Arguably the most successful video game franchise of all time, Pokémon has created an international fanbase spanning multiple generations of gamers.
Likewise, the Pokémon anime has been running for multiple seasons and has sparked numerous film adaptations and even a live-action film Detective Pikachu released in 2019.
Whether you’re a fan of the game series, the anime, or both, Pokémon has a lot of fun to offer people of all ages.
Normally, most anime in Japan begin as a manga series. If the manga becomes popular enough it is then adapted into an anime. Then, if the anime does well, it may spawn film and video game adaptations. However, the Pokémon franchise didn't follow the typical cycle. In this article, we will answer the age-old question of which came first: the Pokémon anime or game series?
What Came First the Pokémon Anime or Game Series?
The Pokémon Video Games Came First
Many people aren’t aware that the Pokémon video game series on the Nintendo Gameboy marked the beginning of the franchise.
Specifically, Pokémon Red and Green were the first installments of the game series, released in Japan back in 1996. In North America, the Green version was never released. Instead, the English localizations of Pokémon Red and Blue hit North American shores two years later in 1998. Since then, new Pokémon titles have been released on every Nintendo console from the N64 to the Nintendo 3DS and Nintendo Switch.
Today, the Pokémon video game series is one of the most popular and most successful video game franchises in history.
Which Pokémon Game Should You Play First?
With so many main titles in the video game franchise, it may be hard to know where to start. If you are completely new to the Pokémon games, I highly recommend starting with either Pokémon Heartgold or Soulsilver on the Nintendo DS. These are remakes of the Pokémon Gold and Silver games that were released on the Nintendo Gameboy. While the original Gameboy games may not have aged so well compared to modern gaming standards, the Nintendo DS games are vibrant and accessible to gamers of any generation.
When Did the Pokémon Anime Series First Air?
Following the video game series on the Gameboy, the Pokémon anime first aired in Japan in April of 1997.
The anime series was loosely based on the Pokémon world presented in the video games, with changes made to the names of major characters and the overall story. Since then, the anime has been going strong with new installments of the series continuously being developed. Furthermore, the anime has spawned over 20 full-length anime films as well as the Detective Pikachu live-action film.
Which Pokémon Anime Should You Watch First?
If you are unfamiliar with the Pokémon universe and know nothing about the story, you should definitely start with the first season of the Pokémon anime. The first season, Indigo League, introduces us to the world of Pokémon, what they are, and the staples of the Pokémon universe. More importantly, the anime has a timeless story that still holds up today for both children and adults.
What are the Differences Between the Games and Anime?
While the Pokémon Anime follows one main character and their journey to become a Pokémon master, each generation of Pokémon games has their own unique characters will their own stories.
You will sometimes find that characters from the game can are also featured in the Anime or just make a cameo appears in the TV show. The world of Pokémon is so much wider than just the anime TV show!
Check out this music video that showcases all of the main characters from the past Pokémon games that you may not have met in the Anime.
We hope this article cleared up any questions you may have had about the beginning of the Pokémon franchise. While the Pokémon video games came first, the anime has had incredible success. Both the Pokémon game series and anime complement each other and help drive success to the franchise as a whole.
If you looking for more warming nostalgia or are looking for 4 other Japanese shows that you might find just as enjoyable as Pokémon, click our Blog Post below.