Gotta catch ’em all
Back when the Pokemon craze started in the West in the late 1990s, it captured the hearts and minds of people young and old through its plethora of video games, trading cards and anime. Even in its infancy, with its limited range of things, it had collectibles you wanted to get, whether it was capturing all 151 Pokemon in either Pokemon Red or Blue, getting all the cards in the Base Set of the Pokemon Trading Card Game or being up to date watching all the anime episodes. You want to catch em all.
The legions of fans that appreciated and loved the franchise have grown. The franchise has created lasting memories for all. I remember watching the first episode of Pokemon on Cheez TV and seeing Ash and Pikachu fight a flock of Spearow to seeing the heroes take on the most powerful Pokemon in Pokemon The First Movie at the cinemas. While neither the anime or first movie will ever be regarded as the best in their respective genres, they are special because of the memories they have imprinted our minds. As more games, anime episodes and movies get released, the number of fans increases.
The franchise has come a long way since, having celebrated its 20th anniversary on 27 February 2016, to now having shops dedicated to it – Pokemon Centers. You can imagine my shock walking into a Pokemon Center in 2015 for the first time at the Mega Pokemon Center in Ikebukuro, Tokyo. It was huge! From the rows and rows of merchandise, the Pokemon battle music in the background to the Pokemon statues of Charizard, Mewtwo and Lucario around the store. This was Pokemon attracting you on all fives of your senses (though I don’t know if Pokemon-merchandise has a distinctive smell). It was amazing! The most surprising thing of all was seeing Pokemon on literally everything, hats, pencil cases, spoons, cookie tins, etc. Plus the quality of the items were excellent, from the fur texture on the plushes to the fabric used for the clothing. I can attest to the durability of many of the things I’ve purchased at the store.
The Pokemon Center is a special place for any Pokemon fan, because it celebrates the franchise by showing casing it through several different mediums. You can now add Pokemon to parts of your life you didn’t know needed it. You can now wear cool and well-made Pokemon caps, jackets, scarfs, gloves, jumpers when you go out to having Pokemon theme dining set for your home. All these thoughts about what you can do with the merchandise add to the joy and excitement the franchise represents. There is so much to love.
I fell in love with the Pokemon Centers. I now make it an aim to visit as many Pokemon Centers as I can throughout Japan and the rest of the world, the UK, USA and Singapore. My wife and I are now trying to collect as many of the dressed up Pikachu plushes (I will have to show my collection one of these days). We are on our quest to catch ’em all.
As part of this blog, I want to share my adventures to the various Pokemon Centers and so many more Pokemon related things. I will be sharing my time at the various Pokemon Centers in Japan and around the world by giving you a guide on how to get there, how the stores are laid out, the exclusive items and some tips when you visit. Stay tuned.