So this week, The Rotoscopers are going to discuss the awesome and amazing film–Pokémon: The First Movie. This movie was originally released as Pocket Monsters the Movie: Mewtwo’s Counterattack. Maybe it’s just me, but I think that titling is much better (I hope that you can sense my sarcasm here.)
This movie was released July 18, 1998 in Japan- almost exactly fifteen years ago.
So what is it about this franchise where, even fifteen years later, people are still discussing the movies, collecting the playing cards, and playing the video games?
Well, maybe my own childhood could explain that.
I went to a small elementary school. It was sweet, nestled in a small, hilled area, and was plentiful with gardens and smiling, toothless children.
This innocent, idyllic school, while sweet, was often behind the times. I still remember walking into middle school where children from another local school joined us. On that very first day I heard and learned of about a hundred different words and concepts that were new to me, and that rather ruined that innocent childhood.
But my school was “with the times” on one thing, and one thing only. Pokémon.
Children collected the cards. I can vividly remember spending a majority of the second grade trading, deciding what Pokémon was the cutest (Vulpix), and purchasing plastic toys that classmates fawned over and tried to trade for. When my family visited New York City, we visited the Pokémon Center. When Christmas came around, my friends and I asked for Pokémon cards to try and get rare Pokémon such as Entei.
Then there was the great stealing scandal of 2003. Pokémon cards disappeared and miraculously appeared in other people’s games. And Pokémon cards were forbidden to stop the outcries of foul and the tears of sad children to find that their beloved Pikachu were gone.
I’ll admit to being that weird child who hung on to her Pokémon for way too long. I carried around a plastic Vulpix for way longer than I would like to admit, and only recently was I able to get rid of my Pokémon cards and video games.
But for a while I’ve been wondering, why exactly do we all like Pokémon so much?
I think that we can find that answer in Pokémon inventor, Satoshi Tajiri. His original concept for Pokémon came from his own childhood of collecting insects and catching tadpoles.
As children, I think we all have this intense imagination. We all wish for something more than what meets the eye. So instead of catching tadpoles, we could now catch these creatures that were powerful and that we had never seen before.
Plus there is this great emotional appeal with Pokémon. In our imaginations, they are almost like pets that you care for deeply, but that can also shoot fire out of it’s mouth, which is so much cooler than your average cat.
And I’m pretty sure that all Poké-fans have watched The First Movie at least once (or if you are me, a dozen times.) And I think that we all know that seen where Ash turns to stone and all of the Pokémon begin to cry. I’m pretty sure that out of any movie ever created, that is probably one of the saddest scenes. Ever. Gosh, I can barely think of it without choking up a little bit. I mean, how can anyone not be sad when seeing this face?
So for us, Pokémon are something that we all wish for. They can befriend us and become this creatures that are just as important for us as Pikachu is for Ash. This leads to us having a fondness for these characters into adulthood, even though long ago we have given our cards and games to our little cousins or siblings.
And then the cycle continues. Making Pokémon the well-deserved cultural phenomena that they are.