Nonconforming in the ‘90s: How Pokemon’s gender variance caught the hearts of generation

Smashing gender norms at the speed of light.

Jessie and James in Rose of Versailles cosplay. James is Marie Antoinette and Jessie is Oscar.

Twenty years ago, I watched my very first episode of Pokemon and began my lifelong journey into the world of anime, manga, and JRPGs. I couldn’t tell you the exact date, but I can tell you the episode was “The Flame Pokemon-athon!” and that I was both confused and delighted by this weird show with electric mice and flaming horses. I can also tell you I swiftly fell in love with it, bringing my best friends along for the ride.

And now, two decades later, after diving back into the anime after years away from it, I think I can finally tell you why: why this strange, silly, sincere show mattered, not just to me but to the turn-of-the-century Western kids’ media landscape as a whole. How it filled the space between “boy stuff” and “girl stuff,” treated both as having value, and—through its world, characters, and story—challenged why there was a division in the first place.

Click here for the full article on Anime Feminist!


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