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Iconic voices behind ‘Pokémon’ headline controversial Pokéverse in Manila

Jessica Bonifacio

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Iconic voices behind ‘Pokémon’ headline controversial Pokéverse in Manila

Pokeverse producer Kirck Allen, and Ash Ketchum voice actor Veronica Taylor at an event press conference, Thursday, May 30, 2024 at Manila House, BGC


While meeting Ash Ketchum voice actor Veronica Taylor and Pokémon theme song singer Jason Paige are a big moment for fans, late start times and disorganized moments are sore points, according to one convention-goer

It’s 1999, and the first-ever broadcast of Pokémon: I Choose You arrives in the Philippines.

In subsequent years, the TV show would find its place in the heart of Filipino childhoods and beyond, inspiring kids to be the very best, like no one ever was.

Two decades and a half later, the voice behind the iconic “Gotta Catch ‘Em All” tagline and theme song Jason Paige, as well as the original English-version Ash Ketchum voice actress Veronica Taylor arrives in Manila for the 3-day Pokéverse Season 1 convention. 

From May 31 to June 2, fans gathered at the SM MegaMall to celebrate all things Pokémon, complete with a game-inspired map, trainer quests, cosplay and gaming competitions, and of course, meet-and-greets with the voice actors behind the beloved show.

When asked about her interactions with fans, Veronica Taylor told the press that she found the personal growth of her audiences particularly memorable.

“You know, one really great thing is that I have had the opportunity to meet kids when they were actually ten and see them now, all these years later, with their own children, and that has been incredible,” she said. She also voiced characters such as May, Deliah Ketchum, and various others in the anime.

“The fact that we’ve all kind of grown up together and that Pokémon is something that’s important enough for someone to want to share it with their children has been pretty crazy.”

Jason Paige dazzled con-goers with energetic performances of the original English theme song, “Viridian City” and “Catch The World With A Throw: A Tribute To Pokémon Go.”

Some of his unforgettable fan interactions involve the emotional connection of people to the theme song. “They have this burst of nostalgia and we have our reuniting moment – somebody that I never knew and who never knew I existed,” the singer said.

Positioned as a premium Pokémon-themed expo, the convention was designed to cater to various fan journeys, focusing on collectibility and nostalgia on the first day, passion and competition on the second day, and champions and family on the last day. 

Guests, many wearing anime-inspired outfits, visited areas including the Pokéverse Museum with its display of valuable Pokémon products, a trading card game (TCG) competition site aptly called Victory Road, an artist alley featuring fan-made merchandise, and many other exhibitions, with daily hosts Tim Yap, Myrtle Sarrosa, and Robbie Domingo.

However, the event drew online criticism following the post of Paranaque artist Rita, second-place winner of the convention’s PokeSinger contest.

According to her, the main stage activities of the convention were well-executed, allowing the audience to engage with fellow fans and hear from the esteemed panelists. However, the experience was soured by delays and unmet expectations.

In a statement on her art page, BintuRita alleged non-consensual filming of the venue’s rest area, as well as general disorganization of the event. She also criticized the exposure of children from the Make-a-Wish foundation, the group that the event was supporting for charity.

Rappler has reached out to the organizers but have yet to respond.

Under her original Facebook post, Pokéverse apologized for the oversights, citing that there was “little time”’ to prepare for the first rendition of the event. The team promised to take feedback to do better the next time around.

IGN noted in their report how attendees were met with late start times, large open areas that offered few Pokémon-themed activities, miscommunicated events, and the ticket prices that ranged from P1,000 for a single-day pass up to a 3-day VIP pass that cost P19,500.

Despite these issues, Rita did acknowledge the upsides of Pokéverse, noting the creatives of the artist alley, the passionate friends she met, and the once-in-a-lifetime experience of meeting international Pokémon icons.

“Watching Veronica Taylor and Jason Paige on the stage having these heartfelt interviews, Jason Paige throwing cards at the audience, a laser light show – it’s fun,” she told Rappler, “It’s easy to ignore all of the flaws of the convention if you were there for a good time, especially when you’re with your kids.”

With a standard family package, the convention attracted parents who wanted to immerse their kids in a safe space to explore the Pokémon community. 

Veronica Taylor told the media that “one of the greatest honors” of her life is people trusting her to hold babies in meet-and-greets, “That does not happen in my real life, and it is quite a joy when it happens at a convention.”

Neither of the guest voice actors expected Pokémon to rise in popularity as much as it had, enabling them to travel far and wide, including the capital of the Philippines.

“When I auditioned for the show, they said it’s going to be on TV, and we all said sure, whatever. And it actually did come on TV, at 6 AM, and then 6:30, and then it kept going,” Veronica shared. “So I had no idea, and I do think that the only reason that it’s gone on this long is because people have taken it and run with it.”

She said that the show empowers audiences to key into creativity and imagination in a way that few other projects do – whether through drawings, stories, or in this case, a fan gathering.

“There’s so much great work in the show and the games and all of that, but I think it’s what people make of it that has allowed it to become the big thing it is today.” –

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