Written By: Joel
There is something quite unique that distinguishes Pokémon apart from
all the other toy and accessory fadsBeanie Babies, Tickle Me Elmos,
Virtual Pets, Furbiesthat have flooded the American market within the
last half-decade. Pokémon has gone under innumerable transformations,
starting with a video game, to a television series, to toys, books, card
games, posters, lunch pails, and just about any other peripheral that may
suit the daily routine of an eight to ten year old. As manager Justin
Dwisiniewski of K * B Toys, Valencia explains, Any product that you
can possibly use can be bought here in one form or another of
Pokémon, formerly introduced to the United States as Pocket Monsters,
was the Messiah that Nintendo had been looking for to save their company
from the flailing Nintendo 64 in the Japanese market. Using its portable
system with a current user base of 100,000,000, the Game Boy churned out
Pokémon Red and Blue, followed by Yellow, Pinball, Gold/Silver, and
on the Nintendo 64, Pokémon Stadium and Snap.
What exactly is a Pokémon, however? Upon asking eight year old Mariah
Romo, only more confusion was added. Theyre like
Her six year old sister, Deana, confirmed this, Yes. Like magical
Of the 150 Pokémon currently in establishment, many of them follow
a basic style. They arefor the most partanimals with magical
abilities, whose body design is comparable to many creatures found at your
local zoo, with few modifications. They reside in a circular contraption
called a Pokéball until they are summoned out by their Pokémaster
The large success of Pokémon Red and Pokémon Blue gave way
to a television series in Japan, which on December 6, 1996 sent nearly 700
children of its 12,000,000 viewers to the hospital due to convulsions (many
of the bright, explosive colors caused nausea in the young viewers) . The
series, after testing, was put back on the air and scheduled for regular
viewingonly this time, with media attention surrounding it.
The commotion that surrounded the convulsion incident set a precedent for
the way Pokémon would be treated in the UShyped and supported
by the media. This inevitably increased its popularity exponentially as soon
as it was released inside the US and the rest of North America. The popularity
to date is both stunning and frightening.
Pokémon has unexpectedly reached unimaginable popularity in North
America. This is due in part to the astounding media attention that has
voluntarily drilled and cultivated Pokémon culture into
the involuntary American citizens.
The craze for Pokémon toys and accessories (especially the trading
cards) has been seen as uncanny. Even before the Pokémon was formally
launched in the US, the governor of Topeka, Kansas, was kind enough to (jokingly)
change the capital of KansasTopekato ToPikachu to match the name
of the main Pokémon mascot, Pikachu. From here, a seven-state parade
was organizedall in an attempt to honor Pokémon before it formally
arrived. In Canada, two kids were brawling over a package of stolen Pokémon
cards. The fight ended up in one kid being stabbed on the right shoulder.
Many schools now ban trading Pokémon cards during school hours; the
archdiocese itself in Mexico has condemned Pokémon altogether, saying
that the characters promote violence and sexual perversity among
This is all a result of the mass media attention that Pokémon has
gottenunlike other trends, this one has not had an opportunity to die
out; this is what keeps it indefinitely alive. Several promotions with no
apparent connection to the video games or television series have been made.
Kentucky Fried Chicken was the first franchise to provide consumers with
the chance to win free Pokémon accessories when buying a meal at one
of their many locations. Shortly after, Pokémon cards were offered
in Lunchable Lunches. Following in 1999 and 2000, Burger King went a little
farther and offered Pokémon action figures in a Pokéball (a
capsule where Pokémon are stored) and in a second promotion, offered
Pokémon posters and Pokémon trading cards for the Pokémon
card game. The first promotion went notably well, except for the report of
a two year old childs death by choking on a Pokéball. It took
Burger King two weeks to recall the products after they were ordered to (25
million balls were recalled, making it the biggest toy recall in the history
of the world). As Claudia Mendoza, employee of Burger King, Sylmar recalls,
It brought a lot of business that we wouldnt have had
Likewise, you can expect a Pokémon cereal to head its way to your
local grocery store this fall. You may anticipate a new Pokémon motion
picture coming out near Christmastime this year. You can expect Pokémon
to invade every part of your childs lifemaking this the reason
why Pokémon stays so popular: there is no way to avoid it, whether
it is turning on the TV or going to the movies, packing your kids a lunch
or going out to eat, going shopping for a holiday gift or just visiting the
mall. Wherever kids are, Pokémon is also there.
Adding to the Pokémon revolution is the positive attention that
Pokémon has received from parents. A nationwide PokéMOM contest
was recently held, where the title of being a true PokéMOM
fanaticas long as some prizeswas being offered. Many entered,
only one won. Kids went crazy over wanting their mother to receive the honorary
recognition. On September 20, 1999 Pokémon received the National Parenting
Centers Seal of Approval Award, claiming that the Pokémon card
is of superb design and quality. Due to popular request,
LodgeNet Entertainment Corporation has set up Nintendo 64s with available
Pokémon games in over 86,000 hotel rooms nationwide. All Nippon Airways
(ANA)the largest Japanese passenger airline providerbuilt and
painted four airplanes dressed in Pokémon attire (the planes each
resemble a specific Pokémon), making it fun to fly for kids (as if
it ameliorates long travel flights). In the same attempt to fashion Pokémon
in a pleasant way to kids and parents alike, several novelizations of the
kids show have been formed, helping kids learn to read in the
Probably another reason of the large success of Pokémon is that their
name stands out in each of their respective marketsand exceptionally.
The video games for both the Game Boy and Nintendo 64 have found incredible
fame among kids. The television series, likewise, follows a linear storyline,
supported by authentic Japanimation, and involving characters. Most kids,
when asked, watch Pokémon on a regular basis, following the story
religiously. One kid interviewed, Andres Casillas, was able to name more
than seventy different Pokémon in less than three minutes; he failed
to identify the product of six and seven under thirty seconds.
The Pokémon trading card game also has involved many would-be
Pokémasters. It gives the kids a sense of solidarity amongst each
other. Not only that, but many older kids who play it (the average age, when
asked in several interviews, appears to be anywhere from 8-12 years old)
find the competition fierce and are very involved in the battling
action of the card game.
Twelve year old Xavier Romo observes, They spend more time now playing
with Pokémon than they do on the playground, or at home.
Claudia Mendoza also shares her suspicion. They know more about that
stuff than their homework. Pssh, she sighs, they even get mad
if you call one of them by the wrong name.
Justin Dwisniewski of K * B Toys notes though that, Many kids who buy
the cards just dont know how to play with them or use them. They just
buy it because the older kids are buying them, and the older kids are buying
them because their friends are and their parents are letting them.
Its just something that everyones doing, I say.