Nowadays, it’s not surprising to see an IP from a foreign country gaining prominence all over the world because of globalization and the increased reach of the internet. But back in the ‘90s, even though our window into the rest of the world was just our television sets, Pokemon somehow managed to surpass all kinds of geographical boundaries to become a phenomenon in the smallest of cities and towns. It was a tradition to watch every episode of the original run of the animated series, buy Pokemon cards, learn all the names of the Pokemon, and cosplay as the human characters. Eventually, it was natural to grow out of it so that the next generation of kids and teens could pick it up. I kept note of some of the plot-related updates and news and witnessed the worldwide craze around Pokemon Go! However, I never really got back into it until Netflix announced Pokemon Concierge. As a fan of stop-motion animation and as someone who is nostalgic about the good old days of obsessing over Pikachu, Squirtle, Charmander, and Bulbasaur, this show immediately grabbed my attention. And, after watching all four of its episodes, I can confidently say that it’s one of the most wholesome things I have watched this year. It’s very reminiscent of Oni: Thunder God’s Tale, but with little-to-no focus on the plot and a great deal of emphasis on “chill vibes.” It’s so cute that it’ll definitely make you cry. So, let’s talk about Haru and her adventures as the titular Pokemon Concierge.
Haru learns how to chill from Ms. Watanabe.
A brief opening montage reveals the fact that Pokemon Concierge’s protagonist, Haru, has hit rock bottom after a break-up, ruining her favorite pair of shoes, fumbling an important presentation at work, parting ways with her best friend at work, getting a bad eyebrow treatment, and spending way too much time on a meal that didn’t taste well. Hence, she takes up a summer job at the Pokemon Resort. She is greeted there by a Bulbasaur and the owner of the resort, Ms. Watanabe. The resort is apparently open to both humans and Pokemon. Some of the Pokemon are also part of the resort’s staff, and they tend to humans as well as other Pokemon. An important point that should be noted is that all the Pokemon are given they/them pronouns. I don’t know if it was the case in the anime movies and shows, but it’s a cool little detail in this Netflix series that I really liked. Anyway, coming back to the plot, Ms. Watanabe says that since it’s Haru’s first day at the resort, she doesn’t need to do anything but chill as a guest. Since Haru is a victim of the hustle culture, she thinks it’s a test, and she has to do the opposite of that to prove that she is trustworthy as an employee. Hence, instead of simply relaxing, she goes around the resort looking for chores.
She meets Tyler and his assistants, Panpour, Pansear, and Pansage, in the hopes of getting a task. Tyler gets her to do yoga, you know, to relax her muscles, as she is evidently very stressed. Next, she meets Alisa and her assistant, Mudkip. Alisa seems intimidating, but all she does for Haru is get her changed into some comfortable clothes. Haru then gets some of the free food and falls asleep in the mountains near the beach. Then she gets a massage from Ms. Watanabe, and she falls asleep again. Now, instead of enjoying all this peace and quiet, Haru feels embarrassed and drums up a detailed report of her first day as the concierge of the Pokemon Resort. When she presents that to Ms. Watanabe, she advises Haru to not be analytical and tells her to speak from her heart. And Haru finally realizes that she just needs to have fun, because if she is having fun, then everyone around her will have fun. That said, since old habits die hard, Haru still asks Watanabe to give her a task, and she tells Haru to get a Pokemon assistant. Given how she has been tailed by Psyduck from the moment she came to the island, Haru decides to recruit them.
Haru Befriends Psyduck
Haru learns that Psyduck is really shy and, hence, is unable to make connections. That indicates it’ll be an uphill task, but Haru refuses to give up. Haru tries to approach Psyduck directly, but they run away from her. She reads up on Psyduck’s powers and learns that they are constantly suffering from a headache, which causes them to have a telekinetic outburst. She sees Psyduck levitating everyone around their vicinity while holding their head in their hands. However, instead of getting scared by that sight, Haru becomes even more determined to befriend Psyduck. Even though it’s obvious, I have to point out that Doki Harumi has clearly teamed up Haru with Psyduck because both of them have too much going on inside their heads. Both of them need to relax in order to enjoy the life they have. So, it’s obvious that if Haru solves Psyduck’s issues, she’ll come closer to solving the issues that are troubling her.
