February 27, 2016 // 2 Comments
One of my clearest and fondest memories as a child starts with me standing outside a shop with my somewhat irritated dad, waiting for my sister and mum to emerge. I forget the details exactly, btu we had come into the city center to pick up a few things for her. I think it might have been clothes for a party she was going to or something like that, all I know was I was about 11 years old and bored. You see, I had saved up my pocket money to buy some figurines of my latest obsession, Pokemon.
I’d seen the cartoon on TV, bought magazines (including walkthrough for the game) and I was completely in love with the characters, the creatures and everything about the franchise. I didn’t have the game yet as I was patiently waiting for Chirstmas or my birthday, knowing that it was expensive and I’d probably be unable to save enough pocket money to get it.
I was getting impatient and reminded my dad I wanted to go to a shop called Index – a shop we had a catalogue for at home. He seemed lost in thought and told me not to worry about it. He then paused and sighed that he’d spent nearly £100 on my sister today, then asked what I wanted in the shop. I told him I wanted these figurines that cost (I think) £10. He looked at me for a moment then gave a long sigh and said we’ll go there asap, not to worry about it.
So my sister and mother emerged with… whatever it was they bought in there and my dad said he had somewhere he wanted to go. I was actually kind of annoyed having just said I wanted to go somewhere, but hey ho, we start making our way down to Woolworths, the second store in this story that no longer exists. It was like… British Target I guess? Anyway, they sold everything so going there didn’t set off any alarms for me.
What happened next is the most vivid memory I have from childhood.
My dad made an immediate turn once we got into the store and strode to the game section. He then picked up a copy of Pokemon Red and Pokemon Blue and held them out to me and simply asked, “Which one do you want?”. I stammered out a response that I wanted Red and before I knew it, I had my tiny hands on a copy of a game that I had been so desperate to play. And play it I did, endlessly until I beat the Elite Four. Then I spent my time trying to get Charizard to Level 100 (because that was a challenge to me back when I was 11).
It’s hard to say why this memory sticks with me so vividly, but it’s one I treasure and it pretty much ensured I would never leave this franchise.
And it’s not the only great memory I have of Pokemon.
I remember finding out a store was importing Gold and Silver from the States and convincing my dad to go there.
I remember buying pirated copies of Ruby and Sapphire for me and a friend whilst on holiday to Tenerife.
I remember feeling silly when I realised they were pirated, but loving the memories of playing them anyway.
I remember declaring I was done with the franchise and then immediately eating my words at the release of Leaf Green and Fire Red.
I remember hiding my copy of Pearl and pretending I didn’t care about Pearl and Platinum when I got into University.
I remember meeting other Pokemon fans as an adult.
I remember how frustrated I was that I couldn’t access wi-fi events and battle online anymore once I moved to a new house with bad Internet.
I remember burying the Poke Walker from Pokemon Heart Gold and Soul Silver in my pocket whilst I went to get groceries.
I remember meeting my fiancée and learning she was a huge Pokemon lover too.
I remember asking her if it was okay if I spent some of the money I was saving for visiting her on a copy of Pokemon Black, only for her to tell me no, that I had to get White because she wanted that one.
I remember meeting fellow artists like Ashikai and Takeshi, and getting into the hype for Black 2 and White 2 like I never had before.
I remember writing blog posts and talking with the fanbase of Inkblazers during the hype for XY and then debating their merits with Ogawa Burruku and other great artists.
I remember finding a comic called Mokepon, thinking the artist was amazing and then becoming good friends with her.
I remember being cynical about Ruby and Sapphire and their remakes, then going to the midnight release for Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire more excited than ever.
I remember buying Pokemon cards with my fiancée and playing them together every time we meet up.
I remember sitting at work, getting misty eyed as I watched the Pokemon 20 video on my break, and all these memories flooding back.
Everyone has that one thing that they never let go of because of how much it’s tied to their fondest memories. For some people it’s music that got them through a tough time, for others it’s supporting a football team that they’ve supported with their family since childhood. For me, it’s a silly little series of games about ten year olds who throw balls at monsters to make them fight. It is a series I enjoyed because of it’s colourful characters and gameplay, but it’s a series I fell in love with because of how it tied me to the people I love and care about.
20 years of Pokemon has given me 20 years of some of the best memories in my life.
Here’s to another 20.