Three new Scandinavian markets surrendered their airwaves to Pokemania.
Worldwide sensation Pokemon was recently sold to TV4 in Sweden, TV2 in
Denmark and TV2 in Norway. The show will hit the new territories in January
and February 2000. The international distributor, Lacey Entertainment, also
announced the sale of the Pikachu-vehicle to ATV in Turkey and Noga
Communications' Children's Channel in Israel.
The Pokemon phenomenon began in America in 1998 with the release of the
original Blue and Red Nintendo Game Boy games and the debut of the
television series. U.S. distributor 4Kids Entertainment adapted the series
for U.S. viewers by incorporating new music, voices and scripting. The show
started in U.S. syndication in September 1998, and was signed to appear on
Italy's MediaSet network, Australia's Channel 10, Mexico's Televisa,
Canada's YTV and Brazil's Globo TV. Kids WB! started airing the hit
Japanese animated series in February 1999. Then, in fall, Pokémon joined
the Kids WB! line-up exclusively with 52 all-new episodes airing Monday
through Saturday, becoming the #1 rated syndicated kids' program in the
U.S. In Europe, Pokemon began broadcasting in September 1999 on Germany's
RTL2, The Netherlands' Fox Kids, Belgium's VT4 and RTL, Portugal's SIC and
France's Fox Kids. The feature film "Pokemon: The First Movie" opened in
November 1999, accompanied with the largest licensing effort ever for the
US-headquartered fast food chain, Burger King.
A common attitude is to see Anime as a weird kitsch import, a combination
of impenetrable plots and herky-jerky animation. The fact that Pokemon was
based on a computer game could be seen as all the more insidious. Plus,
Pokemon is a vast franchise, with a whole family of Pokemon video games,
along with a mass of spin-off merchandise. The "Gotta catch 'em all!" tag
suggests commercialism at its worst. But this bad image did not act as a
deterrent to Pokemon's dazzling ascension, nor did the incident which
caused a stir in 1997 when hundreds of young Japanese viewers
simultaneously suffered seizures while watching an episode that featured a
high-contrast flash sequence, an effect known as "photosensitive epilepsy."
This should be reassuring for majors such as Disney who keep a close watch
on their brand image control.
Read more about Pokemon and Anime in Animation World Magazine:
Anime For The Millennium
While many will say that anime is not storming the U.S. mainstream, Andrew
Osmond points out a number of ways this art form is entering and
influencing the animation we see every day.
- Gotta Buy 'Em All!
Martin "Dr. Toon" Goodman looks at the marketing and licensing scheme that
has turned 150 viscous monsters into the "Pokémon" every kid in America