For my entire life, I’ve seen western cartoons try to ape the style and flair of Japanese anime productions. But culture goes both ways, and anime has seen its fair share of inspiration from American cartoons—western superhero tropes in My Hero Academia and One-Punch Man are two examples. The latest animated short from The Pokémon Company is another.
The four-minute short “Chase the Beans” stars pocket monsters Scraggy (#559 from Pokémon Black and White, Zuruggu in the original Japanese) and fan-favorite Mimikyu (#778, Pokémon Sun and Moon). The two creatures have an animated tussle on a train, with cat-and-mouse antics clearly inspired by the likes of Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd or Tom and Jerry. Rounded expressive character designs, Fleischer-style “bouncing” motion, painted backgrounds, and even 1930s-ish music and sound effects all lead the viewer to expect Porky Pig to pop out of a Pokéball at any second.
After seeing Pokémon in games and anime from Japan for over two decades, it’s jarring to see them animated in the style associated with classic American cartoons. But this is hardly the brand’s first dalliance with experimentation: the Hollywood-produced Detective Pikachu movie was an extended blend of the slightly sci-fi world of the games and tropes from old-fashioned detective noir stories, softened a bit to make them kid-friendly.
Check out the video if you’re hungry for a fresh take on a couple of familiar Pokémon. Now they only have (let me just check Wikipedia here…) eight hundred and eighty-four to go, as of 2020.