Pokémon Day

Pokémon Day has arrived once more, and I have decided to express my thoughts and feelings about one of the biggest franchises that shaped a part of my childhood.

Pokémon was created by Satoshi Tajiri and illustrated by Ken Sugimori. Satoshi developed the concept from his childhood experiences exploring forests and finding different creatures. They pitched it to Nintendo in the early 1990s. Shigeru Miyamoto (the legend behind Mario and The Legend of Zelda) assisted in developing the game. In 1996 the Pokémon video game (originally named Pocket Monsters) was released in Japan. It does not have the same ring to it, does it?... I am glad they abbreviated the name to something simpler as it reminds me of the 90s cartoon Pocket Dragons. With having similar names, I do not think Pocket Monsters would have been as successful.

A year later, the animated tv show was aired in Japan and became a massive hit. It was first introduced to us in the UK on a Saturday morning tv show SMTV Live presented by Ant, Dec & Kat. SMTV Live was on for 3 hours and became a part of my schedule. I loved the weekends when I did not have to attend Saturday School. This show added to the international success in this country. It became something I did not want to miss as I had to discuss these weekly episodes with my friends on Monday at school.

Ash Ketchum was a child on a mission and had the freedom to pursue his dreams. Along the way, Ash became friends with Brock and Misty. The trio was like a mini family who understood the true meaning of friendship and loyalty. Team Rocket (Jessie, James and Meowth) was the group that antagonised them constantly and formulated crazy plans to capture Pikachu and his buddies. They added a level of slapstick comedy and would find themselves in situations that never worked in their favour.

Pikachu was my favourite Pokémon. Yes, he was the main one, but I chose him as we share 25 as our number. I was gifted Pokémon Yellow: Special Pikachu Edition for Christmas. I became addicted to becoming the best Pokémon trainer who could catch them all. I played it on my original 1989 Nintendo Gameboy. My Gameboy is still in excellent working order with only minor scratches here and here. I occasionally use it to play some of the finest games ever made for a handheld console.

The joys of the game levelled up. I could battle my friends using one wire. That may not sound like something fantastic to any New Gen Kids reading this, but back in the late 90s, this was the greatest thing ever. These were the days before WiFi and online gameplay. I made sure this wire remained in good working order. I never let anyone borrow it. Some friends were great at asking you to lend them items but never great at returning items on time or making sure they never broke them.

In 1998, the franchise was worldwide, and we got our first animated movie. I remember heading to my nearest cinema to watch it with my cousins. The plot saw scientists create a new Pokémon Mewtwo (a genetic clone of Mew). Mewtwo was intelligent and realised the truth. The ultimate plan was a tournament to take on the world's best trainers and Pokémon on a mysterious island. Making clones of his own, he showed his superiority.

Fast forward to 2016, I no longer watched the tv show, but my passion for the franchise would reignite with the release of Pokémon GO. The mobile app game took the gaming world by storm. I downloaded it and utilised it more times that summer than Google Maps. It allowed me to explore my neighbourhood in a way I had never done before. The nostalgia of collecting Pokémon all over again was something I appreciated so much.

At its peak, this game became another addiction. Summer was different that year as gamers of all ages were playing it. I noticed more people were walking around, especially people I had not seen for years. They were exploring just like me. I would hope no one caught a Pokémon I was searching for. Waiting a few seconds for Pokémon to respawn could be a bit of a headache. I appreciated the fact I could stay in the comfort of my house sometimes. I could play it in the kitchen while cooking dinner.

In 2019, Detective Pikachu starred Justice Smith, Kathryn Newton, and Ryan Reynolds (voicing Pikachu). It is Ryan Reynolds being Ryan Reynold in another Ryan Reynolds movie. Not to say that his acting is poor, but it is not top tier. He does not have great range. With a similar concept to the original movie, Mewtwo is the main antagonist. I managed to sit through it, but it is not something I would go out of my way to watch again. I prefer the 1998 animated movie.

I still have my Pokémon card collection from the late 90s and early 00s in my Pokémon tin. With my collection not being as massive as it was, I hope I did not lose a card along the way that could be worth a reasonable amount.

Some people like me had all types of Pokémon items, and others only watched the tv series. Either way, I am sure most of my generation will agree with me when I say that it was something we never knew we needed, but we are glad it was something we experienced.

But, if you disagree with me, let me know why.

Fun facts:

  • It is estimated to be the highest-grossing media franchise of all time.

  • More than 300 million games sold worldwide.

  • The Pokémon Index has grown to over 890. (A massive contrast to the 151 I attempted to collect in the game and my psychical card collection).

  • 23 different Pokémon series with more than 1,000 episodes.

  • Aired in 183 countries.

  • 23 animated movies and 1 live-action movie. There are rumours about another animated movie. Due to the pandemic, it has either been postponed or cancelled.

  • The Pokémon Trading Card Game is the highest-selling trading card game of all time.

  • More than 30 billion trading cards have been produced and sold.

  • Top selling trading card is Topsun Charizard Blue Back. Selling for $493,230 (£364,274.87)

  • Pokémon GO has over 1 billion downloads.

All images taken from Google Images.

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