now it's perfectly fine to just go for the broadest and extreme interpretation, suddenly there's no fanon "limits" anywhere to be seen.
That's just to say that only because information is given visually instead of textually it's not magically making it any more reliable.

"If you want to reject a direct statement from a source, the burden of proof is totally on you to produce an" objective and irrefutable "reason for why you believe something else to be true."

It's true, and that's exactly what I did in this case.
The statement claiming that Mugendramon is the strongest Digimon is objectively and irrefutably dismantled by his numerous defeats.
And the statement claiming (indirectly) that Ardhamon is stronger than Wargreymon is dismantled by the fact that Ardhamon was powerless against Digimon that WG easily defeated.
Unfortunately your reasons are neither objective (as they clearly show an inherent bias towards specific media) nor irrefutable (the idea that being the strongest equals a complete impossibility of defeat is patently absurd and easily disproved, as we'll see later). Combine this with your claim about WarGreymon already dismantled and there's really not much of a leg to stand on.

And some sources directly view the Beast Spirits as equivalent to Adult-Levels, including the anime, the most recent source we have.
Besides being literally wrong (Velgrmon was fending off two Perfects for the better part of an episode and Calmaramon was explicitly introduced as a Perfect), I do wonder how a source being more or less recent could possibly have any Impact on your reasoning when you so clearly deny the very possibility of recency being used as a factor in the interpretation of profiles. Where's the consistency here?

Demanding that all sources agree with each other is indeed complicated in Digimon's case, but in this case the best solution, in my opinion, is to only consider the most frequent scenario.
For example, Omegamon has already been defeated by AeroVeedramon and MetalPhantomon, two Perfect-Levels.
But in most cases, Omegamon easily beats Mega-Levels like Diaboromon, Argomon, Dukemon, Nidhoggmon or Mugendramon.
It therefore seems wiser to me to take into account only the most frequent scenario.
I mean… obviously you end up with bizarre and contradictory results if your evaluation doesn't even take the most basic of context into account like fights that were thrown on purpose or did not result in any physical damage.
Again that just shows how fragile an overly simplified framework is and cherry picking results after the fact is narrowing down the data from the wrong direction.

If you think it does apply and you truly want to claim that, even if adjusted, the data presented in older profile isn't applicable due to some large scale paradigm shift in the fictional science of Digimon research, you'll have to present independent evidence of such a paradigm shift actually having occurred.

And good luck with that, because if that were the case it's unlikely that just the results would change but also the entire discourse surrounding them. Different concepts and perspectives, different terminology, different properties and factors that are that are taken into consideration and so on.
The point being that it would be pretty easy to pick out if some astronomical description was is based geocentrism or heliocentrism, one might bring up things like equants and epicycles or, well, the general assumption that the earth doesn't move, the other model does not.

As my evidence for such a shift not having occurred, I would point to the concepts and terms used in the profiles being pretty much stable. If a difference existed that was significant enough to make all statements basically incommensurable, I'm pretty sure it would have involved some very noticeable changes.
Hey, you're going too far for me.
My example was just intended to demonstrate that an outdated source is not only not credible but potentially never has been.
You intended it to demonstrate something without properly understanding your own example.
We know the reasons why early scientists adopted the models they did and we know based on their tools that it was in fact pretty much inevitable that they came to those conclusions (It's a misconception that it was due to stupidity, ignorance or a lack of rigor).
Unless you can prove that the same holds true for Digimon (e.g. that the means of the in-universe science have changed in a way to produce different results at some point), the comparison is not applicable and demonstrates nothing whatsoever.
Because if the paradigm hasn't changed even old measurements remain a valid reference.

I think this applies to the DRB which is designed as a research journal. Mugendramon has never been more than the strongest Digimon known to the general public at a given time, no more and no less.
Again I never claimed that it was a journal in itself only that it was based on research results. The official term for it seems to have been confirmed as "Field Guide".
Secondly "at a given time" is more than accurate enough to give us a fairly complete picture, given the number of samples we have.
In comparison feats don't really do anything different: They only show that something is a possible outcome of this situation at a certain time, no more and more less.
It doesn't in any way indicate that it is the only or even the most likely outcome. Since you claimed that you "trust fans more than authors" that line of reasoning should be perfectly acceptable.

