Pokémon Concierge is all of the best parts of the Pokémon franchise wrapped up into a four-episode stop-motion series. Most Pokémon animations over the past few decades have focused on the battling aspect of the beloved gaming franchise. Concierge instead chooses to focus on the relationships between humans and Pokémon and how they work together to create a safe and loving environment.
At every turn, the series managed to instill every brand of emotion within me. It made me grin, laugh, and at points, even brought me to the verge of tears. The series is a perfect watch for kids and adults alike who have grown up with the series. It also works brilliantly for people jumping into Pokémon for the first time.
The Dream Job
Pokémon Concierge’s story centers around Haru, a concierge at the Pokémon Resort, and her Psyduck as they meet many Pokémon that visit as guests. Netflix and dwarf studios collaborated to develop the series which they announced in February 2023. Netflix premiered the full series on December 28.
Concierge begins with Haru arriving to the Pokémon Resort after a series of unfortunate events that have plagued her life. As she arrives, she is instantly bombarded with the sight of Pokémon as far as the eye can see, working as employees or relaxing at the resort. There are Mudkips running around and spraying water at each other, Woopers greeting people with warm smiles, even Bulbasaurs handing out leis to people.
Haru starts by trying to perform as efficiently as possible, treating it like every other job. However, as time passes, she soon learns to relax and to enjoy the resort like its guests do. More importantly, she is able to regain her inner child as she ends up bonding with an anxious Psyduck.
The story, while simple on the surface, brings to life themes of acceptance, friendship, and anxiety in a way that feels natural and dynamic. It separates Pokémon Concierge from other entries in the series and creates a story that will undoubtedly be relatable to all ages. Part of the reason why the series is so relatable for all audiences is due to the many characters that call the Pokémon Resort their home.
The Tenants of the Resort (Pokémon Concierge Review)
Karen Fukuhara beautifully plays the role of protagonist, Haru. Fukuhara has previously acted in The Boy and the Heron, The Boys, and more. She manages to capture a new layer that we don’t usually see in Pokémon protagonists: the feeling of growing old and slowly losing touch with your inner child. The resort teaches Haru to let loose and have fun every once in a while, a dynamic that Fukuhara brings to life with ease.
There are a few other characters of note as well. First, there’s the Resort’s owner, Watanabe. She takes a sort of motherly role to her employees and guests alike, looking after the humans and Pokémon of the resort and making sure they are well taken care of. Then there’s Tyler, a surfer boy whose surprisingly heartfelt and shares a bond with the Unova elemental monkeys. Lastly, there is Alisa, a young artist who helps Haru settle into her position as concierge at the Pokémon Resort.
Each character feels well realized in a way that the Pokémon franchise has never done before. Rather than feeling like typical silent protagonists in a game, or shonen protagonists in an anime, Concierge has characters that are no different from ones you’d find in your day to day life. It makes every character and their interactions feel honest and realistic in a way that we don’t usually see in this franchise.
However, no Pokémon experience is complete without some adorable Pokémon, and dwarf studios have cracked the code on what makes the creatures of this universe so charming and fun to watch.
The Pokémon of Pokémon Concierge
The Pokémon in Concierge look incredible. Dwarf Studios brings each model to life by hand with detailed precision. Further, the way they adapt them into animation is pretty much flawless. Every character looks expertly designed, and there’s a sense of texture to the Pokémon we don’t often get.
Take Eeevee, for instance. In the anime, you can see that Eevee has some very distinctive fur, pointy ears, and a sort of coat around their neck. While the games are less detailed, you still get a pretty good sense of how Eevee is supposed to look. In Pokémon Concierge, however, the character is designed with such detail that you can see every individual cloth from the stop-motion model. As such, you can almost picture in your mind how Eevee would feel to touch, making the character more realized than any other iteration before it.
There were some Pokémon in this series I never expected to see in a million years, like Seel, Dedenne, Metagross, and even Trubbish of all things. Even the mainstay Pokémon, like Magikarp, are handled in such a way that makes them unique from prior iterations.
It’s been a really long time since a new entry in the series has made me fall in love with Pikachu, but the last episode has a Pikachu that is genuinely really charming and had me hugging myself because of how adorable it was. It’s a testament to how good Pokémon Concierge is, that it is able to balance human characters and Pokémon in a way that feels earned and not phoned in.
The Best of the Best
Pokémon Concierge is a union of everything that makes the Pokémon franchise special. From the realistic and interesting characters, to the adorable and charming Pokémon, to the story that is deceptively simple yet manages to handle complex themes with ease.
There are plenty of aspects I haven’t yet mentioned, such as the main theme performed by Mariya Takeuchi, how each episode focuses on a specific Pokémon and their relationship with the resort, or the little easter eggs like the different Pokémon embroidered into the resort’s wallpapers. The series invites rewatching it a dozen times during specific parts of the year with family and friends.
My only real problem with the series is how short it is. While four episodes is good, the structure of the series makes it so they could make dozens of episodes without anyone getting bored of the anime’s formula. However, in the grand scheme of things, this is nothing. I can only hope that Netflix will renew the series beyond a first season.
As a whole, Pokémon Concierge is the perfect bite-sized watch for fans and newcomers alike. It doesn’t matter if you’ve enjoyed the series since you were a kid or if you’ve never heard of the series before this point, something in Concierge will draw you in. Here’s hoping that The Pokémon Company capitalizes on the series’ fanbase to continue expanding the Pokémon Resort.