How it all began...
So how did a kid like me, in one of the smallest countries on the map, get introduced to what would soon after become one of the world's most famous and recognized phenomenon?
Well, it all began in the year 1999 (yeah we Danes get most things pretty late). It was a Saturday morning, and I, an 8 year old kid at the time, woke up noticing that my little brother was missing in his bed above mine. He was an early bird, and therefore often got up to watch morning kids TV. So I quickly got out of bed, and opened the bedroom door leading to the livingroom. And the moment I opened it, I caught a glimpse of a cartoon that I'd never seen before. It was colourful, the animation was nice, and it caught my attention immediately, so I looked at my brother who sat in front of the TV, and asked, "hey, what is this show?" and he replied, "I think it's called, Pokémon".
From that day, we were both in deep love with this new series, and didn't even know it would become the biggest thing of our lives... well the biggest thing in mine anyway. And I loved the show so much that I, being the only one with a Gameboy, got ahold of Pokémon Red for my birthday, and I ended up loving that too ^w^ (and I still have that copy btw).
The funny thing is, that my first memory of the series doesn't even exist within the show, cuz I remember: Ash, Misty, and Brock hanging onto each other from a cliff in outer space, they then quickly pull each other up, and is then greeted by Jessy, James, and Meowth in a forest, with a city in the distance.... yeah I must have still been half asleep when I walked in xD
Based off the video game of the same name, this is the story about a young boy named Ash (Satoshi), who just turned 10 and is therefore old enough to begin his journey as a Pokémon Trainer, and pursue his dream of becoming the ultimate Pokémon Master.
Ash may not be the sharpest knife in the cutlery box, but he has a heart of gold and a will of steel. To become a Pokémon Master, he needs to catch and train creatures called Pokémon (Pocket Monsters), in hand-sized balls called Pokéballs. And with them he must battle other trainers in order to become stronger, and challenge the eight Gym Leaders to win their badges, in order to ultimately challenge the Elite Four of the Pokémon League!
During his journey he gets many new friends, both Pokémon and human, amongst others are his ever faithful Pokémon partner, Pikachu, and he soon meets the annoying and nagging girl Misty, and the girl-happy Brock, who both accompanies him.
Ash also has a childhood rival named Gary (Shigeru), who always seems to be several steps ahead off him, which upsets Ash when reminded.
The animation can be pretty crappy by todays standards, which can also be seen if you watch the newer episodes (yes Pokémon has been an ongoing series since its debut in 1997). But if we set our watch 15 years back (and we don't watch the show in horrible internet quality), it was really good for it's time. I rate the animation high because I rate it for what it was back when it came out, not how it looks today when it's clear that animation has gotten better through the last decade.
Pokémon is, and has always been, a show intended for younger kids, and as such mostly very lighthearted and colourful, with funny exaggerated facial expressions now and then. As an old Pokémon fan who was there from the very beginning, the colourful and happy animation style always makes me happy and rexaling.
The music fits the show very well, and it's just beyond awesome when Ash is in the middle of a heated battle, and then suddenly an epic and climactic battle music kicks in. Even if you're not a die hard Pokémon fan, you've probably heard the lyrics to the first season opening, going like this: "I wanna be, the very best, like no one ever was. To catch them is my real test, to train them is my cause! etc". Also, a handful of soundtracks has been released through the years, containing everything, from the music in the anime, to original vocal tracks produced for the show, fx Together Forever, Pokémon Master, Biggest Part of my Life, You and Me and Pokémon, and a dozen more!
I especially love these tracks because they perfectly put into words, how I feel about Pokémon.
First and foremost we have Ash (called Satoshi in Japan, named after the series creator Satoshi Tajiri), who, depite not being very bright, rarely succeding to catch Pokémon, and more often loses his battles than winning them, is a very lovable characters, if only because of his big golden heart, his will of steel, and his determination to succeed.
Then we have Pikachu, who despite being a Pokémon (who can only say their own name), has a personality that shines brightly through. He didn't like Ash at all in the first episode, but that quickly changed when Ash protected him from a bunch of angry attacking bird Pokémon (getting wet eyes just by writing this), and since then they have been the best friends in the world, and follow each other through thick and thicker. Pikachu, afterall, hasn't become the series mascot for nothing.
In the first season, which is the one I focus on in this review, Ash is accompanied on his journey by a girl named Misty, whom he runs into when she fishes him up from a river after the bird Pokémon attack. She follows him with the excuse that he broke her bike trying to get away from the bird attack, but really she slowly begins to like him, and becomes sort of a big sister who looks out for him. I may not like her, but Pokémon wouldn't have been the same without her.
Then there's Brock, the Gym Leader of the Pewter City, who, after Ash "defeats" him, decides to tag along with him. Brock is a very nice, and very likable character, who aside from his awkward girl-loving instinct (which always leads to him being rejected), is very mature, and a phenominal cook.
Professor Samuel Oak
Hey wait, I haven't even mentioned Professor Oak yet!! He is a wise and gentle man who resides in Ash' and Gary's hometown Pallet Town, and he's the one who gave them both their first Pokémon. And when they catch a Pokémon that they can't have with them due to party capacity (yeah a Pokémon Trainer cannot carry more than six Pokémon with them at a time), it gets send to him for him to nurse and take care of.
Jesse, James & Meowth
Every show need a villain, and here it is an evil organization know as Team Rocket, who has made it their goal to kill and steal Pokémon, and in the end they hope to ultimately get their hands on the ultimate Pokémon so that they can rule the world. Within this organization are Jesse, James, and their Pokémon partner Meowth. These are our comic-reliefs, and after witnessing Pikachu's incrdible power at the end of episode 2, they show up in almost every episode in an always failing attempt to catch Pikachu, which always ends up with them getting "blasted off".
Lastly, we have Gary (or Shigeru in Japan, named after Satoshi's good friend and mentor Shigeru Miyamoto, whom you may know for creating titles like: Super Mario, Donkey Kong, The Legend of Zelda etc). As previously mentioned, Gary has been Ash' childhood rival always, and he also has the honor of being Professor Oaks grandson. Since he got his starter Pokémon first, he constantly moks the very thought of Ash being any good as a Pokémon Trainer everytime they cross paths. Despite this, for being a sort of "anti-hero" he actually is pretty cool and you really can't help liking him. And he also DOES help Ash out at one point.
You may say that Pokémon could never score this high with honesty, and therefore claim that my score is only due to the great nostalgia I feel. But you're wrong, yes nostalgia is a VERY big part of how I feel about Pokémon, but in all honesty I really think that it's a great and lighthearted show for kids, with great and likable characters, decent animation even by todays standards, and a kickass- and sometimes even tear summoning soundtrack to go along with it. Listen to "Tears of Life" on youtube and tell me you don't at least get wet eyes. The story admittedly isn't very deep, it's actually as basic as you can get, but again, it's for kids so it's passable.
To this day, at the age of 21 (as of this review), I love this show to death x unlimited, and would give my right hand, left leg, and double taxes over the next 10 years, to have the entire first season released on dvd in Danish (yes I'm from Denmark). But think about it this way, I wouldn't love the show this much to this day, if it hadn't had such an immense impact on my childhood. I can't imagine what my childhood would have been like without it, and though I don't particularly like the newer seasons, I still follow the series and the games to this day, and I most definetly will as long as I live!
We may all have grown up to like different kinds and genres of anime; some likes horror, some likes romance, some likes supernatural, and some likes harem, just to name a few. But one we all share, one we all grew up with, and one that to this day still has a special place in our hearts, is Pokémon!!