This year has been going so slow, that it’s hard for me to believe that it’s still Pokemon’s 20th anniversary. Because of that, we’ve gotten a lot of Pokemon media this year: Pokemon Sun and Moon, Pokemon Go, and Pokemon Generations, a series of 18 shorts posted on Pokemon’s YouTube Channel that are meant to expand on the game world of the Pokemon universe. When first announced, this series said it was going to show us what characters in the video game universe were doing while you, as the main character were going on their journey. A very interesting, and intriguing concept. I was really excited for it when I heard that was the premise, because I’m a sucker for good world building and expanding pre-existing universes. Plus, with the success of the Pokemon Origins mini-series a few years back, I was really anxious to see the games much darker universe brought to life in animated form again, since Pokemon Origins is my favorite piece of Poke-animated media.
Pokemon Generations recently posted its last episode, and I have reluctantly been watching every episode as it was posted. Now, I’m not one of those die hard Pokemon fans: I was into it as a kid, which if you grew up in the 90s was inevitable. I haven’t really played a game since Ruby and Sapphire, but I figured that wasn’t a big deal because I’ve watched Let’s Plays of other games in the series and the like. Besides, it was going to expand on the universe, not just rip scenes from the games and animate them, right?
Wrong! To my dismay, practically every episode is just an animated version of something that happened in game. Or, the “seeing what a character was doing while you were on your journey” was something you could deduce, or something that literally seemed like it was happening 2 seconds before you showed up. Honestly, I kept on watching because I was hoping we’d see some sort of expanse of the Pokemon Universe, but I think there were maybe…3? Episodes that did anything close to what the original premise of the series said it was going to do. It was majorly disappointing for me. To be completely honest, if the episodes weren’t five minutes or less, I wouldn’t have continued watching. It’s just a concept that had so much potential, but the fan service aspect of it seemed to take over and was nothing more than rehashing of popular scenes from the game.
Another thing that erked me was the amount of showing, not telling in pretty much all of the shorts. Other than the shorts that had voice over narration to them, the majority had scarce dialogue, no indications of characters via name dropping, and most of the time I had to figure out what was going on in the short by going through the comments section of the video. This was especially present in the more battle heavy videos, where most of the time characters were like “Attack!” then flashy battle sequences would happen, lots of sound effects, then episode ended. Once again, I realize this is for Pokemon fans, and by watching they probably will know who is who and what scene from the game is happening, but there just was such a lack of any sort of audio queues in most of the shorts it was not as enjoyable to me as it probably was to sighted viewers.
All in all, Pokemon Generations was a very polarizing experience for me. I wanted to like it so much, but what they originally said they were going to deliver to us wasn’t what we got, and was really nothing more than a way to get some Pokemon fanservice out there. For any non-visual fan, You’ll probably be lost unless you heavily know the source material. When they had episodes about the generations I knew more about, I could easily catch onto what was going on but as the series continued into uncharted territory I felt more and more disconnected from the material. And I think that’s the best way I can put this series: It was alright, nothing mind blowing, a bit alienating. I’d say watch it anyways if you just have time to kill, because each episode is five or less minutes. Just not the web series for me, I guess.
What did you think of Pokemon Generations? Missed opportunity, or did it make your inner Pokemon Trainer squee.