For over 20 years, Pokémon has been dismissed as a fad – something silly that is just for kids. However, if you look at the facts, Pokémon is far more than a fad and has actually become a multi-billion-dollar cultural phenomenon that is showing absolutely no sign of slowing down.
There are TV series, movies, games, toys, stage shows, memorabilia and so much more that have all been flooding the market for more than two decades.
All of this spawned from an anime television series released in the 1990s in Japan to some negative headlines. In fact, that was how it sparked international interest – the strobe lighting effects used in the cartoon caused seizures in some of its viewers. In fact, these news stories became so popular between 1997 and 1999 that The Simpsons and South Park both had entire episodes dedicated to the concept, and the likes of Time Magazine did full exposés on the original show called Pocket Monsters.
The Immersive Experience
It isn’t just a TV show. The Pokémon world is vast, with an animated television show aimed at children being just the tip of the iceberg. Right from the very beginning, there was the Nintendo game and the card game. People didn’t just watch the show or the movies (which came a little later), they got to collect and battle Pokémon with friends and family and even people from around the world.
The concept also has a strong focus on collecting. The catchphrase and title of the theme tune is “gotta catch ‘em all!” With the advent of the merchandising and the games, real people in the real world can catch their own Pokémon. There’s a strong element of wish fulfillment happening here, as people get to make believe that the world they see on TV is real.
The Ability To Adapt
The world was introduced to Pokémon back in the mid-1990s. This world was entirely different to the technologically driven world of 2020, and yet, Pokemon is still not just relevant, it’s revered by young and old today. The creators of the games and all the other content have shown a remarkable ability to move with the times and even innovate to stay on top of the curve.
Just look at the cards. Those are constantly getting refreshed and updated to ensure that they stay on trend with what the world is doing. You can also get a vastly more varied selection of cards now, keeping up with the exponential increase in rampant consumerism.
Then there’s the mobile game Pokémon Go. This mobile app launched in 2016 and had people young and old seemingly surgically attached to their smartphones as they wandered around looking for little monsters to catch. The game combines the basic tenants of the Pokémon world (catching them for battles) and the advancements in modern technology – mobile and virtual reality. Through your smartphone, you can literally see a Pikachu sitting on the couch next to you or on the road while you’re out walking.