So it rubs me the wrong way to see some rejection based on exactness standards that simply can't be expected to apply, and I would argue that much of the process of science or rather logical discussions and systematic analysis (as nothing we do here is proper science either) should consist of establishing patterns and models to process, interpret and account for as much of the available data we have at our disposal and not just to throw away data you don't like until whatever is left fits your theory.
What theory?
All of the points that I have advanced are based on straight facts.
You're right it's not a theory, it's a conjecture at best because in order to qualify as a theory it would have to be more coherent.
And it's not based on "straight facts" either but your interpretation of the facts. Unless someone exactly agrees with that exact interpretation those "facts" will not be "straight" to them and there are plenty reasons to be skeptical of your foundations.

Mugendramon has already been defeated, it is a reality.
Its description in the DRB is therefore factually false.
Facts don't work like that. All you have "proven" is that the content of the reference book doesn't match your expectations. That's not the same as being wrong because it disregards the possibility of those expectations not being reasonable or the reference book not using a term in the same way you are using it.
Here you stubbornly take a word and latch onto one very specific interpretation while ignoring all other possibilities.
Yet, if there is another interpretation of the term which does not run into the contradiction you describe, then using that interpretation is inherently more useful.

And of course "The strongest" can mean many, many things. Most of them do not imply immortality or invincibility. Strength/power is in its most basic definition simply the capacity for applying force or energy over time, this in itself has no definite correlation to winning fights, since a Digimon could be incredibly powerful… but not in any way that would help it in a battle.
But let's assume that power and the likelihood of winning a battle are at least somewhat correlated. We could define the strongest Digimon as a Digimon that will beat any other species in a one-on-one battle.
But if even applying this rather strong definition does not guarantee invincibility because fails to account any sort of context or situational nuance that actually matters when a battle unfolds.
Our "strongest Digimon" could absolutely be defeated by three opponents that each possess one third of its power.
Or it could defeat an opponent with 75% of its strength but end up taking enough damage or spending so much of its stamina in the process that it could be easily finished off by other opponents with only 40% or 50% power in comparison.
There also are a myriad reasons (situational, psychological, or even just as a result of pure chance) in which a Digimon theoretically possessing superior power might not be able to efficiently utilize said power. Especially given that Digimon are diverse individuals who might utilize their abilities differently just because of personal preference.
There really is no such thing as a fair fight.

But all of that is already getting ahead of ourselves because we have official materials weighing in on the issue of power: The Digimon ver.1-5&20th Art Book contained a very useful section of "simulated battles" between seven Ultimates from the V-pet, showing how one Ultimate beats the next one who is then beaten by the next one… until the seventh is beaten by the first again.
So we already know that in this franchise power is not measured absolute one-on-one battle scenarios, because the likelihood of defeat between different species is, in mathematical terms, intransitive; In Digimon A getting beaten by B and B getting beaten by C does not mean that C necessarily beats A.
The implications reach even further of course because if there's no discrete absolute order of power within the set of Ultimates, then that means that it's unlikely if not outright impossible that a discrete absolute cutoff point exist between it and other levels.
While this means that the ability of a species to win fights cannot be measured absolutely, it can still be measured statistically.
As an example: There could be a Digimon species A that has an average 70% chance to defeat other Digimon in battle. And let's say there's a specific other Digimon species B against it would lose 70% of the time. If that species B only averages a 50% win rate overall against all other species overall, clearly Species A is still objectively the strongest. That's just how statistics work even if goes against people's aesthetic preferences.
Similarly, as long as it needed more than one other Digimon to defeat an opponent, the possibility if not a high likelihood remains that said opponent is still the strongest individual combatant in that context, regardless of his defeat.
The understanding of power as a matter of distribution instead of an outright guarantee is combined with awareness of a profile's original context is basically all we need to solve the alleged contradictions and it really should have been the default assumption as any question about strength on a species wide scale is always a matter of statistics.

