Show of hands; who here remembers when Digimon came bursting onto the screen? No, I mean the first time. Like, the first series. No, it was just called Digimon. Nope, no frontiers, generations or custom battle experiences in the title. Huh… just me then? The internet is getting young… That’s what’s happening. I’m not aging, the rest of you are just getting drastically younger.
Anyway, as I have mentioned once or twice before… I was pretty obsessed with Pokémon as a kid. Like, super obsessed. I basically irritated the crap out of my family for three years from the moment I saw my very first episode (it was the one where Ash’s metapod was locked in ferocious battle with another metapod, achieving very little whatsoever). It was all I thought about, the only game I played and it was almost all I talked about, except at school, where I knew nobody would care about my nerdy little opinions and I waited until everyone else caught up with Pokémon before revealing my own interest.
Then came Digimon. It had a cooler, but far less earnest theme song, the digital creatures in question spoke and evolved at least once per episode, making for cool effects-laden transformations and it had a group of protagonists with someone that most kids could identify with, (at least in terms of personality). The tide of my peers veered away from Pokémon, and Digimon became the new cool thing. I… had no interest in the cool new thing and, while I might give Digimon a glance or two, I was never really that… it didn’t seem so… okay, I got hooked on Digimon too!
It was a strange thing, it felt like I was cheating on Pokémon, but, by that stage, it seemed like a lot of the heart had gone out of that show, replaced with goofy comedy and flashy battles. Both of those things were fine, but it seemed like they were growing at the expense of the emotional growth of its characters. Digimon did not compensate for this, going even bigger and flashier, but it was new and imaginative and pretty much designed for kids to fantsize about being a part of, so I was easily torn away from Pokémon…ish. I still watched Pokémon, but I looked forward more to Digimon. It really was a strange time. Pokémon had become almost an obligation at that point and yet I couldn’t bring myself to miss an episode, or risk admitting that something I’d once loved so much just wasn’t worth it anymore.
Eventually, I stopped watching Digimon and, when I started secondary school at the ripe old age of very nearly thirteen, my classes started half an hour earlier and I no longer had time for my early morning cartoon viewings. I let Pokémon go and, I actually felt a weight lift when I did. I didn’t even really miss it.
In truth, I’d probably let myself use Pokémon as an escape for too long. I was a pretty unhappy kid from the age of nine until I was fifteen. Actually, no, I was severely depressed and I hid it best I could from the world. I felt alone and miserable all the time. Sometimes I’d look in the mirror and the fact that I was seeing myself in it, the hard cold reminder that, yep, that was me, I’m the one in there living that life, would just break me. Some mornings, lifting my head off my pillow felt like themost difficult thing the world could ask me to do. I’d lie in bed, hoping that somehow my mother would forget to call me for school and I’d fantasise about getting injured (or worse) on the way to school so that maybe I wouldn’t have to deal with it that day. I had forgotten how to be happy. I had forgotten how to like myself. I was convinced that the real world would always hate me, would always know that I was wrong and freakish and to be hated. Pokémon provided me with a fantasy world that I desperately latched onto and never wanted to let go long after I should have. When I had to let it go, I was able to face my reality and, eventually, to deal with it. Today, I love Pokémon. I haven’t watched the anime series since I was a kid, but I still play the games and appreciate them as innocent little adventures. They can never mean to me what they once did, but in a way, that’s great, because they really shouldn’t. Squirtle will always be my favourite starter pokémon, I will always think Pikachu is overrated and, if I have the chance in my video game, I’m going to put a Snorlax in my team. But I don’t need Pokémon anymore and, in a weird way, becomming slightly obsessed with Digimon helped me to break away from them both.
That’s all from me for now,
Thanks for indulging my walks down memory lane.