The stop motion animation series Pokémon Concierge — directed by Iku Ogawa and written by Harumi Doki — provides delightful food for thought. The four episodes, available on Netflix, bring back the Pokémon characters to fuel a constructive path that will forge the coming-of-age of the protagonist.
Pokémon Concierge follows Haru, a young girl who is hired as concierge on the wondrous Pokémon resort. She arrives a little bewildered, after being dumped by her six-year boyfriend through a text message. Haru is welcomed by Ms. Watanabe and some of the senior staff like Alisa and Tyler — who is in charge of sanitation and fitness lessons. Haru feels like a fish out of water and gradually learns how to make her guests feel at ease. Working at the resort is a learning experience as she tries to accommodate everyone’s wishes, while establishing new friendships and embarking upon unexpected adventures.
Psyduck, Bulbasaur, Snorlax, Diglett and Pikachu are just a few of the Pokémons that can be found at the resort, that is nestled in the picturesque southern island where guests visit to unwind. Haru interacts with everyone through her job and in return she learns from each experience and involuntarily bequeaths some pearls of wisdom on how to confront the hardships of life. The spirit of self-discovery of the series is embodied by the lyrics of the main theme song — Have a Good Time Here by Mariya Takeuchi — that say: “Welcome to the place where you can be yourself.”
Produced in collaboration with The Pokémon Company, the feel-good series is visually brought to life by the concept arts and character design of Tadahiro Uesugi and the production of Dwarf Studios. The latter is the renown award-winning studio based in Tokyo, specialised in character creation and stop-motion animation production ranging from theatrical films, series, music videos, web movies and TV commercials.
Pokémon was launched in Japan in 1996 and still today thrives as one of the most popular children’s entertainment properties in the world. The original name of the franchise in Japanese is Pocket Monsters (Poketto Monsutā) and has provided a fictional example of how human beings can coexist with creatures so different from them. The formative drive of the company reaches an uplifting peak as it merges with the filmmaking technique of stop motion through Pokémon Concierge. The playful nature of these tiny monsters takes centre stage, as opposed to the way they were depicted in previous representations where we saw them battling against each other. This latest series focuses on the joy they can provide, as well as the feeling of elation that comes from taking care of others, including the little creatures who could be our pets.
All episodes — I’m Haru The New Concierge, What’s On Your Mind, Psyduck?, I Hope I Can Evolve Too, Welcome To The Pokémon Resort — compose the various steps of the psychological and moral growth of Haru and those who interact with her. Haru is encouraged to be more confident, and also manages to push those who are different to embrace their individuality. The series is an all-encompassing educational experience that will inspire adults and children alike.
Final Grade: B