For one brief, shining moment in time over 20 years ago, Pokémon ascended from the anime/video games plane where it normally resides and became something more. Something fancier, something jauntier. And then, just as quickly as it rose, it slipped right back down again, and most folks now forget it ever happened at all.
I’m talking, of course, about Pokémon Live!, a full-blown musical that toured the United States in 2000, and was then localised for further international appearances over the next few years. If you actually went to a show, or at least remember its promotional material, you’ll know that this wasn’t some cheap spin-off.
The show’s creators put some serious work into it, especially when it came to the Pokémon themselves, creating impressive costumes and puppets to bring the series’ main characters to life. Yet for all their efforts, and despite cameras having been along for the ride to make high-quality recordings, for whatever reason the show was never released on VHS/DVD. So, outside of those lucky enough to have gone to a performance 22 years ago, it has become an all-but-forgotten relic of a bygone era.
Or it was, until this week when Jonii Vee and Jamie D. Elms released a documentary about the show, which is the product of a year’s work combing through archival footage and interviewing former cast members. If by now you’re wondering, why would people go to all that trouble for a show that you hadn’t even known existed until you started reading this blog, Jamie tells Kotaku that the inspiration for the documentary came after they saw this image last year, and needed to know where the hell it came from:
Which, you know, fair. A year later, here’s the end result, called Pokémon Live: How Pikachu Nearly Took Broadway:
To accompany the documentary, they also released this shorter video with some facts and random footage:
And if by now you’d like to watch the whole show yourself, while an official recording was never released, there is this bootleg recording of the entire performance that was cleaned up in 2020: