Sunday, 22 November 2015

Pokémon: Symphonic Evolutions (Sydney Opera House)

Yesterday I went to that one building that has become very iconic in Sydney, not merely to take pictures, but to actually go inside as well. Yup, I went to a Pokémon orchestra within the Sydney Opera House, and it was a blast.

Despite sitting quite far away from the stage, I could still see everything clearly, including the beautiful interior.

Pokémon has existed for 20 years already. With such a history, it is bound to evoke some childhood memories and also to create new ones. Indeed, the Concert Hall was not only filled with dads taking their little boys to an orchestra about their favourite anime, many adults were there simply to relive their childhood. This was proven during the wait before the orchestra, where a big screen would show some silhouettes of several Pokémon, asking: "Who's that Pokémon?". Just the way it is always done in the anime series. Kids would joyfully yell the names of the Pokémon, while adults couldn't help but laugh because of the reminder.

If you're reading this and didn't click away out of disgust (because you're #tooOld for #cartoons), you'll probably know who these Pokémon were. If not, no worries, because they also showed some newer generation Pokémon from Pokémon black/white and X/Y which I was actually not familiar with.
The orchestra revolved around the Pokémon games. It traversed from Pokémon yellow/red/blue to black/white/X/Y. I can still remember possessing a Gameboy Colour, playing games such as Donkey Kong and Pokémon. Compared to nowaday's games, their graphics are so very pixelated, simple and perhaps even considered ugly, yet they fulfilled hours of amusement to me as a kid. I am not that much of a die-hard fan: I only got to the stage of possessing a Gameboy Advanced, and after that played my Pokémon games on a Gameboy Simulator on my laptop. I got as far as ruby/sapphire, therefore I was unfamiliar with anything after that. Yet, it was both nostalgic and exciting to go through this both old and new journey, as the intro would prove:

I took this video from YouTube and it is actually from a show in Vancouver, but I really wanted to share this intro as I think it sums everything up. Indeed, Pokémon has gone through an evolution. It went from black and white pixel-art in Pokémon Yellow to something more 3D in Pokémon X/Y. Yet, there is one thing that remains constant in all the games: the protagonist wants to dominate the world. Okay okay, perhaps that's not exactly how they word it, but it's essentially the same as "wanting to be the very best", "catching 'em all", defeating all gym leaders, hunting down ancient Pokémon, going through the Pokémon league and ensuring a spot in the 'Hall of Fame'.

The orchestra made good use of their big screen, as we went through the games as if we were playing them on our big-ass Gameboy. Some might deem it cheesy, but it evoked quite some laughter and cheering from the audience. As we started in Pallet Town, Red had to choose his very first Pokémon. To the audience's dismay, he chose a Charmander, even though they cheered for a Bulbasaur, but that was quickly forgiven as we proceeded in Red's journey, going through battles with Gym leaders and, of course, being disturbed by Team Rocket.

The whole orchestra was both clever and amusing, as the intermission would show, where our Pokémon just finished healing at the Pokémon Center:

I didn't dare to take too many videos because I was supposed to turn my phone off. It was probably better that way anyway, because every time I record something I focus on the screen instead of my actual surroundings. I enjoyed being in the moment, listening to the 'Songs of the Towers' as we met legendary Pokémon such as Suicune, Registeel and Kyogre again. I forgot about so many elements and changes in the games which I enjoyed. One of my favourite things to do was floating around in the sea using 'surf' which showed us sitting on a Lapras (one of my favourite Pokémon back then), but soon we were even able to dive into the waters or climb up a waterfall. I can't believe I'm saying this with such seriousness. Then again:

            "I told you we'd be friends forever." :'( awww

The environments have also changed so much throughout the games. They progressed from simple caves and mountains to volcanoes which could only be reached with a cable car. Soon we were even able to build our own 'secret base' (still doesn't sound like a step towards world domination?) by using 'secret power', allowing us to decorate to our heart's desire within caves, trees or whatever.  By the time the orchestra got to Pokémon Black/White, I could hardly recognise my childhood game anymore.

But despite the many changes the games went through, or that the people in the audience probably started and stopped at different times in their lives, I am sure that everyone knew the lyrics to their childhood anthem:

I still can't believe that a whole audience in the Sydney Opera House sang along on 'Gotta catch 'em all'. I thought that this venue was defined as the pinnacle of being culturally educated, and I know that people will judge me on writing such a long post about an anime-based orchestra, but even if the big screen wasn't there, it would still be an enjoyable show. I simply cannot imagine how anyone could have the brain to compose something like this, and how more than 30 people could work with each other in harmony.

I never listen to classical music in my spare time but I have always enjoyed a particular kind of game music for their sophistication, despite their associations. The music is so very detailed and layered with different instruments, it takes more than just letting it play on the background as with most pop music to know it by heart. If you tune your ears to the music you can hear each layer, even that slightest sound of a triangle. During the Pokémon Symphony I was actually focussed on the one playing the triangle as well, because I was wondering how it would feel. So many nerves must be clogging up while you wait throughout a whole song for that perfect moment to hit the triangle once. As it appears, the one playing the triangle also played the drums, so I guess that takes away from the nerve-wrecking wait.

Overall, it was such a nice experience to go to an orchestra for the first time in my life, and within the Sydney Opera House of all places. I would highly suggest anyone taking a look inside, even if it's not for Pokémon, because the Concert Hall was beautiful and there's just so much to this building. Even its surroundings seem to be perfectly constructed as can look out to the Harbour Bridge from within the building, or just relax at the bars surrounding the building:

The Sydney Opera House, inside-out.

And of course, there's The Rocks, with its markets and street artists. Besides Bondi Beach and Newtown, this must be one of my other favourite places to hang around in Sydney. Christmas is also in the air (while it's summer!), and this time I also took the time to have a very healthy lunch (lol) at 'La Renaissance Café Patisserie' with some chocolate and raspberry bliss. I bought three deserts: Zulu, Goya and Tranche au Chocolate (if I remember correctly). They are quite pricy, 10 dollars each, but I felt like I deserved some sweets after being here for a whole semester and mostly living on bread.

Walking around The Rocks and pampering myself.

There's roughly a month left before I go back to the Netherlands, and I'm not sure when I'll come back to this place again but I must say I have captured enough pictures to remember it as it was. Even on a cloudy day it remains stunning:

Panorama of Sydney Harbour, and damn, I have never seen such a huge ship.

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