One of the longest cartoon series ever, Pokémon is a spin-off of the video game series of the same name which took the world by storm in the late 90’s.
The anime series came after the games initial release in Japan during 1997. By this point the game and the card game had already come out. The anime proved to be quite popular, so much so that when Nintendo brought the franchise over to the West, the anime spearheaded the invasion. This turned out to be a very smart move on Nintendo’s part. The anime was made with close ties to the game and served as a good introduction to the series and how things worked in the “Pokémon World”. 3 months after its introduction, the game was released to massive sales.
The series centres around the journey of a boy called Ash (Satoshi in the Japanese version) who sets out after turning 10 years old on his Pokémon Journey. Learning to train Pokemon for battle and hoping to become a “Pokemon Master”. This is achieved by taking on 8 Gym Leaders around the region in order to win badges which gain access to the Pokemon League. A big tournament in which the winner earns the title of “Pokemon Master”
His first Pokémon is different to the norm, an electric type mouse Pokemon known as Pikachu. They don’t get along well at first, but soon become good partners and friends. This is an area the anime excels in; the main characters get some character development, though it’s more subtle than some anime. In the 11 years Ash has been travelling, he’s gone from being a naive and slightly dim and lazy trainer to a much more confident character better known for his passion for Pokemon and has become a more active trainer. This also extends to Ash’s travelling companions and particularly Team Rocket. Who despite being villains of the series are actually quite likeable due to their tendency to mess-up
That said while the original and previous other important characters of the series come and go. Some characters, particularly minor characters with a short term role, tend to show promise yet are not heard from again till much later if at all. This can be a shame as some of the minor characters Ash comes across and befriends are genuinely likeable characters. The series also has tendency to fallow into a “Pokemon of the week” format. Where Ash and co bump into Pokemon, person or both with a problem and ask Ash and his friends for help. The “Johto” season of the series in particular suffers from this.
Along with the series there have been a number of films and specials produced. These tend to be animated on a slightly higher value than the series and often feature “secret” or “legendary” Pokemon in their first proper appearances. The specials also look back to storylines that maybe didn’t fit into the current series storyline or revisiting characters to see what they have been up to.
Still despite it’s sometimes oversimplified storylines and occasional memory lapses and so on, Pokemon retains a light-hearted attitude and is quite a good show. It’s not to everyone’s taste but if you can stand the strong sentimentality of a boy and his Pokemon, and the occasional bad gag you’ll find a charming showEpisodes