The lasting effects of the Pokémon franchise



Levi Belz (9) and Dylan Lira (from left to right) and other Pokémon GO players celebrate together after completing a raid event near the freshmen academy. Trainers from opposing teams compete for control of the “gyms,” which allow players to gain in-game currency to upgrade their bag, inventory space, etc.

Dakota Carter (11) is going against the Shinx with his shiny Dragonite. The 1-star raid was for Pokémon’s Lunar New Year 2023 event.
After defeating the Shinx, “Gotcha!” appeared above the Pokeball on the screen. “Gotta catch ‘em all” refers to Ash Ketchum, the previous main character, promising that he would catch all of the Pokémon in the world. (ELLEN TAN//THE SCROLL)
Students of the Valor (red) team prepare before competing in a raid event. In contrast to the anime or Nintendo game, Pokémon GO’s interactive gym system allows players to place their Pokémon at the “gym” to defend it against other teams. (ELLEN TAN//THE SCROLL)

Rustle, rustle, rustle – a wild Bulbasaur appears! “Gotta catch ‘em all!” is the iconic phrase many Pokémon fans resonate with. Pokémon, the highest-grossing franchise of all time, started as a Nintendo RPG game and has drawn many fans worldwide through its ever-expanding franchises including various manga, anime and games.

Before Pokémon was officially dubbed in English, fans would write subtitles and upload various clips of the ongoing season to YouTube. Before the wide accessibility of the internet, many Nintendo players could get help from the Pokémon hotline, which was only available through a magazine subscription or through friends. The once-RPG game has now evolved into a number of franchises that many fans of all ages have enjoyed for many years.

“[Older players] are so consistent and dedicated,” Japanese teacher Dylan Lira said. “The highest level people on my friends list on Pokémon GO are parents that I have met at raid events around the town at parks. My own mother-in-law is [at] a higher level than me on Pokémon GO and I have been playing since day one.”

People who are familiar with Pokémon are not limited to its fans. People familiar with Pokémon may not have played the game or watched the show, but they can instantly recognize Pikachu, the franchise’s mascot.

“[Pokémon] was the first time in my life where I saw people come together and help each other out training and things like that,” Lira said. “It was just really cool to see. Even nowadays, it feels like Pokémon is a great equalizer. And that is why I like it so much. It has brought so many unlikely combinations of people together and I have stuck with it ever since the beginning.”

For many, Pokémon was their introduction to Asian or Japanese culture. In-game features, like the setting, food and Pokémon, have been modeled after Japanese culture or legends.

“I think it is really cool once people realize [Pokémon] is from Japan,” Lira said. “One thing that can be unfortunate is when they bring the Pokémon to America, the characters and the Pokémon get different names. Like Ash, the main character in the Pokémon series, his name is サトシ (Satoshi).”

To many, Pokémon is more than just a game; the storyline incorporates morals. It was one of the first things established in the Pokémon franchise that using Pokémon against their will is inhumane, and evolution has resulted in the Pokémon forming stronger bonds with their trainer. It is also said that humans can form deep bonds with Pokémon in order for them to reach their full potential. These morals, established in Pokémon, can be seen in real life.

“Pokémon has taught me how to treat and respect my pets by forming stronger bonds with them,” Levi Belz (9) said.

With the announcement that Ash Ketchum, the main character of Pokémon, will step down as the main character for the rest of the franchise, many are relieved that Nintendo is not overusing his character and running him for longer than necessary.

“At least they are not milking the same character’s journey over and over again for 30 years,” Odin Tan (9) said. “I think it is much better than it would have been if [Nintendo] kept Ash forever.”