JAPAN: HAPPY 25TH ANNIVERSARY POKÉMON – BECOMING THE VERY BEST THAT NO ONE EVER WAS

CADY ABE WRITES — Pokémon, one of the most well-known video games, trading card games and anime both in America and Japan, celebrated its 25th anniversary February 27th.

How to celebrate? Nintendo released free Pokémon trading cards alongside any purchase of a McDonald’s Happy Meal, created an anniversary event within the mobile phone game Pokémon GO, and even hosted a virtual concert featuring the popular singer Post Malone.

As is only right! Pokémon is iconic in Japanese popular culture. It is not just an element of childhood memory ingrained in young adults around the world, but also an integral part of the next generation’s entertainment as well. With Covid-safe additions to Pokémon GO, the production of new seasons and storylines within the anime and the updated video games frequently coming out on the Nintendo Switch console, children are growing up surrounded by Pokémon products just as their parents were.

The first Pokémon video game was released on February 27th 1996. Today the game has grown into a much bigger franchise than its creators could have imagined. Through six gaming consoles, eight different regions, 23 television seasons, 24 movies, 122 games and roughly 898 characters, Pokémon has captured the hearts of millions across the world. Pokémon GO is played by people around the globe, including the monster markets of India, Brazil and Europe. Each year the video game hosts enormous events stationed in multiple countries. In addition, specific Pokémon offerings are available exclusively in certain regions. Also, the television program is shown in over 160 countries and includes voiced over performances in multiple different languages.

Yes, the world of Pokémon is a vast land of powerful creatures. As trainers, players are able to catch and train Pokémon to battle other competitors. Everyone who plays is motivated to be, as the opening song from the original anime goes, “the very best, that no one ever was.”

Certainly, the Pokémon franchise has nearly attained the goal of that motto in the last quarter of a century, and its popularity is not slowing down. In 2019, Nintendo profited roughly 2.5 billion dollars and that figure continues to rise annually. Certain Pokémon trading cards, such as the 1999 First Edition Holographic Charizard, are worth upwards of six figures. In the last month, McDonalds was forced to limit the number of Happy Meals purchased to five per person, in order to keep from running out of the anniversary promotional Pokémon cards.

On February 26, Nintendo broadcast trailers for two new games expected to be released in later 2021 and 2022: Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, a remake for the Nintendo switch console of the popular Diamond and Pearl game that was originally released for the Nintendo DS in 2006; and Pokémon Legends, which will feature the Legendary God Pokémon Arceus and an expansive world similar to Nintendo’s recently released game, Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. New and old fans alike are looking forward to these additions.

Pokémon’s anniversary marks the production of 25 years of childhood happiness. As Nintendo pushes for more innovations within the franchise, both old and young fans are excited to see where the next chapter will take them. As a game never ceasing to bring joy to millions of consumers, Pokémon will continue to make everyone want to “catch ‘em all.”

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