There are so many media franchises in the world, anime and non anime alike. These franchises gross millions in their wake. And no other media franchise grossed more as a Stand-alone universe than the Pokemon Franchise! It has multiple formats spanning across so many platforms, catering to fans of all ages and tastes. No matter where you are from, how old you are, following the official initial release of Pokemon, the franchise is as iconic as ever.
What’s in a franchise?
A media franchise or multimedia franchise is a collection of interconnected media which is made up of multiple derived works, sourced from an original creative work of fiction. This may include films, a literary work, television program or video game.
The origins of Pokemon?
Pokemon, originally known as “Pocket Monsters” in its motherland Japan is a Japanese media franchise handled by the Pokemon Company. The word “Pokemon” is derived from the combination of the words “Pocket” and “Monsters” which describes the core concept of the series in itself. The Pokemon Company The Pokemon Company was founded by the legendary Nintendo, Game Freak and Creatures, owing to its massive stand-alone success and potential.
The original creator is Satoshi Tajiri sensei, who brought forward this revolutionary concept in 1995. All works set within the franchise are set in the Pokemon Universe, which might even be an extended multiverse at this point. The ever catchy English slogan is “Gotta Catch “em All”, which has yet to lose any of its original lustre.
How it all started?
It all began as two games, Pocket Monsters Red and Green within Japan. These were later released worldwide as Pokemon Red and Blue. This original pair of video games were released for the classic Game Boy handheld console system developed by Game Freak, which Nintendo published in February 1996. Owing to its massive success, it soon spread to other media formats, which employed a mix of platforms. This includes a Manga series, multiple Television Anime series, a Trading Card Game (Pokemon TCG), an Anime film series, a Live action film, books, comics, a multitude of games of different formats on numerous platforms, Theme Parks and the world’s top selling toy brand.
To this day, Pokemon is the world’ highest grossing media franchise, with no competitor that can even come close to overtake it. The original video game version series is the second best selling gaming franchise in the world, second only to Nintendo’s Mario Franchise. It has sold over 368 million copies worldwide and even has over one billion mobile game downloads.
Riding the initial coattails of success in 1996, an Anime series based on Pokemon started in 1997. This super hit anime television series titled “Pokemon” has become the world’s most successful video game adaptation. As of now it has over 20 seasons and more than 1000 episodes which are available in 196 countries. Pokemon TCG is a top selling trading card game as well, boasting over 30.4 billion cards sold worldwide. A series of anime films, 23 in total so far, tied to the original anime series is also in circulation. The first official Live-action film titled “Pokemon Detective Pikachu” was released in 2019, based on the Nintendo 3DS spin-off game Detective Pikachu from 2018. It grossed around 433 million USD worldwide. Additionally, the revolutionary real world GPS based game Pokemon GO was originally released in July 2016, based off the format of Niantic’s Ingress, which was a massive success grossing over $6 billion as of 2020. This mobile augmented reality game has over 147 million active users each month and over 1 billion downloads on a global scale. Nintendo too has no reservations including Pokemon in their other media like the Super Smash Bros series, in which certain Pokemon units are available as playable characters.
The Pokemon Company handles and oversees the licensing of the franchise outside Asia. They oversaw the Pokemon 20th Anniversary in 2016 by rereleasing the first original Pokemon games of Red, Blue, Green and Yellow that year in commemoration. The latest addition to the version games as of now are the core series games Pokemon Sword and Shield which were released for the Nintendo Switch on November 15th 2019 globally. This year Pokemon celebrates their 25th anniversary and the celebration teaser is already out!
What makes the Pokemon Universe spin?
The iconic universe is featured around fictional creatures “Pokemon” and humans, who co-exist together on the same planet. Most of these humans are Pokemon Trainers who catch and train Pokemon, typically to engage in Pokemon Battles.
