Pokemon Concierge episode 1 review: I'm Haru, the New Concierge!

Pokemon Concierge starts off living up to it's video game roots by feeling like the show is starting with a tutorial. This slow moving episode spends its time by setting up the world and the characters.

Pokémon Concierge on Netflix
Pokémon Concierge on Netflix /

The first episode of Pokemon Concierge starts off by giving us a little backstory on the series protagonist Haru. Much like almost every Stardew Valley-like farm sim you've ever played, Haru is living in the big city and things aren't going great. Her boyfriend has broken up with her via text, her job is absolutely stressing her out, and she's exhausted.

She wanted a change of pace when she discovered a job opening at a Pokemon Resort that seemed to be the life change she desperately needed.

Upon arrival she meets her employer, Ms. Watanabe who grants her a small tour of the main resort area while explaining that Haru's job will be to meet the needs of guests, human and Pokemon alike. And to best understand this, she tells Haru to spend a day as a guest. Going about things her own way and just exploring to understand things better.

Of course, Haru, who had a bad breakup and a strict job previously, has trust issues and therefore only sees this as a test and is still in "work mode".

Along the way, she meets two of the other people who will be working with her at the resort; Tyler and Alisa. Tyler, who looks like a buff version of Shaggy from Scooby-Doo, is in character of sanitation services and also in charge of the exercise and yoga programs though, he does state that he does so "for fun". Aisha is a part-time employee who seems to work as the island fashionista who helps Haru get a more comfortable outfit.

She later meets back up with Watanabe who offers Haru a massage. Normally this would be wildly inappropriate if it wasn't for the fact that Watanabe is also the resort masseuse. During the massage, Haru falls asleep. She wakes up to find that she had been left there to get a nap and feels horrifically guilty for relaxing and decides to make up for it by stressing herself out and coming up with a variety of reports in her room on her laptop.

The next day when Ms. Watanabe has a meeting with her, she asks Haru how her time was on the island. This is met with a series of reports of data compilations that Haru worked on the night before, much to the disappointment of Watanabe. But when Haru noticed some Pokemon playing around she burst out laughing, explaining how she noticed how peaceful they are when they just let loose letting Watanabe know that Haru is getting it...just hasn't applied it to herself yet.

Watanabe gives her a task: Spend the rest of the day finding a Pokemon in need and helping them. This is the one thing Haru isn't ready for as her life of office work kept her life free of Pokemon.

While sitting on the beach and pondering how she's going to go about her plan and stressing herself out, she noticed a Psyduck watching her. This Psyduck has been following her around the island, appearing briefly in several scenes before disappearing into the foliage of the island.

Haru gets up to follow the Psyduck and the episode ends.

Thoughts on Pokemon Concierge episode 1

I feel like this episode felt like the tutorial for a video game. It was very slow paced and introduced concepts slowly, one at a time. For a show about a stressed-out adult trying to find a way to break from their stressful lifestyle, it moved at the pace of a children's show. It was hard to fully peg down exactly what audience it was as I felt it over-explained things and my kids (8, 10) felt it hard to relate to.

It does set up a rather charming universe but it doesn't play with it. While we're introduced to several of the main characters we never really get a feel for what the show will be, which is odd because that's normally what a pilot is supposed to give you an idea of.

What we get, instead, feels like my last several first days of work. Lengthy explanations of simple concepts and at the end of the day no idea what I'm actually supposed to do. This is a problem Haru encounters too as every time she tries to figure out what her job is she never gets a solid answer. It just feels all over the place.

It was also rough at times because the dubbing was really bad in several moments of the show. The animation was based on Japanese dialogue and so the people doing the English dub relied on the age-old trick of "pausing until the mouth moves again". There's a moment where Haru is riding her scooter and watches a Dragonite fly overhead and says "This really is a Pokemon paradise." But when she says it she throws this massive pause and says, "This really is.............a Pokemon paradise." The whole episode is filled with unnatural pauses that take you out of an immersion.

The other thing that I didn't even notice until one of my kids brought it up is that while we're supposed to see Haru's coworkers as people who are going to befriend her and help her on her way, they kinda suck. In an effort to get us, the viewer, familiar with them, they're presented as an extreme caricature of who they are.

Ms. Watanabi is so easy going she puts Haru to sleep, Tyler suddenly makes Haru do an exercise causing her to fall in the water, a moment he does not seem to be phased by, and Alisa just forces Haru to come with her so she can put her in a different outfit. If my first day on a job involved one employee knocking me into a river, another coworker making me change my clothes, followed by my boss giving me a massage I'd nope out so hard I'd vanish from existence.

The Psyduck, who clearly will become Haru's Pokemon, became my most relatable character because so far it seems to just want to avoid most of these characters but is interested in what's going on with Haru. It seems fairly obvious how their relationship will develop too because if there's any Pokemon that conveys the constant headache of living in the corporate world, it's Psyduck.

I'm still interested in seeing what this show is going but as of right now it's a bit of a slog. This episode gets:

4 Existential Crises Stemming from Abusive Workplaces out of 10

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