You probably already know what Pokémon is, but in case you don't: it's a series of video games that began in the late 90s where you capture creatures called Pokémon and train them to battle one another using their powers. There are also Pokémon movies and a long-running anime series.
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My History with Pokémon
The first Pokémon game I ever played was not a mainline game - it was PokéPark Wii: Pikachu's Adventure. If I remember right, I received it as an Easter gift when I was in primary school. I remember looking at the box art and being really confused because I had no idea what kind of animal Chikorita was supposed to be.
Once I started playing the game, I was immediately captivated by this world of friendly, magical creatures. I spent hours playing the minigames over and over again, befriending every Pokémon, and obtaining the maximum amount of berries (the game's currency). I specifically remember that I could bring rocks to Golem in exchange for berries, and I did this many times - not because I wanted more berries, but because I found it really fun.
As a kid, I had an irrational fear of things with the "wrong number" of body parts (like the Cyclops), and I was terrified of Machamp because he reminded me of an episode of Spongebob that scarred me for life, where Barnacle Boy grows a third arm on his shoulder that has a face and can talk. I kept playing anyway and got over it though - I loved the game so much that I didn't want to stop.
My parents saw how much I loved PokéPark, so they rented Pokémon Black (or White, I don't remember) from Gamefly (an online game rental service). I played it for a while, going through the first couple of routes. I had a ton of fun discovering and catching Pokémon and helping them get stronger. They decided to get me Pokémon Black so I could continue playing it.
To this day, Unova is my favorite region, and I love the artstyle of the Gen 5 games the most. The sprites are the best they ever looked - they are detailed, animated and lively. Seeing the Pokémon and hearing the music from that generation makes me feel really nostalgic. (Although, I also had Pokémon Diamond as a kid - I remember my parents getting it off Ebay for $11, and I remember waiting for it to come in the mail.)
I initially thought the 3D models were kind of cool when X and Y came out, but I quickly missed the sprites. I also missed making sprite fusions in MS Paint, which I had a ton of fun with. (I know I have a Pokémon x Winnie the Pooh crossover video somewhere that I made in Windows Movie Maker using entirely my own sprite fusions when I was about 8 years old! Pooh was a yellow Ursaring with a red shirt drawn over it. Tigger was some kind of Ampharos hybrid with a Marill tail. Fun times!)
Along with enjoying the games, I also eventually started watching the show. I watched the Indigo League series online (I am unsure if it was a legitimate site or not) and I eventually also watched it on the Boomerang channel. I thought it was really cool to see the games come to life in the show (although I didn't understand the different Pokémon generations at that point and I was wondering where all the Sinnoh and Unova Pokémon I loved were).
Since Pokémon is so popular, I have quite a few fond memories of talking about Pokémon with my friends at school as a kid. I remember one of my best friends convincing me that he had a Charizard card that only something like five people in the whole world had (I believed him at the time, but now? Sure, buddy. You're like 7.) I also had Pokémon battles with other people in the games, and I remember my other friend having a hacked version of Black/White. I had no interest in hacking my game, but he traded me a Pokémon holding one of his 99 Master Balls, which I was happy about since I could catch one more legendary.
I have loved Pokémon for over a decade, and it is very important to me. I still play the games and watch the anime, and it makes me really happy! (My favorite part of the anime is Sun and Moon.) The whole concept of a world where all animals have magic powers and can communicate with each other and even with humans is really interesting to me.
My Favorite Pokémon
Once I have played Gen 9, here is where I will put one of those grids with all my favorite Pokémon! For now, I will say that some of them are Gengar, Zoroark, Poochyena, Houndoom, Arcanine, Cobalion, Grimmsnarl, and Inteleon.
My Favorite Characters
Of course, the main draw of the Pokémon franchise is the Pokémon themselves, but I have also grown very fond of some of the human characters.
Natural Harmonia Gropius
For a lot of my peers, their first legitimate crushes were on classmates or on members of boybands and whatnot. For me, it was N from Pokémon. If I remember right, what drew me to this guy boils down to "he has long, pretty hair and he treats Pokémon like equals". I had the episode that screenshot of him petting Pikachu is from recorded on the family DVR, and I went through a phase where I would watch as much of it as I had time for before I went to school each morning! I don't remember much about his backstory and lore (I'm sure I knew all of it at some point) but he is still very special to me.
Here is another guy I really like. I remember fighting the Elite 4 in Pokémon Black when I was young, and when I saw this guy, I didn't want to fight him because I thought he was handsome :P I also think he is part of why Dark is my favorite Pokémon type, since he is a Dark-type trainer. Just like N, he's still a really important character to me. Pictured is the "glow up" he got in Ultra Sun/Ultra Moon (which I don't have). I'm glad he came back, and I really like this newer design too. He looks tired.
As a kid watching Indigo League, I actually found Team Rocket annoying since they would always show up and interrupt whatever was going on with the plot. I even quit watching the show at one point because of it! However, as time went on, I grew to love Jessie, James, and Meowth and their antics.
Especially in the newer seasons of the anime, I think they are really fun to watch, and they break up episodes in a nice way. I find their banter very funny, and it amuses me how the other characters always fall for their ridiculous disguises. I also love how they genuinely care for each other and for the Pokémon on their team. I think Meowth is a really interesting character since he can speak human language and help to bridge the gap between humans and Pokémon as needed.
I don't have a Pokésona currently, but I did create Pokémon characters to represent myself when I was a kid. (Images TBA! I need to draw them first.)
A very great name I came up with as a child, pronounced like "gang gee (hard g) owth". He is a talking Gengar/Meowth hybrid who just looks like a light grayish-blue Meowth, because dark purple + tan = light blue I guess. (I was flabbergasted when Alolan Meowth was revealed since it looks so much like him!)
He was less of a version of me and more of an imaginary friend who would do all of the stuff I was doing. He also had a best friend, a Gliscor who could talk but was otherwise normal. I would imagine them hanging out with me instead of paying attention in school like I was supposed to.
Gengarkoom is a Pokésona I came up with a couple years later. I made her as a sprite fusion in MS Paint, and she is a hybrid of three of my favorite Pokémon (Gengar, Zoroark, and Houndoom). She is pretty much a purple Zoroark with a Houndoom tail.
I drew her a lot of times and got pretty good at drawing Zoroarks. I would draw her alongside N as a Zoroark. I eventually retired her when I created the first iteration of my old fursona, a purple wolf named Shadow.