between “moral panic” and epileptic seizures, a look back at twenty-five years of stories

Last lap for Ash and Pikachu. From Friday January 13 in Japan, then later in the year in France, an epilogue in eleven episodes will close the adventures of the two key characters of the animated series. Pokemon, which they had headlined since its launch in April 1997 on TV Tokyo. Despite their harmless looks, the perpetually 10-year-old boy and his electric-powered companion are international stars: their stories have aired in 192 countries and spanned 25 seasons (over 1,200 episodes) and 23 movies. .

The Pokémon Company now wants to modernize this program, which rocked the childhood of generations born between the mid-1980s and the end of the 2000s. On December 16, 2022, the Japanese company announced that a new series would take over, starting in April. Ash’s successors are called Liko and Roy and will be accompanied by Poussacha, Chochodile and Coiffeton, the three starter Pokémon featured in the video games Pokemon Scarlet and Purpleavailable since November 17.

This use of the animation series as a variation of Nintendo’s video games is a strategy implemented since the beginning of the franchise. The series was indeed thought of as a derivative product: the on-screen adventures of Sacha and Pikachu were intended to take over from the first two video games designed by Satoshi Tajiri, Pokemon Green and Red, released in 1996 in Japan on the Game Boy portable console.

“Pokemon Clash”

Sacha’s adventures did not fail to imprint their mark on the license. Pikachu owes them its fame. Indeed, the player started with other companions in the first two titles: Squirtle, Bulbizarre or Charmander. But Pikachu will eventually be offered as a basic Pokémon in a video game, pokemon yellow (1998), designed to accompany television success in turn. The series’ other major trademark for the franchise is the language of the Pokémon, who express themselves by repeating their name in different tones – “Pika pika? » : in video games, the adorable monsters are however not endowed with speech.

Read also: We tested… “Pokémon: Scarlet and Violet”, the most enchanting of technical disasters

Having become world famous, the Japanese series for children almost stopping at his thirty-eighth opus. On December 16, 1997, a sequence from the episode The Virtual Porygon Soldierwhich recounts a computer attack, causes nausea, vomiting and epileptic seizures in spectators, during its broadcast on TV Tokyo; Japanese capital’s fire department reports 618 cases, including a hundred hospitalizations. At the origin of these problems: strobe colored flashes staged during one of Pikachu’s fights.

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