While Shiny Pokémon are popular and have been incorporated into games since 1999, fans have yet to capture the anime’s best variations.
Despite years of publication Pokemon still hasn’t made his first shinies available in the franchise’s video games. The anime introduced shinies early on, and its first few were some of the most memorable in the series. However, fans have never been able to capture or own these iterations in their collections to include in teams.
Pokemon started out as a video game but quickly grew into a manga and anime series that lasted (and is still thriving) twenty-six years. The anime debuted in 1997, a year after the games. In the second generation of games, the developers had included Shiny Pokémon – species with a different color – with the introduction of the red Gyarados Pokemon Silver and Pokemon Gold 1999 (Japan release, US release: 2000). However, a few other styles preceded this inclusion in the anime’s first two seasons, including two popular iterations.
In the twenty-first episode of the series (released in Japan in 1997 and in the US in 1999), entitled Bye-Bye Butterfree, the first Shiny Pokémon appears; the pink butterfree. In this very emotional episode, Ash’s Butterfree leaves him to mate with a female Butterfree during the species’ mating season. The two fly into the sunset after Ash’s Butterfree saves his fellow members of Team Rocket, proving his worth as a partner to his alternate-colored potential mate. This version of Butterfree has never appeared in any of the games, with the primary official version having green eyes and pink wings. The anime iteration has a pink body with all other colors being the same in its appearance and arguably much more stunning.
Pink Butterfree and Crystal Onix are the shiny strains that Pokémon fans deserve
The Orange Islands also featured Shiny Pokemon, with Professor Ivy mentioning in the eighty-third episode (“Pokéball Peril”) that some appearances would be different across the region. This then led to brief glimpses of the Pokémon Vileplume with alternating petal colors and Butterfree with spots on their wings. However, one of the most iconic Shiny Pokémon of this second season was the Crystal Onix that appeared in Episode 87, aptly titled, “The Crystal Onix”. This episode aired in Japan in March 1999 Pokemon gold released in November 1999. Although its visual design was stunning and unlike any other Onix in the series up to that point, it never appeared in a game. Currently, shiny onix are yellow-green in hue – a far cry from how beautiful the crystal onix are.
While Onix’s exclusion from the franchise’s games could be a result of the Orange Islands not being in the games, despite being featured in the Pokémon manga, the pink Butterfree has no excuse for not being included after so many years. The episode is one of the most emotional of the first season. It was such an important aspect that the moment — including the pink Butterfree — appeared in multiple flashbacks in later seasons and even recurred in the film I choose you! (2017), although there is an alternate in-universe continuity. A comment on a pink butterfree falls casually into the gold and Silver Episodes of the video game series, but the first Shiny from the anime is never seen. Considering how impressive Pokémon’s shinies are in the anime and the emotional impact of Butterfree in particular, it’s odd not to have included it as a nod to the franchise’s story and anime after all these years. Adding the pink Butterfree – and even the Crystal Onix – to a future game would be a great nod to longtime fans of Pokemon who know the broader history of the franchise’s shiny strains.
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