Castlevania producer’s ‘Bootleg Universe’ reimagines Pokémon as dark, ugly, and violent

Anyone who’s pondered Pokémon long enough has likely come to the realization, “Wait, isn’t this whole thing basically cute dogfighting/cockfighting?” While the contestants in Game Freak’s monster battling franchise are often adorable and fantastical, and none of them ever really die — they just faint! — there’s a tinge of grim violence to the whole thing.


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Adi Shankar, producer of Netflix’s Castlevania and the in-development Devil May Cry animated series, helped explore that concept in grisly fashion as part of his loose “Bootleg Universe” in a new animation, The End of Pokémon. The premise imagines a world in which Ash Ketchum’s Pikachu has died, leading him to pursue a new goal: freeing all Pokémon from the bonds of mindless, violent entertainment. Ash’s effort draws support from a violent resistance who target Pokémon trainers, a gang that looks like it was heavily inspired by Hotline Miami and The Warriors.

The short was animated by Angry Metal Studios, the team behind other Bootleg Universe shorts based on the Punisher and Judge Dredd, and released by Octopie, the animation network responsible for the upcoming Magic: The Gathering adaptation for Netflix. The End of Pokémon was directed by Luis Pelayo Junquera and Enol Junquera.

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