It’s 1996, and people are restless. They always want to try something new all the time. Pokemon was introduced to the world as a video game and everyone liked it. On Game Boy, it was a very interesting strategy game. Nintendo did it again. The concept was simple at first, but it was challenging, interesting, and fun all at the same time. Sometimes the recipe for success is very simple, remember Super Mario? Pac-Man? Pokemon is just an advanced version of them. But the same recipe is there, and the chef is none other than Satoshi Tajiri. He is the Japanese video game designer responsible for the creation of Pokemon.
Pokemon is the Japanese sensation that went out of the usual journey a popular anime goes through. It usually starts as a manga, then gets picked up as an anime, then on to a movie, video game, international release, etc. Pokemon started as a video game, it was Nintendo’s and Satoshi Tajiri’s first. Then it would go on to be an anime, card game, manga, film, and so on. Just from 1996, it would become the leader in all of the media franchises around the world. Coming in 2nd and 3rd, but nowhere near close, are Star Wars and Hello Kitty. A pop culture phenomenon indeed, here are some things about Pokemon that fans must have already forgotten, so let’s refresh those memories for the next Pokemon trivia quiz tournament.
10. What is Pokemon?
So the first question anyone asks when they are being educated about it is, “What is Pokemon?” The answer is very simple. But believe it or not, some people who know a lot about Pokemon does not know the evolution of the name. What they know is that Pokemon are creatures that fight for their master or owner and has specific sets of skills, strengths, and weaknesses. That is correct, but there’s more to the name than the creatures. Pokemon came from two words, pocket and monster. So why is it not called pokemon? It’s because pokemon comes from the two Japanese words poketto and monsutta, hence the name Pokemon. To educate that person further, he or she should know that the plural form of Pokemon is the same word, Pokemon. We never say Pokemon.
The idea of pocket monsters came from creator Satoshi Tajiri’s interest, hobby, and love of collecting insects when he was just a kid. It was a cherished experience for him, and if we magnify an insect’s head or face, we’ll see that it looks like a monster, too. Satoshi’s concern extends to the kids living in the city who might not pick up the hobby of collecting insects. They could collect Pokemon instead.
9. First Pokemon
It’s a good question to ask what the first Pokemon is. The hardcore fanatic will go into a series of a geeky breakdown of that question by asking like 10 questions first before they can answer it accurately. This answers the very interesting question of what was the first Pokemon to be visualized, created, illustrated, and completed. A good guess would be Pikachu, why not? Pikachu is the face of Pokemon, Pikachu is like Mario of the Super Mario Bros. Pikachu is like Harry Potter of the Wizarding World.
Pikachu is the one true Pokemon everybody in the world knows. But it’s not Pikachu. The first ever created Pokemon is number 112 in the Pokedex, and it’s not Pikachu, Bulbasaur or Charmander. The first Pokemon, according to Pokemon Games Head Designer Ken Sugimori, is Rhydon. Rhydon was like the first Pokemon entered into the game when they were starting it. It’s gray and has a horn in the middle of its face that’s used as a drill. Rhydon closely resembles a rhinoceros, in fact, that’s where it got the name. From the rhino of rhinoceros, and don, which means of great size. Rhydon is a ground and rock type pokemon and is known as the Drill Pokemon.
8. Almost Clefairy
Back To The Future is one of those timeless films, and we always think back on Marty and put ourselves in his shoes. If we were him and we had that time machine car (the DeLorean, by the way, don’t think for one second that we don’t know his car, we do) where would we go? That is a good question, with many possible and very good answers, we’re sure. Our question now is, what if the creators of Pokemon had a time machine, would they go back and replace Pikachu? If anyone could do that, they would find out that at the beginning, it almost happened. The initial plan of the creators was to give Ash a Pokemon that’s not Pikachu, they originally went with a Clefairy.