The brightest star observed at a T-time is not and never has been the brightest star in the Universe.
It's just that it was the only one we could observe from our limited perspective.
Since we cannot see into the future and the profiles are not written from an omniscient perspective, "until now" and "as far as we know" is always implicitly true for any statement ever made except perhaps highly theoretical abstracts. There is no need to explicitly add that qualifier to every statement.
And that's why the DRB will never be an absolute reference, at best a notebook serving to better understand the functioning of Digimon as portrayed in the various media.
Which is my point from the start, if the DRB says "white" and the anime says "black", well "black" is the correct answer.
Ah, finally we are getting to the core of the matter. I agree with the first sentence, but my conclusion from it is the complete opposite.
To me this means that the DRB is the true center of the franchise, one that all the other media attempt to approach, mostly ending up as pale imitations.

So that's two points of view but are they equal?
When we talk about what is the map and what is the territory so to speak, we should ask ourselves where the models differ in terms of their predictions.
Because truth has consequences. Reality has a more of a direct effect on other real things than illusions do. So what should be actual observable consequences and effects of the anime being "correct" about Digimon? Should the rest of the franchise not follow suit? Should it not be the only definite precedent about that Digimon from that point on? Unfortunately for the media/"feat"-centric interpretation that is simply not what we see in the reality of the franchise.
What we do see, to use your color metaphor, is that technically the anime as bright or dark as it wants to be, but over time all those shades will average out, if not to black then at least to a very very dark gray.
Or more accurately, the DRB says gray and while any portrayal in other media may brighten, darken or tint it that gray in various ways. But if you mix all together again (e.g. by compiling and comparing all appearances of a species) you still end up with gray in the end.

And here's why this is more accurate: It is misleading to imagine all other portrayals of a Digimon forming some sort of consistent unified front against what is stated in the profile, when in truth no unity is to be found and portrayals can differ widely, with no actual consistency. A portrayal might introduce certain deviations and so might the next one but the key aspect is that those sets of deviations from the profile are not likely to be the exact same ones.
The slate is wiped clean so to speak and the next appearance might present a very different interpretation… this lack of unity means that the individual portrayals are not actually any more statistically useful for the overall set of data. It's just switching out one relative measurement for another. However, the DRB remains the source and portrayals in non-DRB media tend to differ more substantially from each other than each of them differ generally from the DRB. So them simply being different doesn't mean that the DRB can't still be a better predictor anyway. Not a guarantee of being right, but a lower chance of being wrong.
If I was to bet about which abilities and attacks a Digimon will have the next time it is featured in any medium (not referring to a preexisting continuity) and I had to choose between whatever abilities it had in the last anime or the abilities and attacks described in the DRB… I would bet on the DRB every time and based on the history of the franchise this would result in the best chances.
That some Digimon did some weird thing in an episode of an anime or had such or such stats in a video game is not going to mean much in ten years. But the definition provided in the reference book will continue to be what every future appearance will be based on.
And I believe the progression of strength is part of that process, the new hotness is supposed to push the envelope that's not really a wild claim. Which also means that previous Digimon remain the strongest we within their original context when they were in that very same position.

Take Insekimon for example. Savers turned him from a defense based cosmic Gottsumon into an ultra fast but brittle hit-and-run attacker. Insekimon is also featured in Digimon Savers: Another Mission. If anime feats are truly the last word in what a Digimon is supposed to be, clearly the game should orient itself based on it… but it doesn't. Insekimon is not a fast Digimon and all its attacks are modeled after the DRB descriptions. So even in a game set in that very same setting, tied into the same story (and yes, released after the episode in question), the anime's portrayal was simply not relevant. Neither was Frontier's "feat" of Insekimon's cosmo flash acting as a portal attack. It happened once and of nothing past Frontier gave a damn about it. That is how little anime feats mean, how irrelevant they are in the bigger picture.

So clearly something being a "feat" shown in the anime does not elevate its relevance in any way.
In conclusion the argument of the DRB not being an absolute reference is meaningless because the other media are even less absolute and even less significant.

If you look at a photo of a cat sitting in my office taken at 11:00 and a photo of my cat in my kitchen taken at 12:00 you might ask yourself how the cat can be both in the office and in the kitchen.
Except you probably don't ask yourself that at all because you can reasonably infer that my cat moved from the office to the kitchen at some point between 11:00 and 12:00, which accounts for the discrepancy of the cat's position.

The same applies for DRB profiles. From A profile written in 1999 describing Mugendramon as "the strongest" and a profile written in 2006 describing Leviamon as "the strongest" we can reasonably infer that progressively stronger Digimon have debuted between 1999 and 2006, accounting for the statements in both profiles as the practical meaning changes with time.

Both cat pictures and profiles remain "valid" in their respective contexts.
Your example does not work.
Your cat was indeed in both places at two different times.
And Mugendramon indeed the strongest Digimon in 1999 while some other Digimon can be the strongest at some other point in time.
I don't see why the concept of time being just as relative as space should confuse you so much. Both are points of reference that can be freely compared against other points of reference.

Mugendramon has never been the strongest Digimon, being a man-made Digimon it can be deduced that he is much younger than other much stronger creatures.
The DRB has always been wrong, either out of ignorance, or because it is biased, or certainly because it is subject to the IRL evolution of the license, but the fact remains that it is propagating incorrect information.
And again, the fact that it's never updated makes it an unreliable source.
The claim that cyborg Digimon are made by humans is debatable.
The in-universe age of a species is completely irrelevant since what counts is the time of discovery by the in-universe scientists. This automatically solves the problem of scaling since all statements are in relation to known data and we know which species that includes at any point.

And again, claiming that information is incorrect doesn't make sense when there's an obvious way to work out the discrepancy. You have not provided a single reason for why the simple act of accounting for time would not work.

"The answer is simple: The Digimon franchise at the time of Mugendramon's debut, which is early 1999.
No statement in the profile can be said to apply at anything beyond that point, since neither the authors of the profile, in the out-of-universe sense, could know about any Digimon they haven't designed yet, nor could the Digimon researchers , whose discoveries the profiles are based on in-universe, be able to take into account the ability or even existence of any Digimon species they haven't even discovered yet. "

Exactly, so nothing that is written post 1999 DRB should be taken as true.
It should be taken as absolutely true for 1999. Each profile is a new layer. Each layer adds new information, if information overlaps, the highest layer counts, while everything that is not "overlapped" remains true since there is no evidence to disprove it. You piece it together bit by bit, profile by profile, sample by sample. You might not have the patience for that but that is not the fault of the DRB.

If you claim that your cat is in your office without giving the date and time, that information is very likely to be false.
Now that's just nonsense. Ambiguity is not the same as falsehood especially when you already have all the tools you need to resolve said ambiguity.
This strikes me as willful ignorance to present something as more problematic than it actually is.
It's like if you had a string of characters that look like Junk data and someone tells you that you can decode it into a meaningful message with Base64 and your only response is "Why would I decode Junk data?" without checking what the decoding process actually results in.

Applying this logic to Mugendramon but not to the other Digimon is an arbitrary decision.
It would be arbitrary, but no one said anything about doing this.
Mugendramon was an example that was brought up earlier in the thread, so I continued to use it, but that same approach will work just as well on any profile, that has been my point from the very start.
Taking into account the time of debut solves the majority of contradictions people bring up about the DRB, period.

The reality is that every Digimon profile is outdated the moment a newer one is added.
If on August 10 Yellowmon is added to the DRB which claims he is the fastest Digimon, but on August 11 Redmon is also added to the DRB, Yellowmon is already potentially not the fastest anymore.
You touted skepticism earlier so here is some skepticism in action: I am skeptical that the reference book would introduce a new fastest Digimon ever without telling us that it is indeed the fastest. The whole point of the profile is to highlight a Digimon's notable features and abilities and being the fastest or strongest in the entire setting… that's kind of a big deal and clearly worthy of mention. If they actually intended it to be faster what reason would they have not to mention that?
And if no such intention existed and decision to theoretically portray it as faster in an anime was nothing but a writer's interpretation why should we categorically prefer one writer's view over the other's when there's no proof of prior intent? And as as pointed above the latter interpretation will lose relevance once that anime or other generic continuity concludes.
Therefore I would confidently claim that Redmon remains the fastest species until a Digimon is added that explicitly called the fastest once again.

And that's without counting the retcons, as you pointed out, one day Orochimon is beaten by Leomon and the next day, he competes with 6 Perfect-Level at the same time.
Actually, there was never a retcon. Further investigation into the Tamers episode resulted in new evidence that, skepticism be praised, overturned the previous conclusion and paints a very different picture of the situation.
You see, actually it is perfectly possible for Orochimon in Tamers to be just as strong as Orochimon in Adventure:⏣. The reason can be found in the Reference Book, which has the following to say about LadyDevimon's attack: "Poison", uses Dark Energy to reverse the phase of the opponent's own powers, obliterating them from within. The more powerful the opponent is, the more complete the technique is.
So it really wasn't Leomon's power that killed Orochimon but its own, which reverses the implication of that scene: If this Orochimon was especially weak, the Poison attack would have made him take less damage and perhaps not killed him, so among other things the fact that he died as easily as he did actually shows how powerful he was.
This drives another nail into your hypothesis that superior power should make Digimon unkillable. As we can clearly see, in certain situations power and invulnerability are in fact explicitly inversely correlated. And this is clearly intentional. Using its own overwhelming power against it was what Juri meant with "We need to change our approach" when she selected that particular card. It's almost as if the scenario makes complete sense if we assume that the attack works like the profile says its works. And it's almost as if the anime expected the audience to be familiar with the lore as presented by the reference book.

But this not only explains why there no contradiction between Tamers and Adventure:⏣, let's not forget that the fact, or shall we say "feat" that Poison still worked perfectly fine also doubles as rather straightforward proof that the effects of an attack which mirrors the power of its target is not affected by the power or level of whoever launches said attack. So your claim that Mercuremon could not have reflected Seven Heavens at full force in Frontier clearly has no basis.
And with that out of the way is there is no longer any need to uphold the absurd claim that Seraphimon's power is on the level of an Adult level, which was of course never backed up in any of his appearances across media.
Three problems all resolved in one stroke.
See how easily those seemingly contradictory pieces fall into if you go where the actual evidence takes you?
The profile literally explains why there was no retcon in the first place.

The DRB is simply never up to date.
Likewise, the current episode of the anime is outdated the moment the next one airs. Your hypothetical absolute viewpoint never existed in any part of the franchise.

"So with that in mind here's what the profile actually tells us: HerakleKabuterimon, SaberLeomon, MetalEtemon, Holydramon, MarinAngemon, MetalSeadramon and Pukumon cannot equal Mugendramon in terms of power. I don't think that's a particularly shocking claim and the introduction of progressively more powerful Digimon doesn't change anything about it. "

Ouch, that's aged poorly.
I doubt any incarnation of Mugendramon can compete with Adventure 2020 Holydramon.
Well, since in one of your other post you claimed the right to simply "not consider scenarios", that don't mesh with your view then I can play that card too right?
After all I doubt any previous incarnation of Holydramon can compete with 2020 Holydramon either, making it an outlier and therefore irrelevant.

"That certainly disproves that the horse is the fastest animal, but does it disprove anything else? According to your logic, the moment that the Cheetah disproves the the statement" the horse is the fastest animal ", we have to consider that turtles and chickens could be faster than horses. Hedgehogs could be faster than cats, because all previous data is completely worthless, right?
I think most would disagree with that. That cheetahs are faster than horses does not disprove the previous result of horses being faster than turtles. The biologist would have received the same results in those measurements with or without knowing about cheetahs. Put more abstractly: A simple shift of boundary values does not impact the relation between preexisting values in the same system."

Your reasoning works in the real world, but not in Digimon's logic.
In Digimon a turtle can get faster than a horse.
Firstly, you act like unforeseen events cannot happen in the real world. But they do. Even turtle related ones.
Just a few months ago a giant turtle was recorded hunting a killing a bird. No one previously thought turtles did that.
But despite being unforeseen this doesn't mean that previous observations were wrong, it just means that it needs to be re-contextualized in light of the new evidence. Data can be reworked instead of thrown out.
And you have no proof that the methods used for this purpose in reality wouldn't work in the context of Digimon, you simply hypothesize or claim that they don't but you don't even seem to attempt to verify if it would actually produce impossible results so this is already jumping to unconfirmed conclusions. I haven't seen any context in which discarding observations does helps with anything; Retaining the validity of a comparison in its original context is not only possible, but doing so will result in more consistent and reliable model than discarding them.
Yelling wrong! and yeeting everything out the window just seems like a one-dimensional attitude towards what a contradictory observation actually implies.