This fictional universe has multiple regions on its own version of Earth. These regions are multiversal and appear on all the various forms of media featuring Pokemon. The eight main regions released so far are Kanto, Jhoto, Hoenn, Sinnoh, Unova, Kalos, Alola and Galar. Each region is released first in the core games with its very own Generation of Pokemon, thus there are eight generations so far. These games allow players to experience each new generation in their respective region, consisting of their own cities, towns, villages, forests, caves, oceans, water bodies and special areas unique to that area. Players explore this open world, overcome its many challenges and puzzles in the form of Gyms, Contests and Antagonist teams. With new Pokemon to encounter, catch, train and grow up with in each region in all sorts of different terrains, players also get to interact with various items and NPCs (Non-Player Characters).
Generally, its one region per version game, with the other regions (both predecessors and successors alike) not being accessible within a select game. The only exceptions are Pokemon Gold, Silver and Crystal as well as their remakes HeartGold and SoulSilver which allowed both Kanto and Jhoto to be accessed from within the same game. This is one of the reasons these versions hold special places in fans’ hearts. Several spinoff games feature other minor regions as well as in the anime (Orange Islands and Decolore Islands), but are all set in the same universe regardless.
Each of these main regions are based on real world locations. Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, and Sinnoh, the first four regions are all inspired by locations in Japan itself, Unova and Alola inspired by the United States, Kalos inspired by France and Galar by the United Kingdom.
The core series of games in the order of their releases are Red, Green, Blue, Yellow, Gold, Silver, Crystal, Ruby, Sapphire, FireRed, LeafGreen, Emerald, Diamond, Pearl, Platinum, HeartGold, SoulSilver, Black, White, Black2, White2, X, Y, Omega Ruby, Alpha Sapphire, Sun, Moon, Ultra Sun, Ultra Moon, Let’s Go Pikachu!, Let’s Go Eevee!, Sword and Shield.
Every core game follows a similar style. The player selects their gender and ingame name are sent to their hometown from where they will embark on an epic journey to become a Trainer. Before setting off, the player is given a choice to choose one of three Pokemon to accompany them on their travels. These “Starter Pokemon” are generally fan favourites and occupy a special place in everyone’s hearts. Most Starter accompany their trainer to the very end of the story, never once leaving them. These three Starters are of three types, Fire, water and Grass, which are locked in a three-way-deadlock, with each having an advantage over another while being weak to the remaining type. Depending on the starter chosen, the difficulty of the gameplay may differ, as type advantages and disadvantages play a huge role in the game.
Normal, Fire, Water, Grass, Electric, Ice, Fighting, Poison, Ground, Flying, Psychic, Bug, Rock, Ghost, Dragon, Dark, Steel and Fairy are all the Pokemon types known to the community as of now. A select Pokemon may be of one type or two types, though there are some exceptional cases.
The journey is one of encountering wild Pokemon in all sorts of terrains, both rural and urban. Additionally, players encounter and battle NPCs in Pokemon Battles to seize victory in order to move forward. Pokemon Battling is considered as a sport in this universe. Many Pokemon are shown to have a natural knack for battles as a display of superiority over another or all in good sportsmanship. Not all Pokemon battle, as there are plenty who choose to be companions, pets, helpers, mascots, actors and the like. It is upto both the owner and Pokemon what they chose to do.
Some species undergo a process termed as “Evolution”. This is typically an instantaneous metamorphosis where the Pokemon of the same species evolve into another form (same for those of that species) which either looks like an advanced version of them or a completely different creature altogether. There are various requirements for evolution and once these are met, they take on their new form in a flash of blinding light.
There are the typical everyday Pokemon who are quite common, those of considerable rarity, Mythical and Legendary Pokemon. The latter are extremely rare and some of them are considered myths or deities. Mythical and Legendary Pokemon are generally considered to be the only one of its species in that world, with a range of incredible powers and abilities. The ones at the point of being considered Gods and Deities even possess powers capable of manipulating Time, Space, Distortion and even Creation itself.
It is franchise so vast that it could not possibly be contained in one blog! This is but a mere overview of the wondrous world of Pokemon awaiting those ready to plunge right into it. No matter which media format chosen, this mystical franchise has kept its fans loyal for decades with no signs of weakness. It is now and forever more a timeless franchise that anyone can love and enjoy! If you haven’t experienced this world yet, it is about time that you do!