Then... and NOW! - Pokémon
Time flies when you're having fun. When your time's being spent enjoying a particular series that doesn't simply last for a few months but instead, several years - time spent really starts to soar!
In this new series, we'll be taking a look at some of the longest-running franchises around in anime and video games: their history, how much they've changed in plot and characters over the years, and yet how they've stayed the same!
First up is Nintendo's juggernaut - Pokémon!
IMAGE SOURCE: BULBAPEDIA
Created by a humble man by the name of Satoshi Tajiri, Pokémon was his way of expressing his love for his childhood hobby of insect collecting. With the increasing rate of urbanisation in Japan causing the insect population to decline, Tajiri wanted to enable children to have the same thrill of exploring and discovering new creatures to collect and keep.
Forming his own company, Game Freak, Tajiri worked hard to get the financing needed for his project. It wasn't until he got back up from card-company Creatures Inc., and help from famous Nintendo game designer, Shigeru Miyamoto, that it finally took off!
The question is: Who DOESN'T know the plot? You (or Ash Ketchum, if we're talking about the anime) are a young, new Pokémon trainer who is out to prove to the world that you're the best around in the only way you know - by beating every other trainer in Pokémon Battles!
The more things change - The series has gone from several different settings over the years, varying considerably from the original Kato region, as have the variety of Pokémon that are encountered.
Things stay the same - Yet, the very main premise has remained unchanged for over 15 years: going out to find the rarest and strongest Pokémon possible! No convoluted events, no-nonsense - just plain, simple fun; and that's what fans have always liked!
When it comes to Pokémon, itÂ’'s impossible to talk about it without mentioning its focal characters: Ash Ketchum, called Satoshi in Japan (named after Tajiri himself), as well as Pikachu!
The more things change - Going through years of adventures together results in growth and change in just about anyone. Ash & Pikachu are certainly no exceptions: from the lessons they've learnt in their numerous battles together, to the companions they've met - and even the various caps Ash has worn! Seeing how favourite heroes grow and mature is part of the fun of following the series!
Things stay the same - Arguably the heart & soul of the franchise, Ash, Pikachu, and all the supporting cast have remained as the lovable, excitable characters that fans have followed for years. Regardless of the number of battles they've fought, the hardships they've faced and the ever-growing odds against them, some things have always stayed the same: their love for adventure, and their caring nature for their friends and fellow Pokémon!
If the fact that the franchise is still alive and kicking more than 15 years later isn't proof of the legacy of the series, then the sheer amount of merchandise made and number of loyal fans is!
The more things change - Starting from a humble pair of Gameboy games, Pokemon has ventured out into all sorts of different ventures! Games, Cards, Manga, a several-season anime, toys - even official "Pokémon Centers" and theme parks!
Things stay the same - Amidst all this amazing merchandise and media, the essence of Pokémon has not been forgotten. What is this essence? Why, the very act of collecting of course!
The sheer act and thrill of exploration & collecting has been at the forefront of every Pokémon-related media, to the extent that it's arguably synonomous with the franchise. This has not only won over millions of long-term fans for itself, but also influenced many other franchises after it.
Always about addictive fun and adventure, while still imparting positive values on friendship and teamwork to legions of children, it's little wonder that Pokémon still remains as strong as ever!