When Haru gets a hold of Psyduck after chasing them around the island, she tells them not to use their powers all at once. She says that since Psyduck is afraid of using their powers, they put a lid on it until it becomes unbearable, thereby leading to bouts of headaches. However, if they learn to use a small fraction of their power from time to time, then it won’t pile up in their heads and will keep them stress-free. Psyduck starts to do that, and even though the results aren’t perfect, they are much happier than they were. In the cutest moment from Pokemon Concierge, we see Haru and Psyduck enjoying ice cream, cuddling with each other, and witnessing a wishing star. The following day, the duo go on their first task together, which is to retrieve a differently abled Magikarp’s swim ring, which has been stolen by a Wingull. However, when it’s flattened by Snorlax, Haru finds herself in a pickle. With the help of Psyduck and Lampent, she decides to decorate the thing with gifts and give it to Magikarp as a note of apology for not getting back their swim ring intact. That said, by the time she can give it to Magikarp, they evolve into Gyarados, thereby imbuing them with swimming powers. When Haru brings the decorated swim ring back to the resort, she notices all the Pokemon playing with it. So, she makes more of them, thereby turning a somewhat failed mission into a fun exercise for everyone.
What Did Haru Learn From Psyduck At The Resort?
During Pokemon Concierge‘s ending, Haru faced her toughest task: cheering up a sad Pikachu. Haru is a fan of Pikachu, and she has a rough idea of how they behave, but Nao’s Pikachu seems to be extremely sad and scared. The little guy hides behind Nao’s leg when they are approached by Psyduck. Even though Alisa is apprehensive about Haru’s approach, Watanabe allows her to take Nao, his Pikachu, and Psyduck to the zip line. That’s when they learn that Pikachu is actually afraid of heights, so much so that they start shaking. Next, Haru takes everyone to a spot in the mountain where they can hear the echo of their voice. However, Pikachu’s voice is so feeble that it fails to create an echo. After that, Haru asks Terry to create the hottest dish that he is capable of concocting to open up Pikachu’s voice, and while everyone loses their minds, Pikachu is barely fazed by it. They try to scare Pikachu with the help of Metagross and Trubbish, but that doesn’t work on them either. It’s only after Haru sees Psyduck and Pikachu snoozing peacefully that she realizes that she needs to accept them for who they are instead of trying to turn them into something they don’t want to be. She also tells Nao not to force Pikachu to become like all the other Pikachu and to embrace every facet of their characteristics. And when Nao does exactly that, they see Pikachu playing with them of their own volition.
When it’s time to say goodbye, Haru gives Pikachu a drawing of them and Psyduck. Pikachu realizes how much Haru has helped them and Nao and finally lets out their iconic phrase. The sight overwhelms Haru, and she actually credits Psyduck for teaching her how to deal with issues in a fun way instead of being bogged down by them. It is evident that Haru was used to a lifestyle that came with easy solutions, but since those solutions were temporary, it just led to more problems and more stress. With Psyduck, Haru learned how to see everything from a “fun” and measured perspective because then the solution would be somewhat permanent. Also, in the profession of hospitality, one needs to be jovial in order to keep everyone jovial. In real life, we see them operating in a militaristic fashion, and everyone, from the employees to the customers, is always unhappy. Although the world of Pokemon is in no way realistic, I think the owners of hotels and resorts can learn a thing or two from Ms. Watanabe and her employees. The concluding moments of Pokemon Concierge show Haru welcoming a Wailord, and we see a Bellsprout dancing in front of the mirror. And that shows that even though this chapter of Haru’s journey has come to a close, life at the resort continues as per usual.
Ogawa Iku’s Pokemon Concierge is like a warm hug to the heart. Everything from the animation to the voice-acting is perfect. The only criticism that I can level against the Netflix series is that it’s too short. Given how stressful everything is in the world, I could’ve watched 1000 episodes of this show. However, I know that stop-motion animation is costly in terms of time and resources. So, I hope that Netflix, The Pokemon Company, and Dwarf Studios get the money and the freedom that they need to make more episodes of Pokemon Concierge. There is an abundance of overly complicated, twisted, and shocking movies and shows to enthrall us. We need more stories to have the least amount of plot and the most amount of tranquility. In case it isn’t clear yet, let me underscore the fact that Pokemon Concierge is one of my favorite shows of the year. I am so glad that I watched it. And I highly recommend it to everyone who wants to unwind while being nostalgic about Pokemon.