Watching these Pokemon anime put on YouTube, such as Generations and Twilight Wings, reminds me why I grew up with and love the series.
Twilight Wings is a nice bit of animated goodness. The Wooloo episode really hit a chord, so much I watched it a second time without thinking after watching it the first time…
…except there’s one massive problem: I never played Sword and Shield. (I don’t even own a Switch!) As noted by the AniList status above, the last generation I was up-to-date with was generation 5.
So why do I feel such affection for a Pokemon series I have to do background research on? Certainly, it would be helpful to have an attachment to the characters and the creatures that show up.
For one, it’s nice to see how far the series has managed to come through all these years, from getting up at 6 am just to catch the English-dubbed episodes to being able to stream Pokemon Journeys on Netflix (or sneakily stream the first episode, because it is there on the official YouTube as I type this).
For another, playing the games, watching the anime, reading the manga and getting the merch…it’s just one’s first indoctrination to being a fan of anime, and being part of the media mix, even if the fans may not necessarily have the words “anime” and “manga” in their vocabulary at the age of exposure. This is especially true when the series first began in the late 90s and when it continued to spread in the 2000s – most people born around or after that time (or alternatively, taking care of kids during that time) have at least heard of Pokemon, even if they’ve never played a game from the series or watched an episode of the anime.
For another, the series has influenced many a writer and sparked many an imagination, even well beyond the fan’s years with Pokemon if they ever leave the fandom. Not only has it spawned an active fandom…which, of course, is going to spawn creative and interactive media like wikis, blogs and fanfiction…but you can’t really think about an elemental system without having that elemental rock-paper-scissors Pokemon has hugely popularised. That is not endemic to Pokemon as a series, sure, but it’s one of the most popular ones that can be cited, boasting an extreme amount of versatility in that it encourages both strategy and endless amounts of creativity. (I’m probably not the only one who’s imagined a “What if [so-and-so character who is not from Pokemon] had Pokemon?” AU (alternate universe), or a “What if [so-and-so character who is not from Pokemon and does not have elemental powers] had Pokemon-like elemental powers?” AU.
This last point brings me back to why Twilight Wings, in particular, has had such a profound effect on me – a lot of the main series anime focuses on things like the battles and Contests, rarely straying from that formula to show, for instance, how people live with Pokemon in a Pokemon world outside brief glimpses (like Fighting-type Pokemon doing construction work). Twilight Wings not only has a sense of “everything’s all connected”, as the real world and any good narrative does, but it gets to showcase what people do with their Pokemon in everyday life…outside the Flying Taxi, which seems to be a service available in the Sword and Shield games. The main series keeps telling us that we need to coexist with Pokemon, much like we do animals and other people, and developing the world and the relationships between people and Pokemon within the series is one way of doing just that.
I’ve mentioned Pokemon was one of my first anime, if not the first, and so a topic like this to commemorate September 5th was overdue, in retrospect. I also know while lots of people hold nostalgia for Pokemon, a bunch of people also don’t (there’s Digimon-only fans and people who get into anime so far from the 90s – 2000s Pokemon craze that they just roll their eyes at people who did grow up with the series), so it’s a bit of a risky move.
So what’s your experience with Pokemon? (Please be civil in the comments, though.)