With just three days of 2023 to go, Netflix has launched a late contender for the best of 2023 lists: Pokémon Concierge, which launched yesterday on 28 December, is getting rave reviews. The only negative: with just four episodes of less than twenty minutes each, there isn't enough of it.
The series is a decidedly chill take on the global phenomenon: according to the blurb, "when Pokémon need a break, they head to a peaceful resort to relax, looked after by a team of Pokémon concierges". One of those concierges is newcomer Haru, who has to learn how to care for the likes of Pikachu, Eve, Magikarp and Dragonite.
According to The Verge, it's "a gorgeous testament to the power of relaxation" that's "utterly delightful". And it looks like other critics are just as charmed – especially critics who are also gamers.
What the critics are saying about Pokémon Concierge
NME says it's a "fun, fluffy iteration of the Pokémon world", while Paste magazine loved everything but the short running time: "If there’s any true weakness to Pokémon Concierge, it’s that there’s not enough of it. This first season contains only four episodes, which are all around 15 minutes long, so you can binge the whole thing in an hour... give me more cute adventures in this world and I'll always be happy to return to it."
Polygon says the show is chicken soup for their soul: rather than focusing on battling and catching, like pretty much every other Pokémon game, show or movie, this is much calmer and has a great underlying message. "What’s best about this particular series — and why I feel like this show is Chicken Soup for Pokémon Fans — is how it shows how living a gentle life doesn’t just help the Pokémon, it also helps Haru."
IGN says it's "a dream come true for cozy gamers... a refreshingly low-stakes, conflict free, series about day-to-day life at the idyllic and serene Pokémon Resort." While the core message is hardly new – "The promise of uprooting your life and finding something better in your new location is an eternally appealing trope — hello every single Christmas movie" – it's done really well here and there's a strong influence from that other huge gaming phenomenon Animal Crossing.
As IGN puts it: "vibes are far more vital than any heavy narrative here — much like the delightful life sim games that inspired it — and the best part is you can watch it without any worries of heavy topics or even the light stress of the Pokémon battles that usually make up the films, shows, and games." It's "the perfect place to relax as the year comes to an end".
Pokémon Concierge is streaming now on Netflix.
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Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall (Twitter) has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR.