Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Some Pokémon Fans Claim The Anime Ruined This Major Thing For Them

"Pokémon" is everywhere. For the gamers, there are over 100 different titles to journey through. For the readers, there's enough manga to form a sizeable personal library. For the TV enthusiasts, there's at least 425 hours of anime to binge (Comic Book Resources did the math and everything). The point is that there's a lot going on and those numbers are only ever going to go up. For Game Freak — the company behind Pikachu et. al — and cross-media fans, this is great news. It's even more exciting when one considers how, after 25 years, the anime seems to be setting up Ash Ketchum for a big — potentially final — victory, thus blowing the gates wide open for an insurgence of new stories. The poor kid's been in desperate need of a win for almost a quarter of a century. He's earned this. 

With that much content lying around, "Pokémon" was bound to collect a few negative opinions, and as the most widely represented branch is the anime, it usually gets the brunt of all critical opposition. This kind of discourse can get pretty specific, too, as individuals taking part therein are often deeply passionate about the topic at hand. Here's one way that fans believe the anime damaged Game Freak's most popular franchise. 

Some fans believe the anime tarnished the games

In a Pokémon subreddit, u/JVHazard asked, "What's your unpopular opinion about Pokémon?" Given that the post received over 3,000 responses, Redditors had more than a few thoughts to share. One such commenter, u/mrplow8, responded by stating how they believed that the anime soiled the potential gaming experience by taking a perceptibly dark property and turning it childlike.

"The Pokémon world had a very different, almost creepy vibe to it," they explained. "The creatures really seemed like monsters rather than cuddly pats or cutesy mascots. There was organized crime, there was a Pokémon who wore its dead mother's skull over its head [...] Kanto seemed like it would be a scary place to actually live in. Then the anime came along and had a totally different, family friendly, teach kids to get along after school special tone, and it completely changed the way I saw Pokémon."

Indeed, there was a brief window between the release of the first games and the first anime. "Pokémon Red" and "Pokémon Blue" hit shelves in February of 1996, while Ash's animated adventures began the year afterward, in April of 1997. Considering the first "Pokémon" manga didn't get published until August 1997, there was a fleeting moment where the only "Pokémon" content available was the two Gameboy games. That means that the above commenter had, oh, roughly 13 months to formulate their opinion. That's a sizeable chunk of time to play a game that requires approximately 26 hours to complete (or 103 for the perfectionists), which likely means that others had time to sit with the title and think about the lore implications to each dialogue box and discarded journal entry, which can wildly change the game's perceived intent.

Pokémon's tonal variety

Observing how the tone of "Pokémon" varies from medium to medium is neither new nor unwarranted. After all, the anime features episodes where a psychic monkey runs a cute little bar for Pokémon to drink their troubles away (just one of slice-of-life joys that stands out in "Pokémon Sun and Moon"), while the manga graphically depicts a crime lord murdering a pair of Magmars. The games have always struck a balance in this way, featuring darker lore than the anime, and lighter consequences than the manga. Newer entries into the video game series more closely mirror the anime in tone, but the originals — while not somber, per se — lacked the cuddly context provided by Ash's popularity. 

Speaking of, Ash didn't even exist. The original set of games featured Red (or whatever name the player chose instead), a young trainer from Pallet Town. Does he share a similar backstory to Ash? Yes. Does he share an almost identical character design? Also yes, but Red's technically not Ash. As Game Rant argues, He's better.  Meanwhile, possibly the most prominent difference between the game and the anime is how they approach the matter of bonding with Pokémon. While the anime shows Ash and his friends getting to know their respective 'Mons on a personal level, the only thing players could do in "Red" and "Blue" was fight with them. Otherwise, they stayed in their Pokéballs. Even so, Professor Oak would compliment the player for forming such a deep connection, when in reality, all he was promoting was aggressive level grinding. 

Other changes exist, too, mostly mechanical in nature, and all lead to Ash experiencing companionship instead of the grueling loneliness of a game protagonist. For some, though, that singular path will always be preferred, and that's okay.