The creatures from the most popular franchise among children from all over the world will be invading the Montjuïc venue over the next few days. Yes, we’re talking about the famous Pokémon characters (the name arose from the combination of pocket and monster) which, led by Pikachu, are part and parcel of the iconography of the manga and anime universe. In fact, it’s quite strange to find someone who doesn’t know who this cheeky long-eared yellow critter with a thunderbolt shaped tail is.
The brand, owned by the Japanese corporation Nintendo, was created in 1996 by designer Satoshi Tajiri who, as a child, used to love to collect insects; hence many of the Pokémon characters – and there are up to 700 different ones – were inspired by animals. Thus began a saga to which Junichi Masuda, writer, programmer and score composer, has greatlyu contributed.
Since the launch of the first videogame more than 245 million units have been sold worldwide. It has also been hugely successful as a TV series (there are over 800 episodes of the animated series, which is broadcast in 160 countries and dubbed into 30 languages), and as card games, toys and even merchandising products.
Pokémon fever is such that even the Japanese state airline All Nippon Airways has a themed aircraft, whose crew wear Pokémon costumes, there are two theme parks (in Nagoya and Taipei), its main characters guest starred in an episode of The Simpsons and Pokémon was even featured on the front cover of Time magazine in 1999.
And now this universal star is the big protagonist of the Manga Show in Barcelona, the second biggest trade fair in the world in its specialist area outside Japan. This year it’s celebrating its twentieth anniversary among thousands of otakus (manga and anime fans) and cosplayers (people who dress up as their favourite anime and comic characters) who are bound to pay tribute to these entertaining little pocket monsters.