At the last minute, they changed their minds and chose Pikachu instead. A good change it was, indeed. Clefairy is one cute and cuddly Pokemon. Don’t get us wrong, if they went with their original plan, Clefairy would have been a good first Pokemon for Ash, but what Clefairy lacks in charm and a fierce factor is filled in nicely by Pikachu. Obviously, Clefairy is a fairy type Pokemon and is one of the rarest, but a tip, they can easily be found on a night with a full moon.
Every name has a face. Every successful anything has an icon, a face, a popular catchphrase or tagline. Disney has Mickey Mouse. Paris has the Eiffel Tower. Nike has the swoosh. KFC has finger-lickin’ good. And Pokemon has Pikachu, of course. Pikachu is the iconic character and pocket monster of the Pokemon universe. Pikachu, alone, accounts for maybe around ninety percent of all Pokemon merchandise sales. Ask a non-Pokemon fan if they know a Pokemon, they will answer Pikachu. Some of them even know his signature sound byte. Pikachu posters, figurines, stuffed toys, and accessories. There are Pikachu pillows, comforters, towels, and doormats. There probably is a Pikachu version of every single item one can think of.
This next question is about Pikachu’s name. Does everyone know where the name Pikachu came from? Probably, but there might be someone reading this now and thinking, yeah that’s a good question. Pikapika is a Japanese derived term meaning sparkle, probably pertaining to Pikachu’s electricity and lightning skills. Chu is the Japanese word or sound for squeaking, like a squeaking mouse, chuchu! The name is just one big Japanese onomatopoeia derivation, cute and clever, ain’t it? That’s just how Satoshi Tajiri and his posse rolls.
Right at the heart of every creative mind is a base, a root, a source. More often than not, we sort of go back to our childhood. Like how Satoshi Tajiri created the concept of Pokemon from a childhood hobby and memory. This is not uncommon, and most likely, our go-to is something fun and memorable from when we were young. Someone in Satoshi Tajiri’s creative team is a person who’s deeply connected to the creature known as a tapir. Tapirs are non-carnivorous mammals, looks like a boar, except for the head.
Their face kind of looks like an elephant’s, but with a shorter trunk. On the opposite, one can say tapir has a long snout. They inhabit the forest and jungle habitats, mainly in Central America, South America, Malaysia and some other parts of Southeast Asia. While the name Drowzee is cute, obviously it came from the term drowsy, which was very fitting since this Pokemon is a hypnosis Pokemon, a psychic type. Pair the name with a Pokemon that clearly looks like a tapir, then you have a good etymology story. Tapirs, in Japanese folklore, are creatures who eat dreams and nightmares, making that distinction similar to the Pokemon Drowzee and its psychic powers.
5. Koffing and Weezing
The thing about creativity is that one can do it anywhere, and if they are creating a world from nothing, they have a proverbial creativity oyster world. You can do whatever you want, create your own language if you are up to it. But sometimes, it could be fun to do it exactly the other way around. Most Pokemon names come from words that define what they look like, or their skill and ability. Some good examples we already talked about in this article. Taking it a notch higher, some names come from other origins, like environmental extrapolation and inferences.
Koffing and Weezing are poison gas Pokemon. They originally were going to have a different name. Like the Pokemon Kabuto and Kabutops, they were named Att and Lantis in their beta versions, a clear reference to the sunken mythical city Atlantis. Even Jigglypuff and Wigglytuff had different names before, they were Pudding and Custard. Koffing and Weezing were supposed to be named Ny and La. When these Pokemon perform their poison gas skills, they look like smoke or smog. They even have an ability or a move called smog. Ny and La are references to the smoggy cities of New York and Los Angeles.
4. Time magazine
Internationally speaking, Pokemon is a worldwide phenomenon. Especially during the close of the millennium when everything was supposed to be ending, here our children are, going crazy about their Pokemon. With $59.1 billion in revenues, Pokemon is the highest-grossing media franchise in the world. The next franchise is $26.2 billion behind, George Lucas’s Star Wars. Coming in at third with $41.1 billion worth of revenues is Hello Kitty. Having said that, Pokemon is undoubtedly a pop culture phenomenon, and Time magazine cannot deny it. With all the cultural, historical, and political figures and personalities they feature in their magazine, they took an edition and dedicated it to Pokemon.
