First Aired: 29th March 1999
Veronica Taylor Ash Ketchum
Ikue Otani Pikachu
Plot: The biggest thing in this world is the capturing, training and battling of the little creatures called Pokemon. The story starts with a televised match between a Nidorina and a Gengar. It’s being watched everywhere, but we’re watching through the eyes of 10 year old Ash Ketchum, a resolute but excited ten year old, from Pallett Town, with the ambition to be the greatest Pokemon trainer of all and reach the heady heights of Pokemon Master. It is the night before he gets his first Pokemon from the local expert Professor Oak and he’s having trouble sleeping. As is the way it goes in other walks of life, he spends so much time awake in the night, that when he does fall asleep, he oversleeps.
The next morning he finds himself at the back of the line and all that he is able to get is a cantankerous Pikachu and after a few random electrocutions the two start off on his journey to become a Pokemon Master. His mother is very much okay with her ten year old son wandering the country, but by this point, I’m as aggravated by Ash as to understand her need for time off from him.
On his journey, Ash tries to catch a Pidgy, doesn’t really do well and Pikachu isn’t inclined to help this person he doesn’t know. Ash also accidentally incurs the wrath of a Spearow, a much larger bird with friends and the two have to make a run for it and end up in a stream and then over a cliff. They are found by a young woman (Or maybe teenage girl? It’s not made clear) who scolds Ash for getting Pikachu hurt and directs him to a medical centre to get Pikachu some help. The Spearows are still after them and they are cornered and Ash makes a valiant last stand to protect his young charge. Charge is the word as an inspired Pikachu generates a massive blast of electrical energy and defeats the flock of Spearows. The pair pass out, the next morning this newly formed partnership continues the journey together.
Notes: It is hard, if not impossible to separate the cartoon Pokemon, from the cultural phenomenom that surrounds it. From the card game, to the toys, to the recent-ish mobile game and so on. But I and SuperSam did our best. To be honest, I didn’t really want to add this to the list, but I made a promise to SuperSam to have Pokemon on here, so I needed to sit through the first one and give it a fair shake.
It’s like a lot of anime, with stylistic flourishes and ridiculous dialogue. Aimed at children it’s focus is the friendship between Ash and his Pikachu. Ash is incredibly earnest and headstrong, very much a child, but he’s just left to go off on this great journey, the show is full of these bizarre choices like that. But for all the weirdness, it is fun. The comedy is a lot of slapstick, with there being a lot of electroction gags. It’s all very heartfelt and sort of compelling in it’s own way. I walked into this expecting to hate it, but I really didn’t.
Notes from the SuperSam: I didn’t like the first episode very much. It needed bad guys, like Team Rocket who are there later. It’s not as much fun without them.
Does it work? It’s more of a first chapter than a pilot, setting up a longer story.
Does much need fixing? It needs more of a direction and a bigger cast.
Does it stand up? I really want to say yes, but I won’t.
Do I want to watch the next one? Not really, there were better series made after this.
Did I enjoy it? Yes.
Overall: 2 out of 5. This is not the show it could be, but it wasn’t as bad as I expected it would be.