The Pokemon anime and the Pokemon games are very different things. As much as I love the games, I constantly feel like the anime has lessons to offer that their gaming counterparts just aren’t learning from. Whether this is Misty’s arc, the gym design, or the cinematic battles, the list of things Game Freak should be taking from the anime is seemingly endless. The Island of the Giant Pokemon is perhaps one of the least likely things that might get brought over from the show, but it could also be one of the most interesting.
Island of the Giant Pokemon was all the way back in the first season of the anime, just 17 episodes into a series that has since reached quadruple figures – and it’s still one of its most interesting ideas. It follows Ash, Brock, Misty, and Pikachu as they head to the titular island (with Team Rocket in tow), where they stumble across a bunch of giant Pokemon. I know, shocking, right?
The anime is a little spotty when it comes to Pokemon height – Dragonite is shown to be the size of a lighthouse despite being seven foot, while Charizard is only supposed to be five foot six – but these creatures are something else. We see a Pikachu that literally towers over the rest of the party, much bigger even than the weirdly massive Dragonite we see later in the season.
I’m not suggesting that all Pokemon need to be huge from now on. In fact, the bigger, more Digimon-style Pokemon feel both bland and over designed these days. Instead, I want the idea behind Island of the Giant Pokemon. It’s actually a Geovanni-owned theme park – with the success of Mario Land, we need a Pokemon Land in real life, but it’s also an area that could be explored in so much more depth within a game, rather than yet another city vaguely based on a real world location.
More than just ‘do a theme park’ though, the best thing about Island of the Giant Pokemon is that we don’t quite know what it is at first. We don’t know that it’s a theme park when the gang initially arrive, nor do we have any idea as to why these Pokemon are huge. It’s a mystery to uncover; Pokemon games could do with more of that, instead of throwing walls of exposition at us in between generic battles.
On top of this, there’s a second portion to the Island of the Giant Pokemon that the games would do well to explore: the humans and the Pokemon split up. A large chunk of the episode’s opening sees Pikachu, Squirtle, Bulbasaur, Charmander, Koffing, Ekans, and Meowth separated from their human companions and learning to fend for themselves. The Mystery Dungeon and PokePark spin-off series’ both understand that Pokemon can be in charge of their own stories, but the main series games are yet to trust the ‘mons enough to put them in the spotlight. Most of the human characters in Pokemon are dull and flat, so giving the Pokemon themselves more attention would probably be for the best, even if it’s harder to tell stories when the main characters can’t communicate in English.
Island of the Giant Pokemon is still one of the most beloved episodes of the anime, but it’s so much more than just giant Pokemon on an island. The list of things the games could take from the anime is endless, but this is one of the most exciting ones.
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Stacey Henley is an editor for TheGamer, and can often be found journeying to the edge of the Earth, but only in video games. Find her on Twitter @FiveTacey
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