You’d be hard pressed to find someone who grew up in the ’90s who hadn’t seen or heard of “Pokemon.” There was no way to escape the obsession with the cartoon. It was plastered on commercials, billboards, food packaging, greeting cards, etc. You name it and “Pokemon” was probably displayed on it at some point or another. The one thing that made “Pokemon” so popular was that it didn’t just revolve around a 30-minute television show; it had the immensely popular trading card game, as well as a variety of different video games.
I loved “Pokemon” as a kid. I would watch it every time it was on, regardless of if I had already seen that episode numerous times. It was addicting. I, like so many others, collected the trading cards, although I never actually made trades with other collectors or participated in the tournaments. I drew a line there because competing in trading card tournaments had the potential to brand myself as a nerd for the rest of my life. It was the first step to becoming one of those people who played Dungeons and Dragons in my mother’s basement while chowing down on Domino’s pizza and Cheese Puffs. But I did collect the cards and I actually built quite an impressive collection. I may not have had all 151 Pokemon, which was the original number of Pokemon during what is known as the “1st Generation,” but I had a few rare Pokemon, like a Charizard and a Mew. My brother and I would battle against each other during our free time, but we didn’t exactly know what we were doing half the time.
For me, “Pokemon” will always be remembered for its 1st Generation. The original 151 Pokemon are what I go by when I talk about the show. Apparently there are 648 different Pokemon over four generations. I haven’t even bothered trying to figure them all out because I stopped watching the show when they introduced the 2nd generation of Pokemon. I guess there in lies the problem with Pokemon, although it is still currently producing new shows. It became to large. It tried to stay new throughout the years, but that just made it more confusing to the audience. I know of people who can list the first 151 Pokemon, but ask them to list any others from future generations and they won’t be able to name even one. As is usually the case, the first generation was the best.
“Pokemon” exploded onto the scene in 1996 with the debut of the video game series. It all started with Pokemon Red and Pokemon Blue, role playing games for the Game Boy and Game Boy Color. You played the role of Ash Ketchum, a 10-year-old boy who was on a quest to become the greatest Pokemon Master in the world. In the game you would have to catch wild Pokemon and train them to grow stronger and evolve into more powerful Pokemon (if they evolved). The goal of Pokemon Red and Blue was to travel the country looking for Pokemon Gyms, where you would have to battle against Gym Leaders in order to earn a Merit Badge. Merit Badges were required for entry-level Pokemon Trainers to qualify for the Pokemon League, a league in which tournaments were held between Pokemon Trainers to determine who was the best. Each gym had its own theme. One would be water Pokemon, another would be Earth Pokemon, another would be fire Pokemon, etc. In a way, the game inadvertently taught gamers lessons about the elements. Water was strong against fire. Fire was strong against Ice. Lightning was strong against Water. Grass was weak against Fire. As of 2012, there are 25 handheld games and 15 console games.
Pokemon Red and Blue gave way to the Anime series in 1997. I watched the first five seasons, as they were the five that only dealt with the original 151 Pokemon. The series follows Ash on his journey to become a Pokemon Master, and he is soon joined by Misty, a gym leader specializing in water Pokemon, and Brock, a gym leader specializing in rock Pokemon. Ash is also joined by his good friend Pikachu, an electric mouse Pokemon that was given to him before he set off on his journey. The two become inseparable, symbolizing the value of true friends. Ash usually has to protect Pikachu in every episode, as Team Rocket, a duo of Pokemon bandits, led by their Meowth, a cat-like Pokemon, attempt to steal Pikachu and make money. Team Rocket’s existence in the series is needed, but at the same time they are very repetitive and don’t need to appear in every episode, especially with that stupid introduction they always do. The show is currently in its 14th season, but all of the original voice actors from the show’s beginning are gone.
My favorite Pokemon has always been Jigglypuff. I freaking love Jigglypuff! Yet this balloon Pokemon doesn’t really have many qualities that make it a good Pokemon to have fight in a battle. This pepto bismol-like Pokemon is a short, round creature with stubby arms and legs and big blue eyes. Its best asset is its voice, which has the power to lull its victims into a deep sleep. However, the only thing Jigglypuff does to its opponents when asleep is draw all over their faces with black Sharpie. But its high squeaky voice is adorable and it’s hard not to love Jigglypuff. I would never have my Jigglypuff evolve into Wigglytuff in Pokemon Blue.
“Pokemon” has definitely lost its appeal amongst those who used to watch the 1st generation as a kid. There is such a thing as too much and the incorporation of over 600 Pokemon is too much. “Pokemon” has had a great run, but it might be time to shut it down for good. It’s certainly made enough money.
Below are links to Pokemon charts to the first three generations.