Smashing gender norms at the speed of light.
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.
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