Editor’s Note: 2020 has been the year that we’d all like to forget. Without getting into specifics, this year has been difficult for all of us. Here at BlackSci-Fi.com we’re starting a series focusing on those “things” which go us through the year. They can be Blerd/ Geek/ Nerd related. Just something that helped us to deal with 2020, which allowed us to take a breath or two. Keep an eye out on this page over the next few days for our series titled “What Got Me Through 2020”.
2020 has felt like somebody looked at 2016 and said, “Hold my beer.” There have been a lot of losses this year, from unexpected celebrity deaths (RIP Chadwick Boseman) to folks losing jobs, gigs, and loved ones to COVID-19. With this year being such a hellhole, many of us Blerds and nerds had to turn to some form of pop culture in order to cope. There have been a lot of things that have helped me cope this year, but one recent thing that stands out is Pokémon.
I’ve enjoyed Pokemon since the anime first premiered in the ’90s, back when there were only 151 Pokemon. As a kid, I had my mom take me to see the first three Pokemon movies in theatres and eventually became the owner of a Pikachu blanket and a giant Pikachu plushie. By the time I had watched the Pokemon anime series all the way up to Pokemon Diamond and Pearl, I had finally gotten my hands on my first Pokémon game (Pokémon Diamond).
Twelve years later, I managed to return to the world of Pokémon thanks to my older sister getting me a 3DS that came with the game Pokémon Omega Ruby and my decision to stream the anime Pokémon Sun and Moon on Netflix. Playing Omega Ruby while watching Sun and Moon has been a delightful experience because they both allowed me to rediscover Pokémon despite the differences in their fictional regions, Pokémon, and characters. Doing one would motivate me to do the other since the Pokémon anime and video games have a shared sense of adventure and wonder.
Of the two, Omega Ruby has been especially fun because I only halfheartedly played Diamond all those years ago. While Diamond required way too much level grinding to make your Pokémon strong, Omega Ruby hasn’t been since I received an experience share item early on in the game. Since the experience share item lets you share the battle experience with Pokémon who don’t battle, it is much easier to level up multiple Pokémon at once. As a result, I actually looked forward to catching them and leveling them up.
One particularly satisfying Omega Ruby memory is when I managed to level up an utterly disrespected fish Pokemon named Magikarp to make it evolve to a ferocious dragon-like Pokemon called Gyarados. Since my Magikarp was female, I gave her the nickname “Ariel” when I first caught her at level 10. Magikarp is a notoriously difficult Pokemon to level up since it can’t do anything except splash around, but the experience share item did most of the work for me. Several battles later, Magikarp evolved into Gyrados at level 20. Not only does she tower over my opponents’ Pokémon in battle, but she is absolutely fun to pet and play within Omega Ruby’s affectionate feature Pokémon Amie.
Meanwhile, watching Sun and Moon has felt like a much-need vacation from reality, especially since the region the series is set in, Alola, is inspired by Hawaii. As soon as I watched the first episode with Ash and Pikachu chilling on the beach and discovering the Pokémon school, I wanted to take a trip to that fictional world. The fun, relatable cast of characters and bright and fun animation is just what my mind needed after enduring depression and anxiety that always spikes around the holiday season. Seriously, how do I book a plane to the Alola region?
While Pokémon was the last thing I expected to rediscover so late into 2020, doing so has brought some excitement and color back into my life. Both the video game Omega Ruby and the anime series Sun and Moon have been giving me a much-needed escape from the holiday blues and the end of the year slump that I always feel as a freelance contributor. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got more Pokemon to catch and Gym badges to win.
Latonya Pennington is a freelance writer from the southern United States specializing in entertainment and pop culture. In addition to BlackSci-Fi.com, her pop culture work can be found on The Mary Sue, Black Girl Nerds, and Buzzfeed. When she isn’t freelancing, she can be found tweeting, reading, doing creative writing, or streaming music, shows and anime online. Find her on Twitter.