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Focus on Black & White – Business Strategies that ruined the Pokémon Anime

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Masafumi Mima, sound director of Pokémon Anime, made it clear that the new Sun&Moon series is not a continuation of XYZ and that the protagonists are new versions of Ash and Pikachu (here for full details). It is a merchandising strategy, which of course also applies to Black&White series. At the time, however, no one bothered to clarify the position of this series (as has been done for the Sun&Moon), probably because it was underestimated the resulting decline of audience. Because of that, Black&White has some connections with the adjacent series. But let’ssee in detail how it was designed this generation the anime.

The generation Black&White (I will call it Best Wishes, the original Japanese name of the series) is actually considered a separate series that was created with the intention of attracting a new children fandom. This has strictly economic grounds:

The Pokémon Company, in charge of the Pokémon Brand in general, is a real working company that salaries many people (I’m putting it simply, otherwise it’ll become too long and tedious) so now we have to take for granted that the Pokémon anime and video games, as well as everything that is linked to the brand, will never have an end, except if the brand goes bankrupt.

The Pokémon brand is therefore based on merchandising strategies, such as creating a reboot version of the protagonist to avoid a possible decrease in sales of gadgets.

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Because of that the writers have started an experiment to attract a new generation of viewers, lowering the target and starting a new” Anime Pokémon, also resetting (absurdly) the characters. As you will read later, the idea is not obviously enjoyed by most of the fandomjust as it would never have been approved by the creator of the Pokémon Anime himself. So with the XY series the Pokémon Anime has been restored.

The plot of the Anime series does not always follow a logical thread, so for primarily economic necessity, writers are inclined to create a series comparable to a spin-off, and all of this happens without explaining it directly in the episodes and still continuing the story.

This idea, of course, was not appreciated by most of the fandom, and it certainly would not have been approved by the creator of the Anime Pokémon either. For this reason viewers started to abandon the series.

With the XY Anime series, they made things right also by a change of staff. However, it was still affected by the negative influence of  the Black&White series. As a consequence, the show’s ratings dropped more and more.

The “reset” has also totally changed the soundtrack of the anime: the OSTs (Original SoundTrack, AKA the “background music” in the episodes) used until DP have all been replaced with new ones (except for those of the 12th and 13th movies for special reasons).

The color of the Japanese logo was also changed to white, as it has always been green until then.

Logos of the “original series”
Logo of “Best Wishes”

In addition to the color of the logo (which may be more or less relevant), along with soundtrack is also changed the character design.

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Another important change concerns the fact that up to DP all the regions in the Pokémon World were based on the actual corresponding regions of Japan. For the Unova region, the producers chose other countries as an inspiration.

This emphasizes the fact that these new regions are very far from the main ones (in all respects).

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The idea was to start a new Pokémon Anime, again with Ash as the main protagonist, but regressed as if he had just started his adventure.

This was just to attract a new audience of children while keeping longtime fans affectionate to Ash, and it was all facilitated by the fact that video games related to this animated series had to recall the first generation, therefore has been used as an opportunity to use this strategy with the anime.

In the end Best Wishes was based upon references to the original series: the protagonist Iris who looked like Misty, Cilan reminiscent of Brock, Ash that catches all three starters, the scene representing the night before the start of the Unova League identical to the beginning of the Sinnoh League, the endings of the League’s episodes exactly the same as the Indigo ones, the Decolora archipelago reminiscent of the Orange one and the final episode of Best Wishes in which Ash is in bed talking with Pikachu just like the last one in the Orange saga (where Ash was absurdly wearing the same pajamas).

The idea of the reset is without any doubt a completely wrong choice according to those who have followed the series for some time (obviously, for all those who have started a long time ago, it is very important to notice a progression of the main character, Ash, rather than a regression from the point of view of the age and the experience gained through the course of the various series; for the new followers of the series, instead, one character is as good as the other. Anyway, the idea of starting a new Pokémon series without removing the old protagonist, Ash, turned out to be pointless) that’s also the reason why writers have decided to make Charizard rejoin Ash’s journey in the “N series” trying to sort things out. In the end they managed to really sort things out in the XY series, where the old green logo was reestablished.

The XY series is considered in all respects a sequel of Diamond & Pearl seres, because there we find an Ash Ketchum mature again and at the same level where we had left him in that series. That level, in the course of the story was even exceeded.
As a matter of fact, it was not by chance that in the course of the XY series many statements have been made by the main characters referring to thereturn of the TRUE Ash(such as Show us what the real Ash can do” or“here is the real Ash” and so on).

Note: The discourse related to the colour of the logos only applies for the first 19 years of the Anime Pokémon. From Sun&Moon onwards, it is obvious that it has no longer any connection with the continuity of the story.

As for the famous question on the age of Ash, the writers in interviews always reply that Ash and Pikachu “have no age,” in the sense that Pokémon is a product intended for any age group, therefore to ensure that the main character could be taken as a reference to any viewer, the rule was that Ash’s years would never be “revealed”. In the Best Wishes series the writers have unfortunately made the mistake of giving a numerical value to the age of Ash, especially based upon their idea to recall the first generation. This has been facilitated by the fact that, given the length of the Pokémon anime, there are many changes in the staff and not all of them are fully informed about the events of the past episodes.

In addition to this there are also official informations that disprove the urban myth of the eternal 10 years of Ash, born precisely because of this erroneous animated series.