Pikachu's Global Adventure: The Rise and Fall of Pokémon

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Joseph Tobin
Duke University Press, Feb 5, 2004 - Business & Economics - 299 pages
12 Reviews
Initially developed in Japan by Nintendo as a computer game, Pokémon swept the globe in the late 1990s. Based on a narrative in which a group of children capture, train, and do battle with over a hundred imaginary creatures, Pokémon quickly diversified into an array of popular products including comic books, a TV show, movies, trading cards, stickers, toys, and clothing. Pokémon eventually became the top grossing children's product of all time. Yet the phenomenon fizzled as quickly as it had ignited. By 2002, the Pokémon craze was mostly over. Pikachu’s Global Adventure describes the spectacular, complex, and unpredictable rise and fall of Pokémon in countries around the world.

In analyzing the popularity of Pokémon, this innovative volume addresses core debates about the globalization of popular culture and about children’s consumption of mass-produced culture. Topics explored include the origins of Pokémon in Japan’s valorization of cuteness and traditions of insect collecting and anime; the efforts of Japanese producers and American marketers to localize it for foreign markets by muting its sex, violence, moral ambiguity, and general feeling of Japaneseness; debates about children’s vulnerability versus agency as consumers; and the contentious question of Pokémon’s educational value and place in school. The contributors include teachers as well as scholars from the fields of anthropology, media studies, sociology, and education. Tracking the reception of Pokémon in Japan, the United States, Great Britain, France, and Israel, they emphasize its significance as the first Japanese cultural product to enjoy substantial worldwide success and challenge western dominance in the global production and circulation of cultural goods.

Contributors. Anne Allison, Linda-Renée Bloch, Helen Bromley, Gilles Brougere, David Buckingham, Koichi Iwabuchi, Hirofumi Katsuno, Dafna Lemish, Jeffrey Maret, Julian Sefton-Green, Joseph Tobin, Samuel Tobin, Rebekah Willet, Christine Yano


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User Review - Flag as inappropriate

I especially appreciate that this book is honest in that Pokémon only exists for the money it harvests. This is a rather unpopular viewpoint, but for all corporations out there, it is the truth.
However, I'm confused as to what this book means with Pokémon having fallen; it's certainly not as popular as it had been in the 90s, but the franchise still continues to run today, in 2011, without any discontinuation or difficulties. Even considering the publication date of this book, when Pokémon was well into its 3rd generation. As far as I know, there hasn't ever been any noted decrease in speed or intent on stopping. In fact, it's in it's 5th generation now. 4th generation was a major hit, as always, bringing highly anticipated online battling.
It's a great read, but only half of what it argues is accurate, the rest being rather strange or what another reviewer noted - outdated.

Review: Pikachu's Global Adventure: The Rise and Fall of Pokémon

User Review  - Sophia - Goodreads

an interesting collection, but severely dated. has a constant feeling that they're studying a topic these 'grown-ups have no idea about,' if you know what i mean. instead, there's tons of comparisons ... Read full review


Structure Agency and Pedagogy in Childrens Media Culture
Cuteness as Japans Millennial Product
How Japanese Is Pokémon?
Localizing the Pokémon TV Series for the American Market
Panic Attacks AntiPokémon Voices in Global Markets
How Much Is a Pokémon Worth? Pokémon in France
Localizing Pokémon through Narrative Play
The Multiple Identities of Pokémon Fans
Masculinity Maturity and the End of Pokémon
Conclusion The Rise and Fall of the Pokémon Empire

Initiation Rites A Small Boy in a PokéWorld
Pokémon in Israel

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About the author (2004)


Joseph Tobin is the Nadine Mathis Basha Professor of Early Childhood Education at Arizona State University. He is the author of “Good Guys Don’t Wear Hats”: Children’s Talk about the Media, editor of Making a Place for Pleasure in Early Childhood Education, and coauthor of Preschool in Three Cultures: Japan, China, and the United States.

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