Whether you're a 90's kid or not (anyways the definition is so flexible howww does it matter), you know Pokemon was the real frikking shizz. Like the most badass cultural phenomenon that redefined the cartoon genre for a lot of us growing up back then (along with DBZ, Samurai Jack, Ed Edd and Eddy and so many more.)
I still remember like it was like yesterday. My friend Shriyansh (Identity changed. Not) was the first in our group of friends to turn us on to the series. Back then our parents had control on most part of our lives (what do you mean back then?) so naturally watching the telly required you to take permission from your parents if it wasn't part of your rationed time slot you got after finishing your homework (lol remember marking school books as classwork & homework?). Cartoon Network had just started airing Pokemon and he was one of those cool kids who could switch on the telly whenever (woahh whatt) and he happened to get hyped by it and before we knew it we were all 10 year old boys and girls getting pumped like it was a rave (I've actually never been to one, have you?)
Pokemon took over an entire generation of 10, 15, 25 god knows how many years old and soon was more of a series you watched because everyone did. If you didn't watch it or talk about it all the time you didn't get invited to birthday parties for cake, samosa and chips in plastic plates. The story of Ash Ketchup (yes that's what the Hindi dubbing made his name sound like) and Pikachu was akin to an anthem that everyone had memorized and just when everyone thought this shit couldn't get better, they dropped POKEMON CARDS!!!!
Now I want to tell you that Pokemon cards were bigger than the series, but the truth is that Pokemon cards were bigger than the series. The first kid to buy that pack of 6 cards that sold for 30 rupees (50 cents) has automatically become the godfather in my nostalgia trips. Not every set of parents let their kids buy these addictions *ahem* cards, so those few who had the cards were automatically the leaders and the rest of us meek cohorts were destined to do their bidding in hopes that one day they would allow us the smallest touch of their cards. Like legit our cool friends made us go through so many 'tasks' to see how far we would go (I fucking licked my own chappal. Sigh*) and that is to put into perspective how much a 10 year old kid wanted to embrace the universe of Pokemon.
So you can naturally imagine what happened when Nintendo dropped the Gameboy in India (or rather the first rich kid mofo had his parents get them one.) That's the day I realized the true power of money and capitalism (I'm kidding I was too dumb to even spell capitalism, though Sean Kingston's Power of Money is playing in my head rn). It was like the cure for world peace had been released to us mortals and everything changed. 'Playing down' which was an erstwhile strenuous physical task morphed into one hunched kid playing Pokemon on their Gameboy and 20 other kids hustling and bustling to just get a glimpse.
T'was pure joy. Even though I never had a Gameboy (back then I was so mad at my parents for it, in retrospect I'm just grateful they gave my dumb ass shelter and put food on the table), I spent countless hours watching my friends twiddle their fingers as the journey of Ash transitions from choosing his starter, to battling his first gym, to fucking Gary, to figuring out using the poke flute for Snorlax, to learning HM's, to Rock Tunnel to Gary to Rare Candies to Giovanni to Cubone's story to attempting to catch Ho-oh to learning Surf to the victory league to the dragon master to fucking Gary.
The power of vicariously gaming through someone else felt weirdly satisfying and I'm so grateful for getting the opportunity to experience that. Though I later figured out an emulator on my PC and relived my childhood wish, I'm glad I experienced both :)
If you're a Pokehead, you're going to jump with joy because this was just part 1 and the second part is due next week where we'll be deep-diving into the series and the movies! This podcast was a superrrr fun one to record with my bud who called himself Mr Ketchum for this one. We both become little bois as we raved about Pokemon and if you went through a pokemon phase (we know that lil fanboi/girl is still in there!) there's no happier place to be than the pod where we create the mellowesttt vibe and voila, a safe space for all us Pokeheads to chant in unison, Who's That Pokemon? :D
You can listen to our episode here: https://bit.ly/pokemon-sheeples
This is Zee signing out, see you on the pod Sheeples :)