Pokémon Concierge and the Spiritual Gift of Coziness

BJ Krug

Five minutes in, my Pokémon-loving 11-year old said “I’m bored” and left the room, but 36-year old me—who has never played or watched Pokémon before—was already entranced with Pokémon Concierge.

Streaming on Netflix, the show’s emphasis on cozy kindness offers a delightful way to unwind after a hard day. If you’re like me it’s sure to bring a smile to your face. Pokémon Concierge’s emphasis on love and welcoming others, rather than dominating an opponent, brought to mind the rest for our souls that Jesus offers.

The series’ protagonist, Haru, is tasked with finding joy in her work at a Pokémon resort. This is not a Pokémon-themed resort, but rather one that has Pokémon as clients, with human guests as a secondary concern. Over the course of four, 20-minute episodes, all animated via stop-motion, Haru works to bring joy and a sense of belonging to Pokémon at the resort. At the same time, Haru discovers her own rest and fulfillment.

As the show begins, Haru is in crisis. The first episode opens with a litany of her frustrations, including a breakup, work opportunities falling apart, and more. When she arrives for her first day of work at the Pokémon resort, she is slow to realize how her situation has changed. Contrary to her new supervisor’s instructions to enjoy herself as a guest on her first day, Haru repeatedly second guesses her experiences while assuming everything is a test. This culminates the next day when she provides her report full of data analysis to the confusion of her new boss. Over the course of the series Haru gradually lets go of living through her cell phone and computer and instead engaging in the real world. By the final episode, Haru reaches for her phone to take a photograph. Due to her changing priorities, she discovers the battery is dead. Instead, she draws a picture, which proves to be a life-changing experience for a struggling Pokémon.

The stop-motion animation really brings this emphasis on the “real” to the fore. The texture of the fuzzy Pokémon or the fabric of a tent wall were delightfully tactile, instead of the glossy sheen of traditional or computer-generated animation. It’s no wonder this show has been such a hit among not only children, but adults. The nostalgia of adults who played and watched Pokémon as children is a given; however, this show provides something more than that. Pokémon Concierge epitomizes coziness. The sense of reality provided by the stop-motion dovetails perfectly with the caring nature of the characters. Watching the show feels like receiving the perfect hug from a good friend, with that unique combination of physical comfort and knowledge that you matter to the other person. In Pokémon Concierge, helping each other become their best selves is every character’s only motivation. Even when a meal is accidentally ruined through Haru’s carelessness, no one yells or even expresses disappointment. Anything that goes wrong is met with a shrug and a smile, giving everyone the chance to try something new and different instead.

The show’s emphasis on cozy kindness offers a delightful way to unwind after a hard day.

This is exactly what Jesus offers to us when we struggle. In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Jesus does not promise us that we will enter into a lifetime of comfort. Things will go wrong. We will experience job loss, relationship trouble, and any number of other heartaches because of other actions we (and other people) take. However, in a community of faith, we have the opportunity to exercise gentleness towards ourselves and others. That’s what makes the yoke easy and the burdens light—that we get to share in the real lives of other people and find creative and unexpected solutions to our problems. In this way, Haru has found rest for her soul. By the end of the series, she is not anxious or hiding from her work, coworkers, or life, but is fully engaged in bringing her kindness to the world around her.

The joy of life that Haru and the other characters experience in this show is intoxicating. As I watched, I kept finding myself smiling, simply because entering the world of the show was so fun. Early in the show, Haru is shaken out of her anxiety by watching Pokémon play, saying, “Recently I’ve had a series of stressful incidents. And it made me wonder, ‘What is the point of my life?’ But this place popped those bad feelings just like a balloon!” Rest has a way of doing that, as anyone who has taken an afternoon off to go for a hike or play—or nap—can attest. We all need a chance to reset and change perspective. Jesus himself practiced rest, going on retreats by himself or with just a few friends. He even slept through a storm in a boat! Likewise, we all need to find a way to rest in a harsh world.

Pokémon Concierge may be the best example of what rest looks like in today’s media landscape. There’s nothing frantic and no goal of dominance, only loving encouragement. Throughout the show there’s a sense that if we all gave each other our full gifts and embraced each other for who we are, the world would be a better place. We could all do worse than to get cozy with Pokémon Concierge for an hour and then be inspired to try something new. Who knows? You might find yourself not only rested, but ready to connect more fully with yourself and the world.

Topics: TV