The mainline Pokémon anime has been running strong for over 20 years, detailing Ash’s long journey to become a Pokémon master. However, many short spinoffs have been released; while some of these, such as the Pikachu shorts and the many movies, are tie-ins to the main anime, many others are standalone titles.
These spinoff anime give fans glimpses into parts of the Pokémon world that Ash tends to overlook. Some of them relate directly to specific video games in the franchise, while others exist as celebrations of Pokémon as a whole. Many are available to stream for free on Pokémon‘s official YouTube channel, and all of them are also available on Pokémon TV, available online or as an app on the Nintendo Switch and mobile.
This four-episode OVA from 2013 is a direct adaptation of the story from Pokémon Red and Blue animated by Production I.G. It stays closer to the tone of the games than the main anime does, featuring darker themes and a few brutal moments. Legendary game protagonist Red is featured instead of Ash, and other major characters include his rival Blue and the Team Rocket Boss Giovanni. The anime is too short to depict the full story, so instead, key battles and stories are adapted in order to give this project an overarching story. While largely faithful, it does feature updates from later games, most notably Mega Evolution.
This anime was released in 2016 to lead into the then-upcoming seventh generation of Pokémon. Each of the six released generations received three episodes for a total of 18. Each episode depicts either a key moment from the game it is based around or events from the perspective of a side character that the protagonist would not have been around to see. Some of these moments include Blue defeating the Kanto Elite Four, Team Magma and Aqua’s reactions to the release of Groudon and Kyogre, and AZ’s tragic history. Despite being animated by OLM, the same studio that handles the main anime, the series features a distinct art style that matches the sharp action sequences.
Pokémon Twilight Wings
This 2020 anime exclusively features life in the Galar region, the setting of Pokémon Sword and Shield. It depicts everyday moments in a world populated by Pokémon, focusing less on the battles and more on the relatable struggles of characters and how Pokémon fit into their lives. Studio Colorido’s bright color palette and smooth animation breathe life into Sword and Shield‘s characters and give the series a pleasant and relaxing tone, though the battles still feel dynamic and fun. It later received a bonus episode called “The Gathering of Stars,” which featured characters from the DLC expansions as well as a few that were missed in the main series.
This anime feels like a successor to Generations, similarly focusing on key moments from the games. It was released in 2021, which allowed it to feature moments from all eight generations that had been released to that point; each generation received one episode. OLM brings its A-game to this production, featuring stellar fights and interesting moments of characterization. Noteworthy stories include the motivations of antagonists such as Lysandre and Ghetsis, Lillie witnessing an epic battle between some of Alola’s legendary Pokémon, and a rare appearance by FireRed and LeafGreen‘s female protagonist, Green.
Pokémon Hisuian Snow
This three-episode series is a tie-in with 2022’s Pokémon Legends: Arceus. Featuring gorgeous animation by the legendary Wit Studio, this anime features a world before Pokémon and humans have forged their inseparable bond. This is the story of a boy who befriends a shiny Zorua when they are separated from their respective families, showcasing how the two overcome their mistrust of each other. It is the beginning of a warm friendship set against the beautifully cold backdrop of ancient Sinnoh. It also features cameos by a few of the game’s characters, marking some of the only times they will likely appear in anime form.
This eclectic series lacks the uniform identity that the preceding series possess; instead, many are animated by different studios. Released in Japan between 2020 and 2021, these episodes were released in English for the first time in the summer of 2022. The series originated as a Pokémon-based parody of Looney Tunes animated by Dandelion Animation Studio. Subsequent episodes featured different themes and tones and were animated by Pancakes, Mimoid and StudioGOONEYS. However, the strongest episodes are the four created by Twilight Wings producer Studio Colorido. These episodes feature the same charming depictions of everyday life in the Pokémon world, but they feature characters and locations created for this series. Rather than being confined to a single region, this allows the staff to creatively tell Pokémon stories that couldn’t otherwise be told.
This series is an anthology of tales that cannot be found in other parts of the Pokémon universe. The four that were created by different studios each have individual storytelling ideas, and even the four Colorido entries each tell their stories in a way unique from one another. This is similar to how all of these Pokémon web anime function; all six of these series feature their own interpretations of Pokémon storytelling and emphasize different strengths of the franchise, from hot-blooded battles to moments of kindness between Pokémon and people. Each series succeeds in what it sets out to show, illustrating just how many strengths the Pokémon franchise has.