I was born in the 1990’s, and as such, every day after school I would bust out my casio handheld TV and fidget with that sketchy antennae until I could tune into Toonami and catch the latest cartoon shows.
Shows like Tenchi Muyo, Dragon Ball Z, Gundam Wing, and, of course, Pokemon! I grew up listening to this song every day in between school and soccer practice!
To this day I have owned every single Pokemon game and almost all portable Nintendo game consoles, from the original GameBoy to the current Nintendo 3DS. It’s kind of sad, because the only reason I buy those consoles is to play the Pokemon games. It’s ok thoughh, I love Pokemon and much of my childhood was spent fantasizing about becoming a Pokemon Master. Now, I’m finally in Japan and at the front line of everything that is Pokemon!
Japan is an eccentric country, so much that they’ve even made stores based off of the Pokemon Centers in the video games (a Pokemon center is a place where you can heal or trade your Pokemon).
I’ve always wanted to visit one of these buildings; my first experience is here at the Osaka Pokemon Center!
First off, it was awesome. There were Pokemon dolls of many different types, lunchboxes, pencils, socks, backpacks and pretty much anything you can think of that a kid would want.
NOW, in order to get here, take the train or subway to Umeda Station in Osaka. From there, walk into the shopping area and go to Daimaru Shopping Center. On the 13th floor you will find the Pokemon Center connected with UNIQLO clothing. There are elevators but I recommend the escalators for a fun ride up 13 different escalators cris crossing through the building.
As per good marketing, the majority of Pokemon paraphernalia available at this center is oriented around the most current games and their respective Pokes. In the latest Pokemon X and Y, Nintendo introduced new evolutions for old Pokemon and even new Pokemon entirely. Here are some of their dolls:
However, in addition to this, a new Pokemon game is coming out in November which is a remake of the 3rd installment of the series: Pokemon Ruby and Pokemon Sapphire. Probably my favorite installment.
Now called Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, plush dolls of the three starter Pokemon and the legendary Pokemon of each game can be found all over the store. They are really advertising the hell out of these Pokes so that people will want to buy the game. Psh, like they even have to try.
Besides the future Pokemon games, I observed another marketing ploy in the form of Mega Gengar dolls. One unique thing that exists with Pokemon games is the online distribution of rare or “special” Pokemon. These can be acquired by physically bringing a copy of your game and console to a Toys ‘R’ Us or Pokemon Center and using the WiFi to download the Pokemon. The download is free but at that point you are in the store and are most likely going to shop around. I found an example of this with the “shiny” Mega Gengar distribution event. This limited, rare Pokemon event was even advertised with a 2,000 yen plush doll.
However, despite all these cool marketing ploys and fun dolls, the thing that really won my heart was the eeveelution corner. Osaka Pokemon Center officially cemented my belief that Vaporeon is the best eeveelution of all! For those of you who don’t know, a Pokemon called Eevee can evolve into multiple different Pokemon based on certain scenarios. My favorite form is Vaporeon, the water Pokemon.
However, many of my friends don’t share that viewpoint. They think Jolteon, or Flareon, or one of the other forms is far better. Luckily for me, capitalism has spoken in my favor!
In Osaka I found a shelf overflowing with plush dolls of the eeveelutions and Vaporeon was completely sold out. I’m going to take that as a sign that Vaporeon is the most popular and therefore the best :).
Though, I do have to say that Jolteon is damn cute.
Overall, I have to say this place was pretty fun. Everyone is very friendly and willing to help you out and usher you towards the Pokemon mini games sticking out of the walls or to sign up for new Pokemon newsletters or special events in Osaka. It’s a very vibrant place.
Plus, where else will I be able to juggle so many pokeballs!