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Pokémon (abbreviated from Pocket Monsters in Japan) is a Japanese anime series, which has since been adapted for the North American television market. It is somewhat based on the Pokémon video game series and a part of the Pokémon franchise.
In the United States, Pokémon is the fifth longest running animated TV show time wise, only beaten by The Simpsons, Arthur, King of the Hill, and South Park. Pokémon, however, has more episodes than any of these shows and is the longest running and most successful television show based on a video game series. However, one factor in this multiple episode record is due to the fact that the Japan television season has a longer duration than the American television season, and Pokemon has aired many episodes throughout their ten seasons as well.
Originally a single series, Pokémon, it has since been spun off to three: Pokémon: Advanced Generation, and subsequently Pokémon Diamond & Pearl, continue the story of Pokémon, while Pokémon Chronicles or known in Japan, Pokémon Sunday (formerly Shūkan Pokémon Hōsōkyoku) is a series of stories revolving around some of the recurring characters.
Airing and production
The English adaptation of the series was produced by 4Kids Entertainment and video distribution of the series was handled by Viz Media for the TV series for the younger generation as well as the eighth movie forward, Warner Bros. and Nintendo for the first three movies and the first special, Miramax Films, and Buena Vista Home Entertainment for the fourth movie through the seventh. The series and all feature films are directed by Kunihiko Yuyama, with English adaptations originally written by Norman J. Grossfeld and Michael Haigney for the first eight seasons. However, starting with the ninth season, the American branch of The Pokémon Company, Pokémon USA, and TAJ Productions, who worked with 4Kids on the show before taking leave after Season 5, replaced 4Kids as the show's non-Japanese producers and distributors. Most of the original voice cast was also replaced, causing controversy among fans who admired the original voice actors. TAJ was replaced by DuArt Film and Video for the tenth movie and Season 11 of the anime series.
The show (as of September 28, 2006 in Japan and June 4, 2007 in the United States) started its first season of Diamond and Pearl. An English version of Shūkan Pokémon Hōsōkyoku has now been made, titled Pokémon Chronicles which premiered in the UK on Toonami on May 11, 2005 at 4:30 p.m. ET, and is currently airing the 10th season on YTV in Canada. Each season also brings forth a Pokémon feature-length film, and each film up until the seventh is preceded by a Pokémon animated short. Pokémon CD's have been released in conjunction with the anime. The tracks feature songs that have been shown in the English dubbed version of the anime. However, some CDs have been released to promote and profit the anime.
In Japan, both series are shown on TV Tokyo, with Diamond and Pearl airing on Thursday nights (previously Monday) and Pokémon Sunday on Sunday mornings. In the United States, Advanced Generation could previously be seen on the air on the Kids’ WB! cartoon block on Saturdays, but in April 2006, Kids WB!, which continues on the CW Network, announced the fall schedule and Pokémon was nowhere to be seen, replaced by the WB-created series Legion of Super-Heroes. The rights for Battle Frontier were picked up by TimeWarner’s corporate sibling Cartoon Network instead, and aired on CN starting September 9, 2006 at 9 a.m. US ET/PT, with a special prime-time episode having been aired the night before (September 8 at 8:30 p.m. ET/PT, following the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon special. The fourth season of the Advanced Generation series, titled Battle Frontier has been airing in the United Kingdom from February 5, 2007, the show also airs in Canada.
Cartoon Network’s India service, along with their Toonami UK service, also carries Pokémon episodes. As of October 9, 2006, Cartoon Network’s online service, Toonami Jetstream, featured Pokémon episodes starting at the Orange League episode “The Pokémon Water War”.
The newest series of Pokémon began airing in Japan on September 28, 2006 with a three-episode arc introducing the new series' main female character Dawn (known as Hikari in Japan), based on the playable female player in the games. The new series aired with a sneak preview on April 20, 2007 in the USA. The sneak preview aired on May 5 in Canada. A dubbed version of the 90-minute preview done in Japan, takes place in the Sinnoh region, based on the new Pokémon Diamond and Pearl games. The new series aired in prime time on Cartoon Network starting June 4 at 7:30 PM ET/PT as part of the Cartoon Network Summer 2007 programming promotion. Currently, it airs on Saturday mornings with newer episodes airing at 9:30 AM ET/PT. The summer run was confirmed in the Pokémon Ranger and the Temple of the Sea DVD released on April 2 of 2007. Pokemon Diamond and Pearl has also been airing on YTV in Canada since September 8, 2007. It airs Saturdays at 12:00pm. Ash, Pikachu, Brock and Team Rocket have all returned, Misty, will be returning soon in a later episode of the new series, as confirmed by her Japanese actress. May will appear in the 76th episode for Wallace's contest. Max's status is still unknown. Dawn is taking their place, while a new rival for Ash, Paul, is also featured along with new villains such as Hunter J and Team Galactic.
The Pokémon series
The first series tells the story of Ash Ketchum (Known as Satoshi in the Japanese version, he is named after Pokémon's creator, Satoshi Tajiri) and his quest to become a Pokémon Master. However, unlike in the video games, he is given a Pikachu as his first Pokémon under unusual circumstances. Much of the series focuses on the friendship between Ash, Pikachu, and the various Pokémon and Trainers along the way.
The other two series continues to follow the adventures of Ash. However, starting with the Advanced Generation series, he is no longer a main character, but rather a co-star. He shares his starring role with a female protagonist, May. This character travels with Ash, Max, and Brock through whichever region that they are in, and competes in Pokemon Contests, which are set up in a similar manner to Pokemon Gyms (many throughout the region, and ending with a large tournament), although immensely different. However, due to Ash being on the show for much longer, continued emphasis on Ash in advertising (mostly seen outside of Japan), and May's departure at the end of the Advanced Generation series, many assume that this character holds a supporting role, such as the role that characters like Misty and Brock hold. This role was covered by May throughout this series, and was replaced by Dawn in the Diamond and Pearl series.
Throughout the run of the show the subject matter changes. In the original series, the show is more comical and whimsical (light and airy). It uses “goofy” humor (or “cute” humor when it comes to Pikachu, who does wacky things in between important scenes). In the Advanced Generation series as Ash becomes more of a mature and leader-type character, the main course of the show becomes more serious, as it deals with love and death, and its previous comical nature (for the most part) changes into comic relief, attributed mostly to Team Rocket and Brock's love of girls, though the Diamond and Pearl series seems to have returned to using the original comical nature (mostly Ash being the straight man to his Pokémon's antics and Dawn taking the role of the naive beginner).