Interview: Adi Shankar Talks the End of Pokemon and Hollywood's History with Gritty Adaptations

Adi Shankar is one of Hollywood’s most ambitious talents, and the creator has proven he's [...]

Adi Shankar is one of Hollywood's most ambitious talents, and the creator has proven he's difficult to edge out. Having worked on projects like Dredd and Castlevania, the producer knows what it takes to do gritty drama right. From anime to live-action, this producer has no fear when it comes to tackling titles, and he proved as much this month with a loft project about one iconic franchise.

For those out of the loop, Shankar's praised Bootleg Universe added a new film to its collection as of late, and it stars none other than Ash Ketchum. Yes, the satirical one-shot series took aim at Pokemon and asked a few questions about its story's darker leanings.

Recently, Shankar sat down with to talk about his latest short film venture. The producer opened up on why he felt it was time to delve into Pokemon's uncomfortable truths and whether Hollywood is ready to darken up childhood nostalgia in future films:


Q: So, how did The End of Pokemon get started, and what is it about Pokemon that really caught your interest?

Shankar: It's a great question. [The Bootleg Universe has] really been nostalgia series up until now. It's been things that were more popular when I was a kid. Or not popular... popular is a small word. Not being from this country, it's kind of impossible to teach popularity, right?

It's really things that resonated. Pokemon as a franchise is cross-pollinated between so many different mediums, all of which I was like an avid user of and collector of whether it's video games... obviously, the anime series and collectible card game, right?

Clearly, the Pokemon series is pretty tame, but its manga has always been way darker than its other ventures. Did this short take any manga inspiration into account?

Shankar: No, no, actually inspiration came from Michael Vick, the football player. I really realized that what he went to jail for was completely wrong and absolutely f-ed up, and it was kind of the premise of Pokemon. In a dark, hysterical way... kind of the same way that saying that Power Rangers was also weaponizing child soldiers. It's just another way of approaching the information that's presented.

Do you think there's ever going to be room, or would you ever hope, a Rated-M Pokemon game could ever become a thing?

Shankar: I guess this speaks to a larger topic, right? It's not just Pokemon, it's generally how corporations approach intellectual property. Like, does it need to be transpired within the games and within the realm of traditional rating?

Does Power Rangers always have to be a kids franchise? Do I think ... Pokemon as a concept could be used to explore more mature themes? More adult themes? Absolutely, absolutely. Should that exist? I think so.

I wanted to ask if there were any kind of Pokemon cameos from the original series that you really wanted to get into this short, but just weren't able to explore?

Shankar: For me, no, not really. I will say this, the directors Luis [Junquera] and Enol? These guys are like Pokemon maniacs. They're literally all in on Pokemon 24/7.

These brothers are just so talented. ... [The Internet] has created opportunities for artists all over the world to share their art with us. It's also created opportunities for us to collaborate across the world because it has simply been logistically impossible to go just a generation back.

And finally, do you think Hollywood is ready to embrace darker re-imaginings of such nostalgic titles like Pokemon that are traditionally seen as family friendly?

Shankar: You know, I think on some level that kind of already happens. Like, that already kind of happens, right? Batman vs. Superman, the original take on Justice League, you know. If you look at the franchises that were around like 70 years ago? They have been reinterpreted. And it's not always to a dark, gritty lens, right? We can look at Batman, Superman, and Justice League. That was heavily inspired by the Frank Miller take on Batman. And even on some level the MCU, which is not dark and gritty at all, [has done so too].

You can watch The End of Pokemon now on the Bootleg Universe's official Youtube channel now. Let me know what you think about it in the comments below or hit me up on Twitter @MeganPetersCB to talk all things comics and anime!