It was a warm afternoon in the summer of 2004, in a 4-bedroom house in the middle of Cape Town, South Africa, had been waiting for this day for what seemed like my whole life. In South Africa T.V in the 90’s was censored by the government and years behind US. So when Pokémon first premiered in the summer of 2004, it was big news for my 10-year-old self. Pokémon was a hot topic in the South African news at the time; more conservative and religious senators claimed it was “demonic and violent”, claiming that “we had to protect the children from the satanic influences of the East”.
A year after rumours of its release and a lengthy government debate it finally happened. Afterschool I ran home, changed out of my school clothes, grabbed my lunch from the fridge and sat down in the lounge. The 10 minutes of advertisements seemed to go on forever, and then it happened, Pikachu and Ash flashed on the screen along with their friend, the heroes ready to conquer the world. I had never seen this type of cartoon before, up until then the only cartoons I had been exposed to had been Dexter’s Laboratory, The Power puff Girls, Looney Tunes and The Flintstones.
This was something new, the style was different it was a whole new world filled with wonderful creatures and a unique culture, only contained within the edges of my television screen. It was the first form of media from the East that I had experienced, South African media was controlled and only embraced traditional views and educational, religious or government approved content. Pokémon, my first experience of the oriental, yet in the innocents of childhood I didn’t see Ash and the others as ethically different to myself, I identified as one of them, and I wanted a Pokémon. Soon after the merchandise came in, trading cards, stuffed animals, stickers, VHS sets, posters, and I wanted them all. Pokémon replaced Barbies on my Christmas list, much to my grandmother’s dismay, a conservative and Traditionalist at heart.
I battled all my friends at lunch and by the end of the year I had a zoo of Pokémon stuffed dolls gathered on my bed and a stack of Pokémon cards waiting for me to come home to battle my little brother, who was my apprentice at the time, learning the traits of the game. The following year the Pokémon Stadium 2 game was released on Nintendo 64 I saved up all my pocket money, birthday and Christmas money and purchased my own, with help from my parents (walking the neighbourhood dogs doesn’t pay that well).
I continued to engage with the game and TV show, however soon after entering my 12th birthday Dragon Ball Z was released and took some attention away, none the less my engagement with Pokémon remained consistent and I even made some fan art. Which unfortunately got lost upon the immigration from South Africa to Australia. Now, 8 years later I am still engaging with Pokémon, however my method of engaging has changed. I stream the shows online and play the games on my Mac on a Nintendo 64 emulator. Yet I have not made Pokémon fan art since my youth and this is where my idea started to take shape.
I wanted to reengage with this form of engagement with Pokémon and add to the fan community, like I did before. However in this digital age engaging with the fan art is different, so I planned to recreate the intro for the Pokémon Yellow game on Nintendo 64 (The one I bought) in the format of a video, but in the medium of paper to pay homage to my childhood fan art. Additionally being a marketing students I also want to explore what facilitated and encouraged my and countless others connection to the Pokémon brand.
(Which looked similar to the image above)
Areas to research:
Levels of Fans
Effects of Branding on consumer engagement
The Pokemon Fandom
User-generated content and Fandoms