“Welcome to the world of Pokémon!” This is the introductory line that begins so many fantastic adventures in the Pokémon franchise. When I say franchise, and not game series, I mean it. The world of Pokémon is huge, even bigger than you may realize…
There are so many different forms of Pokémon media to enjoy, and since it’s all within the same world, each one helps you better understand the other. Here are just some examples of how much of a multimedia franchise Pokémon is. It includes…
- Core video game series
- Multiple manga series
- Anime series
- Feature-length movies
- OVAs, and other shorts
- Children’s story books
- Educational and puzzle books
- An insane amount of merchandise
What does this mean for your Japanese? Well if you’re already a Pokémon fan… everything! You have an instant, massive library of multiple types of media at your disposal, with the advantage of being familiar with the franchise. Whether you want to read picture books or manga, play a video game (most have kana/kanji options by the way), watch anime, or even research rare merchandise, you can do all of it with a Pokémon-based education. There are even vocabulary lists based on the games to help you along. I can guarantee being familiar with the media will make you feel all the more comfortable with it, and all the more pumped to stick with it.
Here’s my personal experience using the franchise to help me with my Japanese. So back when Red and Blue came out in North America, I jumped on with Pokémania and played Blue all the way through (in English) with my trusty Squirtle. Years later, it was mostly my only exposure to the franchise except for a few anime episodes. That was until I met Animom, the Pokémon queen. With a rekindled interest in the world of catching them all, I wanted to try my first full length game in pure Japanese. So I picked Soul Silver for Nintendo DS. Had this been my first time in the Pokémon world, with my level of Japanese at the time I would have been quite lost.
So right away, knowing how the game mechanics worked and what the general plot was provided a huge confidence boost and got me very excited to jump into my first JRPG in its native language. Then when I came across some Pokémon picture books, I already had context on my side before I even opened the front cover. Same goes for the manga and the anime. Because I was familiar with the world of Pokémon, I was able to easily have fun trying out all the different types of media it has to offer.
Even the overall theme of dedicating yourself to the journey you have set out for is very inspiring. I can’t think of many other franchises that offer this much variety within the same world. And because it’s normally aimed at a younger audience, I also find it to be an incredibly accessible universe to immerse yourself in on your own Japanese journey to be the very best, like no one ever was.
On a related note, I’ll be doing my first public presentation ever at Animaritime 2013, along with Animom. As you may have guessed, the topic is Pokémon and its evolution as a franchise. If you’re attending this event, please leave a comment or send me a message. I would absolutely love to meet a reader in person! There will even be a section on Japanese-only elements of Pokémon, so if you’re in the Fredericton, NB at the time, please say hello!
In this series we’ll be covering the various Pokemon merchandises out there and how you can pull fun Japanese from it, and so forth. Stay Tuned for our next segment on the anime side of Pokemon.