So I grew up watching Pokemon.
I remember waiting for new episodes of Season 1 (back in 1997-1998), setting my alarm to wake up early and record each of them on VHS. My sister and I shared this obsession together, buying all the games as they were released, collecting whatever merchandise was sold, and discussing theories on all the characters - coming up with scenarios or thoughts I'm sure never even crossed the developers' minds.
We never were into collecting the cards or trading them, but we enjoyed the anime fervently and it was always a part of our daily lives (among other things - video games, mostly) growing up. Season 1 was my favorite, and when it ended and the next season debuted - Orange Islands - I recall feeling somewhat disappointed that it hadn't taken a new direction. Yeah, some friends left to do other things and new faces joined to adventure together, but something was off. The animation was beginning to change, and the storylines were feeling much like unnecessary filler.
Now, I love me some filler. Good filler. One of my favorite episodes is "Holy Matrimony" from Season 1. It really had nothing at all to do with Ash becoming a Pokemon Master, but it had character development. We learned that James has subtext, therefore we cared about him more. Episodes like that made the anime relatable, and made the characters feel more human.
That being said, Season 2 had begun to lose a lot (my personal opinion) of those moments. The American translation started to focus less on what each character would say from a developmental perspective, and focused more on one-liners, sometimes even out of character. Yet, my sister and I continued watching, even loved the movie that came out that year as a tie-in. Saw it in the theater.
I really feel like I need to go back and watch Season 3 onward, because a lot of those episodes are a blur to me. I don't know what happened progressively each year as a new season started, but something kept changing. One of the biggest things that stand out to me was the art style. Ash should be aging, but with each season he looked like he was getting younger. Honestly, I prefer the grittier look of Season 1. Every one after that got more colorful and lost texture.
There is also a thing called getting older, and each season went on as usual. I remember the last movie my sister and I saw in the theater together (we had seen every one of them in the theater together), which was "Pokemon Heroes", released in 2003. It was almost bittersweet because I was then 18 years old. It's crazy how much Pokemon was a part of my childhood and teenage years, and even at the end of my teenage years, I still held a great fondness for it - sitting in the movie theater feeling a bit out of place. I didn't care though, it made me happy. I live in the past a lot.
Then I heard that the original Voice Actors with 4Kids were no longer going to be doing the English version anymore. At this point in my life, sadly I hadn't kept up with the show. I was busy with work, getting older. My sister and I began to do many things apart. Pokemon was one of those things we enjoyed together as kids, and it just wasn't as much fun anymore without her by my side. So even though I hadn't kept up with the show religiously, the announcement struck a chord with me. I was upset. When I finally heard the new voices, I realized then that I just couldn't watch the show. It was going in a direction I felt uncomfortable with. I recall making a point to watch the first episode with the new VA's, and feeling awkward. It was like being in an alternate version of my childhood - one that is familiar yet different. And that was how it was. The show had also continued to progress with the more colorful art style and I sadly thought back to Season 1, and how much I missed what it had been.
I go through a lot of phases. Now I will say, that everything I was obsessed over as a child, I'm pretty much still obsessed with today. The first time I realized guys were attractive and that they made you feel warm all over? Yup, that was Adult Link, on the cover of my Ocarina of Time Strategy Guide. I would stare at that cover in bed at night and fantasize. I still have a crush on Link. But I digress! So these phases: the interests are always there, and they peak at certain intervals throughout a year. One moment it will be Mass Effect and my Shepard / Garrus thing, next it will be Lord of the Rings, then Legend of Zelda goes, "Hey, what about me!" and I obsess over that fervently for a while. Weird thing is, I hadn't thought about Pokemon in a long time. Yeah, I mean, I am very fond of it. But I hadn't really watched the show or done anything related.
So yesterday, I decided to watch Season 1 of the Pokemon anime. And whoa rush of nostalgia. I sat in bed and watched like ten of them. I felt so sad.. like, where had all this time gone? I felt so old. I really enjoyed watching those episodes. I also realized the show is as good now as it was back then. I also looked up where the anime has went, since I hadn't been up to date. OML, there are like 14 movies now and 16 seasons?! My interest piqued, I watched the latest episode.
The new VA's still bother me. I actually had to decrease the volume. Some of them are okay, but the Ash VA really just doesn't get it. There is no emotion. Ash sounds like he's bored to death. And maybe.. he is.
And this gets me to my point.
I am going to refrain from writing this in all caps because I really want to yell this right now, but how can we be at 16 seasons with everything the same?!?! I am so frustrated, because I know in my heart what a great anime Pokemon can be. When Ash began his Pokemon journey, I was a kid too. I could relate! But most of us who grew up with the show, we're older now! I think we deserve to see Ash fulfill his dream, be a kick-ass Pokemon Master, grow up, and focus the anime on an older Ash. Like an Ash in his twenties. Poor kid is stuck in this perpetual time-warp. Now I appreciate that the series' developers want to inspire young kids to watch the show, the new generation, I get that. But I think kids would like to see a grown-up Ash too, where they look up to him. Ash could have been a great role model but he really can't be at this point, because he's lost focus; the show has lost focus!
Now I get that the anime ties in with the games and it's all a very profitable marketing decision at the end all, but really, I am waiting for the day that we get the Pokemon show of my dreams, and until then, I'll continue watching Season 1.
Thank you, that is all.
*If any of you grew up watching Pokemon like myself, I would love to hear your thoughts, especially if you relate to what I said in some way. I'd love to hear if there are any newer episodes that you feel are top-notch so I can check them out. Also, any discussions are welcome.