I discovered Pokémon over 15 years ago, on the Friday of a long Easter weekend. Knowing the kids would all be off school, YTV (a Canadian kids TV channel) was having a Pokémon marathon. I got hooked after seeing the first couple episodes, and it’ still one of my favourite videogame based franchises to date.
It’s funny how Pokémon is probably the once instance where a videogame was translated into a such a hit show. I’m also guessing it’s the rare occurrence that a TV show converted a significant number of people to trying out the videogame. For me, it was like watching National Geographic adventures meets battling magical animals. What set it apart from many of the other anime imports of the era was that despite being episodic in nature (most episodes could stand alone pretty well) it didn’t rely on the rinse-and-repeat narratives you saw in other imports like Power Rangers or Sailor Moon.
A few weeks ago I started re-watching the series, which of course brought up a huge bout of nostalgia and a hankering to do some sort of creative art project about it. I was reading a design blog post about old Penguin and Pelican book covers, which seemed like the perfect fit for paying tribute to a show that could now be considered pretty retro. I’ve seen a few designers take a stab at replicating that design style and applying it to modern media (Harry Potter, Star Wars) so why not for Pokémon! Thus I picked 3 of my top episodes from the first season and did some throwback covers for them. Fair warning, I may be spoiling episodes if you haven’t seen them, and if you don’t even know what Pokémon are this all may be a bit lost on you.
Pikachu vs. Onyx
This episode is a no-brainer. Just the pure mismatch in size between Pikachu and Onyx makes for a great show, and it gets pretty intense when Pikachu looks about ready to have the stuffing crushed out of him. And the sprinkler victory at the end, while not the purest of wins, is still great in a David toppling Goliath kind of moment.
Bulbasaur doesn’t evolve’
I love Bulbasaur, because he’s kind of a dick, does what he wants, and is generally kicking ass all the time. In this episode it starts with Bulbasaur feeling ill, as we discover he’s starting the process of evolving into Ivysaur. But then when he arrives in the secret garden where an evolution festival for Bulbasaurs takes place, he’s just not that into it anymore. (And I can’t really blame him, I never really like the designs of Ivy or Venasaur). While I guess there’s a nice message hidden in here about not submitting to peer pressue, to be honest I love this episode because it’s the first time we get to see him pull off his solar beam attack. Charging up a cannon blaster on your back with rays of sun is both awesome and wonderfully eco-friendly.
Charmander needs the SPCA
Charmander is another one of my faves because well…He’s a mini fire-breathing dinosaur. In the first episode where we get to meet him he’s been abandoned in the rain by his asshole trainer. This episode was a bit touchy-feely at points, but eventually seeing Charmander torch everyone who wronged him is pretty satisfying. I debated between doing this episode and the Charizard volcano battle one as my fire option, but maybe I’ll save that for another set. And that’s the lot of them, please share in the comments what your favourite episodes were!