YOKOHAMA: It’s that time of the year again – the scenic bayside area of the Minato Mirai harbour district has caught the annual Pikachu fever for the fifth time running.
Held from Aug 10 to Aug 16, this year’s Pikachu Outbreak parade revolves around the theme “Science is Amazing” and will see the familiar sight of more than 1,500 Pikachus storm the streets of the city in lockstep choreography.
Having gained a ton of Experience Points over the years from previous Pokemon invasions, this year’s Pikachu festival has definitely levelled up.
Here are five things to look out for:
1. PIKACHU PARADE AT NOON … AND NIGHT!
Although some day shows had to be cancelled due to temperatures soaring to 38 degrees Celsius, the Pikachus kept up the energy of the crowds which had gathered with hats, umbrellas and fans.
It’s one thing to see the yellow critters marching around in the day but when the sun begins to set and the temperature dips, the pika-pika voices get louder and the Pikachus get their swag on.
For the first time, the Pikachu army will be treating the masses to some slick bopping in the evening. Twinkling lights on the ground form a makeshift runway for the dancing fiends – perfect complements to the Pikachus’ glitzy light-up costumes.
It’s impossible to keep yourself from tapping your feet to the rhythm of the deafening pop music and moves of the human dancers and their giant yellow friends.
You especially will not be able to keep your eyes off the Pikachu with the white afro!
2. OCEAN PIKACHU PARADE
Pikachus and their smiling faces sailing serenely around the Minatomirai inner harbour in three amphibious buses certainly is a sight to behold.
Add house music, dancers in gleaming costumes that catch the sun, and a sea captain Pikachu with his envoy of bobbing Pikachus and you’ve got a party.
But upon hearing the sound of gushing water fill the waterfront venue of the ocean parade, don’t look for umbrellas.
Look instead for the two flyboarders rising from below the pier to 10 metres in the air. The mesmerising spins and twirling of the performers and their water jet packs will momentarily omit the Pikachus from one’s mind.
As if all that fanfare isn’t enough, the Ocean Parade returns for an evening instalment with an almost unrecognisable backdrop. With a dazzling ferris wheel displaying dancing Pikachus and Pokeballs in the background, and colourful lights sweeping the bay, the atmosphere is almost electric.
The parade itself, however, is on another level.
The night version of it is all fancy lights, digital technology and fire.
Pikachus – that did not make an appearance during the day parade – appear on the stage in front of the audience and have projections beamed on them. The projections appear to scan and analyse them the way a Pokedex would, as they dance around.
Later, the flyboarders’ entrance is greeted with plumes of fire illuminating their act. This pyrotechnic show continues with the rest of the Pikachu act later.
For a festival that’s already unveiled many firsts, the cherry on top is the introduction of a beloved Pokemon, that wasn’t a Pikachu, to the parade.
Unlike in past years, when most fans would don Pikachu gear, people were spotted wearing Eevee ears or sporting a bushy brown tail this year.
When the first bright-eyed Eevee bounded out, the crowd broke into a chorus of “Kawaii!”
They didn’t even seem to mind that the Eevees’ parade was cancelled due to temperatures rising to 38 degrees Celsius.
4. SPLASH SHOW
The Splash Show also has a day and night version, with the latter show infused with digital technology too.
Crowds can expect to be soaked from every angle by the water cannons that have been placed strategically around the stage. As Pikachus and Eevees come out to stun you with their dance moves, fountains of water shoot in graceful arcs before raining down on the masses.
Don’t bother with ponchos or umbrellas though: The idea to counter the scorching weather by drenching the crowds is an ingenious one.
5. POKECAFE + POKECENTRE!
If you’re in the area for the Pikachu Outbreak festival, make sure to pop by a Pokemon Centre for cool souvenirs that you cannot purchase online or outside Japan.
Although the Pokemon Centre located inside the Nihonbashi Takashimaya department store is not the biggest, it certainly is a level ahead of the other stores in the country.
The relatively new store is the first to house an official café that has a variety of Pikachu, Raichu, Eevee and even Snorlax shaped food on its menus. Around the café, figurines of other popular Pokemon species grace the venue and provide for excellent selfie opportunities as well.
While you might be tempted to “kiss the cook” for your creative meals when he comes around, we suggest just taking a photo with him!
After having some grub, head on over to the Pokemon Centre to get your hands on area-specific merchandise that cannot be found in other stores.
At this store, about 30 per cent of the products are different from what is available at the other outlets. A large assortment of the collection is said to be catered more for the diehard fan, compared to other stores which carry more general Pokemon products.
Although smaller than the Ikebukuro outlet, another distinct feature that sets this particular store apart is its interactive Pokedex wall.
Customers can access the Pokedex with a single swipe of their finger and scroll through every Pokemon’s vitals and stats, just like in the game.