Creator vs. Creation

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When challenged with the task of writing about a celebrity from my field of study, my problem was not of coming up with a suitable subject, but trying to decide which Pokemon-related celebrity was best to write about. So I’m going to talk briefly about two different, yet all equally brilliant examples of Pokemon celebrity.

Let’s start at the beginning with the father of the franchise. Satoshi Tajiri (Japanese: 田尻 智), is the creator of Pokémon, responsible for the initial concepts which would lead to the “metaseries” as it exists today (Bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net, 2014). Currently the CEO of Game Freak, Tajiri first came up with the concept for Pokémon in 1990. He worked on the original games for almost six years (Larimer, 1999). Since then, the Pokemon phenomenon has taken the world by storm, with IGN naming Tajiri one of the top 100 game creators of all time, mainly for his ability to turn Pokémon into a “worldwide phenomenon” (Ign.com, 2010). His success with the Pokemon games has made him an icon both in Japanese and gaming cultures. Tajiri has acted as executive producer, game designer or director for almost all of the released Pokemon games for Nintendo consoles (Bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net, 2014).

Perhaps even more famous than the creator of the franchise, is Pikachu; the electric mouse critter, which for those of you who are unaware, is a species of Pokemon from the media franchise (Bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net, 2014). Celebrities organise our emotional investment, which is exactly what Pikachu does. He features across the collection of video games, anime, manga, books, trading cards, and other media created by Satoshi Tajiri, and has held a special place in my heart and Pokemon team since childhood. Even though he is quite weak in comparison with other Pokemon in the games, the character has become a mascot for the franchise. Pikachu has made multiple appearances in various promotional events and merchandise. He was  ranked as the second best person of the year by Time in 1999 and most recently Pikachu was chosen as one of the mascots for the Japanese side in the 2014 FIFA World Cup (Borboa, 2014).

Reflection

While we owe the franchises existence to Tajiri, I think that the celebrity that is Pikachu has been far more prevalent an ambassador for the franchise because he stimulates a greater emotional response. Pikachu has certainly held a special place in my heart. I remember desperately asking my parents to buy me one for my sixth birthday, because I wanted a small fuzzy best friend like Ash had. It was much easier for me as a child to identify with a cute character and the allure of a fuzzy pet monster than it would have been for me to identify with a Japanese game designer. There must me something to be said about this emotional response that Pikachu and the rest of the Pokemon generate. Thousands of people from across generations engage with the Pokemon celebrity in the form of art, forums merchandise  and games to this day. While the Tajiri’s genius and success as a game developer can be appreciated by adults, the concept is a little difficult for young audiences to grasp. Pikachu’s fuzzy body, red cheeks and, pun intended, electric personality resonate with both children and adults, either evoking a sense of wonder and imagination in children, or a sense of nostalgia or engagement with popular culture in adults.

References

Borboa, S. (2014). Pikachu Named Japan’s Official Mascot In Brazil 2014 World Cup. [online] Soccerly. Available at: http://soccerly.com/article/salvadorborboa/pikachu-named-japans-official-mascot-in-brazil-2014-world-cup [Accessed 18 Aug. 2014].

Bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net, (2014). Pikachu (Pokémon) – Bulbapedia, the community-driven Pokémon encyclopedia. [online] Available at: http://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Pikachu [Accessed 18 Aug. 2014].

Bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net, (2014). Satoshi Tajiri – Bulbapedia, the community-driven Pokémon encyclopedia. [online] Available at: http://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Satoshi_Tajiri [Accessed 18 Aug. 2014].

Ign.com, (2010). IGN – 69. Satoshi Tajiri. [online] Available at: http://www.ign.com/top/game-creators/69.html [Accessed 18 Aug. 2014].

Larimer, T. (1999). TIMEasia.com | Pokémon: The Ultimate Game Freak – Page 1 | 11/22/99. [online] Web.archive.org. Available at: http://web.archive.org/web/20110629022758/http://www.time.com/time/asia/magazine/99/1122/pokemon6.fullinterview1.html [Accessed 18 Aug. 2014].

Image: x.jpg from http://desainbebas.wordpress.com

 

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4 comments

  1. If you ask me who i think of when i think about Pokemon, it will have to be Pikachu or other Pokemon. I have to admit that i don’t know who is a creator of Pokemon or who is Satoshi Tajiri until recently. I love Pokemon and has been playing many games, watching anime, read manga and collect some of the Pokemon card. In my opinion, Pikachu is a lot more famous than Satoshi Tajiri. When people talk about games or comic, they usually think of it’s mascot or character in it, not it creator. Lets take Superman for example, when i think of Superman, I think of Superman, not its creator. How many people knows that Superman was created by writer Jerry Siegel and artist Joe Shuster in 1933? Not many i believe but maybe a lot of people knows. Characters in comic or games will usually become famous before its creator because people will have to like character in comics or games before they turn to the creator and see who he/she is.

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  2. Interesting post. I do agree with you that Pikachu does evoke nostalgia in adults – that is something which I can relate to. I was never aware of who Satoshi Tajiri let alone the creator of Pokemon so I found that interesting as well as the context around how Pokemon was created. The issue about whether or not Pikachu is more famous than Satoshi is an interesting one. I think it really just depends because there are cases where the author or creator is actually just as famous as the media text itself. For example I think that JK Rowling is just as famous as Harry Potter is (even though this is a western example). I wonder if there are ‘Asian’ examples of this relationship other than Pokemon?

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  3. I wrote on a similar topic and it’s interesting that you picked Tajiri. There are some Nintendo game developers who have gone one to be much more famous in the video game industry, such as Miyamoto and Sakurai, but Tajiri always seems to get left out. Despite creating one of the most beloved franchises of its generation, I think because Pikachu was not only such a strong ambassador for the Pokemon brand, it also had literally hundreds of characters for audiences to identify with. On the other hand, Miyamoto is known for creating a handful of memorable characters, such as Mario, Link, Donkey Kong, etc. but they were all their own stars of their franchises. I think the nature of Pokemon is probably why Tajiri is often forgotten in the wider public sphere

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  4. It’s quite remarkable the kind of celebrity status that video game characters can get in the modern world. It might be worth exploring how Ash is considered the hero in Western culture, in contract with Pikachu’s heroic status in Japan – as was discussed in a previous lecture. When I think of pokemon, the first four i think of are the series starter pokemon Pikachu, Bulbasaur, Squirtle & Charmander (referring to either the Anime, or the Red/Green/Blue or Pokemon Yellow games), and I agree that there is a degree of nostalgia for adults – overall a good post!

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