It turns out the best Pokémon TV series isn’t the anime — nor can we understand a word of it.
Pokémon Puppet Theatre — or “Puppémon” — is a series of shorts exclusive to the franchise’s Japanese YouTube channel. Yet that shouldn’t stop a Pokémon-obsessed viewer to fall in love with them, no matter what language they speak.
For the non-native speaker, they may seem hard to get into; each of the five episodes thus far are in Japanese without any subtitles in other languages. Yet Puppémon is some easily endearing stuff, a sort of Sesame Street-esque take on the classic franchise.
The show focuses around a group of Pokémon hand puppets that varies from episode to episode, like old-school favorites Pikachu and Meowth to newbies like Pancham. Every short covers some topic important to the Pokémon universe, whether it’s evolution or simply getting used to new Pokémon friends.
Take the newest episode, for instance, which premiered just yesterday and is embedded up at the top: Pancham and his buddy Shellder come across Pokémon Sun and Moon monster Stufful, of whom Pancham is immediately skeptical. But with some encouragment from Shellder, and quick proof of Stufful’s fighting-type strength, the monster wins Pancham’s trust.
At least, that’s what we can glean from our limited understanding of the language. Yet this is the kind of show where not knowing any Japanese doesn’t matter: Puppémon is an adorable, at times bizarre watch that’s sure to be a must-see for any Pokémon fan.
Correction: Pancham is palling around with Shellder, not its evolution Cloyster. The story above has been amended to reflect this.