Swedish

23 jan. 2024

Review

'POKÉMON CONCIERGE' | REVIEW

"A healing show starring adorable Pokemon who teach you life lessons."

The new Pokemon show that just premiered on Netflix late last December is decidedly not for kids. While it is technically kids-friendly, Pokemon Concierge is more geared toward the inner child within millennials who grew up with the cuddly monsters. The stop-motion animated series, 4 episodes in total, unexpectedly explores some really grown up topics like quarter life crisis, identity loss, and mental health. Of course, all of that is wrapped in vibrant Pokemon whimsy and lighthearted tone. 

The series follows Haru, a twentysomething who decides to become a Pokemon concierge after a bout of quarter-life crisis. The work takes her to a resort island for vacationing Pokemon and their trainers. There, Haru must deal with various Pokemon-related hijinks while slowly learning some precious life lessons from the creatures. 

©Netflix

©Netflix

The premise of the show is so simple yet tantalizing. First of all, who doesn’t want to stay in a Pokemon-filled resort on a lush tropical island? It’s a wonder how such a concept has not been adapted in real life. And then, the show surprises again when instead of telling familiar lore of catching and battling Pokemon, it actually focuses more on the protagonist Haru and her very down-to-earth struggles. 

Like its audiences, Haru is someone who grows up loving Pokemon. Likewise, she also recently faces tough times in life: relationship ending, job loss, one misfortune after another. A burned out Haru is all of us. The difference is, she can escape her situations through some healing concierge job at a Pokemon resort – a dream come true moment for her. It’s no exaggeration to say that the show truly understands its first generation of fans, kids who grew up and are now realizing you can’t just catch ‘em all. This show feels like a love letter slash wish fulfillment for these specific audiences. If that is you, then Pokemon Concierge is just the perfect show. 

The character of Haru is well conceived as a representation of overworked and overthinking youngsters of this generation. Though her struggles are rooted in Japan’s hectic work-life culture, anyone anywhere can easily identify with Haru. She arrives on the island worrying about messing up, trying to present her best self, and easily perturbed by the slightest problems. As she romps around the island trying to be the best Pokemon concierge, Haru slowly discovers what really matters at the end. It’s truly an “eat, pray, love” type of scenario for anime lovers.

©Netflix

©Netflix

The messages of the show are interwoven neatly into the Pokemon story of the day. You think an episode is about a shy Psyduck who keeps running away, then the end reveals some sound advice about moderating your stress level. Another episode revolves around a sad Pikachu and its owner who tries to make him more “Pikachu-like”, ending up with a message about self acceptance. Regardless of the hefty themes, they’re subtly done without ever going into preachy territory. It’s actually quite brilliant to use such a cute premise to relay these inspiring messages. 

The visuals of the show also lends it a calming quality. The stop motion animation is smoothly done and well constructed. Every tiny detail is there, every texture so unique from one another. Clothes, sand, even the skins of the Pokemon are so distinct from one another. All of it builds up to create a rich worldbuilding of fun, sun-dappled realm where one can find respite from their harrowed lives. 

©Netflix

©Netflix

Of course, you tune in to watch ‘em perky Pokemon! Longtime fans would be delighted to find all their favorite characters here. From Pikachu to Eevee, the hotel sees a steady rotation of Poke-guests coming and going. Their cute antics, coupled with their interactions with one another, are truly amusing even when they’re just in the background. There is a particularly sweet bond between Haru and her Pokemon buddy, an at once heartfelt and goofy friendship forming between them. 

The pacing of the show is really brisk, with all episodes clocking around 15-30 minutes. It wastes no time with fillers, getting into the meat of the story swiftly while sprinkling some random Pokemon cuteness along the way. Still, true to its zen philosophical center, the show keeps finding time to slow down and invites audiences to reflect. Quite remarkable given the limited duration. 

©Netflix

©Netflix

Pokemon Concierge is a low commitment, little cute show to pass the time. Part of a partnership between Netflix and Pokemon to produce exclusive contents for the streamer, there is no doubt that Pokemon Concierge is just one of many more Poke contents in the can. If Pokemon Concierge is anything to go by, it opens up the possibilities of what a show in this franchise can be: sometimes thrilling adventure romp, sometimes profound self-love holiday miniseries.

RATING: 4/5

Av

Jennifer Ariesta

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