Bewear & Pikachu Storm into Ikebukuro for 1000th Pokémon Episode Celebration

posted on by Kim Morrissy

It's one thing to see a cuddly Pikachu, but imagine running into a Bewear in your local shopping mall. Would you be happy or terrified to see one of these cute yet vicious creatures walking toward you?

Pokémon fans in Tokyo were able to experience this unique oddity for themselves, when a Pokémon Sun & Moon stage event was held in Ikebukuro on November 11th to celebrate the broadcast of the 1000th Pokémon anime episode. The event, which was staged inside Ikebukuro's Sunshine City mall, ran between 12:00 - 6:00 p.m. The lead voice actors of the Pokémon Sun & Moon anime attended for several quirky stage shows, including a segment where a person in a Bewear costume taught them how to do the Z-Move poses.

I was one of the many onlookers at this spectacle. Here's a brief lowdown of the stage events that took place throughout the day:

Bewear Teaches You the Z-Moves

There's something brilliantly ironic about seeing someone wearing a Bewear costume. The Pokémon itself is designed to look like one of those gaudy mascot characters that litter Japanese malls and promotional events. These mascots try to be cute and endearing, but often come across as kind of creepy instead due to their hollow expressions and the fact that there's a grown person inside of them. Bewear amps up the creepy-cute appeal by being terrifyingly strong, so of course there was no better Pokémon to call upon as the Master of the all-powerful Z-moves.

The stage show began with the voice actors of Lillie (Kei Shindou), Lana (Hitomi Kikuchi), and Sophocles (Fumiko Takekuma) attempting to enact the Z-Move poses shown in the ending theme of the anime. Note that they only attempted to do the ones Ash does with Pikachu in the first version of the theme: Fire, Electric, Ghost, and Fighting.

As it turns out, the voice actors weren't very good at it, and it was clear that they hadn't practiced the moves. So the host called upon the help of the Master to teach them the correct way of doing things. After a short pause… Bewear appeared.

Bewear wasn't actually a good teacher or particularly adept at doing the moves. He couldn't talk, and his movements were restricted by his costume. But that never got in the way of the joke. What followed was a short and fun rehearsal session of the Z-Moves, with the host playing the actual role of the teacher. Finally, everyone (including the kids in the audience) did the poses in time with the anime clip.

Everyone had improved greatly by the end. Thank you, Bewear the Master!

Rica Matsumoto's Live Performance

Rica Matsumoto has been playing Ash since the very beginning of the Pokémon anime. After all these years, she's still able to connect with the kids and energize them in a way that the other voice actors can't. At the stage event, Matsumoto performed a few songs that will be on the “Aim to Be a Pokémon Master” 20th Anniversary mini album that will be releasing on the 29th of November. These included the opening themes of the Sun & Moon and the XYZ anime. She got the kids singing along to the choir chorus parts of the Sun & Moon theme, and I even noticed quite a few adults singing along too!

Pokémon Ga-Olé Special Stage

Pokémon Ga-Olé is the latest Pokémon arcade game to launch in Japanese shores. It was released mid-last year, and the game is still rolling out new features, including the ability to use physical Z-ring toys to active Z-moves in the game. This stage event was mostly dedicated to showing off gameplay footage and singing along to the game's theme song.

Let's Solve Poké Problems!

Poké Problems is the name of the question-and-answer segment at the end of each Sun & Moon episode. The voice actor of Professor Kukui (Keiichi Nakagawa) joined Ash, Lillie, Lana, and Sophocles's actors to quiz the audience on their Pokémon knowledge. The questions were, for the most part, very easy. For example, Lillie's actor asked which Pokémon was Lillie's companion in the anime… while holding a plush doll of said Pokémon.

Lana's question was fun. At first, she tricked the audience into thinking she'd ask which Pokémon was her companion. After stating that it was Popplio, she asked what its signature move was. The answer was “Balloon” but she cheekily pretended that it was “Mega Evolution,” only to say that she was lying after everyone reacted with amazement. Needless to say, this was very in-character.

As for Kukui, he gave the hardest question of all, but the kids still knew the answer anyway. Don't underestimate kids and their Pokémon knowledge!

The Final Stage

By the time the final stage started, it was 5:00 p.m., but the crowd hadn't gotten any smaller in the meantime. Everyone cheered wildly when the voice actors stepped onto the stage for their final appearance. This time, they were joined partway through by Kiawe's voice actor (Kaito Ishikawa), which inspired even more cheering.

“Why were you late?” asked his fellow actors.

In truth, it was written in the schedule that Ishikawa would only turn up at this hour, but he said, “My Charizard was being slow,” which got the audience to crack up in laughter. As punishment for being late, Rica Matsumoto threw her Pikachu at Ishikawa.

After the laughter had finally subsided, the voice actors got on with the final stage event. This time, they played a game with the audience: they'd show a before-and-after shot of the Sun & Moon anime's latest key visual, and the kids would point out the difference.

The result was even more hilarity. First, the Cosmog was replaced by an Alolan Marowak, then the Pikachu was replaced by another Alolan Marowak, and then finally the Solgaleo was replaced by a Hiker. Anyone who had played through the Fire Trial of the Sun & Moon games realized that it was the exact same pattern, which made it even funnier.

Overall, it was a fun day out in Sunshine City, and it was nice to see both kids and adults showing their enthusiasm for the Pokémon franchise. To wrap things up, Rica Matsumoto performed some Pokémon themes, and the kids got to take a picture with the voice actors. It seems that the voice actors themselves had a lot of fun too, as Rica Matsumoto later tweeted: “I hope that Pokémon will go on for 2,000 or 3,000 episodes.”

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