This adorable mini-series is a reminder that while it’s okay to hustle, we should not forget to take care of ourselves.
If there’s one series you should start your new year with, then it must be this gentle, low stakes take on one of Japan’s most popular and beloved exports, Pokémon. Pokémon Concierge, the latest entry into the widely and wildly famous franchise, feels like one deep breath to calm down our nerves before we dive headfirst into another year of ups and downs.
The four-episode first season dropped on Netflix last Dec. 28, with critics and even hardcore Pokémon fans raving about the heartwarming storyline and the spellbinding animation. The visuals and the vibe are like a cross between Pokémon and Animal Crossing—and I’m not complaining since I love both! Pokémon Concierge is near-perfect, with my only qualm being its only four episodes long with each episode running for 15 to 19 minutes.
Real life is just like the Pokémon world. We get tired. The Pokémon and trainers get tired. We all need some time off to let loose and let go of our worries so we can face the world again with renewed vigor and optimism. And this is what’s at the heart of Pokémon Concierge—self-care.
The show revolves around Haru and her stint as a concierge at the Pokémon Resort, where Pokémon (and even their humans) can go when they need a break. Haru herself needs a place to breathe and heal after a bad breakup and a series of other misfortunes. On the island, she learns how to take care of Pokémon guests and in the process also figures out a new side to herself.
Pokémon Concierge is the first collaboration between the global streamer and Japanese firm The Pokémon Company. It is directed by Ogawa Iku based on a screenplay by Doki Harumi, with concept art and character design by Uesugi Tadahiro, and production at Dwarf Animation Studios. Iconic Japanese singer Mariya Takeuchi performs the catchy main theme song, “Have a Good Time Here.”
The Japanese voice cast includes: Non (In This Corner of the World) as Haru, Ai Fairouz (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stone Ocean) as Alisa, Okuno Eita (Yell) as Tyler, and Takemura Yoshiko (Tiger & Bunny) as Watanabe.
The beauty of the series goes beyond its felt-crafted stop-motion animation that is just too lovely. Its premise is also a gem; it’s a timely reminder of the value of self-care amid life’s many stresses. Each episode also carries an important lesson that could inspire us in being the best version of ourselves while finding joy in simple things.
Here are four life lessons (or reminders) you’ll come across while gushing over the adorable Pokémon guests of Pokémon Concierge.
Episode 1: Don’t forget to have fun!
Mrs. Watanabe, the kind and soft-spoken resort manager, reminds Haru to not forget to have fun. A shy Pikachu takes center stage in the final episode.
Haru arrives on the island jaded and disillusioned about life. She’s just recovering from a bad breakup among other unhappy incidents and decides that some time working at the Pokémon Resort might help her unwind. Ms. Watanabe, the resort’s manager, welcomes her to the island. She tells Haru that since it’s her first day, she can enjoy the resort as a guest.
On her second day on the island, Ms. Watanabe asks Haru how her first day had been. In response, Haru brandishes her laptop and delivers a presentation which she spent a good part of the night preparing, while feeling guilty about relaxing too much. Halfway through, Mrs. Watanabe cut her off, saying that as much as she appreciates the data Haru put together, she was hoping for a different answer from her. This leaves our protagonist momentarily clueless.
Pokémon Concierge has been widely praised for its gorgeous visuals and stop-motion animation.
Then, as if on cue, the three elemental monkey Pokémon Pansage, Pansear, and Panpour appear and start making Haru laugh. She tells Ms. Watanabe that she observed how the Pokémon at the resort are doing what they want and are having fun, which made her realize how silly her problems were after all. Ms. Watanabe confirms that’s the answer she wants to hear.
Life is no walk in the park. Like Haru, we all have our share of moments we would rather move on from and forget. But through it all, we can learn to take these bad times in stride and with grace—easier said than done, of course—but there’s no harm in trying. And while we’re at it, we can try to have some bit of fun, too.
