It’s surprising how fast time flies since Pokémon officially turns 20 years old later this month with the first generation games (Red and Green) releasing back in February 27th, 1996 in Japan. While I have reflected on the franchise (mostly on the games) in the past, it’s time to share my overall thoughts on how Pokémon made me become an anime fan that I am today.
Back when I was a child, I was indifferent towards Pokémon when the games came to west with the franchise become wildly popular. While I got to play with a copy of Pokémon Pinball, I eventually got a copy of Pokémon Blue and played with it. It was a fun game since you go on a journey to collect gym badges and collect Pokémon. While I got introduced to gaming when I got the Super Nintendo a few years earlier and eventually got Nintendo 64 and a Game Boy, Pokémon was my introduction to Japanese role-playing games that I actually beaten.
Eventually, the anime eventually got made. Sure, I have heavily criticized the current state of the Pokémon anime since the premise becoming too formulaic, it served as an introduction to the medium for me at one time. I was interested in how the anime will fare considering that they can take greater liberties with the source material as seen with the battling compared to the actual games. The show also had some slice of life moments considering how episodic the series is, which is the reason why the show had a lot of filler episodes. Eventually, the movies got localized in the west. In fact, I watched the first three in theaters with my younger sister when I was young and it was good times. Sadly, I lost interest in the show, especially after the voice actors got changed along with Diamond and Pearl taking a nose dive in quality when the studio started to use cheesy CG effects when I started watching the Japanese version without any knowledge of the Japanese language.
What influence did Pokémon have with my life? Well, there are several. Aside from my growing interest in video games, Pokémon got me interested in making a Pokémon related fan site, which I shared my experiences for back in 2014. While it looked unprofessional considering I was a child back then and didn’t know proper web design techniques, this is where I learned how to manage a website and of course, learned HTML instead of relying on Microsoft Word since there was no WordPress back then. Sure, we didn’t know much about Pokémon related news since the internet was primitive back then, but it was fun to try to share the latest information and of course share speculation about new Pokémon and such. While the fansites I created were short-lived since I didn’t have paid hosting aside from lack of motivation, it was a good learning experience as most of the knowledge help me create my anime blog that you are reading now.
As stated earlier, Pokémon also got me into anime as well. Sure, I have watched other anime with terrible dubs such as Sailor Moon and Cardcaptor Sakura which some degree of censorship along with Miyazaki films, I considered Pokémon the first anime that I watched on television. Back in the 90s, things were different and I remembered recording episodes on a VCR from an antenna, which had poor reception on Saturday mornings on Kids WB. This is where I got to watch other anime since my parents happened to record the whole Saturday morning on tape, which got me introduced to other anime (excluding western cartoons), even though the selection is very limited. At some point in the early 2000s, we stopped doing it as they stopped airing children’s shows in the morning on broadcast television. Also, my parents got broadband internet, which eliminated the need to record them anymore. From there, I listened to Japanese songs that were from Pokémon, which includes insert songs and opening and ending themes.
While I lost interest in the Pokémon anime, I eventually got back to watching anime after deciding to watch some of the shows Kyoto Animation made in 2006 such as Suzumiya Haruhi, Lucky Star and Kanon. After that, the rest was history as I developed my tastes in shows that I enjoy.
With that, would I still be interested in anime and write a blog about it if I didn’t know about Pokémon? It’s a tough question. Perhaps I would probably not gain interest towards anime until I got older and discovered shows that I am watching now with my tastes being completely different. Not to mention, I wouldn’t become interested in Japanese music in general since I wouldn’t know what artists to listen to as I would now.
While I still enjoy the games, it’s the franchise that eventually got me interested not in anime and video games, but also things learning Japanese. Sure, shows like The Idolmaster had some impact in my life, but I feel that there is no other franchise besides this one that left an everlasting impression, aside from my pseudonym used on social networks, blogs and forums. Even so, it’s amazing how much the games and the franchise has grown in the past 20th years and hopefully future games will continue to be enjoyable as it add new species and gameplay mechanics while improving on some.
With that, what are your memories with Pokémon and what influence did it have on you becoming an anime fan? Feel free to share.