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Pokémon

Japanese media franchise
Places to catch insects are rare because of urbanization. Kids play inside their homes now, and a lot had forgotten about catching insects. So had I. When I was making games, something clicked and I decided to make a game with that concept. Everything I did as a kid is kind of rolled into one--that's what Pokemon is. Playing video games, watching TV, Ultraman with his capsule monsters--they all became ingredients for the game. ~ Satoshi Tajiri
Pokemon's global success is indeed unprecedented. However, it would be misleading to think that the factors that contributed to this success are unique to Pokemon. I would suggest instead that Pokemon is the product that to date has most efficiently capitalized on emerging marketing trends. Animation and computer game characters are playing an increasingly significant role in the multimedia business. Computer game characters are intertextual, and can be used in a variety of media such as movies, TV series, comics, toys and associated merchandise. Marsha Kinder (1991) describes the multiple possibilities of transmedia intertextuality as representing a "supersystem of entertainment" that has come to be a dominant force in the global entertainment business. ~ Joseph Tobin
Neither Pippi nor Pikachu was a main character in the original Game Boy software. (Pippi (in English, Clefairy) was selected as the main Pokemon character to make the comic book series more "engaging." However, in order to attract younger and female viewers as well as their mothers, Pikachu replaced Pippi as the central character when the Pokemon TV series was introduced in 1997. The pink Pippi was replaced by the yellow cuddlier Pikachu, whom the producers believed would seem like a more familiar and intimate pet to child viewers. There were other reasons as well for the producers' choice of yellow. Because yellow is one of the three basic colors, it is easy for children to recognize Pikachu even from a distance. Furthermore, the only competing yellow character is Winnie the Pooh. ~ Joseph Tobin

Pokémon May refer to:

About PokémonEdit

  • TIME: So you were collecting Pokemon a long time ago! Did you make the insects fight against each other?
Tajiri: No, but sometimes they would eat each other.
TIME: Did you get the idea for Pokemon from these insects?
Tajiri: Yes. Places to catch insects are rare because of urbanization. Kids play inside their homes now, and a lot had forgotten about catching insects. So had I. When I was making games, something clicked and I decided to make a game with that concept. Everything I did as a kid is kind of rolled into one--that's what Pokemon is. Playing video games, watching TV, Ultraman with his capsule monsters--they all became ingredients for the game.
  • Kamo Yoshinori (2000), a U.S.-based sociologist, observes that American children who love Pokemon believe that Japan is a very cool nation that produces wonderful characters, imaginary worlds, and commodities. He sees in Pokemon's success a very hopeful sign that American audiences are becoming more open to Japanese cultural values and that they are changing their image of Japan from a and that is strange and workaholic to someplace that is humane and cool. Sakurai Tetsuo (2001) also reads the success of Pokemon as a sign of hopefulness in what was otherwise a decade in Japan dominated by negative occurrences. According to Sakurai, in just a couple of years Pokemon has done more for Japan's image than was accomplished up till now by Japanese literature and films or by the Japanese government's public relations initiatives abroad. Sakurai, too, describes Pokemon's global appeal in terms of it being "cool."
  • …some critics argue that Pokemon's influence on the global cultural scene is in fact quite trivial when compared to such Western popular cultural products as the Beatles or rap music. These critics find Pokemon's message too superficial to count as a meaningful cultural export (e.g., Newsweek Japan, 8 December 1999:50-51). However, this kind of comparison is also fruitless and even fallacious as it implies that American/Western popular culture continues to present the rest of the world with influential messages, ideas, and lifestyles that have the power to impact world politics and to launch social movements, just as it used to do. A more productive way of making sense of the symbolic power of Japanese animation and computer games is to look at the issue of transnational cultural hegemony and power in a different light, rather than froma conventional Americanization perspective. The age of Americanization, in which crosscultural consumption was predominantly discussed in terms of the influence of a single dominant country, is, if not over, at least coming to an end (cf. Tomlinson 1991). I would suggest that we use the rise of Japanese cultural exports as an opportunity to reconsider the meaning of transnational cultural power. The international popularity of Japanese anime and computer games as exemplified in the pokemon craze provides us with some clues we can use to discern emerging trends in the global circulation of characters, culture, and products.
    Pokemon's global success is indeed unprecedented. However, it would be misleading to think that the factors that contributed to this success are unique to Pokemon. I would suggest instead that Pokemon is the product that to date has most efficiently capitalized on emerging marketing trends. Animation and computer game characters are playing an increasingly significant role in the multimedia business. Computer game characters are intertextual, and can be used in a variety of media such as movies, TV series, comics, toys and associated merchandise. Marsha Kinder (1991) describes the multiple possibilities of transmedia intertextuality as representing a "supersystem of entertainment" that has come to be a dominant force in the global entertainment business. In Japan, media industry leaders decided that computer games and animation would be the main features of such a supersystem. Together with the global success of Japanese computer game software such as Super Mario Brothers, the realization, since the recent recession, of declining strength in the Japanese manufacturing-oriented economy has convinced many Japanese companies to invest in the development of animated and digitalized multimedia products.
    • ibid, pp. 62-63.
  • Pokemon exemplifies how the supersystem works. Pokemon was first created as Game Boy software. It then almost simultaneously appeared as a serial comic in Koro Koro, a monthly comic magazine targeted to boys, as a part of an overall marketing strategy. The positive reception of the computer game and the comics led to the creation of and further interlinking with trading cards, a TV series, films, and, eventually, various merchandise featuring popular Pokemon characters. Within this multiple product, multimedia business, Pokemon constantly reinvented itself. For example, for the creation of the comics and the TV cartoon, Pippii and Pikachi were chosen as the main Pokemon characters, respectively. Neither Pippi nor Pikachu was a main character in the original Game Boy software. (Pippi (in English, Clefairy) was selected as the main Pokemon character to make the comic book series more "engaging." However, in order to attract younger and female viewers as well as their mothers, Pikachu replaced Pippi as the central character when the Pokemon TV series was introduced in 1997. the pink Pippi was replaced by the yellow cuddlier Pikachu, whom the producers believed would seem like a more familiar and intimate pet to child viewers. There were other reasons as well for the producers' choice of yellow. Because yellow is one of the three basic colors, it is easy for children to recognize Pikachu even from a distance. Furthermore, the only competing yellow character is Winnie the Pooh (Kubo 2000a; 2000b).
    As we can see in the case of the emergence of Pikachu as the key character, the development of the Pokemon supersystem was achieved through trial and error in the Japanese market. But once the components of the supersystem were put together in Japan, they could be used systematically to introduce Pokemon in global markets. The overseas promotion of Pokemon was forged from the outset by a subtly packaged amalgamation of cartoons, comics, trading cards, feature films, character merchandise, and Game Boy games.
    • ibid, pp.63-64
  • Although the Pokemon animation series and its Game Boy game were not created primarily for the global market, their domestic success quickly convinced producers of Pokemon's potential to succeed overseas. Kubo Masakazu explains that he and the other producers of the television series believed that Pokemon would be relatively easy to localize for a global market because "the setting of the adventure explored by Satoshi and Pikachu looks mukokuseki and religion-free. It appeared easy to produce international versions by erasing Japanese language signs as much as possible" (2000b:345).
    • Ibid, p.68