nn1A top media sensation during Summer 2016 has been the game Pokémon Go, a new app developed by Niantic Labs for personal handheld devices. The game allows players to merge the real world with the virtual world of Pokémon (short for “pocket monsters”) in an augmented reality (AR) on device screens. While the obsession with Pokémon Go is recent, the game’s imaginary Pokémon have been roaming the world for over two decades. Released in 1996, the game’s best known character, Pikachu, is now recognized as an iconic symbol of Japan’s global “soft power.” Featuring select materials from the Libraries’ collections, the “Pokémon Universe” display highlights the history and globalization of the popular Pokémon franchise, and explores the many worlds that Pokémon has inhabited since its inception in the mid-1990s.

Curated by Ann Marie L. Davis, Assistant Professor and Japanese Studies Librarian, and Amy Hwang, Program Assistant in East Asian Studies, this display is part of the Area Studies Department exhibit program focused on global engagement. It is located in Thompson Library on the 3rd floor at reading area Room 341. (Pokémon Go AR photo courtesy of Aaron Olivera)