‘Pokémon Concierge’s Psyduck Is Our Anxious King

Movies


Editor’s note: The below contains spoilers for Pokémon Concierge.


The Big Picture

  • Pokémon Concierge enriches the Pokémon mythos by showcasing the depth and emotional complexity of its characters, particularly Psyduck, who grapples with anxiety and fear of his own destructive power.
  • The animation style of Pokémon Concierge gives each mini-monster a unique personality and ability to emote, making them instantly lovable and relatable to viewers.
  • The series offers a more nuanced and contemporary portrayal of Pokémon, allowing them to explore deeper emotions and struggles, resonating with fans who have a special emotional connection to the franchise.

Pokémon Concierge, directed by Ogawa Iku for Netflix, was released just before the new year and granted thousands of Pokémon fans a new installment of the historic franchise to devour. It focuses on the self-conscious Haru (voiced to perfection by Karen Fukuhara in the English version), a harried young woman who recovers from a string of bad luck by working at the Pokémon Resort, a getaway for the titular monsters and their companions to relax and recover. She works hard to learn the ropes of this new role and develops confidence in herself as a hard worker and loving friend.

Along the way, she encounters a number of these creatures and, while each is as adorable as can be, only one really serves to deeply impact not only Haru but the show as a whole: Psyduck, the duck Pokémon. This uneasy critter sets himself apart from the resort’s other residents with his cautious demeanor, tendency to hide, and splitting headaches that lead to a cavalcade of psychic mishaps for everyone around him. Yet by displaying this adorable and constantly confused character, the show not only gives its audience their new favorite Pokémon but also broadens the decades of lore these pseudo-animals hold. It reveals a depth to Pokémon that isn’t often seen and enriches its mythos — all through this cuddly yellow duck (with godly psychic powers) and the friends he makes on his journey.

Pokémon Concierge

Follow the adventures of Haru, a concierge at the Pokémon Resort as she interacts with the Pokémon and their visiting owners.

Release Date
December 28, 2023

Seasons
1

Streaming Service(s)
Netflix


Pokémon Are More Human Than You Think in ‘Pokémon Concierge’pokemon-concierge-psyduck

Pokémon Concierge sets itself apart from the countless projects before it by using stop-motion to present its cast in a new (and adorable) way that, until now, has never been seen before in the franchise. This animation gives every mini-monster an instantly lovable quality and the ability to emote in subtle ways that endow each with its own unique personality. The one to benefit most from this animation is Psyduck himself, whose waddling and strained expressions when using his powers are portrayed to perfection. But while his darling appearance is clear, it’s the anxiety that the Pokémon experiences that the animation excels in showcasing to reveal that, underneath his cute exterior, the duck is under constant duress over the potential destruction his pain can cause.

Anxiety is a feeling that many can relate to, a fear that (whether warranted or not) can lead to someone feeling extremely nervous and dreading something yet to come. Psyduck faces intense anxiety through the show’s first few episodes, as his psychic outbursts leave him constantly remorseful and scared of damaging the resort and its inhabitants, isolating him from the surrounding fun. While he eventually learns to control these headaches with the help of his new friend Haru it’s saddening to see such a cuddly creature suffering because of a sense of worry that so many of the people watching can relate to. This makes the Pokémon that much more endearing, his plight giving him a complexity that challenges the norms of the franchise which usually portray the monsters with a similarly determined, happy-go-lucky attitudes. Psyduck’s realness not only gains him love from the audience, but also signals this limited series’ commitment to displaying its Pokémon in a contemporary, more nuanced light.

Psyduck Isn’t the Only Pokémon to Showcase Deeper Emotions

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Image via Netflix

While Psyduck is Pokémon Concierge’s king of anxiety and cuteness, he’s only the first in this series to showcase a level of emotion that many recent depictions haven’t allowed their adorable beasties. From a Magikarp struggling to evolve to a Pikachu who fails to live up to the boisterous expectations set upon it, this show features a variety of these creatures who face their own cases of internal strife. While this may initially seem out of place in such a cute series, this complexity deepens each Pokémon beyond its cute appeal. In an approachable way, the series endows them all with issues faced by real people, making their journeys to overcoming them that much more heartfelt for all who watch.

Giving so many of its Pokémon this grace allows the show to have a sense of reality sure to resonate with so much of its audience. Of course, Pokémon (sadly) don’t exist in the real world, but from decades of TV shows and movies, countless video games, and apps that allow you to nurture these digital beasts like a real pet, this franchise and its creations hold a special emotional significance for so many fans. The series draws upon this compassion to show what a world with Pokémon could look like, granting them a humanity that projects often forget in favor of showcasing them as fierce battle pawns. By treating Psyduck and his internal conflict sympathetically, the show not only makes viewers fall further in love with the psychic duck but also the numerous other creatures and people who call the island home.

Pokémon Deserve Their Own Special Place (That Isn’t a Pokéball)

While the series’ main character may technically be Haru, Pokémon Concierge’s true emotional center lies within its titular creatures. Whether it be through its animation or its story, the ability to portray each one in a complex way is unmatched when compared to recent projects and is hopefully indicative of more humanistic stories for these cuddly monsters yet to come. Because it’s clear that this franchise is made to last, and while there will always be appeal in its initial conceit of having them battle one another, that doesn’t mean there’s no room for grounded stories about Pokémon and the people who love them. Psyduck is a perfect showcase for why these tales are necessary and the absolute icons they’re able to create; this cute yet conflicted creature gives audiences many examples of its adorableness while also teaching a valuable lesson on anxiety and how to cope with it. It is because of this sweet duck that the story first presents its nuances and begins a welcome wave of allowing these monsters the space they deserve to tell their own stories.

In a world populated by literally thousands of takes on Pokémon, how is one project expected to stand apart from the rest? Even more than that, what is the significance of one that shirks the fast-paced and fight-heavy nature that made the concept so successful in the first place? While immensely different from almost everything that came before it, Pokémon Concierge’s unique premise and animation bring a much-needed dose of empathy to the franchise. Due in large part to its portrayal of resident anxious king Psyduck, it allows the characters at its core (human and Pokémon alike) chances to grow, maneuver, and ultimately heal from issues that will resound with so many fans of the franchise. By allowing its cute creatures a chance at their own narratives, this series is a very welcome and novel addition to an already iconic pantheon of stories.

Pokémon Concierge is available to stream on Netflix in the U.S.

WATCH ON NETFLIX



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