The Head Writer of POKÉMON Had Very Different Ideas for the Anime

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Some interesting Pokémon tidbits have been hitting the internet recently. Dr. Lava is a fan of Pokémon who has developed a reputation for getting a bunch of information about Pokémon that was scrapped or exclusive to Japan, or even the “lost Pokémon history.” Well, in a blog post from November 2019, the writer talks about how he got some blog posts written by Pokemon’s head anime writer Takeshi Shudo translated and shared some of his findings. Shudo passed away in 2010, but he wrote a lot of the anime and the first three Pokémon films.

One of the first things that fans are able to learn from these blog posts is that the infamous episode “Cyber Soldier Porygon” allowed Mewtwo Strikes Back to be a much darker movie. You see, that episode put 685 Japanese viewers in the hospital for seizures because of a sequence of flashing lights. This caused a lot of headaches for The Pokémon Company and led to them focusing more on dealing with what was referred to as Pokémon Shock. This focus on Pokémon Shock in turn meant that there was less supervision over Shudo, and he was able to have more creative freedom. After the film turned out to be wildly successful, making $170 million with a $5 million budget, the studio then allowed him to have complete creative control over the second film. In fact, Shudo created Lugia, which happens to be the only Pokémon created by a member of the anime writing staff according to Dr. Lava.

Speaking of Lugia, Shudo apparently saw Lugia as both masculine and feminine, and it turns out he wishes his creation had been voiced by a woman.

In these notes, we also learn that Ash and Team Rocket originally weren’t in Pokémon: The Movie 2000. It wasn’t until after Shudo got some feedback on his script that they were added in.

I let the staff read the first quarter of the script — I wanted them to get a rough idea of the general outline. In the initial script, there was no Ash and no Team Rocket. The staff pointed this out to me — even though I obviously wrote it that way on purpose — but I ended up revising the script to include all the regular characters from the very first scene. Basically, I let them know that even though I’m the one writing the script, I’m always willing to listen to everybody’s opinions and suggestions. I guess that reassured them, because after that, I was able to finish writing the last three-quarters of the script without anybody asking to see what I was writing.

Shudo also didn’t think Pokémon was going to last as long as it has (over 20 years). He originally thought it would run for a few years and then end. He even had ideas for how the anime would end. One thought he had in May 2009 was:

Months and years pass. Ash grows old, then one day suddenly he looks back on his past. He remembers his childhood fondly. The adventures he had with his amazing Pokemon, the friendship, the coexistence.

Maybe Ash wasn’t able to experience these things later in life. However, as a kid there was Pikachu and lots of other Pokémon, Jessie and James, and Mewtwo… And so much more — elderly Ash remembers everything that happened during his adventures as a young boy.

He can hear his mother’s voice. “Go to sleep already, you’re setting off on your journey tomorrow.” The next morning, he is woken up by his mother. He’s a young boy again, leaving his house excited to start a new adventure.

He’s going on a journey not to catch Pokémon or become a Pokémon master, but to discover the meaning of existence, to discover how to coexist with others.

That’s intense! A year later, Shudo talks about an idea he had for a fourth movie. Well, it was an idea he had for the final episode that he would consider turning into a fourth film, and it was dark.

I thought about writing a fourth movie, but I couldn’t come up with any ideas.

If I wrote it, I would have used the story that I had planned for the final anime episode. The Pokémon would stage a rebellion much like Spartacus in ancient Rome. Although at first glance Pokémon appear to be friends with humans, they would realize they’re actually being used like slaves, which would lead to an uprising. Pikachu would become the leader of the revolt and end up fighting with Ash. Team Rocket, who are in possession of lots of sinister Pokemon (including Meowth, who can translate the Pokémon language into human speech) would try to mediate the conflict, but they’d do a poor job of interpreting and only make things worse…

That’s all I came up with. However, an episode like this would break the rules of the Pokémon world and make it impossible for the series to continue. Continuing into perpetuity is the series’ objective. If it could ever be produced, I think it would literally have to be the last episode ever.

I tried to think of a different plot, but I couldn’t.

Even after hearing that Pokémon would last much longer than Shudo originally thought, he expected Ash to someday not be the center of the story like he is. He imagined that every few years the protagonist would change up. It makes plenty of sense to me and even fits with the manga where every generation features a new set of characters.

Everything I’m writing here now, they’re just my own simple thoughts. After 3 or 4 years, a new Pokémon adventure with a new main hero should begin. With its own topics — this new Pokémon should adapt to its times. Ten years ago, there was some kid watching Pokémon. That kid’s tastes will change as he gets older, and someday he’ll be an adult bringing his own children to the cinema. Hopefully he’ll watch Pokémon and consider it a movie fit for adults — that would make me very happy. However, if Pokémon stays the same year-after-year, it’s hard to imagine it touching on topics that are relevant with the times. Still, the games and the merchandise have steadily taken root in our everyday lives.

If the Pokémon anime were to end after going on for over ten years, I’m sure the ending would be completely different than how I imagined its final episode more than ten years ago.

These are some pretty shocking notes to find. I do think it is important to note that a lot of the notes indicate that Shudo used a lot of drugs and alcohol when writing Pokémon. Kids, don’t rely on drugs and alcohol to do anything.

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