Secondly if you throw consistency out of the window upon any new measurement obviously none of your "X beat Z and Y beat X so it can beat Z" logic works either, especially not across continuities.
By the point you get to the claim that "Y beats Z" There is no proof that "X beat Z" is even valid anymore, if the structure of facts really does change as you claim and previous observations just don't count.
The argument relies just as much on the validity of past data as any other. After all there's nothing elevating your observations outside their original outdated context. You are down here measuring turtles with the rest of us.

I don't think I've ever heard of that type of fallacy in any actual theory of argumentation.
I would say your arguments would fall under the"Made up limits" fallacy where fans pretend there are some arbitrary limits to something even though there's no proof for their existence.

Personally, as long as we are talking about magical computer monsters that violate countless laws of physics by generally existing, I am completely on board with the idea of them being able to use any supernatural ability their profile ascribes to them to its fullest imaginable extent until shown or stated otherwise.

I mean they and their abilities are manifested computer programs. Computer programs have a tendency to apply their logic quite indiscriminately to any input they get. If efficiently written, the same a tiny compression program can compress both a kilobyte sized file and a gigabyte sized file. Even the biggest, meanest universe ending explosions are just a chunk of data in context of Digimon.
So if Mercuremon's ability simply cut-and-pastes any data it receives, I don't see why it should care about limits.
Except it's up to you to prove that a character can accomplish something, and not up to me to prove that it can't.
If we follow your logic, I can claim that Botamon can destroy the Multiverse since we have no evidence that he cannot.
No, the point is Bandai clearly told us what the character can "accomplish" and they intentionally decided to use the wording "any attack". If you want to claim that "any" actually means something else entirely, as in some some arbitrary subset of attacks, then you and only you are the one making a claim that is not inherently supported by the source material, and that means you need to prove it. You can't simply shift the burden of proof by making a negative claim, that is not how proof works.
What's happening here is like pausing the anime at a random point in a character's dialogue and exclaiming "I don't believe the this character actually said that line, I need proof that he really did", even as the subtitles are still on the screen. What do you expect that proof to be?
In other words there is an incredible difference between a statement that got officially published and a claim that you literally made up.

That Numemon is weak is explicitly stated in its profile.
That there are any limits to Mercuremon's Generous Mirror attack is not stated in its profile and we've already seen him kill an Ultimate with it.
So much for that.
Numemon's profile is irrelevant.
If Numemon is weak, it's because the different medias prove it.
And if you're having trouble with that, replace Numemon with Botamon or Terriermon, you get the idea.
But where's your proof that the profile is irrelevant?
You simply asserting it doesn't make it true.
I can assert that the other media are merely confirming the fact that the profile is indeed relevant to all of them.
As long as both approaches explain what we see you have not proven why yours should be favored by anyone. What are the concrete benefits of believing your interpretation?

- Mercuremon's profile is also irrelevant.
- Even if it was noteworthy it would be false, the profile indicates that Mercuremon can repel attacks in general, but in Frontier he is unable to repel physical attacks.
Nope, you are wrong. Mercuremon is fully capable of repelling physical attacks in Frontier, as proven when he repels Wolfmon's swords in episode 23.
Ardhamon was able to kill him in episode 28 was not because the attack was physical, but because he was able to catch him off-guard, getting into close range and deliver a punch bypassing the mirrors on his arms and smashing his torso. The profile makes it very clear that only the "Irony no Tate" on its arms can be used to reflect attacks with Generous Mirror, the rest of his body can't.
It seems once again hypocritical to me to make claims about the superior meaningfulness of "feats" in anime scenes based on context and then use arguments that pretty much rely on ignoring the context which those scenes actually provide.

- He has never shown to be able to mirror an attack more powerful than Seraphimon's Seven Heavens.
It's just a matter of framing at this point. I can confidently say that we have never seen this attack fail to repel any attack up and to including an attack from one of the literal rulers of that world.
Straight facts.

In fiction, when the number one gets beaten once he usually loses his title.
In real life it's a matter of ratio, but it hardly exists in fiction because it would be boring to watch.
Usually? Hardly? Oh my, that sounds like vague claims that you can't actually back up with anything for the actual context being discussed. And surely it's not like the method of presenting information used by the reference book isn't affected by that one technicality you present as an argument against it…
 
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