If asked about a ‘Pokémon‘ anime, we all know what’s there. A kid who wants to become a master and travels the world meeting people and engaging in battles. Gotta catch ’em all, and so on. But, just like the Pokémon brand itself, which extends far beyond the video games, the animations should also strive to demonstrate that the franchise has evolved since the release of the first Game Boy games. And here comes ‘Pokémon: Path to the Peak’, a free series on YouTube that’s much better than it has any right to be.
Our world is different
Don’t think that ‘Pokémon: Path to the Peak’ is a stylized period drama or has animation worthy of Studio Ghibli, but it doesn’t need to: it’s such a secondary product (an animated series based on the Pokémon trading card game) that they’ve been given a free rein to do whatever they want. And what they’ve done is treat one of the few intergenerational and timeless franchises with nostalgia and love, with a style that’s completely different from the usual.
Currently, we only have three episodes available, in which we follow Ava, a girl who has moved to a new town and finds her place within the Pokémon Club, where she learns to play (and win) using her Oddish card. It seems simple, and it is. But it also manages to showcase really exciting (and emotional) battles, breaking the rules of the game along the way.
For once, viewers are seeing our world in a Pokémon anime, and how the franchise has evolved in our hearts (the scene where they all sing one of the series’ openings in the car is incredible, but they are embarrassed about the Pokérap). All of this while still being a giant advertisement and pure marketing, of course. But it’s adorable marketing that pays homage rather than insists, that treats the viewer as an intelligent person capable of appreciating the layers of a series that is much more nuanced than what we’re used to.
‘Pokémon: Path to the Peak’ is a tale about acceptance, overcoming fears, embracing defeat, and making friends. It shouldn’t go beyond being a simple children‘s story, yet it’s perfectly enjoyable for a more adult audience. Does this mean that we’ll see more risk in the series from now on, or was this just a small appetizer that won’t be followed by a three-course menu? Only time will tell.
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