Pikachu′s Global Adventure

The Rise and Fall of Pokemon

Pikachu′s Global Adventure

Book Pages: 312 Illustrations: Published: February 2004

Cultural Studies, Media Studies, Pedagogy and Higher Education

Initially developed in Japan by Nintendo as a computer game, Pokémon swept the globe in the late 1990s. Based on a narrative in which a group of children capture, train, and do battle with over a hundred imaginary creatures, Pokémon quickly diversified into an array of popular products including comic books, a TV show, movies, trading cards, stickers, toys, and clothing. Pokémon eventually became the top grossing children's product of all time. Yet the phenomenon fizzled as quickly as it had ignited. By 2002, the Pokémon craze was mostly over. Pikachu’s Global Adventure describes the spectacular, complex, and unpredictable rise and fall of Pokémon in countries around the world.

In analyzing the popularity of Pokémon, this innovative volume addresses core debates about the globalization of popular culture and about children’s consumption of mass-produced culture. Topics explored include the origins of Pokémon in Japan’s valorization of cuteness and traditions of insect collecting and anime; the efforts of Japanese producers and American marketers to localize it for foreign markets by muting its sex, violence, moral ambiguity, and general feeling of Japaneseness; debates about children’s vulnerability versus agency as consumers; and the contentious question of Pokémon’s educational value and place in school. The contributors include teachers as well as scholars from the fields of anthropology, media studies, sociology, and education. Tracking the reception of Pokémon in Japan, the United States, Great Britain, France, and Israel, they emphasize its significance as the first Japanese cultural product to enjoy substantial worldwide success and challenge western dominance in the global production and circulation of cultural goods.

Contributors. Anne Allison, Linda-Renée Bloch, Helen Bromley, Gilles Brougere, David Buckingham, Koichi Iwabuchi, Hirofumi Katsuno, Dafna Lemish, Jeffrey Maret, Julian Sefton-Green, Joseph Tobin, Samuel Tobin, Rebekah Willet, Christine Yano


Pikachu’s Global Adventure is a compelling volume, as each essay offers new insights with few weak links or needless repetition.” — Jason Mittell , Popular Communication

“A valuable contribution to debates about the guiding forces and diverse effects of global media cultures. . . . The fascinating Pikachu’s Global Adventure extends the study of contemporary Japan by taking seriously transnational media in reconfiguring the boundaries of ‘Japanese culture.’” — Ian Condry , Journal of Asian Studies

"Pikachu's Global Adventure is of interest to scholars in the social sciences who will see in the empirical studies solid observations on the meanings and uses of play. . . ." — Brian C. Phelan, Enterprise & Society

"[P]rovides a refreshing look at issues of international communication and media and children. . . [and] a fascinating look into the growing international embrace of Japanese popular culture. . . . The essays provide a nuanced look at the intersection of globalization and children's media, which has been lacking to date in the field of media studies." — Patricia A. Curtin, Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly

"All of the essays present well-researched and interesting perspectives on different areas of study concerning Pokémon. . . . All the essays in the book are interesting and engaging. . . ." — Dana Gallwey , M/C Reviews

"The contributors to this volume provide thoughtful explanations to account for the popularity of Pokémon among children in Japan, America, Israel, and France. Although these essays focus on Pokémon, many of the insights found in this book are also applicable to other examples of children's popular culture that have Japanese origins." — Mark I. West , Children's Literature Association Quarterly

"This is a well structured and edited book that will appeal to all those who engage with children's cultural activities inside and outside of schools. The international authors are all experts in the fields and contribute scholarly and thought-provoking work as they unpick the world of Pokemon phenomenon." — Andrew Lambirth, British Journal of Educational Studies

“I took a peek at the table of contents for Pikachu’s Global Adventure, then read a little of the introduction, and the next thing I knew I was deep, deep in the book and didn’t want to stop. The writing was that engaging, the information and arguments that compelling.” — Henry Jenkins, coeditor of Hop on Pop: The Politics and Pleasures of Popular Culture

“The contributors to this volume are the smartest scholars working today in the areas of global media and children’s media. This book tells an entertaining and surprising tale of how the little Japanese Pokémon transformed children’s culture and global media economics. The changes that Pikachu wrought are only the beginning of fascinating new trends in role-playing games, video games, cartoons, and toys and the accelerated spread of such fads via the Internet.”
  — Ellen Seiter, author of Sold Separately: Children and Parents in Consumer Culture


Availability: In stock
Price: $27.95

Open Access

Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Joseph Tobin is the Nadine Mathis Basha Professor of Early Childhood Education at Arizona State University. He is the author of “Good Guys Don’t Wear Hats”: Children’s Talk about the Media, editor of Making a Place for Pleasure in Early Childhood Education, and coauthor of Preschool in Three Cultures: Japan, China, and the United States.

Table of Contents Back to Top
I. Contexts and Issues

1. Introduction / Joseph Tobin 3

2. Structure, Agency, and Pedagogy in Children's Media Culture / David Buckingham and Julian Sefton-Green 1

3. Cuteness as Japan's Millennial Product / Anne Allison 34

II Global Circulation

4. How "Japanese" Is Pokemon? / Kiochi Iwabuchi 53

5. Localizing the Pokemon TV Series for the American Market / Hirofumi Katsuno and Jeffery Maret 80

6. Panic Attacks: Anti-Pokemon voices in Global Markets / Christine R. Yano 108

III Places and Practices

7. Initiation Rites: A Small Boy in a Poke-World / Julian Sefton-Green 141

8. Pokemon in Israel / Dafna Lemish and Linda-Renee Bloch 165

9. How Much Is a Pokemon Worth? Pokemon in France / Gilles Brougere 187

IV Pokemon Goes to School

10. Localizing Pokemon through Narrative Play / Helen Bromley 211

11. The Multiple Identities of Pokemon Fans / Rebekah Willett 226

12. Masculinity, Maturity, and the End of Pokemon / Samuel Tobin 241

13. Conclusion: The Rise and Fall of the Pokemon Empire / Joseph Tobin 257

Contributors 293

Index 295
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-3287-9 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-3250-3
Publicity material