Greatest TV Seasons: Pokémon Season One (1997-1999)
What is the greatest season of your favourite TV series? And what makes it stand out from those seasons around it? Every fan will have their own opinion of what is great and what isn't and here at The Digital Fix, our team of writers are going to complete the possibly impossible task of selecting what season of their favourite shows makes the cut above all others.
Next up is Pokémon. Pokémon was created in 1996 and very quickly became a global phenomenon - and remains so to this day. Pokémon now spans many generations, multiple age groups and with its video game franchise, more successful than ever. Its films boast a count of 19 and-counting and soon entering its 23rd TV season, it is hard to argue that Pokémon isn't one of the most successful and popular creations we've seen. You'd have to travel far and wide (pun intended) to find someone who hadn't heard of Pokémon.
Being a 90's kid I, like many, absolutely adored Pokémon; the show, the films, the games, the cards, the sticker albums - it was everywhere. Without the success of season one, Pokémon simply wouldn't be where it is today. Even now, the original 151 Pokémon episodes are relied on to push and carry the franchise forward and season one carried some of the most memorable and defining moments of the Pokémon TV series.
Pokémon season one was new and exciting to the anime world and its catchy theme tune is known word for word by almost everyone who ever watched it. Despite an on-going wider story, the episodes were individual in the sense they gave a new mini-story; in almost every episode you could guarantee we should get to see Ash and friends encounter a new Pokémon and you could certainly guarantee a certain Team Rocket would try and ruin the day. This is what made the season more enticing; being so new it was exciting to see what new Pokémon would be discovered and what they were capable of; would Ash catch them?
Filling up the Pokédex was one of the more addictive sides of the video games, so seeing Ash with the same challenge was relatable. Anyone who watched this season would have imagined what it would be like to be in Ash's shoes, to imagine if these creatures were in the real world. This season really opened up a new world of imagination for its fans and being boosted by the Trading Card Game and the Game Boy games helped make the season all the more successful, as fans get to see their favourite Pokémon come to life.
Season one, perhaps more than any other, gifts us more real-life lessons in its episodes - we see Ash take on a number of emotional moments and endure a range of difficult decisions as it encourages friendship, patience and love over greed and power. The way Ash acquires many of his Pokémon in season one is through friendship, helping them or rescuing them from harm - the stray Charmander for instance.
To further witness why season one is Pokémon's greatest, I take a look at the season's greatest five episodes:
1.01 "Pokémon, I Choose You"
The very first episode is the introductory episode to Pokémon - every newcomer should start here. Here we see the beginnings on Ash and his best friend Pikachu and how their epic journey started out. Despite Pikachu being the only remaining option for Ash when it came to choosing his starter, and the initial hostility from Pikachu at first, Ash very quickly demonstrates his friendship by putting himself on the line to protect Pikachu from the huge flock of aggressive Spearow - thus creating a new unbreakable bond between the infamous pair. Fans may recall (in hindsight) the cameo appearance from Ho-oh that showed itself to Ash, the sign of a new hero.
1.14 "Electric Shock Showdown!"
This episode offered a really important message; you don't have to take the easy way out, nor make someone change who they are. Having lost so easily to Lt. Surge with Pikachu, Ash debated using a Thunder Stone on Pikachu to change him into a Raichu but it seemed Pikachu was determined to beat Raichu without rising to that. Ash faced an emotional dilemma but we see him make the wise and right decision by training and using Pikachu's speed to overcome the powerful Raichu instead. Another defining moment in the Ash-Pikachu bond.
1.32 "The Flame Pokémon-athon!"
The Flame Pokémon-athon felt like a day out - it was exciting to see so many Pokémon in one episode, even more so because of the intensity a race generates. Seeing some of Kanto's fastest Pokémon in action was fascinating and whilst it was adorable seeing Pikachu ride an ambitious Squirtle, it was more about the rivalry between Ash and Ponyta against Dario and his Dodrio. It was a race to the finish line and the epic finish of Ponyta evolving and seeing a glorious Rapidash blitz to the end to quell an annoyingly arrogant Dario was so very satisfying.
1.56 "Volcanic Panic"
This is and perhaps always will be one of the most epic battles in the series - Blaine's main powerhouse Magmar Vs Ash's disobedient Charizard. Charizard was still at this point a Pokémon that clearly had epic potential - even today Charizard is always topping the favourite Pokémon polls - despite there now being over 800 to choose from! This epic duel was Charizard's first real battle where it took the fight seriously and Charizard pulled off some serious moves to end Magmar. Ash fell in love with his newly devoted powerhouse.
1.60 "The Battle of the Badge"
This episode was one of the more exciting as it set up The First Movie by giving a first look at the all-powerful Mewtwo. Team Rocket and Gym Leader Giovanni was naively in control of the experimented psychic Pokémon and seeing him wipe the floor with the ever-cocky Gary's best Pokémon was truly shocking. It was the first proper look at a 'legendary' and witnessing such power was exhilarating. Battle of the Badges goes on to see Ash claim his final badge as he battles a left-in-charge Jessie and James.
Season One's Greatest Moments
Muk Vs Bellsprout
The Indigo League tournament was brilliant and Ash's battle against Jeanette in the fifth round was certainly a spectacle. Ash felt confident when her final Pokémon was a Bellsprout so it was a very shocking moment when it took out some of Ash's Pokémon. Then came Muk who put a very satisfying end to Bellsproaut's reign.
Island of Giant Pokémon
The island of Giant Pokémon offered something very different and seeing huge versions of fan-favourite Pokémon was pretty awesome. Although it turned out to be a theme park dedicated to giant Pokémon, it was still a great opportunity to see some rare Pokémon in action such as Zapdos, Charizard, Blastoise and Venusaur.
Discovery of Prehistoric Pokémon
The awakening of prehistoric Pokémon was fascinating, these never-seen before creatures were scary - they had just been disturbed after thousands of years to be fair to them. Their attack, including a wicked Aerodactyl, led to Ash's Charmeleon evolving into the fierce-some Charizard we've come to know so well.
Ruins of Pokémopolis: Gengar Vs Alakazam
Ash and his friends uncover the Ruins of Pokémopolis a giant Gengar and a giant Alakazam who were respectively trapped inside a "dark device" and a strange urn are awakened. The two heavyweights start to fight one another when a giant Jigglypuff appears and puts them to sleep.
This possibly covers both the happiest yet saddest moment from the season. Ash's Pikachu spends a lot of time with some wild Pikachu and starts to ponder whether his Pikachu would be happier to stay with them. Ash prepares to say goodbye to his best friend in this tear-jerker (queue the cheesy montage), knowing that he should do whatever makes Pikachu happiest. It's an important life-lesson that you wouldn't expect from what is deemed a 'kids show'. All ends well when Pikachu runs back to Ash as they prove they are inseparable - with the pair still going just as strong now
What are your thoughts on Pokémon as a TV series? What are your favourite moments and favourite seasons? Tell us all in the comments below...