AX 2023: NON Talks About Bringing Haru to Life in ‘Pokémon Concierge’

This December, Pokémon fans can look forward to a new stop motion series starring some of the franchise’s beloved characters. Pokémon Concierge follows Haru, a newly introduced character, who teams up with Psyduck to work at the front desk of a resort where Pokémon come to visit and relax. APA spoke with NON, the performer behind Haru, about her character and experience working on the show.

With so many other Pokémon stories in existence, the first question on everyone’s mind is the same: what makes Pokémon Concierge different? To NON, the biggest difference is easy to name. “This is made with stop motion animation. We have an actual puppet that is moved frame by frame, and knowing there’s an actual puppet there instead of CGI, it creates a really heartwarming feeling and makes you smile at the Pokémon’s cuteness.” On the stop motion process and what exactly makes it so different, NON shared that this series was the first time her facial expressions and body language were recorded as part of her voice recording sessions to inform Haru’s movement. “They [the animators] would ask me to make the gestures and reactions, so I would tilt my head like I’m trying to figure [things] out, and get the visual through that. They would photograph this and that, and then they would utilize that into the actual stop motion animation. Once I saw the complete, finished series, it was very different from what you see in 2D or 3D CG animation. The movements are totally different, and there are shadows in the frames that I thought were very interesting.” By creating puppets of each character and Pokémon, and using actual movement to create each scene, it was almost as if these lifelong companions had truly come to life.

When it comes to the plot, NON also believes the show offers something fresh for the audience. “Haru is a very hardworking person, and she decides to work at the Pokémon Resort as a concierge.” She dove into the back story of her character, who was overworked and overwhelmed, so she left her job to work at the Pokémon Resort in hopes of a less stressful life and environment. There, she’s able to make mistakes and learn from them, and finds her work extra rewarding as she learns that it’s possible to have fun while working. Just as she’s learning how to handle her new job and accept her own failures to grow from them, she also learns to accept that she can’t know and understand everything. Her partner, Psyduck, in particular helps with that task. “Psyduck is a character where you can’t really tell what he’s thinking, or see his true mind or feelings. When Haru first starts working [as a concierge], he’s just watching from a distance, and she can’t figure out what he’s thinking. But, having that kind of interaction and relationship kind of softens Haru. She starts to feel that it’s okay that she can’t figure Psyduck out, but the two start to grow together.”

NON is certain this new series will bring joy to viewers. “I’m sure we all feel, you know, bombarded and under pressure, and we don’t want to get up and keep doing what we’re doing because you just want to give up everything. But, when you see Pokémon Concierge, it’s really therapeutic,” she shared. “I wish for viewers to see this show as energetic, and I wish that it helps you keep going and doing your best.”

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