Pokémon: Indigo League – Nostalgia Trip

Guest blogger Jontosaurus sees your current Pokémon Go fixation and raises you one youthful obsession with a certain extremely famous and much-loved Saturday morning cartoon…

Admit it. As soon as you read the title, you began humming the theme tune. If you’re of the more…ahem…geeky nature, you maybe even began singing it at the top of your lungs. Air grabs and all.

Like many children of that generation, I was gripped by Pokemon fever- a hideous disease that infected pretty much every child of school age. I just couldn’t get enough.

I had the Gameboy games, in particular Pokemon Red, where I began the game with a Blastoise named Barry. I had the cards, including a Jungle Pikachu that I was particularly proud of. I had no idea how to actually play the card game but trading became something you just did as a kid. I remember watching the Pokemon series- the original Indigo league saga- on Saturday and Sunday mornings, on some such satellite channel or other.

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Ash and his crew – hapless heros

It followed the adventures of Ash Ketchum, who was apparently on a journey to catch ’em all despite the fact he demonstrates time and time again that he has no idea how to be even a mildly competent trainer. He is joined by Misty, who at the time seemed like an unbearable nag but now seems to have been nothing but a mature youngster dealing with idiots, and Brock, who managed to somehow run a Pokemon gym despite being only slightly less incompetent than Ash. The hapless trio were pursued relentlessly be an equally hapless duo in Team Rocket, consisting of the strangely feminine James and Jesse, who had a hairstyle that would make Lady Gaga blush. Oh, and they have their own Pokemon on Meowth…who can talk…for no particular reason. In true Japanese style, the episodes were filmed in typical manga style, with minimal but effective animation and some pretty awkward dialogue.

As the series went on, the episodes got more and more ridiculous. I realise that really is saying a lot when you consider that we’re dealing with a cartoon show about pre-teens travelling across the world to capture wild animals in magical balls. But bear with me on this one okay? About halfway through the season, our adventurers end up facing gigantic robotics Pikachus, weird mind battles with psychic Pokemon who have conquered their human owners and, in the height of insanity, a battle with an overgrown jellyfish Pokemon who takes vengeance on mankind by smashing up a whole city. Even for Pokemon, this was a bit much.

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Gotta catch ’em all – got, got, got, need

As with all childhood favourites, there were moments that disturbed young minds and other moments that brought tears to our eyes. We nearly cry when a cruel owner leaves his Charmander out in the rain. We trembled into our Sunday morning cereal at the sight of a ghost Pokemon haunting our heroes. And we cheered with joy at Pikachu battling a superior Raichu and absolutely ripping it to pieces. There’s also the scene where Butterfree leaves to start a family, but I don’t want to talk about that scene, alright? ALRIGHT?!?!? No, I’m not crying. Its hayfever.

At the end of every episode was the infamous Pokemon rap, when you were supposed to learn the names of all the original 152 Pokemon. When I was a kid, I thought this was the coolest thing I had ever experienced. In hindsight, it isn’t even mildly tepid. Now here’s the good news: if you have Netflix, then you can watch the entire Indigo League through in one maniacal binge viewing. So go dig out that baseball cap, slap it backwards on your head, and start singing those infamous words:

“I wanna be the very best…like no-one ever was!”

Don’t even pretend you need me to sing the rest. I know you’re already right there with me!

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