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On Pokemon boom and how come Russia never really felt it.
Those who were born in the 90s will not have a problem naming the creature placed above. Show them this picture, and 9 out of 10 will say: "That's Pikachu!" Yes, this electrical mouse added bright colors many days of our childhood, we often couldn't wait till the airing time, when "Pokemon" started on TV, personally, I would sometimes ask my mom to record the episode on a tape. So what is the secret of the big popularity of the phenomenon named "Pokemon" all over the world? To answer that we'll have to go back in time.
There was one Japanese person named Satoshi Tajiri who loved collecting different bugs in his childhood. Then he saw that Nintendo, a video game company, was presenting a new console named GameBoy, that had a very interesting feature: to transfer data between two consoles using a cable. He remembered his childhood hobby at once, joined it to the portability of a console and the idea of transferrable data and decided to create a game. The idea wasn't really greeted by Nintendo, however Shigeru Miyamoto, famous creator of Mario, gave the green light to the project. Approximately ten people were working on the game and it took about 6 years to finish it. In 1996 the first two games were released – Poketto Monsuta Aka/Midori (Pokemon Red/Green Version) that were sold out really fast. In a few years the sequels were released, the so-called second generation of games Poketto Monsuta Kin/Gin (Pokemon Gold/Silver Version) and some time later it went international.
Now we approach the first question: the truth is, in the beginning "Pokemon" was a game rather then anime. Yes, many citizens of ex-USSR are really surprised by this fact as they didn't even hear about other merchandise but anime. Still the fact is the fact: the first pair of main series games was released 27.02.1996, while the first episode of the anime – 1.04.1997. Moreover, after that there were releases of official Trading Card Game, different spin-off games, stories with official products appeared etc. But for us, Russians, it was all secret. Why? This is the second question.
The thing is that anime arrived in Russia only at the beginning of the XXI century and was on air for only one and a half season. The reason for that is unknown, but several people say that it was because of the death of the director of the children's programs on ORT Sergey Suponev, while others claim it is all about the famous incident connected to the 38th episode of anime going on air in Japan.
Above you can see a moment from the episode thanks to which the Land of the Rising Sun lost "Pokemon" for half a year and got it back only due to the enormous amount of fan letters. The thing is, the episode's plot takes place in the cyberspace. Heroes travel there using a Pokemon named Porygon (the heroes ride it on the video). In one of the moments the rocket and the electric charge collide which is shown by the animators as rapidly moving red and blue pictures. After the episode few thousand of Japanese kids went to hospital with epileptic seizures, and show went off-screen, obviously. Later it was found out that most of the children just heard the message about the true seizures and imitated them in order not to go to school the following day. The show returned, the animators were fired, nobody outside Japan saw the episode, everyone's happy, but not to remind anyone of that case poor Porygon and members of its evolutionary family (Porygon2 and Porygon-Z) were never shown as more or less important characters.
All this explains why Russia went past the "Pokemon-boom" of the early 2000s. However the enthusiasts didn't go past anything! Despite the official leave of "Pokemon", those who became interested went on playing the games and watching the new episodes of anime, the thing is they were looking for it themselves. But there's some good news, the franchise doesn't even think of stopping the money machine: last year the first games of the 6th generation released on Nintendo 3DS – Poketto Monsuta Ekkusu/Wai (Pokemon X/Y), and this fall the remakes of the 3rd generation games will be released under the names of Poketto Monsuta Omegarubii/Arufasafaia (Pokemon OmegaRuby/AlphaSapphire). Moreover, Nintendo decided to return to Russian market, and "Pokemon" returns as well. The games are not yet translated into Russian (which is a minus), but now you can buy them on the day of European release. 2×2 (TV channel) started the broadcast of new anime episodes. Now, for example, it airs episodes that correlate with the 5th generation games – Poketto Monsuta Burakku/Howaito (Pokemon Black/White). So not everything is lost yet and it's highly possible that our kids will get to experience the same that was experienced partly by us and fully by Japan, the US and Europe.