Recently I have been reigniting my love of Pokémon, reengaging with the text in different forms, from watching the show via streaming episodes online, playing the game on my GBA emulator and creating original fan art. Over the last few weeks I have been making origami Pikachu’s and surfboards, painting backgrounds and making paper craft props, all working towards my final goal of shooting a paper remake of Pokémon Yellow’s intro.
During this process I have participated in several levels of Fiske’s tripartite model, shifting from the ‘simple fan’, to ‘enthusiast’ to ‘maker’, but never quite taking the leap to ‘connector’ and ‘leader’. I must admit that I have felt more connected to the franchise during the ‘making’ stages where I created fan art, here not only was I contributing to the community. Here I was participating instead of just passively consuming the text, I was adding to my experience of the text by layering in my memories of making. Similar to the work of Oh Haji that I explored in previous weeks, where the memory of making the artwork became entangled with the associated memory of the text.
As I was making my origami Pikachu I was simultaneously watching episodes of season 1 on stream, and remembering the previous times I had watched that exact episode. I had in fact seen the first episode 3 distinct times, once on its premier in 2004, secondly in 2011 when I watched an unsubbed version as I wanted to test my Japanese skills (which I had undertaken 2 years earlier specifically for this purpose) and lastly within this moment.
As I reflected on the past, I wondered, I wondered how the marketing team for Pokémon got me so invested into the brand and its products, how they got me to move past just consuming their products but encouraged me to engaging in user-generated content, fan art. Secondly I wondered if I was a bigger fan now that I was moving past a ‘simple fan or enthusiast’ into the real that some members of Pokémon’s fan communities see as the more ‘committed fan’.
Thirdly I wondered why I connected more with the materiality of fan art versus the digital experience of the passive consumption of the show. Lastly I wondered about the idea of copyright as I constructed my elements, what are the rules for using Pokémon’s content to engage with fan art, was my video going to get flagged for copyright and was it going to be openly embraced by members of the fan community or torn to shreds by ‘elitist’ fans.
As I near the final stages of creating my video, I will reflect on the amount of hours that I have put in (12 so far, origami Pikachu takes forever), the skills that I have developed (origami, painting, photography, Photoshop, video editing) and the amount of joy and frustration that I have gathered from this process. While at times the process has been a real learning curve and has prompted some frustrated sighs, it has definitely been a rewarding process and one that I hope to continue in the future. I hope to continue making fan art but more along the lines of illustrations and posters, and maybe even illustrative animations.
So keep a look out for the final product and some future Pokémon art, and I look forward to creating them.