It’s hard-hitting journalism on the media frenzy and the global gaming-pandemic called Pokemon. It delved deep into the addictive nature of Pokemon and its effects on kids. Not just kids, even kids at heart, full-blown adults with day jobs and their own children. Negative or not, it’s still a milestone in the gaming world. No matter what kind of publicity that Time magazine edition did, it still does not change the fact that Pokemon is what it is, a juggernaut that hits not just the kids, but people of all ages. Pokemon was the first game franchise to be featured on the front cover of Time magazine. A feat no other game franchise has ever done, and we believe, will ever do again.
There is a reference to most Pokemon creations in this article that comes from animals, places, even real people. But it is a special thing that the Pokemon Mareep has been based one. Most derivations and etymologies are simple and obvious. One can just look at the Pokemon and guess its name. Some you have to look at the creature, then read its name, and then go ahhh… I get it. But sometimes, and rarely, do we get a Pokemon with a certain sophistication about it. That bit of trivia makes it endearing, mysterious, and could even make them be our favorite Pokemon. We are talking about Mareep, as this Pokemon may have been inspired by a novel written by Philip K. Dick.
Philip K. Dick was an American science fiction novelist, born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. His collection of stories are mostly used by Hollywood writers and filmmakers over the years. Some great films that were based on his work are Blade Runner, Minority Report, A Scanner Darkly, and of course the new Blade Runner 2049. The Pokemon Mareep was believed to be the “Electric Sheep” in his novel, mostly because the Pokemon is an electric-type Pokemon, a good display of range and sophistication from the game’s creators.
2. Pokemon Money
Unbelievably, Pokemon has done it again. It was not enough that this is the franchise that broke all those records in everything that we can think of, they had to go and infiltrate the world of currency and coin, too. Yes. you heard it right. Money, coins, bills, cash, how we afford our bling. Remember earlier when we mentioned that Pikachu is on every item or piece of anything you can think of. Well, he’s been in real coins. Real, circulated, with monetary value money. Legal tender, as they are also called. That is pretty unbelievable, and just downright awesome, yeah?! Once again, how many game franchises can say that their product has been used as legal tender by any country on Earth? Star Trek, maybe? Nah. It’s just Pokemon.
It was a Pacific Island, and its name is Niue. It is in the most eastern side of the world, literally. It’s so far back in the east, that it’s on the eastern side of New Zealand, which is on the eastern side of Australia, which is the easternmost continent in the world. Niueans, the people of Niue, are mostly Polynesian, but the island is in New Zealand territory and governance. They minted and released the Pokemon coins in 2011, and it was accepted in New Zealand. We’re sure these coins are worth something more than their supposed monetary value today.
1. Pikachu voice talent
How cute is Pikachu’s voice, right? That cute teeny tiny voice saying “pika pika” and always uttering its own name, just precious. The voice could easily been any girl’s or any boy’s, But with the hope of longevity and success, it would make sense to employ the services of a grown man, or woman, to be the voice of Pikachu. That is correct, and that voice belongs to, none other than, voice super-talent actress Ikue Otani. She is not only the provider of Pikachu’s cute voice, she also is responsible for quite a number of characters in the anime world. Putting a human face on the voice is quite a joy to watch all the time, and listening to Ikue Otani and looking at her at the same time just adds to the charm and cuteness of Pikachu.
A Tokyo resident, Ikue Otani has been doing this kind of job since 1986. From video releases, films, TV shows, and video games, fans all over the world has heard and known the many voices of the multi-talented and multi-voiced Ikue Otani. Just to share some bullet points from her resume, she was the voice of Tony Tony Chopper in One Piece. Se also voiced Konohamaru Sarutobi in Naruto, and Mitsuhiko Tsuburaya in the Detective Conan film series.