Why do you think Pokemon is still so damn popular? I work with kids and they’re *still* obsessed with the damn things. It feels like so many trends have come and gone but Pokemon is weirdly enduring. And what’s weird is a lot of the kids today like the original Pokemon best- I talk to kids I work with and almost all of their favorite Pokemon are from the original 151. If it were like, mewtwo or mew it might make sense but there are kids I know whose favorites are tauros and jynx!
If I had to guess, I’d say that I think it plays to desires and values of the 90s that have only gotten more important in the decades since. There’s the desire for a lost connection with nature in a modern urban world, the consumerist impulse to collect, the search for companionship through electronic media that was originally behind Tamagotchi, the promise of definite bounded knowledge and learning in a world growing steadily more and more complicated… I think a lot of Pokémon’s more escapist promises have more allure now, not less.
Anyway that’s very much a guess based on my personal observations of how I and other people seem to relate to Pokémon; this next part is even more of a guess.
As for the gen 1 Pokémon still being the most popular… well, I’m not an authority on what younger people like or what draws anyone to a specific Pokémon, nor am I in possession of any relevant stats, but I honestly kinda think it might be mainly exposure. The Sacred 150 are still pretty front-and-centre in a lot of marketing, as well as many side games. More importantly, older Pokémon fans know them better and create more art and fiction that uses them, and memes about them get more traction – in the 90s, we mostly consumed official Pokémon media because that’s what existed, but kids using the internet today are also getting a lot of unofficial material that was made by… well, us. Official merch also skews towards what marketers think we will buy, either for ourselves or for our children, and we recognise and respond to the old designs. That’s probably not the whole of it, but that’s all I can offer without making a bunch of unsupported assumptions about what kids are thinking.