to popular belief, the Pokemon TV series
isn't how the craze was started. It was actually started with the Game Boy game
called "Pocket Monsters" in Japan in 1995. It was an instant hit and it
eventually got it's own TV series of the same name in April of 1997.
The TV series itself
was a huge hit in Japan, at least.....until the infamous December 16, 1997 incident which
left about 700 some people sick and forcing the cancellation of the series until the
following April (1998). It has continued onward with no further incident.
Also in 1998, 4Kids
Entertainment, with Summit Media Group as it's distributor, picked up rights to dub and release the show
to the rest of the world. It made its debut in September of 1998, and because it was
in syndication at first, started out slowly for some of its timeslots were
(eg: In my area it ran @ 6:30 AM on a UPN affiliate)
In November, Pokemon
Red and Blue were simultaniously released for the Game Boy platform....and at the height
of the Christmas shopping season. Sales of that (up in the millions) made it the
highest selling game ever for the platform.
The show's fortunes
changed for the better in 1999, when WB put in it's bid for the rights to run the series
for the rest of its run (Summit lost syndication rights after ep 40). Soon it started running
Saturday mornings all at the same time nationally. In turn, this blew ratings
through the roof and made Pokemon the #1 most watched show by the 6-12 age demographic in
the nation in spring of '99.
The Pokemon TCG came
around this time, and was a complete sellout!
June saw the issue of
the first soundtrack for Pokemon. It sold fairly well and peaked at #92 on the
Billboard Top 100 the first few weeks of its release.
"Pokemon - The
First Movie" hit theaters in November of last year. Despite bad
reviews by critics, it was a big hit among die-hard Poke-fans. Raking in over $52 million in
its first 5 days and causing the supplies of the promotional TCG cards to be depleted
within HOURS of its mid-week showing. Also Burger King got into the craze, and its
promotion was a huge success. Every restaurant was having major trouble keeping up
with demand for Pokemon.
during the Christmas shopping season of 1999 was also a big hit.
This was a joy to retailers, but trouble for parents of kids who had
various Pokemon items on their Christmas lists, as lots of Pokemon-related
items were going as fast as stores bought in new shipments.
enter the Year 2000, and the Pokemon craze starts to die down some.
After the holidays were over, Pokemon wasn't all the rage it used to
be, the sales of Pokemon merchandise started to slide. Also on the
TV series, the Orange League eps weren't the most popular compared with
the Pokemon League eps. One of the big reasons was because of the
absence of Brock (for me, he's the one that made Pokemon funny), and the
constant re-runs during weekdays. This caused some die-hard fans to
turn to other shows (in this case...DIGIMON) during re-runs. Then it
got hit with another major blow in May 'sweeps' when the Fox Kids-run
"Digimon" stole Pokemon's crown as the most watched show on
Saturday mornings. (Remember, a year earlier from this, Pokemon was
at the top spot in network kids shows).
skip ahead to July 2000, and "Pokemon: The Movie 2K - The Power of
One" hits the big screen. This one faired better with critics,
but it didn't have the kind of box-office amounts that the "First
Movie" had.....taking in only $42 million-plus during its ENTIRE run
at theatres. Even the accompanying soundtrack faired worse than the
"First Movie" CD, not even getting into the top 100 on the
Billboard Top 200 Albums chart, also despite better reviews from critics.
seemed at this point, people were ready to write Pokemon off......
GOLD / SILVER was released during the month of October. Also during
this time, Pokemon: The Johto Journeys, an entire new series featuring
over 100 new Pokemon, an entirely new world with new towns and such, and
(of course), the return of Brock, began it's run following the Nelvana-dubbed
"Card Captors" (another WB hit with the young ones, but totally
bashed by die-hard anime fans who know it as "Card Captor
Sakura") on Saturday mornings, and on the new WB Friday afternoon
block called "Fraturday".
seems now that Pokemon was certainly not
ready to throw in the towel just yet. The Gold/Silver versions
EASILY sold well over a million copies within its first month of
release. November 'sweeps' saw Pokemon take back its spot as the #1
rated kid's series on network TV, thanks to a 'final boost' provided by 4
new episodes pitted against a Digimon "Digithon" that was all
re-runs on Fox affiliates.
should bring you up to speed on Pokemon's history. As more happens,
this page shall get the appropriate updates.
To get more info about
Pokemon, follow the links to the other pages on the navigation bar under
the "Pokemon" heading.