But that’s okay! At the moment, excitement for Nintendo’s collectible monster franchise is at a fever pitch, thanks to the online phenomenon known as Twitch Plays Pokemon. For the Uninitiated, Twitch Plays Pokemon is, quite possibly, the largest simultaneous game of Pokemon to ever be played. A stream played on the Twitch Plays Pokemon channel accepts chat inputs, which are fed into a hacked version of Pokemon Red. Inputs of the four directions, A, B, Select, and Start are taken into account, and translate directly to the game itself. In theory, the idea is sound. However, once one factors in the fact that up to (and over) 50,000 people are feverishly entering commands at once, it’s easy to imagine that things can get a bit hectic. The chaos is multiplied even more so when one adds in the presence of trolls, bots, and other antagonistic forces.
Since it began on February 12, Twitch Plays Pokemon has become somewhat of a phenomenon. Memes were spawned from random occurrences and quirks that came about while playing the game. For example, “Praise The Helix!” came from the fact that, due to the fact that so many inputs were being entered at once, items like the the S.S. Ticket and the Helix Fossil would appear incredibly often. This led to the in-joke that main character Red was consulting the fossil like some form of tiny deity.
Along with the memes came an almost breathless coverage of the stream from news sources, blogs, and social media services. Sites like Kotaku and Gamespot covered the plucky gamers’ progress, as they slowly but surely worked their way through the game.
It seems almost fitting, then, that Netflix would make a giant Pokemon-related announcement on the very day that fifty thousand gamers would begin to band together to take down the Elite Four, in hopes that they’ll do what so many had thought to be impossible. Earlier today, Crunchyroll reported that The Pokémon Company and Netflix will bring a bunch of Pokemon anime to the service on March 1. Pokemon: Indigo League, the show’s first season, will be added to the service, along with Pokémon: Black & White, Pokémon the Movie: Black—Victini and Reshiram and Pokémon the Movie: White—Victini and Zekrom.
Of the titles announced, though, the real noteworthy gain is the Indigo League. It’s a series that spawned an entire generation of anime fans, with its charming characters and goofy, yet charming sense of humor. It was a series that drew viewers in, as they rooted for Ash and his spunky Pikachu. They’d cheer with each win, and feel the shame of defeat with the main character. It was such a huge impact on the youth of the time that the show’s imagery, its characters, and even its opening theme song are still referred to with the fondness of an old friend. While the show has arguably continued to grow and gain new viewers, it’s hard to deny the staying power of the original when a room full of people of all ages begin singing along to “Gotta Catch ’em All” or the “Poke-rap” over fifteen years later.
Go ahead. Sing along. You know you want to!
Anyway, it’s a show that’s left an indelible mark on the anime landscape, much like shows like Robotech, Voltron, and Kimba left their impact decades before. It’s never going to be considered a a masterpiece, like Ghost in the Shell or Revolutionary Girl Utena, but that’s okay. It’s a show that’s captured the hearts and minds of tens of thousands, who have never really forgotten their affection for the show. It’s never really left the general subculture, as it’s lived on through countless pieces of fan art, video mash-ups, and parodies that still delight today.
It’s because of this, that I can’t help but smile at the news of this first series being added to Netflix. It’s a show that’s inspired so many people, that I look forward to hearing tales of those who re-discover the show, of even those who, fifteen years later, introduce their own families to the early adventures of Ash Ketchum. It’s going to be an interesting time, for sure. Hopefully, we’ll see a brand new generation of anime fans that are hooked on Ash’s journey to catch ’em all.