Gotta Catch Em’ All! Watching ‘Pokemon’ Is About To Get Way Harder
— The Pokemon Company
There are few cartoons that survive from childhood into adulthood, and miraculously, Pokémon has been one of them. The Japanese import first took the world by storm when many of us were middle school, now, Pokémania still running wild and stronger than ever. When the original anime arrived in syndication in the US in 1998 (one year after it premiered in Japan), there were only 150 Pokémon to remember (151 if we counted Mew). Today, there are over a thousand to keep track of, with a list that will likely keep growing.
It’s never been a total chore finding ways to watch Ash, Pikachu, and his buddies travel across different islands to meet strange new pocket monsters, but now, it just got harder. Since 2013, the Pokémon TV app allowed fans to enjoy different iterations of the anime on the go for the low, low price of nothing. Those days are coming to an end, as the centralized hub of viewing all things Pokémon is closing their doors to any prospective trainers. So, what are families to do?
The end of the Pokemon TV App
The update arrived from the official Pokémon website, thanking the Pokéfans who used the platform over the years before addressing the situation:
“The Pokémon TV app and website will sunset and the service will end on March 28, 2024. Beginning on January 8, 2024, fans will no longer be able to download the Pokémon TV app from the App Store, Google Play, Roku Channel Store, Amazon Appstore, Nintendo eShop, and Pokemon.com. However, those who already had the app downloaded on their devices prior to January 8, 2024, will still be able to watch available content until the app fully sunsets on March 28, 2024.
Fans aren’t pleased with this announcement, leading some on Reddit to wonder if a premium paid subscription service from The Pokémon Company might be in the works. Luckily, there are still other ways to stay up to date on the classic adventures of Ash and Pikachu, as well as the newest trainers to join the franchise in the series based on Pokémon Scarlet and Violet, Pokémon Horizons.
Where to stream Pokémon
The series isn’t disappearing for good, and there are many other places to get your Pokémon fix. If you hope to catch them all, you’ll need a few subscription badges from different gyms to complete that task. Let’s take a look at what’s out there, and what these platforms have to offer:
Netflix is loaded to the brim with classic and modern Pokémon content, with the most recent addition being their endearing stop-motion animated series, Pokémon Concierge. They also have full seasons like the start of the franchise in Indigo League, and the seasons that concluded Ash and Pikachu’s story, Journeys, Ultimate Journeys, and Master Journeys. Several of the movies are also part of their offerings, including Mewtwo Strikes Back, and Secrets of the Jungle.
This platform will also be the official home of the English dubbed version of Pokémon Horizons, so if having access to that is a critical factor in deciding how to best enjoy the franchise, keep that fact in mind.
Amazon Prime holds the majority of the TV seasons on their service excluding what Netflix currently has in their library. Prime users will have immediate access to most seasons as part of their subscription, with some available a la carte to non-subscribers while others are exclusive only to those with Prime.
Prime users can watch seasons two through 22, including the Gold & Silver league (seasons 3-5), Ruby & Sapphire (seasons 6-9), Diamond and Pearl (season 10-13), XY (seasons 17-19), and concluding with Sun & Moon (seasons 20-22). Likewise, the movies not available on Netflix can be found on Prime or purchased individually on demand, including The First Movie, Pokemon the Movie 2000, Lucario and the Mystery of Mew, Hoopa and the Clash of Ages, Destiny Deoxys, and the live-action Pokémon Detective Pikachu.
Hulu houses a few other series through their Pokemon Company hub, predominantly comprising the XY and XYZ series.
For those who don’t have subscriptions to these platforms, there are still some free options available, but it’s all over the place in terms of what’s viewable. Ruby & Sapphire are available through Amazon’s Freevee service, Tubi has Black & White (seasons 14-16), and Roku users can enjoy Sun & Moon (seasons 20-22). If you have a library card, you can sign up for free to Hoopla, which has Diamond & Pearl (seasons 10-12) and most of the animated films.
The official Pokémon YouTube page has all kinds of shorts available to watch including the Paldean Winds mini-series, but their content goes beyond the anime and includes things related to the video games and collectible card game. Sadly, no movies or full seasons are available, but it’s a decent band-aid when it comes to free content that doesn’t require signing up to another website. It also brought us this instant classic of the many times Ash was roasted, whether that was by a firebreathing Pokémon, or someone else.
The iTunes Store and Google Play are always reliable when it comes to buying movies or seasons on demand, and both of these selections seem to have all the TV seasons and theatrical movies available in one spot. The downside is you’ll have to buy them one at a time, but at least once you do that, you’ll never have to worry about losing them.
Viz was the publisher who first imported the Pokémon manga to the US, and remains a solid place to pick up Pokémon books and DVDs. While the other sites on this list are mainly streaming, Viz is where you’ll want to go for physical media, with their selection varying on what’s in stock.
The future of Pokémon seems brighter than a Charizard’s flame, and there will always be methods to keep tabs on the ongoing series. For the time being, it might be more difficult than it once was, but like Ash learned throughout the series, a little hard work is worth it for the joy of hanging out with Pikachu and pals.