World’s favourite Pokémon named

Danial Norjidi

In celebration of Pokémon’s 25th anniversary, toy review site The Toy Zone recently did an analysis of Google search data to identify the most uniquely popular Pokémon in each country.

According to the study, “In 1996, video game developer Game Freak and Nintendo released Pokémon Red and Blue for the Game Boy. The game introduced 151 Pokémon, known as Generation I. While over 700 new Pokémon have been introduced in the 25 years since Red and Blue came out — in which time Pokémon became the highest-grossing media franchise of all time — the original lineup remains among the most popular in the series.”

The findings reveal that longtime Pokémon mascot Pikachu dominates on a global scale, accounting for roughly one in every 10 Pokémon-related searches around the world, local favourites crop up from country to country, with several clusters appearing in various regions. The study shows results by region.

For the ‘Rest of Asia & Oceania’ region, it states, “The birthplace of Pokémon, Asia has a variety of favourites but Pikachu wins the race. Searches for the franchise’s beloved figurehead account for 21.7 per cent of all Pokémon searches in this area of the world.”

Among the findings for this region was that, for Brunei Darussalam, Eevee emerged as the most popular Pokémon, while Singapore’s was Charizard, Malaysia’s was Gyarados, Indonesia’s was Mew and the Philippines’ was Abra.

Pikachu and Eevee mascots at a Pokémon theme carnival in Singapore in this 2018 file photo. PHOTO: THE ASIAN PARENT SINGAPORE

In the Middle East and Central Asia, the data shows that Pikachu accounts for 23.5 per cent of Pokémon searches – more than twice the 9.2 per cent global average and the most of any Pokémon on the continent.

“After Pikachu, the psychic-type Mew is the most uniquely popular Pokémon in the region. Mew’s cat-like design may be one reason for the heightened popularity in the region.

“Fans have noted Mew’s similarity to the jerboa, a rodent with huge ears, long hind legs, and a wavy tail found throughout the deserts of the Middle East and Central Asia,” stated The Toy Zone. The study also noted that Europe is home to some of the biggest Pokémon fans in the world, stating that according to Google Trends data, Norway ranks as the country with the 10th largest interest in the series.

“Looking at the European continent as a whole, the most popular Pokémon is the spoon-bending psychic-type Abra,” it stated. “After Abra, the most uniquely popular Pokémon in Europe is the rock-type Golem. While searches for Golem account for 1.7 per cent of Pokémon searches worldwide, they account for 2.7 per cent of Pokémon searches in Europe. On a national level, Golem is the most uniquely popular Pokémon in Albania, Austria, Germany, Slovakia, and Switzerland.”

For the North America region, The Toy Zone noted that Pokémon first came to the United States (US) in 1998 with the release of the international version of Game Boy games Pokémon Red and Blue and the English dub of the Pokémon animated television series.

“Today, North America remains one of the largest fan bases of the series,” the study said. “North America – particularly the US – accounts for a bulk of Pokémon searches globally.

“So while Gengar ranks as the most uniquely popular Pokémon in North America, searches for the ghost-type Pokémon are not too much higher than they are on a global scale.

“Searches for Gengar account for 2.6 per cent of all Pokémon searches on the continent, higher than the 2.2 per cent global average. Gengar also ranks as the most uniquely popular Pokémon in the US.”

Meanwhile, for South America, Google Trends data shows that Peru and Chile tie as the countries with the fifth greatest interest in the series worldwide.

“The rock-type Onix is far and away the most popular Pokémon in South America. According to Google keyword data, searches for Onix in South America occur at a rate five times greater than the global average. Onix’s name derives from onyx, a gemstone used in jewellery that is mined throughout the region. The rocky, serpentine Pokémon also shares a name with the Chevrolet Onix, the best-selling car in Latin America from 2016 to 2019.”

For Africa, the study stated that, “like in most of the world, Pikachu ranks as the most uniquely popular Pokémon in Africa. Searches for Pikachu account for 20.1 per cent of all Pokémon-related searches on the continent. After Pikachu, the bulbous, foul-smelling Gloom ranks as the most popular Pokémon on the continent. Gloom accounts for 1.5 per cent of all Pokémon-related searches in Africa, nearly three times the 0.8 per cent global average. On the national level, Gloom ranks as the most uniquely popular Pokémon in Ghana, Kenya, and Mozambique.”

The study also provides a ranking for the most popular of the original 151 Pokémon around the world today, according to global search volume. From these rankings, the top 10 are as follows: Pikachu takes top spot, followed by Charizard in second, Onix in third, Mewtwo in fourth, Eevee in fifth, Gengar in sixth, Mew in seventh, Snorlax in eighth, Lapras in ninth and Gyarados in tenth.

In terms of methodology, the study explained, “To determine the most popular Pokémon in each country for the maps, we used Google Search volume data to identify the Pokémon ranked highest above the global search average.”

Meanwhile, to determine the most popular Pokémon of Generation I, “we identified the global search volume for each Pokémon. Data on Google Search volume came from the Ahrefs Keyword Explorer tool and was collected in February 2021,” it said.