by Sean Gallagher
You would have to look really hard to find someone who does not know what Pokemon is, even if that person has never directly engaged with a form of Poke-media. What once started as a series of Game Boy games in the 90s quickly exploded into an international media corporation , now called by The Pokemon Company in Japan and is still achieving success as it quickly approaches the 20th anniversary of the games that started it all, Pokemon Red and Blue versions. I myself still play Pokemon, whether it’s on the 3DS or an emulator on my cellphone for on the go nostalgia. In fact, as the featured image successfully portrays, Pokemon has never been more popular with Generation Y as it is right now. There’s even Pokemon Leagues and Centers around the world, promoting and encouraging Pokemon activity.
What started as a series of video games quickly exploded into a trans media global phenomenon. After the success of the initial games, the property saw the launch of (in no particular order) a trading card game, an anime series with accompanying films, toys and merchandise, a manga series and sequels and remakes of the game series, which are still being released with last year’s Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire remakes hitting shelves. According to Gamenesia, The Pokemon Company sees annual estimated profits of around $1.5 billion and each new Pokemon game sees around $10 million profit. With each new game, the company releases a new region and new Pokemon for consumers to get excited about and this ever growing library of Pocket Monsters (original Japanese title) thus avoiding direct rehashing even if the formula of the core games has remained more or less the same over the decades. Emerson writes in his 1999 essay on the Pokemon Phenomenon that while the product was initially a huge success in Japan, the producers were unsure about how it would be received in an American market, which lead to teams working on how to market specifically towards the Western culture (American slang in the dubbing, translating the names etc) to help the series feel less foreign. (Emerson, Pokemon Case Study)
So it is no surprise that Pokemon is known all around the world by people of various ages. The company has successful integrated itself into the norms of various cultures and has successfully managed to stay relevant and evolve with the times. Authors Dr. Kerr and Dr. Flynn state in their work on globalization that while many people think that the concept is more to do with companies exploiting technology to expand their network influence (which is partly true), that “globalization is a process whereby societies become more interconnected and interdependent at a number of levels through the flow of products, people, finance and through the establishment of international agencies, global competition and international law” (Revisiting Globalization) or in other words, the seamless relation between cultures through a particular medium, in this case the international success of a Japanese product called Pokemon.