To our knowledge, this is the first official crossover between two of Japan’s largest media franchises ever; the pirate series that’s become the most successful anime/manga ever, One Piece, and the monster collecting game turned show turned live-action Hollywood detective movie, Pokémon. Specifically, this crossover with Pokémon will take place in the ‘real-life’ Pokémon GO AR mobile game. This year marks the 22nd-anniversary for One Piece and the 3rd for Pokémon GO and the two are teaming up to celebrate these anniversaries. However, that’s not the only reason. This unbelievable tie-up will also go on to serve the Kumamoto Rebuilding efforts that have been ongoing since the city’s earthquakes 3 years ago.
The crossover will have three different components. First, this limited-edition ‘Straw Hat Pikachu’, which will be made available to the public July 22 through July 29. As you can see from the image above, Luffy’s signature straw hat with the unmistakable red ribbon can also be obtained as an item for trailers to wear. Finally, this statue you see of Luffy is set to be put up in Kumamoto later this month. That statue has been designated as a Pokéstop, where players of Pokémon GO will be able to grab Pokéballs and other helpful items.
You probably wouldn’t say that Pokémon and One Piece aren’t in direct competition, although they are both still extremely popular with children in Japan. Pokémon definitely has a bigger pull on the worldwide spectrum, but don’t underestimate how big One Piece is in Japan and other parts of Asia. A crossover like this is very welcome if only for us to get to see ‘Straw Hat Pikachu’, pure marketing genius. Will this tie-up open new possibilities for Pokémon and other anime franchises? Is there a future where Naruto Headband Pikachu exists? I guess only time will tell.