Pokémon Concierge Is the Healing Balm We Need to Wrap Up 2023
Netflix's four-part miniseries gives its Pokémon — and its audience — a much-needed vacation.
For 25 years, the Pokémon saga has been focused on only one aspect of its eponymous monsters. Generations of trainers have used Pokémon in battles against their own kind, and while that concept has only recently run out of steam, it’s high time those Pokémon got a chance to rest on their laurels.
This idea fuels the premise of Netflix’s latest, Pokémon Concierge. The four-part animated series gives Pokémon the Animal Crossing treatment: rather than captive creatures goaded into gladiator battles, the Pokémon enjoy some well-deserved R&R at an island resort. While some are accompanied by their trainers, others are their own masters. Some even find gainful employment at Pokémon Resort, a concept that’s just as endearing as it sounds.
Pokémon Concierge follows a new (human) hire, Haru, as she learns how to tend to the needs of the Pokémon in her care. While the job doesn’t come naturally at first — like so many Zillennial workaholics, Haru struggles to get out of her own head — interacting with so many sweet Pokémon doesn’t require all that much effort. With the help of a bashful Psyduck, Haru gradually learns to let go and live in the moment.
In caring for the resort’s varied and adorable guests, Haru inadvertently begins to care for herself. Through her, we get a fresh glimpse at a handful of iconic Pokémon, from a timid Pikachu and their disgruntled trainer to a Magikarp that needs pool floaties to swim. Each is struggling in their own way, and it falls to Haru to help them in any way she can. Tellingly, our hero finds the most success when she lets herself have fun with the guests and her co-workers.
It’s a far cry from any other installment of the Pokémon franchise: the games and shows have always been entertaining, but chances for self-reflection are few and far between. In a way, Pokémon Concierge is making up for years of lost time, but there’s no better moment for the series to hit our screens. 2023 was full of highs and lows, and the future is uncertain.
Pokémon Concierge gives us the opportunity to travel elsewhere for a moment. Its combination of low-stakes slice-of-life and adorably innovative animation serves as a breath of fresh air before the new year. It’s a shame it’s only able to offer that experience in four short episodes, each clocking in at 20 minutes or less. But each installment of Concierge renders its lush, tactile world with beauty and precision. While our time spent at Pokémon Resort is brief, it’ll always be there to offer us a reset when we need it.