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Video: Meet the strange and beautiful fans of the Pokémon Symphony

On June 6th at Madison Square Garden theater, an orchestra performed Pokémon songs for an audience of almost 800 fans.

Everything I know about Pokémon I learned in 4th grade, half-asleep at 6 a.m. All of my peers were watching the then-new anime about sentient animal battles, and so was I. But I never had the Gameboy games, and no one really understood how to play the card game at my Kentucky elementary school. Still, I can appreciate the franchise’s iconic place in the zeitgeist.

Enter Pokémon Symphonic Evolutions.

August 15, 2014 in Washington, D.C.

I decided my reintroduction to the popular series should be an IRL cultural one, rather than relying on Wikipedia and eBay. The symphony traveled to Madison Square Garden from Philly (they’re on tour all summer), and I decided to check it out. I don’t know what I expected, but it was much more extravagant — with a diverse crowd — than I could have imagined. Cosplay, stuffed animals, and an ability to wait in extremely long lines — these fans were true die-hards. In fact, they watched beyond the show’s first season (I didn’t even know that show had seasons, but I digress) and most consider their favorite Pokémon to be ones that I’ve never even heard of, like:

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Togepi?

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Aegislash, which is a sword/haunted Pokémon (which is a real thing). And…

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Phanpy, a sort of tiny adorable elephant.

Do I feel like part of the community? Not at all. But not because they weren’t welcoming. Mostly I have a long Netflix queue and can’t commit to catching up on 15 years of a single series. I would totally recommend the symphony, though. The music from the game is really beautiful and there’s basically no line for alcohol.

Images via Salanchu and Pokemon Online

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