Episode 2: Know what makes your loved ones happy and make it happen
Haru is joined on the island by fellow concierges Alisa and Tyler. The series also features other fan-favorite Pokémon like Dragonite.
In the second episode, Haru continues to be worried that she might not be able to get her job done, which is to make the Pokémon on the island happy, following the resort’s motto, “Pokémon first.”
A shy and elusive Psyduck catches Haru’s attention and she decides that she will make it feel happy, remembering Ms. Watanabe’s words. She then proceeds to know more about Psyducks, learning through research that this type of Pokémon experiences constant headaches and when it becomes unbearable it becomes a psychic power. Haru wonders how her Psyduck can control its power so it won’t go out of control.
The scene quickly shifts to Alisa, Haru’s fellow concierge, guiding a Mudkip on how to properly water plants without knocking them over because of too much water pressure. She advises the young Pokémon that it should let out just a little bit of water, its source of power, at a time to avoid hurting the plants and flowers. Haru overhears this and gives the same advice to Psyduck, who in turn has started to be able to control its power much better.
The same is true for us. Discovering what we’re good at and honing our skills take time—and a lot of patience. It’s always a good idea then to not rush things and take them one mindful step at a time.
Also, in this episode it was mentioned how Pokémon, like humans, can be unpredictable. This can cause us a certain level of anxiety. Alisa’s words, however, give us comfort: “All you can do is find out what makes them happy and make it happen.” Taking Alisa’s words to heart, Haru does her best to spend more time and get to know more about the Pokémon in the resort so she can fulfill her job by making them happy.
Episode 3: Find out what you’re good at and what makes you happy so you can evolve
Pokémon fans and casual viewers alike will find so many reasons to gush over the cute animation. Haru, Psyduck, and Nao try to boost shy little Pikachu’s confidence through different fun activities. Shy little Pikachu finally finds his voice towards the end of the last episode.
Haru is in awe of Alisa being able to do so many things so well, muttering to herself that all she’s ever good at is making mistakes. Alisa tells her that instead of focusing on the bad, a better idea is to figure out what you’re good at—and this is also how one, just like Pokémon, can evolve into a better, stronger version of oneself.
It’s not enough to find out what you’re good at, however. Tyler, another concierge, reminds Haru that you should try finding out what makes you happy. Just like one Magikarp in the resort who doesn’t allow its inability to swim despite being a water-type Pokémon to prevent it from having fun.
Tyler’s advice brings us back to the first episode’s lesson: Don’t forget to have fun! Of course, it’s perfectly fine to work hard, but we should not lose the capacity to have a good laugh, to look around and appreciate the little things, and to just have a good time and relax—like what the Snorlax in the series does!
Episode 4: Learn to accept others for who they are and try not to change them
Psyduck, who is cursed with regular headaches, is among the most popular characters in the Pokémon universe.A Snorlax basks in the sun without a care in the world—a gentle reminder of how we should take time to relax and recharge.
The final episode of season 1 shines the spotlight on a Pikachu like no other. Instead of being the usual sprightly and outgoing Pikachu, a young boy named Nao’s Pokémon is timid, skittish, and aloof. This is the reason why he decided to bring his Pikachu to Pokémon Resort, hoping that being in the presence of Pokémon experts and others like it could help the shy little one become “louder.”
Haru assures Nao that his Pikachu isn’t the only one who’s acting out of character, saying how there are other Pokémon on the island who don’t act like they’re expected to. She tells Nao they should not force his Pikachu to be more Pikachu-like because “It doesn’t really need to make loud noises. And it may not be any good at battles. But Pikachu is still Pikachu.”
In the end, the shy little Pikachu was able to find its voice, shouting out a resounding “Pika-chuuu” to his island friends just as their ship was making its way from the island into the horizon. What a fitting way to end a series that was all about self-care and self-discovery!
As of writing, Netflix has yet to announce if the series will be renewed for a second season or not. All fans could do for now is to sit back, relax, rewatch, and relive Pokémon Concierge’s magic all over again; it’s only for a feel-good hour or so after all!