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HD remasters of original Pokemon anime freshen up a classic

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Lookin’ good, Ash

The Pokémon cartoon’s first season is back on TV in Japan for a limited time, and it’s got a whole new look. The series has been remastered in high definition for this special re-airing, and clips show a much brighter, cleaner version of the classic.

Maybe that goes without saying — that’s how high-def remasters work, after all. But almost 20 years after the show premiered, it’s kind of shocking to see how old Pokémon looks these days. A comparison video from fan site Fushihara, above, really hammers that in, short it may be.

Note that there are three versions of the premiere episode included. The top left image comes from the 2017 remaster; below it, the 2012, 15th anniversary redux; and on the right, the original version.

These changes are subtle, but they’re most apparent for anyone with strong memories of the show in its original airing. I remember watching Pokémon back in the day on Kids’ WB (rest in peace), when it was so new and exciting. That battle animation, which looks so budget-priced these days, was unspeakably cool; the colors were bright and refreshing. Now, those old episodes look dull, aged; the HD versions prove it, with their cleaned-up color palette.

I suppose that’s how aging works, of course. (I’m almost due for an “HD remaster,” myself.) Japanese viewers can continue to wax nostalgic about the changes as select episodes air for the next nine weeks in Japan. The whole promotion is in honor of the series’ recent 20th film, which is in itself a throwback to the original anime.

For stateside fans, we can pick up the HD re-release of first season in its entirety on iTunes, Amazon and Google Play. The Pokémon Company made them available in late June, and the trailer below really does make it clear how much older we’ve all gotten. Ash might have stayed the same age, but the kid’s definitely seen better days.