Saturday, April 19, 2014

Japan Trip XII: The Pokemon Center

I remember being excited to play Pokemon even before the game came out in North America. Nintendo Power really hyped the game up with comics and features, and I'm not sure but I think the TV show even came out before the game? It's all kind of a blur.

My relationship with the games were off and on after the first generation, though it's pretty much just been "on" since Pokemon Pearl. So, when the opportunity came to visit a Pokemon Center while traveling around Japan, I was... well, not as excited as I expected to be.

The thing is, I kinda knew what I was getting myself into. The Pokemon Center isn't a museum or similar type of destination: it's a store that sells Pokemon merchandise. There's nothing wrong with that; merchandising is one of the factors that have kept the franchise going this long. And I was certain that the merchandise in the Pokemon store would be high quality.

The fact is, though, that I didn't know what I would do with Pokemon toys. I have a lot of stuff already, and I really don't need more. The money I might spend on dolls and figures that would end up sitting around in my house doing nothing could instead be saved up for a new mattress or couch or rug that I would use on a daily basis.

I don't think Pokemon merch is silly, I just don't think it's generally for me. It would be decoration, and decoration is low on my priority list.

Anyway, after the Ghibli museum we said goodbye to Ryan and Kari (who created several pretty awesome pieces of Pokemon-related merchandise, by the way) and took the train to a part of the city I've never seen before. We headed to a mall-looking building, in which it seemed like the only store that was open was a brightly lit place with the Pokemon logo above it.

The place looked busy, and there were lots of people outside the place sitting and talking to each other, all with their Nintendo DS systems out. It looked like lots of battling and trading was going on, which made me pretty happy; it was good to be reminded that Pokemon was still bringing people together. It made me feel much better about visiting the Pokemon Center.

Inside the store, it was quite busy, but not crowded. As expected, there were figures, keychains, mugs, shirts, and more plush toys than you could imagine, with several POkemon available in various sizes.

Every Mega-Evolution was represented, as were all of the starters, pretty much every new Pokemon from X/Y, and many other favorites. Many people in our group ended up just running around the place (figuratively speaking), bemoaning what the place would do to their wallets.

I took my time looking around, curious but not expecting to buy anything. After looking at everything, I began to watch the people there: the employees, running about, being helpful, and keeping things relatively organized; the customers, mostly parents with kids, but also a few older fans, including a few other groups of foreigners like ourselves; and, of course, our own group, showing interesting products to each other and gushing over the overwhelming cuteness everywhere.

It was on either my second or third circuit through the place, while waiting for everyone to finish up, that I remembered I was a gym leader in the PAX Pokemon League. PAX East was only a few weeks away at the time, and it might be cool to get a couple of things to accent my presence there.

Since I was an Electric-type gym leader with a preference for Rotom, I decided on a small, rubber, Rotom keychain that was pretty cheap. Laura then told me about a Rotom plush somewhere, so I went ahead and found that as well. Then, having an idea for a gift for Laura, I found a plush Goomy (a new Dragon-type; Laura loves its dumb face) and snuck to the check-out lanes.

The Japanese have this interesting habit of sealing bags closed after you buy something, which worked in my favor when, later, Laura tried to peek in my bag to see what I got. Later, when she gave me her bag to hold on the way home, I pulled the Goomy out of my bag and stuffed it into hers. She didn't find it until we were packing our things to leave Japan.

The plush Rotom turned out to be a hit at PAX, so I consider him a good investment. No doubt I'll be running as an electric-type gym leader still for quite a while, so I'm sure he won't be spending the ret of his life on display in my room somewhere. His name is Freddie Mercury, which is what I tend to name my Rotoms in-game.

Unfortunately, I lost my Rotom keychain at PAX. I was keeping it on my badge-holder, which turned out to be less reliable than I thought; my badges and the Rotom fell off somewhere, never to be seen again. Ah well.

1 comment:

  1. I unfortunately overhyped the place for myself. I still enjoyed it and got a good number of stuff there but I was so hoping a wider selection of pokemon to be there. And when I went it was the same week that the Mega Mewtwo Y and Genesect movie came out so literally half the things in the store were Mewtwo, Genesect, or Sylveon related. I did at least manage to snag my favorite pokemon as a plush, Farftetch'd. Overall I was a little let down but that was more me than the store. Oh and I went to the Osaka store. I'm sure that could have played some kind of part in the selection of stuff.