What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when someone mentions Pokemon? Fans of the franchise would normally think of their favorites or possibly characters from the television show. Most adults would think of just silly little characters that resemble animals and have some hold over the elements while rolling their eyes at the absurdity of it all. My parents would envision me as a child, their little girl who was supposed to into princesses and faerie tales, absorbed in possibly my most memorable birthday cake — one that had a Pikachu on it.
As a product of the ’90s, I grew up in a time when Pokemon was at its greatest hype in America. Fast food kids-meals contained figurines of the original 151, the show played nearly every day on a main channel, and Christina Aguilera and a Spice Girl were featured in the first movie’s soundtrack. So when I think of Pokemon, I think of my childhood. I think of my first sleeping bag that had a giant pokeball on it, and Pikachu slippers that my mother had gotten me after I’d been sick. I think of how annoyed my father would get when I’d imitate Togepi or rattle off the PokeRap. But then as the years have continued to pass, I’ve realized how useful ideas instilled in the anime and in the games can help us in our later years and appreciate those little critters even more now.
The Pokemon games and anime have always been centered on morals and friendship. Throughout the player’s quest in any of the games, it’s repeated that Pokemon are not tools to be used, but loyal friends who will support you in times of need. Most characters that you speak with in them believe that a peaceful world is a world where Pokemon and people can co-exist with each other harmoniously to keep a balance. That same idea can be applied to regular people and animals, no matter where they’re from.
Now that I’m preparing for college, I’m able to see the different plays-on-words that pokes of certain types have and how some have actually derived from folklore from all over the world. Vulpix and Zorua are representations of kitsune, fox-like creatures of Japanese legend that are said to have many tails, breathe fire, or create illusions. The Snivy evolution line’s names can reference being a Grass-types as well as being snide or feeling superior and it’s been speculated to being based upon the serpent from the Garden of Eden story from the Old Testament.
So really, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind when someone mentions Pokemon? The first thing that comes to my mind is how much of a great influence those games and the anime can be on youth today and how underappreciated they are by most.